A timeline of HBO's 'Game of Thrones' prequel plans, and which spinoffs you can actually expect to see
- Reports and rumors about "
Game of Thrones" prequel TVshows have been swirling for years.
- The latest is that a "Dunk and Egg" TV show is reportedly in the works.
- For now, however, "
House of the Dragon" is the only sure-thing.
And with new, unconfirmed-by-HBO reports about a "Dunk and Egg" series, it seems fans could use a breakdown of every prequel TV show idea we know about and what their status is within HBO's development process.
For now, the only confirmed TV show in production is "House of the Dragon."
So let's start at the beginning and take a closer look at how reports and public statements on these shows have evolved over time.
In 2016, George R.R. Martin said a 'Dunk and Egg' series would be the 'most natural follow-up' to 'Game of Thrones'
Back in the spring of 2016, with the final 13 episodes of "Game of Thrones" on the horizon,
"The most natural follow-up would be an adaptation of my 'Dunk and Egg' stories," Martin said.
Dunk and Egg are the nicknames of two characters, Ser Duncan the Tall and Aegon V Targaryen, who lived about 90 years prior to the events contained in "Game of Thrones." Martin's three novellas about their adventures were compiled into a book called "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms."
In that interview, EW reported that Martin and HBO had not yet had "meaningful discussions about what projects might follow 'Game of Thrones.'"
In 2017, news broke that at least 4 different 'successor shows' were in the works. At the time, Martin said 'Dunk and Egg' wasn't one of them.
By May 2017, EW's James Hibberd broke the news that HBO had "taken the highly unusual step of developing four different ideas from different writers" for "Game of Thrones" spinoff shows.
Ten days after the news had made its way around the internet, Martin posted a long blog entry on his website about "further developments" regarding the new TV show ideas.
"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," Martin wrote. "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."
Martin instead calls them "successor shows," and said that none of the concepts included characters from "Game of Thrones." Instead, they were all prequel stories.
Martin said he personally had pitched two prequel series to HBO and one of those was among the four now being developed. Other writers were brought in for the remaining pitches, with Martin working with all of them to discuss ideas and story details.
Now that the successor shows were a reality, Martin had changed his tune on Dunk and Egg, hinting that he wasn't done writing that story afterall. In fact, Martin revealed he still has multiple planned novellas that will conclude Dunk and Egg's narrative arcs.
"I can't tell you what the shows will be about ... but I will tell you a couple of things they WON'T be," Martin wrote on his blog. "We're not doing Dunk & Egg."
"Eventually, sure, I'd love that, and so would many of you. But I've only written and published three novellas to date and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write."
"We all know how slow I am and how fast a television show can move," he continued. "I don't want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books.
"When the day comes that I've finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we'll do a TV show about them," Martin added, "but that day is still a long ways off."
Martin was of course referencing the way that HBO's "Game of Thrones" wound up overtaking his published books in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, resulting in a divisive final season that may significantly deviate from Martin's planned ending.
Martin also said "Robert's Rebellion" (the events that led to Jaime Lannister killing the Mad King and Robert Baratheon's reign) was also off the table.
Martin revealed that a fifth successor show was in the works
"We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five," Martin said.
The fifth show in the works turned out to be a project written by Bryan Cogman, one of the coexecutive producers and writers of "Game of Thrones."
Still, Martin warned fans not to get their hopes up that these scripts would eventually air on TV.
"I do think it's very unlikely that we'll be getting four (or five) series," Martin wrote on his blog. "At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four - now five - pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen."
"You should not expect to see all five shows, though, at least not immediately," Martin said in a 2017 post. "[As] much as I might love the idea, HBO is not about to become the GAME OF THRONES network ... but we could possibly see two or even three make it to the pilot stage, with one series emerging on air in 2019 or 2020 ... and the others maybe later, if they come out as well as we all hope."
One of the prequel ideas moved to pilot-stage in the summer of 2018, while two of the ideas were 'shelved'
HBO announced in June 2018 that one of the prequel ideas (an untitled series set thousands of years before "Game of Thrones") had been ordered to the pilot stage. The showrunner and writer, Jane Goldman, had the green light to film the first episode of the planned series, but the full season wasn't guaranteed.
In a blog post that month, Martin said that one of the five successor shows had "been shelved."
"But that does not mean the others are dead," Martin said. "Three more GAME OF THRONES prequels, set in different periods and featuring different characters and storylines, remain in active development. Everything I am told indicates that we could film at least one more pilot, and maybe more than one, in the years to come."
A month later, HBO programming president Casey Bloys revealed more about the approach to having multiple prequel shows in the works.
"The reason we did multiple scripts [is that] out of five we'd be lucky to get one we're really excited about," Bloys said in July 2018 at a Television Critics Association panel attended by Insider.
When asked if the other four ideas were "deceased" or just on hold, Bloys said it was a "combination."
The next year, in April 2019, Bryan Cogman told The Hollywood Reporter that his prequel idea "is not happening and will not happen," and that "HBO decided to go a different way."
Just a month later, Martin penned a new blog post and revealed that two of the original five pitches were no longer being considered by HBO.
"We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term "spinoffs") at HBO and three of them are still moving forward nicely," Martin wrote.
He confirmed that Goldman's series would film a pilot in 2019, while "two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer."
After its pilot was filmed in 2019, HBO decided not to go ahead with Jane Goldman's prequel. That same day, 'House of the Dragon' was confirmed for a full first-season.
In October 2019, the prequel created by Jane Goldman was dropped. HBO confirmed the news, first broken by Deadline, in a statement sent to Insider.
"After careful consideration, we have decided not to move forward to series with the Untitled 'Game of Thrones' prequel," HBO said. "We thank Jane Goldman, S.J. Clarkson, and the talented cast and crew for all of their hard work and dedication."
But that same day, HBO announced it was making a "Game of Thrones" prequel series called "House of the Dragon."
Unlike with Goldman's prequel, HBO had decided to greenlight a full first season (10 total episodes) of "House of the Dragon" before the pilot was even filmed. Former "Game of Thrones" director Miguel Sapochnik and "Colony" cocreator Ryan Condal are coshowrunners on the series.
In a blog post about "House of the Dragon" released the same month, Martin said he and Condal had a great longstanding relationship - and brought up Dunk and Egg again.
"[Ryan Condal is] a terrific writer … and a fan of my books since well before we met," Martin wrote. "He is also a huge fan of my 'Dunk & Egg' stories. In fact, that was the show he wanted to do initially, but I'm not prepared to bring 'Dunk & Egg' to television until I've written quite a few more stories."
Martin's blog post also revealed that "House of the Dragon," which is set about 200 years before the events of "Game of Thrones," was the very first sequel idea he formally pitched to HBO back in 2016.
Now 'Dunk and Egg' might be back on the table as HBO pursues a full 'Game of Thrones' spinoff web of TV shows
News began circulating this month that indicates HBO has changed its strategy around the successor shows.
"HBO wants to order more 'Game of Thrones' prequels. A lot of them," EW's James Hibberd reported. "In addition to the upcoming prequel series 'House of the Dragon,' the network is looking to greenlight several more shows set in the world of Westeros, sources say."
One of those is a "Dunk and Egg" series, according to Variety. HBO declined to comment to Variety and to Insider, when reached Thursday.
Hibberd also specified "Robert's Rebellion" as one of the "ideas being explored" by HBO.
Since both of those were ideas Martin said were notpart of the original five prequels pitched in 2016 and 2017, this indicates that something has changed behind-the-scenes in the last year.
According to Hibberd's report, "the idea is for HBO to go big on ['Game of Thrones'] for HBO and HBO Max, like Disney has done with 'Star Wars' and Disney+."
As unveiled at the end of 2020, Disney plans to produce several major "Star Wars" TV shows that will all interconnect the larger timeline and narrative from the film trilogies.
It's not hard to see how a similar approach could work for Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire"-related universe. He's published a giant fictional encyclopedia of the history of Westeros, Essos, and other lands (titled "A Word of Ice and Fire"), plus a historical account of House Targaryen ("Fire and Blood"), which spans hundreds of years.
But for now, with HBO and Martin both keeping details of the updated prequel plans underwraps, the only guarunteed return to Westeros will come from "House of the Dragon," which will begin filming this year.
HBO annouced the first season will premiere sometime in 2022.
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