In Game of Thrones it’s a generally accepted rule that all men must die, but the series itself is set to live on. As the most-watched TV show in HBO history, Game of Thrones‘ encroaching conclusion has understandably spurred the network to seek out a way to keep viewers coming back to Westeros even after the series concludes with its eighth and final season in 2018.
HBO has deals with four different writers – Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale), and Carly Wray (The Leftovers) – to work alongside Game of Thrones novelist and creator George R.R. Martin to develop four competing ideas for spinoff or prequel series set in the Game of Thrones universe. The executive producers and creators of the flagship series, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, will be attached to the four projects, as will Martin, but none of them will be writing whichever idea wins HBO’s War of the Four Writers.
Even with two more seasons of the main series left to go, speculation is already rampant on how to best continue Game of Thrones beyond the long-awaited answer of who will finally win the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms. George R.R. Martin has already shared copious details of the history of Westeros and the backstories of his dozens of characters in his five existing novels, short stories and ancillary works, and he reportedly has a thousand pages worth of material about the history of Westeros and its denizens to draw from. The Game of Thrones universe is the television equivalent of the Star Wars expanded universe with a thousand years of stories and characters to potentially explore.
The ideas being developed by the four writers are currently top secret, but there are a few options that are logical directions to take the potential spinoff. There are merits to both doing a prequel and to spinning off already existing popular characters. Assuming the stories of the existing main characters like Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Cercei Lannister (Lena Headey), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), will conclude with Game of Thrones season 8, there are some ancillary characters whom fans would love to follow on potential further adventures. Let’s set off on the King’s Road and explore the Game of Thrones spinoff possibilities.
A direct prequel seems to be the most likely option. The story of how Rhaegar Targaryen abducted Lyanna Stark, prompting her brother Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon, who was in love with her, to overthrow the Targaryen dynasty is a natural tale to tell. The ramifications of this pivotal event in Westerosi history continue to be felt in the current series. Fans have already seen a few key moments of this saga depicted in Bran Stark’s season 6 visions given to him by the Three-Eyed Raven; the series has even cast young Ned Stark and Lyanna Stark. It would be rather epic to see Ned and Robert in their youth, decades before Robert grew into a corpulent king, and witness how Jaime earned his moniker ‘the Kingslayer’ by killing the Mad King Aerys Targaryen.
The familiarity Game of Thrones’ fans have with Robert’s Rebellion could work against it, however. While it would be a thrill to see these stories we’ve only heard the characters describe in dialogue finally depicted, it’s also a story with few surprises. The biggest one – Who are Jon Snow’s real parents? – will already be definitively settled when the current series concludes. Robert’s Rebellion would skirt a bit too close to the same criticisms heaped on Star Wars: Rogue One, filling in the blanks and the cracks of a story already well known. However, most fans simply won’t care – any more than they rebelled against Rogue One. Robert’s Rebellion would be a wise move for HBO to continue telling the histories the popular Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen characters fans already know and love.
The First Men
The prehistory of Westeros would be a bigger departure than Robert’s Rebellion, but it has great potential for a completely different kind of Game of Thrones saga. In depicting the arrival of the First Men and their encounters with the Children of the Forest, Game of Thrones could go much deeper into the magical aspects of the universe. This is a lesser-known era, but one that’s bristling with potential to tell a more fantasy-based story about the Game of Thrones universe. The hostilities between the First Men and the Children – which prompted the Children to create the White Walkers to fight the First Men – would be a completely different kind of Game of Thrones show. However, would a more magic-based show without Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens and the familiar medieval settings capture the audience in the same way the current series does?