Game of Thrones is set to make it's return this Sunday, and its legions of fans across the world couldn't be more excited. Over 8 million people tuned in for last year's season finale, setting a new high for the series in the ratings department — one that very well could be surpassed this weekend.
Given Thrones' exploding popularity (and the fact that only a few seasons remain on the docket), it only makes sense that HBO would look to further capitalize on their worldwide phenomenon by expanding on the world they've adopted from George R.R. Martin's novels. The author himself has recently expressed interest in a spinoff series, and while nothing has been officially announced yet, the idea of more stories set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire has us intrigued to say the least.
Here are the top 12 Game of Thrones Spinoffs We'd Love To See.
12 The Greyjoy Rebellion
Occurring nearly a decade before the events of Game of Thrones, a series focusing on the Greyjoy Rebellion would gives us a glimpse into the earlier years of Robert’s rule and would highlight the fact that gaining power is often easier than holding onto it. The Greyjoy Rebellion, as the name would imply, was an uprising of the Iron Islanders led by Balon Greyjoy, who wanted to carve out an independent kingdom for himself free from the Iron Throne. With the help of Ned Stark and others, Robert Baratheon was able to put down Greyjoy’s revolt and solidify his rule on the Iron Throne.
Just because we know how the story ends doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be interesting to see how we get there. An all-out war would be something we haven’t really seen in GoT, since even during the War of the Five Kings, the battles didn’t take center stage all that often. As an added bonus, it would give us a chance to bring Sean Bean back into our lives and see him not die for a change — something we so rarely get to see.
The Iron Islands will supposedly have a major part to play in the upcoming season of GoT, so this potential spinoff makes a good deal of sense.
11 The Age of Heroes
Little is known of the war between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, but we do know its end marked the beginning of what was known as the Age of Heroes. It was during this period that many of the great houses of Westeros were founded, including the Starks (who trace their lineage all the way back to Bran the Builder) and the Lannisters (which was founded by Lann the Clever).
Even within the world of Westeros, there are many who consider the stories of the Age of Heroes to be just that, stories. But that vagueness opens up plenty of possibilities. If the showrunners wanted to keep with Game of Thrones' semi-historical feel, then they could focus on telling the “true” history of the Age of Heroes. If they wanted something more classically fantasy, then they could bring the myths and tales of that era to life. Either one would be a fascinating story to see unfold.
10 The Faceless Men
We think we can all agree the Faceless Men are kind awesome. When we’re first introduced to them back in season two through Arya’s buddy Jaqen H’ghar, they seem to be little more than murderers for hire with the nifty ability to alter their physical appearance. Later on, however, we learn they are so much more than highly-skilled killers. During Arya’s training at the House of Black and White, her mentor recounts the origins of the Faceless Men and how they originated amongst the slaves of Old Valyria. Their long history and equally long reach would give the writers a chance to tell stories in a wide range of locations, as we follow different branches of the Faceless Men operating in different parts of the world. The show could even have a sliding timescale, following different generations of Faceless Men each season.
One thing that could really set this series apart is the acting. With the Faceless Men’s penchant for changing their looks, the show could theoretically cast different actors in the same role. Or to go in a completely different direction, if they wanted to go with a sliding timescale, it might be interesting to see the same actors reprise different roles each season, like in FX's American Horror Story.
9 Tales of Old Valyria
Many of us know that the Targaryens are descended from the nobility of Valyria and that they fled that land during the “Doom,” but other than that, we know very little of the Valyrian Freehold, save that it was once the greatest city in the world and the capital of a vast empire. When the land itself is mentioned in the books, it’s always described rather ominously, with Tyrion mentioning an old sailor's tale that states that anyone who looks upon the shores of Valyria is doomed.
The variety of tales to be told about Valyria are endless in their scope. One season could focus on the politics of the dragon riding nobles, similar to the scheming seen in Westeros. Another season could focus on the common people or slaves as they try to make their way in the world’s greatest city. The final season could feature the Doom and the Targaryens fleeing with the last of their dragons. It’s mentioned that the Doom came a full century before Aegon the Conqueror took to conquering Westeros, so what were the Targaryens doing during that time? We don’t know, but we’d love to find out!
8 Khal Drogo’s Adventures
When we first meet Khal Drogo, we don’t know very much about him, aside from the fact that he's a skilled warrior and that he looks a hell of a lot like Aquaman. He’s so skilled, in fact, that he’s never once been defeated in combat, evidenced by his long hair. We know that Drogo led one of the largest, if not the largest, Khalasars, but we also know that it wasn’t a strictly inherited position. So how did he take charge? Probably with lots of violence and murder, but the action is only half the adventure. The real draw is the chance to flesh out Dothraki culture, and the tales of Drogo’s early years would be a great way to do that while letting us know more about Daenerys’ Sun and Stars.
Thematically speaking, we see two ways this series could go. Either it could stick with the quasi-historical feel of Game of Thrones, taking its cues from historical events such as the rise of Genghis Khan, or it could embrace a more adventurous tone like something out of the stories of Robert E. Howard.
We still haven't quite gotten over Drogo's shocking death, and assuming Jason Momoa isn't too wrapped up with his big screen adventures with his Justice League pals, we'd love to see him return to the role that put him on the map.
7 Mance Rayder and the Wildling Clans
Mance Rayder wasn’t always the King Beyond the Wall, and was once a respected member of the Night’s Watch before he abandoned his oath and joined the Wildings. His history with the Night’s Watch could serve as a way to flesh out the organization a bit more, but we think the real draw would be to see what happens when he decides to leave the black behind.
At one point, Alliser Thorne mentions that Mance was King Beyond the Wall during the previous Winter, so we know that he has held the title for over a decade. But what we want to know is how he earned it. From what we see of the Wilding clans, it’s clear that they are hardly a unified nation, and fights are commonplace — even under Mance’s rule. A series exploring how he managed to bring together such a disparate group of people, as well as having the chance to learn more about the various clans and their cultures, would be well worth watching.
6 A Series Exploring Sothoryos and Ulthos
This is the one series that would give the writers nearly unlimited freedom simply because we know so little about the lands of Sothoryos and Ulthos. They’re only briefly mentioned in the books or show, but what little we do know is intriguing. Supposedly Sothoryos is a disease-ridden place inhabited by cannibals and a wide variety of dangerous animals including “ terrible walking lizards with scythes for claws.” Raptor-like monsters? Need we say more? Granted, it’s possible that those are just stories told in Westeros and Essos, but wouldn’t it be fascinating to find out? We think this show could really shine as a pulp adventure series which would be an interesting change of pace from the politically charged drama of Game of Thrones. Perhaps we could follow adventurers from the known world that get shipwrecked there and watch them fight to survive in a hostile and alien land.
Ulthos is, if that’s possible, even less known than Sothoryos, with George R.R. Martin stating that the whole reason he added it to the map in the first place was to highlight how little the people of Westeros know about the outside world. Once again, this lack of knowledge could work in the writers’ favor, since they would be able to craft their own stories without worrying about existing canon.
Martin recently made mention of "the lands beyond" when discussing the possibility of a spinoff. If the creators of this hypothetical new offshoot series don't wish to concern themselves as much with what's going on in Westeros and Essos, they'd be wise to consider exploring these lands.
5 The War Between the First Men and the Children of the Forest
We don’t know a whole lot about the First Men, save for the fact that, as their name would imply, they were the first men to settle Westeros, and that the northmen, such as the Starks, are descendants of them. One of the things we do know is that when they arrived in Westeros, it was already inhabited by magical being known as the Children of the Forest.
The Children were a small race that seldom grow taller than human children, but they were powerful sorcerers that, combined with their natural hunting skill and knowledge of the land, made them dangerous adversaries — a fact the First Men learned the hard way when they began cutting down the Children’s forests. This eventually led to an all-out war between the two races that lasted 2,000 years. This could be a great chance to see more of the mystical side of George R.R. Martin’s world (which we'll be exploring quite a bit of in this upcoming season) and tell a war story without an obvious distinction between good and evil. It could also set up another highly-anticipated series...
4 The Long Night
Eventually the Children of the Forest and the First Men make peace, with the First Men even adopting the religion of the Children. The two races co-exist peacefully for another two thousand years before the coming of the White Walkers, which led to the Long Night and, eventually, the Battle for the Dawn. One of the most epic conflicts in Westeros' history, The White Walkers swept across the lands, killing all in their path and raising the dead to serve in their army. Eventually, the First Men and the Children of the Forest managed to drive the Walkers back, but the accounts of what exactly happened vary.
This is one story that has potential to blend together several genres — from fantasy to horror — depending on the who the show is following. An episode focused on a group of refugees fleeing the White Walkers would have a very different feel from an episode focused on a group of soldiers battling the undead warriors. A series as epic in scale as it is terrifying, this series' potential would be through the roof.
3 Dunk & Egg
This is probably the most obvious one on this list, as author George R.R. Martin has stated that he believes the Dunk & Egg stories would be a perfect fit for a 2-hour TV movie. For those who don’t know, the Dunk & Egg stories are set 90 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, and they follow the adventures of future king Aegon V of House Targaryen and the future commander of his Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall.
There are currently three standalone novellas in the Dunk & Egg series, though Martin has said that he plans to write more when he gets the time. While viewers of Game of Thrones are used to serialized stories, we think there is merit to a well-told story that viewers can enjoy without having to keep track of everything that happened in previous episodes. This is probably the most light-hearted option on the table for HBO, at least in comparison to the far darker entries on this list.
2 The Targaryen Conquest of the Seven Kingdoms
For those of you that can't get enough of Daenerys' dragons, this one's for you. Set 300 years before the War of Five Kings, the War of Conquest would afford us an opportunity to see the Targaryen dragons in all their glory. Perhaps more interestingly, we would get to see the Seven Kingdoms when they actually were seven distinct kingdoms. Aegon Targaryen is one of the most important figures in Westerosi history, and the opportunity to see him riding the legendary beast known as Balerion the Black Dread into battle would be epic, to say the least.
Aside from all the awesome dragon action, one of the most interesting things about a series set during this time period would be exploring the culture of the Seven Kingdoms. The Targaryen conquest brought about political unification, but it likely brought a certain degree of cultural unification as well. We’d love to get a chance to explore the individual cultures of each of the Seven Kingdoms before they were united under a single throne.
1 Robert's Rebellion
Claiming the top spot is a spinoff that would excite even the casual fanbase of Game of Thrones. Oftentimes, only diehard fans of a series latch onto spinoffs, but because this one ties in so closely to the current series, we imagine it could be just as big (if not bigger) than the one millions have come to love. Make no mistake: this particular storyline may not have the legs to last more than two or three seasons, but it would be an enormous hit, no question about it.
15 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen "kidnapped" Robert Baratheon's betrothed Lyanna Stark and the Mad King killed Ned Stark's father and brother, kicking off a revolution that would topple a 300 year old dynasty. This is one spinoff that does run the risk of being a bit too similar to the current series. seeing as how it will feature younger versions of a lot of key players from Game of Thrones and will feature the same themes of warfare and political intrigue. One way to differentiate this series would be to to showcase both sides of the conflict, which leads us to what may be the most intriguing aspect of this prospective spinoff: the fact that a whole lot of people will end up rooting for the tragically doomed Prince Rhaegar.
As tough as fans might find it to turn against the beloved Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon, Rhaegar is often described as essentially being the greatest guy ever — save for running out on his wife with another woman, of course. The ending of this series would rip your heart out and smash it into pieces with Robert's giant warhammer, but it would be a remarkable sight to behold.
As for the cast, they would clearly need to enlist younger actors to reprise the roles of Ned and Robert, but it would be really interesting to see how new actors handled those roles. Also, as an added bonus, we firmly believe that Peter Capaldi was born to be play the Mad King. In addition to being the right age and an accomplished actor, he even looks the part of Aerys Targaryen.
An adaptation of Robert's Rebellion probably wouldn't start up until the current series wraps up in two or three seasons, but it would be ideal way to keep the magic alive in Westeros for a few more years. Make it happen, HBO.
Which is your favorite idea from this list? Do you have an idea for a series that would make for a great Game of Thrones story? Let us know!