Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones main title theme is many things: epic, rousing, and among the most iconic television scores of all time. Never in my life would I have described it as “disappointing” — until I heard it used in the opening credits of House of the Dragon.
The song itself still proves to be the ultimate hype man for an hour of fantasy TV goodness. But recycling it for the Game of Thrones prequel reads as a calculated nostalgia grab for fans of the original show. Worse, it suggests that the creative team behind House of the Dragon isn’t quite ready to let this new series stand by itself.
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With a new opening sequence and theme song, House of the Dragon could have asserted its own identity as a series. It gets halfway there: The family tree visuals of the main credits emphasize House of the Dragon’s focus on the Targaryens and their history. Yet the music — as good as it is — is all too familiar. By copy-pasting the Game of Thrones theme into this new opening, House of the Dragon jolts you out of any kind of immersive spell it may have cast. The Game of Thrones theme is so inextricably linked to its original characters and events that its presence in this spinoff creates a cognitive dissonance. Are you watching Game of Thronesor are you watching House of the Dragon?
It’s not as if there were no other options for a House of the Dragon title song. Djawadi composed several Targaryen-specific pieces of music for Game of Thrones. Think “Reign” and “Dracarys” — soaring themes that, if modified slightly for the show, could have served as the perfect introduction to the Targaryens’ epic family drama. House of the Dragon still interpolates pieces from these themes and even the main one throughout the show, which nicely creates a sonic consistency between the two Westeros-set series. However, having two different, although complementary, themes would have helped each series hold their own.
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My worries about the re-use of the Game of Thrones theme extend past the music to the future of House of the Dragon and the coming Game of Thrones spinoffs. It’s only natural that the shows be in conversation with each other — but should they all feel the same as well?
Thanks to its centering of the Targaryens and their family drama, House of the Dragon already seems like its own show. Yet moments such as the reference to Aegon’s “Song of Ice and Fire” in the pilot give the impression that House of the Dragon is still trying too hard to connect to what came before. Will Game of Thrones spinoffs fall into the same trap, relying on cheap nostalgia points by reusing Djawadi’s original theme until we’re sick of it? Or will they trust their audiences and take risks — even when it comes to the opening?
If the Game of Thrones world becomes another Marvel-style cinematic universe, as the several spin-offs in development would suggest, it’s likely that Westeros fatigue will set in sooner rather than later. (Heck, Game of Thrones fatigue has been around even throughout the show’s initial run.)
While I can’t ever see myself growing sick of Djawadi’s original theme, I can see myself getting ready to do the unthinkable and hit the “skip intro” button if I have to hear the song before every Game of Thrones spinoff. And that just might be House of the Dragon‘s most upsetting development yet.
New House of the Dragon episodes are available every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.(opens in a new tab)