Thanks to the news that as many as four Game of Thrones spinoffs are in the works at HBO, the internet has been abuzz with theories on what time periods and storylines each new show could explore. The most popular suggestions are Robert’s Rebellion, Dunk and Egg, Aegon’s Conquest, and the Dance of the Dragons. But the Doom of Valyria, which is also regularly mentioned, stands apart as the boldest possibility.
Every other potential show comes with a version of events and a cast of characters that are well-known by the most zealous Game of Thrones fans — even if they haven’t been depicted onscreen yet. The Dance of the Dragons involves a bloody power struggle between Daenerys’s ancestors; Dunk and Egg star in their own novellas, and the stories of Aegon’s Conquest and the Dance of the Dragons have been featured in the A Song of Ice and Fire books. While all would make for compelling shows, these stories center around characters and events that any fan can explore in books or novellas if they chose to.
Of course, Robert’s Rebellion is the most famous of all — because it’s the prequel to the current story. A spinoff show would feature younger versions of Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon, as well as characters like the Mad King, Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen, whom existing characters have discussed extensively.
The Doom of Valyria, on the other hand, could almost act as a blank slate. Hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones, Valyria was an advanced civilization ruled by dragonlords. This is exactly as cool as it sounds — an aristocratic ruling class of magical and beautiful dragon riders. Unfortunately, this civilization came to an Atlantean end when a mysterious disaster known as the Doom killed thousands, ruining the city. In the process, knowledge, like how exactly to forge Valyrian steel, was lost.
Its haunting ruins have actually appeared onscreen in Game of Thrones Season 5. Tyrion and Jorah sail past it en route to Meereen and briefly sing a lament about it together to bond during their awkward kidnapping. Thus, the story and image of Valyria isn’t completely foreign to non-book readers.
But because nobody knows exactly what caused the Doom, this potential spinoff scenario stands apart from any other. It has far less of a blueprint in terms of events or characters, and a show about the Doom of Valyria would venture beyond the known world of the narrative. Though Game of Thrones characters like Rhaegar Targaryen, and events like the Battle of the Trident, would have to live up to their legendary reputations when they appear onscreen, a show about Valyria comes with more intrigue and less narrative baggage.
For a franchise so steeped in lore and fictional history, to explore a corner made deliberately opaque would be a bold and exciting move. After all, the meat of the other stories are already known, but Valyria is a tantalizing question mark. More than any other spinoff, it would truly stand on its own within the world of Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on July 16 on HBO.