Game of Thrones is set to come to an end next year, but HBO isn’t ready to give up on its cash cow just yet. The network announced last week that it was pursuing four different ideas for spinoffs, focusing on expanding the world author George R.R. Martin has developed.
The question on everyone’s mind — and the one HBO will keep closest to the vest — is what those shows could be. With little to no information given to press, it’s hard to even try and predict what stories the series could follow, but the general murmur around the community is that it won’t be anything based on Martin’s main A Song of Ice and Fire series. Instead, it will use adjacent narratives and short stories based around the universe that Martin has published in various anthologies over the years.
In doing so, HBO can create something just unique enough that it doesn’t feel like an attempt to recreate Game of Thrones, but similar enough that it should hold viewers’ attention.
There are dozens of stories to choose from, but we’ve nailed down the four that make the most sense for the network to pursue.
Dunk and Egg
Dunk and Egg is a prequel series that takes place just before the evens of A Song of Ice and Fire kickoff. It follows the legendary member of the Kinsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall, and his squire; a man who would go on to become King Aegon V Targaryen. It’s a perfect show for HBO trying to find an easy spinoff to ease its audience into. There are comedic elements to having a knight and squire walking around a vast land — as we’ve seen with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne — and just enough of a history that audiences already know to create a series worth investing time into.
It’s also one of the only series that Martin has talked to HBO about. On April 15, 2014, Martin published a blog post confirming that he was interested in bringing the Dunk and Egg stories to television. The only issue, Martin noted, surrounded who owned the rights. When HBO picked up the rights to A Song of Ice and Fire, they got everything included in Westeros. Therefore, Martin couldn’t do it without HBO.
“Whereas if HBO decided they wanted to make a Dunk & Egg miniseries or TV movies, they'd first need to buy the stories,” Martin wrote. “That's a much more attractive proposition for all concerned, I think ... but if it happens, it will happen years from now, not tomorrow, and not next week.”
At the time, he didn’t know if anything would come of it, but with the network officially interested in another series based on the author’s work, Dunk and Egg seems like the perfect route to go down.
Another prequel series to Game of Thrones, Robert’s Rebellion was one of the last big civil wars that occurred between the various houses of Westeros. The Rebellion, which is also referred to as the War of the Usurper, lasted one year and ended with the attack on Dragonstone. As diehard fans of both the TV series and the books know, it was this attack that led to the fall of the Targaryen reign and the birth of the Baratheon dynasty.
The war began when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped Lyanna Stark, the parents of Jon Snow. As one of the most important characters in the series — and the proper heir to the Iron Throne — HBO is going to want to continue telling Snow’s story in any way they can. The audience has proven before that there’s a large interest in learning more about Snow’s parentage and this would provide the network with an avenue to do just that.
HBO has already introduced viewers to the concept of Robert’s Rebellion, too. There was an animated re-telling of the story that was released a part of the special features that came packaged with the fifth season on Blu-ray. The video is also available on YouTube, and can be seen below, but there’s no question that most Game of Thrones aficionados have already been introduced to the story.
With part of the work already complete, Robert’s Rebellion would be a great spinoff companion to Game of Thrones.
If you want to attract the Game of Thrones audience, why not go with one of the most iconic campaigns? Aegon’s Conquest, most often simply referred to as the Conquest, depicts the period in which Aegon Targaryen conquered Westeros. Along with his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, a small army and a couple of dragons, Aegon Targaryen managed to take control of six kingdoms; the only kingdom that didn’t bow down to his violent intrusion was Dorne, which remained independent.
The conquest was followed by the first Dornish war, and of the four stories we’ve chosen, may be the one HBO is least interested in. With that being said, Aegon Targaryen’s conquest is so important to the overall structure and history of Game of Thrones, it may provide the enriching story fans will want to get their hands on when the main series comes to an end.
It also offers those who are more interested in the political landscape of Martin’s expansive world to learn a little more of how various allegiances were formed and kingdoms rose. Considering the campaign is also two years of battles and takeovers, there’s the opportunity for HBO to bring on some of the best directors working in the industry and film the cinematic sequences the network loves to see executed on the show.
The Night’s King
What if HBO wanted to continue telling the story of the most dangerous, fearsome species in Game of Thrones? We’ve already been introduced to the Night’s King in a season five episode of Game of Thrones. After Jon Snow and some of the Wildlings manage to survive an attack from the undead army, a ferocious looking white figure stood before them. With just a small swipe of his hands, he manages to bring an undead army to life, commanding them with ease.
Although the Night King’s story has been told already on the show, he does present HBO the opportunity to tell a more horror-oriented story than Game of Thrones allowed. Instead of making another fantasy, they could add a scarier show to its block of programming. HBO, whose prestige TV lineup rides on the back of tense dramas and provocative comedies, doesn’t have a horror series right now and this could be a great way of selling one.
This would also allow the Starks and the Night’s Watch to continue on without having to worry about the political factor that accompanies the main series. Whether or not HBO decides it wants to do this is unclear, but considering the fact that the network is pursuing four series, it seems unlikely that they’ll all be fantasy oriented.
HBO doesn’t have a timeline for when the spinoff series will debut, but it won’t be until the main show ends next year. Game of Thrones returns for its seventh season on July 16.