As the long expanse of time without the popular series stretches on, fans are left wondering when the Game of Thrones spinoffs will air. The final season of the HBO show premieres sometime in 2018, though an official date has not yet been released. But according to George R. R. Martin, the first of the five planned spinoffs could hit the airwaves as early as 2019, meaning that the lag time between the series finale and the premiere of the follow-up could be just around a year. That's approximately how long viewers are used to waiting during the hiatuses between seasons anyway. It's the silver lining on the cloud that is Game of Thrones ending, so dry your tears and read on.
The author made this reveal on Sept. 21, via his personal Facebook page. The stated point of the post was to welcome aboard a newly signed writer for one of the spinoffs, but in typical Martin fashion, he couldn't resist sneaking some other details in well. He revealed Bryan Cogman's involvement, that the spinoffs won't be sequels, and most importantly, when we might be able to expect them. He wrote,
"You should not expect to see all five shows, though, at least not immediately.. much as I might love the idea, HBO is not about to become the GAME OF THRONES network... but we could possibly see two or even three make it to the pilot stage, with one series emerging on air in 2019 or 2020... and the others maybe later, if they come out as well as we all hope."
The 69-year-old scribe is being appropriately realistic about the chances of the five shows currently in production, speculating that only half will make it to pilot. And for that reason, it's easier to trust his predictions as far as timeline. If he's being this pragmatic about the success rate of the shows, perhaps his premiere predictions are also spot-on.
That said, in the very next sentence, Martin hedged, "Then again, maybe... but I should not speculate, you folks get WAY too excited. Truth is, no one knows. Least of all me." And this would hardly be Martin's first time over-promising and under-delivering.
Fans have been waiting for the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series since 2011, and the time between publishings has stretched longer and longer as we've gotten deeper into the series. The first three books came out in 1996, 1999, and 2000, respectively, but then the clock began to slow down. A Feast For Crows came out in 2005, five years after its predecessor, and much to the consternation of fans, it was another six before we got A Dance of Dragons in 2011.
And now it's been another six, and we're no closer to having The Winds of Winter in our hot little hands. Although he's never gotten specific about a date, Martin has been making vague pronouncements that "this feels like the year," for years now. In 2015, he made a LiveJournal post apologizing to fans for the delay, saying, "For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, "I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER" on or before the last day of 2015. But the book's not done." That effectively nixed the planned March 2016 release date, but fans didn't give up hope for the rest of that year.
Spoiler alert: The book didn't come out in 2016, and things aren't looking good for the rest of 2017 either. In January, Martin responded to a comment on another LiveJournal post, stating that the book was "not done yet," but insisting that he'd made progress. He added, "I think it will be out this year. (But hey, I thought the same thing last year)." Cut to September 2017, and the outlook is grim, although things are looking optimistic for 2018.
In short, Martin is hardly the most reliable narrator when it comes to naming deadlines and sticking to them. But one thing that's certain is if he's saying we'll have the first spinoff by 2019 or 2020, it certainly won't be before that. So gird your loins for the long haul, and plan to go a few years without a spinoff. That way, if one does make it to HBO before 2020, you'll be pleasantly surprised instead of devastated afresh if it doesn't.