Having “Game of Thrones” win another 12 Emmys is a bittersweet high for fans who are simultaneously reminded that their favorite show is coming to an end in two short seasons. This anticipatory mourning has created renewed interest in life after “Game of Thrones” — not through the power of the Red God — but by hoping that HBO will green light a spin-off.
As George R.R. Martin teased at the Emmys, he has “thousands of pages of fake history” set in the world of Westeros and the adjacent Essos, ripe for adaptation. This is not news to readers of his novels, who are often sidetracked by his long passages of fully realized historical context. And since “Game of Thrones” series creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss have tried to keep flashbacks and exposition at a minimum, there’s still a wealth of stories that haven’t been represented on the screen.
Here are some of our (and in some cases, Martin’s) favorite prequel and spin-off sequel ideas for “Game of Thrones”:
“Westeros: The Teenage Years” (WT) – OK, we’re kidding about that title, but you get the idea. Already we’ve met a younger Eddard Stark (Rob Aramayo) through Bran’s time-traveling green dreams and discovered that he may not have been so upstanding and full of integrity as when we had met him in his Sean Bean incarnation. But we’d like to rewind the clock to much earlier, when Ned was still the second son of Winterfell and he had not yet developed an affection for half-ponytails. We’ve had hints of his being fostered in the Vale by John Arryn (the husband of Moon Door-loving Lysa) and becoming friends with Robert Baratheon, future king. This is when Ned first met the ravishing beauty Catelyn Tully, whom was affianced to his older Brandon at the time and had caught the eye of a pre-pimping Petyr Baelish. This is also when Robert had fallen for Ned’s sister Lyanna. Over at King’s Landing, we’d like to see what’s going on with the Targaryens, specifically Rhaegar and his wife Elia Martell, the Dornish sister of the vengeful Red Viper. And then there are the Lannisters: Cersei before she married and became a mother, Jaime who was a kickass golden knight with two hands, Tyrion unscarred and still hopeful. The beauty of this time period is understanding the psychology of so many of the players that we’ve gotten to know and love/loathe. That the events of Robert’s Rebellion and the Greyjoy Rebellion loom on the horizon, possibly seasons off is an intriguing prospect to see what life is like in an antebellum Westeros, if such a thing exists. Besides, it would be nice to see one happy romance before all the bloodshed happens.
“How to Train Your Flying Valyrian Dragon” – Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, is the only person we know now who flies dragonback, but at one point, it was commonplace. This spinoff could demystify all things Valyrian — from their ancient, prosperous world known as the Valyrian Freehold and then getting wiped out in the mysterious cataclysm known only as the Doom, to how the Targaryens were the one ancient family to escape and why they’re known for their white-gold hair and violet eyes. It was Daenerys’ ancestor Aegon who decided to conquer Westeros (everyone but Dorne) and thus begin the Targaryen reign there. He’s the one who created that damned Iron Throne, the role of Hand of the King, the Small Council, the bodyguards known as the Kingsguard, and even the table that Stannis had sex on with Melisandre centuries later at Dragonstone. But let’s get back to the dragons. Many Valyrians were dragonriders, but since the Targaryens were the only ancient line to survive the Doom, they became synonymous with dragonriders. During the civil war known as the Dance of Dragons — when brother fought sister, when dragon flamed dragon — trained dragonriders kept dying, so the “dragon seeds,” lowborn bastards of the Targaryens, were called on to see if they had it in them to ride and enter battle. Sure, this sounds like a lot of expensive CGI work, but we’d be happy with a miniseries. Unfortunately, this would also mean more incest, but hey, more Valyrian swords!
“Tales of Dunk and Egg” – While this sounds like delicious breakfast shenanigans, they’re actually novellas pre-approved by Martin for your spinoff consideration. They follow the adventures of a young itinerant knight, Duncan “Dunk” the Tall, future commander of the Kingsguard, and his squire Egg, whom we discover is actually Aegon Targaryen, future king of Westeros (and brother of Jon Snow’s pal, the blind Maester Aemon at The Wall). So far, there are only three installments of this series, which Martin has insisted he’d like to continue, and since they’re episodic and more lighthearted in nature, they could work for standalone TV movies. Since this is set 90 years before “Game of Thrones,” there won’t be too many familiar faces (although a pre-Red Wedding Walder Frey as a toddler and future Three-Eyed Raven make appearances), but at least there’s lots of trials by combat.
“The Once and Future Night King” – Now we’re getting really ancient, maybe 12 millennia in the past. Before the First Men arrived from Essos, giants like Wun-Wun and the Children of the Forest (whom we later see aid the Three-Eyed Raven and then Bran) inhabited Westeros. Thousands of years of battles between these ancient races and men ensued, and according to the TV show, inspired the Children to create the White Walkers by using their dragonglass daggers on the First Men (pictured above is the Night King, pre-frost). Unfortunately, the White Walkers and their zombie-like wights aren’t necessarily loyal to the Children, and eventually, during an era known as The Long Night, the Children and First Men have to band together to fight off the White Walkers. This era is rich with the ancient religions, the legendary tale of the hero Azor Ahai (the warrior that Melisandre thought Stannis was reborn) and his sword Lightbringer and ancestor Bran “the Builder” Stark, who founded Winterfell, House Stark, the Night’s Watch and built The Wall.
“Wildling, I Think I Love You” – No story of The Wall and the struggles with the Westerosi is complete without the free folk, a.k.a. wildlings. While everyone is concerned with the Iron Throne and kings and all of the malarkey, the free folk have decided to live independently of that governance and make their own rules. Their society is fascinating — ranging from their hatred of the Night’s Watch to the fierceness of spearwives, women who fight alongside men.
“Melisandre: Year One” – No really, how old is the red priestess since clearly her choker kept her looking young? She possibly has slave roots too. Fascinating possibilities here.
“Nymeria the Warrior Queen” – This series set 1,000 years in the past, would explain why Dorne is so different from Seven Kingdoms and refused to be bend to Aegon the Conqueror. Nymeria was a princess among the Rhoynar people, but Valyria and those damned dragons conquered them, causing Nymeria and refugees to first flee to the Isle of Women (a fun episode or two right there) and then to Dorne with 10,000 ships. She made a marriage alliance with House Martell of Sunspear (Red Viper’s family) and the rest is history. This series has so much potential to be tonally different from “Game of Thrones” beyond the usual bloodletting. For one, a show about a kickass, female hero would be more focused and less likely to have as much casual rape and misogyny. It was the olive-skinned Rhoynar (casting inclusion!) who brought equal primogeniture — the eldest child regardless of gender inherits — to Dorne, and this would fix “Game of Thrones’” gaffe of eliminating that very important Dornish custom, which is what we blame for making the Sand Snakes crazy. Finally, it’s time we got some sunshine and wine on a more regular basis on HBO.
THE PROBLEM WITH SEQUELS
We’d love to propose sequels, but until “Game of Thrones” ends in two seasons, we cannot predict which of our favorite characters will still be alive to see a spinoff. That said, we are counting on the show not killing off another Stark family direwolf (after Lady, Grey Wind and Shaggydog’s ignominious deaths), so may we propose…
“Nymeria: The Legend Continues” – Arya’s freed direwolf was named for the legendary warrior queen and deserves some love too. We imagine this to be a sort of anthology series in which Nymeria’s travels will let us encounter new lands, creatures and even revisit our favorite characters who we hope survive (Hot Pie still baking direwolf-shaped bread; Tormund tormenting Brienne).