HBO’s Game of Thrones, despite poor reception for its final season, was one of a kind TV show. Its cocktail of medieval politics, detailed world-building, a huge cast of characters and class-leading production values established it as — if not the best show — the show to talk about. The entire world came together to witness Westerosi lords and ladies squabbling over the Iron Throne.
The show was insanely popular around the world and remained so until the end. That the fans were invested in it to an unprecedented degree can be gauged by the infamous online petition (with more than 1.6 million signatories) to remake the final season.
However, it has now ended. And even HBO has no replacement for it. That has not stopped networks and streaming services to attempt to create a costumed television drama that can become the talk of the town.
We list some of the major shows here. We have deliberately not included the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series.
The Lord of the Rings – Amazon
Amazon is making a prequel TV series to JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This one seems like a likely candidate to replace Game of Thrones for like that show, it has loads of money behind it. In fact, it will be the most expensive TV series ever. Amazon bought the TV rights for 250 million dollars, which is more than most summer franchise blockbusters, and production costs, reportedly, will stretch total budget to 1 billion dollars. Recently, the huge creative team was unveiled for the series which includes Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director JA Bayona and Game of Thrones alum Bryan Cogman among others. No words on the release date as yet, but it should arrive sometime in 2021.
The Witcher – Netflix
Netflix’s The Witcher is based on the writings of Polish fantasist Andrzej Sapkowski and not the far more popular RPG video-gaming series of the same name. Henry Cavill, a huge fan of the games, is playing the titular role of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher. The witchers in this fictional world are itinerant monster hunters who take money to save people from all manner of ghouls, werewolves and so on. They are trained from childhood and undergo mutation by drinking arcane elixirs. This makes their eyes uncannily lambent like a feline. The world of The Witcher is immersive and there are more fantasy elements than Game of Thrones. Magic and sorcerers are prevalent. However, this is a much more compact story of mainly 3 or 4 major characters unlike the HBO show. The trailer was released during San Diego Comic-Con and was received well. The show is slated to arrive late in 2019.
Narnia – Netflix
Netflix is also making a series on CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. The Narnia series, unlike LotR, catered towards younger readers and was about a fantasy land in which the four Pevensie siblings find themselves in. They get embroiled in a war between two opposing forces — one led by The White Witch and the other by a huge lion called Aslan (Turkish for lion), who is basically a Jesus surrogate. From a total of seven books, three were adapted by Disney into feature films. There is little information about Narnia beyond that it is in development. With Netflix bumping up production of original content, we can be sure this series will be given ample budget. While there are similarities between Narnia and Game of Thrones, the obvious differences are the world of Narnia is too idealistic, there is a clear good and evil divide apart from a few exceptions and there is no explicit violence and sex.
The Wheel of Time – Amazon
This sprawling fantasy series (14 books!) was begun by Robert Jordan and was finished by Brandon Sanderson. It was heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings. Similar to Tolkien’s fantasy tale, a young person is sent on a quest to take on the Dark Lord (more precisely, The Dark One) and is taken under the wing of a powerful wizard (Moiraine here instead of Gandalf). The series will star Rosamund Pike as Moiraine. The main role of Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn and the aforementioned young person, is not yet revealed. The series is immense in scope with a well-realised world. There is no production or release date.
The Dark Tower – Amazon
While the setting of other entries in this series is inspired by medieval England/Europe, The Dark Tower takes its inspiration from the Westerns of 1960s and 70s. Penned by Stephen King, the primary plotline of The Dark Tower follows the last of the gunslingers (gunslingers in The Dark Tower are basically Arthurian knights with guns instead of swords) called Roland Deschain, his companions, and their quest to get to the Dark Tower – an imposing edifice that lies at the centre of all creation and reality. It is the literally the centre of the universe. The story sometimes branches into smaller threads but throughout the series the quest to reach the Dark Tower always dominates the narrative. Apart from Western, there are elements of fantasy and horror. There was an ill-fated movie on the series released in 2017. It starred Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.