Once upon a time, Game of Thrones was the most popular television series in the world. That time feels like decades ago, but it’s only been two years. It was 2019 when “The Iron Throne” – the final episode of the show’s eighth series – aired to mostly negative reception from fans and dampened enthusiasm for the franchise in the process. It’s gone down in history as one of the most disappointing endings to a once-beloved TV show of all time. However, it has not damaged the progress of the many planned spin-off series based on the themes of the show – until now.
With regret, we can officially confirm that a planned spin-off set in Flea Bottom, the slum in King’s Landing, is no longer in development at HBO. The show never even got as far as receiving a title (unless “Flea Bottom” was supposed to be the title all along), but it was announced at the same time as several other “Game of Thrones” tie-ins and should have entered production this year. Instead, we understand that ideas for the show barely got beyond the stage of being sketched out before HBO decided to pull the plug and focus its attention elsewhere. No actors had been announced for the series, and we have no idea whether any scripts were ever completed.
If you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan and you either enjoyed or have forgiven the writers for the train-wreck of the final season, don’t be too downhearted by this news. This spin-off is doomed never to see the light of day, but there’s still a bunch of new shows to look forward to. The most well-known of them is “House of the Dragon,” based on the escapades of the Targaryen dynasty hundreds of years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” That show features well-known actors like Matt Smith and Paddy Considine and has been filming since late 2020. Work on the series is almost complete, with the first episode set to air in January 2022 so long as nothing changes. Expectations are high for “House of the Dragon,” so it’s to be hoped that the writers have learned lessons from “The Iron Throne.”
If you weren’t aware that there were even other “Game of Thrones” spin-off shows in development, you’re probably wondering what else is on the horizon. We’d be happy to answer that question for you. Aside from “House of the Dragon,” HBO is also working on “10,000 Ships” based on the character of Nymeria, and “9 Voyages,” which is actually a spin-off from “House of the Dragon” rather than “Game of Thrones.” As “House of the Dragon” hasn’t aired yet, we can safely assume that “9 Voyages” is pencilled in for the distant future. A quirky-sounding show called “Tales of Dunk & Egg” based on the novellas of George R. R. Martin has also been given the green light, along with at least two animated shows.
Some of you will look at all this and think that HBO is taking things too far with so many shows. You might be right. Audience fatigue is a known phenomenon in the world of making television shows, and there is such a thing as a saturation point. However, we’ve seen other popular franchises push out multiple television shows and movies in recent years without tiring out their audiences. The most obvious example is the Marvel Universe, which has more TV shows and films that we can even count, but there’s also Disney’s “Star Wars” content. Since acquiring “Star Wars” at great expense several years ago, Disney has produced as much content as it can in an attempt to make its money back. Thus far, the approach is working. There are still more shows and films to come, and there’s been no sign of the audience becoming worn out so far. If anything, the popularity of “The Mandalorian” has increased from season to season.
Another thing that goes in favour of HBO getting mileage out of multiple “Game of Thrones” prequels and spin-offs is the enduring popularity of the franchise in general. The finale didn’t ruin things for everybody. We can see that from the success the show has found as an online slots attraction. That might sound like a strange way to measure things, but the world of online slots is extremely competitive. If a game doesn’t make money, it will quickly find itself taken offline in favour of something else. That hasn’t happened to the range of “Game of Thrones” slots. Aside from three slots that have been published in years gone by, a fourth called “Game of Thrones: Power Stacks” went live with Online Slots IE sites earlier this year. There’s enough money being spent on these tie-in products to keep them all online. HBO hopes that will translate into enough viewers to make all the spin-offs viable.
“Flea Bottom “ (we’ll just go ahead and assume that was the planned title) isn’t the first spin-off to be cancelled. That undesirable honour goes to “The Long Night,” which shot a pilot starring Naomi Watts at great expense but didn’t proceed any further. Nobody outside HBO got to see the pilot, so whatever they saw didn’t please them. If HBO is willing to pull the plug like that after spending significant sums of money on an idea, it might still mean that some of the surviving spin-offs meet with the same fate. As of right now, the only one we’re certain will make it to television is “House of the Dragon.” All the other shows should be seen as experiments until we get more solid news about them.
Have we lost anything in losing “Flea Bottom?” We’ll never know, but the premise was interesting. “Game of Thrones” was mostly about the well-off, high-society residents of Westeros, but “Flea Bottom” would have shown us how the rest of the population lived. It might even have tied into the end of “Game of Thrones,” culminating in all of the residents being burned alive by Daenerys and her dragon. If all goes well with the other spin-offs, perhaps HBO will come back to it one day. For now, though, the idea is dead.