Fire & Blood

How many seasons is House of the Dragon? The answer may surprise you

House of the Dragon probably won’t run for eight seasons.

HBO’s long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, got off to an epic, ominous start last week.

The prequel’s premiere plunged viewers back into the world of Game of Thrones, offering the same kind of brutality, explicit nudity, and breathtaking fantasy visuals that its parent series became known for over the course of its eight seasons. However, just because House of the Dragon offers many of the same pleasures that Game of Thrones did, doesn’t mean the new series will follow the same path as its predecessor.

As a matter of fact, House of the Dragon viewers should already start preparing themselves for the fact that the series likely won’t stay on the air nearly as long as Game of Thrones did.

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 1.Ollie Upton/HBO

A Shorter Outline — Ahead of the show’s premiere this past weekend, Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal, the showrunners behind House of the Dragon, revealed that they have already roughly planned out how long the series will run. In specific, The Hollywood Reporter revealed in July that The Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil conflict that House of the Dragon will depict, is currently expected to only span about three or four seasons.

The outlet does note in the same piece that Sapochnik and Condal are open to keeping House of the Dragon going past The Dance of the Dragons by adopting an anthology-esque approach for the series. Essentially, that would mean that future, post-Dance seasons of House of the Dragon could focus on other iconic Targaryen moments from Westerosi history, including Aegon’s Conquest.

On the one hand, that would result in House of the Dragon periodically replacing its cast and jumping forward or backward in time, which could make it a frustrating show to keep up with for certain viewers. On the other hand, adopting that approach would allow House of the Dragon to last longer than just three or four seasons.

“The only thing that could tear down the House of the Dragon was itself.”HBO

A Smaller Story — Assuming that House of the Dragon doesn’t end up becoming a quasi-anthology series, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the new show’s story isn’t expected to span as many seasons as Game of Thrones’ did. While its budget may be just as impressive and its level of spectacle just as awe-inspiring, House of the Dragon’s story is not nearly as big or all-encompassing as Game of Thrones’.

Indeed, while both shows focus on stories about competing claims for the Iron Throne, House of the Dragon’s scope is significantly smaller than Game of Thrones’. That’s largely because, unlike the ongoing conflicts in Game of Thrones, the Dance of the Dragons is a conflict that focuses mostly on one family: the Targaryens.

In other words, the Dance of the Dragons, which only lasts for about two years, doesn’t require the same continent-spanning, global scope that Game of Thrones boasted. All of the conflict’s major players are, for the most part, located in Westeros and most of them are Targaryens. That means that — while the Dance of the Dragons is still an epic, blockbuster-sized conflict — it won’t take nearly as much time to unfold on-screen as some Game of Thrones viewers might expect.

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen and Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Season 1.Ollie Upton/HBO

The Inverse Analysis — House of the Dragon’s premiere does a good job establishing the series as a worthy successor to Game of Thrones. In fact, it worldbuilds so well that some casual HBO viewers may even believe they’ve just started a series that will last as long as Game of Thrones did, or be just as expansive.

That’s not necessarily the case with House of the Dragon. Even if it does end up adopting a multi-season, anthological structure, for better or worse, it will still end up providing a more limited storytelling experience than Game of Thrones did, one that is ultimately based around stories that are shorter and smaller than what viewers may expect.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO.