The final victim after eight seasons of fire, ice, and bloodshed on HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones just might be our Sunday nights. Thrones had established itself as the appointment TV show of the decade, and now that the game is over, there’s a void left in both the television landscape and the hearts of many viewers who crave watercooler-ready event pop culture.
But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of shows, both old and new, to fill the vacuum left by Game of Thrones. Here’s ten of the most notable:
Westworld’s third season is still a year away, but there’s a reason the sci-fi western drama adapted for HBO by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy takes its time between installments, and it’s not just its incredibly high production values. The show’s incredibly complex, weaving storylines take time to map out and write, but leave fans with plenty of theories and mythology to chew on each week in the same way Game of Thrones has since 2011.
There will be more than just fireworks this Independence Day–this Fourth of July will see the season three premiere of Netflix’s nostalgic horror/sci-fi series, Stranger Things. As the show’s child stars mature into teenagers and the time period reaches the heart of the 1980s, we’re expecting shopping malls, New Wave music, and of course, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) facing off with terrifying grotesque monsters.
A Discovery of Witches
The new critically-acclaimed BBC series A Discovery of Witches stars Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey, The Good Wife) and Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge, Triple 9) and is based on Deborah Harkness’ bestselling All Souls trilogy. Its first season comprises eight episodes and its tale of magic and witchcraft should scratch the itch of Thrones fans wanting more magic in their pop culture.
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials was first adapted into a blockbuster 2007 Hollywood film, The Golden Compass, that bombed hard and put the planned trilogy to a halt. Fans of the beloved series have been clamoring for another adaptation ever since, and are finally getting it thanks to a collaboration between HBO, BBC, and New Line Cinema. The cast includes Ruth Wilson (The Affair), James McAvoy (X-Men), Dafne Keen (Logan), and Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The historical fantasy that, yes, deals with magic, spirits, and the end of the world–but also talking polar bears–is expected to surpass fans’ already-high expectations; its second season is already in pre-production.
The Walking Dead
The zombie smash hit will be back on AMC for its tenth season in October, coming off its game-changing ninth season that saw the loss of series protagonist Rick Grimes. New showrunner Angela Kang was praised for steering the show into a new era with several new castmembers and the rise of big, big bads The Whisperers. The Whisperers storyline will continue in the new season, and likely lead to the deaths of even more fan favorite characters, including Michonne, whose actress Danai Gurira is rumored to be leaving the show soon.
One of the most anticipated shows of 2019 is Amazon Prime Video’s adaptation of Good Omens, the fan favorite comedic novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about the birth of the Antichrist and the end of everything. Amazon spared no expense and the show boasts an incredible cast: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brian Cox, and Frances McDormand. The six episodes of the series were directed by Douglas McKinnon (Doctor Who) and focuses on Sheen and Tennant as a bickering angel and demon forced to team up to stop the Apocalypse.
Based on the wildly popular video game, The Witcher will be a Netflix original about Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, who struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more evil than the creatures he faces. Henry Cavill is moving on from Superman and Justice League and has physically transformed into the fan-favorite, silver-haired protagonist.
The Expanse has been drawing comparisons to Game of Thrones since its debut in 2015, and the parallels are obvious. Both are adapted from a series of epic, bestselling novels and both deal with multiple alliances, betrayals, political maneuvering, and a supernatural threat that overwhelming it all. The story by James S. A. Corey involves grounded, realistic space exploration in the somewhat near future when Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt are all warring governments who must come together to deal with an extragalactic… something. Its first three seasons aired on Syfy, but after being cancelled, season four will air on Amazon Prime Video, possibly because Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a huge fan of the series.
The Lord of the Rings
Amazon Prime Video is pouring over a billion dollars to create the most expensive television show in history, a five-season prequel to JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth epic. Amazon has been keeping details surrounding the production very close to the vest, but a late 2019 release hasn’t yet been ruled out. Once the show does air, expect Lord of the Rings to dominate pop culture conversation in the same way Game of Thrones, and the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy, once did.
Untitled Game of Thrones Prequel
Then again, maybe Game of Thrones will fill the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in our hearts. Well before the series ended, HBO had commissioned up to five spinoffs to be created, though details about most of them have been sparse. One such show, by Bryan Cogman, has already been cancelled. Another is rumored to be an adaptation of Robert’s Rebellion, the near-recent civil war that directly led to the first season of Thrones.
However, one prequel is already in production, with a pilot to be filmed sometime this year. Its cast includes Naomi Watts as series lead, as well as Miranda Richardson and John Simm. The story is supposedly set 10,000 years before the current series, and will involve the Age of Heroes and possibly the mysterious origin of the Night King.
So while the watch has ended for Game of Thrones, one of the most epic, expensive, talked-about series in the history of television, rest assured there will still be plenty more content to watch, dissect, and argue about online.
Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here.