5 Best And 5 Worst Changes ‘GOT’ Made From The Books

If the show was an exact copy of the books, then there would be no need for it to even exist in the first place.

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HBO’s Game of Thrones made quite a number of changes when adapting George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to the small screen. From altering significant plot-points to removing entire characters, the show is almost a parallel reality of the books, providing fans with two interpretations of their favorite fantasy epic. But were these changes for better or for worse? I’d say they were a mixed bag. So with the year-anniversary of the show’s finale just past us, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the greatest television series of the last decade by compiling a list of the best and worst changes the show made when adapting the books. 

Before we proceed, I’d like to make it abundantly clear that I understand the confusion of commemorating a show by cataloging what I consider to be its flaws, but have you ever heard of the aphorism, “Perfection is the enemy of the good”? If the show was an exact copy of the books, then there would be no need for it to even exist in the first place. It wouldn’t be its own story, just a poor imitation, so with that out of the way, let us begin: 





10. Worst: The Appearance of the Targaryeans

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Image via W Magazine


In the books, the Targaryeans are depicted as having silver-blonde hair and purple eyes, and while the show may have gotten the hair right for Daenerys and Viserys, they’re missing their most trademarked family feature. The reason why every Targaryean shares the same physical traits is because of their inbreeding, allowing them to keep the same eyes and hair that they had all the way back in their home country of Valyria.

The violet eyes are what make the Targaryean genetics unique, and more strongly illustrates to the reader their tradition of marrying family to keep the bloodline pure. A simple pair of contacts would have accomplished this, but I suppose the producers thought that staring at purple eyes would have been distracting. 


9. Best: The Appearance of the White Walkers 

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Image via Insider


In the books, the White Walkers are tall and white, with flesh as pale as milk and cold blue eyes that burn like bright blue stars, and wear fragile, reflective armor that shifts in color with every step they make. They’re almost beautiful, in a weird way, and while I still find that interpretation spectacular in its own right, I can’t help but love how they’re depicted in the show more. 


8. Worst: Tyrion’s Appearance

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Image via The Telegraph


Tyrion Lannister is far more grotesque in the books. While he’s still a dwarf, he also has a jutting forehead, mismatched eyes of green and black, and a mixture of blonde and black hair. Also, during the Battle of the Blackwater, when Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard attempts to kill him, instead of just sustaining a scar running diagonally across his face, Tyrion finds his entire nose sliced off.

While I could understand why the producers didn’t want Tyrion noseless for the remainder of the show – the effect probably would have been quite expensive – they definitely could have depicted his other features. He’s seen as a monster by the people of King’s Landing, so to make him look more misshapen and asymmetrical would strongly convey that sentiment to the audience. 


7. Best: Sansa Marrying Ramsay Bolton

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Image via Bustle


Who here remembers Jeyne Poole from the show? If you say you do, you’re a liar. She’s Sansa’s childhood friend, and only makes a single appearance in the very first episode, but she plays a far more significant role in the books, being forced to marry Ramsay Bolton after Roose, in an effort to legitimize Boltons’ rule over the North, convinces the realm that she is actually Arya Stark, as the two share a striking resemblance.

Having Sansa be the one to endure Ramsay’s cruelty is a far better choice, for not only is she a main character that we care far more about, but you could make the argument that it fits more with her arc, as she’s the naive, sheltered lord’s daughter that learns about the brutality of the world and how to survive it. 



6. Worst: The Omission of Lady Stoneheart

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Image via Imgur


In the books, after Catelyn Stark is murdered at the Red Wedding, she is brought back to life by Beric Dondarrion, a disciple of the Lord of Light, and becomes Lady Stoneheart, an undead creature who can’t speak and is consumed by enacting revenge against everyone who she deemed responsible for her and her son’s death. She would have added such a compelling dynamic to the show, which is why it’s a shame that the showrunners never included her. 


5. Best: Joffrey’s Assassination

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Image via The Independent


While Joffrey’s assassination was quite violent in the show, it could have been far worse. He’s still poisoned in the books, but instead of him just falling over, he, in an attempt to breathe, claws open his own neck: “Joffrey began to claw at his throat, his nails tearing bloody gouges in the flesh. Beneath the skin, the muscles stood out hard as stone.” Seeing this act of self-mutilation depicted on screen would have been gratuitous. Watching him helplessly look up to his mother as his face turned a disgusting shade of purple was disturbing enough. 



4. Worst: The Fate of Mance Rayder

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Image via FanSide


Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-The-Wall, is executed by Stannis Baratheon for refusing to bend the knee, and while the same does happen in the books, Melissandre instead uses her magic to disguise him as a wildling named Rattleshirt, and instead sends Rattleshirt to die in his place.

Mance then goes on a mission to rescue Jeyne Poole (who he believes is Arya Stark). The mission is successful, but according to a letter from Ramsay Bolton to Jon Snow, Mance is captured and being held hostage. He should have stayed for longer in the show, as his presence would have complicated things in the North. 


3. Best: Changing Everyone’s Age

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Image via Syfy


Events of the TV series begin seventeen years after Robert’s Rebellion, while events in the books begin fourteen years after, therefore the Stark children are all about three years older than their original ages. Robb and Jon Snow are seventeen instead of fourteen (turning fifteen). Bran is ten instead of seven and Rickon’s age is increased from three to six. The Stark girls’ birth years are also altered, to Sansa thirteen instead of eleven (turning twelve) and Arya is eleven instead of nine.

To me, it makes far more sense for the Starks to begin older, considering how quickly everyone is thrust into such a dangerous world; it makes more sense for them to have developed more emotional maturity. 


2. Worst: Aegon Targaryen

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Image via Quora


Just like Lady Stoneheart, another character who could have complicated the plot in such an engaging way would have been Aegon Targaryen.

While Aegon is Jon Snow in the show, in the books, he’s still believed to have been killed by Robert Baratheon with all the other Targaryeans once he took King’s Landing, until we discover that he is alive, for when Tyrion is smuggled out of King’s Landing after killing Tywin, instead of traveling with Varys, he’s accompanied by Griff and Young Griff, the latter of which, he later discovers, is Aegon himself.

Having Aegon compete for the Iron Throne with Daenerys would have added an incredibly interesting element, and probably would have added a whole extra season, too.


1. Best: Hardhome

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Image via A Blog of Thrones


For those who may not remember, Hardhome was the village north of the Wall where Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch saved the free folk as they were being swarmed by White Walkers.

While we don’t see this happen in the books, as we only hear about it after the fact, we do see it in the show, and it’s my absolute favorite scene in Game of Thrones history. Everything about it, from seeing the Night King raise the thousands of free folk that were slaughtered, to seeing Jon Snow wield his Valyrian steel sword Longclaw and make pellet ice out of a White Walker, it was the perfect combination of thrills and legitimate horror.



Featured Image via W Magazine