spinoffs

The Game of Thrones Prequels Are Coming. Here’s What We Know So Far.

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

We’ve reached the end of Game of Thrones, ending an eight-year saga spanning seven kingdoms, three dragons (that we know of), and too many stabbings and beheadings to count. In the weeks leading up to the finale there has been much wringing of hands over how it marks the end of the monoculture, the final iteration of a time when we all, I don’t know, gathered around in our sunken living rooms with our TV dinners to watch M*A*S*H, or something. The flip side of all this talk of fragmentation, though, is that we’re still very much in an age of serialization and franchise juggernauts, so it made absolute sense when HBO announced that multiple spinoffs will vie to fill the Wun Wun–sized hole in our hearts after Game of Thrones ends. So take comfort in knowing that new series are coming, and whatever happens on Sunday night — even if Mad Queen Dany manages to burn all of Westeros to the ground — we won’t have to say goodbye to George R.R. Martin’s world. So let’s put on our Samwell hats and lay out everything we know about the post–Game of Thrones–iverse so far.

HBO has had as many as five series in the works.

In 2017, HBO announced that it had begun the process of developing “multiple possible spinoffs” for Game of Thrones, and by the end of the year, there were five in development. According to a recent update on George R.R. Martin’s blog, “three of them are still moving forward nicely.” Two are in the script stages, says Martin, and one (which we’ll get to) has just begun shooting.

There will be more women at the helm.

In that same announcement, HBO named the creatives who would be leading these separate Game of Thrones projects in the early stages: “Max Borenstein (Godzilla), Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Brian Helgeland (Mystic River), and Carly Wray (Mad Men).” HBO clarified that Martin would work directly on the projects led by Goldman and Wray.

Bryan Cogman’s spinoff is off.

Later in 2017, Entertainment Weekly reported that there was a fifth Game of Thrones prequel in the works at HBO, this one led by GoT co–executive producer Bryan Cogman, one of the show’s most prolific writers, having penned more episodes than George R.R. Martin. Martin blogged his excitement, adding that he would personally work on the project alongside Cogman. But in April 2019, Cogman admitted that HBO passed on the pitch and said, “So it is a good-bye. I am done with Westeros.”

They’ll likely all be prequels.

George R.R. Martin remains deeply interested in the fictional history of Westeros, and it seems as though all of the television prequels will take place before the events of Thrones. So this is almost certainly the end of the Kingsroad for the show’s characters.

Sorry, probably no Robert’s Rebellion.

If news of Game of Thrones prequels sparks visions of “Rob and Ned’s Excellent Adventure,” don’t hold your breath. As early as 2013, George R.R. Martin stated that while he would be interested in writing a prequel about Westeros, “I don’t think, however, it would be a prequel about Robert’s Rebellion.”

Still, there is plenty of source material to work from.

In addition to dreaming of Robert’s Rebellion, fans have long hoped for an adaptation of Martin’s Tales of Dunk and Egg series of novellas, which tell the story of hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall and his trusty squire Egg, a boyhood nickname for (SPOILER ALERT!) King Aegon Targaryen the Fifth (Dany’s great-grandfather, if I read the family tree correctly). These stories take place around 90 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Writers might also draw from The World of Ice & Fire, Martin’s 2014 Westerosi history book that covers the backstories of everything from the great houses to the Age of Heroes. Furthermore, last fall, Martin released the 800-page companion book Fire & Blood, which covers Targaryen history going back to the conquest of Westeros, 300 years before the events of the television series. Martin remains enamored with the Targaryens, and in a May 4 blog post wrote about the upcoming series in development: “What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of Fire & Blood and come up with your own theories.” Hmmm …

And speaking of the Age of Heroes …

The one project we know the most about right now is the one helmed by Jane Goldman and co-written by George R.R. Martin, which is apparently now filming under the working title Bloodmoon, at least according to British tabloid The Sun’s anonymous source. (Which is to say: grain of salt.) HBO ordered the pilot in 2018, and later that year we learned that the series will star Naomi Watts as a “charismatic socialite with a dark secret” and that her co-star will be Josh Whitehouse from Poldark. Far removed from the family lineages we’re used to, though, this series will take place around 10,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones, near the end of the Age of Heroes. Long before Targaryens flew over from Valyria, and well before the Andal Invasion, this epoch was the time of legendary, folkloric characters like Bran the Builder (who built the Wall against the first White Walker invasion) and Lann the Clever (House Lannister’s namesake). So expect things like Children of the Forest, First Men, and — we can only hope — a glimpse into the Night King’s past that involves Naomi Watts, somehow.

Blood-who?

Bloodmoon! (Again, still an unverified working title.) According to The Sun, this prequel pilot started filming in Belfast — home base for Winterfell — a couple of weeks ago, with S. J. Clarkson directing. Back in January, HBO announced that the cast will also include Star Wars’ Naomi Ackie, Angels in America’s Denise Gough, and Jamie Campbell Bower from the Twilight films. We still don’t know what the series revolves around, but the combination of Watts as a “charismatic socialite” and notably blond cast members makes me think it would be wise not to rule out a Lann the Clever plotline. Who’s to say Lann wasn’t a woman? Furthermore — and perhaps this is a clue — Martin hoped to call the series “The Long Night.” The imagery of a blood moon isn’t entirely insignificant in the world of Ice and Fire, either. There is a noble house from the Iron Islands, House Wynch, whose sigil is a “bloody moon on purple.” In the books, Waldon Wynch is a Euron supporter, which … choices.

One more thing: Don’t call them spinoffs.

In a post to his personal blog earlier this month, Martin confessed, “I mislike the term ‘spinoffs.’” Instead, Martin’s devised a term for the new series that perfectly fits with his universe’s themes of royalty and bloodlines: they’re called “successor shows,” sweetie. Get it right.

But they’re not Succession.

No, they’re HBO’s successor shows, not to be confused with HBO’s show Succession

Game of Thrones Prequels Are Coming. Here’s What We Know.