We live in a world of expanded universes, and so of course: Game of Thrones spinoffs are coming. But this latest season has been a bumpy affair, with both highs and lows, continuing a trend the show has been on since it ran out of source material from George R.R. Martin’s novels. That raises a question: What if a spinoff is bad? Do fans want to further explore the world if it’s within an unsatisfying series? Chris Ryan posed that question on the latest episode of The Watch, and our Thrones experts, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, gave their perspective.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
Ryan: With HBO or not, [let’s say] Game of Thrones becomes an expanded universe, and there are six Thrones shows on. There are shows about the history, there are side shows, hell, they could reboot the whole thing. But maybe it doesn’t have the grandeur and majesty and $100 million budgets that this one does. … Would you rather not see it adapted again? Would you rather not see anybody screw up anything? Would you rather not see a Young Griff show get messed up? I would be interested in any of it, but Game of Thrones has this weird place in the culture in being something both die-hard, aggressive fans are into and also casual people are into. I mean, what happens? What would you rather see happen next? Would you rather have, like, B, B-minus, B-plus Game of Thrones spinoffs or nothing at all because it just didn’t feel good when you were watching the main show?
Concepcion: I mean, I love this world and it’s great, and there’s so much depth and so much backstory to everything that a B-minus to B Game of Thrones story would be pretty good. … The thing that worries me about the ending of Game of Thrones is that, if they bobble it, the takeaway is going to be, “Fantasy doesn’t work. People don’t like it, it’s not adult. Game of Thrones was great when it was all politics, and was all families squabbling. But when it’s dragons and magic swords and the prince that was promised, that’s for kids.” And that’s bad. That’s tragic. Because it’s not because that stuff isn’t compelling, it’s because they just didn’t do it right.
Rubin: I’m all in on spinoffs. I want more adaptations. Here’s the other thing: It is important [to put] very real endgame concerns aside [and] pan back and basically remember that we really didn’t like two episodes here. “Eastwatch” and “Beyond the Wall” were deeply flawed episodes in a 67-episode run. That’s pretty good! Now, there were other problematic episodes along the way, certainly, but still a pretty high hit rate. And if they can rediscover that form and sustain it in Season 8, we’ll all be thrilled. In general, when I love a world, I love it so fully that I just want to spend as much time there as possible, even if it’s not perfect.
One of the things that draws people to the story in the first place is just the depth, the scope, the vastness of this thing that he’s created. And it would almost feel tragic if we never got to see more of that brought to light and life on our screens. There’s just so much there to explore.
You guys know this about me. I am firmly in the “Let [J.K.] Rowling Write” camp. Like I thought [Harry Potter and the] Cursed Child was an abomination, but there’s not a moment in my life where I’ve thought, “I wish she hadn’t done this.” Because any shred of extra detail about that world is a precious gift to me. That’s how I feel about it. So I would feel that way about more Thrones spinoffs, too.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.