As one of the most successful running shows on HBO, Game of Thrones has become a cultural phenomena that seems to get better with every new season. Ever since Eddard Stark got his head chopped off in the Season 1 finale, audiences saw that this would be a completely different series that would change how we feel about favorite characters. No one is safe in Westeros and beyond, including favorite main characters.
When basing a television show off a best-selling book series, it can be tricky to navigate all the different complexities of the characters while staying true to the storyline. A great example was the HBO series, True Blood, where producers started straying from the book storyline early on in the series. While Season 1 rang true to The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, the series quickly veered off to create a completely different plot and character lineup. Many blamed this as the reason why the show started to dwindle in ratings, and ultimately came to an end.
HBO seemed to rectify this mistake with Game of Thrones, staying pretty much spot-on with the book series by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few small changes throughout the show. While Ed Skrein didn’t exactly have the dyed blue hair described in the book, he was a smoldering Daario Naharis that seemed to fit the bill. Yet, when he was offered the lead role in the Transporter film series, he quickly let go of his Game of Thrones character and the show had to find a replacement for Season 4.
This was a minor change that fans were able to get used to quickly, but something that’s a bit more difficult to stomach is the fact that some of the best characters from the book series are completely left out of the show. Check out our list of 12 characters that were left out of Game of Thrones, and see who’s missing from your favorite HBO series.
12 Kindly Man
When Arya Stark first arrives at the House of Black and White, she is met by a kindly old man that leads her onto the path of becoming in service of The Many-Faced God. A Feast for Crows introduces him with the face of a decrepit skull “and a white worm wriggling from one empty eye socket,” before he changes into “the kindliest old man that she had ever seen.” The television series left this character out, and replaced him with the Jaqen H'ghar character that fans felt attachment to from earlier on in the series. Maybe the production didn’t want to shell out extra cash to make a worm skull face, or have fans introduced to yet another character. Whatever the case, Jaqen H’ghar seems to fill the role nicely, and has become an integral character for the Arya Stark storyline.
11 Mance Rayder’s Son
When Mance Rayder made his first appearance on Game of Thrones, there wasn’t much backstory to his character beyond his former time as a man of the Night’s Watch. However, A Feast for Crows delves deeper into the romance between him and his wife, Dalla, who was pregnant during Stannis’s attack of the wildling camp. Dalla gives birth to a son, and this son is said to have “king’s blood” since he is the heir to the King Beyond the Wall. Rather than let Melisandre sacrifice him to The Lord of Light, Jon Snow swaps out Gilly’s baby for Mance’s son. While this may not seem like a crucial aspect to the show, it was a source of great pain for Gilly in the book series for her to have to give up her child.
Bran Stark’s ability to enter the minds of beasts as a warg is a huge aspect of the Game of Thrones series, since he seems to be the only person in the world that can also enter the minds of human beings. However, the book series depicts this warging ability as a Stark trait that Arya can do with her direwolf, Nymeria. The television show and the book series both agree that Nymeria is left to her own devices after the attack on Joffrey, but the show differs in her utter disappearance. The book series goes into great detail of Arya’s ability to enter the mind of Nymeria, and trusts what she sees and hears in her time as a direwolf.
9 Arys Oakheart
When Princess Myrcella is sent off to Dorne to be betrothed to Trystane Martell, Game of Thrones makes it seem like she is basically on her own. However, the book series features a prominent member of the Kingsguard going with Myrcella to Dorne. He is her personal guard, and plays a huge role in the delicate political structure surrounding House Martell. While he didn’t exactly betray House Lannister, he is persuaded to push for Myrcella being the new Queen rather than Tommen. Killed during a fight to seize Myrcella in order to put her on the throne, this might have been a reason why Game of Thrones left out his character. He was extremely likable, although weak with desire, which makes him a perfect candidate for the show to kill off in yet another shocking character death. However, they left him out and changed the kidnapping storyline to include Jaime Lannister instead.
While Hollywood is known to include dwarf actors on occasion, it’s very rare for a dwarf to get a substantial role – much less a recurring supporting actor role in a highly acclaimed television series. Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage, is a major character in both the books and the television series. Dinklage has not only excelled at the role, but has won numerous awards for his portrayal, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Proving that you don’t have to be tall in stature to become a successful actor in Hollywood, fans of the book series wondered who HBO would choose for his dwarf female counterpart, Penny. Penny and her brother, Oppo, were an entertainment group hired to perform at the wedding of King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell (unlike the show that used an all-male dwarf group). However, Oppo was killed by sailors who mistook him for Tyrion, and Penny was left alone (with her pig). Penny and Tyrion spend a lot of time together on the road to Meereen, which was conveniently left out of the television series. As if it couldn’t be more difficult for a female dwarf to get a good role on television, the one hope they had for Game of Thrones was cut out before anyone could even audition.
7 Arianne Martell
There are only a few families in Game of Thrones that recognize the power of their women. While most places in Westeros women are treated as property, House Tyrell and House Martell have a more matriarchal view on females. Lady Olenna rules the roost at House Tyrell and House Martell recognizes age as the defining characteristic for its rulers, not gender. Arianne Martell is one of the biggest feminist characters in the book series, and yet she was completely taken out of the HBO show. Daughter to Dornish leader, Doran Martell, she is the heir to Dorne and the key manipulator in the plot to kidnap Princess Myrcella. There would have been some steamy scenes with her sexual relationship with Arys Oakheart and a great plotline with the “Myrcella for Queen” campaign, but the HBO Gods have spoken and she is nowhere to be seen.
6 Blue Bard
In an effort to remove Margaery as Queen, Cersei has quite an elaborate scheme played out in A Feast for Crows. Since Queen Margaery constantly surrounds herself with only women, it’s difficult for Cersei to drum up accusations of infidelity. However, Blue Bard is a favorite musician used by House Tyrell, and the perfect scapegoat for Cersei’s plan. Cersei enlists Qyburn’s help in torturing Blue Bard and forcing him to confess to sleeping with Margaery, even though it’s not true. During the process of torture (removing an eye and a nipple), Blue Bard also starts naming other false lovers, which leads to the path of Margaery’s ultimate arrest. While the show does have Margaery arrested and sent to the High Sparrow, they left out some really great scheming on Cersei’s part and of course, another torture scene that never seems to get old.
5 Taena Merryweather
Taena Merryweather is the wife of Orton Merryweather, and first makes her appearance in the book series in A Storm of Swords. Fans of the books can forgive the fact that her appearance at Tyrion’s trial for killing King Joffrey was left out, but it’s the storyline in A Feast for Crows that HBO fans really missed out on. Taena gets into Cersei’s good graces by informing her that her maid, Senelle, had been spying on her for Queen Margaery. Senelle is sent to Qyburn for “examining,” but it’s the relationship between Taena and Cersei that has the juiciest plot. Cersei and Taena share a few moments of girl-on-girl action, even sleeping in the same bed. This would show a different side to the Cersei character shown on Game of Thrones, and its a difficult to understand why producers decided to leave this character out.
4 Aegon Targaryen
It doesn’t seem like they did a very good job at wiping out the Targaryen bloodline when they overthrew the Mad King, since so many made it out alive. A huge part of the conflict with Dorne was the fact that The Mountain killed Elia Martell, Oberyn’s sister, at the behest of Tywin Lannister. He “raped her, he murdered her, he killed her children!” was part of the dying words of Oberyn Martell during the battle against Gregor Clegane. However, the book series tells a very different account of what happened to Elia’s son, Aegon Targaryen. Swapped with another child, Aegon was whisked away to live under guard of House Connington’s, Jon Connington. While he couldn’t mask his purple Targaryen eyes, his silver hair was dyed blue to ensure he wouldn’t be seen for who he really was. Traveling with Tyrion Lannister (who figures out his true identity pretty quickly), Aegon is the perfect match to marry Daenerys. Yet, he is nowhere to be seen in the series, and fans are left wondering when they will finally meet this blue-haired handsome new Targaryen character.
3 Osney Kettleblack
Not many of the Kingsguard are mentioned in Game of Thrones, unless its substantial characters like The Hound or Jaime Lannister. However, Osney and Osmund Kettleblack are prominent figures in A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. Osney kills the High Septon on Cersei’s orders, and is an integral part in Cersei’s arrest by the High Sparrow. When Blue Bard names Osney Kettleblack as one of the false lovers of Margaery Tyrell, the High Sparrow decides to torture Osney to get a more detailed account of this supposed affair with the Queen. Of course, under torture, Osney spills the beans on what his true crimes are, which include sleeping with Cersei on more than one occasion. This is another plot that blows up in Cersei’s face, and would have been a great way to draw out Cersei’s scheming on the show. Especially since George R.R. Martin has yet to write a new book, this would have been a way to prolong getting past the book series and would have involved some juicy sex scenes between Cersei and Kettleblack.
2 Jeyne Poole
When Sansa and Arya accompany their father to King’s Landing, they definitely didn’t go alone. There was a whole party of people that went with them, including Sansa’s best friend and daughter to a Winterfell steward, Jeyne Poole. Although the majority of the Stark party was murdered once Eddard Stark was arrested, Jeyne Poole survived the massacre and was used by Little Finger and the Lannisters to bring Roose Bolton into the fold. Masquerading her as Arya Stark (since nobody really remembers what she looks like anyway and they can’t find her), they marry her off to Ramsay Bolton. This is quite a change from the marriage of Sansa Stark to Ramsay Bolton that is depicted in the HBO adaptation, and it makes fans wonder what other deviations to the plotline do they have in store.
1 Lady Stoneheart
Beric Dondarrion is briefly shown in Game of Thrones, as the man that was repeatedly brought back to life by The Lord of Light and fought The Hound and lost. However, he had a much more important role in A Storm of Swords, since he was the man that brought Catelyn Stark back from the dead. It definitely wasn’t an easy feat, since she was dead for three whole days before he was able to resurrect her, so she assumed a completely new identity known as Lady Stoneheart. With her body submerged in water for so long, her skin isn’t exactly in the best condition – not to mention the gaping hole in her throat from being slit. It isn’t just her appearance that has changed. As the leader of The Brotherhood Without Banners, she embarks on a merciless hunt to kill each and every person that has wronged her family and becomes a major force to be reckoned with in the book series. So, where is she in Game of Thrones?