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Share to PinterestGame of Thrones: What's the Difference Between the Book and the Show?

Game of Thrones: What's the Difference Between the Book and the Show?

By Sean Martin
Share to PinterestGame of Thrones: What's the Difference Between the Book and the Show?

It seems impossible to believe that HBO phenomenon, Game of Thrones, is about to end. After all, it feels like only yesterday we were introduced to the Starks and co. The TV show would have never come to be without its source material: the “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series by George R. R. Martin. However, changes had to be made in the switch between mediums; Tyrion, for example, isn’t as attractive as his actor, Peter Dinklage. In fact, there are a lot of differences between the Game of Thrones books and the TV show. Be warned - there might be spoilers ahead.


Mance Rayder is Still Alive

During the show's fifth season, Mance Rayder, leader of the Free Folk, is taken to be burned at the stake. In the scene, Melisandre sets fire to him after a lengthy monologue designed for an evil witch and witch alone. Without her knowledge, Jon Snow takes pity on Rayder and sends an arrow through his heart. It's not too different in the books. Mance Rayder's body is still technically burned alive, but Melisandre works her magic and switches his soul with Rattleshirt's. I mean, even a wicked Priestess might need some help later on.

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Catelyn Stark is Brought Back From the Dead

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In the show, those who hadn't read the books were shocked when Catelyn Stark's throat was cut during the Red Wedding. That being said, while Catelyn does technically die in the books, it's not for long. In "A Storm of Swords," Catelyn's body is thrown into the icy waters and discovered by the Brotherhood without Banners. Lord Beric Dondarrion gives his life to revive her, but when she comes back, her body still mutilated, and she seeks vengeance on the Lannisters. Once this happens, she becomes known as Lady Stoneheart and her list of victims wind up even longer than Arya's. It's kind of a shame she wasn't brought back on the show, too.


Sansa Stark Never Marries Ramsay Bolton

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The show has Sansa marry the ruthless, violent Ramsay Bolton. Anyone who thought Sansa was - albeit understandably - a little depressed in the show can breathe a sigh of relief at this. In the book "A Feast for Crows," she and Lord Petyr were hanging out at the Eyrie the entire time. It's actually her best friend, Jeyne who is married off, while posing as Arya. Essentially, all the abuse is happening to Jeyne in the North while Sansa and Littlefinger are relaxing untouched.


Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen Never Met

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One of the show's most gloriously aesthetic scenes consists of Tyrion and Daenerys sitting across from each other. In the books, Tyrion does make the trek to Meereen, but he doesn't get to meet the Mother of Dragons. The show, on the other hand, makes the two close compatriots. Show Tyrion is made to be Daenerys' trusted adviser and maintains order - if you can call it that - in the kingdom when she's away. Book Tyrion? He's never given the option.


Arya’s Kill List Was Her Own Idea

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Arya is a lot of people's favorite character, in both the books and beyond. In fact, it's hard for the little warrior not to be liked. If you're not on her List, that is. Arya's list in both is essentially a "to-do" list on who she's going to kill. Notable differences on the show are the addition of Melisandre and Walder Frey, though she's not sure of her name. However, it isn't just the people on the list that's a little different. In season two, Arya is given the idea to create a death prayer by Yoren. In "A Clash of Kings," on the other hand, the list is her own idea.


The White Walkers Don’t Look Like Ghost-Zombies

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When it comes to visuals, it's hard to translate what's on the page to something onscreen. With reading, everyone can picture their own version of what's being described; whereas onscreen, creative decisions have to be made. The White Walkers fit into this distinction. In the books, they're known as "Others," and they aren't actually dead. They're also described as looking more human, but skeletal with ice-white skin and armor that seems to change color in the light. To better describe it, let’s just say that George R. R. Martin told the costume department that they’re almost Sidhe-like.


There’s a Good Reason That Lysa Arryn is Crazy

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There are so many jokes and memes within the Game of Thrones fandom that reference Lysa Arryn. She's basically become the crazy girlfriend meme of Westeros. None of what Lysa does in the show makes sense; she comes across as unhinged and slightly psychotic. All right, very psychotic. "A Storm of Swords" goes into her backstory and explains a little about why she is the way she is. We just never get that in the show. Also, while that doesn't technically change the plot, it still shapes a plot hole the size of the moon door.


Cersei Never Slaps Joffrey

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The world cheered when Cersei lost her temper and lashed out on Joffrey in season two. Joffrey might be the most hated character of all time, in the Game of Thrones universe and beyond. Getting to see his mother finally have enough of him was glorious. In the books, however, this doesn't happen. Book Cersei would never harm her devil child; she even goes so far as to forbid Robert from laying a hand on any of the Lannister kids.


Jon Snow is Officially Made a Stark

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Believe it or not, in the books, Robb Stark officially legitimizes Jon Snow's place in the House of Stark. When Robb thinks all of his siblings are dead, he makes the decision to make Jon his successor. In the show, even as he sits as King of the North, Jon Snow isn't a legitimate heir to the throne. He's still a Snow, not a Stark. And despite being a Stark being his biggest wish growing up, he seems to continually avoid it as best he can. If you ask us, Book Robb knew this would happen, and that's why he enforced it himself.


Most of the Main Characters Are Much Younger

On the show, most of the cast is at least ten years older than the characters are in the books. Although this tends to be something most of Hollywood does and it makes sense, given the mature themes in the show, stories like Jon’s and Arya’s are even better when you know how old they are in the books. Arya, for example, is 9-10. Jon, 19. When Daenerys gets married to Khal Drogo, she’s just 13. George R. R. Martin also wanted the characters to be younger because of the brevity of life expectancy at the time around when the stories are based. It makes sense. Not only that, but it makes Arya's kill list even more impressive.

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