10,000 Ships writer describes the shelved Game of Thrones prequel that might have been

10,000 Ships would have been a Game of Thrones prequel that followed Nymeria of the Rhoynar as she led her people on a nomadic quest to find a new home. It's been shelved like several other spinoffs.
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO /

Even before Game of Thrones ended in 2019, HBO was working on developing ideas for spinoffs and prequels. One of those ideas would eventually become the prequel series House of the Dragon, which will premiere its second season this June. Another is A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, which is on track to air in 2025.

But most of the spinoffs were quietly shelved. Most recently, Game of Thrones veteran Kit Harington said that a sequel show about his character Jon Snow was "off the table." That isn't quite the same thing as "dead forever" — technically HBO could still return to that show and move it forward again — but it's unlikely to happen anytime soon, and may well never happen.

That's also the status of a prequel show called 10,000 Ships. This series would have follow Nymeria of the Rhoynar, a princess who lived many years before the events of Game of Thrones and even House of the Dragon, way back when the Valyrian empire was at its height and dragons filled the skies. Nymeria's people resisted the Valyrian empire, but it was far too strong, so she led her people in a great migration from their home on Essos, eventually ending up in Dorne.

It's hard to know how long a TV show about this would have taken to get to this point. The show was developed by Brian Helgeland, the screenwriter behind movies like A Knight's Tale and Man of Fire. Speaking to Inverse, Heldgeland spoke about the show would have been like:

"It came out great, but I think they felt the period of my show was too far removed from the pillars of the original. That’s why it hasn’t been picked up yet, but nothing is ever dead," Heldgeland said. "My script was based on Queen Nymeria and this little blurb about her that was in a Westeros encyclopedia. Essentially, it was the story of Moses but swapping him out for Nymeria. Her country gets ruined and her people are forced to live on the water, which is why the show was called Ten Thousand Ships. They end up having to leave and find a new home like the Israelites leaving Egypt. She’s leading all these people, trying to hold everyone together but things are always in danger of falling apart as they travel around a fictionalized version of the Mediterranean, looking for a new home to settle in."

"Their life was nomadic. Living in a raft city that was bound together, this big floating city. Sometimes, the characters would come ashore, but they ultimately get driven off the land as they search for a home, their version of the promised land. I met with George R.R. Martin to pitch him the idea, which he signed off on. Sadly, I didn’t work with him closer, but I would have done if the show was picked up. It was kind of like Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad films mixed with The Odyssey. In a way, Nymeria is Odysseus, but instead of a 12-person crew, she’s responsible for every citizen in this floating city-state. My work is still there if HBO wants to pick it up. I enjoyed my time developing it, and you just never know."

Heldgeland is dropping the literary references fast and furious there. Also, this sounds like something I'd watch! But I get that not every proposed Game of Thrones spinoff can happen.

And again, this project isn't 100% dead, but the reality of TV production is that shows that are put on the shelf are rarely taken down again. But after HBO gets finished making shows like House of the Dragon and The Hedge Knight, maybe it will turn toward series that are a little more off the beaten path. In the meantime, the second season of House of the Dragon premieres on HBO and Max on Sunday, June 16.

The Hedge Knight returns to iconic Game of Thrones filming locations. The Hedge Knight returns to iconic Game of Thrones filming locations. dark. Next

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