Fans had plenty of reasons to see it coming, but HBO made the news official over the weekend: Game of Thrones will end after its eighth season. It's bittersweet news, but the most recent season clearly had the endgame in sight. Despite its massive popularity, it will end — fortunately on its own terms, à la AMC's Breaking Bad. Sadly, however, it also means we only have two seasons left in Westeros.
But there are other ways that HBO can capitalize on Game of Thrones' success — again, in a way AMC did post-Breaking Bad: a spinoff series. And it's a prospect HBO programming executive Casey Bloys said the network would consider.
However, there are some caveats about creating a spinoff that HBO must recognize — namely, that they shouldn't create a carbon copy that looks and feels exactly the same as the flagship series. With that in mind, here are four Westeros-themed ideas HBO could explore.
Tales of Dunk and Egg: The Tales of Dunk and Egg already exist in the form of three novellas, so it's a spinoff that already has source material to pull from. The series follows the adventures of a knight, "Dunk" (a future commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall), and his squire, "Egg" (revealed to be Aegon V Targaryen, a former King of Westeros).
An important clause, however: Dunk and Egg takes place 90 years before the events of Game of Thrones — so don't expect any dragons. Instead, what you could expect is a tonal shift from Game of Thrones that's less somber or morose and instead focuses on a somewhat more light-hearted journey through the Westerosi landscape (including a brief run-in with a young Walder Frey).
Moreover, for what it's worth, it's a series that author George R.R. Martin has said he'd be keen to see adapted on the small screen.
"Each of the novellas could easily be done as a two-hour standalone movie for television; that would probably be the ideal way to do them, rather than as an ongoing weekly series," Martin said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Robert's Rebellion: Many of the narrative arcs in Game of Thrones can be traced back to the events of Robert's Rebellion, which brought with it the fall of the Targaryen monarchy in Westeros (for now, at least — we'll see how Daenerys fares by the end of the show). Fans of Game of Thrones would go in knowing exactly how the story ends, but it would make for quite an entertaining ride.
This era in Westerosi history featured a young, battle-tested usurper in Robert Baratheon — unlike in the show's time, when he's constantly whoring and drinking — as well as a young Ned Stark and a still-alive Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who is now all-but-confirmed as the father of Jon Snow.
Perhaps, most notably, it would give viewers an extended look at Westeros under the rule of the infamous "Mad King" Aerys II Targaryen. The show teased the Mad King last season during Bran's revealing vision as he was being ushered out of the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven — and even with mere seconds of Mad King flashbacks, it was enough to excite the fanbase and exhausting breakdowns of the vision from publications. Just imagine what an entire series would do.
The Long Night: Six seasons in, we still know very little about the White Walkers or how/why they disappeared for so long that they became mythical enough that characters south of the Wall have a hard time believing their existence. Enter a period — thousands of years in the past — known as the Long Night.
This was back when the White Walkers were a palpable threat everyone believed were real, during a winter that Westerosi history is accounts as having lasted a generation. Like the Dark Ages in Medieval Europe, thousands of people died in the process.
It's also how the White Walkers were defeated for the first time, which could have its own value in Game of Thrones, considering they're still a looming threat with two seasons to go. Back then, they were vaguely defeated by legendary warrior Azor Ahai and his flaming sword Lightbringer.
In Game of Thrones, some believe Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen to be Azor Ahai reborn — to again defeat the White Walkers — so the context of how the icy undead were defeated in the first place could be of interest to series fans. Plus it's always entertaining to see the White Walkers in action, even in just the small doses we've been offered thus far.
Literally anything with Lyanna Mormont: OK, so this would fall under the same timeline as Game of Thrones, but nobody would be against it. Even at 10, Lyanna Mormont is arguably one of the show's biggest badasses, and she instantly became a fan favorite with her sassy entrance last season.
Beyond the entertainment value, it would further the narrative of one of the less-patriarchal regions of Westeros, as Lyanna commands her legendary Northern house at a young age. If women are truly poised to rule Westeros, giving Lyanna some time in the spotlight would make sense.
Would anybody protest? Anyone who does would have to contest with this soul-crushing scowl.