HBO “listened more” to George R.R. Martin after Game of Thrones backlash

Cameron Frew
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and Matt Smith in House of the Dragon

After backlash engulfed the end of Game of Thrones, HBO “listened more” to George R.R. Martin during the development of House of the Dragon.

Game of Thrones was a pop culture sensation like no other, not even the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was gory, contained incest, and woven with deep fantasy lore on the scale of Lord of the Rings.

Over the course of its eight-season run, it became the biggest show in the world, earning the most Emmy awards of any drama in TV history and permanently changing the landscape of the medium – and then came its ending.

Season 7 sowed the seeds for what the final season represented: a blockbuster finale without the same slow-burn substance that fans had come to not only love, but deserve. When push came to shove on the prequel, HBO knew something had to change.

HBO “listened” to George R.R. Martin after Game of Thrones controversy

House of the Dragons is an adaptation of Fire & Blood, focusing on the “Dance of the Dragons”, a civil war during the Targaryen rule of the Seven Kingdoms set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones.

George R.R. Martin, the author behind the Thrones books, rose in stature in HBO after the original series’ conclusion was received so harshly. He’d always said that it should have been 10 seasons long, a wish that directly correlated with complaints that it felt rushed in the end.

As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter in a new behind-the-scenes feature, Martin later met with Ryan Condal to talk about a job; specifically, adapting The Dance of the Dragons for a new show. “I wasn’t ready to give up on it. And I liked Ryan’s writing and he really knew my world well – which was a big thing,” he said.

Condal added: “George was frustrated because this was the story he really wanted to tell.”

It had been a swift turnaround considering the “war of the five pitches”, when duelling ideas duked it out for HBO execs, but the studio thought, as the outlet notes: “Hey, maybe we ought to listen more to that guy who created all this.”

HBO signed George R.R. Martin in huge deal after Bloodmoon failure

There was also the $30 million pilot for Bloodmoon, a canceled Game of Thrones spinoff set during The Long Knight and starring Naomi Watts. This time period, albeit legendary, was barely detailed by Martin in the book.

He explained: “Bloodmoon was a very difficult assignment. We’re dealing with a much more primitive people. There were no dragons yet. A lot of the pilot revolved around a wedding of a Southern house to a Northern house and it got into the whole history of the White Walkers”

One insider said: “Having a show that’s pure invention and had George scratching his head at various moments was troubling at times.”

While the resulting episode wasn’t “unwatchable”, it was locked away somewhere even Martin hasn’t been able to see it. He’s since been signed onto a five-year deal said to be worth the “mid-eight figures”, with Martin giving his approval on anything and everything to do with Thrones ever since.

House of the Dragon is due for release on August 21.