'Game of Thrones' fans might have to wait until 2019 for the show's final season

Macall B. Polay/HBO

The penultimate season of Game of Thrones premieres next month, but fans might have to wait a bit longer than usual for the hit show’s final arc.

According to HBO’s president of programming, there’s no certainty that the series’ eighth and final season will air in 2018. And when showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss do finish penning the grand farewell to one of television’s most popular series of all time, they’ll likely bid goodbye to the world of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy saga.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, HBO’s Casey Bloys was noncommittal when asked if the network expected to air the final season of Game of Thrones in 2018, or if it would be pushed to 2019.

“They have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule,” said Bloys. “We’ll have a better sense of that once [the showrunners] get further into the writing.”

As for those prequels and spinoff series that the network is developing, Bloys indicated that Benioff and Weiss won’t be involved in those projects — and not just because they’re hard at work on the show’s final season. According to Bloys, the pair will be taking a well-earned break from the world of Game of Thrones.

“By the time the final season airs, Dan and David will have been at this for 12 years,” explained Bloys. “They didn’t go and do movies in between seasons, they didn’t set anything else up, they put everything — and are putting everything — into this show. They came into HBO with an idea for a show with a beginning, middle, and end, and they want to see it through.”

“In conversations with them, they feel if their name is on the prequels — even in a passive way — it conveys some sort of expectation or responsibility,” he continued. “They want to enjoy the show as fans and don’t want to worry about the scripts or production issues. We were hoping to have their names on it out of respect for them, but we understand why they don’t want that.”

As for Martin’s involvement with the various spinoff projects being developed, Bloys said it differs according to each project, and that there’s no clear answer as to how many — if any — will make it all the way to the screen.

“[Martin’s involvement] varies project by project,” he explained. “The writers each have to decide how they operate with George. Some like to collaborate, some look at the source material and do their own thing. There’s no one way, but in all cases, George will be reading the scripts and weighing in.”

The upcoming seventh season of Game of Thrones finds war fast approaching Westeros and the Iron Throne, with Cersei (Lena Headey) reigning as queen, but Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her dragons are approaching the shore as The Night King sweeping in from the north.

The seventh season of Game of Thrones premieres July 16 on HBO.