With the latest season of HBO’s Game of Thrones over and the television series drifting further and further away from it’s source material, there are certain storylines that we can safely say we will never get Benioff and Weiss’ take on. There are moments they've both outrightly said that they are not doing, there are moments that appeared on the show, albeit in very different circumstances, and there are moments that fans still hold out hope for, despite the showrunners’ assurance that they will never be visually adapted. As we approach the conclusion of the television show, let’s take a look at what some of the biggest omissions were when the story was translated from the books to the visual medium of tv, and rank them! (CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK. These bullet points are most likely never happening but if you still want to hold out hope or eventually want to read the books and still leave some incredible surprises for yourself, beware!)
12. Strong Belwas
For those of you not familiar with the source material, Barristan Selmy aka Barristan the Bold came into Dany’s service quite a different manner than he did on the show. He arrived under the false name of Arstan Whitebeard, supposedly squiring for Strong Blewas who Illyrio Mopatis sent along to serve Dany. Strong Belwas was a slave, a renowned pit-fighter in Meereen, who has supposedly never lost a fight. He’s even purposely lets his opponents cut him so he can count his scars to keep track of how many people he’s defeated.
His best moment, other than his ravaged stomach from eating those poisoned locusts, was when Dany besieges Meereen and a champion is sent forth from either side, much like in the show. Belwas is Dany’s champion and after allowing Oznak, the man fighting against him, a cut, he kills him and beheads him, holding it up for Meereen to see. Meereen tries to answer back with a flurry of arrows but they can’t reach him, so to had further insult to injury, he squats down and defecates in the direction of the city. Come on, isn’t this dude just screaming for visual adaptation?
Bad fighting, good dying. Strong Belwas hates it when they scream.
Believe it or not, Tyrion doesn’t just travel Essos with Jorah Mormont in the books. He meets up with Penny, a dwarf who was a part of an entertainment act with her brother, play-jousting on animals. They were apart of the performance at the Purple Wedding. Her brother, Oppo, is killed after being mistaken for Tyrion due to the price Cersei puts on his head after his escape, and Penny originally attacks him on sight. Penny represents a lot for Tyrion that seems quite important in terms of his character journey and complexity. She forces him to look at himself and his internalized self-hatred and bigotry, as well as furthering the representation of what happens to the small folk in a land ravaged by wars between kings. She is a brilliant foil for Tyrion, as is Brienne for Jaime, as they conflict their idealism with the cynical and deeply rooted Lannister pride. Also, she travels with a big pig (*that's a reference for all you "Cast of Thrones" listeners) named Pretty Pig and a dog named Crutch whom are pretty great, despite their inconvenience as travel partners.
She looks so young, he thought. A girl, that's all she is. A girl, and almost pretty if you can forget that she's a dwarf. Her hair was a warm brown, thick and curly, and her eyes were large and trusting. Too trusting.
10. Internal Tensions within the Walls of Winterfell
A thousand years before the Conquest, a promise was made, and oaths were sworn in the Wolf's Den before the old gods and the new. When we were sore beset and friendless, hounded from our homes and in peril of our lives, the wolves took us in and nourished us and protected us against our enemies. The city is built upon the land they gave us. In return we swore that we should always be their men. Stark men!
The day you make them all is the day you stop improving. (on missing an arrow shot)
8. TAENA MERRYWEEATHER
The Myrish woman was too beautiful by half; long-legged and full-breasted, with smooth olive skin, ripe lips, huge dark eyes, and thick black hair that always looked as if she'd just come from bed. She even smells of sin, like some exotic lotus.
7. Ultra Feral Skagosi Rickon Stark
Wyman Manderly’s secret “The North Remembers” plot goes so far as to stage Davos’ death and pledge fake allegiance to the crown in order to send him on a mission to retrieve Rickon Stark who is thought to be on Skagos, aka cannibal island. If Rickon wasn’t feral before, I can’t wait to see what he and Shaggydog look like after a return trip from Skagos! Beware what you might find Davos! Don’t we all want feral, cannibal, Rickon Stark to come in, riding on the back of a mad Shaggydog, wreaking havoc on Westeros? Maybe he’ll lead Nymeria’s wolfpack!
Roose Bolton has Lord Eddard's daughter. To thwart him White Harbor must have Ned's son ... and the direwolf. The wolf will prove the boy is who we say he is, should the Dreadfort attempt to deny him. That is my price, Lord Davos. Smuggle me back my liege lord, and I will take Stannis Baratheon as my king.
6. JON CONNINGTON
Jon Connington was the head of House Connington, previous Hand of the King to Aerys “The Mad King” Targaryen during Robert’s Rebellion, and close friend of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. He was thought to have died after being exiled to Essos for failing to find and kill Robert during a part of the rebellion known as the Battle of the Bells. We meet him in the books under the false name of Griff, when Tyrion ends up one of their traveling companions on the way to Dany as per Illyrio Mopatis’ instructions. He’s also traveling with his “son” Young Griff, who we eventually find out to be the once-thought-dead Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar and Elia Martell, one of the biggest shocks in the books (if it's true). Connington is also clearly in love with Rhaegar, referring to him as his “silver prince” several times throughout the text. His whole mission to protect and crown Aegon is in the name of the duty he had sworn to Rhaegar.
I failed the father, but I will not fail the son.
5. THE GREYJOY PLOT
-There's my lord husband. And here's my sweet suckling babe. (In reference to an axe and her dirk)-
-Peace. Land. Victory. I'll give you Sea Dragon Point and the Stony Shore, black earth and tall trees and stones enough for every younger son to build a hall. We'll have the northmen too ... as friends, to stand with us against the Iron Throne. Your choice is simple. Crown me, for peace and victory. Or crown my uncle, for more war and more defeat. What will you have, ironmen?-
-Cunt again? It was odd how men like Suggs used that word to demean women when it was the only part of a woman they valued.-
Also, it must be mentioned, the Euron Greyjoy we got on the show was not the crazy, gross, and terrifying Euron Greyjoy of the books who tells his brother Victarion “dumb as a stump* ” Greyjoy of all of his evil plans while he struts around naked with his eyepatch and blue lips that evolved from drinking too much shade of the evening. Just look at this glorious fan art that came out of it! An accurate adaptation would have been worth it for that alone! Just kidding, book-Euron is incredibly disturbing, but he's also more compelling and dimensional than what we got on the show!
*George’s words, not mine!
“Perhaps we can fly. All of us. How will we ever know unless we leap from some tall tower? No man ever truly knows what he can do unless he dares to leap.”
Tysha was Tyrion’s first wife, whom we were briefly told about in the show. He and Jaime had found her running in fear from men, so while Jaime had gone to ride them off, Tyrion cared for her, married her, and bedded her. They played at man and wife for a fortnight until the drunk septon who had married them sobered up and told Tywin Lannister. Tywin then told Jaime to tell Tyrion the truth, that Tysha was actually a whore they had hired, and that as his punishment for marrying a whore, all of the Lannister guardsman would take Tysha and pay her a silver while Tyrion watched. Tywin then forced him to go last and pay in gold because Lannisters are worth more.
However, when Jaime releases Tyrion from prison in the books after Oberyn loses the trial by combat, he confesses that Tysha wasn’t actually a whore and that she was just a girl who was genuinely in love with him. This moment, this truth, not only splinters Tyrion and Jaime’s relationship from that point forward, but motivates him to go up to his father’s chambers and strike the killing blow. It’s that pivotal moment that he changes, and decides to become the monster that everyone thinks he is. There’s also an incredible sad but beautifully charged dynamic that changes between Jaime and Tyrion at that point because Jaime, whom Tyrion idolizes, sort of dies in his mind because there is a part of him that is complicit in what happened to Tysha, in the sense that he knew and kept it silent. It even characterizes Jaime further because it further sets him for his journey of his redemption arc and really attempting to make an effort of doing some sort of good with his life. I do think he thought telling Tyrion the truth was doing that, clearing his conscious, however selfish that might be.t’s in that moment, Tyrion’s mindset starts to switch.
Thus, when Jaime asks him if he killed Joffrey, he says yes, because there is a level of resentment there now. He wants Jaime to feel what he feels, and his idolization of Jaime gets further stripped away when he realizes that Jaime would even begin ask him that question in the first place. Then, of course, he sticks the blade in further, at the detriment of their relationship for the rest of the series and a line that plagues and informs Jaime’s actions for the rest of the series “Cersei is a lying whore, she’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know.”
Tyrion in that moment, wanted to be the monster they all thought he was, and once he said it, you can’t take it back. It’s out there and it’s the hole he dives further into during the rest of his story. Also, knowing the truth about Tysha, really illuminating what a horrible and vile person Tywin was, pushes him. It’s that which makes him go up to Tywin’s chambers. He probably didn’t think he could kill Tywin, in all honesty, but he probably hoped, and it was probably a suicide mission of sorts. Shae was a shock and just furthered all of that but there would be no motivation, no push for the kill without that, let alone a push to even go up to the hand’s chamber. it also just creates a really great paralleling theme running through these siblings lives in terms of internal obsessions. All of them internalize everything and it’s what shapes, motivates and eats away at them. With Jaime, it makes him become the person he’s wanted to become by realizing what his relationship with Cersei actually is. The toxicity of the repeating line “….she’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know,” in his head helps reveal the toxicity of the relationship he’s based his whole life upon. He doesn’t have a redemption arch without this realization. Cersei’s obsessive nature, of course, revolves around the Maggy the Frog prophesy and what she forces it to be. She delves into pure paranoia and madness because of it, and makes quite a lot of detrimental decisions that are hard to understand if any of that motivation is not there. Then with Tyrion, his “where to whores go?” that Tywin utters when Tyrion asks him about Tysha before killing him.
You poor stupid blind crippled fool. Must I spell out every little thing for you? Very well. Cersei is a lying whore, she's been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know. And I am the monster they all say I am. Yes, I killed your vile son.
3. JAIME LANNISTER'S REDEMPTION ARC
I have made kings and unmade them. Sansa Stark is my last chance for honor.
2. ARIANNE MARTELL
Everyone can agree that the show version of Dorne is a mess, but one of the biggest changes was the removal of it’s central character though which we see the story though, Princess Arianne Martell, daughter of Doran Martell and heir to Dorne. Heir you say? But she’s a woman? Well actually, Dorne practices equal primogeniture so if the show had simply followed this line of thought, then maybe Ellaria and her crazy band of Sand Snakes wouldn't have gone on a murder rampage to ensure “weak men will never rule Dorne again.”
I can't speak about Arianne Martell and her beauty, inside and out, enough. Her story is about asserting her claim to the throne and securing her birthright, a right that she thinks her father plans to take from her and pass over to her younger brother Quentyn. What is a fight for her birthright through the act of attempting to crown Myrcella (yes crown, not murder) ends up actually being a beautifully constructed family drama where Doran and Arianne’s faults lie within the basis that they are incredibly similar and resistant to communication. What comes out of this is an incredible father-daughter relationship and also the best secret plan in the series; Doran had been long plotting an alliance with the Targaryens, despite his peoples insistence that he was immovable and weak, all along.
However, Arianne’s story was an important one to tell, not only because of it’s sheer literary beauty, but also as it deconstructs the stereotype Oberyn attempted to feed into in Kings Landing of the Dornish people. Oberyn went there to shock and stir things up, so he played right into the Westerosi hyper sexualized, brash, and shocking image of a Dornishman, yet when we get Arianne’s perspective, we see they’re nothing like that whatsoever. They're not their stereotype and Dorne very much becomes a driving force behind the story’s final act. Dorne and it’s representation of the “progressive”, the better that Martin clearly sets it up to be, is everything that Westeros could and should be, and thus, the exclusion of it’s most important plot line, player, and position in the greater story is a massive misstep and only further suggest that a story of a woman fighting for her birthright with plans, words, and actions, a woman with her own sexual agency and power, wasn’t a story that interested the showrunners.
“I am not blind, nor deaf. I know you all believe me weak, frightened, feeble. Your father knew me better. Oberyn was ever the viper. Deadly, dangerous, unpredictable. No man dared tread on him. I was the grass. Pleasant, complaisant, sweet-smelling, swaying with every breeze. Who fears to walk upon the grass? But it is the grass that hides the viper from his enemies and shelters him until he strikes.” - Doran Martell
“Do you see the white [star], Quentyn? That is Nymeria's star, burning bright, and that milky band behind her, those are ten thousand ships. She burned as bright as any man, and so shall I. You will not rob me of my birthright!” - Arianne Martell
1. LADY STONEHEART
"She don't speak. You bloody bastards cut her throat too deep for that. But she remembers.”- Lem Lemoncloak on Lady Stoneheart.