Even long-time fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” may not have read the original books of George R.R. Martin that inspired the show. But if they do, they would quickly realize that many of the most popular characters in the TV show look nothing they do in the books, or that some characters are, in fact, amalgams of several different characters. And, even more interestingly, entire plot lines and narratives sometimes differ significantly. With that in mind, here are 5 times that “Game of Thrones” wildly diverged from the original books by George R.R. Martin.
#1: The rape of Daenerys on her wedding night with Khal Drogo
One of the most haunting memories of Season 1 is the wedding night rape of Daenerys by the brutal Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo. In the TV version of “Game of Thrones,” Khal Drogo rips off her clothes and takes her from behind. We see Daenerys crying – not tears of joy, but tears of pain. She has obviously been violated in the most humiliating way possible.
But in the book by George R.R. Martin, the scene plays out completely differently – Khal Drogo seduces Daenerys and actually asks her permission to have sex with her for the first time. In the original, then, this is not a rape – it is consensual sex between two adults who respect each other. That’s why critics of “Game of Thrones” started to get agitated all the way back in 2011 – they saw that the show was going to keep pushing boundaries at every possible moment.
#2: The appearance of the pregnant Talisa Stark at the infamous Red Wedding
Remember the brutal, chaotic and bloody Red Wedding scene, in which the soldiers of Lord Walder Frey slaughtered the Stark family in attendance – and then in an act of despicable cruelty – used a dagger to stab the unborn child in the pregnant belly of Talisa Stark? It was a brutal act meant to signify the “total war” approach of the rival clans in Westeros – kill or be killed, and that extends as far as to the unborn children of a royal line.
But here’s the thing – in the book by George R.R. Martin, there is no Talisa Stark at the Red Wedding, and no brutal dagger slaying of a baby. That’s because Robb Stark is married to Jeyne Westerling, a girl from a royal house in the Westerlands. And Jeyne Westerling never went to the Red Wedding, fearful of insulting Lord Walder Frey. And the part about the unborn baby? That, too, was made up by the show’s creators. In the books, the mother of Jeyne Westerling has been secretly giving her potions so that she would be incapable of ever conceiving a child.
#3: The Tyrell royal line was never completely wiped out
In Seasons 6 and 7, we see the total destruction of the Tyrell royal line and the poisoning of Olenna Tyrell, the grand matriarch of the clan. Everyone dies at the hands of the evil Lannisters – including the Tyrell heirs Margaery, Loras, and Mace. We see them perish in the Sept of Baelor.
But guess what? In the books, there are two other Tyrell sons who don’t’ die and who manage to escape. This includes Willas Tyrell, the eldest son. In fact, in the books, Olenna Tyrell tried to marry this son to Sansa Stark, thereby setting up a potential royal union between the houses of Tyrell and Stark. (In the show, there is a suggestion of a potential match between Sansa and Loras, but it never comes to fruition)
#4: Tyrion Lannister is far more sinister in the books than on the TV screen
The way that George R.R. Martin wrote the character of Tyrion Lannister, he is “by far the ugliest “ of the Lannisters, a dwarf with stunted legs, mismatched eyes (one green, one black), and blonde hair (bordering on white). Moreover, the book describes Tyrion Lannister as having a “brutish” face. Now does that sound anything like Peter Dinklage? As we saw in each season of the show, Tyrion Lannister is actually a sexually attractive (and very sexually active) guy who might even manage to win the favor of Daenerys by Season 8.
And speaking of characters on “Game of Thrones” who look nothing like they do in the books, what about Ser Jorah Mormont? In the books, he is supposed to be a “black bear” of a man with hair everywhere. And in the books, he never gets greyscale, as he does in Seasons 5, 6 and 7 of the TV show. And how about the expert swordsman Daario Naharis? In the books, he’s much more flamboyant, with a blue beard, bright blue hair, a gold moustache, a gold tooth and always attired in bright colors. That’s not the Daario we know from HBO.
#5: Sansa Stark was never intended to be the victim she is on TV
In many ways, Sansa Stark seems to be one of the biggest victims on “Game of Thrones.” She’s teased and humiliated by Joffrey, brutally raped in one scene, and is forced to endure the humiliation of seeing her father beheaded and then the head paraded around on a stake. Moreover, her time at Winterfell seems to be miserable, and one always gets the impression of so much sadness in her eyes – even when Jon Snow leaves her in control of Winterfell, as in Season 7.
But, again, guess what? In the books, Sansa Stark is very different. She has never been to Winterfell, for example. And she has never met Jon Snow. And, moreover, she never married Ramsay (it was her old friend Jeyne Pool who was sent to marry Ramsay), which means that she was never brutally raped. Finally, it appears that all the plotting and manipulation of Littlefinger (Lord Petyr Baelish), including a sub-plot to seduce Sansa Stark and control the North, was all incredibly exaggerated and made much more scandalous for TV! So you can stop feeling sorry for Sansa Stark right about now.
Yet, despite what purists might refer to “inaccuracies” in the HBO TV show, it’s clear that “Game of Thrones” has done a remarkable job of mining the original source material and coming up with plenty of spicy angles and salacious plot narratives to make the show simply irresistible to millions of fans.