Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones has always had a weird reverse deadline hanging over its head. As the show marches forward year after year, it's eating up its source material — and the A Song of Ice and Fire book series isn't done. There are currently five of a planned seven books published, and as time stretches on with no book six in sight, fans are really starting to worry about what will happen if the show outpaces George R.R. Martin's writing.

The answer? We might just end up watching the story play out on TV before it does on page, and nobody wants that.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly showrunners David Benioff and Weiss, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo, and George R.R. Martin himself all weighed in on the potential problem. And what they had to say was not reassuring.

"I finally understand fans’ fear — which I didn’t a couple years ago: What if the storytelling catches up to the books?" admitted Michael Lombardo. His solution? "Let’s all hope and pray that’s not going to be a problem." Um, yeah. That's fine for the fans, but we'd prefer if the bigwigs in charge had a few more tricks up their sleeves.

Some people — Martin included — have proposed potential stop-gap measures if worst comes to worst. One idea is to have HBO take a year off from Game of Thrones, potentially even subbing in a prequel series instead. But that's not necessarily feasible. For one thing, there are contractual issues with actors that make such a move iffy. Plus, as David Benioff points out, they "can't wait too long because of the kids."

No amount of wishful thinking will stop Bran and Arya from growing up.That's also why stretching the series so that each season covers less ground won't fly. (Not to mention the artistic problems with screwing with the show's pacing just to buy Martin more time.)

Would the Powers That Be really go ahead with the show if it meant going ahead of the books? Martin, who has revealed the basic outline of the rest of the series to the showrunners, told Entertainment Weekly he wouldn't "be happy" with that. Neither would the showrunners, who say they "have [their] fingers crossed that George will get there."

We just hope that George R.R. Martin is doing more than crossing his fingers — he should be busy typing away!

What do you think Game of Thrones should do if it catches up with the books? Sound off in the comments below!

Get Game of Thrones spoilers here.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.