This weekend, Game of Thrones fans everywhere were given a taste of hope after HBO programming president Casey Bloys hinted that, after the show comes to an end, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a spin-off series.
"We've talked about it," he said. "It's something I'm not opposed to, but of course it has to make sense creatively."
But just what kind of spin-off would work best? Below, we've put together some ideas...
1. Tales of Dunk and Egg
What would it be?
An adaptation of George RR Martin's Dunk and Egg books, which follow the adventures of aspiring knight "Dunk" and his squire "Egg" (who is revealed in the first book as a Targaryen prince, the future King Aegon V).
The books take place in Westeros, in locations that will be familiar to Game of Thrones fans -but the stories are set 90 years before the events of the show. There are a few overlaps, however: a very young Walder Frey pops up at one point, while "Egg" (or Aegon) is the younger brother of future Night's Watch maester Aemon Targaryen.
Reasons For: Unlike everything else on this list, this Westeros-set spin-off idea already exists in book form. Martin himself is also keen to give Dunk and Egg the small-screen treatment. "The most natural follow-up [to Game of Thrones] would be an adaptation of my Dunk & Egg stories," the author told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year.
"Each of the novellas could easily be done as a two-hour stand-alone movie for television; that would probably be the ideal way to do them, rather than as an ongoing weekly series. The Hedge Knight and its sequels are lighter [in tone] than A Song of Ice and Fire, more in the realm of action/adventure."
Against: Fans hoping for nudity, lots of flashy Melisandre-style magic and big scary fire-breathing monsters might feel a bit let down by the comparatively small scope of the stories, which are set during a strictly dragon-free era of Westerosi history. But we reckon over-cautious HBO commissioners should take a gamble.
After all, Game of Thrones isn't just about big-budget, effects-laden Battle-of-the-Bastards-style showstoppers. Well-written, impeccably acted human drama, tense one-on-one action and character-driven intrigue play just as important a part. A well-made Dunk and Egg adaptation could offer plenty of the latter.
A spin-off series about the Aegon I and the Targaryen rise to power (as envisaged by George RR Martin), set 300-ish years before the events of
Game of Thrones
Prior to Aegon, the seven kingdoms of Westeros were ruled separately - but the future king, nicknamed "The Conqueror", made it his mission to unite them (in a brutal, burn-y way, rather than a peaceful "let's all be friends" way).
For: Dragons would guaranteed, alongside a fair amount of incest. According to Martin, Aegon I was married to not one (that would be boring) but two of his sisters, Rhaenys and Visenya. Furthermore, all siblings had their very own big, bad dragon - and Aegon's dragon Balerion, aka "The Black Dread", was the biggest and baddest of all.
There would also be plenty of scope for big, epic, dragon-led battle scenes. Remember the ruined castle of Harrenhal, seen in the Game of Throne series? Aegon and his pets were responsible for its current condition.
Finally, there would also be potential for this story to run and run, spanning the entire early history of the Targaryen regime (Dorne, for instance, was the only one of the seven kingdoms to successfully resists Aegon's takeover).
We also think "Dragonstone" (traditional seat of the Targaryens, before they moved their base to King's Landing) is a really good title for a fantasy series.
Against: A series like this would presumably be very expensive, and wouldn't feature any familiar Game of Thrones characters... meaning that HBO would have to hope that the Game of Thrones "brand" would be enough to lure in viewers. Plus, would all three leads have to undergo some ridiculous hair bleaching/ invest in some Daenerys-style wigs?
3. Shadow-baby: Son of Stannis
What is it?
Remember the creepy shadow-baby assassin, fathered by Stannis, that Melisandre gave birth to back in season two?
We saw it (him?) fulfil its purpose and sneakily dispatch Renly...but did anyone stop to think about what happened to Shadow-baby afterwards?
According to the official wiki page for the show, the assassins only have a short life span and usually expire shortly after making their kill - but, as far as we can remember/Google, this fact is never concretely stated in Martin's books.
What if Stannis's Shadow-baby had instead clung on, enjoying some sort of half-life (we're thinking pre-Goblet of Fire Voldemort) and waiting for his chance to one day seize power?
There's also, of course, the question of lineage to consider.
Following the death of Stannis and daughter Shireen in season five, and the death of Tommen (a Lannister by blood but officially a Baratheon) in season six, a surviving Shadow-baby would technically be the heir to King Robert I...and a strong contender for the Iron Throne.
Forget Jon Snow: Shadow-baby is the show's real "long-lost heir". He's probably also the Prince Who Was Promised/Azor Ahai. We're sure there's evidence somewhere in the books...
For: It's a brilliant, original idea, with at least 10 season's worth of juicy plot potential.
Against: We're probably the only ones who actually think the above is true.
4. The Lyanna Mormont Show
A pre-teen-friendly slice of Westerosi life, starring bad-ass ruler of Bear Island/most formidable 10-year-old around Lyanna Mormont (played by newcomer Bella Ramsay).
For: The dialogue would be amazing (just think of all the memes that Lyanna's withering putdowns would generate).
It'd also be great to see a spin-off show set in one of the less-patriarchal areas of Westeros. On Bear Island, women and girls like Lyanna wear armour, and are expected to fight and defend themselves from a young age.
Against: Unless Lyanna regularly left Bear Island to embark on a series of Northern adventures, we're not quite sure how much mileage HBO could get out of this one... Perhaps exiled cousin Jorah (Iain Glen) could show up mid-season, to provide a (Greyscaley) plot twist?
5. The Walking Hodor
Transformed into a wight by the Night King and his White Walkers, zombified Hodor (Kristian Nairn) mysteriously retains some remnants of his former personality... including the ability to form the word "Hodor".
Thanks to his comparatively advanced level of sentience, undead Hodor rises to power among the ranks of the wights, winning them over with his conversational prowess/willingness to carry his pals/DJ-ing expertise).
He eventually takes on the Night King himself.... finally killing him by shutting in hand in a dragonglass-coated door. He accompanies the action with a perfectly timed, bitingly sarcastic "Hodor".
For: It'd be a powerful, moving way to explore the world of the Walkers, their undead armies, and the character of Hodor.
Against: Sadly, so far on the show there's been absolutely for precedent for the scenario described above. Wights, it seems, don't tend to retain any vestige of their former personality. Or talk much.
6. Brienne and Tormund: Beyond The Wall
For some spurious, hastily-thrown-together reason, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) embarks on a mission beyond the wall. (NB: there probably won't be a wall after the end of season seven, but that's beside the point.) Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) volunteers to accompany her. Brienne says no. Tormund tags along anyway. They bicker and fight, and fight and bicker, before finally, inevitably getting together.
Pod is also in it.
For: After that Tormund/Brienne scene in season six, this is something all fans want to see.
Against:We can't think of any good reasons why this spin-off shouldn't go ahead. In fact, we're sure HBO is secretly commissioning it as we speak.
7. Living with Greyscale: My Journey
An unflinchingly honest, often harrowing but surprisingly warm and funny documentary, focusing on Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) as is struggles with his rapidly degenerating Greyscale and searches for a cure.
We'd quite like Louis Theroux to make it, if possible.
For: A show like this would shine a much-needed light on some of the victims of Greyscale and their plight.
Against: We're not sure Mormont would be able to carry off the "surprisingly warm and funny" part. Sorry, Jorah.
8. Walking with (actual) Giants
The epic backstory of the Northern giants, before they were reduced to being "the last of the giants".
For: Everyone likes giants. Plus, in the Game of Thrones world, giants tend to ride mammoths. And everyone likes woolly mammoths.
Against: There could be some overlap with recent Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG.