It’s been a rumor before the final season of Game of Thrones even began filming: “they’ll shoot alternate finale scenes so the real ending doesn’t leak!” There wasn’t much reason to believe this, but showrunner David Benioff added fuel to the flames by implying as much, and a few cast members said it outright–though, as it turns out, they were either misdirecting the press for fun or misinformed themselves. Whatever their reasons, if there were still any doubts, Maisie Williams is here to put them to rest.
This idea of “alternate endings” took root back in 2017, when HBO’s programming president Casey Bloys claimed “they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that there’s no real definitive answer until the end.” Even at the time, we warned readers to take his words with a grain of salt. As I wrote more than two years ago: “HBO doesn’t have the budget to film multiple finale episodes (or even entire sequences) that will never air. That’s just a tremendous waste of money for very little gain,” as “just keeping the cameras rolling and the cast and crew on location costs ridiculous amounts of money.”
At the Sky Up Next showcase red carpet, Maisie Williams corroborated our suspicious while speaking to Metro: “We didn’t [film an alternate ending]. It costs so much money and the schedule was way too tight. We were spending all the money on dragons.”
She jokingly adds, in regards to the much-maligned ending, that she believes “people wish we did,” but they definitely did not: “We didn’t! So, that’s your lot!”
So there it is.
We will never get to watch a scene in which, say, Jon joins Daenerys in the end, or someone other than Bran becomes king. Scripted alternate endings are another–much more plausible–matter, one which could’ve easily been accomplished as a cheap safety measure against leaks, but shooting them was always out of the question.