Game of Thrones is set to return later this year for its seventh season, which will be shortened to seven episodes from the usual 10. While it’s not yet clear how many episodes the eighth season will have – it was previously thought to be 6, but new information suggests that number is flexible – it will definitely serve as a conclusion to the Game of Thrones saga, at least as far as the television show is concerned. Still, the mythology of the show is shrouded in mystery, and a good portion of the appeal lies in what is unknown about the world.

With this in mind and given the explosive popularity of Game of Thrones, HBO has understandably previously opened up about the possibility of spinoffs set in the vast world the show inhabits. Though nothing concrete has yet been released (the network’s focus is more on the final two seasons of Game of Thrones at the moment), the network recently reiterated that the idea of a spinoff is still on the table.

While talking to Variety, HBO programming president Casey Bloys revealed that the network is definitely still “exploring” the idea of a Game of Thrones spinoff, citing the richly detailed world and the vastness of the property. Bloys’ full thoughts on the potential for a spinoff, read below:

“All I can say is that we’re exploring it. We don’t have any scripts, we’re not even close to saying ‘Oh let’s do this.’ But it’s a big enough property that we would be foolish not to explore it. It’s a really rich world. We’d be foolish not to look at it.”

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones HBO Still ‘Exploring’ Game of Thrones Spinoffs

While there’s not much more in the way of information than fans previously had, the fact that HBO is still mulling over the idea of a spinoff is promising, because it obviously means nothing has been ruled out. It’s also likely that the network will continue to be coy about any sort of definitive answer until Game of Thrones concludes, presumably in 2018. Fan reception to the show’s conclusion could go a long way in helping the network decide if it’s worth it to continue exploring stories set in the fantasy world.

There’s a lot of potential for any number of spinoffs to recapture the quality of storytelling and popularity that Game of Thrones has utilized throughout its run, and based on George R. R. Martin’s as-of-yet uncompleted A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy book series. One potential source for inspiration is Martin’s own prequel novella series Tales of Dunk and Egg, set approximately 90 years before the events in Game of Thrones. While as safe a bet as any when it comes to spinoff material, some fans have also been clamoring for a prequel series focusing on a young Ned Stark during Robert’s Rebellion.

Still, there are certainly some fans who won’t be initially on board with the idea of oversaturating the Game of Thrones name with spinoffs for fear of diminished returns in terms of quality. While certainly a valid concern, if Game of Thrones does indeed conclude on a high note, it could prove to buy HBO even more credibility when it comes future ideas they may have with the property.

Game of Thrones will return with season 7 this summer.

Source: Variety

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