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Game of Thrones was sold to HBO as “The Sopranos in Middle-earth”

George RR Martin, writer of the Game of Thrones source material, has shared that the showrunners pitched the TV series as "The Sopranos in Middle-earth".

Game of Thrones on HBO

George RR Martin, the famed writer behind the books that inspired the TV series Game of Thrones, has revealed how the show was pitched. According to him, the showrunners of the drama series envisioned The Sopranos crossing over with The Lord of the Rings.


“David Benioff and Dan Weiss who would eventually be the showrunners, were the guys taking it around, and taking it to HBO and other places to try to get someone to buy it and option it and make it,” Martin explained during a Q’n’A at Santa Fe Literary Festival. “Their pitch was ‘Sopranos in Middle-earth’. High-concept things, you have to be able to say it in a sentence or two, you know?”

Sure enough, The Sopranos is one of HBO’s biggest hits, perhaps the only thing that comes before Game of Thrones for success stories from the network still. Taking that, and then suggesting The Lord of the Rings, a cinematic trilogy of fantasy movies that enthralled an entire generation, is an easy well to just about anyone. We imagine it was a short conversation, all told.

In the same answer, Martin pokes fun at how the show actually concluded the story well ahead of his novels. “I was still writing the books as I seem to be for the rest of my life, forever,” he says in an aside.