What a long, strange trip it’s been for David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the Game of Thrones showrunners and now former Star Wars writer/producers. The Emmy-winning pair who oversaw all eight seasons of the groundbreaking (and in the end, bitterly polarizing) HBO series say they’re leaving the galaxy far, far away to devote more time to their upcoming, and as yet unspecified, Netflix projects.
It’s an abrupt turn of events for the duo that was about to inherit the keys to one of the most beloved kingdoms in film history.
Here’s a look at how the last two and a half years have played out.
2015-2016—Game of Thrones to wrap up with fewer episodes than usual
The possibility of Benioff and Weiss ending the show after the seventh season starts popping up in the press, even though HBO and George R.R. Martin would prefer the series continue for several more years. In April 2016, the duo confirms to Variety that they are, in fact, concluding the show with two abbreviated seasons that would span 13 total episodes (as opposed to the usual 12 per season for a total of 24). Diehard fans who know just how much story is left to cover start freaking out.
February 6, 2018—Star Wars deal announced
Benioff and Weiss, buzzing along on a seemingly unstoppable streak of hype, announce they are developing a new Star Wars trilogy. Their project will introduce new characters unrelated to those in the original Skywalker saga, possibly in a medieval setting similar in style to the world of Westeros.
April 19, 2019—Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres
The first of the final six episodes premieres to almost nervous excitement from fans. But with each week, the chorus goes from singing notes of cautious optimism to bellowing overt rage. Rotten Tomatoes gave this last season a 56% rating, concluding “Game of Thrones’ final season shortchanges the women of Westeros, sacrificing satisfying character arcs for spectacular set-pieces in its mad dash to the finish line.” Benioff and Weiss do not speak to the press following the series finale.
July 8, 2019—The showrunners’ names start topping Google searches for “bad writers”
All thanks to an inspired Reddit campaign.
Mid-July, 2019—Benioff and Weiss do not attend San Diego Comic Con
Perhaps linked to the near universal bilious reaction to the end of GoT—including petitions to reshoot the entire eighth season—perhaps not, the masters of the future of Star Wars decide not to grace nerdom with their presence at nerdom’s biggest gathering.
August 7, 2019—The duo announces a massive deal with Netflix
As fans continue to gripe about GoT, Benioff and Weiss cry all the way to the Netflix bank, signing a deal worth a reported $200 million to write, produce, and direct new TV series and films for the streaming company over several years. To date, not much has been revealed about the Netflix projects, but the move from HBO to Netflix means that their next scheduled project for HBO, the alt-history series The Confederate, which imagined a world where the South won the Civil War, was officially dead.
October 25, 2019—Release dates for new Star Wars trilogy announced
Disney proclaims that the next series of Star Wars films will hit theaters in 2022, 2024, and 2026. Fans cheered, but in the wake of GoT’s much reviled (but still Outstanding Drama Emmy-winning) final season, many vocal viewers begin fretting about what disruption in the Force the two might create.
October 26, 2019—Benioff and Weiss speak at the Austin Film Festival
After laying low for months, Benioff and Weiss emerge from self-imposed exile to take part in a panel at the Austin Film Festival. They reveal so many disturbing tidbits about their approach to GoT, it’s a miracle any of GoT’s eight seasons or individual episodes made any sense at all.
Among the tidbits they feel comfortable sharing: they had no idea why Martin chose to trust them with his life’s work. At the time, the pair had no background in fantasy and did not appear to be interested in appealing to fantasy fans. They also admitted to struggling with dialog in the early days. According to a report in Austin 360, Weiss joked, “In every scene, we were three lines away from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'” The panel does nothing to mend their reputation.
October 28, 2019—Benioff and Weiss part ways with Lucasfilm
And just like that, it’s over. In a statement to Deadline, the pair say, “We love Star Wars. When George Lucas built it, he built us too. Getting to talk about Star Wars with him and the current Star Wars team was the thrill of a lifetime, and we will always be indebted to the saga that changed everything.” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy issues a statement of her own, saying, “David Benioff and Dan Weiss are incredible storytellers. We hope to include them in the journey forward when they are able to step away from their busy schedule to focus on Star Wars.” Some call the announcement a setback for Star Wars, others a windfall.