'Game of Thrones' Leaves Wake of Destruction: Prequel Series Cancelled, Showrunners Leave 'Star Wars' Project

The creative forces behind Game of Thrones appear to be in a state of disarray, after HBO's planned prequel series was cancelled hot on the heels of news that former showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss exited a planned series of Star Wars films.

HBO had filmed a pilot episode for the prequel series, developed by writer Jane Goldman, over the summer. Executives were reportedly not pleased with the final result, and asked for editing changes to the pilot before scrapping the show completely. Goldman is said to have informed the cast of the news in a Tuesday letter. Naomi Watts was cast as the show's lead, and the story was said to be set in the "Age of Heroes," about 10,000 years before the time period in Game of Thrones.

News of the show's failure comes one day after the revelation that Benioff and Weiss will not be moving forward with their planned Star Wars trilogy. Those films were intended to help establish a new "saga" for the franchise, which is set to conclude the "Skywalker saga" storyline in December's Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. The pair said their exit was due to needing more time to work on other projects, rather than being forced out at the behest of Lucasfilm. It does seem likely the duo have plenty of work remaining, after signing a development deal with Netflix worth $200 million in August.

Despite the massively popular series receiving multiple awards at the 2019 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series, the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones proved controversial with fans. Some critics claimed that writing and production on season eight felt "rushed," with suggestions that the showrunners may have been overly eager to begin work on the Star Wars films.

game of thrones dragon statue
A fire-breathing dragon statue is pictured at a 2015 "Game of Thrones" premiere in Sydney, Australia. Don Arnold/Getty

A petition calling for the entire season to be remade with "competent writers" garnered 1.75 million signatures. HBO bosses dismissed the petition and some of the show's stars reacted negatively to the campaign.

Benioff and Weiss managed to further anger critical fans at a question and answer session at the Austin Film Festival on October 26. The duo reportedly suggested they "didn't know what they were doing" while making the show, and said they stripped the show of more overt fantasy elements because they didn't want to only appeal to "that type of fan."

Benioff and Weiss previously attracted a large amount of criticism over their plans to make Confederate, a series set in an alternate timeline where the south had won the U.S. civil war. Critics called the premise "tone deaf," especially coming from two white men. Plans for the HBO show were cancelled in August after the pair inked their deal with Netflix.

As Game of Thrones approached this year's conclusion, HBO prepared several possible prequels to the show. The now-cancelled Goldman show was the only one of the concepts to make it past early planning stages.

In September news emerged of a different HBO prequel series, set around 300 years before Game of Thrones and focused on House Targaryen. The official status of the show is unclear, but unofficial reports indicate a pilot episode is likely to move forward.

While the immediate future of both Game of Thrones and Star Wars seem uncertain, given the massive fandom the franchises retain it seems unlikely to remain that way in the long term. However, the current unrest will leave some wondering whether what many saw as a weak ending to Game of Thrones could be to blame for what seems to be a wavering of faith in regards to anything related to the show.