Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for HBO. It is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, the first of which is A Game of Thrones. The show was shot in the United Kingdom, Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Morocco, and Spain. It premiered on HBO in the United States on April 17, 2011, and concluded on May 19, 2019, with 73 episodes broadcast over eight seasons.
Set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, Game of Thrones has a large ensemble cast and follows several story arcs throughout the course of the show. The first major arc concerns the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros through a web of political conflicts among the noble families either vying to claim the throne or fighting for independence from whoever sits on it. A second focuses on the last descendant of the realm’s deposed ruling dynasty, who has been exiled to Essos and is plotting a return and reclaim the throne. The third follows the Night’s Watch, a military order defending the realm against threats from beyond Westeros’s northern border.
Game of Thrones attracted a record viewership on HBO and has a broad, active, and international fan base. Critics have praised the series for its acting, complex characters, story, scope, and production values, although its frequent use of nudity and violence (including sexual violence) has been subject to criticism. The final season received significant critical backlash for its reduced length and creative decisions, with many considering it a disappointing conclusion. The series received 59 Primetime Emmy Awards, the most by a drama series, including Outstanding Drama Series in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Its other awards and nominations include three Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, a Peabody Award, and five nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. Many critics and publications have named the show as one of the best television series of all time.
The series was praised by both television critics and historians for what was perceived as a sort of medieval realism. George R.R. Martin set out to make the story feel more like historical fiction than contemporary fantasy, with less emphasis on magic and sorcery and more on battles, political intrigue, and the characters, believing that magic should be used moderately in the epic fantasy genre. Martin has said that, “the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves”. Academics have classified the series as neo-medieval which focuses on the overlapping of medieval history and popular fantasy. A common theme in the fantasy genre is the battle between good and evil, which Martin says does not mirror the real world. Martin explores the relationship between good and evil through the questions of redemption and character change. The series allows the audience to view different characters from their perspective, unlike in many other fantasies.
In early seasons, under the influence of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, main characters were regularly killed off, and this was credited with developing tension among viewers. Martin stated in an interview that he wanted to depict war and violence in a realistic way, which sometimes mean the hero or main characters could be injured or killed. In later seasons, critics pointed out that certain characters had developed “plot armor” to survive in unlikely circumstances and attributed this to Game of Thrones deviating from the novels to become more of a traditional television series. In a 2012 study, out of 40 recent television drama shows, Game of Thrones ranked second in deaths per episode, averaging 14. A scientific study conducted in 2018 stated that about 60% of the major characters died as a result violence and war.
In May 2017, after years of speculation about possible successor series, HBO commissioned Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, Carly Wray, and Bryan Cogman to develop five individual Game of Thrones successor series; the writers were to be working individually with George R. R. Martin, who also co-wrote two of the scripts. D. B. Weiss and David Benioff said that they would not be involved with any of the projects.
Martin said that all the concepts under discussion were prequels, although he believes the term “successor show” applies better to these projects, as they are not Game of Thrones spin-offs in the traditional sense. He ruled out Robert’s Rebellion (the overthrow of Daenerys’s father by Robert Baratheon) as a possible idea and revealed that some may be set outside Westeros. In September 2018, speaking about the four projects (i.e. not about the Goldman’s project), HBO president of programming Casey Bloys said that some of them had been abandoned completely, while others remained as possibilities for the future; Martin said that: “at least two of them are solidly based on material in Fire and Blood”. In May 2019, Martin stated that two of the projects were still in the script stage, but were “edging closer”. In April 2019, Cogman confirmed his prequel would not be moving forward.
In January 2021, it was revealed that HBO were developing another prequel series to be based on Martin’s novella series Tales of Dunk and Egg. Additionally, an animated drama is in development at HBO Max. In March 2021, it was reported that three additional Game of Thrones spinoffs were in development at HBO, they include 10,000 Ships, a reference to the voyages made by warrior queen Princess Nymeria who later founded Dorne, 9 Voyages, about the voyages of Corlys Velaryon on the Sea Snake, and a project based on Flea Bottom.