There has been a lot of chatter about Game of Thrones spinoffs lately, with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss hasty denying it, and George R.R. Martin advocating for one. “The most natural follow-up would be an adaptation of my Dunk & Egg stories,” he told Entertainment Weekly, referring to his novellas which take place in Westeros and the surrounding areas, roughly ninety years before The War of the Five Kings.
No offence to George R. R. Martin, Dunk & Egg are entertaining enough, but they’re just about a knight and his squire. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Other characters and plot-lines would make far more interesting stories. Here’s what HBO should really latch onto.
1. A sitcom miniseries about The Hound and The Mountain’s childhood
A title could be The Mountain and The Hound: A Tale of Brotherly Love. This would be a quirky HBO comedy that’s not really comedic — think Togetherness or Girls — about the face-burning adolescence of two misunderstood sensitive souls. Needless to say, this show would be narrated by Petyr Baelish speaking in an unnecessarily sinister whisper-snarl.
2. Valyria: An Epic
This would be an epic along the lines of HBO’s Rome, chronicling the rise and fall of Valyria, a fascinating advanced civilization that ended with a mysterious disaster 400 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Valyria was a city where dragons prospered, weapons were the world’s best, and everything was spectacularly doomed. No part of that isn’t awesome; it has “epic show” written all over it. We’ve already seen its ruins — it’s time to see its golden years.
3. They See Him Rowin’: A Sea Journey with Gendry
Arya’s old pal and Robert Baratheon’s bastard Gendry has been missing for three seasons now, ever since Davos rescued him from Melisandre’s prison and sent him off in a rowboat. His trip was supposed to be from Dragonstone to King’s Landing, which does not take three years. From that, we can only assume he ended up on a spectacular sea adventure, filled with mermaids and pirates and sea-White Walkers. There’s no other plausible reason his trip has been delayed so long, and we want to see that adventure.
4. The White Walkers
In the White Walkers’ perspective, maybe the humans are pesky usurpers and they merely want their territory back. Maybe that terrifying baby scene was because they just enjoy children, and The Night’s King merely admires Jon Snow’s hair. What if, like in Tuck and Dale vs Evil, the White Walkers are actually the ones being victimized here? It’s time to hear their story, if nothing else, because an intricate zombie society isn’t something typically seen on TV. Alternate title: The Misunderstood Dead.
5. Game of The Low
Game of Thrones revolves around people at the top of the ladder, the kinds of people who — as the title suggests — would sit on the throne. But what about the people who are nowhere near the throne and couldn’t even name the person on it? What about the lowest of the low: the cock-merchants, the whores in small villages, the farmers just trying to get by? The show revolves around those at the top, but the world is expansive enough for another show about those at the bottom. Think Shameless for the fantasy set.
6. Bronn and Lollys: Portrait of a Marriage
Lollys Stokeworth — Bronn’s short-lived fiancee — was the best part of Season 5. She was only in one short scene, but her interactions with Bronn as she enthusiastically plans their wedding (“Food is the most important thing, don’t you agree?”) and despairs over how her sister is mean to her spectacularly clashed with Bronn’s gruff disinterest. When she realizes he isn’t listening to her and prompts him with an aggressive don’t you agree? he proceeds to casually threaten her sister’s life. This show would revolve around their marriage, while Jaime Fookin Lannister is their next-door neighbor and Tyrion is Bronn’s hapless friend. It would be an intimate relationship drama that’s part-Olive Kitteridge, part-Outlander, part-It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Nobody can say they wouldn’t watch that.
If HBO wants to go forward with George R.R. Martin’s Dunk & Egg idea, that’s fine. But as he himself said, his world contains thousands of stories. A Game of Thrones follow-up shouldn’t be a conventional tale of a knight in his squire, when it could be Gendry’s sea adventures or the woes of cock merchants or the misunderstood White Walkers. Westeros and Essos are fascinating places. Let a spinoff explore their weirdest and most esoteric corners.