In an unprecedented move months before Game of Thrones season 7 premiered, HBO announced that it hired four writers—Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray—to explore four potential Game of Thrones spin-offs. The revelation finally settled the varying but persistent rumor that HBO wanted to continue making Game of Thrones programming after the massively successful series drew to a close. Instead of a movie, HBO wanted to look at making at least one new show with George R.R. Martin’s involvement. Martin was named alongside two of the writers in an initial press release.
Martin was the first to announce that HBO hired a fifth writer after HBO’s announcement, noting that “aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda , I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.” It took HBO several months to confirm a fifth writer, who was revealed as Game of Thrones writer and producer Bryan Cogman. None of the spin-off series will involve Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff or D.B. Weiss.
Speculation as to which series the writers are working on and how likely it is any of them will make it onto HBO one day is rampant, and unlike Game of Thrones season 8—which is currently filming—it’s a conversation that even more spoiler-averse fans can participate in.
Game of Thrones spin-off subjects
Though the conversation was quickly framed around the idea of a “Game of Thrones spin off” (including in initial reports), Martin clarified a few points: For one, the shows being worked take place in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, but they won’t be a continuation of any stories that might be left to tell at the end of Game of Thrones. The shows being worked on are, time-wise at least, prequels to Game of Thrones.
For what it’s worth, I don’t especially like the term “spinoff,” and I don’t think it really applies to these new projects. What we’re talking about are new stories set in the “secondary universe” (to borrow Tolkien’s term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history.
None of these new shows will be ‘spinning off’ from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASH or even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than ‘spinoff’ or ‘prequel,’ however, I prefer the term ‘successor show.’ That’s what I’ve been calling them.
In the same blog post from May 2017, Martin confirmed that two popular ideas for Game of Thrones series wouldn’t happen, albeit for different reasons.
A Robert’s Rebellion series, according to Martin, would essentially rehash things covered by the novels of ASOIAF (of which the final two planned installments, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, are not yet published). He plans to reveal everything we need to know about the rebellion that ended the Targaryen dynasty.
As for a Dunk and Egg series, which follows Daenerys Targaryen’s great-grandfather from young squire to hedge knight, Martin is trying to avoid the same fate as Game of Thrones. He’s published three novellas so far and has more story to tell, so any series involving them would finish telling their tale before Martin could.
The only hint we have with what any of the writers are working on is the series Martin is creating with Cogman, which Martin described as “an adaptation, and one that will thrill most fans of the books, I think, set during a very exciting period of Westerosi history.”
Martin has published several novellas that take place in the world of ASOIAF, notably taking place during the Targaryen reign. The Sons of the Dragon, published in The Book of Swords in October 2017, chronicles the reigns of Aegon the Conqueror’s two sons, Aenys I and Maegor I, decades after Aegon conquered Westeros (except for Dorne). The Rogue Prince and The Princess and the Queen both take place during the Dance of the Dragons, or the Targaryen Civil War.
And Martin has another book coming out fairly soon. He revealed in a July 2017 blog post that he’s publishing the first volume of Fire and Blood, which would chronicle more than 100 years of Targaryen family history spanning from Aegon’s Conquest to the Dance of the Dragons. He didn’t have a publication date but estimated that it would be out “in late 2018 or early 2019.”
Both Aegon’s Conquest and the Dance of the Dragons would offer Martin and Cogman the ability to tap into much of what Game of Thrones fans love. Aegon’s Conquest would feature Balerion the Dread (whose skull Cersei Lannister pierced with scorpion artillery in season 7) and at least one battle that would bring to mind Daenerys Targaryen and Drogon’s season 7 battle against the Lannister army. For some book fans, that battle was reminiscent of the Field of Fire, which saw Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys Targaryen’s three dragons take to the battlefield during his conquest of Westeros.
The Dance of the Dragons has dragons—both Targaryen and literal dragons, albeit none as big as Balerion or Drogon—as well as the political intrigue and backstabbing that encapsulated much of Game of Thrones’ early seasons. Two Targaryens, each with a claim to the throne, nearly tore Westeros apart in their ensuing war. With a publication date that will likely fall before Game of Thrones‘ final season, Martin can tell that story first.
Game of Thrones spin-off series
Of the four original writers working on Game of Thrones prequel series announced in May 2017, two of them were reported as working on series with Martin. In the first blog post after the news broke, Martin wrote that he was actually working with all of the writers, albeit in different capacities (emphasis his).
It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That’s not quite right. I’ve actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we’ve spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire… when we weren’t drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I’ve been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.
He is also working closely with Cogman, Martin confirmed in a September 2017 blog post.
Here’s what we know about what each writer is working on so far.
The scope of the script by Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island) is unknown, and Martin’s name is not attached to it.
Of the four original writers, we know the most about the script Goldman (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) is working on with Martin—which is still very little.
In an August 2017 interview with IGN, Goldman was tight-lipped about what she was working on, but she did say she’s met with Martin and that book fans would recognize the story in her script.
“Yeah, I think I can say if I was able to say what mine was—yeah, I think as a book reader or as someone who watched the series, you would say, ‘Oh, that! OK,’” she said. “Yeah, it would be recognizable as a past event, but I think that’s probably as far as I can go.”
According to Goldman’s husband, Jonathan Ross, in an October 2017 interview, Goldman has finished her script.
Not much is known about what Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) is covering in his script, and Martin is not personally attached to it.
Wray (Mad Men) is working closely with Martin, and not much is known about the script they are working on.
When Martin first announced a fifth writer months before HBO went public with it, many fans presumed that Martin was talking about Cogman. And although Cogman is the most recent addition to the writers working on scripts for HBO, we know the most about his project thanks to Martin.
Shortly after Cogman’s involvement was revealed, Martin took to LiveJournal to congratulate Cogman and expand a bit on what he and Cogman are cooking up. In the process, Martin revealed a nugget about Cogman’s script: It’s an adaptation.
“I can say that, like the other pilots, it will be a prequel rather than sequel, a successor rather than a spinoff,” Martin wrote. “Bryan’s series will be an adaptation, and one that will thrill most fans of the books, I think, set during a very exciting period of Westerosi history. And I’ll be working with him every step of the way; we’re going to be co-creating the show.”
Game of Thrones spin-off news
HBO has given no indication if it’s moved forward on any series, but HBO CEO Richard Plepler has seen a bit of what’s been cooked up so far.
“I think we will find with this embarrassment of riches an exciting property for us to moves forward with,” Plepler said in October 2017. “We are looking at some things, I have read a couple of early bibles, and I’m excited about what I’ve seen.”
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Game of Thrones spin-off series timeline
There is no word on which series have been picked up or if and when they’ll air, but we will update as one or more of them move forward.
The one thing that guaranteed: As HBO programming president Casey Bloys told the Hollywood Reporter in July 2017, we won’t see any of these shows until after Game of Thrones is over.
“No, absolutely not. No way,” Bloys said. “There’s not going to be anything—the only thing that will be Game of Thrones related on the air will be season seven and season eight, and then it will be a good long while if and before anything gets on the air. Again, I say that only because I think when we confirmed the existence—that we were exploring this—that read to the general public that, ‘Wow, these are far along.’ We were just confirming it so people didn’t speculate.”
HBO is in no rush to bring a show to air; its timetable would be set on what its writers need. We might have to wait years for it, but if HBO can settle on the right series and everything plays out, we’ll return to Martin’s world.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.