Immediately upon hearing the news that not one, not two, not three but FOUR Game of Thrones spinoffs were in development, my mind turned to speculating on what those spinoffs might be. Now reports suggest we might only have one of these spinoffs actually go into production, maybe two. We have to take that into account when examining the possibilities. As awesome as it would be to see a series based on the Long Night and the war between the White Walkers and the Children of the Forest, it’s probably not going to happen given how expensive that would be. But thankfully, George R. R. Martin has built a world with a very rich and detailed history, so there are still many possibilities. Let’s dive in and discuss some of those.
The one possibility that immediately jumps into everyone’s mind when they hear the words “Game of Thrones spinoff” is a Robert’s Rebellion prequel. And for good reason. This story is really the beginning of the story we are watching unfold now on our TV screens and in the pages of the books. It’s essentially one long story with a 17 year interlude. So getting to go back to the beginning and see how it all began is very exciting. The casting speculation alone would be a blast. Who would HBO get to play young Ned? Young Robert and young Cersei? Or what about Rhaegar? I can already see lots of discussion and speculation amongst the Watcher faithful coming from the buildup to this potential spinoff. And for the casual audience, telling the story of Robert’s Rebellion is something that they would immediately be invested in as it would include characters they already know and love.
If they do decide to tell the story of Robert’s Rebellion, it’s not one that can continue on for multiple seasons. It would have to be a single limited series run. Or, potentially, a series of films. (This Twitter thread from @ManuclearBomb lays out what a Robert’s Rebellion trilogy might look like.)
There would also be the issue of continuity with the main series. We’ve already seen a Tower of Joy flashback in its entirety, with a young Ned, Lyanna and others. While it wouldn’t be a huge deal to have to recast these roles and refilm this iconic scene, it does make for some awkward continuity between the two series. Lastly, it might be best to leave this story untold strictly because it is so integral to the main series. One of the themes prevalent in the books (not quite as much in the show though), is how history looks different depending on the perspective of the person who is viewing it. For example, to Robert, Rhaegar is remembered as an evil monster just like his father, the Mad King. But Barristan remembers him as a kind and thoughtful prince who would have made a great king. The different lenses through which we view this recent history is important to the main story and if we get a “definitive” version of the Rebellion, that would lessen the importance of this theme.
Dunk & Egg
If you aren’t familiar with it, Dunk & Egg is a series of short stories by George R. R. Martin that cover the adventures of a knight named Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, Egg. There have been three published so far and more planned, if GRRM ever finishes the main series. They all take place about 70-80 years prior to the events of the main series which means although you won’t see any familiar characters (except for a very young Walder Frey), you will see the grandparents of some familiar characters.
The main issue with Dunk & Egg is there is not a lot of source material to work with. You have three short stories, each of which would probably end up being condensed down into about 2 hours worth of screen time. Can you make one limited run series out of that? Maybe. But each story is self-contained with the only recurring characters being Dunk & Egg themselves. These stories are also much smaller in scope. Would the audience accept that after being used to the huge and sprawling storyline of Game of Thrones? Hard to say. Ultimately, while a Dunk & Egg adaptation would be a lot of fun, I’m not sure it’s the best choice for a spinoff series.
On the opposite end of the small scale/small impact stories of Dunk & Egg, you have the epic story of Aegon’s Conquest. This would be the story of how Aegon Targaryen and his two sister-wives used a small army and three huge dragons to conquer Westeros. Occurring some 300 years prior to the events of the main series, this tale is essentially The Silmarillion of the Song of Ice and Fire books. We would see the Seven Kingdoms the last time they were actually seven separate kingdoms.
While this story would be truly epic to watch unfold on screen, it would also be very, very expensive. Massive armies, huge battles and three fully grown dragons in episode after episode would stretch even HBO’s generous TV budgets. There would also be a lack of political intrigue that has become a hallmark of Game of Thrones, with the Conquest being strictly a bloody and ruthless military campaign (the later alliance with Dorne being the exception). It would be cool to watch but ultimately I think too expensive and too far removed from the current series to be worth producing.
The Blackfyre Rebellion may not be as prominent a conflict as the Conquest or Robert’s Rebellion, but it has quite a large amount of source material gleaned from the Ice and Fire series and the companion World of Ice and Fire book. The very brief synopsis of the Rebellion is that King Aegon Targaryen legitimizes his bastard sons on his deathbed, throwing the realm into a state of civil war as Daemon Waters, who adopts the name “Blackfyre”, fights alongside his bastard half-brothers, collectively known as the Great Bastards, to claim the throne from Aegon’s trueborn son, Daeron. This all happens roughly 100 years prior to the events of the main series.
If HBO is looking to emulate the formula that made Game of Thrones a success, with a series that is not just a direct prequel to the original, this would be the story to tell. It has all the usual hallmarks of an HBO drama; sex, violence, political intrigue, interfamily drama, etc. It even has a dose of magic in the character of Bloodraven, a mysterious sorcerer who supports his trueborn half-brother Daeron against his fellow Great Bastards.
And while the battles could be epic and expensive, they wouldn’t be the focal point of the series, but can be used sparingly as the battles in Thrones are now. Oh, and the conflict that I briefly described above was actually only the first of five separate rebellions by the Blackfyre line. So this could continue for multiple seasons, leading up to the War of the Ninepenny Kings, which begins to feature familiar characters such as Tywin Lannister and Barristan Selmy. All in all, I think this era of Westerosi history is ripe for adaptation.
So that’s my four potential spinoff ideas. What do you think has the best chance of getting produced? Are there other eras or stories you would like to see adapted? Discuss and speculate away in the comments below!