Debate of the Day: What Should Happen When Game of Thrones Runs Out of Rope?

game of thrones9

The Game of Thrones season four finale is this weekend, and considering they’ve already submitted it for Emmy consideration, it should be something of a barn burner.

And yet, a looming question remains. What happens when Game of Thrones runs out of road? It could be argued that this is starting to happen already, with plotlines like Brienne/Pod and Littlefinger/Sansa already getting dangerously close to their Feast for Crows/Dance with Dragons conclusion. The next two book are really like one super giant book split up by characters, not by chronology, and that can pose a problem.

Within a year or two, that means Game of Thrones will either have to stop completely, or start venturing outside of A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, The Winds of Winter is being written, but it takes Martin an enormous amount of time to craft these books, as you can see:

  • A Game of Thrones (1996)
  • A Clash of Kings (1998)
  • A Storm of Swords (2000)
  • A Feast for Crows (2005)
  • A Dance with Dragons (2011)

So, what should happen when the show inevitably catches the books?

Here are the options as I see them:

A) Winds of Winter is released to forestall the inevitable for at least another year.

B) George RR Martin simply tells the showrunners what he’s going to do, and they move ahead while he writes to catch up.

C) They take a break until he’s ready with more content.

D) They try to do some interim spin-off type thing like Dunk and Egg.

E) They slow the show way, way down, adapting literally every single piece of the remaining books to fill time, including arguably boring subplots like the Iron Islands and Dorne.

It’s hard to see any of these as terribly good choices. You don’t really want Game of Thrones moving forward NOT based on something Martin has already written. Then again, you don’t want to take two or three years off and wait for him to get another book done. So what to do? And that, my friends, is the debate of the day.

Similar Posts


  1. I’d like Martin to tell the show what he’s going to write but I don’t read the books. I can imagine that people who are reading the books would be annoyed by all the potential spoilers but I’ve had to put up with that for years so not a big deal. It is worrying time though as I think the most likely option will be E and that could turn a constantly epic show into a snore.

  2. While the Greyjoy saga may not totally link up with the main plot lines, it is still a story of extreme interest. Both Euron and Victarion are stone cold killers, and imagine how cool it would be to see the show runners interpretation of Euron’s crew of mutes. The world needs more pirates…

    1. I’ll second that… The Euron and Victarion plotline was very interesting in my humble opinion also if they are not going to include it in the show how big is the influence those two are going to have on the overall plotline in the books.

  3. If Martin can tell the showrunners what is going to happen, then why not tell a team of book writers, and have them write the books at a much quicker pace than he can do on his own?
    I pick option C, wait for Martin to create more content. The show can come back in 5 years as an animated version using the available actors to voice their characters.

  4. How crazy would it be if the show just became the official version of this story and Martin either never finished the books, or only did so a few years after the show had run its course?

  5. Well, at the end of the day the people with the actual power to decide these things (unless GRRM has something different written into the license contract to HBO for screen rights) would be the HBO execs in charge of original programming. Their responsibility is to maximize viewership. Which option keeps that number the highest? It’s B. Any hiatus or slowing down would hemorrhage viewers. And a seson of spinoff may do ok on its own, but will be really no different than hitting pause for a year. Since GRRM is adamant that he’s writign at his own pace, the only real option for HBO is B. I’d be interested to see what was put in the contracts that were signed. GRRM may not have a choice if the network wants to move forward with the show in absence of book material.

  6. Prequel season with Ned and Robert? I’ve hear Martin already told the showrunners how it ends, just in case anything happens to him.

    1. I love the idea for a Battle at the trident “mini-series”. All the mythology that GRRM created surrounding it could easily fill up 10 episodes.

    2. I’ve heard the same thing. So who knows if it’ll drag out, or if they end it quickly when Martin dies…tragically, like one of the characters in his series…

  7. It seems to me that they could do three seasons out of the next two books without resorting to trivial subplots. At that point the next book will be out and we would have another season or possibly two to tide over things while he works on the last one.

    So, we probably have about 5 years before this really matters, so its not really that pressing an issue.

    And while I could do without the Iron Islands stuff, I wouldn’t mind a visit to Dorne. Plus, I have a feeling that Dorne is going to be important in the finale.

    1. Totally agree. And I’m assuming at this point that GRRM has written, or at least sketched out the majority of the last book as well already. It would explain why this book is taking so long as he’s trying to make sure he covers everything in the penultimate book and isn’t writing himself in to a corner.

  8. Spoilers ahead

    I wouldn’t call the Iron Islands subplot boring. Euron is probably the most interesting character introduced after the core from book 1. Not to mention that his Giant magic horn is probably going to be a major plot point considering that the only other magic horn we have heard anything about supposedly had/has the power to tear down the wall.

    I would say that the idea of them running out of content has made season 4 all the more curious. It feels like they’ve rushed through a lot of what is already there while simultaneously dragging out other parts of the story. So many major characters in this universe are going to dead or their stories are going to have been exhausted by the end of this season. I’m legitimately worried about the likely quality of future seasons from here on out.

    I’m probably in the minority on this point, but there is no way I watch the show if it starts going into the future of the books. The show has been great and all up until this point, but it is still not as good as reading the books and that is how I want to experience the future of A Song of Ice and Fire.

  9. If you think the producers are going to let them wait another two or three seasons before Daenerys starts interacting substantially with the main plot, you’re having a laugh. Viewers are already starting to make noises about the pointlessness of her storyline.

  10. I think they should go into the prequel novellas or perhaps the War of the Usurper with a young Ned and Robert.
    They could easily get three seasons out of Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons, and by the time they’re done with that Winds fo Winter will be published, and that’s going to be a big one, so they could get two seasons from that book, so it’s not an immediate issue.

  11. I’d like for them to go with spin-off seasons detailing the history of Westeros. Imagine seeing how Robert’s rebellion went. Or they can even go further up to the events of the First Men.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.