How to Get the Game of Thrones Spinoff Right – A Video Essay

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We’re all excited for HBO’s planned Game of Thrones spinoff …but I think it’s fair to say that we’re all a little worried about it too. In my latest video essay, I share my thoughts on what components make a spinoff successful and hint not-so-subtly at which spinoffs I’d like to see most.

What are your thoughts on the spinoffs? And which historical events in George R.R. Martin’s world would you most like to see adapted into a TV show? Share your thoughts with us below.

45 responses

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    1. I would love to see more of Dany’s political adventures in Essos. I felt her six seasons there was rushed and could have easily been doubled if D and D truly wanted to do it justice.

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    2. I’m still not sure what i would like to see next. There is so many options… It depends maybe in how many seasons they’re thinking to do. It could be a Targaryen spin off starting with Aegon’s conquest until Robert’s Rebellion but then what would they do when they reach the time frame of Egg?! I have trouble to picture how will they do if the decide to do just an event, like “The Dance of Dragons”, they couldn’t strecht it for more than 2 seasons i think. It would be also interesting to explore stories from Essos.
      IMO they should take their time to make it work. I wouln’t mind if they would do a mini series about Robert’s rebellion because i don’t agree that we all know everything about it, there are many characters and events that non book readers never heard about, like Ashara and her back story with Ned.

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    3. mau,

      I am with you on this one for the most part. Spin-offs are rarely successful. Most of the time they end up ruining the original legacy more than anything and leech off it’s popularity for cheap ratings, but I’m cautiously optimistic until I see otherwise.

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    4. Correct me if I’m wrong: by “smaller-scale” it sounds like you mean what Thronetender called “high thread count” stories/scenes – character-driven with rich dialogue, rather than a rapid fire procession of “shock and awe” action set pieces.

      Because that is what got me hooked on GoT. I enjoyed Ygritte arguing with and teasing (i.e. seducing) Jon Snow more than Jon Snow hacking through Bolton soldiers or zombies. I liked Daenerys’s tearful goodbye to Jorah and his heartfelt confession of love, more than any of her Dracarys! dragonfire scenes. I cheered on Arya when she poked MFT’s face full of holes, but I relished her long quiet scene with Yoren when she couldn’t sleep and he told her about Willem.

      There are way too many examples to list…

      Anyway, I think a good spinoff has to first make you care about the characters, and has to have well-written dialogue – or all the dragons and battles in the world won’t hold the audience’s interest. Besides, there are already enough GoT ripoffs to satisfy the casual viewer.

      And though I have not seen the Harry Potter sequel, I agree with you that it’s not necessary, and may be counterproductive, to insist on a “Big Bad.” Then we know it’ll be the same old tired formula; no matter what the heroine/hero goes through, she or he will have a big showdown with the villain at the end. 💤💤 I can name a score of otherwise wonderful films that (maybe because a Hollywood suit insisted?) seemed to have a bad guy plot jammed in. As an example:

      ”Frequency” with Dennis Quaid and Jim Cavaziel; it could’ve reached the final emotional climax, “I’m still here, Chief”, without the serial killer subplot.

      As for particular stories from ASOIAF? Hmmm.. Lemme think…

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    5. I agree that if HBO/the creators are trying to make the spinoff mimic the stakes of GOT, then that’s going to be a problem, as ASOIAF was specifically meant to be a one-in-several-millennia sort of thing.

      Going smaller would be beneficial in a lot of ways, as GOT has never really had sufficient time for all of its characters. I remember one reviewer remarked during one of the middle seasons that every character other than Tyrion felt like they got only the Cliff Notes of a story, and while you can agree or disagree with that on individual bases, if you compare the total screentime of your typical GOT character with that of major characters on most other dramas, there is a lot of truth to it.

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    6. They also need to hire actors that are right for the part, and not just because they’re pretty to look at. Too many shows hire actors for their looks or popularity rather than whether or not they’re right for the role. Especially spin-offs/remakes/reboots. To me, the more control the writers/staff have over what happens, the better the show will turn out. Let them see their vision through. However, if a bunch of CEO’s and higher-ups get involved with planning it’ll turn into a disaster quicker than you can say Phantom Menace.

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    7. I like to see the beginning of Valyria (lots of Targaryen Rulers) until the Doom of Valyria which includes the story of Bravos and how it began…

      all the way until the King in the North Torrhen Stark bent a knee to Aegon Targaryen.

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    8. Whatever these mofos do, I’m going to watch.

      firstone:
      I like to see the beginning of Valyria (lots of Targaryen Rulers) until the Doom of Valyria….

      That is a exciting idea! Were there a lot of Targ rulers in Valyria? I thought the civilization was comprised of many power holding dragon dynasties.
      Dragnasties?
      #dragnasties 🙂

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    9. Broken Wolf,

      Yes, the Doom of Valyria is the only one which may have the stakes at the level of GOT, especially, if the prophesies of Daenys the Dreamer turn out to be tied to the PTWP prophesy (asit should be). Therefore, even if the audiece knows that the Targs will be saved to ptoduce the PTWP eventually, there may be plenty of suspence and drama in the details + there will be all kinds of mysteries involving magic, faceless men, and the political intreague loosly based on the decay of the Roman Rebupblic (HBO already madeRome, now they could make a new version of Rome in fantasy with dragons and eruption of Vesuvius on a continental scale). I would definitely watch something like that.

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    10. Part of the excitement I have for GoT is that I have no idea how it will end. Unfortunately, we would almost certainly know the ending of a spin-off since it’s already been written. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges a spin-off would face.

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    11. I am reading a book right now on William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest of England so I would love a good Aegon’s Conquest series that really fleshes out the characters on both sides of the conquest in a way only a narrative can.

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    12. House Monty:
      I am reading a book right now on William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest of England so I would love a good Aegon’s Conquest series that really fleshes out the characters on both sides of the conquest in a way only a narrative can. Even though we know the story, truly exploring what it means to be conquered and to conqueror, what it means to create a nation through war fare etc. would be interesting.

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    13. I’d love to see a spin-off dealing with Old Valyria, leading up to the Doom. The building of the Valyrian roads, power squabbles among the Valyrian families (and how Targaryens were not nearly the most powerful family), the expansion of Valyrian power, and perhaps the origins of the Faceless Men. Maybe some hints at the reason for the Doom. But I’d imagine that centering a show around Old Valyria with all the dragons and architecture and what have you, would probably be obscenely expensive.

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    14. Mr Derp,

      We may know the general ending: even now we know it – the Night King must be defeated, the living must prevail, etc. But we don’t know the fate of many key characters, and the same may be the case in a spin-off. Besides that, the devil is always in the details, and we don’t know details, for instance, regarding the Doom of Valyria, though questions are in abundance.

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    15. Inga,

      “….Besides that, the devil is always in the details, and we don’t know details, for instance, regarding the Doom of Valyria, though questions are in abundance.”
      —————

      I’d be up for that. I had been speculating that the Doom wasn’t some natural phenomenon like volcanos or earthquakes. I thought the place was or is still smoking centuries later.

      I’m thinking some wannabe Einstein was tinkering with dragons or cross-breeding them to synthesize high potency dragonfire or sonething, and wound up blowing up all of Valyria in a cataclysmic explosion. I’ll have to listen to Jorah & Tyrion recite the poem again; though I could be mistaken, the poem made it sound like the whole place got nuked in a second, and nobody had time to prepare or escape, e.g., head for the hills or board boats.

      Then again, my other tinfoil theory was that greyscale was a Valyrian bioweapons project gone wrong. 👨‍🚀🤖

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    16. Tales of the Cock Merchant

      –or–

      The Hot Pie Hour

      –or–

      The House of the Undying — The First NonDeath

      –or–

      ASOIAF from the Wildlings perspective

      –or–

      White Walker Makeover

      –or–

      Thenns!!!!

      –or–

      The Children of the Forest vs the Humans

      I could do this all night!

      ~DRS
      (long time lurker, first time posting — hi!)

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    17. I’m so invested in GoT/ASoI&F for so long, that I’m chary of someone’s lucrative brainchild feeding off of GRRM’s genius, especially with different characters. I’ll give it a chance but…I expect to bail out. I’m looking for time to re-read the books, especially if George ever finishes them. That said, if the HBO PTB created a prequel or sequel built around surviving beloved characters, I’m be up for that. The Further Adventures of Arya and the Hound or a West Wing/Borgen showing behind-the-scenes of the rebuilding and (relative) democratisation of Westerosi could be interesting. And if Hot Pie does a programme built on the lines of a Great Westeros Bake-off, I’ll be glued to the screen, LOL.

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    18. Stark Raven' Rad,

      ”The Further Adventures of Arya and the Hound”

      Where do I subscribe?
      That double-take Sandor gives Arya at the end of the pork merchant scene…I could watch that 100 times and not get tired of it.

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    19. Ten Bears:
      Stark Raven’ Rad,

      ”The Further Adventures of Arya and the Hound”

      Where do I subscribe?That double-take Sandor gives Arya at the end of the pork merchant scene…I could watch that 100 times and not get tired of it.

      I like the Sansa Hound scenes just as much as the Arya Hound scenes and I am looking to forward to seeing the Sansa Hound reunion as much as the Arya Hound reunion. Yeah I like the Sansa Sandor scenes a lot!

      I hope Sansa changes the Hounds opinion of Gingers in season 8!

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    20. firstone,

      Speaking of Sansa’s ginger hair …just saw that Sophie isn’t a ginger anymore. She’s blonde again. Does anyone know if she is done with filming or is she going to wear a wig again?

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    21. Rob,

      No idea (we’ll see if she returns to Belfast going forward). If she’s not done with filming, than I assume she’s been wearing a wig the whole time filming Season 8, and she just didn’t dye her hair back after Dark Phoenix because she wanted to wait a bit before changing hair colours.

      Since Sansa left King’s Landing in Season 4 and was no longer part of the overseas location shooting, Sophie’s typically only worked a couple of weeks a year, from what people have observed. If Sansa remains in Winterfell like she did last season and Sophie doesn’t have to do location shooting, it’s also conceivable that she’s done already.

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    22. Exactly, and that’s why they cannot win on the stakes front with any prequel series. Either they go sequel or they opt for a not-so-high stakes drama – like all those biopics and stories based on real-life events. Those can make good films if you don’t pretend the end’s a big mystery and instead focus on the characters and make the audience care about them.

      Mr Derp:
      Part of the excitement I have for GoT is that I have no idea how it will end.Unfortunately, we would almost certainly know the ending of a spin-off since it’s already been written.I think that’s one of the biggest challenges a spin-off would face.

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    23. firstone: I like the Sansa Hound scenes just as much as the Arya Hound scenes and I am looking to forward to seeing the Sansa Hound reunion as much as the Arya Hound reunion. Yeah I like the Sansa Sandor scenesa lot!

      I hope Sansa changes the Hounds opinion of Gingers in season 8!

      “You’re alright, Little Bird. You’re alright.”

      sigh….

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    24. Broken Wolf: Please don’t quote that piece of human garbage to me. Thank you.

      Re: Your 5:34 am comment/request

      I am doubly sorry.

      At first, I was confused: I though you were referring to the non-existence of the Long Night part of my comment, thought you were saying someone else (the human detritus) had made that assertion, and you were ridiculing that tinfoil proposition.

      Then I realized you were referring to the “hashtag.” I was using that term facetiously, to refer to (what I suggest is) the dubious legend of the Long Night. Still, I should not have used it, even sarcastically.

      I’m a little slow on the uptake in the morning hours. Now, if you had substituted “simian”🐵 or “porcine” 🐖 for “human”, I would’ve immediately understood. 🤓

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    25. They should do Blackfyre rebellion because the powers at play in GoT pretty much just a continuation of this.
      Bittersteel vs Bloodraven

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    26. If HBO takes it serious and does the new show(s) with the intention of it taking over as their flagship I think I’ll enjoy it. Of course I’m talking about going all in with budget for great production values, story, cast, crew, etc. If there’s a massive initial step down in quality from the final season of GoT I wouldn’t be surprised if the viewership numbers that are likely to start high drop off quickly. I’d be one to keep watching but a lot of people need to be wowed frequently…

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    27. firstone: I like the Sansa Hound scenes just as much as the Arya Hound scenes and I am looking to forward to seeing the Sansa Hound reunion as much as the Arya Hound reunion. Yeah I like the Sansa Sandor scenesa lot!

      I hope Sansa changes the Hounds opinion of Gingers in season 8!

      Mini-Whinge:

      In S7e1, LF was watching Brienne spar with Pod and said to Sansa: “I’ve heard she beat the Hound in single combat. She’s a very impressive woman.“

      No sadness or wistfulness on Sansa’s part? After all, the big guy saved her life more than once.

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    28. Dance of Dragons would be good.

      It has both the scale and the characters to lead it, and I think Martin’s in the process of fleshing the story out too so he’d be well on hand.

      We get lots of dragons (fucking big ones), a story about a family at war with itself and a larger setting of a civil war too.

      Production values would be up, it would have a different feel to GoT but obviously fit in the same world in a way that a casual viewer would easily grasp too.

      To set scene and its relationship to events in GoT, you only need an opening text or two in the pilot. Moreover, it would only need to run for a couple of seasons.

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    29. I wish that Vince Gilligan was up for doing a GOT spinoff series. If anyone knows how to do slow burning spin-off prequels right it’s that guy

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    30. I really could care less about the Doom of Valyria or the Dance of Dragons. I’d be interested in learning more about the Andals, the Rhoynar or the First Men. My favorite thing to see would be Roberts Rebellion, too bad they basically ruled that out.

      I’d also watch the Dornish wars from the perspective of Dorne (a good rebellion and standing up to Evil is always a good story), or something Wall-centric.

      I just don’t think the Targaryens are that interesting, and their whole idea of trying to conquer this entire world that they have zero claim to just because they CAN – why should we be invested in it?

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    31. There’s a very good spinoff series still airing of a recent critically acclaimed series: Better Call Saul. The reason it works is because Gilligan & Gould from the original show are running it (unlike K-Tron, I don’t have the same confidence that Gilligan could do this, unless he spent a longer time marinating in this universe than HBO is likely to put up with). Even if David & Dan didn’t want to do other things (which is my understanding of their plans), I don’t think they have it in them to do comparable shows set in this universe without an actual novel to adapt. The quality of the show after season 4 hasn’t really been comparable to what it was earlier.

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