tv programs Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books

Lisa Waugh
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List Rules Vote up the most important differences between the HBO's Game of Thrones and the book series

SPOILERS for purist book readers and show-watchers alike! Proceed with caution.   
 
If we recounted all of the Game of Thrones show and book differences, we’d type more words than George R.R. Martin needs to finish The Winds of Winter, so we’ll stick to the changes Game of Thrones made from the books that pertain to the most relevant events of this season.   
 
Why all of the changes? It’s a huge series with hundreds of thousands of pages of details that only the bold and brave could adapt to the screen, given budget and time. Hats and helms off to Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss for not only tackling the adaptation but also doing a hell of a job.  
 
Just don't ask Martin's editor, Jane Johnson. She's hated on many ways the show has handled the book material, including calling the depiction of Loras's sexuality "cartoonish." And don't get her started on what happened to Ser Barriston Selmy.

Johnson is definitely not alone, either. There are fans out there that will grouse about this and that, but overall, the show has been a hit, right? It’s simply not possible to include every storyline and character across George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire unless the series ran for over a decade. The show has had to make some decisions on what stays in, what gets melded together, and what is created out of whole cloth to demonstrate aspects of the books that the POV chapters can’t convey on-screen.    
 
Still, diehards despise the way the show goes many times. But what is Martin to do? Considering that Weiss and Benioff work closely with Martin, it’s not like they’re off on their own recklessly spitballing... right? Martin has made it clear that he’ll do what he pleases with the coming books while he also consults on many of the storylines the show has put forth. Although he had said that the showrunners are way more bloodthirsty than he is.   
 
What do you think of the differences between Game of Thrones and the books? Hate, love, or meh? Vote for your favorite GoT show vs. books changes. 

More Characters Alive in the B... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
Mance Rayder: Dead on the show when he refuses to bend the knee. Jon mercy-kills him with an arrow before he can burn at the stake. In the books, Melisandre glamors Rattleshirt to look like Mance and the wilding is burnt at the stake, instead of Mance.   
 
Barristan Selmy: The knight is Dany’s Hand of the Queen in the books and is holding down the fort in Meereen as she finds her way back. On the show, Ser Barristan is killed in an attack of the Sons of the Harpy.   
 
Myrcella Baratheon: Alive in the books, sans one ear. In the show, she dies as a result of a poison kiss from Ellaria Sand shortly after telling Jaime that she knows he is her father. And… scene.   
 
Doran and Trystane Martell: Both alive in the books, with Doran trying to play neutral while also aligning with Daenerys. On the show? Doran is killed by Ellaria. Trystane is killed by his cousin Obara.   
 
Shireen and Selsye: Stannis hasn’t gotten around to burning Shireen at the stake and we haven’t read that his wife hung herself from grief and guilt, as happened on the show. But the books are headed there. 

Hardhome Is Seen on the Show is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
Since the book series uses only the POV of each character, we don’t have a character amidst the action at Hardhome. We only hear about it after the fact. On the show, we get a close-up look at the horror of the Night King and his power to raise a wight army from the dead. We also get to see Jon Snow in action, wielding the Valyrian sword Longclaw and making pellet ice out of a White Walker. 

Others vs. White Walkers is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
In the books, the undead leaders of the wight army are called the Others. The show calls them White Walkers. In the books, Old Nan calls the frozen undead folks White Walkers. The show adopted that term across the board because it was less confusing. 

Bronn’s Storyline Got Beefed U... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
As of Dance, Bronn moves up in the world after a duel over his loyalty to Tyrion. There’s not much else to his story. He may pop up in The Winds of Winter and play a bigger role, only George Martin knows for sure. On the show, however, Jerome Flynn is a hit. He’s been given a buddy cop role alongside Jaime.  
 
Bronn is a breath of fresh air when he’s on screen, whether it’s in the boring Dorne or the dreariness of Riverrun. He’s got jokes, face pulls, and BS-calling. 

Night’s King vs. Night King is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
Even we have been making this (possible) mistake. The Night King on the show is the leader of the White Walkers. The Night’s King in the books is specifically the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who turned evil when he married an Other lady and ruled the sworn brothers with sorcery and brutality.   
 
Many argue that the Night King is NOT the Night’s King. The Children sacrificed a man at the sacred weirwood tree to become the first White Walker. That man could have been Brandon the Bloody Blade, a Stark who murdered many of the Children, or someone else entirely, who became the Night’s King later. But is he also the Night King in the series? Two different characters? Same guy? Does it matter? He can bring winter and darkness by raising his arms, guys! We’ll ask for ID later.     

Oh, That’s What Dorne Is For is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
Arianne Martell is a character from the books that makes Dorne make sense. She is the daughter of the Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell. She seeks revenge for the death of Oberyn Martell, who was killed by the Mountain. Oberyn sought vengeance for the rape and death of his sister Elia Martell and her children.  
 
Arianne plots to set up Myrcella Baratheon as queen of the Seven Kingdoms in order to take on the Lannisters. It’s a whole thing. And it goes horribly awry. Myrcella loses an ear. Arianne is locked away in a tower by her father. She goes on a hunger strike. He reveals his plans to support Daenerys in order to shore up the Martells.   
 
Ellaria Sand takes up a piece of the Arianne Martell story as mother to the Sand Snakes. Ellaria is not about the violence in the books, but she’s all about it on the show, stabbing Doran right in the heart. 

Is Aegon Targaryen Going to Ap... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
Tyrion is smuggled out of King’s Landing after killing Tywin and Shae. He goes to Illyrio’s spot to rest up before heading on to Meereen. Instead of traveling with Varys, as he does in the show, he makes the journey with Griff and Young Griff or Aegon Targaryen. Aegon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys’s nephew and probably Jon’s daddy. Varys and Illyrio had a hand in spiriting the child away before the Mountain could kill him.  
 
So far, we haven’t seen Aegon on the show. He may turn up before the series wraps. He’s an important Targ in the scheme of things.   

UPDATE: The season 6 finale may have given us one huge clue about who Aegon T is at least in the series. Lip-reading experts aka as fans with really good eyesight thought they could make out Lyanna saying, "His name is Aegon." What?! Jon Snow is Aegon Targaryen?! 
Hold the back door! 

The Hound’s “Death” in the Boo... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books
Photo: HBO
In the books, Sandor is severely wounded by his brother Gregor’s minions (the Tickler and Polliver) at an inn. He takes them out but is nearly killed himself. Wounded, stinking, and suffering from infection, he begs Arya to kill him. She doesn’t and walks away, heading for Braavos. He is found by a brother of the Seven (a former knight known as Elder Brother), taken to the Quiet Isle and nursed back to health, and then serves the septry as a gravedigger. Or he (the Hound) dies as the traveling septon says he does and is buried there while Sandor Clegane the man lives on. However you like your metaphors served up.   
 
On the show, Brienne and Pod happen upon Sandor and Arya. Brienne believes the girl to be in danger, reminds everyone once again of her vows to Catelyn, and fights the Hound. Brienne severely damages the Hound, ending the battle, by pushing him off a cliff. He lies bleeding and broken, begging Arya to kill him. She does not. She takes his money, walks away, and heads for Braavos. Sandor is found by a traveling septon, Brother Ray, and is nursed back to health.  
 
Apples, oranges. Another set for the Quiet Isle reveal of the Hound’s fate probably didn’t make sense budget-wise.