I. Watch the Throne
Game of Thrones, like many figures in the entertainment biz, had to change its name before it really became successful. It began life as A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin's trilogy-cum-septology of high-fantasy novels. Martin is often praised for bringing realism to the genre, a compliment that should probably be taken as tongue-in-cheek, considering his realistic world includes dragons, icicle zombies, giants and a 700-foot-high wall of ice that spans most of a continent. (So, you know, just like Green Bay.)
The books were solid sellers that spread mostly by word of mouth, eventually growing into a cult classic that crept into the gyre of mainstream readers by the time the fourth volume, A Feast of Crows, was published in 2005.
But when David Benioff and D.B. Weiss adapted the books into a serial drama for HBO, Martin's baby hit the big time. The fantasy-reading cognoscenti who lauded ASOIAF, as it's often short-handed in online forums, suddenly discovered that hipsters, housewives, chick-lit lovers and young-adult readers were ready to play in Martin's big back yard. All it took was a weekly TV series with massive production values, a beautiful cast and more blood and tits than your average grandmother could tolerate in one hour and et voila — Game of Thrones became a pop-culture juggernaut.