On a scale from Jon Snow to Varys, how in the know are you?

As a human being with internet access, you are certainly aware  the penultimate season of Game of Thrones is coming up in July. You probably have some feelings about this, either mixed excitement and dread because you are one of the many who would list Game of Thrones as one of the best things about television and perhaps life in general, or (still) mixed excitement and dread because you are part of the minority that fails to understand its beauty and are looking forward to it finally being over so people might stop talking about it all the damn time.

Now, for those of you who do love Game of Thrones and are struggling to come to terms with having to say goodbye to Westeros and all your favorite characters, HBO’s announcement earlier this month that no less than four possible Game of Thrones spinoffs are currently in development was probably a happy one. Since then, information regarding these new projects has continued to trickle out, so let’s take a look at what we know thus far.

The writers in charge of the four originally announced projects are Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (Stardust, X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River), and Carly Wray (Mad Men, The Leftovers).

Last Sunday, Game of Thrones author/overlord George R. R. Martin confirmed via blog post that he has indeed been involved in the production of these spinoffs—though he much prefers the term “successor shows”—and revealed there is a fifth successor in the works as well, from a super secret mystery author who is, according to Martin, “a great guy and a fine writer.” “Aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda,” he continues, “I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.” That “he” is probably Bryan Cogman, because if Martin is claiming the guy ranks just below himself and the co-authors of “The World of Ice & Fire” in his knowledge of Westeros, then it’s a pretty safe bet that the man in question would be the author of “Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones,” who has also written nine episodes of the series thus far, spread across all six seasons — this would make Cogman the only one of the five who has written for the original show.

Dany and dragon

“Say ‘Game of Thrones’ is overrated one more time. I dare you.”

Assuming you do like Game of Thrones, everything thus far has probably been seriously good news. For my part, I also prefer the idea of the term “successor show.” Before HBO announced a more long-term commitment to Westeros, the first season of WestworldGame of Thrones’ would-be successor on HBO in terms of production scale, narrative complexity, and cast size, demonstrated that for all its strengths it could never fill the gaping Westeros-sized hole that would be left behind by a post-Game of Thrones existence.

However, from this point on, your mileage may vary with several other details revealed by Martin regarding the five shows that may or may not be appearing on a screen at some point in the near or distant future.

First of all, about the whole having-to-come-to-terms-with-saying-goodbye-to-Westeros-and-all-your-favorite-characters thing: you’ll still have to do one of those things, perhaps even both. Martin makes it very clear that none of these potential successors will features any familiar faces from Game of Thrones. Then again, dealing with saying goodbye to favorite characters is less a series finale thing and more of a constant, ever-since-Season-1-Episode-5 thing, so it’s not like that’s an unfamiliar hardship (yes, we all still miss Ned, but four episodes before “Baelor” poor Jory Cassel, Game of Throne’s most lovable captain of the guard until Grey Worm, got stabbed through the eye by Jamie Lannister, and I think that loss deserves more recognition). Martin also adds that “some may not even be set on Westeros”—i.e. we might be going back to Essos, visiting the mysterious third continent of Sothoryos, or even venturing beyond the edge of the Known World.

Westeros' premier comedy trio

Unfortunately off the table: The Continued Adventures of Bronn, the Snark Knight

In one aspect, “successor show” is a bit of a misnomer. According to Martin, all five shows are dealing with a pre-Game of Thrones timeline: that’s right, prequels, not sequels. But, as mentioned before, no familiar faces, so no Robert’s Rebellion. Martin further adds that everything important about the Rebellion would be revealed by the end of Game of Thrones, rendering such a spinoff redundant.

No Ser Duncan the Tall and Aegon the Unlikely, either. Of those stars of three novellas, Martin has said he isn’t done with the pair yet, and has “at least seven or eight or 10 more I want to write” (he doesn’t want to have a potential show get ahead of him again, as Game of Thrones has). One would hope, though, that he doesn’t see fit to write those before publishing “Winds of Winter,” or his fans might literally begin to spontaneously combust.

So, what we’ve got right now is five pilot scripts for Game of Thrones successors in the works. It doesn’t mean we’ll get five shows out of it, but it seems pretty safe to say that we’ll eventually get at least one. And Martin also notes (in a very large font size, all caps, bolded and italicized) that he is still working on “Winds of Winter,” which is his Game of Thrones universe equivalent to the “The Silmarillion” (the “GRRMarillion,” to use Martin’s term), plus four new “Wild Cards” books, and “some things I can’t tell you about yet” — you’ve got to hand it to him, the man knows how to bait an audience.

Game of Thrones may be nearing an end, but it is now looking less and less like the end of Game of Thrones‘ dominion over television. Long may it reign.

 

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