Daenerys’ ships have been at sea a long time, but they’re about to reach land: Game of Thrones will return with new episodes on Sunday, July 16 at 9/8c, HBO announced Thursday.
The hugely successful fantasy saga’s seventh season will consist of (this should be an easy one to remember) seven episodes, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed last April. At the time, the pair also hinted that the yet-to-be-officially-ordered eighth and final season would only feature six episodes, although HBO president Casey Bloys told TVLine that an exact episode count remains in flux.
“The only thing we’re working out is how many episodes they want to do,” Bloys said, adding that he “hopes” Benioff and Weiss will deliver more than six episodes. “They’re still figuring it out because I think they’re trying to get a shape of the season. They always do what they think [will yield] the best version of the show. It’s all about how many they’re comfortable [with]. But I’ll always take more.”
This marks the latest start date for a new Game of Thrones season since the series premiered in 2011. The move, which resulted from winter-imposed production delay, take Thrones out of the 2017 Emmy race, seeing as how the eligibility period ends on May 31 (first day of Summer 2017 is June 21).
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) March 9, 2017
The announcement came at the end of a Facebook Live stream that took the better part of an hour and abruptly ended twice; fans were encouraged to type “FIRE” and “DRACARYS” in the comments in order to make firethrowers melt a block of ice containing the premiere date. The season’s first teaser trailer, featuring the sigils of each of the series’ main houses, aired immediately afterward.
Then star Liam Cunningham appeared in a video congratulating the show’s fans on participating in the shared reveal. “I can personally assure you,” he said of Season 7, “it will be worth the wait.”