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Things on Game of Thrones That Are Different in the Books

List RulesVote 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. 
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  • 1

    Oh, That’s What Dorne Is For

    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. 
  • 2

    Why the Stakes Were Higher for Margaery Tyrell on the Show

    Photo: HBO

    She matters in the books, too, but she’s more important in the series because she’s Mace Tyrell's big shot at royalty. The Tyrells need a royal bloodline to hold down House Tyrell into the future. In the books Willas and Garlan Tyrell are the brothers of Loras and Margaery. They don’t exist on the show.  

    With Loras in hot water with the Faith of the Seven on the show, it’s up to Margaery to get this "heir to the throne" thing done. However, if it ever comes out that Tommen is a bastard, bye bye crown. Can we just make Margaery Queen of Shade and Deceit already and give her the Throne? She’s earned it.  

    UPDATE: House Tyrell suffered a huge blow when Mace, Loras, and Margaery all died in Cersei's wildfire attack at the Great Sept. Now, it's up to Lady Olenna to avenge the Tyrells and ponder what could have been. 

  • 3

    More Characters Alive in the Books (So Far)

    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. 
  • 4

    Alive (for Now) in the Books

    Photo: HBO
    These characters are dead on the show but alive as of A Dance with Dragons:   
    Roose Bolton and Walda Frey: Still kicking it in the books. Ramsay killed both of them on the show. He stabbed Roose in the heart after Roose learned from the maester that Walda had given birth to a child. Ramsay lured Walda, carrying his newborn stepbrother, to the kennels and set his dogs on them.   
    Jeyne Westerling: Robb’s wife was not at the Red Wedding in the books. Robb’s wife Talisa got stabbed multiple times on the show.   
    Pyp and Grenn: These two Snow pals died in “The Watchers on the Wall” to make the audience feel feelings. The duo is still very much alive in the books. For now.   
    Rakharo and Irri: They’re out searching for Dany in A Dance with Dragons. On the show, Rakharo was killed off-screen and his body desecrated. Irri was strangled.   
    Pyat Pree, Hizdahr zo Loraq, and Xaro Xhoan Daxo: All are alive in the books as of Dance. All dead on the show.   
    Meryn Trant: Alive in the books. Killed in a Braavosi brothel by Arya Stark on the show, looking to finally avenge Eddard and Syrio.