HBO Execs Were Worried Game of Thrones Could Be a Franchise

At this point Game of Thrones is more than just one of HBO's most popular shows of all time, but it's something of a cultural touch point. The series is not only generally regarded as one of the best television series of all time but has gone on to spawn additional series in the same universe, including the upcoming House of the Dragon and the in-development series centering around Jon Snow. But while these additional series and projects seem like natural extensions of Game of Thrones, back in 2016 with the conclusion of the series announced, HBO was worried about the franchise potential — specifically if whatever followed would live up to the original.

In a new report from The Hollywood Reporter, HBO was nervous about how to follow up the wildly popular Game of Thrones and, early on, there was reportedly little confidence that Game of Thrones had franchise potential.

"They were understandably very nervous about failing and not living up to the original series," an insider is quoted in the report regarding development discussions. "I don't think there was much confidence internally [that Thrones was a franchise] because the show was so big and so seminal."

"We saw it as an opportunity to keep telling great stories but not necessarily to try and replace Game of Thrones as the most epic show in history," HBO's executive vice president of drama Francesca Orsi said.

Figuring out what would come next took a few different approaches. There was the pitch for a series based on the Dunk and Egg novellas and one based on The Dance of the Dragons. There were some other ideas as well, including one about the Seven Gods of Westeros as real people as well as Bloodmoon, which got all the way to the pilot but was ultimately shelved What did make it out of development was House of the Dragon — and that series is now set to debut on HBO in August.

You can read HBO's official synopsis for House of the Dragon here: "The prequel series finds the Targaryen dynasty at the absolute apex of its power, with more than 15 dragons under their yoke. Most empires-real and imagined-crumble from such heights. In the case of the Targaryens, their slow fall begins almost 193 years before the events of Game of Thrones, when King Viserys Targaryen breaks with a century of tradition by naming his daughter Rhaenyra heir to the Iron Throne. But when Viserys later fathers a son, the court is shocked when Rhaenyra retains her status as his heir, and seeds of division sow friction across the realm."

House of the Dragon debuts on HBO Max on August 21st.