‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 7 Release Date: The Dangers Of The Long Wait

Ned and Catelyn in the godswood of Winterfell.
Ned and Catelyn in the godswood of Winterfell. HBO

Game of Thrones usually premieres in April, or sometimes late March. That has always been the case, ever since the show first premiered in the long-ago days of 2011. But this year, we have to wait a little longer for the return of HBO’s biggest series. Game of Thrones season 7 doesn’t premiere until July 16—the first season set in winter is coming out in the middle of high summer. There are good reasons for that, but it’s still a bit of a risk—a lull long enough for some of us to move on.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This Summer, Winter Is Coming

Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards.
Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards. HBO

There’s a reason television shows run for a few weeks a year, go into a lull, then take a year off, only to return at just about the same time the following year. Obviously, dramatic television is too much work to make it all in the week before it airs; those long lulls are when they actually shoot and edit the show. But having the show come back at the same time every year is critical; it builds in a certain expectation, a feeling, a muscle memory among viewers. The coming of spring means longer days, birds chirping, and a new season of horrific violence on Game of Thrones.

Altering that balance, changing the Game of Thrones season 7 release date to the summer, defies the natural order. Just like in Westeros, the seasons (of the show) are now out of whack. It is Spring, and yet there is no Game of Thrones. Winter is coming… but in summer? It just doesn’t feel right. And disrupting the rhythm of the seasons carries greater dangers. Waiting a year and a half to air the next season risks breaking the spell the show carries over viewers, especially when the next season is so short. We’ll then have to wait another year for the other half, also dreadfully short.

Sure, for a show as big as Game of Thrones, even a slight delay won’t hurt the viewership numbers—and it will be very exciting when it finally does come back, possibly better than ever. But like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, two other shows with long gaps between seasons and split-up, abbreviated final seasons, the long delay breaks the spell. Life moves on. We’ll still watch Game of Thrones when it comes back, but somehow, a little bit of the magic is gone.

Or maybe it’s just sour grapes. We want our Game of Thrones season 7 premiere right now, darn it! Alas, we have to wait until July 16.

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