HBO isn’t going to overplay its hand with Game of Thrones spinoffs, which alleviates fears of lower quality due to the prospects of high profits. Shortly after the end of Game of Thrones in 2019, HBO announced that several spinoffs were in development, which was meant to keep investment in the franchise alive after the original’s polarizing finale. While a few still remain in development, several of Game of Thrones’ announced spinoffs have already been canceled, including the canceled prequel The Long Night, which HBO shoveled $30 million into for a pilot before scrapping the project.
Premiering three years after the controversial end of Game of Thrones and set 200 years before the original’s timeline, House of the Dragon is HBO’s first official spinoff in the franchise. Based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, a deep dive into the Targaryen family line and history in Westeros, HBO has given House of the Dragon the utmost attention and care before bringing the fantasy world back to the screen. The series is finally making its debut in August 2022, where it’s expected that House of the Dragon will have significant longevity as it depicts the story of House Targaryen’s Civil War.
Kara Buckley, an HBO executive, gave an important update that while the company has been considering plenty of Game of Thrones spinoffs, primarily prequels, they won’t move forward into development unless the story is “creatively exciting.” Considering George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire world extends far beyond the plot of Game of Thrones, HBO has an incredible asset in its back pocket for the future of the franchise. Despite controversy over Game of Thrones’ final season, the interest in the world of the series is undeniable, making it tempting for HBO to greenlight all of Martin’s novellas, informational books, and unseen character backstories into TV shows for a massive payday. The wealth of Game of Thrones’ IP would make it easy for HBO to milk the franchise for all its worth, but the company’s spinoffs update proves it won’t be engaging in these stories unless it would be ridiculous not to develop them.
Taking into account that one of the greatest criticisms of Game of Thrones season 8 was a lack of care for the character developments and story pacing, HBO’s comments should alleviate fears of spinoffs suffering from the same over-stuffed treatment. A more reserved approach to Game of Thrones spinoffs is also relieving in terms of avoiding burnout from the franchise. Whereas certain TV series like The Walking Dead greenlit a plethora of spinoffs and future movies that may signal exhaustion for its fanbase, HBO is refreshingly approaching Game of Thrones with the principle of quality over quantity.
The hype for the world of Game of Thrones isn’t going away anytime soon, so it makes no sense for HBO to move forward with so many projects so quickly unless its primary motivation is an easy cash grab. The original Game of Thrones series is considered one of the best examples of prestigious television, largely due to the careful craft that went into its production and storytelling. HBO could crank out a dozen TV shows with varying quality simply to keep the Game of Thrones IP coming on their platform, but their more patient approach to the franchise ensures that the company won’t make the mistake of the “bigger is better” mindset. With George R.R. Martin already giving glowing reviews to House of the Dragon’s first season, HBO is on the right track as it tackles the future of the fantasy universe.