— SilverbirdTV (STV) (@SilverbirdTV) January 14, 2019
Game of Thrones officially ended its eight season long run in May 2019, drawing in 19.3 million viewers. This was just slightly ahead of the penultimate episode, which attracted 18.4 million, with the final season consistently watched by crowds in their millions. While the eagerly anticipated finale may have polarized fans – and even author George R.R. Martin – the Song of Ice and Fire was far from over. As the dust settles on King’s Landing, what can we expect next from the franchise that combined political intrigue, period costume, and dragons?
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What is House of the Dragon?
The first piece of exciting TV news from Thrones is the prequel that has been officially announced. The eagerly anticipated Game of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon, will bring us back to Westeros as we dive into the Targaryen family some 300 years before the show began. The show is expected to air in 2022 – according to Casey Bloys, head of programming for HBO. It is expected that as well as seeing the ancestors of the Targaryen family, we may also see the Starks and Lannisters.
Three hundred years before the events of the series we watched, Aegon Targaryen planted himself on the throne, with the help of his dragons, which culminated in the forming of the Seven Kingdoms we know of. So, we could expect to have a front-row seat to one of the most mentioned events in Game of Thrones history. The timeline allows characters we recognize nominally to be introduced, but who we know almost nothing about. This gives fans a way to anchor themselves to the show with almost all the content being completely new.
What Happened to the Other Prequel?
Another spin-off has been cancelled. The show was set thousands of years before the events of the main show and starred John Simm and Naomi Watts in the unaired pilot. The pilot, penned by Jane Goldman, was shelved in favor of the deep dive into the Targaryens. Martin was clear that the spin-off prequel is based on one of his books, “Fire & Blood,” which told the history of the Targaryen clan.
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) October 31, 2019
Why Are Prequels So Popular?
Prequels are incredibly popular. The Hunger Games has seen a prequel book released, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” which is set to become a movie. Based around nefarious overlord President Snow, the book offers a different take on the franchise. Some fans expressed interest in being able to read about all the previous Hunger Games tournaments that were loosely mentioned in the series. Star Wars: Underworld, an unearthed George Lucas TV experience, has fans excited about the next direction the franchise might take – and whether it might benefit from the renaissance that TV has allowed, as they did with The Mandalorian prequel.
Prequels are so popular mainly due to the fact that they have existing audiences and tell stories we might half-know but have scope to flesh out the world before we came to it. The existing audiences ensure some viewership, while the stories help build mythology to create a cohesive franchise.
How Can I Get Involved with Thrones Until Then?
While 2022 may seem a long way off, there are plenty of ways of getting involved with the franchise until the prequel airs. March 2020 saw Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall launched by Behavior Interactive for mobile devices as a fantasy battling style game. Betway offers a Game of Thrones slot game that takes the theme of the show and infuses it with the tension of an online slot game. There is a Game of Thrones version of Monopoly and Clue, as well as Top Trumps, and a board game by Fantasy Flight Games launched before the show was even on air back in 2003. Each game from the franchise takes a different element of the show and mythology to create unique games to appeal to the many different facets that make up Game of Thrones.
George R.R. Martin is still writing and releasing the books to finish the series – which he suggests may end slightly differently to how the TV show ended. Many people have already gone back to re-watch the series, which looks different once you know where it’s heading and how it ends. While some people incorporated an annual re-watch, some haven’t seen the opening seasons since they first aired. Excitement online will ebb and flow as and when new content is released.
The Cultural Impact of Game of Thrones
The show’s cultural impact is hard to ignore – the devastating and iconic Red Wedding in season three, for instance, was referenced countless times in pop culture. Indeed, Obama even referenced it at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Many careers took off as a result of the show – namely Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke, who played Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen respectively. More than 17 million people watched the first episode of season eight of the show in April 2019, which is quite a feat given that the previous episode aired in August 2017. The fact that audiences tuned in so long afterwards is testament to the longevity and the future of Game of Thrones.
Obama on jokingly trying to force GOP sens to meet Garland "it's like the red wedding"
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) May 1, 2016
Game of Thrones was an undeniable cultural phenomenon for almost a decade. It changed how we watched television, how we saw genre, and how we engaged with storytelling. There are countless shows airing now that have Game of Thrones to thank for their success. While the ending may have been disappointing for many fans, the series is definitely not over. With fans still willing to engage with the franchise, the characters and stories that attracted so many to the show will carry on in new formats and appeal to new audiences over the next few decades.