The producers of Game of Thrones have confirmed some big, but disappointing, news about the show’s eighth and final season: It will be the shortest season yet, with only six episodes instead of the usual 10.
David Benioff and Dan Weiss made the announcement Sunday, during a panel discussion at South by Southwest in Austin.
“It’s only going to be six episodes for the final season,” Benioff told the audience, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. “From the beginning we’ve wanted to tell a 70-hour movie. It will turn out to be a 73-hour movie, but it’s stayed relatively the same of having the beginning, middle and now we’re coming to the end. It would have been really tough if we lost any core cast members along the way, I’m very happy we’ve kept everyone and we get to finish it the way we want to.”
EW points out that HBO has yet to reveal an episode count for the final season; however, Benioff and Weiss insist they’ve settled on the length and have already assigned writers to each episode.
The abbreviated season, though upsetting to fans, isn’t exactly shocking. Last summer, Benioff spoke to Variety about the final two seasons, revealing there were only 13 episodes left in the entire series. As we know now, the upcoming seventh season will only deliver seven episodes; but, according to Benioff and Weiss, the season will feature a huge guest appearance.
“For years we were trying to get Ed Sheeran on the show to surprise Maisie [Williams] and this year we finally did it,” Benioff said.
“I think HBO might well do [another series] and I look forward to watching it and I think it be great,” Benioff said, “but I think they should get new blood in.”