Game of Thrones showrunner explains why it was “time to move on”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 25: D. B. Weiss and David Benioff attend the 2019 International Emmy Awards Gala on November 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 25: D. B. Weiss and David Benioff attend the 2019 International Emmy Awards Gala on November 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images) /

For over a decade, David Benioff and Dan Weiss labored to make Game of Thrones the most successful TV show in HBO’s history, and the most successful of the 2010s in general. It was popular beyond what anybody could have predicted, and after it was done, Benioff and Weiss could have worked just about anywhere.

Surely, HBO would have wanted them on hand to create its next generation of Game of Thrones spinoff shows; we know that we’re getting one of them — House of the Dragon — this year, and there are others in development.

But Benioff and Weiss decided instead to sign a deal with Netflix; their first project, The Chair with Sandra Oh, is already out. Why did they decide to go that route? Well, surely Netflix showering them with money didn’t hurt, but to hear Dan Weiss himself tell it, they were at the point where they wanted to leave Westeros behind.

“All in, we were 11 years, probably, doing that show,” Weiss recently told Entertainment Weekly. “When I say 11 years, it was full on, all in, all day, every day for 11 years. It was the best decade of our lives. It still kind of feels a bit like a dream, but we got to a place where it was pretty clear to us that we had reached the end of what made sense for us to be involved with in that world that we lived. It just felt like, for us, it was time to move on and get excited and terrified about building something else — building lots of something elses.”

"We never saw more Game of Thrones shows [as] something that made sense for us to be involved with, given where we were just as people at the time we were done with the original."

How The Three-Body Problem is (and isn’t) like Game of Thrones

That said, the duo’s next big project for Netflix — an adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem — is still in the genre space. There are no dragons or fire witches involved, but there is an alien species who decide to invade Earth as a way to escape the hellish climate of their home world. Weiss tells EW that The Three-Body Problem is “very different from Game of Thrones but in the same general zone.”

"It’s like a science-fiction show that is painted on a very large canvas of space and time. It’s as visual effects heavy as Thrones was, and it pushes a lot of the same buttons in many ways that Thrones pushed — and doesn’t push others in many ways."

There are even some Game of Thrones cast members coming aboard The Three-Body Problem, including John Bradley (Sam) and Liam Cunningham (Davos).

Game of Thrones vs Metal Lords

Even further away from Game of Thrones is Metal Lords, a new movie from Benioff and Weiss about a trio of high schoolers who decide to put on a heavy metal performance to win the forthcoming Battle of the Bands. “If you’re dealing with reality, it’s so much easier to get things wrong,” Weiss said. “Nobody can really say, ‘No one would ever have those shoes in Westeros,’ because there is no Westeros. If something’s not working, you can’t say a giant visual-effects extravaganza is gonna come along in five minutes to wipe their memory of that scene. Those giant, horrible, wonderful artificial creations aren’t there to save you.”

Now, I have to pause here to say that, even in fantasy show, a “wonderful artificial creation” isn’t going to save your story if the human element doesn’t work, and indeed, that was the problem a lot of fans had with Game of Thrones season 8. But the point about making high fantasy series vs those based in the real world is taken.

And really, even in our world, there’s no getting away from fantasy completely; this is the movies, after all. “There’s a heavy wish fulfillment,” Weiss said about Metal Lords. “When you’re 15 years old, you feel confused and not all that powerful. You feel you can’t make your life the way you want it. Fantasy is about the power. It’s re-conceiving yourself as a larger-than-life heroic figure. It’s probably what drew a lot of kids to the music.”

Metal Lords comes out on Netflix on April 8. The Three-Body Problem is still some ways off. And back in Westeros, House of the Dragon premieres on HBO sometime this year.

Next. Every Game of Thrones spin-off coming to HBO, ranked by hype level. dark

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