Now That Fallout Is A Hit, It’s Time To Adapt Another Epic Game Series

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

In case you haven’t heard, Fallout has blown up, no pun intended. The Amazon Prime TV series, based on the iconic videogame, has won the hearts of audiences and critics alike, sporting a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In the wake of this massive success, it’s time to consider what other video games lend themselves to cinematic interpretation. One answer, in my eyes, is Elder Scrolls, the GOATed fantasy RPG. 

Adapting Elder Scrolls

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First of all, like Fallout and The Last of Us, which HBO recently, brilliantly adapted, the epic fantasy videogame franchise benefits from its RPG structure. It offers an expansive world rife with lore and a variety of potential characters. 

If you’re not as familiar with the series as I am (meaning, I’ve played every game for way, way too long), you might not know how it represents a tapestry of narratives sprawling across a variety of eras and regions, all embedded in a rich, complex universe. Each facet and installment of the Elder Scrolls advances a fresh perspective on the same profoundly interconnected world. 

A Fascinating Universe

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Whether amidst the political machinations of Daggerfall or the dragon-crossed skies of snowy Skyrim, its universe boasts a robust history, an array of cultures, and fascinating conflicts. Envision the narrative depth and cultural variety of a unified world like that of Game of Thrones, a fantasy juggernaut competing with the best of them. 

I maintain that given the sprawling nature of its world–in addition to the complexity of its stories–the Elder Scrolls lends itself more to a series format than a feature-length movie.

After all, a TV show format allows the universe to be explored all the more deeply; the robust lore, intricate plots, and fascinating nuances of the series’ sensibility can breathe and expand in a multi-season series. 

This would probably not be the case with a movie or a series of films (like the recent Dune adaptations).

Many Seasons, Rich Universe

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Personally, I would adore seeing each season explore different aspects of the universe or periods. It’s hard not to salivate over a season of the Elder Scrolls dedicated to the Dark Brotherhood (“What is the music of life?” “Silence, my brother”)–or the Mages Guild; any guild would do, in fact.

Indeed, a character, say an upstart thief in the Thieves’ Guild, could contribute a stellar character arc to an expansive show. 

This anthology-esque approach is not foreign to massively successful TV shows. American Horror Story used it to great effect, and even The Wire demonstrated how the process of adding successive layers of the same environment can multiply a project’s richness. 

Rife With Conflict

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Time-line-wise, the Second Era–around the time period of Elder Scrolls Online–is a safe bet. It’s a period rife with conflict, after all, offering fertile ground for dramatic storytelling, especially the ride of Tiber Septim, the formation of the Mages Guild, and the Akaviri invasion.

The key is to take advantage of how volatile Tamriel was at this time to maximize conflict, probably the most important aspect of drama. 

From there, I argue that emphasizing one area over the others, while not strictly necessary, would prove more inviting to new audiences unfamiliar with the franchise than a more widespread locational approach.

For instance, Game of Thrones, which an Elder Scrolls series would invite comparison to, was set mainly in Westeros (Danaerys’s odyssey in the East notwithstanding). 

An Enormous World

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That said, Tamriel is a single continent, albeit an enormous one. Sticking to Skyrim, Morrowind, or Cyrodiil, at least for the first season, will probably keep from overwhelming newcomers. Each location, sporting a unique culture and history, could function as a compelling backdrop for different show seasons. 

I would be thrilled to see a season set in Cyrodiil, the imperial heartland–a season mired in political intrigue and the quest for power within the Empire. Perhaps the season could also branch to the frozen lands of Skyrim or exotic, ash-covered Morrowind, an icon of the Elder Scrolls. But only after establishing a more familiar fantasy environment in Cyrodiil. 

Elder Scrolls Needs An Adaptation

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Nintendo Switch

The cumulative approach, gradually adding each region, could eventuate a compelling overarching story via the Oblivion plot line, the game narrative featuring the demonic invasion from the Daedric realm. The Skyrim-centric dragon reemergence could also enrich the series. 

Yes, this approach might closely resemble GoT (the appearance of scary humanoid monsters and the increasing arrival of dragons does ring a bell). But no matter how its creators undertake an Elder Scrolls series, it’s still something I’d love to see.