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Why A Game Of Thrones Sequel Will Never Happen

We know you want it, but no matter how many petitions you throw at HBO, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, or even George R. R. Martin himself, it's unlikely that we will ever see a sequel series to Game of Thrones. The people behind the series have long known that the end was coming — and that when it did, it would be final.

Eight seasons may not seem like long enough with our favorite characters, but the television adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire has finished. After becoming emotionally entangled in the story and invested in the characters, it's hard to move on, but the producers, writers, and actors have already turned their attention away from Westeros and toward new projects. Still, for those unable to let go, here's a look at some of the many reasons why the last thing we'll ever hear Tyrion say is that weird thing about the donkey and the honeycomb.

HBO says nope, nope, nope, no

Want to know what's next? Ready for a season nine? Programming president of HBO Casey Bloys was willing to back one — along with a season ten, 11, and even 12 — but allowed the creative team behind the show to make the ultimate decision regarding how many episodes the final arc of the Game of Thrones story would have. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bloys said that showrunners Benioff and Weiss knew how they wanted the ending to go for a long time, which is why he didn't push for more.

"I've been on the record saying I'd take five more seasons," said Bloys. "But they've had a plan that they wanted to do and this made sense to them. They made this decision a long time ago and they're doing it exactly how they planned to do it. Shows have to come to an end. This was eight seasons, it's a great epic and shows have to come to a close. It's part of the TV life cycle."

More bluntly, when asked about sequels, Bloys said, "Nope, nope, nope. No. Part of it is, I do want this show — this Game of Thrones, Dan and David's show — to be its own thing. I don't want to take characters from this world that they did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it."

There's no known future for the Starks

George R.R. Martin's books inspired the Game of Thrones TV series, but the most recent installment was published in 2011. A Dance with Dragons contains the events depicted in season five of the television adaptation (Cersei's long walk through King's Landing, Dany getting snatched up by the Dothraki, and Winterfell being tainted by the Boltons.) The showrunners had to go off book from then on with input from Martin, who has been writing the next book, The Winds of Winter, at a hobbled snail's pace. He walked them through some twists and turns he'd been planning, and where he intended on leaving the characters he'd brought to life in the finale.

According to Martin, the ending that HBO gave us won't be very different than the one he's working toward in the final book A Dream of Spring, so even if our wildest dreams come true and the last books of the series are published, there wouldn't be any source material for a television adaptation. There's no more story of the Starks beyond where we left them: Arya going to the great unknown, Jon at the Wall, Sansa as Queen in the North, and Bran as King of the Six Kingdoms. Exactly how Martin's version plays out remains to be seen, but we're willing to wager that A Dream of Spring won't diverge much from season 8. There's no need for a sequel series.

Would fans even want more?

At least 1.5 million people are unsatisfied with the way Game of Thrones ended, and that might be a conservative estimate. Twitter blew up after the airing of the final episodes, unleashing criticism from a hive of angry fans. Disappointed posters said the ending had been rushed, unsatisfactory, and even sexist. Where did Dany's character development go? What about all the prophecies we've been making conspiracy theories about forever? The Night King is dead, just like that?

These complaints didn't come from a minority of hardcore viewers, either. The final season received some of the poorest ratings the show ever experienced, with the final episode getting a dismal 4.3 user rating on IMDb, whereas most episodes from previous seasons consistently earned at least a solid 8. Ouch. Considering this ill will toward the ending that Weiss and Benioff produced, it's unlikely that fans want to know what happens next. For many, their favorite characters are dead and those left are in places that would be generally boring to watch. Would you be jazzed to watch Bran the Blank-faced's omniscient, unchallenged rule?

Prequels are all the rage

George R.R. Martin is supposed to be working diligently on The Winds of Winter, but he's also found time to publish several books plotting out hundreds of years of Westerosi history. There is a wealth of material set in the past, rather than the future.

Tantalizingly, he wrote in his blog, "We have had five different Game of Thrones successor shows in development (I mislike the term "spinoffs") at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely. The one I am not supposed to call The Long Night will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer. What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of Fire & Blood and come up with your own theories."

An unnamed prequel "taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones... chronicles the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour" — and it already has a star-studded cast and is set to start filming a pilot sometime in 2019. There's little word on the other projects, but Martin has made us wonder... does one of the prequels depict the Targaryen family history described in Fire & Blood?

Which prequel will we actually get?

Fire & Blood details how King Aegon the Dragon conquered Westeros with his queen sisters, and their children and their children's children. Three hundred years of Targaryen family drama. It'd be pretty exciting to see more dragons setting fire to fields of knights, and there are plenty of political struggles fit for an HBO show in the fictional history. Martin also has an anthology of stories collected in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms about a towering hedge knight and a little Targaryen prince just as ripe for TV adaptation.

The Long Night, as Martin isn't allowed to call it, has been theorized to take place around the rise of the first White Walkers, which means we'll get more zombies and perhaps another glimpse of the Children of the Forest. And there's still more material prime for television: the Blackfyre Rebellions, the Targaryen civil war, the dark tale of the Night's King. And that's just events from Westeros. Essos has a long and storied history too. What exactly was the Doom of Valyria? Might we hear more about the House of Black and White? The Faceless Men? The Lord of Light? When it comes to lore, Martin has given us quite a bit to work with. The possibilities are endless.

The actors have moved on

Even the actors who poured their souls into the final season sometimes seemed as if they found it... lacking. There have been a number of awkward interviews with the cast, their reactions to the final script ranging from confused to teary. For many, the past eight years of their lives has been nothing but Game of Thrones. Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark, got a commemorative direwolf tattoo, much like Emilia Clarke's own trio of dragons. The cast have said their goodbyes to Westeros in their own ways. Many are ready to move on to new roles — maybe less demanding ones. It's no secret that Game of Thrones was a tough show to film, with high pressure and long hours. Kit Harrington had a hard time dealing with the fame, and has said that he's ready to be less recognizably "Jon Snow."

Going to miss their familiar faces? You can always catch Sophie Turner playing Jean Grey in the final X-Men film. Maisie Williams is also joining the X-Men universe in New Mutants. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau took a role as a detective in a world of "polar bears and weird suicides." Jacob Anderson is going by Raleigh Ritchie rather than Grey Worm and producing some sweet, sad music. Emilia Clarke is stretching her acting chops and doing both thrillers and rom-coms, and Peter Dinklage is doing some animated movies, starring in films that his kids can actually be allowed to watch.

An expensive Game

Game of Thrones viewers became accustomed to the visual opulence of each episode over the course of eight seasons. Each episode is like its own film: reality-defying special effects, lavish costuming, sets built to scale, and massive casts of extras to make Westeros really breathe. As you might imagine, filming a season's worth of movies can get expensive. Remember when Blackwater Bay was filled with ships that exploded with hideous green flames? "Blackwater" previously held the record for the most expensive episode at $8 million.

The final season, in comparison, reportedly cost an estimated $15 million per episode. It takes a lot of money to make dragons fly, direwolves growl, and wights reanimate. Big battles eat up budgets, and the showrunners have talked about having to be choosy about which battles get filmed, with hundreds of actors in full costume hacking at each other, and which get axed for the sake of budget. For the Battle of the Blackwater, they had to beg for an additional $2 million for in order to produce one of the most lauded episodes of the series. That $2 million could have easily been a large chunk of budget for a show that takes far less effort to produce. HBO can afford to make entire series for $15 million rather than shelling out $15 million for a single episode. Another Game of Thrones might be a bit too expensive.

HBO has moved on to the next big fantasy

As the final credits roll on Game of Thrones, a new era begins. High fantasy has proven itself as a fantastic candidate for fantastic television, so HBO and the BBC have teamed up on another expensive, expansive fantasy show based on a beloved book series: His Dark Materials. Political struggles? Check. Mysterious powers? Check. CGI animals? Check. It isn't a Game of Thrones sequel, but it may still satisfy some of the same viewers who tuned in to Thrones.

His Dark Materials takes place in an alternate England that has all the charm of the Victorian era with the added bonus of daemons, companion creatures with human intelligence, as well as witches and angels and ghosts. Add in A-list actors like James McAvoy and Lin-Manuel Miranda and we're more than just sold — we're looking forward to the premiere later in 2019. Plus, if you're tired of lands of fantasy, there are a bevy of other shows that HBO has cooking. Westworld has another season on the way, for those of the sci-fi loving persuasion. Graphic novel fans can rejoice in the upcoming premiere of the Watchmen adaptation. Jordan Peele and JJ Abrams are producing Lovecraft Country, a horror drama that will surely be a hit. Even now that Thrones is done, there are plenty of shows on the way that will make your HBO subscription worth it.

A galaxy far, far away

Even before the dust settled on Game of Thrones, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff set their sights on a galaxy far, far away.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed that after the twin suns set on the current trilogy of Star Wars films, Benioff and Weiss will be working on the next series of films — a trilogy telling a new story separate from the Skywalker saga. The first of the three films is due at the end of 2022, giving audiences plenty of time to forget how upset they were the final Game of Thrones season. But for real: why take so long? What's the story about? Has it already been written, or will it be an adaptation from the extended universe?

Giving few answers, Iger said, "We're hard at work already, but we felt three years was the proper amount of time to not only take a breather and reset, but to gear up for the next film's release. We did a deal with David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who are famous for Game of Thrones and the next movie that we release will be theirs, and we're not saying anything more about that."

Everyone is seeking to fill the void

Welcome to an new era in which Dungeons & Dragons is in vogue, Renaissance faires are enjoying a renaissance, and every production company wants a piece of the high fantasy pie. Game of Thrones has changed television as we know it. No longer is it satisfactory for shows to be small, with niche dedicated followings. Every show wants to be a blockbuster, and in the coming years, there will be no limit to the number of titles seeking to fill the void that the end of Game of Thrones has left in our hearts.

His Dark Materials is far from the only book adaptation on the table. Netflix is launching a series based on The Witcher. There's also the ambitious Lord of the Rings prequel series that Amazon has reportedly paid close to $250 million for. There is no shortage of fantasy media in the works: Netflix is also planning a live-action version worthy of the beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and Disney is bringing Star Wars to the small screen in the upcoming The Mandalorian series. Every major company is trying to replicate the GoT success, and even though some of these attempts are bound to fail, viewers still stand to benefit.