HBO has had a good thing going for the better part of a decade with Game of Thrones, but Game of Thrones is slated to come to an end after the upcoming eighth season. The good news for fans is that the stories of Westeros won't come to an end after the Season 8 finale, and not just because George R.R. Martin will surely some day finally publish the next book in the saga. No, HBO has had a number of spinoffs in development to keep the stories of the Seven Kingdoms going beyond the end of Thrones, and the first pilot was officially ordered by the premium cable network. The first pilot will be a prequel, and it already sounds amazing. Here's what we know.
While the spinoff prequel does not officially have a name just yet, some details about what the show will chronicle if ordered to series have been released. The show will be set thousands of years before the action of Game of Thrones picked up, according to EW, and follow the world as it transitions from "the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour." The terrible secrets that have only been rumored and hinted at in Game of Thrones will be expanded upon, but perhaps not as Game of Thrones fans will expect. The true origin of the White Walkers, the "mysteries of the East," and the Starks of ages past will be covered. Basically, the show sounds like it would fill in a lot of blanks that may be left over from the end of Game of Thrones.
Given that the Age of Heroes on Game of Thrones and in the A Song of Ice and Fire book saga was around 8,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones, we shouldn't expect any of the key Thrones characters to reprise their roles unless the spinoff goes the route of Frodo appearing in The Hobbit. That said, Bran Stark could have a part to play, especially if theories that he uses his abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven to travel back in time and construct the Wall as Bran the Builder are accurate. Isaac Hempstead Wright could have a part to play, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for some of the Game of Thrones actors to play their characters' ancestors. If early Starks and early Lannisters appear, perhaps some of their Game of Thrones actors could play them. One actor is already on board should the opportunity arise!
Assuming the spinoff would follow the Age of Heroes framework established in A Song of Ice and Fire, we can probably assume that "the darkest hour" refers to the Long Night that plunged Westeros into a dark winter that lasted a generation and saw the emergence of the White Walkers from the far north. If this is the case, we can likely count on the Children of the Forest appearing and interacting with the First Men as they must band together to battle the White Walkers. That said, the spinoff probably won't start out with the characters immediately being plunged into the Long Night, especially if it chronicles "the golden Age of Heroes" as well as the darkest hours. Maybe the project could follow the model of Game of Thrones by not really throwing the world into chaos until the end of the first season.
We'll have to wait and see. The pilot hails from writer Jane Goldman of Kingsman: The Secret Service and X-Men: First Class along with A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, who apparently has time for a new HBO show that isn't being allotted to finishing The Winds of Winter. Goldman and Martin will be credited as co-creators, and Goldman is on board as showrunner. This project was one of several possible spinoffs in the works at HBO, and the other four prequel pitches are reportedly still being considered. An order for a pilot isn't a guarantee that a full series will follow, and a lot might depend on the price tag for the prospective show. HBO is pretty much guaranteed a hit with any show set in the Game of Thrones universe, even if it doesn't achieve the same mega-ratings as its parent show.
Unfortunately, we have a while to wait until we see any more of the White Walkers in Westeros, as Game of Thrones won't return for Season 8 until 2019, and a spinoff won't debut until at least a year after Thrones is done. Swing by our rundown of what we know so far about Game of Thrones Season 8 to discover some of what to expect, and check out our summer TV schedule for your viewing options during the wait.