It’s over. No matter how you feel about the last episodes of Game of Thrones, it certainly was a show that became a truly global pop culture phenomenon. The final episode that aired on Sunday night was the biggest show in HBO history, with a total of 19.3 million viewers (that includes streaming users via HBO Now).
Now that the saga has come to an end, HBO and its new parent company AT&T faces a huge problem. Tons of people will likely dump their subscription to the premium cable network, or cancel their HBO Now streaming subscription service because Game of Thrones is now over. Sure, there is that upcoming prequel to the series that’s currently in the works, but we have no idea when that will air yet.
If you are debating whether or not to cancel your HBO or HBO Now subscription, you may want to keep it for a while (or I guess you could cancel and simply return later).
HBO wants to compete more directly with the big streaming video services, particularly Netflix, and it has a deep range of upcoming HBO series that could become the next Game of Thrones in terms of popularity. It also has a number of current HBO series that will return with all new seasons in the coming months as well.
Let’s take a look at just some of what HBO and HBO Now subscribers can expect in the next year or so.
Upcoming HBO Shows
- His Dark Materials
- Lovecraft Country
- The Outsider
- Westworld: Season 3
- The Nevers
- Avenue 5
- Perry Mason
- The Plot Against America
- Game of Thrones spin-off
1. Watchmen – Fall 2019
This is our personal pick for the next big thing from HBO that could bring back the massive Game of Thrones audience. Based on the classic DC Comics series from writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, Watchmen will actually be a sequel of sorts to that series. It takes place in an alternate Earth, where masked vigilantes and actual superheroes exist. Not much is known about the plot of the show as yet, and the teaser trailer only serves to generate more questions about what Watchmen may really be about.
We do know that the main writer for the series is Damon Lindelof, who co-created Lost and adapted the novel The Leftovers as a series for HBO. The cast of Watchmen is also pretty spectacular. It includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart and others. It’s due sometime in the fall of 2019.
2. His Dark Materials – Late 2019
Game of Thrones fans who want another major fantasy series to binge on might want to check out His Dark Materials when it debuts. Based on the series of book by Philip Pullman, it chronicles the story of two kids who travel between parallel worlds. It also has an impressive cast, including James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Co-produced with the BBC, the series will debut with an eight-episode first season, and a second season has already been commissioned.
3. Lovecraft Country – 2020
If horror is more up your alley, HBO also has an upcoming show that comes from one of the modern masters of terror, Jordon Peele. The creator of the hit movies Get Out and Us is an executive producer, along with J.J. Abrams, on this adaptation of the novel by Matt Ruff. Set in the 1950s, it centers on a black family that not only explores the real terrors of racial bigotry at that time but throws in some supernatural horrors as well. It’s due to be shown on HBO sometime in 2020.
4. The Outsider – 2020
This upcoming HBO mini-series is based on the most recent novel by the biggest horror writer of all, Stephen King. It begins as a murder mystery, as a teacher and baseball coach is arrested for the murder of an 11-year-old boy. However, the investigation into this crime soon turns into a search for a true monster who tempts people to kill for him. The miniseries stars Jason Bateman and Ben Mendelsohn and will be shown on HBO sometime in 2020.
5. Westworld: Season 3 – 2020
Another show to convince you to keep your HBO or HBO Now subscription is one that has already had two seasons on the network. Westworld began as a TV version of Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie about human-looking androids who populate a futuristic Wild West amusement park, and who slowly revolt against their makers. The first season mostly was set in Westworld, but the second season expanded the reach of the show to include other parks and even the outside world.
Based on the first teaser trailer for season three, it looks like Westworld will leave the park behind for the most part. It appears the season will look at how robots and advanced technology have changed the planet. It’s basically a refresh of the show, and it might bring in new viewers who may have gotten annoyed by some of the plot twists and puzzles of the first two seasons. Plus, Breaking Bad’s Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul is joining the cast for this season, so that’s a big plus in our book.
6. The Nevers – 2020
Josh Whedon, the man who arguably created three of the best TV genre shows of all time (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly), as well as the man who wrote and directed the first two Avengers movies for Marvel, is coming back to TV with his upcoming HBO series The Nevers. It’s supposed to be an epic sci-fi series about a group of Victorian women who have to fight off evil opponents with their own special powers. Does it sound like a mashup of historical, superhero and sci-fi genres? Yes. However, Whedon may be the only person who could pull this off and turn it into an entertaining TV show.
7. Avenue 5 – 2020
The creator of Veep, Armando Iannucci, is coming back with a second comedy series on HBO. Due in 2020, it will be set hundreds of years in the future, on board a space cruise ship, with House actor Hugh Laurie returning to his comedic roots as its captain. It’s certainly a 180-degree turn from the setting of Veep, but Avenue 5’s creator and star both make this one of the most anticipated upcoming HBO shows.
8. Perry Mason – 2020
Remember Perry Mason? Yes, that courtroom drama about a defense lawyer who almost always wins his cases was a staple of early black-and-white TV. In 2020, it will be brought back to TV in the form of an upcoming HBO series. It stars The American’s Matthew Rhys as Mason, and the setting will be set back to 1932 Los Angeles, which is close to the time period of the original Perry Mason novels from author Erle Stanley Gardner. The series will also have John Lithgow as Mason’s private investigator, along with Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany as a powerful evangelical figure in LA.
9. The Plot Against America – 2020
Perhaps the most controversial upcoming HBO series, this is based on the novel from Phillip Roth. It will take place in 1940, but in an alternate timeline where famed aviator Charles Lindbergh is elected over Franklin Roosevelt as U.S. President. The show, which centers mainly on a Jewish family in New Jersey, examines how it deals with Lindbergh’s rule as he slowly turns America into a fascist state. The series, which will star Winona Ryder and John Turturro, could be one of the most talked-about HBO series in some time.
10. Game of Throne spin-off (no date yet)
Finally, we have the upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off series, which does not yet have a time frame for release. When HBO first announced plans in 2017 to do a spin-off of its most popular show, it seemed like a no brainer. Now, thanks to the controversial ending to the original Game of Thrones leaving behind a bad taste for many fans, the prospects of the spin-off are not quite as guaranteed. One big plus for those disappointed fans is that the original show’s main writers, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, won’t be involved in the unnamed spin-off. Instead, the show is being co-created by George R.R. Martin, who wrote the novels that served as the basis for the Game of Thrones TV franchise. The other co-creator is Jane Goldman, who has written or co-written movies like Kick-Ass, The Woman In Black and the two Kingsman spy films.
Not much is known about the series, except that it will take place thousands of years before the events of the Game of Thrones show. Naomi Watts has been cast as the lead character, who is described as “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret.” We will see of HBO can make lightning strike twice with this spin-off.
Admittedly none of these shows can truly fill the void left behind by the absence of Game of Thrones, but at least it’s nice to know that there is still plenty to look to on HBO. Is it enough to keep a subscription? That’s up to you, but even if you leave, it’s easy enough to subscribe again later.