While winter has finally come for the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, networks are on fire scrambling to be the one who lands the next big hit on their station. For all those who understand the intricacies of Westeros, this will be no easy feat. What show could possibly take center stage once the throne is seized? The world of high-budget fantasy is in a league of its own right now, which is the perfect time for networks to strike.
Looking back, Game of Thrones was a massive gamble from the studio since the beginning. The financials alone are mind-blowing not to mention the source material has yet to be completed… looking at you GRRM… but sometimes you have to swing for the fences if you wanna score. This list of potential series usurpers are not only risks, but some, pretty tough to wrap your brain around.
1.Kingkiller Chronicle – Showtime
The Kingkiller Chronicle is a collaborative franchise from Lionsgate that includes a TV series adaption, a major feature film being penned by Lindsey Beer and interactive games all being developed concurrently. Lin-Manuel Miranda will serve as creative producer and musical mastermind since Lionsgate announced it last year. On top of that, Sam Raimi is set to direct the series!
Provided that Showtime can put together a team that can execute this massive undertaking, it will definitely be a strong contender. Also, the book readers already complaining that their beloved source material will be tarnished once it hits television sounds eerily similar to the Game of Thrones fandom.
With no word on a premiere date yet, Showtime did issue it’s official press release:
Set in the world of the wildly popular fantasy series by Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicle will follow a pair of wandering performers on their adventures through the unique and startling world of Temerant, immersing audiences in a universe of unexpected heroes, mystical places, and terrifying dark forces. The television adaption is a subversive origin story of legendary proportions set a generation before the events of the trilogy’s first novel, The Name of the Wind.
2. Good Omens – Amazon
Let’s kick this off with a brief synopsis that even without David Tennant and Michael Sheen would have me hooked. Good Omen is set in a world where biblical legends are true, the keeper of the East gate of Heaven and the Serpent from the Garden of Eden unite to prevent the apocalypse as they’ve come to enjoy their quaint lives in the United Kingdom.
Now this show will definitely have some serious fantastical undertones but with actors like Jon Hamm, Anna Maxwell Martin, and Nick Offerman set to feature in key roles, there is bound to be some humor and banter taking place amidst all the fire and brimstone. Filming is currently underway with Gaiman acting as an executive producer and showrunner.
The six-episode series will debut on Amazon in 2019.
3. The Watch – TBD
Adapted from the Terry Pratchett novels, the world of The Watch is set on a world that is really a disc held in place by four elephants standing on the back of a turtle, Discworld is both a parody of early fantasy works and a sweeping universe in its own right.
Thanks to the series, Prachett was the U.K.’s best-selling author in the 1990s. While Discworld does not tell one single overarching tale, its characters weave in and out of story lines. Pratchett’s work appeals to those with a wide sense of humor and a love of rich characters, not unlike Game of Thrones.
The BBC series will focus on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. It is said to be a police procedural set in the major Discworld city, which will definitely set it apart from the likes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and NCIS.
The program does not have a distributor yet, but you can imagine it will be scooped up quickly by Syfy or Netflix.
4. The Wheel Of Time – Amazon/Sony
Set in a world that is both Earth’s distant past and far future, the cycle of time is threatened by a Shadow of ultimate evil. It searches for “The Dragon Reborn,” a being of light fated to clash with the Shadow. Various enemies and allies of both sides appear as the main characters learn more about their fate and even cross into parallel worlds.
Amazon and Sony are developing the series in concert, but since that announcement in February, little more has been revealed. Without any key production personnel attached, it is hard to say if the series will be successful.
The key issue at the moment is whether or not Amazon will have any money to develop it once LOTR begins production. That’s honestly never a good place to start.
5. Lord Of The Rings – Amazon
This is the biggest question mark I have going into series’ development. Do we NEED more Lord of the Rings? I’m not talking about just one more LOTR entry, Amazon is committed to produce a five-season series based on The Lord of the Rings!
In partnership with Tolkien’s estate and the various rights holders of the Rings and Hobbit film series. According to various reports, it will focus on some of the side stories referenced in the epic, leaving the Fellowship’s journey south of the purview of the films.
Side stories pulled directly from The Lord of the Rings have a better chance of working creatively and commercially by their very nature; they share the same tone Tolkien envisioned for the War of the Ring. The Hobbit trilogy was not very well-received, but by extracting the best elements from LOTR with a more medieval twist, maybe the source material won’t feel so stale.
6. Conan – Amazon
Based on the stories of Robert E. Howard featuring Conan the Cimmerian who roamed a fictional “Hyborian Age” said to occur after the destruction of Atlantis, but before the rise of “modern” civilization. Amazon is developing a series based more directly on Howard’s stories than later authors’ work or the Marvel Comics series of the 1970s and ’80s.
Colony co-creator Ryan Condal hopes to reveal Conan’s search for a purpose, but the pilot will reportedly see him driven out of Cimmeria, possibly setting up his eventual fate on the Aquilonian throne. A quest for a throne… sounds familiar.
To ice the cake, Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik (“Battle of the Bastards”) is set to direct the pilot. Sapochnik has the ‘Midas Touch’ so I’d bet good money this show is a front-runner to take the throne.
7. The Witcher – Netflix
Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher novels and short stories centering on Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher who roams The Continent hunting legendary monsters and getting involved in geopolitical upsets (in spite of his own political neutrality). He eventually adopts Ciri, the princess of Cintra with ability to transverse space and time, and trains her as a Witcher.
Netflix picked up the rights to adapt the novel series back in May of last year. The Expanse’s Sean Daniel and Jason Brown were announced as executive producers with Sapowski set to serve as a creative consultant. The Witcher may be Netflix’s best chance at a true Lord of the Rings rival. Given a budget to make the monsters Geralt fights believable, it could surpass The Lord of the Rings.
The show is set to debut in 2020 as filming is set to begin later this year is Eastern Europe.
8. Cursed – Netflix
Cursed is a retelling of the King Arthur legend though the eyes of Nimue, the Lady of the Lake as she journeys to deliver a sword to the wizard Merlin. Along for the ride is a young mercenary named Arthur. The source material is written by Frank Miller of 300 fame.
Netflix is developing a 10-part series alongside Wheeler and Miller’s final revisions of the novel. Both are attached to the project as executive producers, but no show runners or actors are as yet attached to the project. This sounds like a fresh take on an old fantasy tale which gives us hope that the material lives up to expectations.
9. Gormenghast – TBD
The story focuses around Titus Goran, reluctant heir to the immense Castle Gormenghast and the surrounding domain. But even as Titus grows up knowing he must eventually become a ruler, an ambitious kitchen boy plots his downfall.
Gormenghast has a strong advantage over many other series on this list. Unlike most of the other projects in development, Gormenghast is notable for a distinct lack of magic despite its fantasy setting. Like the grounded first season of Game of Thrones, the more realistic world will set it apart from Middle-earth and the Hyborian Age.
The project, which was only announced one month ago, has yet to find a streaming platform or broadcaster it can call home.
10. Game of Thrones Prequels – HBO
We couldn’t leave these off the list, could we!? While yes, they will have the power of HBO behind them, that in no way makes the prequels a sure things. They are the ultimate wildcard whether they will succeed their predecessor or crumble in the wake of more fresh and captivating series yet to come.
According to HBO president Casey Bloys, there could be as many as five prequel series after Game of Thrones completes its run next year. Developed with Martin and talents like The Leftovers‘ Carly Wray and Kick-Ass‘s Jane Goldman, multiple premises are said to be in a competition for one singular broadcast slot. But Bloys also called having two or more potential series ready for air a “high class problem” he would solve should more than one pilot script prove exceptional. No matter how many prequels HBO ends up putting in production, they will all be set before the era depicted in Games of Thrones.
Let’s be frank, this will either be a massive hit or a train wreck. HBO has stated on multiple occasions that one of the potential prequels will NOT be Robert’s Rebellion… pretty much the singular event viewers are dying to see. Not cool, guys. So with several options on the table, should it fail, they have four more ideas to use.
Whether you have a favorite on this list or not, it’s a lot of information to digest. It’s going to be hard saying farewell to Game of Thrones but with any luck one or more of these shows will step up to the plate. The insane amount of money Amazon is putting into series’ development can either spell success or imminent disaster. HBO is always a safe bet to keep the tone of ASOIAF consistent. My advice is to hope for the best, but until CGI budgets get revealed, expect the worst.