House of the Dragon won’t mess up Dunk and Egg or any other Game of Thrones spinoff

Game of Thrones had a profound effect on the television industry — especially for the folks working at HBO. In the years since the show’s 2019 finale, the cable channel became a linchpin in Warner Bros. Discovery’s plans for the Max streaming service with instruction to expand not only the Thrones IP but anything in the Warner vault, from DC to Dune. The Thrones well seems particularly deep thanks to writer George R.R. Martin’s direct involvement; on top of House of the Dragon, which returns for season 2 this Sunday, June 16, a number of spinoff series, live action and animated, remain in active development. Clearly, there’s a lot of Westerosian history to cover.

House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal is well aware, but not sweating the continuity too much. During a recent press day for season 2, the writer said that from the beginning, the team “had pretty good narrative freedom to tell the story that [they] wanted to tell.” It doesn’t hurt that Martin was around early in development, after a period of time when HBO incubated a number of ideas for an offshoot of the franchise and even shot a pilot with actor Naomi Watts that didn’t move forward. Condal is thankful that unlike most prequels, Martin’s source material, Fire & Blood, gives him plenty of remove from the flagship series. “The nice thing about the Targaryen dynasty is they rule for almost 300 years, so there’s a lot of leeway there. Not everything is packed into a dense period of time,” he said.

But Condal is still connected to the greater Game of Thrones development pipeline. He said he is in regular communication with writer Ira Parker, who wrote the Dunk and Egg series The Hedge Knight, which has a cast, has conducted table reads, and is set to begin filming later in 2024. Chronologically, Martin’s Dunk and Egg stories take place around 70 years after House of the Dragon and 90 years before Game of Thrones. But Condal is adamant about not creating a canon that requires “a bunch of folding and tucking that needs to be done in the future” like other franchises that are slightly less, uh, engineered.

“Even though [The Hedge Knight] is not a Targaryen story, it does happen while the Targaryens are still in power,” Condal said. “So there is sort of generational interlinkage between our show and his show. Again, there’s no direct crossover because it happens many years in the future, but we’re very conscious of all those things and trying to keep the expanded universe alive.”

House of the Dragon can play out in its bubbles, but don’t expect any character deaths for characters who could become a king later in history. No butterflies will be stepped on just because it’s a splashy moment, said Condal. “We’re going to adapt the story as we adapt it and make the inventions that we need to make, but we don’t want to cause large ripple effects that will prevent somebody from, you know, telling the Blackfyre Rebellion story, or whatever they want to do in the future, or eventually telling the story of Robert’s Rebellion if that’s a place where HBO wants to go to dramatically,” he said. “So we think about those things.”

So what is Condal excited to dig into and iterate on? In season 2, it’s Daemon.

[Ed. note: He talked about spoilers for the book, which will be plot points in season 2. Read on only if you want to know some light plot spoilers.]

“We know from the book that he goes to Harrenhal and raises a host of river men. But that statement in and of itself does not necessarily make for a fully realized story,” Condal says. “Daemon’s got a certain heading and mood as he moves into the next part of his mission. I’m excited — I’m very proud of the story that we told for Daemon this year and the paces that we put him through as a character. And Matt Smith’s incredible performance and dramatization of that.”

House of the Dragon season 2 kicks off with the first of eight episodes on June 16.