In a mythical land called Arth, the inhabitants of the ancient city of Arthdal contend with power struggles, while some encounter love along the way. Eun-seom goes through hardships to bring his tribe back to life and learns of his true origins in the process.
The cast and crew attended a workshop in Yangju, Gyeonggi-do, on August 21, 2018. The first script read was held on August 26, 2018. Filming officially started on December 5, 2018 with the opening ceremony of the set, whose construction took place for eight months.The drama was filmed overseas in Brunei. Song Joong-ki went first on February 24, 2019.
On February 12, 2020, it was announced that the drama was renewed for a second season. On June 11, 2020, it was announced that the production schedule was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been excluded from the 2021 lineup.
The drama received mixed reviews. It was criticized by Game of Thrones fans for sharing similarities with that series, while critics felt that it employs poor use of CGI, has a formulaic plot, is similar to other foreign fantasy dramas and films centered on ancient times, and has a slow-paced storyline, which can make viewers lose interest. Viewers were also bewildered by the historical setting, as the drama is set in the Bronze Age but cast members are seen wearing armors and weapons that do not belong to that era.
Conversely, the drama was praised for its intriguing storyline and unique setting, touching on subjects like the meaning of a tribe, an alliance and a nation, as well as religion. Writer Park Sang-yeon said, "I wouldn't even think of comparing our series to [Game of Thrones] and I don't think our goal is to create something similar... I wouldn't try to claim to do anything similar to the show and I don't think it's an appropriate comparison." He added, "We tried to create a great series by building a fictitious world of our own with our imagination and I hope you see our series as it is."
Although John Serba of Decider.com gave the series a "Skip It" rating, he said, "Arthdal occurs in a more primitive time than [Game of Thrones], and appears to be set up to explore different ideas about the human creature and its thirst for power and possessions." He said that the show further differentiates itself from Game of Thrones by its absence of nudity and sex scenes. Forbes contributor Joan MacDonald said, "Stunning camera work makes The Arthdal Chronicles a visual pleasure to watch, capturing sweeping panoramas that place fledgeling humans in the context of a wide world waiting to be explored—and possibly conquered."
The series received lower-than-expected viewership ratings, in comparison to its massive budget, but the first episode received ratings of 6.7 percent and peaked at 8 percent, placing it first for all dramas in its time slot, including non-cable broadcasting stations. It achieved a ratings high on June 9, with its fourth episode, scoring an average rating of 7.7 percent nationwide, which was an increase of 1.3 percent from the night before. The episode peaked at 8.9 percent nationwide.
The production team was criticized for mistreatment of its production staff. The production team was accused of violating labor laws from local civic groups, including the Seoul-based Hanbit Media Labor Rights Center and Hope Solidarity Labor Union, as the drama crew had been subject to a "murderous" working environment that made them work up to 150 hours a week. The organizations reported Studio Dragon to the Seoul Employment and Labor Administration. The standards were agreed upon and announced by the studio last September to enhance the labor environment of its staff.
Studio Dragon responded to the allegations, saying they abided by its own labor rules, but admitted that they had filmed for 113 hours during the week they went to Brunei in order to make the most out of their time shooting overseas. The studio denied reports that an injured staff member was ignored and told to continue working.