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Game of Thrones' ending sucked — here's how House of the Dragon can win me back

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon on HBO
(Image credit: HBO)

It’s been more than two years and I’m still not over the ending of Game of Thrones. So, the release of the first teaser trailer for its spinoff series House of the Dragon has me rather conflicted. 

On the one hand, I’m intrigued to see the doomed rule of House Targaryen explored in greater detail. However, the bad taste from Thrones' terrible final season has lingered longer than I expected. Since the show’s controversial ending, Westeros has become a place I’ve never really wanted to return to. 

The prequel series is currently scheduled for a 2022 release date, so we’re at least several months away from getting our first full taste of the show. However, the HBO series (which is also coming to HBO Max) has unexpectedly managed to stoke the fires of my curiosity thanks to this very short sneak peek. 

Granted, this first trailer really doesn’t give very much away. That said, it’s slickly edited and it hints at plenty of political game-playing over the coveted spiky throne. It’s definitely too early to call it yet, but my hope is House of the Dragon will recapture the same magic as the early seasons of Game of Thrones.

It should go without saying that I will be approaching House of the Dragon with caution. "Fool me twice," as the old saying goes. If HBO truly wants to win me and my fellow jaded former Thrones fans back, here’s what I think it needs to do. 

Cause and effect 

Sean Bean in Game of Thrones

(Image credit: HBO)

I remember when Game of Thrones was still in its infancy a lot of people used to describe it as “the show where anyone could die.” Sure, that’s a grabby description but I never saw Thrones like that. Instead, in my eyes, it was a story with clear cause and effect. 

Let’s take Ned Stark as a perfect example. I loved the head of the House Stark but he played the high-stakes game of thrones and he played it badly. His death in the final episode of season one was brutal, but it was a natural result of him making some poor decisions and trusting the wrong people. 

That strong sense of cause and effect mostly continued in the first four seasons of Thrones. By season five however some of the main cast seemed to be developing strong suits of plot armor and by the end of the show, ridiculous decisions were met with even more ridiculous outcomes. 

My primary wish is for House of the Dragon to reintroduce the element that made Game of Thrones such a cultural phenomenon. I don’t want my expectations subverted. I want each character to face the logical results of their decisions, and for each character arc to reach a natural conclusion. 

Cool it on the Dragons 

A dragon breathing fire in house of the dragon thex game of thrones prequel

(Image credit: HBO)

Perhaps this might be an unpopular take, but Game of Thrones was always least interesting to me when it focused on CGI creatures and blue icemen. The political games and machinations were what hooked me. I was extremely disappointed in the later season as the show started to focus more on big speculate over character-driven storytelling.

Considering the show’s title, House of the Dragon, I’m obviously going to have to make my peace with at least some of the scaly beasts showing up, but I’m hoping the creators show restraint in this regard. Keep the focus on the human drama, not the mythical fire-breathing dragons. 

Unfortunately, this is one wish I might not have granted. In recent media appearances, George RR Martin has already begun hyping up the number of dragons floating around during the time period the show is set. He told The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of podcast there are “like 17 of them” in Westeros at the time — hopefully we only catch fleeting glimpses of them. 

House of the Dragon outlook

House of the dragon's redesigned Iron Throne

(Image credit: HBO Max)

There’s no denying that House of the Dragon isn’t at the top of my most anticipated television events of 2022. I’m far more eager to watch the HBO adaptation of The Last of Us or a potential Squid Game season 2, but I’ll definitely be giving the show a chance when it does debut next year. 

Let’s not forget that House of the Dragon is going to have a whole new suite of talent taking the reins behind the scenes. Thrones show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who have unfairly been treated like pantomime villains by the internet since the show ended, aren’t involved which could help House of the Dragon unshackle itself from its predecessor’s considerable baggage. 

Plus, the show has a very promising cast in front of the camera. Paddy Considine is playing King Viserys, Matt Smith is playing Prince Daemon Targaryen and Olivia Cooke is playing Lady Alicent Hightower — I’m excited about those casting choices. 

I can’t pretend that Game of Thrones didn’t burn me pretty badly but I’m confident there is still a wealth of stories in the world of Westeros that deserve telling, hopefully, House of the Dragon is one of them.

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.