While it's been hinted at that "Game of Thrones" will end its run with two more abbreviated seasons, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have now definitively confirmed that will indeed be the case.
In an interview with Deadline, Benioff and Weiss broke down the epic season six finale and discussed how it will affect the upcoming seventh season, and also explained how they are approaching their endgame for the series. According to the showrunners, as they move past author George R.R. Martin's source material, they have a very specific road map in mind -- and it's a lot shorter than most fans would hope.
"It's two more seasons we're talking about," Benioff told Deadline, echoing comments he and Weiss made earlier this year about ending the show on a pair of shorter-than-normal seasons. "From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70-75 hours, and that's what we'll end up with. Call it 73 for now."
That means that there's potentially only 13 more episodes of "Thrones" left, though according to the producers, that's intentional, since they don't want to overstay their welcome with viewers. But that's not their only motivation.
"We're trying to tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end," Benioff explained. " ... [W]e've known the end for quite some time and we're hurtling towards it."
Those last images from the show that aired [Sunday] night showed that. Daenerys is finally coming back to Westeros; Jon Snow is king of the North and Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne. And we know the Night King is up there, waiting for all of them. The pieces are on the board now. Some of the pieces have been removed from the board and we are heading toward the end game. The thing that has excited us from the beginning, back to the way we pitched it to HBO is, it's not supposed to be an ongoing show, where every season it's trying to figure out new story lines. We wanted it to be one giant story, without padding it out to add an extra 10 hours, or because people are still watching it. We wanted to something where, if people watched it end to end, it would make sense as one continuous story. We're definitely heading into the end game now.
For more from the showrunners, read the entire Deadline interview here. Season seven of "Game of Thrones" begins production this summer, and will likely premiere on HBO sometime in 2017.
Photo credit: HBO