In the run up to the latest–and last–season of the decade defining Game of Thrones, we at Set The Tape are throwing lots of lists in your face about this dense, complicated and fascinating world.
One of the most unique aspects of David Benioff & D.B. Weiss’ adaptation is how it became the first TV series to ever outpace the books it was bringing to the screen, given author George R. R. Martin writes all his novels with the pace of a White Walker riding a giant snail. It has forced the writers to be creative in how they craft Game of Thrones across each season, especially when the show overtook the source material.
Along the way, there have been course corrections and changes, or entire characters and plot lines completely left out or changed. Some you may know about, others may be a surprise, heck one or two *might* yet show up in the last six episodes (though it’s unlikely). In no particular order here’s five of the most interesting…
We should start with probably the wackiest idea Martin ever wrote down: zombie Catelyn Stark. Yes, you read that right. In the books, after Cat gets slaughtered by charming old Walder Frey at the ‘Red Wedding’ in ‘A Storm of Swords’ (aka ‘The Rains of Castamere’ in GoT Season 3), she doesn’t *quite* die. Those funsters the Brotherhood Without Banners, replete with their ‘red priest’ Thoros of Myr, channel a bit of mystical energy into Catelyn and turn her into, as American Gods might put it, a ‘dead wife’.
Rather than becoming a shambling, rambling corpse Lady Stark wandering the Westerlands, the so-named ‘Lady Stoneheart’ takes command of the Brotherhood and begins slaughtering and hanging anyone she can find involved in the Frey massacre, hell bent on undead vengeance. It’s all a bit The Walking Dead and you can kind of see why Benioff & Weiss avoided a zombie reunion between Arya and her zombified Momma.
OR DID THEY? Keen observers claim there could be a brief cameo from Stoneheart in the background of a Winterfell-based training sequence between Arya and Brienne of Tarth in Season 7’s ‘The Spoils of War’. Make of that what you will. Maybe when the undead invade the Stark home in the new season, Stoneheart and the Night King are headed for some after life action…
The Missing Greyjoy
Greyjoy’s are all over Game of Thrones. There’s Theon, or Reek Reek it sounds like Fleek (or something like that), who lost a lot more than his junk over the last seven years; Balon, one of the Five Kings tricked into war; Yara (or Asha in the books), the badass metrosexual sister; Euron, the bat-shit crazy uncle and even briefly Aeron, aka the Damphair, another brother who gets way more to do in the books.
But in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, there is another significant Iron Islander who the show chose to excise completely – the excellently named Victarion, who sounds like a lost Roman Emperor but in fact is a pretty powerful, terrifying naval General who in ‘A Feast For Crows’ very much becomes a competitor with Euron for the main job on Pyke after Balon’s demise. Victarion isn’t necessarily notable by his absence in the show (Euron is definitely the one you don’t want to leave out) but he could have been a powerful Theon/Yara ally if he existed in the series continuity.
Speaking of Euron, in the books he’s got the horn even more than he does in the series – specifically the Horn of Joramun, an ancient, magical WMD which could allow him to command dragons and possibly destroy the Wall. The only horn Euron is likely to brandish in the series will be around Cersei but in the books, where he’s an even more fascinating creation, we can expect Joramun’s Horn to get a blow or two.
The Missing Martells
Remember all the Dornish stuff in Season 5? No, I don’t blame you, nor do most people. After Oberyn Martell swaggered in during Season 4 and suffered one of the best deaths in GoT history, anticipation was high at just how his kickass daughters the Sand Snakes and his home of Dorne would enter the series. It ended up being all a bit, well… crap, to be fair. Worth it for a season of Jaime Lannister & Bronn having basically a lads holiday in the south and not much else.
Prince Doran was swiftly offed and after barely appearing in Seasons 6 and 7, the Sand Snakes and mother Ellaria Sand quickly (or in some cases, very very slowly…) bought the bullet thanks to Cersei and Euron in ‘Stormborn’ and ‘The Queen’s Justice’. The sad thing about all of this is that Dorne, and Dornish culture, is far more engaging in the books; in ‘A Feast for Crows’ we meet Quentyn Martell, another brother of Oberyn, who ends up on a prophetic quest he believes will result in him being the destined paramour of only the Mam of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen.
In short, there is a whole extra cadre of Martells and another Dornish plotline which adds the kind of depth and intrigue that Benioff & Weiss didn’t have time to do on the show. When all is said and done about GoT, how they ‘effed up Dorne could well stand as one of the series’ biggest missed opportunities, and a further reason why maybe 13 episode seasons wouldn’t have been a bad idea…
The Other Targ-heir-yan
Aka Aegon Targaryen, the true heir to the Iron Throne. Hang on a moment! We mean Jon Snow, surely? Given everyone *but* him knows he’s actually Aegon Targaryen, King of Andals and the yeah yeah yeah. Fine. We don’t mean *that* Aegon. It’s a common name in Westeros – more than a few Kings of yore have been called Aegon, including the Conqueror whose invasion led to the Seven Kingdoms 300 years before in the first place. Basically, all the cool Kings get named Aegon, and as it turns out, in the books, Daenerys has another brother she has no idea exists called Aegon too.
It’s Tyrion Lannister, on the run in ‘A Dance of Dragons’ after his fit of patricide, who first bumps into this unexpected candidate for the Iron Throne, travelling through the jungles of Essos. Known as ‘Young Griff’, he is under the protection of Lord Jon Connington, an exiled Westerosi noble and one of the key players in Robert’s Rebellion (also excised from the show), who is part of a grand conspiratorial web with the crafty Lord Varys and his rich Pentoshi ally Illyrio Mopatis (the guy who gifts Dany her dragon eggs), to restore the Targaryen dynasty by hiding and protecting the heirs of the Mad King, Aerys.
You can understand why Benioff & Weiss left out Griff/Aegon during Tyrion’s sojourn ultimately through Valyria with Jorah Mormont; throwing in another secret child called Aegon, given the Jon revelation to come, would likely have been overkill and awkward. In the books, it’s easier to play this plot-line out, especially if Jon ends up being named Jaehaerys instead (after another great Targaryen King of old). So this one may have been a wise character and plot to crop out.
Just watch this. It explains why Patchy’s absence is tragic better than I ever could.
What Game of Thrones character or plot line are you most sad the show never did? Let us know.