When it comes to adaptations, there’s always a delicate balance between staying true to the source material and making changes to fit the new medium.
HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s Dark Fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is no exception.
In this blog post, we’ll explore 21 differences between the book series and the TV series that may surprise even the most devoted fans. So, sit your booty down in your Iron Throne and let’s gooooo!
SPOILERS GALORE, my friends, so beware.
1. A Younger Cast
In the books, the characters are notably younger than their TV counterparts. For instance, Robb Stark and Jon Snow are only 14 when the story begins, while Daenerys Targaryen is just 13. The TV series aged up the characters to make the actors’ portrayals more believable.
2. Lady Stoneheart
In the novels, Catelyn Stark is resurrected as Lady Stoneheart, a vengeful undead character. However, the TV series decided not to include this storyline.
3. The Fate of Stannis Baratheon
In the books, Stannis Baratheon’s storyline is still ongoing, but in the TV series, he meets his end at the hands of Brienne of Tarth.
4. Ser Barristan Selmy’s Death:
In the TV series, Ser Barristan Selmy dies during a battle in Meereen. However, in the books, he’s still alive and plays an active role in the events unfolding in Westeros.
5. The Martells
The Martell family’s storyline in the books is much more extensive, with characters like Arianne and Quentyn Martell playing significant roles. In the TV series, the Martells’ story is simplified, and several characters are left out. RIP, Oberyn. 🥺
6. Mance Rayder’s Fate
Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, is burned alive (!!) in the TV series, but in the books, it’s revealed that his death was faked and he’s still kicking around North of the Wall.
7. The Night’s King
In the TV series, the Night King is a terrifying leader of the White Walkers. However, in the books, the Night’s King is only mentioned as a legendary figure from the past.
8. Young Griff
In the books, a young man named Young Griff claims to be Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, and he has a significant role in the story. However, he’s completely absent from the TV series.
9: Sansa Stark’s Storyline
Sansa’s storyline in the TV series diverges significantly from the books. She marries Ramsay Bolton and suffers horrific abuse (not cool, Dan & Dave, not cool at all), while in the books, she remains in the Vale. It’s actually Jeyne Poole who’s married to Ramsay under the guise of Arya Stark.
10. The Tysha Reveal
In the books, Jaime reveals to Tyrion that Tysha, his first wife, was not a prostitute and genuinely loved him. This revelation leads to a bitter parting between the brothers. However, this twist is totally omitted from the TV series.
11. Greyjoy Uncles
In the books, there are three Greyjoy uncles – Euron, Victarion, and Aeron – with their own storylines. The TV series only includes Euron and combines elements of the other uncles into his character.
But let’s be real… this one was a welcome change. Because, who needs more Greyjoy Uncles?? Not I, not I.
12. The Brotherhood without Banners
In the TV series, the Brotherhood without Banners plays a much smaller role, while in the books, they have a more extensive storyline and are directly connected to Lady Stoneheart.
In the books, Coldhands is a mysterious, undead figure who helps Bran Stark and his companions. In the TV series, Coldhands is revealed to be Benjen Stark, though his true identity remains a mystery in the books.
14. The Blackfish’s Fate
In the TV series, Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully is killed during the siege of Riverrun. In the books, however, he manages to escape and is still at large.
15. Shireen Baratheon’s Fate
In the TV series, Shireen Baratheon is burned alive by her father, Stannis, as a sacrifice. In the books, Shireen is still alive, and her ultimate fate remains unknown.
The TV show truly is brutal to the female characters. I’m lookin’ at you, Little Bear. GAH!
16. The Sandsnakes
In the books, the Sandsnakes are the daughters of Oberyn Martell and have unique, individual storylines. In the TV series, their roles are reduced, and their storylines are combined and altered (and one of the worst parts of the TV show, tbh).
17. The Battle of Ice
In the books, there is a significant battle called the Battle of Ice, involving Stannis Baratheon and the Boltons. This battle is not depicted in the TV series, but elements from it are incorporated into the Battle of the Bastards.
18. Loras Tyrell’s Imprisonment
In the TV series, Loras Tyrell is imprisoned by the Faith Militant for being gay. In the books, Loras is severely injured during a siege, and his imprisonment does not occur.
19. Varys and Illyrio’s Plot
In the books, Varys and Illyrio are revealed to have been working together to support Young Griff, who they claim is Aegon Targaryen. This plot is entirely absent from the TV series.
20. Jeyne Westerling
In the books, Robb Stark marries Jeyne Westerling instead of Talisa Maegyr, as seen in the TV series. The circumstances and consequences of their marriage are different in the two versions.
21: The Prophecies:
Prophecies… so many prophecies. Prophecies, dreams, and visions that are integral to the book series are either altered or omitted in the TV series. For instance, the prophecy of the valonqar (a younger sibling who would kill Cersei) is not mentioned – in name – in the TV show.
Game of Thrones, the Dark Fantasy TV show, brought Martin’s story to life in an unprecedented way (million dollar budgets, anyone?!?), but the books give you a more in-depth and complex narrative.
As a fan, it’s worth experiencing both versions! Which do you think is better, the book or the show?