George R.R. Martin Is Also Bummed Game of Thrones Went Beyond the Books

George R.R. Martin Is Also Bummed Game of Thrones Went Beyond the Books
Once Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was dead, Game of Thrones was kinda on its own. (Photo: HBO)

When Game of Thrones debuted on HBO in 2011, fans were stoked to see how the story and world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire would play out on the small screen. But as the showrunners moved past the books, things went a bit off the rails. Now, the author is looking back with one thing on his mind: coulda-woulda-shoulda.

In an interview with Chicago’s PBS station, Martin shared his regrets on letting Game of Thrones go past the book series. While he said the HBO hit changed his life (“in mostly good ways”), he also pointed out how his “biggest issue” was not working fast enough with the time he had to ensure the show could continue to follow the main plot threads he’d intended for the characters.

“Looking back, I wish I’d stayed ahead of the books,” Martin said. “When they began that series, I had four books already in print, and the fifth one came out just as the series was starting in 2011. I had a five-book head start. And these are gigantic books, as you know. I never thought they would catch up with me but they did. They caught up with me and passed me and, you know, that made it a little strange — because now, the show was ahead of me and the show was going in somewhat different directions.”

Game of Thrones largely followed the events of A Song of Ice and Fire up until the season five finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” which ended with Daenerys escaping Meereen and the Night’s Watch murdering Jon Snow for forming an alliance with the Free Folk. Of course, there were other changes (RIP Lady Stoneheart) along the way, but for the most part, things were consistent with the books.

Once the show had shifted into its own thing, Martin gave the showrunners basic synopses for planned storylines, including how the series would end — but other than that they were kind of on their own. This did lead to some fantastic moments, like Cersei Lannister destroying the Sept and that “Hold the Door” scene. But it also led to, well, all of season eight.

Martin noted that his ending will be different from the one in the show (you remember what happened I’m not going to re-traumatize you by reminding you), though he didn’t say how or how much. “I’m still working on the book, but you’ll see my ending when that comes out,” he added. Yes, Martin is still working on The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the seven-book series — and there’s still no release date. It will be followed by A Dream of Spring in, I’m guessing 2078.

In the meantime, he is also working on one of HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoffs, a prequel about the Targaryens called House of the Dragon. It’s currently in production and set to debut sometime in 2022. There’s also at least one other spinoff in the works, tentatively called “10,000 Ships,” about Princess Nymeria and the war between the princes of the river and the dragonlords of old Valyria. We’ll bring you more as we know it.


  • “I never thought they would catch up with me but they did.” – Not only has the show caught up and passed George’s slow as a sloth writing ass, but they have overlapped him now as it has been TWO YEARS since the show ended on TV and George still is no closer to releasing the next book, even when a pandemic had him locked down at home. If a pandemic can’t make him write faster, then nothing will and he is going to pass away before finishing the series.

    • Whilst I probably wouldn’t put it this way, I don’t disagree with your conclusion. That’s why I gave in and watched the show; I have no hope he’ll actually finish writing the books… I now wish I didn’t.

      Having said that, the man is in his later years and I don’t begrudge him deciding to spend his finite time on this earth doing whatever the fuck he wants. He owes us nothing.

      • He did in fact owe the production company the rest of the books as per his agreement with them. So I’m of the firm opinion that he should receive endless mountains of shit for agreeing to the contract in the first place, when he would’ve known full well he had no intention of completing his part of the contract. That production company is still being harassed to this day for the ending of GoT even though they were a team hired to write an adaption, not an original continuation. It’s entirely on Martin that GoT had the craptastic ending that it did, because he was contracted to write it, not them.

        • Even if he does deserve his share of crap, the showrunners still deserve the lions share of the blame for the dogs breakfast that resulted. They made very basic failures of storytelling in their rush to end the series in the way laid out by Martin – a rush that nobody forced on them, mind.

          • No they don’t. They were never responsible for the creation of original content during the production – they were an adaption team and were only meant to create an adaption. That didn’t happen due to Martin’s abject stupidity and inability to so much as write dot points for them.

            They were then forced to create content when he repeatedly breached his contract and missed deadlines, because of the financial pressures his breach placed upon the production team. Instead of adapting existing content, they were forced to pull something out of thin air to satisfy those stressors, because, shock horror, the creation of media does not exist in a vacuum (like having TV spots and syndication rights already agreed to etc). His breach of contract had the flow on effects that resulted in the crap ending of the series and you can trace all of those complained about issues to Martin’s failure to provide what he was legally obligated to provide. Instead he used that time to write a prequel no one cared about.

            So no, the production doesn’t deserve the “lions share of the blame”, but the moron creator who was completely unable to mitigate his failure by even providing dot points to the production company. Martin is a hack and his involvement in Elden Ring as well, in any capacity, has made me less interested in the game.

        • Do you have a link to proof of all these breaches of contract you’re alleging? I suspect you don’t for the first claim at the very least.

          • Did you read the above article where Martin admitted to not putting a book out and screwing the show (since there has to be books to be adapted for a TV adaption)? Or do you simply not know how these book adaption deals work in any capacity?

          • Right, so you don’t. Figured. You don’t know what his contract is with his publisher, yet you’re so certain he’s in breach of it.

          • There’s plenty of articles around specifically discussing the situation and this article is one of them, since the TV series physically cannot exist without the book series to go with it and Martin admitted in this very article that he failed to keep ahead of the series (which was also noted when the series was released). This is basic reading comprehension and if you would like more articles, you are free to use Google to find them. Your lack of education and failure to understand how these arrangements work isn’t my problem and if you’re so keen on the issue, you have the whole internet to help you along with the basics. I want to discuss the actual issue, not teach you the basics that you require before you can competently discuss the issue.

          • I’m actually a barrister, hence my interest in the proof of your specific legal claim of breach of contract with his publisher (which it’s now painfully obvious that you clearly have no idea about). But thanks for the hilarious attempt at attacking my intelligence and understanding of the legal issues ROFL.

          • Wonderful, I’m sure you’re a massive expert in both reading comprehension and coffee based on your current replies. But that’s irrelevant when you don’t understand how TV shows are made and don’t have the research skills required to use Google.

          • Oh look, a joke about barristers and coffee making. How original! If I had a dollar for every time some brainlet had made that joke, I could stop being a lawyer and retire off income from the 10 Starbucks chains I could buy.

            Meanwhile, we’re still at square one where you claimed breach of contract and haven’t been able to prove it. If you dont think googling your claims was the first thing I did then I don’t know what to tell you.

            You are asserting something. You prove it. You are effectively saying it was a specific term of the contract that he deliver the last two books before the TV show caught up. You have no idea what the agreement was for. For all you know, it could have been for his outlines/drafts only, because why would he agree to a deadline he’d already struggled with? So prove it or dont bother replying anymore because you literally have nothing of interest for me to read on the subject.

          • Mate, when your go to response after failing basic reading comprehension and research normally associated with your job field is “I’M A BARRISTER”, you may as well be a barista. Do yourself a favour and have your law clerk look it the details, since your clients clearly aren’t paying for your personal services.

          • Oh look, yet another vapid response with no proof of the original claim. I’m stunned.

            It’s almost like the suggestion that this is all easily verifiable is nonsense given you could have cut and pasted 10 sources in the same time it has taken you to reply to my posts, yet here we are. Sorry, you were out of your league ok this one. Next time just cede the point and move on.

          • Still replying and you still have less reading comprehension than a first year law student. I find it hard to believe that you’re a barrister when you’re sitting here expecting the full contract to be floating in the wind when surely a professional such as yourself would understand the contract itself to be confidential, leaving us with only Martin’s interviews to go on as HBO hasn’t commented. Then again, you’re a mere barista, I shouldn’t be so harsh.

          • Thank you for finally conceding the point. I’m glad you abandoned the “just google it” nonsense.

          • I really didn’t think you were dense enough to expect an actual literal contract to be present, on account of that never being the case unless you’re one of the involved parties (which you should have learnt in first year law school). I deeply apologise for my assumption relating to your intelligence.

          • Or you could, you know, have cited filed documents alleging a breach, or quotes from the actual production company which, at the very least add some credence to your bare-arsed claims. But I guess I wouldn’t expect a layperson to understand the difference between evidence and assumptions; that’s why we wait around at the end of the trial for the judges to give gooses like you directions about how to think.

            Actually took you 6 replies to concede my first and only question to you and I’m the one whose intelligence you’re questioning LOL.

          • I refer to my previous comment relating to assumptions about your intelligence. You don’t need the contract when the person in question admits comprehensively in an interview to not doing the work they were paid to do, since at that point even the most ill informed of layperson can safely assume there was a breach. Are you absolutely sure you passed law school?

          • He doesn’t expressly admit to that. At all. Nothing quoted above amounts to what you are claiming.

            I was going to ask you for proof of said claim but we’ve done that dance already and you’ve already shown yourself incapable. But please keep repeating your standard “reading comprehension” nonsense at me.

            At this point it’s amusing how hard you are trying to hold onto the point when all I ever asked for was some proof for your claim. All you had to do was say that it’s just your belief…

          • I don’t think I need to prove anything at this point when I can only be left with the impression that you’re illiterate and any law degree you may have acquired came from a cereal box. None of my jobs include teaching the illiterate how to parse plain English, so I’ll leave it to your extremely underpaid law clerks to hand hold you through the process. Just be sure to provide them with excellent coffee, since you’re expertly qualified in the area.

          • Haha if you think ANYTHING in this article equates to a concession that there was a condition, or even a warranty, of the contract between GRRM and D&D/HBO that the books would all be finished before the TV series caught up to them, then you should stop spending so much time replying to me and go get an actual education because the only thing you’ve established yourself intellectually capable of is menial labour.

            I’ll put it in dot point form for you. You have:
            No contract available to prove the existence of the clause (no shit it’s not available, Sherlock, this has been my point).
            No breaches alleged anywhere by HBO/D&D.
            No admission of breach by GRRM (unless you live in the lala land of Louie where expressions of regret are enough to imply terms of contracts you have no idea about LOL).
            No quotes from staff implying the existence of a clause to that effect.
            A Kotaku article quoting the interview from PBS where nothing of the sort is said.

            Why do you keep bringing up clerks? Cause you sure as shit don’t know what a barrister’s clerk does LOL. But hey, while we’re on the subject of employees, do you earn a good wage? Maybe I can put you onto somebody to proof your posts for you.

  • I’d say most people have moved on at this point. I read the first 5 very happily. There are few novel series out there with such depth that are so easy to read. But yeah, I’ve lost interest.

  • I kind of wish he had’ve reigned DandD in a bit once the cracks started showing. Now unfortunately we have to live with a series that starts out God-Tier and then eventually devolves into trash once you’re too invested to put it down.

  • The TV series had already diverged from the books in pretty important ways before they ran out of road and ran off a cliff. Like Lady Stoneheart for example, and all the Stark progeny being [SPOILERS].

    In any case, it could be that George is looking out for future book sales as much as anything given the rank taste that season 8 left in everyone’s mouths. Low-key letting everyone know that it wasn’t his fault and that the book version will be different is just self-preservation (even if he was contractually obligated to deliver the full story).

    • There’s no doubt there’s some self-or-publisher preservation going on here. I note he didn’t come right out and say that the TV show went off the cliff, as you put it… despite basically everyone feeling that way.

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