Win or Die

Game of Thrones spinoffs have been “shelved” — but there’s still hope

Per George R.R. Martin, the Warner Bros. Discovery merger has shaken up the fantasy franchise’s plans.

“What is dead may never die,” a phrase used by followers of the Drowned God on the Iron Islands, has found new meaning on the blog of A Song of Ice and Fire author and House of the Dragon co-creator George R.R. Martin.

What is dead, yet hasn’t died? The numerous Game of Thrones spinoff shows in the works. Those include a Jon Snow series, a Corlys Velaryon series, a show focused on Princess Nymeria, a Dunk and Egg buddy comedy, and an animation project.

“Some of those are moving faster than others, as is always the case with development,” Martin wrote in a post. “None have been greenlit yet, though we are hoping… maybe soon. A couple have been shelved, but I would not agree that they are dead. You can take something off the shelf as easily as you can put it on the shelf. All the changes at HBO Max have impacted us, certainly.”

To paraphrase Cersei Lannister, when you play with intellectual property, your spinoffs either win or die. While these shelved shows aren’t dead dead just yet, their futures aren’t bright. It’s a curious development, given that Thrones prequel House of the Dragon had the largest audience for a debut series in HBO’s 50-year history.

So which spinoffs will live and which will die? The decisions made by Warner Bros. Discovery following its Spring 2022 merger can clue us in on the types of stories HBO seems to be prioritizing.

The Game of Thrones spinoffs most likely to live

Kit Harington reprising his role as Jon Snow seems like the safest way to bring fans back for even more Thrones, so the popular character’s long-awaited sequel series might not get slashed (although the aftermath of the Warner Bros. Discovery merger may delay the project’s fruition).

The same logic applies to the 7th Voyage of Sinbad-esque planned prequel series, 9 Voyages, which would follow fan-favorite House of the Dragon character, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), on his many seafaring adventures throughout the turbulent waters of Westeros, Essos, and beyond.

Jon Snow doing what Jon Snow does best: Brooding.HBO

The Game of Thrones spinoffs most likely to die

One planned prequel that doesn’t seem as safe a bet is 10,000 Ships, a show that would bring the legend of the Dornish queen Nymeria to life. Though Nymeria’s name has been important throughout the franchise, HBO viewers may be less enthused with a tale about a Rhoynar princess fleeing dragonlords in Essos a millennium before Game of Thrones. Most of the noble houses viewers have become familiar with wouldn’t appear, so the political intrigue and familial drama that ranks among the most enticing parts of the Thrones franchise might not be as intrinsic to the prequel’s plot as they are in House of the Dragon.

Another spinoff that doesn’t seem fit for survival? The animated one, reportedly titled The Golden Empire and set in the Yi Ti dynasty of Essos. After watching Warner Bros. Discovery decimate its slate of upcoming animated projects and removing some animated series and films entirely from HBO Max, it seems unlikely that a Game of Thrones cartoon will move forward.

Illustration of Dunk and Egg by Gary Gianni for A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin. Gary Gianni

The Game of Thrones spinoff with an unknown fate

Not even the Red Priestess can predict what will happen with The Tales of Dunk and Egg, a planned prequel that could be the only legitimately wholesome title in the franchise. The buddy comedy shenanigans of Dunk (Ser Duncan the Tall) and Egg (Aegon V Targaryen, Daenerys’ grandpa) have a much lighter tone than the core Song of Ice and Fire books.

The three George R.R. Martin-penned novellas the series would be based on are delightful, but they stray far from the incestuous sexual tension of House of the Dragon and the skull-crushing violence of Game of Thrones. While existing fans of the books may be interested in seeing Dunk and Egg come to life, fans of the shows may not find a warm and humorous storyline in the blood-drenched world of Westeros as appealing.

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