Game of Thrones Has 3 Seasons Left, HBO President Says

07/31/2015 AT 10:20 AM EDT

Five down, three to go.

That's the word from HBO programming president Michael Lombardo, who says viewers can likely expect eight seasons total of Game of Thrones before the hit show wraps up its run.

Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have said in the past that their goal was to do seven season of the fantasy series. "Seven gods, seven kingdoms, seven seasons. It feels right to us," Benioff said last year.

But Lombardo revealed Thursday at the Television Critics Association's press tour that there will probably be an eighth and final season.



"Seven-seasons-and-out has never been the [internal] conversation," Lombardo said, reports Entertainment Weekly. "The question is: How much beyond seven are we going to do? Obviously we're shooting six now, hopefully discussing seven. [Benioff and Weiss] feel like there's two more years after six. I would always love for them to change their minds, but that's what we're looking at right now."

Lombardo addressed the possibility of a prequel series, saying he'd be open to "anything" that Benioff and Weiss would want to explore.

"There's enormous storytelling to be mined in a prequel, if [GOT novelist George R. R. Martin] and Dan and David decide they want to tackle that," Lombardo said. "At this point, all the focus is on the next few years of the show. We haven't had any conversations about [a new series] at this point."

Lombardo also defended the show against critics who blanched at the ultraviolence of Season 5, saying none of it was gratuitous.

"This show has had violence from the first episode," he said. "There are no two showrunners who are more careful about not overstepping what they think the line is – and everybody has their own line. [What they show] is critical to the storytelling."

And for those still wondering if a key character who died in the Season 5 finale perhaps wasn't dead after all, Lombardo has some bad news for you.

"Dead is dead is dead," he said.
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