Why it's for the best that HBO's Jon Snow sequel show isn't going forward

If Kit Harington couldn't find a story idea he was excited enough to make, it's probably for the best that this Game of Thrones sequel isn't getting made.
Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones /

Last week, Game of Thrones star Kit Harington revealed that a sequel series about his character Jon Snow, something we've known HBO was working on for a while, was not going forward. "Currently, it's off the table, because we all couldn't find the right story to tell that we were all excited about enough," he said. "So, we decided to lay down tools with it for the time being. There may be a time in the future where we return to it, but at the moment, no. It's firmly on the shelf."

The Jon Snow show, simply called Snow in some circles, would have picked up with Jon after he was banished to the Wall in the series finale of Game of Thrones. It was reportedly pitched to HBO by Harington himself, who had drafted his own creative team to help develop the idea. As he said, they couldn't find a direction they were all excited about, and now the project is "firmly on the shelf," which may well be Hollywood code for "dead and not coming back." And that's a good thing.

We currently have one Game of Thrones spinoff on the air: House of the Dragon, set some 150 years before the original series. The first season was a big success and a second is on the way. That series premiered in 2022, three years after the end of Game of Thrones. Had Game of Thrones aired on another network managed by different people, I think it would have come a lot earlier, I don't think it would be alone, and I think that would have been bad for the brand as a whole.

For a recent example of how over-exposure can dilute a franchise, think of what happened to the Marvel Cinematic Universe once it transitioned to TV. WandaVision dropped on /disney+ in 2021 to much critical acclaim and public interest, but that didn't last. People were less enthused by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, less enthused still by Moon Knight and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and by the time we got to Secret Invasion in 2023, many fans had tuned out. That's 10 new TV shows in just over two years. The firehose of content exhausted fans to the point where Marvel is now having to rebuild trust with their fans. This strategy set them back.

HBO, in contrast, was very careful about how go about expanding upon Game of Thrones. They poured millions of dollars into a prequel called Blood Moon that they ultimately decided not to proceed with; it wasn't strong enough. They pitched, developed and then set aside several ideas before getting to Snow. They only released a series if they were sure it would be a success, and indeed, House of the Dragon was a hit. I doubt people would be as excited for the second season — premiering on June 16 — if HBO had already flooded the market with a half-dozen half-hearted prequel shows beforehand. Returning to Westeros still feels like an event, and that's because HBO executives haven't greenlit everything that comes across their desks.

That includes Snow. If Harington and his colleagues couldn't find a story they wanted to tell, I'm inclined to think there wasn't a story worth telling, and I'm glad HBO was willing to believe them rather than going ahead ahead anyway. People probably would have tuned in, because they wanted to see what happened next to Jon Snow, but would they still be excited about more stories set in the Seven Kingdoms after they were finished? My bet is no, and that would have been bad for the longterm health of the Game of Thrones franchise.

These days, it can sometimes feel that what we watch is determined by algorithms more than anything else, but trust still play a big role. When HBO announced that it was developing a second Game of Thrones prequel series — A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, which will probably be on our screens in 2025 — I was nervous they might be overdoing things, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because, so far, they haven't given me any reason not to. They've made the right choices so far, and unless and until the Game of Thrones franchise goes down in flames, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that the choice not to forward with Snow was one of them.

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