Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season on Sunday, April 14, with the series set to conclude over six episodes of varying lengths. According to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, that number could have been larger, with the duo revealing that HBO wouldn't have minded more episodes.
"HBO would have been happy for the show to keep going, to have more episodes in the final season," Benioff said. "We always believed it was about 73 hours, and it will be roughly that. As much as they wanted more, they understood that this is where the story ends."
The budget for Season 8 was reportedly massive, and allowed Benioff and Weiss to fully execute their vision for the show's final season, something Weiss shared that the duo very much appreciated.
"To their credit, they put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills which don't exist anymore," he said. "They said, 'We'll give you the resources to make this what it needs to be, and if what it needs to be is a summer tentpole-size spectacle in places, then that's what it will be.'"
The first two episodes of Season 8 clock in at just under one hour, while the subsequent four episodes are all around one hour and 20 minutes long.
Benioff and Weiss revealed that they have had a general idea of how they wanted the series to end for around five years, but the knowledge that these would be some of the final scenes of the series increased the pressure on the pair to make sure the writing was perfect.
"On the one hand, when you've been working on something for 10 years, knowing you're writing the last episodes is harder because there's a lot more weight and pressure on those scenes," Weiss said. "'Is a line right?' seems more important than in seasons past. On the other hand, the motivations behind each scene are something you've been thinking about for five years, so the foundations in your mind are stronger for what you're putting on paper. But you still find yourself spending a lot more time to get it right."
Thrones viewers are some of the most invested television fans around, and many have very strong opinions on how they want the beloved show to conclude. While the showrunners admitted they they want people to approve of how they handled the final episode, they noted that they know there will be at least one person who doesn't agree.
"We want people to love it. It matters a lot to us. We've spent 11 years doing this," Weiss said. "We also know no matter what we do, even if it's the optimal version, that a certain number of people will hate the best of all possible versions. There is no version where everybody says, 'I have to admit, I agree with every other person on the planet that this is the perfect way to do this' — that's an impossible reality that doesn't exist."
Game of Thrones will air Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: HBO / Warner Bros. Television