When I first contemplated the rumor of Game of Thrones ending before George R.R. Martin's books, I was flabbergasted. How could the TV series based on the books end before the books?! Yet, now that the showrunners announced that Game of Thrones will end after Season 8, I have come to peace with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' decision. Of course, like any sane human on planet earth with access to her parents' HBO GO account, I never want Game of Thrones to end, but hasn't the series beaten into viewers' heads enough times that you can't always get what you want in Westeros? (Thanks, Rolling Stones.) Well, that pertains to the entertainment world too and if Benioff and Weiss are ready to hang up their hats, then I think it's the right decision for the HBO series.
How many beloved TV series overstayed their welcome because a network didn't want to cancel the show and lose the ratings? Remember the glory days of shows like Dexter, Glee, True Blood, How I Met Your Mother, Weeds, The Office, Californication, Grey's Anatomy, and (dare I say it?) Gilmore Girls? Despite these shows being on both basic and premium cable, in my opinion all of these series were kept on the air for far too long. Many of those shows fell into the trap of trying to recreate the magic of earlier seasons by either throwing in new characters fans didn't care about or being so repetitive that, to me, it wasn't worth watching anymore. And, nothing is worse for a TV show lover as when a good show turns bad. Except maybe Joffrey — the sheer notion of Joffrey's existence is definitely the worst.
But speaking of things going bad, Breaking Bad is a fantastic example of ending the story when you're finished telling it like Benioff and Weiss appear to be attempting to do with Game of Thrones. While another AMC show is closely falling into the pitfalls of staying on TV for ratings without offering any new substance (*cough* The Walking Dead *cough*), Breaking Bad 's Vince Gilligan had a "finite, close-ended" story (his words to Entertainment Weekly) he wanted to tell, and he finished the series when he was done telling it. While I could have watched Walter White and Jesse Pinkman's antics for seasons galore, Gilligan pulled the plug at the right time. Yes, he ended up with spin-off about Saul Goodman, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, the artistry took precedence over the ratings and reviews (and both were damn good) and I will always respect Gilligan as a showrunner for doing that.
Benioff and Weiss are in a similar situation when it comes to having damn good ratings and reviews. Game of Thrones has been HBO's most successful show ever, so why would they want to end it? As president of HBO programming Michael Lombardo told Variety in April about Benioff and Weiss' then pending decision to end the show after Season 8, "As a television executive, as a fan, do I wish they said another six years? I do." He also added, "I'm always an optimist, and I do believe we will figure this out."
Based on these comments, you know that the showrunners had to receive some pushback from the powers that be over at HBO about their decision to end the massively successful show while it's still in peak form. And though I am in no way suggesting these two events are related, it should be noted that Lombardo stepped down from his position at HBO in May. While I'm in total agreement with Lombardo that as a fan, I could handle six more years of Game of Thrones, as an artist, I support the integrity of the story that Benioff and Weiss are trying to tell. And if that means ending Game of Thrones after 13 more episodes (don't mind me, just tearing up while I type that), so that the show stays at the top of its game when it ends, so be it.
Martin's book series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the basis for Game of Thrones, is far from being finished since Martin's Westeros is more robust than HBO's Westeros. Considering Martin began writing the series 25 years ago and is not finished (it's cool, complicated and great storytelling takes time), it doesn't make any sense for Game of Thrones to keep hanging on until Martin catches back up to it. Benioff and Weiss made it clear with Season 6 that they can move forward with their best season ever, even if their story is ahead of the books. Plus, they don't need Martin to finish his books before finishing the TV series because they already know part of the ending to Martin's story since Benioff revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Martin told them a shocking plot point that "is from the very end" of his book series.
While I can't imagine the rage I would feel if I was a book reader first and had Game of Thrones ruining some big book reveals, Game of Thrones tells the story in a different medium — and thus, it is a separate entity — from Martin's books. And just as every good book must come to an end, so must every TV show. If Benioff and Weiss only need approximately 13 more hours to tell their story, then I must accept their position. I've already put my trust in their showrunning years ago and they haven't let me down yet, so why question their decision-making now? Although, come to think of it, trusting people gets you nowhere on Game of Thrones, so maybe I just haven't learned my lesson yet.
Images: Helen Sloan/HBO; Giphy (4)