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Game of Thrones renewed for seventh season to air in 2017

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Surprising no one

HBO

In what may not come as a surprise to anyone at all, HBO has renewed Game of Thrones for a seventh season to air next year, according to a tweet posted on the show's official Twitter account. The savagely violent and beloved fantasy epic begins its sixth season this Sunday, and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and author George R.R. Martin have long been given carte blanche to run the show as long as necessary.

However, it's pretty clear at this point that Game of Thrones has only about two more seasons left, and those seasons may be far shorter than the standard 10 episodes viewers have come to expect. "I think we're down to our final 13 episodes after this season," Benioff said in an interview with Variety last week. "We're heading into the final lap. That's the guess, though nothing is yet set in stone, but that's what we're looking at." HBO had to negotiate new, more lucrative contracts back in 2014 to retain the show's leading names after season six, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Yet any amount of money is likely worth it for HBO's most watched show of all time. Game of Thrones is entering its final stretch, even as Martin struggles to wrap up the sixth novel in his seven-part series. With much of the narrative resting on the few remaining characters who have not perished over the series' 50 episodes, viewership has managed to continue climbing with each successive season. Expect this Sunday's premiere to climb even higher.