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How The Producers Of Game Of Thrones Really Wanted The Show To End

"Game of Thrones" ran for 73 episodes, telling the story of 9 noble families across 8 seasons. By Season 2, approximately 10.3 million people were watching the show and at its peak the show was bringing in about three times that per episode. An estimated 3,523 people died in the last season alone. That's a lot of big numbers, but maybe the most important number in the lexicon of "Game of Thrones" discussions is "five". The first five seasons of "Game of Thrones" were culled from the pages of George R.R. Martin's fantasy book series "A Song of Ice and Fire," but, the final three seasons had to make due with nothing more than a sketching out from Martin. Those final three seasons were left largely in the care of the two "Game of Thrones" showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

And even though both ample time and money were given, especially to the show's eighth and final season ($15 million was allotted to each of the six episodes), that doesn't mean the showrunners got everything they wanted. And if the intense fan response is any indication, neither did many of the fans who had been watching for eight seasons. There's one intention Benioff and Weiss had which never came to fruition, and, it's worth considering the possibility that one change would've given us a very different final story.

Three movies instead of six episodes

The show and its successes are more than a sum of good acting from the "Game of Thrones" cast, intense twists and turns, and even George R.R. Martin's original novels. There's also the fantasy foundation upon which the series is built — J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". In an interview with Variety, Martin even admitted the influence, saying, "He made me love the form he created — epic fantasy. He redefined fantasy of everything that had been before." So is it any surprise that both David Benioff and D.B. Weiss found themselves looking towards the wildly successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Benioff and Weiss revealed how expensive Martin's ideas for the final season of "Game of Thrones" were. "We have a very generous budget from HBO, but we know what's coming down the line and, ultimately, it's not generous enough," Benioff revealed. One solution the showrunners considered was taking their show from the small screen to the big one. Rather than a final season, the idea was for there to be three, feature-length films instead.

"It's what we're working towards in a perfect world," Weiss said of the movie trilogy concept. "We end up with an epic fantasy story but with the level of familiarity and investment in the characters that are normally impossible in a two-hour movie." The problem was that HBO was not interested in making films — they were interested in growing their TV audience share. HBO promised Benioff and Weiss "a summer tentpole-size spectacle" for the final seasons, giving the show over $15 million an episode for those final six stories, and the rest is history. How much would three movies have changed the series? We'll never know, but it's hard to deny that seeing Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) ride a dragon in IMAX would've been pretty cool.

Every episode of "Game of Thrones" is available to stream on HBO Max.