Game of Thrones Season 8 will be the final installment of the story of A Song of Ice and Fire, bringing the saga of the Targaryen return to Westeros after Robert's Rebellion to a close. But HBO isn't taking the end of their most popular series in history lying down, not in this era where reboots, prequels, and sequels abound. To that end, they've commissioned multiple Game of Thrones spinoffs, five in all, in hopes that one will be able to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the original.
The question is, will any of these spinoffs have someone fans recognize from the original series? From the hints that George R.R. Martin dropped (before he took his latest internet break), it seemed that was very unlikely. Now, we have confirmation that at least one of the major characters from the current series won't be back for the next one.
In a recent interview with GQ Italia, Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, admits he knows nothing. About the spinoffs, that is, because he isn't cast in any of them, either as Jon Snow or as any ancestor part.
I think there’s going to be spinoffs, but I’m not going to be involved in any of it.
Harington thinks that starting new shows with totally green casts is one way to keep costs down, and since the history of Westeros is so vast, it's easy for these spinoff shows to pick completely different time periods.
The great thing about Thrones for HBO is that you can sell it in a totally different way. You could set it 300 years earlier and save a load of money because we [the cast] are very expensive now.
Harington is in agreement with HBO about keeping costs down. Earlier this week, during a "Best of HBO" panel at the INTV Conference, HBO Senior Vice President of Drama Francesca Orsi said they were fretting about the cost of producing these new shows if more than one gets greenlit.
When we were in Belfast in October, Casey said ‘it feels like corporate malfeasance’ to not continue it, which is why it’s spawned three, four, five Game of Thrones spinoffs. We can’t obviously start with the budget of Season 8 but would it be a Game of Thrones Season 3 budget?
Casey Bloys, HBO programming president, who the above comment refers to, was also at the panel and agreed that part of the problem is that these shows get more expensive the longer they stay on the air.
As a show goes on, they get more expensive and as shows get more ambitious, they will get more expensive. More money doesn’t always equal better, but in some cases, the scope of ideas do require it.
Bloys isn't wrong. The early seasons were less expensive, partly because HBO wouldn't loosen the purse strings, and partly because it didn't need to be. The dragons (pictured above) were babies. The battles were smaller scale. The stakes for the characters were also smaller scale, too.
By the time we reach Season 8, the dragons are full grown (and one is technically dead.) The battles are huge in scale, with armies from entire regions facing each other down. The stakes are nothing less than humanity's survival against the Army of the Dead.
Any new show that HBO decides has a strong enough script set to put into production, and then produces a pilot strong enough to place a series order for, is not going to have these kinds of stakes right off the bat, nor will it have a cast of household names and salaries to match. Let's hope that means that HBO can produce as much Westeros as can meet fans' demands.
Game of Thrones Season 8 will eventually turn up on HBO in 2019. Any spinoff series that follow won't be ready until 2020 at the very earliest.