Do You Need to Watch 'Game of Thrones' Before 'House of the Dragon'?

Game of Thrones may have changed the landscape of TV when it aired from 2011 to 2019, but that doesn't mean everyone interested in House of the Dragon will have seen it.

The new HBO show is a spin-off of Game of Thrones and it is set almost 300 years before the events of the flagship show, but how necessary is it to have seen the original to watch House of the Dragon?

Here is everything you need to know:

Do You Need to Watch 'Game of Thrones' Before 'House of the Dragon'?

House of the Dragon
From left, Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Prince Daemon Targaryen in "House of the Dragon." The show is a prequel to "Game of Thrones," and viewers do not have to have seen the original to understand the new series. Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon explores the beginnings of the bloody civil war that broke out between the Targaryen family during their reign over Westeros. Known as the Dance of the Dragons, the war almost annihilated the dragon-wielding house.

In short, it is not necessary to have seen Game of Thrones to watch House of the Dragon because it is a prequel. None of the events of Game of Thrones directly affect the spin-off; it is the other way around. The fall of the Targaryen dynasty and the family's civil war has an impact on the last Targaryen, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), in the original show.

In that sense, it is not important to have watched Game of Thrones in order to understand House of the Dragon.

However, viewers who choose to start with the prequel will likely miss many nods to the original series, and also may not understand the importance of all the noble families in Westeros.

House of the Dragon is focused predominantly on the Targaryen family, so other noble families don't play as important a role as they did in Game of Thrones.

But the ancestors of the characters from Game of Thrones will appear in the new series, and those who start with House of the Dragon may not understand who they are or who their descendants will be.

Another example is that in the premiere episode of House of the Dragon there is a direct reference to Game of Thrones, and this will be understood by fans of the original but missed by anyone who decides to start the franchise with the prequel.

But, to understand the new show it is not necessary to have had prior experience with the "Song of Ice and Fire," the story that was laid out in George R. R. Martin's books, or Game of Thrones.

It can be enjoyed on its own merit because it is a new story that plays a key part in the history of Westeros before the events of the original series, and as such viewers can start from there if they so choose.

House of the Dragon premieres on Sunday, August 21 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.