Like winter, Game of Thrones" is based.
During an appearance at the Oxford Union, "Thrones" creators David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss confirmed that the series will eventually overtake its source material, and feature plotlines that haven't been published yet -- potentially years before Martin finishes writing and releasing the last two tomes in the book series. Benioff fielded a question about the possibility of book spoilers by explaining that showrunners have been in close contact with Martin to discuss the strategy for such an occurrence, but added succinctly, "The show must go on."
Here's Benioff's answer to the query in full:
We've been talking to [Martin] for a while about this. The fact is, we didn't want to catch up. Obviously, we would hope that the books would come out ahead of the show. But at the same time, George has his process. And if it takes him 20 years to finish the series, that's what it should take him. He's writing, to my mind, the great fantasy epic of our time. So we can't rush him and I wouldn't want to rush him. [But] at the same time, we can't put the show on hiatus. ...
So we have to kind of keep pushing forward. Luckily, we've been talking about this with George for a long time, ever since we saw this could happen, and we know where things are heading. So we'll eventually basically meet up at pretty much the same place where George is going [in "A Dream of Spring"]. There might be a few deviations along the route, but we're heading towards the same destination. I kind of wish there were some things we didn't have to spoil in terms of the books, but we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. So the show must go on. ...
I think the thing that's kind of fun for George is the idea that he can still have surprises for people even once they've watched the show through to the conclusion. There are certain things that are going to happen in the books that are different from the show, and I think people who love the show and want more -- want to know more about the characters, want to know more about the different characters who might not have made the cut for the show -- will be able to turn to the books.
We're sure that fans of Martin's series will be disappointed if "Thrones" spoils the ending, but given Martin's notoriously-slow writing process, it seemed inevitable that something like this would happen. And Benioff's note about Martin throwing in extra character details in the two remaining books, "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring," seems like the most fair compromise the two parties could reach under these circumstances.
However this situation plays out, we have no doubt that "Game of Thrones" will remain as popular as ever. Check out the full video of Benioff and Weiss's appearance -- which also includes actors Kit Harington and John Bradley -- below.
The fifth season premieres on HBO on April 12.