"Game of Thrones" is like that high school kid whose punk-rock band won the talent show, but also played Dungeons & Dragons on the weekends -- it may have a nerdy heart, but it's wrapped up in layers of sex, gore, and rock n' roll. Its epic fantasy core is also wrapped up in transcendent performances, political intrigue, betrayal, and the possibility of key characters kicking the bucket at any moment. You can thank George R.R. Martin's no-holds-barred storytelling for that.
And just as your high-school hero inspired others to break out their punk-rock regalia, "Thrones" wildly popular formula has inspired legions of loving imitators who hope to catch some of that scorching hot Drogon fire. Lucky for you, networks across the board are willing to scratch your "Thrones" itch in 2016 and onward.
'His Dark Materials' (BBC)
A critically acclaimed network aims to adapt a series of epic fantasy novels from the 1990s. No, it's not an upcoming doc about the creation of HBO's "Game of Thrones," it's real news about the BBC's upcoming TV adaptation of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Hollywood took a not-so-successful swing at Pullman's work with 2007's "The Golden Compass," but BAFTA-nominated scribe Jack Thorne -- the pen behind the skinhead drama "This Is England" -- is sure to inject the series with darker sensibilities. And while the books' fantasy world is a Victorian-flavored multiverse of zeppelins and religious ponderings rather than a bloody medieval drama, it still packs your recommended servings of warring families, royal corruption, and "accidental" deaths. Plus, it's really hard to mess up when you're dealing with armored polar bears.
'Still Star-Crossed' (ABC)
Think about it. "Romeo and Juliet" -- with its lust, familial blood feuds, sword fights, and dramatic deaths -- is the 1590s version of "Game of Thrones" but with a whole lot fewer Tyrion-themed cocktails.
Those are the things ABC is banking on when it rolls out "Still Star-Crossed" as part of its 2016-2017 lineup. This "Romeo and Juliet" followup -- which picks up after the double suicide to focus on the warring Montagues and Capulets -- has all the treachery and blood-soaked romance of "Thrones." It's from Shonda Rhimes, who brought you "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," so it's okay to start getting excited.
'Emerald City' (NBC)
Time to get this out of the way: "Emerald City" is "Game of Thrones" meets "The Wizard of Oz." You can't deny the familiarity of NBC's pitch for its upcoming hour-long drama: "A mystical land of competing realms, lethal warriors, dark magic, and a bloody battle for supremacy," says the network, in a line that sounds like it came from an "A Song of Ice and Fire" book jacket. They're not messing around, either -- the show has locked down Vincent D'Onofrio as the Wizard, which means pretty much anyone who watched "Daredevil" will tune in, no questions asked.
'Son of Zorn' (FOX)
This is where the "may have been" in the title really comes into play. "Game of Thrones" has big, beefy, barbaric men with swords. "Son of Zorn" has a big, beefy, barbaric man with a sword. The thing is, the men of "Thrones" go about uniting the factions of the North and lopping off essential body parts, while the titular Zorn just wants to be good at his office job and make things right with his estranged teenage son.
The animated, Jason Sudekis-voiced Zorn inhabits a live-action world with all the dryly awkward humor you'd expect from a Fox sitcom, and his fish-out-of-water shtick probably resembles He-Man more than The Hound. But you can't deny that HBO's medieval epic has made audiences a little more accepting of the fantasy genre in all its forms -- think of it as equal rights for shirtless dudes with long hair and magical weapons.
'The Legend of Zelda'
It's not often that the Wall Street Journal reports entertainment rumors, but that's exactly what happened in 2015 when the outlet claimed Nintendo's long-running "The Legend of Zelda" video game series was destined for a live-action TV series, allegedly in the planning stages at the time of the report. More than that, WSJ went right for the nose when it described the would-be series as "'Game of Thrones' for a family audience."
Nintendo itself has remained characteristically tight-lipped, but they can't hide the fact that 2016 is the 30th anniversary of the Zelda series, and the ideal year for a some major announcements. If they need someone to play Ganondorf, Sean Bean's "Game of Thrones" contract expired a few years ago.
- Esquire: 'Game of Thrones': The 20 Best Scenes
- The Guardian: Jack Thorne to Adapt Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' for BBC
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Stage History: 'Romeo and Juliet'
- USA Today: ABC Adds Shondaland, Hayley Atwell Dramas
- NBC: 'Emerald City'
- Los Angeles Times: Fall TV Sunday: 'Son of Zorn' Stands as Lone Newcomer
- The Wall Street Journal: Netflix is Developing a Live-Action 'Legend of Zelda' Series
- The Verge: 30 Years of Zelda: A Timeline of the Legend So Far