Emilia Clarke as angry Daenerys Targaryen in HBO's Game of Thrones.

6 Things To Do Instead of Watching New ‘Game of Thrones’ Series ‘House of the Dragon’

For everyone who is still pissed about that horrid finale.

As I have logged onto the recently and continuously besieged HBO Max this weekend, they have tried to throw one show into my face over and over again: House of the Dragon. “Game of Thrones is back, baby! We all love Game of Thrones! Yeah, more Game of Thrones!” I watched a trailer of the writer and director very weirdly talking about how great it is for them to be in charge of a prequel to this treasured series. No one seems to want to mention that seasons 7 and 8—i.e. the end of the original show—were among the worst in modern TV history.

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I don’t even feel the need to qualify that statement. The unbelievable sloppiness—and, at times, literal inscrutable darkness—of the final two seasons was straight-up disrespectful to the show’s gigantic fanbase. It felt like a pedantic parent expecting their 30-year-old to still have the logical capacity of when they were 10. Or like the embodiment of capitalism cynically giggling while saying, “Here! The sheeple will love anything I do! Ha ha ha!”

As you can tell, I have no love remaining for Game of Thrones. (I do for author George R. R. Martin, especially with Elden Ring in his back pocket.) And so, as HBO Max keeps trying to get me excited about House of the Dragon, I keep thinking about that old adage: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Considering the premiere drew 10 million people, I may very well be in the minority of “former Game of Thrones fans” here. But the Game of Thrones finale had 19.3 million viewers. So, for the 9.3 million people who opted out, here’s some ideas of what to do instead.

1. Find some other dragons

How to Train Your Dragon cast.
(Paramount Pictures)

Despite the lingering burn of the Game of Thrones finale, the biggest pull for House of the Dragon is that it’s about the Targaryens, which means one thing: dragons! But there are other things with dragons in them that are not related to something that made us all very upset.

For an animated take, there’s Raya and the Last Dragon (Disney Plus), which is superb and has Awkwafina in it, which is certainly one point against Game of Thrones in my book—or Sleeping Beauty (Disney Plus) for a classic dragon-slaying. There’s also the beloved How To Train Your Dragon series (Amazon Prime).

If you’d like to stay in the live-action zone, there’s Reign of Fire (Hulu), which isn’t great, but does involve Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey fighting dragons. Hollywood absurdity is quite a thing, huh? Hell, Godzilla breathes fire and is quite dragon-like. All of those films are on HBO Max—for now.

2. Support the shows HBO Max might axe

Steven Universe and Pearl pose happily on a Steven Universe poster.
(Cartoon Network)

The future of HBO Max’s programming is quite uncertain right now. Due to Warner Bros.’ merger with Discovery, the new company is pulling shows and films off the service at an alarmingly rapid clip. But I think it’s safe to say that House of the Dragon is safe from that fate, because it’s residing under the overconfident, shady umbrella of the Game of Thrones legacy. Any other HBO or HBO Max original series? Less assured, especially if it’s animated.

Depending on your tastes, I’d encourage you to support shows like Our Flag Means Death—which, hopefully, will still have a second season—or Rap Sh!t. (Both are comedies, I admit.) Cartoon Network, which was scooped up by Warner Bros. in a previous merger, appears to be getting gutted. So, if you’ve never watched even ultra-popular series like Adventure Time or Steven Universe, no time like the present, eh?

Granted, all shows mentioned above have severe differences from Game of Thrones, if you’re looking for something that meets the same viewing needs.

3. Indulge in different power struggles

Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession
(HBO)

But hey, maybe you love the power struggle aspect of Game of Thrones most of all. After all, watching people be powerful assholes is really fun. So, while you’re on HBO, if you want a modern-day family fighting among themselves for power in modern-day ways, there’s always the critically-acclaimed Succession.

For a wildly different take on the genre, I enjoy recommending the anime Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (Netflix, Hulu) to people. Code Geass has all the messed up family dynamics and power-hungriness of Game of Thrones, but it also has a completely ridiculous “guy in high school with love problems” side—beautiful absurdity to space out the intervals in which you’re on the edge of your seat or watching between your fingers. There are bloodbaths. I promise.

Want an early-1900s gangster power struggle? Try Peaky Blinders (Netflix). Want a pirate one? Try Black Sails (Hulu, Starz).

4. Seek out other realms

Alina in Netflix's Shadow and Bone.
(Netflix)

The TV show that has been arguably the most obvious about trying to fill the hole of Game of Thrones is Netflix’s The Witcher, which is an adaptation of the video game series of the same name. And you know what? It has worked quite well! There’s also a new (as of 2021) Netflix series called Shadow and Bone, which you can tell just by the title is also trying to aim for the hearts of Game of Thrones fans.

Or just watch Outlander and enjoy people in English-feeling period outfits having lots of sex. Hooray!

5. Read George R.R. Martin’s actual books

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones books box set.
(Bantam)

Will George R.R. Martin ever actually finish A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that Game of Thrones is based upon? Who knows! But the TV series’ spectacular crash into bad decision-making coincided with them running out of Martin’s material. So, going back to the source is always an excellent option. Depending on how you look at it, either the bright or the negative side is that Martin’s books are very, very large, so they’ll distract you far beyond House of the Dragon’s runtime.

6. Take a nice walk

Hey, you’ve earned it! Maybe just get off your screens entirely and go on a nice walk. Yes, I’m aware of the meta nature of that request. The point is: If you’ve been vibing with this article, you really don’t want to watch House of the Dragon, do you? I am literally so repulsed by the idea that, when I think about it, a little nausea forms in the base of my throat. So you do you. We’re about to face another wave of Game of Thrones fanaticism. It’s okay to not want to join in, and just getting away from technology in general is your best refuge.

(featured image: HBO)


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Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.