George R.R. Martin explains why he can't serve as showrunner on Game of Thrones series

"There's part of me that would love to be actually writing and running all of these shows...but I can't! You may not know this, but there's this book that I'm writing..."
2023 Atlanta Film Festival - Image Film Awards Gala
2023 Atlanta Film Festival - Image Film Awards Gala / Paras Griffin/GettyImages

In August of 2022, about a month before the premiere of the Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin went on the Game of Owns podcast to talk about TV, books, work and life. Back then, Martin sounded confident that House of the Dragon would be a hit. We now know that it was; a second season is coming out on HBO and Max sometime this summer.

Back then, Martin hoped to eventually see "a number" of Game of Thrones spinoffs on the air, ideally ones that all felt different from one another. That dream, too, came true, as HBO is currently working on a show called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, based on Martin's Dunk and Egg novellas. That story is much smaller in scale than House of the Dragon, and should feel pretty different. It's all happening

House of the Dragon and Dunk and Egg, incentally, were the two ideas for spinoffs that Martin pitched to HBO in 2016 when they first started looking for "successor shows." They took a few detours in between those points, making and then junking a pilot for a show called Bloodmoon, but ended up back where they probably always should have been in the first place. "They responded to [the idea for House of the Dragon] right away," Martin remembered. "I was involved in it from the first."

"There's part of me that would love to be actually writing and running all of these shows...but I can't! You may not know this, but there's this book that I'm's a little late, but I gotta keep working on it and finishing it!"

Martin is referring there to The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in his Song of Ice and Fire series he's been writing since 2011. During the early years of Game of Thrones he would write episode scripts once per season, but doesn't do that kind of thing anymore for fear it will distract him, so obviously being a showrunner is out of the question. "Those are life-eating jobs," he said. "It's 24/7 to be a showrunner...You're the one they call at 2 in the morning when something has gone wrong in Morocco...There's no way I could do that and hope to do any of the novels. So my part in all of these things is generating some ideas, helping setting up, keeping it consistent with the world, and finding good partners to work with."

Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO /

George R.R. Martin wishes he had written this character more like House of the Dragon

It's interesting to think of how a show like House of the Dragon might be different if Martin were the showrunner. Maybe the show would stick closer to his book Fire & Blood, which is told from the point of view of a scholar named Archmaester Gyldayn writing about the events 200 years after they happen. Apparently Martin and his collaborators did consider framing the show that way, "sort of a Rashômon approach," but in the end decided against it.

The show turned out great under the watch of showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik (Sapochnik has since left the series, so Condal handled the second season solo). They even made some changes Martin never contemplated, like beefing up the role of King Viserys Targaryen, played by Paddy Considine. "Viserys...was not a character who particularly engaged me [in the book]," Martin said. "What Paddy Constantine has done, to my mind, has made him much more of a tragic figure, and less of an amiable guy who doesn't really realize what's going on about him." At this point, Martin wishes he had written Viserys how he's depicted on the TV series. "Admittedly, it doesn't happen very often; more often it's the reverse."

 At the end of the day, I think most fans would agree that Martin is better off writing books than running TV shows. He said he has minions who are "cracking whips" to make sure he stays on task. "She has been threatening to kill me if I take on another project."

That was in 2022 and The Winds of Winter has yet to materialize. Our watch continues...

Next. hotd June. House of the Dragon season 2 coming in June, suggests Warner Bros. Discovery boss. dark

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