An enticing story, detailed setting, and interesting characters – theses are the three things that make a great fantasy book series, and George R.R. Martin’s ongoing A Song of Ice and Fire, is one such series. Martin’s series, like other great fantasy, drives its hooks into the reader from very early on in the first book From then on, the reader continues with the series, investing time in the story, its characters, and the world they live in. That is why, when it was announced that Martin’s books would be adapted for television, book readers were both overjoyed… and uncertain. Overjoyed, because they would see their beloved series brought to life, and uncertain because they did not how faithful the show would be to the books.
For the most part, Game of Thrones does not diverge heavily away from Martin’s books, which kept readers such as myself mostly satisfied with the show. Admittedly, the showrunners even made some good changes to the story; but it is the bad changes they made such as altering storylines, rewriting character arcs, and straight up removing certain characters, that still irk those who read the books even now as season 6 approaches. Here are 10 bad changes the showrunners made to Game of Thrones.
10. Grey Worm & Missandei
For the most the part, the Grey Worm and Missandei that appear on TV are identical to the versions seen in the books; Grey Worm is a eunuch and commander of the Unsullied, and Missandei (who is supposed to be a plain-looking 11-year-old girl instead of the very grown-up and attractive Nathalie Emmanuel) is a slave who becomes Daenerys’ translator. What they did change however was the relationship between the two. In the books, they are at best acquaintances, and Grey Worm has no romantic feelings for Missandei, and she doesn’t develop any for him like she does on TV. The showrunners gave both readers and viewers a romantic subplot that took time away from the main story; and in a story that is already as big and complex as Game of Thrones, there is no reason to give extra screen time and personal character development to minor characters who don’t receive any in the books.
9. Quentyn Martell
The showrunners completely eliminated this character from the story. Quentyn is the son of Doran Martell, and a prince of Dorne in his own right. In the books, Doran sends his son with a handful of knights to find Daenerys and bring her back to Westeros. He has to pretend to be a mercenary for a while to do it, but he eventually finds and meets her in Meereen. When they meet, he reveals to her that his family made a pact with her brother that would see Viserys marry Quentyn’s sister so that Dorne could help the Targaryens take back Westeros. With Viserys dead however, it is up to Quentyn and Daenerys to marry to finalize the pact. She rejects his proposal and tells him to go home. Before he leaves though, he decides to try and tame one of her dragons… he gets burned alive and dies four days later.
8. Ser Barristan’s Death
This change is pretty self-explanatory, the showrunners killed off Sir Barristan Selmy while he is very much still alive in the books, and serving as commander of Meereen’s forces while the city is under attack after Daenerys flies off with Drogon and disappears. As much as they tried to make it a warrior’s death in the show, it wasn’t a death fitting a warrior of Barristan’s stature and integrity. Despite his old age, Barristan is still considered one of the best swordsman alive in the books, and his skills are in full display when he successfully defeats multiple veteran pit-fighters at once with little difficulty, and in the show he was killed by armorless foes wielding nothing but knives.
7. Strong Belwas
Belwas is a large eunuch and former pit-fighter who loves his battle scars, and really loves food. His role in the books is simple: he serves and protects Daenerys. He allows every opponent to cut him at least once before killing them, a statement that’s proven to be true when he fights and defeats the champion of Meereen (Dario fights the champion in the show). It should be noted that after he kills the champion, Belwas taunts onlookers from the city, then relieves his bowels in front of them and uses the dead man’s cloak to wipe himself. It is a shame that the showrunners had to remove this character from the show, because that would have been quite the scene to watch. Oh, and he also saves Daenerys’ life in the fighting-pits when he inadvertently eats all the poisoned food intended for her (don’t worry, he lives).
6. Davos At Castle Black
It’s true that Davos was with Stannis when he went north to help the Night’s Watch defeat the wildlings, and it’s also true that he stayed at Castle Black for a time, but he wasn’t just left there to do nothing while Stannis marched to Winterfell like he was in the show. In the books, Davos is sent to White Harbor so he can convince Lord Manderly there to join Stannis. Manderly refuses the offer and sentences him to death. Shortly after, Davos meets again with Manderly who says he staged Davos’ execution to appease the Lannisters who wanted him dead. He then tells Davos that he along with most of the north hate the Boltons, Freys and Lannisters for the Red Wedding, and that he will join Stannis if Davos goes and retrieves Rikon Stark who’s been hiding on the island of Skagos. His journey away from Castle Black continues…
5. Arianne Martell
Just like her little brother Quentyn, the showrunners took Arianne out of the story entirely. Arianne is the heir to Dorne, and believed her birthright was threatened by her father, who she also believed had no intention of seeking vengeance against the Lannisters for what they’ve done to their family. She devises a scheme where, in accordance with Dornish law, princess Myrcella (who lives in Dorne and is engaged to her youngest brother Trystane) would be declared the rightful ruler of Westeros instead of her brother Tommen; thus leading Dorne into war with the Lannisters. Her father stops her though, and temporarily imprisons her. When he releases her, he tells her his true plan, and restores the trust between them. She’s then sent on a mission to meet the new “Aegon Targaryen” (more on him later).
4. Lady Stoneheart
The absence of Lady Stoneheart is one change that the showrunners can still correct, and it’s one change that book readers really want them to rectify, because she is the only way that the Starks get any real form of payback. Lady Stoneheart is in fact Catelyn Stark, who was found in a river 3 days after the Red Wedding and brought back to life by Beric Dondarrion using the power of the Lord of Light. This wouldn’t be the Catelyn TV viewers remember though, as she’s unable to speak because of the opening in her throat, and looks very much like what you would expect a corpse to look like after staying in water for a prolonged period of time. She’s also consumed by revenge, and travels around the Riverlands with her outlaws, executing anyone with any affiliation to either the Freys, Boltons, or Lannisters.
3. Young Griff
The introduction of Young Griff in the books threw a wrench into the plans of everyone still vying to claim the Iron Throne for themselves. The reason for this is because the name Young Griff was an alias for Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar’s son with Ellia Martell and Daenerys’ nephew, who had supposedly been murdered as a newborn by Gregor Clegane (the Mountain). Allegedly, Varys switched Aegon with another baby before King’s Landing was sacked and sent overseas, where he was raised and trained by one of Rhaegar’s best friends. Now that he’s older, Aegon has returned to Westeros with his own army and plans to take the throne for himself. The showrunners though chose to remove Young Griff/Aegon from the story altogether, along with the curveball his presence provides to the overall story.
Yet another character that the showrunners chose to remove from the story, and he would’ve added some nice excitement to Sam and Bran’s storylines. Coldhands is a mysterious character who still hasn’t shown his face. He wears the clothes of the Night’s Watch, and seems to know what is happening within the organization; he also doesn’t breathe and looks like a wight (white walker zombie) with cold black hands. He is first introduced when he comes to the rescue of Sam and Gilly who were being attacked by wights. He brings them to the safety of the Wall, and tells them to find and bring Bran to him. They do so, and Coldhands escorts Bran and his group to meet the three-eyed crow, battling more wights and killing treasonous survivors of Craster’s Keep along the way. He also rode a giant elk and controlled a flock of ravens, which would have been nice to see on TV.
The worst change the showrunners made for the show has to be the Dorne story-line. Why? Because they changed virtually everything. Jamie and Bronn never go to Dorne to bring Myrcella back to King’s landing, Myrcella never dies, the sand snakes and their mother aren’t obsessed with killing her out of revenge for the mountain killing Obeyrn (they don’t target her whatsoever in the books, none of the Martells do), and prince Doran is much more cunning and vengeful than he is in the show. The Dorne story, is supposed to be more complicated, and revolve around Arianne (as mentioned earlier), and Doran who is secretly working towards both putting the Targaryens back into power, and annihilating the Lannisters for killing his brother, his sister, and both her children; but instead, the showrunners gave viewers a story revolved around Jaime trying to bring his daughter home.