Game of Thrones is holding its last Comic Con panel ever this weekend, but with the series already over some are wondering what, if anything the production intends to announce there. San Diego Comic Con is a huge event for networks, studios and publishers to reveal their big upcoming projects. With Game of Thrones' main series over, this panel could announce any number of things.
Game of Thrones wrapped up its lauded eight season run back in May, with a controversial finale and unprecedented online backlash. The show was arguably the biggest event television property of the decade, and some fans felt that it fumbled its ending.
In previous years, Game of Thrones has been a huge presence at San Diego Comic Con. The show has had a huge panel in the convention's infamous Hall H for years, excluding 2018. Last year was the first time the show missed SDCC, as the cast and crew were hard at work on the final season.
The cast has been known to enjoy its time at the convention too. There are many celebrity anecdotes circulating on podcasts and forums where fans talk about meeting the cast at after parties and picking their brains about Westerosi politics. Kristian Nairn, the actor who played Hodor and an acclaimed DJ, even performed at some of the con's events.
This year, the panel will include writers and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, whom many fans blame for their issues with the final season. There will be all-star guests from the cast as well, including Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Bradley, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen and Conleth Hill.
It could be that the cast, crew and network wanted to get Game of Thrones into Comic Con one last time before it was in the past. On the other hand, it could be that something big is coming out of Westeros this weekend. Here are some ideas of what the panel could have in store for us.
First up, the official story is that Game of Thrones is returning to SDCC for a "victory lap" this year. In the past, the show has almost always had its panel at the end of a season, not the beginning, so it could just be that this will be business as usual.
Of course, the panel was announced before the backlash to Season 8 really heated up, so the term "victory lap" may no longer apply. The ending of Game of Thrones was met with everything from apathy to outrage, and most of that fell on the writers themselves.
If they have nothing to announce, it seems odd that Benioff and Weiss would subject themselves to a panel where they are sure to get some snarky comments and perhaps even boos from the crowd.
In fairness, the cast is beloved by fans, and they could easily fill a captivating panel with fond memories of their time on the series. In addition, the show was nominated for a record-breaking 32 Emmy nominations, so there is reason to celebrate.
Many assume that the Game of Thrones panel will be a kind of passing of the torch, as the show hands the fandom over to its spinoff series. The first of these is already filming — a prequel with the working title Bloodmoon.
There could conceivably be enough footage for a brief teaser or trailer for Bloodmoon. The show has been filming for weeks, and was in pre-production for a while before that.
Only shortly before sunset the prop boat came out of the grotto again to go back to the production's second base in the port of Gaeta. This time the boat's crew was in costume and the banner (which might be an early Stark one?) revealed. #Bloodmoon #Gaeta pic.twitter.com/WYRFn3aJMT— GoTlike Locations (@GoTlikeLocation) July 15, 2019
If a trailer is too much to hope for, we could be in for other revelations from Bloodmoon. For starters, we could get confirmation that Blodmoon is indeed the official title, as many fans believe, or we could get the real title at last.
We could also hope to see teaser images, or at least hear some more details about the show's characters, story and setting within Westerosi history. However, Benioff and Weiss are not working on the prequel, nor are any of the past cast members scheduled to attend. It might not make sense to hear all about the prequel from them, unless...
The panel could be a big mislead to get Game of Thrones fans in the seats to hear about the prequel instead. It would not be out of the question for the panel to have surprise guests, perhaps including showrunner Jane Goldman or the all-star cast, including Naomi Watts, Josh Whitehouse and others.
This kind of public passing of the torch would be right at home at Comic Con. Watts and her co-stars could get tips on fantasy acting from the previous cast, literally and symbolically taking the mantle in front of a crowd of adoring fans. Even if they just joined the panel for a few short minutes, fans would go wild.
There is another tangential Game of Thrones announcement that might be easier to make at Comic Con: the release of the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter. Author George R.R. Martin has not said whether he is attending SDCC, although he is not on the schedule anywhere.
Still, Martin has given us reason to believe his book is on its way, for real this time. With the series over, the pressure to beat the clock is off, and Martin is able to breathe freely again. He has given an increasing number of interviews in recent weeks, talking about how the book's endings may differ from that of the show.
In addition, back in May, Martin wrote a blog post promising that he would "have The Winds of Winter in hand" by August of 2020. If he meant a finished, published book, we can expect to hear an announcement from him very soon.
In addition to the prequel mentioned above, there are still two very secretive Game of Thrones spinoff series in the works at HBO. We don't know what they're about, who is making them or when they will air, so what better place to get some of this information than Comic Con itself?
With Bloodmoon already conquering the Hollywood rumor mill, it would make sense for HBO to use its SDCC platform for a completely different announcement. In addition, we could hear about a spinoff that had Benioff, Weiss or one of the former cast members on stage involved, making it more at home on the retrospective panel.
Game of Thrones could give fans a token announcement this weekend by unveiling some kind of box set collection of the series. There are Blu-ray and DVD collections of other seasons of the show already, but with the series complete now is the time for the biggest one yet, likely complete with all the featurettes and behind the scenes footage, and perhaps other extras as well.
An announcement like this would probably not take up the entire panel, but it would peak the interest of hard copy collectors — perhaps even those who were not in loved with Season 8.
Last of all, this Game of Thrones panel could be the place where Benioff and Weiss finally offer their rebuttal to the backlash Season 8 received from fans. The writers had the luxury of avoiding reviews and social media following the finale premiere, and they have not addressed the angry fans, nor the massive online petition to remake the final season with "competent writers."
Assuming Benioff and Weiss keep their promise to attend the Game of Thrones Comic Con panel this weekend, they would be showing considerable bravery in facing the fandom that spit so much bile at them this year. If they can offer a graceful rebuttal to that outrage, even better.
The Game of Thrones panel takes place on Friday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m. PT in Hall H.