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When will Game of Thrones season 8 air? Not until 2019.

The HBO series will return in “the first half of 2019,” but there’s still no official premiere date.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

It looks like Game of Thrones’ Jon and Dany will have a lot of cabin time to themselves and plenty of idle days on their hands — much like audiences awaiting the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, which we’ve long known won’t be returning until 2019.

But as of this week, there’s good news for fans clamoring for a season eight premiere date that falls sooner rather than later: While speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Wednesday, HBO programming president Casey Bloys narrowed the season’s debut window to the first half of 2019. Hey, it’s something!

The reason for the long delay between seasons is an extended production timeline, which involves both a shooting schedule and a separate special effects schedule. The complicated on-location filming that Game of Thrones is known for has grown even more complicated since winter finally arrived in Westeros, requiring chillier climes (and more filming in Iceland) and ultimately causing the seventh season to be delayed several months.

Season eight will need to incorporate not only wintery locations but Game of Thrones’ most elaborate special effects yet — think Dany’s dragons facing their zombie ice-dragon counterpart in a blue-flamed standoff.

Of course, it also can’t have escaped HBO’s notice that the delay of season seven only helped increase fan anticipation; the ratings for Game of Thrones’ seventh season were the show’s highest ever, and after a twist-filled finale, viewers will no doubt be clamoring to find out how the epic series finally resolves.

There may only be a single six-episode season left in the entire series — but hopefully the long winter between now and when it airs will give viewers something well worth the wait.

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