Fans of genre television rejoice — Game of Thrones is likely sticking around for at least two more years, while The Walking Dead may linger for as long as its undead threat.
Although the upcoming sixth season of Game of Thrones is about to overtake the source material in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the ground-breaking and perennially popular fantasy series is likely to be ploughing ahead for at least another three years.
Back in 2014, HBO showed extreme confidence in Game of Thrones‘ future when it committed to renew the series for not one but two new seasons. With the second of those premiering on 24 April, it looks as though the production network will repeat the move, seeing the show through to at least season eight.
As reported by Hollywood trade site Deadline, HBO president Michael Lombardo has said the network is in discussions with series creators and executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss, and that a multi-year pickup is likely. American broadcasters are usually incredibly cautious over such matters, but with Game of Thrones constantly setting viewing records (and other, less salubrious milestones), it’s not hard to see why HBO is keen to keep the show going.
Whether season eight brings the end of the television side of the saga remains to be seen though. At the Television Critics Association tour in July 2015, Lombardo said “David and Dan are feeling there’s probably two more years after season six […] we hope that they would change their minds, but that’s how they are feeling now.”
With Martin yet to complete book six, The Winds of Winter, let alone the planned finale, A Dream of Spring, the showrunners will likely be creating their own ending, however long it runs. Martin confirmed via his LiveJournal that progress on Winter had stalled, and that season six would air before the book’s release.
Sky Atlantic has announced it will be airing Game of Thrones season six in the UK in sync with the US, with a simulcast at 2am on the morning of 25 April for fans who just can’t wait, followed by a more reasonable 9pm screening for those who enjoy sleep.
Meanwhile, AMC’s The Walking Dead may have many more seasons ahead of it. In fact, speaking to Vulture, network chief Charlie Collier and head of programming Joel Stillerman indicate the zombie survivalist drama may be as open ended as the comics that inspire it.
“The answer to how long the show will go on in some way is directly correlated with the health of the storytelling in the comics,” said Stillerman. “Those comics are firing on all cylinders. [Creator Robert Kirkman] still writes every line of dialogue in those books, and is as engaged as he was when I think he was sitting around in Kentucky writing the first issue. That is very much part of the DNA of the show. He sort of felt like, in real life, this goes on for a very long time. We’re along for that ride.”
“I will tell you we are not actively talking about the end of The Walking Dead,” added Collier. “We’re talking about how to keep this number one show on television feeling as fresh as it does in season six. As a brand, we’re very sensitive to making sure that every aspect of it feels fresh and original, and that it’s not treated in any way that’s derivative or taken for granted. Our planning is current and future-focused, and it is not focused on the end at this time.”
The show is currently in the middle of its sixth season, and still several years behind the events of the comic. AMC also doesn’t rule out further explorations away from the source material, such as this year’s original Fear the Walking Dead mini-series. The dead may keep walking for a long time yet.