HBO’s programming chief defended the final season of Game of Thrones against disappointed critics and fans, while shooting down spin-off ideas.

Speaking to Variety, Casey Bloys praised showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and the six-episode eighth season.

“I think the guys did a great job,” Bloys said. “…I think to a certain extent it was expected that for a show this big, there’s no way you’re going to please everybody. It’s roughly split with some people loving it and some people disliking it. That’s about what you’d expect. I think the guys landed a massive plane and did a great job doing it. But you’re never going to make everybody happy, nor should that be the goal.”

The executive also disagreed with the most common criticism of the final stretch — that it would have been better served with more episodes to flesh out the story. “The guys have had a very, very specific plan in their head for a long time,” he said. “This was not something that was kind of slapdash, where at the end of last season we said, ‘Eh, we only feel like doing six.’ They were very, very deliberate. This was well thought out.”

Game of Thrones
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

The executive also shot down the idea of doing any direct sequels to Thrones, such as an Arya Stark spin-off. All the George R.R. Martin-based projects HBO has in development to follow up Thrones are prequels set before the events in GoT.

“I want to leave [GoT] as it’s own work of art and not have shows directly [following its storyline or] having Arya do that,” he said “I think it’s best to try the prequels in other areas of George’s massive universe — just feels like the right thing to do, [to] let the show stand on its own.”

The news follows star Sophie Turner calling a fan petition to remake season 8 with different writers “disrespectful” to all those who work on the show.

Despite some online backlash and lower-than-usual episode review averages on sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, GoT season 8 premiered to record ratings and then continued to grow, climaxing with 19.3 million overnight viewers for the network and is averaging roughly 45 million viewers per episode in the U.S. alone.

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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