George R.R. Martin’s Epic Fantasy Series “A Song Of Ice And Fire” already had a cult following at the turn of the century, long before HBO approved David Benioff and D.B Weiss’ TV Adaptation “Game Of Thrones”. And just like any adaptation, changes from printed paper to the screen had to be made by the producers themselves. And just like any adaptation, horde of angry fans were to eventually come out and let their dissatisfaction known.
However, there are changes brought to the TV series that caught fans by surprise, for they actually either enhanced, or improved a particular storyline. Here are 10 changes that improved the show, solidifying it as its own entity to enjoy in parallel with the books:
10- Jon Snow Heads To Craster’s Keep And Kills The Night’s Watch Mutineers
While the mutiny did occur in the books, and it did seal the fate of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, the mutineers were not dealt with in the same manner. In “A Dance With Dragons”, once they’ve finished pillaging Craster’s reserves and wives, they head south, only to be killed my the mysterious figure Coldhands, paving the way for Bran and his group to head towards the Three Eyed Raven.
In the Show however, the producers decided to seal the fate of Mormont and the “Daughter Fookin’ Wildling Bastard” Craster at the hands of a newly introduced brother of the Nights Watch, Karl “The Fookin’ Legend” Tanner, a character that could have gotten more time to shine on screen. They also had the mutineers kidnap Bran and his group as hostages for a later ransom to be collected.
Knowing of the danger these loose ends would have should Mance Rayder’s army reach and torture them for information on Castle Black, Jon Snow insisted these traitors had to be dealt with. Taking a small group with him, they marched North and dealt with them in another battle for the show.
Jon ended up fighting Tanner 1 on 1 and gave us one of the most brutal deaths in the show thus far. That’s got to hurt….
9 – The Hound And Brienne Fight To The Death
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Brienne of Tarth never meet in the books (Or do they?). In any case, Brienne does head for the Riverlands in search of Sansa Stark, and the Hound dies of the wounds he receives after the fight at the tavern.
The show however, decided to give “The Adventures of Arya and the Hound” more screen time, by first not having it end at the Tavern. We got the Hound express his love for chickens, Arya recuperate her sword Needle, and their adventures in the Riverlands continued. They head to the Eyrie and leave shortly after learning that Lysa, Arya’s aunt, has died, unbeknownst to them that Sansa was there as well.
Brienne, on her mission to find Sansa, bumps into Arya and the Hound, and a battle of epic proportions between the two large knights ensues… The Hound is left defeated and Brienne continues her search.
8 – Sansa Returns To Winterfell And Marries Ramsay Bolton
This one might split the crowd. In the books, Sansa remains in the Vale and learns the game of politics with Littlefinger. Ramsey marries Jeyne Poole, a childhood friend from Winterfell of Sansa that the show didn’t specifically mention, thinking it’s Arya Stark.
Had it been left as such, Sansa’s storyline would have stalled rather quickly, and viewers may have been confused about a new character being introduced. Hence the decision to merge the storyline with Sansa, at the expense of having her being deflowered in the most horrific way possible. A controversial scene that is still a hot topic that splits the fans
7 – Ygritte & Mance Rayder Attack Castle Black At The Same Time
The Battle of Castle Black is such an important event in the series, it got its own episode entirely dedicated to it. In the books, the battle occurs over many days of Wildling attacking Castle Black from the South and from the Wall, to the point of a Siege being put in place by Mance Rayder’s forces. The battle ends a few days after once Stannis’ troops arrive to aid the Nights Watch.
Wanting to include all the major events from the Siege and from the attacks from the South in 1 episode, the best course of action was to have them both attack at night, where the Crows might be tired, and where Mance’s “Biggest Fire The North Has Ever Seen” could actually be… seen. This led to “The Watchers On The Wall” being heralded as one of the best episodes of the series so far.
6 – Bronn Commands The City Watch
Jerome Flynn portrays Bronn the Sellsword so accurately, it made sense to give him more screen time with Tyrion. Having him being the commander of the City Watch once Tyrion sends Janos Slynt to the Wall only made sense. The Hand of the King, and his trusted Sellsword to keep the peace in the capital where he rules.
Plus, it gave us this unforgettable quote from Bonn:
5 – Jaqen H’ghar Is The “Kindly Man” In Braavos
Once Arya reaches Braavos in “A Feast For Crows”, she uses the coin of the Faceless Men that Jaqen H’ghar had given her at Harrenhall in “A Clash Of Kings”. She heads to the House of Black and White where she meets the “Kindly Man” that guides her through her training on becoming “No One”.
Given the praises that Maisie Williams and Tom Wlaschiha who portray Arya and Jaqen respectively, both got for their chemistry and dynamic on screen. The producers decided to have Wlaschiha return to guide Arya’s Training. Many fans were happy to see pop up on the IMDB listing for the episode “The House Of Black In White”.
4 – Joffrey, And Not Cersei, Orders That Robert’s Bastards Be Killed
Following Robert Baratheon’s death from his wife Cersei’s scheming, and given her secret about Joffrey’s true parentage being leaked by Ned Stark, Cersei decides to have all of her late husbands bastards killed, one by one. In the show however, that task got assigned by the newly coronated King Joffrey Baratheon in order to remove any potential heir with authentic Royal Baratheon blood.
Having this change made the viewers hate Joffrey even more, as if he didn’t already get enough hate. Who would vouch for a King that gets newly born infants killed in a brothel in front of their mother.
3 – Jeyne Westerling Is Replaced By Talisa Maegyr Of Volantis
That one will also split the crowd in 2. Many die hard fans wanted the original story: One night, Robb Stark, the King in the North, decides to unwind after weeks and weeks of fighting (winning) battles. He “dishonors” a noble girl, Jayne Westerling, and in order to maintain her honor, and his as well, marries him.
This marriage breaks the vow he had sworn to Walder Frey, which not only infuriates the Lord of Crossing, but also the Westerling family as well, who is sworn to the Lannisters. When it comes to the Red Wedding, Jeyne is conveniently not present and avoids the blood bath altogether.
The producers decided to add a romantic storyline instead. Here comes this nurse from Volantis, across the Narrow Sea, and between her and Robb, it’s love at first sight. Robb ends up breaking his vow not because of honor, but because of love, adding it to his list of mistakes he makes that cost him the war (and his life).
Having her pregnant, and announce the baby to be named “Eddard” while at the Wedding, makes her death be the most shocking death as the massacre begins.
2 – Jon Snow Heads To Hardhome
In the books, the Wildlings that survived the Battle of Castle Black head to Hardhome to regroup and figure the next step. Word of something troublesome that happened there reaches the Wall from captured Wildlings. Jon Snow decides to see what happened there, along with Tormund and other Wildlings, but before his plan comes to fruition, his brothers stab him “For The Watch”.
In the show however, we got the surprise of all surprises thus far. Book Readers and Show Watchers together stood in awe as the Battle of Hardhome was happening, taking over 30 minutes, more than half the time of the entire episode. We got to see Wildlings get massacred by the White Walkers, and we finally got 2 Major Reveals: We finally got to see the Night King. And it was confirmed that Valyrian Steel, forged in Dragonfire, kills the White Walkers, the same way Dragonglass does.
All in all, 30 minutes of battle that left us on the edge of our seats, since no one knew what was to happen, as this was 100% original material for the show, not yet described in the books.
1 – Arya Stark Becomes Tywin Lannister’s Cupbearer At Harrenhal
In “A Clash Of Kings”, Arya becomes the cupbearer of Roose Bolton after Tywin Lannister vacates the ruined castle. Even though she knows he’s one of her brother’s bannerman, she doesn’t trust him enough to reveal to him who she really is.
The show however, decided to change things up in a brilliant way which gave us one of the best chemistry and dialogue driven moments in the show thus far. By having Tywin call her up on her many ruses, (knowing she’s not a boy, or a peasant) a mutual respect between those 2 characters whose families are directly at war with each other was immediately instilled.
It is also one of the only moment in the show where Tywin Lannister, the most brutal and powerful man in Westeros, got to open up: to a completely unknown girl he knew couldn’t use it against him. He revealed the story of his father and why the legacy of his family is so important.
These moments were unequivocally praised by critics, fans, and even Charles Dance himself, who portrays Tywin Lannister. He has stated multiple times that working his scenes with Maisie Williams were among the best and most fun he had ever done in his career.
A big ol pile of fucking NOPE for all but 9&10
Hardhome was epic, and Arya being right under Tywin’s nose was also a great change. But at least half the things on this list are nowhere near amazing.
Sandor and Brienne, while an epic fight was completely unnecessary, and not necessarily to the death. Sandor may well be alive.
Bronn commanding the City Watch is good, but it’s not mind-blowing.
Sansa marrying Ramsay is not a great change. Yes her character development in the Vale would take time and not be as interesting, and we don’t really care much about Jeyne Poole anyway, but Sansa cannot legally marry anyone. Doesn’t matter that her marriage to Tyrion wasn’t consummated, she still has to get an annulment which requires going to the High Septon and requesting it. She can’t go to the High Septon while Cersei is still in power. Littlefinger knows this, so even his alleged plan in the books to marry her to someone else is just a ploy.
Joffrey ordering the deaths of those children takes way from Cersei’s character and defies logic. The reason to off Robert’s kids is that they are living evidence of Cersei’s adultery. Joff doesn’t know that Robert isn’t his father, so he has no reason to kill what he thinks are bastard siblings, because they have no claim to his throne or to anything else he has. I get that making Joff worse was fun, but by not having Cersei order the deaths of those children you lose that she will do absolutely anything to protect her secret and her children. Not having her cross that line in the show makes her seem less awful. And Joff has plenty of other despicable not-in-the-books actions that make every viewer want him dead. They could have let Cersei keep this one.
Talisa was in no way amazing. Felt like a character thrown in for a nice, modern, anti-slavery and feminist audience…which is fine except that it doesn’t work all that well in a medieval setting, nor does marriage for love. The couples in Westeros and Essos who married for love have not ended up having happy marriages. And Robb Stark, being Ned’s son, would never have broken his word to Walder Frey in any way other than he did in the book. The point of marrying Jeyne was that he refused to subject any potential child of his to the kind of treatment his supposed half-brother Jon got as a bastard. If he’s merely fallen in love with a girl he might well have just stayed away from her. Having slept with Jeyne, his morals locked him in to marrying her. The only think the pregnant Talisa gave us was higher shock value, and more reason to hate Walder Frey. We would have hated him anyway, so it added no actual value to the story.
I am glad that Shireen’s ending was not put on this list. Don’t even get me started on how bad that was, and how extremely unlikely it is that it will happen like that in the books. Like Talisa and unborn-Eddard, that one was pure shock value and nothing more.
Best change was giving Bronn so much more to do. The Bronn-Jamie interactions have been nearly as good as the Bronn-Tyrion relationship.
The worst change was sending Sansa to Winterfell. It’s such a stupid, stupid thing for Littlefinger to do it changes the nature of his character.
Oh, I liked the Arya/Tywin scenes.
Changing Brienne’s story made sense, because her story in the books is hideously uninteresting. But yeah, as we all know by now, it wasn’t a “fight to the death” with Sandor Clegane.