Game of Thrones prequel: A pilot has been shot. Here's everything else we know

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Daniel Van Boom
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The Children of the Forest will probably be featured in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel.


In May, HBO aired The Iron Throne, the sixth episode of season 8 and the final ever episode of Game of Thrones. After eight years, the Song of Fire and Ice has officially been sung. We won't add spoilers here, but at this point it almost goes without saying that the fan base is split on how to feel about Game of Thrones' last leg. Some love it, and over a million have petitioned for it to be remade

If you're in Camp A, and maybe even if you're in Camp B, you'll be happy to hear HBO isn't done with the Game of Thrones universe. There are many tales from Westeros and Essos left to spin. 

A Game of Thrones prequel is coming, and the wheels are very much in motion. We don't have a release date yet, but we do know a pilot has been shot. Progress! Here's everything we know so far.

The Age of Heroes 

The Game of Thrones prequel takes place before Ned Stark's fateful, fatal trip to King's Landing. Like, way before.

HBO's official synopsis of the show has it taking place "thousands of years" before The Song of Ice and Fire story, and adds that the prequel will chronicle "the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour."

The Age of Heroes, for those without an encyclopaedic knowledge of Westeros lore, is the era after the First Men and the Children of the Forest forged a peace pact. The Age of Heroes began 10,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones and ended with the Coming of the Andals, which happened either 6,000, 4,000 or 2,000 years before Thrones, with different sources within Westeros citing different end markers for the epoch.

So, yeah, we don't know exactly when the story will take place.


Ned Stark won't be in the prequel, but his potential ancestor, Bran the Builder, could be.


One hint, though, comes from writer George R.R. Martin himself, who is involved in the show's production. Martin said in his Not a Blog that he suggested The Long Night as the prequel's title.

This is in reference to the White Walkers' first invasion of Westeros. "The Others," as they're referred to in ancient times, brought a winter that lasted years. The White Walkers were eventually driven north by The First Men and the Children of the Forest, which led to the creation of The Wall. The Wall would keep the dead at bay until, well, you know.

The Age of Heroes saw the formation of many enduring houses. Bran the Builder erected The Wall during this period and is said to have then founded House Stark, also known as The Kings of Winter, at Winterfell. Meanwhile, Lann the Clever scammed his way into possession of Casterly Rock, formerly owned by the Casterlys, and from there built House Lannister.

It has been noted that The First Men could not write, so most of what happened during The Age of Heroes comes from stories penned centuries later or passed down via song. HBO's synopsis warns us "it's not the story we think we know."

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Old times, new faces

Though we know nothing about time, place or characters, we do know some of the key actors involved in the fantasy epic.

Naomi Watts was the first cast reveal. She'll play the show's leading lady, a character officially described as "a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret." (Which doesn't sound too different from Ned Stark, a charismatic Lord hiding a dark secret.) Watts will act alongside lead man Josh Whitehouse, who, upon being cast, got his own Wikipedia page. Good for you, Josh! 

Several cast members have been announced since, many of whom are familiar within epic fantasy. Jamie Campbell Bower (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) are among those who will play your new favorite heroes (or most hated villains).

"Luce" - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival

Naomi Watts brings the star power to the Thrones prequel's cast.

Theo Wargo

In terms of behind-the-scenes talent, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, showrunners of Game of Thrones' TV adaption, are not expected to have large roles. Those two chaps will be tied up in a galaxy far, far away. Martin, meanwhile, will executive produce the show. 

Replacing D&D, as Weiss and Benioff are (sometimes) affectionately known, will be Jane Goldman. Goldman has penned screenplays for super films like X-Men: Days of Future Past, Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service. S.J. Clarkson will direct the pilot episode. Clarkson has previously directed episodes of Jessica Jones , The Defenders and helmed Netflix's Collateral murder-mystery series. 

If not now, when?

The pilot for the show is expected to shoot in "early summer" this year, according to Entertainment Weekly. Casey Bloys, HBO's head of programming, has previously said the show would air at least a year after Game of Thrones' conclusion, making 2020 the earliest possible release date.

In May, Bloys was asked by Deadline if a 2020 release window was plausible. He said that "having it on the air a year later feels a little rushed, but it's too soon to tell." 

Thus far only a pilot has been shot, and an entire season has yet to be greenlit. Although that process is likely perfunctory, it also suggests a show still in early stages of development. In other words, 2020 is possible but don't be surprised if it ends up airing in 2021 or 2022.

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Wait, there's more?

Game of Thrones is HBO's golden goose. The above prequel isn't the only golden egg HBO is counting on.

Martin has confirmed that he has proposed no less than five Game of Thrones spinoff shows. "Well, if he's proposed five maybe only one will see the light of day," I hear you questioning. But Martin says three of them are currently in development.

"We have had five different Game of Thrones successor shows in development," he wrote in early May on his Not a Blog, "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 we are edging closer.
"What are they about? I cannot say."

Oh, George, you tease.

HBO head Casey Bloys was understandably quiet on this front when asked in July, saying "I want to see how this one goes." 

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Originally published May 15.
Update, May 20: Adds information based on season finale. 
Update, July 25: Adds information on pilot being shot, release windows.