House of the Dragon's first season ended with a bang, and the wait to see the fallout has already been excruciating. When will the hit series return, and what might be in store when it does? Here are all of the tidbits we've learned about season two so far:
It's expected to debut in 2024
Let's cut to the chase: How long do we have to wait for House of the Dragon to come back? We regret to inform you it will be quite some time, as the show isn't expected to return in 2023.
"Don't expect it in '23, but I think sometime in '24," Casey Bloys, HBO's chief content officer, told Vulture.
In a conversation with Penguin Random House, author and executive producer George R.R. Martin said it's possible the show could return "in like April or May instead of August" of 2024, but "I don't think it's much chance it's going to be before that." But then, in February 2023, Bloys told Variety it's a "good guess" that the second season won't be eligible for the 2024 Emmys, meaning it wouldn't air until at least June 2024.
So it sounds like we're probably looking at a premiere date sometime in summer 2024. Filming on season two is rumored to be starting in April 2023, and Matt Smith confirmed in March 2023 that he had received his scripts. For reference, season one started production in April 2021 and was on air in August 2022. Bloys also confirmed to Vulture that it's unlikely any of the other planned Thrones spinoffs will premiere before House of the Dragon season two.
Thankfully, the House of the Dragon writers have been hard at work for a while, and showrunner Ryan Condal noted to Variety that season two was being written "long before they ever announced it" — in post-production of season one. HBO officially renewed the show for a second season in August 2022.
If you're impatient to find out what happens next, though, you can always pick up the source material — George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood — and begin reading about 440 pages in, around the chapters titled "The Dying of the Dragons" — or watch the Game of Thrones episode "And Now His Watch Is Ended," in which Joffrey flat out gives away how House of the Dragon ends. Spoiler alert, dude!
It will have fewer episodes than the 1st season
House of the Dragon's second season will consist of just eight episodes, two fewer than the first season. Another 10-episode season was originally the plan, but things later changed and the scripts were rewritten, per Deadline.
Apparently, while working with Martin, Condal, the showrunner, "took a step back" to "take a big-picture view of the series" and assess how to break up the events of Fire & Blood. It was during this process that Condal reportedly decided to move a portion of the storyline originally planned for season two — "including a major battle" — into the third season, instead.
There will be no recastings or major time jumps
Perhaps the biggest complaint about House of the Dragon's first season was that the time jumps and recastings could get disorienting and that just 10 episodes covered almost 30 years of history. But that was mainly because the show was speeding toward the start of the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons, which is about to officially begin following the death of Rhaenyra's (Emma D'Arcy) son Luke (Elliot Grihault).
"As a reward to our wonderful audience for following us through all the time jumps and recasts, they are done," Condal told Deadline. "We tell the story in real-time from here forward. The actors are playing these characters until the end. We're not recasting anybody. We're not making any huge jumps forward in time." Expect the pacing in season two to be more akin to the original Game of Thrones, with little if any time passing between each episode.
Some fans have wondered whether Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who played the young versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent in the first five episodes, could return via flashbacks in season two. But Condal told Variety that this is "not a thing that we're doing" as they plan season two, though he's "not closing the door on anything." Alcock also told Deadline she won't be back next season.
It will have an expanded scope
Compared to Game of Thrones, which was constantly jumping around Westeros and elsewhere, House of the Dragon has been fairly contained so far, with much of the story taking place within King's Landing. But now that a war is underway, and Rhaenyra and Aegon are seeking allies from around the realm, this scope will change for season two.
"A war is coming that requires allegiances from different kingdoms and armies all over the map of Westeros," Condal told Variety. "I don't think we're going to get quite as vast as the original Game of Thrones did in its final analysis. But there are definitely many more new worlds to come, and new worlds that you haven't necessarily seen in the original show, either."
Next season should, for example, take us back to Winterfell for the first time since Game of Thrones, as that's where Rhaenyra's oldest son, Jace, was sent at the end of season one. Condal confirmed to Variety that "we will cast Cregan Stark at some point," referring to the lord of Winterfell. Indeed, it wouldn't be surprising if Jace's trip to Winterfell to secure the allegiance of the Starks, which is occurring at the same time as Luke's death in Storm's End, is the first scene of season two. Martin also noted while speaking to Penguin Random House that viewers will be headed to Harrenhal and the Riverlands next season. In the season one finale, Daemon (Matt Smith) said he planned to take Harrenhal and would head to the Riverlands to meet with Grover Tully, lord of Riverrun.
"More families and dragons will come into it," Martin said. "It just gets bigger."
That being said, Condal noted to Variety that King's Landing, Dragonstone, and Driftmark will still be the "home bases for the show" going forward. But overall, Condal told Entertainment Weekly that season two will feel "much more like a middle season — seasons 3-6 of Game of Thrones — in terms of its scope and breadth and the number of characters." It will also be more of an "ensemble piece" than season one.
There will be more spectacle — and dragons
There was really only one major battle sequence in House of the Dragon's first season: Daemon's fight against the Crabfeeder in the third episode. But that too will change now that war has arrived.
Speaking with The Times (via Deadline), Condal promised "we will get to the spectacle" in season two, which "will hit the rhythms people came to expect from the middle run of Game of Thrones." He also argued that the pacing of the first season was necessary so that this spectacle would feel "earned." Viewers had to "understand these people's complexities before they're thrown into war," he said.
Condal also said there will be "natural pathways into moments of levity" in season two after some fans complained about a lack of comic relief in the first season. Additionally, he vowed that viewers would "meet five new dragons" in the second season.
One of the showrunners isn't returning
Shortly after the series premiere, co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik announced he was stepping down from his role. Sapochnik directed some iconic episodes of Game of Thrones, including "Battle of the Bastards," as well as the pilot, sixth, and seventh episodes of House of the Dragon.
Sapochnik said it was "incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally." He will remain on as an executive producer.
For season two, Condal, who wrote or co-wrote four episodes of the first season, including the premiere and finale, will serve as the sole showrunner. But one new addition will be Alan Taylor, who is set to direct multiple episodes and will serve as executive producer. Taylor previously directed episodes of Thrones, including the finales of seasons one and two, but did not work on House of the Dragon's first season.
It might be followed by only 2 more seasons
The story House of the Dragon is telling — the battle between Rhaenyra and Aegon for the Iron Throne — is relatively finite, so season two may actually mark its halfway point.
In fact, George R.R. Martin said on his blog that he expects the story of the Dance of the Dragons to "take four full seasons of 10 episodes" to tell. Then again, Martin wanted Game of Thrones to last 10 seasons rather than eight, so it remains to be seen if he gets his way.
In March 2023, Deadline reported that the show is "more likely" to run for four seasons rather than three, but that hasn't been officially determined; Condal and Martin are still discussing it. But Deadline also said HBO is "seriously considering" moving ahead with scripts, casting, and production on the third season, which has already been mapped out. So perhaps the wait between seasons could be shorter going forward.
But ... Martin's Fire & Blood chronicles the history of House Targaryen for nearly 800 pages, and a second volume is planned. So it's also possible that future seasons beyond four could tell more stories about the Targaryens, either before or after the Dance of the Dragons.
"The show is called House of the Dragon, it's not called The Dance of the Dragons," Condal told Westeros.org. "It's about the Targaryen dynasty in all of its forms, it's about the Targaryen house, really, and I think there's many fascinating periods of history to be told there." To that end, the showrunner cited Aegon the Conqueror's conquest of Westeros, which occurred about 100 years before the start of House of the Dragon, as one event that would be "fascinating" to explore.
Thankfully, though, Martin has already chronicled the entire Dance of the Dragons in his book, so House of the Dragon won't run into the same issue as Game of Thrones, which eventually ran out of source material.
We'll likely see a missing book character
Turn away now if you don't want a very light spoiler from the book. But in Fire & Blood, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) actually has a fourth child with Viserys named Daeron, who never appeared in season one nor was mentioned. The boy is the pair's youngest son, and he should be about 15 by the end of the first season. At this point, fans had just assumed the show had written him out and given his plot points to other characters; after all, it would be awkward to suddenly reveal next season that Alicent has had another kid and it's just never come up.
Well .. that may be exactly what the plan is. On his blog, George R.R. Martin confirmed Daeron exists in the world of House of the Dragon and "we just did not have the time to work him in this season." Condal also told Variety that Daeron has been "warded off at Oldtown to Hobert Hightower," Otto's (Rhys Ifans) brother, and that's why we haven't seen him. "When he is relevant to be mentioned — and he will be — he will be mentioned," Condal added. Daeron's casting has not been revealed.
So while the time jumps may be over, that feeling of "wait, who the heck is this character?" isn't going anywhere.
Update March 30, 2023: This article has been updated throughout.