Briefing

The future of Game of Thrones

HBO will debut its first Game of Thrones spinoff this summer, but it isn't expected to be the last. Here's everything we know about the future of the fantasy franchise: 

House of the Dragon

Set about 200 years before the events of Game of ThronesHouse of the Dragon centers around the Targaryens, ancestors of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). It's based on George R.R. Martin's 2018 book Fire & Blood, which was more of a history lesson about House Targaryen than a traditional narrative. The series will depict the so-called Dance of the Dragons, a Targaryen civil war. 

Paddy Considine plays the king, Viserys I Targaryen, while Matt Smith stars as his younger brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen, and Emma D'arcy plays the king's firstborn child, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Rhys Ifans also plays the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, while Olivia Cooke plays Otto's daughter, Alicent Hightower, and Steve Toussaint plays the "famed nautical adventurer" Lord Corlys Velaryon, also known as the Sea Snake. As the title suggests, there will also be plenty of dragons — 17, to be exact

House of the Dragon was co-created by Martin and Ryan Condal, and it's produced by Miguel Sapochnik, who directed some of Thrones' most iconic episodes like the "Battle of the Bastards." David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones who became somewhat infamous in the fandom after the show's divisive ending, aren't involved.

The show debuts on August 21, and the 10-episode first season will be a major test of how viable the Thrones franchise is for HBO beyond the original series — and whether audiences flock to it despite that controversial ending is the million-dollar question. 

The Sea Snake

Even before House of the Dragon premieres, though, several other Thrones shows are in early development. 

One is known as The Sea Snake, which will center around a young Corlys Velaryon, that nautical adventurer character played by Steve Toussaint in House of the Dragon — making this a prequel to a prequel. Bruno Heller, who co-created the HBO series Rome, is working on the pilot for The Sea Snake, a project previously titled Nine Voyages

10,000 Ships

Another spinoff is 10,000 Ships, which is also a prequel. This one would revolve around Princess Nymeria, and it's set even further in the past: about 1,000 years before Game of Thrones. Nymeria, the namesake of Arya's direwolf, is known for leading the Rhoynar people on a voyage to Dorne. She's credited as the founder of that region, where we met members of House Martell like Pedro Pascal's Oberyn Martell in the original series. 

Amanda Segel, who has worked on Person of Interest and Helstrom, has been tapped as showrunner, and in March 2022, Martin said she had delivered "a couple drafts."

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Yet another prequel will be based on Martin's Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas, which are set about 90 years before the events of Game of Thrones. They follow the various adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, a knight who later becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and his squire, Prince Aegon Targaryen, who later becomes king. 

Steve Conrad, who has worked on shows like Patriot, will write and produce. Martin says the first season will adapt his novella "The Hedge Knight" and that HBO is "leaning toward" titling the series A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, though The Hedge Knight is another potential name. 

In a blog laying out these three aforementioned shows, Martin clarified the projects are in early development but might not all end up happening. "It is my hope that a number of these shows will get on the air," he said. "Not all, no, it is never all, but more than one. I certainly hope so." HBO already scrapped one potential spinoff  — a prequel starring Naomi Watts — despite already shooting a pilot.

At least 3 animated shows

In addition to the live-action shows, not one, not two, but at least three animated Game of Thrones shows are reportedly in the works. One of them would be set in Yi Ti, an advanced society in Essos that was inspired by Imperial China, and Martin says the working title is The Golden Empire. The animated shows are expected to be HBO Max originals. 

A Jon Snow series

In addition to the many prequels, a sequel series centered around Jon Snow is in early development, with Kit Harington attached to return in the lead role, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Of all spinoffs we know about, this would be the only one to directly following the events of Game of Thrones. By the end of the series, Jon went into exile after murdering Daenerys, heading north with the Wildlings, so the sequel show would pick up after this. It wouldn't be surprising to see other characters like Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) return, though that hasn't been confirmed.

As with the other shows, this project was described as being in early development, so the success or failure of House of the Dragon could determine whether HBO moves forward with it. 

Two more books ... maybe 

Amid all of this, fans of Martin's book series have been waiting more than 10 years for the next installment, The Winds of Winter, which is meant to be followed by a seventh and final book, A Dream of Spring

There are no signs the highly anticipated sixth novel is even close to being released, but Martin has assured readers he continues to work on it regularly. In March 2022, he said he made "a lot of progress" on the novel in 2020 — but admitted he made "less" progress in 2021.

Some of Martin's readers have expressed frustration that, amid the long wait for the book, he is involved in all the spinoff shows, something he acknowledges has "taken a ton of my time and attention." Addressing those fans, Martin wrote on his blog, "I know, I know, for many of you out there, only one of those projects matters. I am sorry for you. They ALL matter to me." 

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