Martin, who wrote the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire on which Game of Thrones is based, does not take anything for granted. The 70-year-old author could give other writers a lesson in humility, as he has repeatedly expressed doubt and anxiety about the success of the Game of Thrones spinoff shows in development.
Martin gave an interview on the Maltin on Movies podcast, which was released on Friday. In it, he wondered if his "successor shows" could ever come close to the phenomenal success of the original, noting that the "toxic" backlash online did not bode well.
"The scale of Game of Thrones' success has — reaching all over the world and invading the culture to such an extent — it's not something anyone could ever anticipate," Martin said, "not something I expect to ever experience again."
In the past, Martin has admitted that the meteoric rise of the show contributed to his writer's block when it comes to the last two books in his series. The author last released an installment of the main series in 2011, the same year that the show premiered, and since then fans have been waiting for The Winds of Winter.
However, even the most outspoken critics of the show were generally kind to Martin, pinning most of the blame for the lackluster ending on showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Many even argued that the show had fallen from grace by breaking some of Martin's cardinal storytelling rules.
Martin has been dealing with fan theories since his series began in 1996. However, while the showrunners repeated stated their aim to "subvert expectations," Martin ignored fan theories and soldiered on with his original plans. In one often-quoted interview from a TIFF Master Class, Martin explained why he would never change a story just to avoid confirming a fan theory.
"If people have guessed the secret I'm going to reveal in book six... you really have two choices there," he said. "You can ignore it and proceed with your plan, despite the fact that some people know what you're doing, or you can get all panicky and say 'oh my God, they figured it out! I'll have to change it!' I think some writers do that, and I think it's always a mistake."
With Benioff and Weiss bowing out of Westeros to go on to other projects, many fans are not worried about this "subversion of expectations" issue rising up in the spinoffs. In fact, many expect the other shows, such as the prequel centering on the Long Night, to address some of their complaints about the ending of the main series.