Don't Panic, but 'Game of Thrones' Is Close to Running Out of Plot

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HBO's executives want Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin to keep working on finishing his series just as much as you do, which should probably make you a little antsy for the future of the show. The problem has always been that Martin hasn't yet written the final two books in the seven-book series the show is based on. And he's not terribly fast at writing them: the five books so far in the series have been published over 15 years; the television show has covered almost three of those books in three years.  So when asked at the Television Critics Association Press Tour yesterday about how long the show will go, the network had a clear message for Martin: "Get busy writing," said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo according to Entertainment Weekly.

HBO likely wants to hold onto their ratings bonanza and Emmys success for as long as possible. Though it's been reported that the show will last seven seasons, Lombardo said: "As far as I’m concerned, they can go on as long as there are stories to tell." The fact that there isn't a concrete plan can be worrisome for fans. Time's James Poniewozik tweeted news of the statements saying: "Is it just me, or is HBO's reassurance about Game of Thrones not running out of story less than reassuring?"  

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Thrones isn't running out of material just yet, but as James Hibberd wrote in Entertainment Weekly in June, adapting the remaining material isn't that simple: 

While Book 3 is the runaway fan favorite of the Ice and Fire saga, Book 4 is considered the weakest. Feast included new characters and tangents while omitting some beloved names like Tyrion, Jon and Daenerys. Since the events in Book 5 largely overlap with Book 4, Thrones will start drawing heavily from both novels at the same time to maintain chronological consistency. Some elements of Book 4 could (and probably should) remain on the page for Thrones to continue effectively serving its sprawling universe of current storylines and characters.

Lombardo is not a mouthpiece for showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, and for what it's worth Martin doesn't think he will catch up. One also not-so-reassuring possibility is that Benioff and Weiss, "privy to Martin's overall plan for the story," would just write the rest of the series scripts before Martin finished the books, as Michael O'Connell wrote in The Hollywood Reporter in March. But that might be a bummer to loyal book readers. The fact that HBO executives are anxious about Martin's delay should probably concern fans who want the saga neatly tied up. Pair that with HBO's desire to milk the success of the show for all its worth? There might not be a happy ending. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.