House of the Dragon: Will a Nearly Two-Year Hiatus Leave Fans Uninterested In a Return to Westeros?

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The first season of the Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon made its debut on HBO and Max in August of 2022, about two and a half years after Game of Thrones wrapped up its groundbreaking run.

Much like the original show, House of the Dragon is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin.

The show is set hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones but takes place hundreds of years before the events of that show.

Olivia Cooke in Season 2

House of the Dragon is set to return for a second season, with the premiere scheduled for June 16 on HBO and Max.

Due in part to last year's strikes, House of the Dragon is coming off a long layoff of over 18 months since the first season's finale.

Matt Smith as Daemon on Season 2 - House of the Dragon

The question has been raised of whether the fan excitement is there for that second season, anywhere to the degree of the traditional anticipation for Game of Thrones seasons.

The "other" dragon show

House of the Dragon, in its first season, was a successful show by just about any metric. As reported by Variety at the time, which cited Warner Bros. Discovery, the first season finale of House of the Dragon drew 9.1 million viewers.

That made it HBO's most-watched season finale since the series finale of Game of Thrones in 2019. But that finale drew 19.8 million viewers, more than twice the audience of the House of the Dragon finale.

Sure, audiences got more fragmented over the course of those two and a half years. But those numbers indicate that House of the Dragon isn't exactly the cultural juggernaut Game of Thrones was throughout its run.

A Westeros risk

Aemond at Storm's End - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 10

When Game of Thrones debuted in 2011, it was seen as a massive risk for HBO. Yes, it was based on a popular series of novels.

However, the fantasy genre was untested at the time as a source for prestige TV. The show was expensive to produce, featured a large cast, and had complex storytelling, and that's to say nothing of the child endangerment and incest.

The doubters, of course, were proved wrong, and Game of Thrones was the most popular prestige show of its era, straddling the heyday of premium cable and the advent of streaming.

Sure, many fans were ultimately unhappy with the series, especially in its endgame. But there's no doubt that Game of Thrones is a TV series of significant cultural consequence.

Look Who's Back - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 10

With George R.R. Martin having written so many ancillary books about the Thrones universe and HBO actively working on multiple spinoffs for the last several years, it was clear that more visits to Westeros were on the way.

About the House

Based on Fire and Blood, a George R.R. Martin book published during the tail end of Game of Thrones' run, House of the Dragon mainly concerns palace intrigue involving the Targaryen family.

Set about two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon begins during the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen (Patsy Considine.) Like Thrones, it's mainly about the machinations of those who seek to become king (or queen.)

Working Together - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 10

The show moved faster and covered more narrative ground than was usual for Game of Thrones seasons. And the series was recognized: Its first season won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series, beating out such shows as Better Call Saul and The Crown.

What we know about House of the Dragon Season 2

The second season of Game of Thrones was consumed by the show's War of Five Kings; it was even adapted from a book called A Clash of Kings.

That seems also to be the case for the second season of House of the Dragon. As noted in our House of the Dragon Season 2 Everything We Know, the new season will focus on the fight between forces loyal to Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke.)

Matt Smith on the second season of House of the Dragon

Will fans still follow?

There are a few reasons for skepticism about House of the Dragon in its second season. Once again, the show was popular enough to gain another season but did not appear to capture the zeitgeist as the original series did throughout its run.

It's possible that bad feelings about how Game of Thrones ended could spill over into fan reactions to the newer show, even though five years will have passed by the time the new episodes arrive. 

And then there's the matter of the series returning after a long layoff of more than a year. In a series with complex storytelling, will viewers be able to follow the plot machinations or even remember the characters' names, motivations, and arcs?

Sure, Game of Thrones often took long breaks between seasons. But that was well into the series' run when viewers knew the characters much better than the House of the Dragon cast.

Ready for Battle - House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 10

We shall see

The question of how much House of the Dragon's popularity is affected by its long layoff will be answered this summer when the series returns for its eight-episode second season.

The series will air an episode per week between June 16 and August 4 on Max and HBO.

Stephen Silver is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow more of his work on his Substack The SS Ben Hecht, by Stephen Silver.You can follow him on X.

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House of the Dragon Quotes

As the first century of the Targaryen dynasty came to a close The health of the Old King, Jaehaerys, was failing. In those days, House Targaryen stood at the height of its strength with ten adult dragons under its yoke. No power in the world could stand against it. King Jaehaerys reigned over nearly 60 years of peace and prosperity but tragedy had claimed both his sons Leaving his succession in doubt. So, in the year 101 The Old King called a Great Council to choose an heir. Over a thousand lords made the journey to Harrenhal. Fourteen succession claims were heard But only two were truly considered. Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the King's eldest descendant and her younger cousin, Prince Viserys Targaryen The King's eldest male descendant. It is declared by all lords paramount and lords vassal of the Seven Kingdoms That Prince Viserys Targaryen be made Prince of Dragons tone! Rhaenys, a woman, would not inherit the Iron Throne. The lords instead chose Viserys my father. Jaehaerys called the Great Council To prevent a war being fought over his succession. For he knew the cold truth. The only thing that could tear down the House of the Dragon was itself.


Alicent: Did you read it?
Rhaenyra: Of course, I read it.
Alicent: When Princess Nymeria arrived in Dorne, who did she take to husband? Rhaenyra: A man.
Alicent: What was his name?
Rhaenyra: Lord Something.
Alicent: If you answer with "Lord Something," Septa Marlow will be furious.
Rhaenyra: She's funny when she's furious.
Alicent: You're always like this when you're worried.
Rhaenyra: Like what?
Alicent: Disagreeable. You're worried your father is about to overshadow you with a son.
Rhaenyra: I only worry for my mother. I hope for my father that he gets a son. As long as I can recall, it's all he's wanted.
Alicent: You want him to have a son?
Rhaenyra: I want to fly with you on dragon back see the great wonders across the Narrow Sea And eat only cake.
Alicent: I'm being serious.
Rhaenyra: I never jest about cake.
Alicent: You aren't worried about your position?
Rhaenyra: I like this position. It's quite comfortable.
[Alicent gets up to leave.]
Rhaenyra: Where are you going?
Alicent: Home. The hour has grown late.
Rhaenyra: Princess Nymeria led her Rhoynar across the Narrow Sea on 10,000 ships to flee their Valyrian pursuers. She took Lord Mors Martell of Dorne to husband and burned her own fleet off Sun spear to show her people that they were finished running.
Alicent: So you remember.
[Rhaenyra rips a page from the book.]
Alicent: If the Septa sees this book then...
Rhaenyra: Fuck the Septa.
Alicent: Rhaenyra!

  • Permalink: Rhaenyra!
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