'House of the Dragon' producer reveals why season 2 will be shorter than its predecessor

Tom Glynn-Carney HBO House of the Dragon Season 1 - Episode 8
(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

When "House of the Dragon" season 2 comes around on HBO on Sunday, June 19, you'll definitely be seeing more new characters, more fire-breathing dragons and more fantastical world-building from the "Game of Thrones" prequel series. What you won't be seeing is more episodes — the drama's second season will only have eight episodes, two fewer than the standard 10-ep order of its previous installment. 

It's a seemingly surprising move for the network, especially given that "HOTD" is an expansion of one of HBO's most iconic and successful properties. (For comparison, "Game of Thrones" boasted 10 episodes a year for seasons 1 through 6, followed by a 13-episode final chapter that was split into the show's last two seasons.) Deadline reported back in March 2023 that the reduced episode order was "part of a long-term plan for the show" and that the reasoning behind "the episode count trim was story-driven," per an HBO spokesperson. 

However, a new interview in Entertainment Weekly with "House of the Dragon" executive producer Sara Hess suggests that season 2's eight-episode order was actually not a move by the creative team, and instead came from above. (According to Deadline, some sources believe that leadership changes and cost-cutting strategies at HBO's parent company, Warner Bros. Discover, were to blame for the shrunken episode order.) 

 "It wasn't really our choice," Hess revealed to EW, though she declined to delve into exactly why the decision was made or if it impacted the team's plans for the season. 

That 2023 Deadline article reported that a portion of the plot originally intended for season 2, "including a major battle," was being moved to the show's still-to-be-greenlit third season. And while HBO still hasn't made official announcements about a potential "House of the Dragon" season 3 — for reference, the series was renewed for a second season in August 2022, less than a week after its series premiere — the creative team is already cracking away at ideas for the third season. 

"House of the Dragon" showrunner Ryan Condal revealed to the outlet that he and Hess were "deep into writing a third season" should HBO decide that they want more from the Targaryen-centered spinoff. Advance planning is required to maintain the current schedule of one new "HOTD" season every other year, he explained. 

In terms of the future of the series, "You certainly don't want to rush to get to an end, but you also don't want to overstay your welcome," Condal said. "You want to find this very satisfying place to go out that ties up enough loose ends and leaves others intentionally open because, as we know, this history marches on for another 150 years to Daenerys."

As for what "HOTD" fans could expect, did Hess and Condal give up any details about the team's plans for season 3?  "Nice try, but no," Hess jokingly told the pub. 

But if there is a third season to come, star Olivia Cooke (who plays Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower in the show) also told EW that she will be preparing for filming differently than she has these previous two editions. "By the end of season 2, I was a f---ing shell of myself. I was a husk. I could not form a sentence. I was so tired," she revealed. "I need to implement some way of getting through season 3, if there's a season 3, to really harness as much energy as possible. It is a behemoth."

Tom's Guide will keep you posted on all things related to "House of the Dragon" season 2 and, potentially, season 3. In the meantime, you can catch up with all of your favorite "HOTD" characters by rewatching the show's first season with a Max subscription. 

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is a writer-editor covering culture, food and drink, travel and general lifestyle in New York City. She was previously the Deputy Editor at My Imperfect Life, the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York.