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12 Shows That Are Trying to Be the Next Game of Thrones

What will we obsess over now that Thrones is finished?

Liam Mathews

Game of Thrones is over, which means deep-pocketed cable networks and streaming services are hard at work trying to come up with the next Game of Thrones; that is, a big-budget fantasy series that will court obsessive fandom from viewers all over the world.

It's unlikely any of these shows will ever be as culturally dominant as Game of Thrones; TV has changed so much since 2011 that there just isn't a way to be so big for so long anymore. Netflix shows drop all at once and capture the conversation for a weekend, but are quickly forgotten. The sheer number of shows being made means audiences are more spread out among niches than ever before. The viewership numbers Game of Thrones put up in its final season will probably not be replicated.

That being said, everyone knows what The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are, and Amazon and Netflix, respectively, are gonna do what they can to get as many people watching their takes on those iconic franchises as they can. Plus, HBO is literally making another Game of Thrones.

All those and more are here in this handy compendium of a dozen shows that could maybe, possibly, someday become something approximating the next Game of Thrones. (Honorable mention goes to Showtime's Halo, which will be Thrones-sized but too sci-fi and too based on a video game to really compare.)

​Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

New Line, WireImage

1. The Chronicles of Narnia (Netflix)
The next Game of Thrones, family edition. Netflix is planning an expansive world based on C.S. Lewis' iconic fantasy series that will include multiple movies and TV series. It'll be much more wholesome and family-friendly than Game of Thrones, and what that really means is that even more people will be able to watch it. This one's going to be very big. (In development; no premiere date)

2. Cursed(Netflix)
Cursed is yet another take on the Arthurian legend, told from the point of view of Nimue, a young woman who is destined to become the Lady of the Lake. It's an adaptation of a forthcoming young adult graphic novel that's being adapted by its authors, Frank Miller (comics legend for Batman and Sin City) and Tom Wheeler (Trollhunters). It stars 13 Reasons Why's Katherine Langford. It won't hit at Game of Thrones level, because audiences have shown time and time again that they're not interested in King Arthur. And yet, Hollywood keeps trying. And geek feminist bête noire Frank Miller's involvement in an empowering YA show is a whole 'nother can of worms that will be opened as the premiere approaches. (In production, no premiere date)

3. The Dark Tower(Amazon)
It seemed like this one wasn't going to happen after the movie flopped, but now that it's back on, it has a really good chance of taking a big slice of market share opened up by Game of Thrones' exit. This Western-inflected fantasy saga is based on a bestselling and beloved series by Stephen King, and millions of fans are waiting for an adaptation that does his vision justice, so it has a built-in audience. It will tell the story of how young warrior Roland Deschain (Sam Strike) became a gunslinger. Plus it has talent from Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead involved, in the form of Jerome Flynn (Bronn) as Roland's father and former Walking Dead EP Glen Mazzara as showrunner. If this one hits, it'll hit big. (In pilot stage, no premiere date)

4. Game of Thrones spin-offs (HBO)
Only one next Game of Thrones can actually claim to be the next Game of Thrones. HBO has three spin-offs in development, with one in the pilot stage. That one, which George R.R. Martin insists on calling The Long Night even though HBO has asked him not to, is a prequel set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of the end of the Age of Heroes as the world descends into darkness. Naomi Watts and a whole bunch of young folks have been cast in the pilot, which is soon to go into production (which is why we didn't see any footage after the Game of Thrones finale). It will have a budget comparable to Game of Thrones Season 3, which means it will be expensive but not "Battle of the Bastards" expensive, and is run by Jane Goldman. (In pre-production; no premiere date)

Game of Thrones Prequel: Everything to Know

5. His Dark Materials (HBO)
Recently-knighted author Sir Philip Pullman's phenomenal young adult series got a film adaptation in 2007 that failed to materialize into a franchise. The BBC and HBO are teaming up to keep that from happening again (the complexity of the story makes it a better fit for a TV series anyway). This is another show that maybe won't have enough sex and violence to satisfy certain Thrones fans, but it will have a sophisticated story about religion and family acted out by a top-notch cast that includes James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Logan's Dafne Keen as Lyra, the headstrong orphan at the center of the tale. HBO smartly showed the trailer after the Thrones finale, and His Dark Materials looks like a worthy successor, as it visually resembles Game of Thrones in its expensive sumptuousness. It's already been picked up for a second season. (expected in 2019)

​Lin-Manuel Miranda, His Dark Materials

Lin-Manuel Miranda, His Dark Materials


6. The Kingkiller Chronicle (Showtime)
The other Lin-Manuel Miranda production on this list, but he's not acting in this one. Here he's an executive producer and composer. Yes, this is the Hamilton version of the next Game of Thrones. It's a co-production between Lionsgate and Showtime with franchise designs: a Sam Raimi-directed movie as well as a TV series executive-produced by The Librarians' John Rogers. Based on a high fantasy trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicle tells the story of Kvothe, a wizard/musician/adventurer who's narrating his long tale of revenge to a scribe known as the Chronicler. The final novel of the trilogy has yet to be released; unlike The Winds of Winter, it probably will come out. (In development; no premiere date)

7. Lazarus (Amazon)
This one could be the next Game of Thrones meets the next Walking Dead meets the next Hunger Games. A sprawling dystopian sci-fi series based on an ongoing comic series by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, Lazarus tells the story of a world controlled by 16 families, each of whom run their territories in a feudal system. Each family has a "Lazarus" who represents them in combat; for the Carlyles, who control what used to be Western North America, that's Forever, a young woman who's questioning her place in the world. It's still in development, but this has a lot of potential should it come to fruition, and the fact that it's a co-production of Legendary Entertainment and Amazon means it could have a serious budget. It's not exactly a fantasy series, but it's not not a fantasy series, either. (In development; no premiere date)

8. The Lord of the Rings (Amazon)
This is the best bet for the actual next Game of Thrones. Jeff Bezos told Amazon's TV division, "Find me the next Game of Thrones," and the company spent $250 million just for the right to make a show based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy series (the cumulative price tag for the multiple seasons Amazon has committed to producing could top $1 billion). Amazon knows this is going to be big, and it is not playing around. It's also definitely happening, which is more than we can say about some of the other in-development projects on this list. Tolkien's works, of course, have already been made into a six-film franchise directed by Peter Jackson. The showrunners for the Amazon series are Star Trek 4 screenwriters John D. Payne and Patrick McKay, and the story is rumored to be about young Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen in the movies). (In development; projected to premiere in 2021)

TV Guide's Complete Game of Thrones Coverage

9. Watchmen (HBO)
This won't be the next Game of Thrones in the sense of being a world-conquering fantasy hit, but it might be the next series to use genre-transcending source material to tell a thematically rich, hyper-violent story about a large ensemble of complex characters that's more about people than it is about fantasy. Alan Moore's Watchmen comic was as revolutionary for superhero comics as A Song of Ice and Fire was for fantasy novels (and The Sopranos was for crime TV shows, for that matter). Plus, it has an excellent cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Regina King, and Jean Smart and an accomplished showrunner in Damon Lindelof. It probably won't get a Game of Thrones-sized audience, but it may very well get Game of Thrones-level Metacritic scores. (Coming in 2019)

10. Wild Cards (Hulu)
Hulu's big gambit in the next Game of Thrones sweepstakes has two big things going for it: One, a plan for an expansive universe that already includes two series; and two, the involvement of George R.R. Martin himself, who co-edits the sprawling, multi-authored Wild Cards book series. Wild Cards is too complicated to explain in a blurb, so for our purposes it's a sort of superhero series set in an alternate universe post-World War II America where an alien virus infects people and turns them into "Wild Cards," which can either manifest as grotesque deformity or superhuman ability. It's more sci-fi than fantasy, but it might be fantastical enough to make the cut. Martin and series co-editor Melinda Snodgrass are executive producers, and it's to be written by The Secret Circle's Andrew Miller. (In development; no premiere date)

11. The Wheel of Time (Amazon)
If you like fantasy to be traditional good vs. evil without all the moral complexity of Game of Thrones, Amazon's take on Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series may be your pick for next GoT. The Wheel of Time is an enormous 14-part series with numerous storylines, and showrunner Rafe Judkins' TV show is going to focus in on the story of a woman named Moiraine as she embarks on a dangerous journey with five young men and women, one of whom she suspects might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual who prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it. An interesting twist is that in this world only women can use magic. The Wheel of Time is the best-selling fantasy series since The Lord of The Rings, but it's not super well-known outside of the fantasy bubble, so it will be interesting to see if Amazon can make it a hit. (In development; no premiere date)

12. The Witcher (Netflix)
The multi-platform mythology of Andrzej Sapkowski's series of books, graphic novels and video games is intimidating to outsiders, but you don't need to know it all for the show. All you really need to know is that once and future(?) Man of Steel Henry Cavill will play Geralt of Rivia, a lone wolf monster hunter who is forced to travel across a fantastical realm alongside a powerful sorceress and a princess who harbors a dangerous secret. Yoked-ass Henry Cavill was born to wield two swords, you know? He looks like a video game character in real life, especially with his white hair. Other than the Game of Thrones spin-off, this is the only potential GoT successor run by a woman, Daredevil's Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. (expected in late 2019)