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Don’t expect an Arya spinoff in HBO’s future Game of Thrones lineup

By Benjamin Bullard & James Comtois
Arya and The Hound in Game of Thrones on HBO

A girl may be sailing to explore unknown lands — but now that our Game of Thrones watch has ended, she probably won’t be doing it in front of a TV camera.

With premium cable’s most-successful-ever show finally scattered, once and for all, to the far corners of Westeros, the future of Game of Thrones on TV will definitely keep taking its cues from George R.R. Martin’s sprawling source material. But, says HBO’s programming chief, upcoming shows in the GoT pipeline won’t look or feel like a rehash of anything that’s come before — and they definitely won’t be spinoffs that track the continuing exploits of Arya Stark, or any other past character.

Speaking recently with The Hollywood Reporter, HBO’s Casey Bloys was adamant that none of the three Game of Thrones shows reported to be in development will involve anyone we’re familiar with from the current series. With a world as huge as the one George R.R. Martin’s created, he explained, it just doesn’t make sense to confine the boundless creative possibilities to safe and familiar story beats.

Asked specifically whether Arya (Maisie Williams), a fan favorite, would get her own spinoff series, Bloys didn’t mince words.

“Nope, nope, nope,” he said. “No. Part of it is, I do want this show — this Game of Thrones, Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff]’s show — to be its own thing. I don't want to take characters from this world that they did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it. I want to let it be the artistic piece they've got."

When interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, Williams herself mentioned nothing about a possible spin-off series, but instead saw the end of Arya’s journey in Game of Thrones as “a happy ending” for the character and expressed nervousness and excitement “for what comes next” in pursuing other roles besides Arya Stark.

“I’m nervous for what comes next and just want to prove myself as an actor and make the most of this series,” Williams told the media outlet. “There are not as many opportunities where you get to do everything with one character and this season there’s a whole spectrum I get to do. So whatever happens afterward, I made this count.”

“That's one of [the] reasons why I'm not trying to do the same show over," Bloys told THR. "George has a massive, massive world; there are so many ways in. That's why we're trying to do things that feel distinct — and to not try and re-do the same show. That's probably one of the reasons why, right now, a sequel or picking up any of the other characters doesn't make sense for us.”

Following a similar line of thought, Bloys said HBO isn’t in a hurry to rush the nearest Game of Thrones prequel series — a tightly guarded effort set to begin shooting next month — out the door. Rather, he said, he wants a distinctive creative look and feel that stand apart from Weiss and Benioff’s eight-season epic.

“We're shooting the pilot in June, you can do the math and figure out when it would be on the air,” he said. “What I'm not doing is working backwards by saying, ‘This has to be on the air by this date.’ We want to do the best show possible. This is a pilot, so we're doing it the old-fashioned way, which is shooting a pilot. My expectation is it will be great and we'll move forward and it'll move along on a regular TV timetable.”

In a separate interview with Deadline, Bloys said he saw the fans’ “divisive reaction to the finale” and fascination with the coffee cup and water bottle “a testament to how much people were invested and engaged with the show.”

“Some people have very strong negative options and obviously some have positive opinions. But I take all of this as a really great sign of what the show has been able to do to stay in the cultural conversation to have people passionately debate the characters and the storylines,” he told Deadline. “That’s what you want a show to do.”

Beyond the cast and the tentative timeline, we don’t know much about the new GoT prequel.

Anchored by Naomi Watts (King Kong, Mulholland Drive), the new series’ cast reportedly has grown to include some big names: Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter, Sleepy Hollow), Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth), Marquis Rodriquez (Luke Cage), John Simm (Doctor Who), Richard McCabe (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams), John Heffernan (Dracula), Dixie Egerickx (The Secret Garden), and Denise Gough (voice of Yennefer in the Witcher video games) — though there’s no word yet on any of the characters they’ll be playing.

For now, at least, it looks as if our farewell shot of Arya sailing off to find new lands beyond the world’s end will be all the Arya we can hope for. But after eight seasons and some (literally) killer assassinations along the way, at least we can say she’s earned it. Revisit Arya and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms anytime by streaming Game of Thrones on demand at HBO.