Okay, so HBO’s Game of Thrones isn’t exactly known for holding back on the violence, the sex, the nudity, the incest, the torture, the dragons, or – well, on anything really. That said, there are still some bits from George RR Martin’s source material book series that haven’t found their way into the show, and which might shock even seasoned viewers. (Warning: if you’re a big fan of Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion, you’ll probably want to proceed with caution – in the books, everyone’s favourite dwarf, while still a compelling character, is quite a lot less likable than he is in the show…)
Here are 20 of the most shocking scenes and plotlines that didn’t make it into the show.
Tyrion has a man murdered, chopped up and cooked in a stew
To be fair to Tyrion, when this murder takes place (in Martin’s book A Storm of Swords) the character does have some justification for his actions. Singer Symon Silver Tongue has resorted to blackmail, and is threatening to expose Tyrion’s relationship with his lover Shae – and so the dwarf gets his faithful Bronn to dispose of the man, via a useful pot shop in Flea Bottom. In a later book, Tyrion jokes about the murder, saying that he likes to refer to the greasy dish served by the shop, known colloquially as “a bowl of brown”, as “singer’s stew”.
Tyrion is forced to watch his “gold-digging” prostitute-wife get gang raped, and is made to join in – and then discovers years later she wasn’t a prostitute after all, just an innocent young girl who had genuinely loved him
Many fans were disappointed when this horrifying slice of backstory, which in the books provides the main motivation for Tyrion’s murder of his father, was cut from the show. In Martin’s novels, Tyrion falls in love with and marries an innocent young commoner named Tysha when he is a teenager after he and his brother Jaime save her from being attacked and raped. When their father Tywin finds out, Jaime explains that the situation was a set up and that Tysha was a prostitute he had hired, who only married Tyrion because she was after the Lannister money. To punish his son, Tywin forces him to watch as his wife is gang raped by all of his guards (who “pay” her in silver coins), before Tyrion himself must have sex with her last of all, handing her a gold coin because Lannisters are “worth more”.
Some of this is referenced in the show (although not the part where Tyrion joins the rape) – but in the books, Jaime later confesses that he was made to lie by his father. Tysha was no prostitute, but a young girl who had genuinely loved her young husband. It is this revelation which finally motivates Tyrion to murder his father.
Tyrion assaults (and, some argue, rapes) a slave
After murdering his father Tywin and his lover Shae, Tyrion, in both the books and the TV show, becomes a much darker character. In the books, however, things escalate to a significantly more disturbing degree.
At one point, the character goes to a brothel and is given a young slave girl, who has been forced to work as a prostitute. She is unresponsive and unable to speak his language during their encounter, but Tyrion carries on regardless. Some readers have argued that because of this, the scene is effectively a rape:
He rolled off feeling more ashamed than sated. This was a mistake. What a wretched creature I’ ve become. “Do you know a woman by the name of Tysha?” he asked, as he watched his seed dribble out of her onto the bed. The whore did not respond. “Do you know where whores go?”
Her back was crisscrossed by ridges of scar tissue. This girl is as good as dead. I have just f—– a corpse. Even her eyes looked dead. She does not even have the strength to loathe me. He needed wine. A lot of wine. He seized the flagon with both hands and raised it to his lips. The wine ran red. Down his throat, down his chin. It dripped from his beard and soaked the feather bed. In the candlelight it looked as dark as the wine that had poisoned Joffrey. When he was done he tossed the empty flagon aside and half-rolled and half-staggered to the floor, groping for a chamber pot. There was none to be found. His stomach heaved, and he found himself on his knees, retching on the carpet, that wonderful thick Myrish carpet, as comforting as lies.
The whore cried out in distress. They will blame her for this, he realized, ashamed. “Cut off my head and take it to King’s Landing,”
Tyrion urged her. “My sister will make a lady of you, and no one will ever whip you again.” She did not understand that either, so he shoved her legs apart, crawled between them, and took her once more. That much she could comprehend, at least.
Ramsay forces Theon to join in with his sexual torture/abuse of his bride
In the show, the sadistic Ramsay Bolton marries Sansa Stark – but in the books, another poor girl, Jeyne Poole, is married off to Westeros’s least-desirable bachelor. Poole, who is Sansa Stark’s childhood friend, is forced to pose as the missing Arya Stark, to strengthen Ramsay’s claim to Winterfell – and her innovatively cruel husband decides to force his captive Theon Greyjoy, whom he has renamed “Reek”, to join in on his wedding night:
Ramsay rose, the firelight shining on his face. “Reek, get over here. Get her ready for me.” For a moment he did not understand. “I … do you mean … m’lord, I have no … I …””With your mouth,” Lord Ramsay said. “And be quick about it. If she’s not wet by the time I’m done disrobing, I will cut off that tongue of yours and nail it to the wall.” Somewhere in the godswood, a raven screamed. The dagger was still in his hand. He sheathed it. Reek, my name is Reek, it rhymes with weak. Reek bent to his task.
There’s some (implied) forced bestiality
Later on, it is also implied in Martin’s books that Ramsay has used his dogs in his abuse of Jeyne. She lets this fact slip after she assumes that a rescuer must be a spy of Ramsay’s (revealing her husband’s hold over her, and the extent of his psychological torture):
Jeyne pulled her wolfskins up to her chin. “No. This is some trick. It’s him, it’s my … my lord, my sweet lord, he sent you, this is just some test to make sure that I love him. I do, I do, I love him more than anything.” A tear ran down her cheek. “Tell him, you tell him. I’ll do what he wants … whatever he wants … with him or … or with the dog or … please … he doesn’t need to cut my feet off, I won’t try to run away, not ever, I’ll give him sons, I swear it, I swear it …”
And some necrophilia
Before Ramsay decided to turn Theon into Reek, he had another servant of the same name. Together, the pair would “hunt” young women in the woods (something that Ramsay is shown doing in the show) – and then Reek would have his way with the bodies “while they were still warm”.
In the extract below, Ramsay describes how, after their final hunt was interrupted, he saved his skin by swapping places with Reek – smearing himself in the excrement of their victim to help with the disguise:
“Reek,” Theon said, disquieted. How did a serving man get such fine armor?
The man laughed. “The wretch is dead.” He stepped closer. “The girl’s fault. If she had not run so far, his horse would not have lamed, and we might have been able to flee. I gave him mine when I saw the riders from the ridge. I was done with her by then, and he liked to take his turn while they were still warm. I had to pull him off her and shove my clothes into his hands—calfskin boots and velvet doublet, silver-chased swordbelt, even my sable cloak.
Ride for the Dreadfort, I told him, bring all the help you can. Take my horse, he’s swifter, and here, wear the ring my father gave me, so they’ll know you came from me. He’d learned better than to question me. By the time they put that arrow through his back, I’d smeared myself with the girl’s filth and dressed in his rags. They might have hanged me anyway, but it was the only chance I saw.
Brienne has her face partially eaten
In the books, poor Brienne is left with a disfiguring scar and chewed-up face after an encounter with the loathsome Biter, a man whose teeth have been filed into sharp points. In the book, in contrast to the show, we actually see the cannibalistic Biter begin to eat Brienne while she is still alive – before she is saved by Gendry and his spear:
Biter’s mouth tore free, full of blood and flesh. He spat, grinned, and sank his pointed teeth into her flesh again. This time he chewed and swallowed. He is eating me, she realized, but she had no strength left to fight him any longer.
It will be finished soon, she told herself. Then it will not matter if he eats me. Biter threw back his head and opened his mouth again, howling, and stuck his tongue out at her. It was sharply pointed, dripping blood, longer than any tongue should be. Sliding from his mouth, out and out and out, red and wet and glistening, it made a hideous sight, obscene. His tongue is a foot long, Brienne thought, just before the darkness took her. Why, it looks almost like a sword.
Tyrion loses his nose
Likewise, Tyrion also spends much of the books disfigured, after losing his nose in the Battle of the Blackwater:
“Tyrion’s fingers went to the great gash that ran above one eye down to his jaw, across what remained of his nose. The proud flesh was still raw and warm to the touch.”
In the show, actor Peter Dinklage (who also has conventionally attractive features, unlike the Tyrion described in the book) acquires a scar after the battle – but gets to keep his nose.
Daenerys takes advantage of her maid’s sex-skills
In one memorable scene from the books, the widowed Daenerys is feeling sexually frustrated – and is surprised by her Dothraki maid Irri, who helps her out:
“Dany knew her face was flushed, but in the darkness Irri surely could not tell. Wordless, the handmaid put a hand on her breast, then bent to take a nipple in her mouth. Her other hand drifted down across the soft curve of belly, through the mound of fine silvery-gold hair, and went to work between Dany’s thighs. It was no more than a few moments until her legs twisted and her breasts heaved and her whole body shuddered. She screamed then. Or perhaps that was Drogon. Irri never said a thing, only curled back up and went back to sleep the instant the thing was done. “
While their encounter is consensual, it’s a nonetheless slightly uncomfortable moment. Martin makes it clear that the relationship between the pair is strictly one of queen and servant, and that there is no passion between them (Daenerys later reflects upon how Irri’s kisses “taste of duty”). The book also makes it clear that Daenerys prefers men: at one point she tries to use Irri as a substitute for her lover Daario, but finds the experience unsatisfactory. It therefore seems unlikely that the showrunners balked at showing lesbian sex – and much more likely that they were reluctant to show the heroic Targaryen “using” a servant for sexual relief.
Cersei has sex with a woman – and imagines ripping her apart with her fingers as she does so
Like Daenerys, Cersei also experiments with lesbian sex in Martin’s books, with her friend Taena Merryweather – although the rough encounter is not so much about passion or need, as it is about Cersei trying to vicariously experience male power, and process her own past abuse at the hands of her late husband Robert. (Delicate readers should be pre-warned: the extract below refers to a woman’s vagina as a “Myrish swamp”):
‘Do what you will.’ Taena’s hair was as black as Robert’s, even down there between her legs, and when Cersei touched her there she found her hair all sopping wet…. ‘Please,’ the Myrish woman said, ‘go on, my queen. Do as you will with me. I’m yours.’ But it was no good. She could not feel it, whatever Robert felt on the nights he took her. There was no pleasure in it, not for her. For Taena, yes…. The queen slid a finger into that Myrish swamp, then another, moving them in and out…. She wanted to see if it would be as easy with a woman as it had always been with Robert…, she thought, slipping a third finger into Myr. She gasped some words in a foreign tongue, then shuddered again and arched her back and screamed. She sounds as if she is being gored, the queen thought. For a moment she let herself imagine that her fingers were a boar’s tusks, ripping the Myrish woman apart from groin to throat. It was still no good.
Euron rapes his brother’s salt wife – and so his brother beats her to death
In the TV show, Euron only has two brothers: Aeron (Damphair) Greyjoy and Balon, whom he murders in order to take his place as King of the Iron Islands. In the books, however, there’s a fourth Greyjoy sibling named Victarion.
He’s not quite as mad and bad as Euron, but he’s not exactly a great guy either. Euron is banished for impregnating Victarion’s beloved “salt wife” ( the name given to a woman captured by one of the ironborn during a raid and forced into being a sort of unofficial spouse). It’s left unclear whether Euron raped the unnamed woman in question or whether, as he brags, she came to him willingly.
Either way, unable to bear the shame of being a cuckold, Victarion beats his poor wife to death – sobbing as he does so. Later on, he blames Euron for her death – and wishes he could kill him too.
Euron rapes his child brothers
While the show’s version of Aeron Greyjoy supports Euron, in the books the character hates his brother – and, in a preview chapter for forthcoming The Winds of Winter, has flashbacks to how Euron would come into his bedroom and rape him and another brother (Urrigon, who dies as a child) when they were both very young. It’s all conveyed very subtly – but the disturbing truth is clear.
Later on, Euron jokes (in a very grim way) about the assaults, telling Aeron: “God has forsaken you. I taught you to pray when we were children and I would visit your bedroom. When you prayed, was it that I would choose you, or pass you by? Pray to me to end your life.”
Euron impregnates a woman, convincing her that he loves her, then cuts out her tongue and ties her to his ship
Ah, poor Falia Flowers. The bastard daughter of Lord Humfrey Hewett of the Shield Islands, she is taken as a lover by Euron after he invades her father’s castle.
At first, she’s delighted with her pirate-y new beau, who showers her with jewels and rich clothes – but the next time we see her, in a preview for Winds of Winters, she is naked, pregnant, tied to the prow of his ship – and has had her tongue cut out.
Unsullied soldiers raise a dog as a pet then strangle it to death after a year
Following their castration, the young boys taken to become Unsullied warriors must burn their removed body parts on a pyre dedicated to the Lady of Spears, the Unsullied Goddess. They must also harden themselves emotionally, adopting and raising a puppy for a year, then cold-bloodedly strangling their devoted pet. While the TV show does mention the “graduation” stage of Unsullied training (killing an infant in front of its mother), the canine-themed prelude is left out. In the books, it’s noted that for many of the warriors, killing the dog (which they do when they are still children) is actually harder than killing the baby, due to the bond they form with the animal.
Varys insists his child spies have their tongues cut out
In George RR Martin’s book A Game of Thrones, and the first season of the TV show, Arya Stark overhears a secret conversation between Varys and his friend Illyrio Mopatis, although she does not realise who the men speaking are. In the book, however, there’s a dark subtext to the exchange, after Varys asks Illyrio to procure for him 50 more of the child spies he calls his “little birds”.
Their conversation then goes as follows:
Varys: I must have gold, and another fifty birds.
Illyrio: So many? The ones you need are hard to find… so young, to know their letters… perhaps older… not die so easy…
Varys: No. The younger are safer… treat them gently…
Illyrio: …if they kept their tongues…
Varys: …the risk..
It’s subtle, but the implication is clear: Varys only wants very young children, who can communicate their findings to him via writing – and whose tongues are cut out to ensure their silence should they be questioned by anyone else. Throughout the books, none of the “little birds” we meet ever speak.
Illyrio keeps his dead wife’s hands in his bedroom
In the books, we learn that Illyrio was deeply in love with his beautiful second wife, Serra – and that, after her death from the Grey Plague (a sort of faster-acting version of the dreaded Greyscale), he kept her stone hands as a sort of macabre memento.
“I keep her hands in my bedchamber. Her hands that were so soft …” he tells Tyrion in a not-creepy-at-all scene from the book A Dance with Dragons.
The Mountain slowly dismembers a captive, keeping him alive for an extended period of time and forcing him to eat his own flesh
The captive in question, sadistic Vargo Hoat, isn’t exactly anyone’s favourite character – and, while his fate is brutal, it’s impossible not to rejoice just a little at his comeuppance in the books. Indeed, Ser Gregor Clegane’s torture is partly intended as a way of mocking Hoat’s own habit of cutting off the hands and feet of his victims (in the books, it’s also Hoat who cuts off Jaime Lannister’s hand). Fun fact? Hoat is often nicknamed “The Goat” – and so The Mountain refers to his flesh, which he also feeds to other prisoners, as “roast goat”. Yum.
(Confused about exactly who Hoat is? In the TV series, the character Locke, played by Noah Taylor, fulfils roughly the same role. George RR Martin asked that the name be changed, however, as he felt the show’s version of the character had diverged too far from the original.)
A young Joffrey cuts the kittens out of a pregnant cat and takes the foetuses to show his father
In contrast to Tommen, who loves cats (including the famous Ser Pounce), Joffrey is as cruel to animals as he is to people. One particularly horrifying anecdote relates how, as a young boy, he was told that one of the kitchen cats was pregnant – and promptly cut the feline’s stomach open, reportedly motivated by a curiosity to see the kittens inside. He then presented his handiwork to his (official) father, King Robert – who promptly lost his temper and beat him. Cersei, naturally, was livid (with Robert, that is, not Joffrey).
Ramsay takes a woman as his wife, rapes her, and then leaves her to starve to death – causing her to eat her own fingers
The unlucky lady in question is Donella Hornwood, an older woman who becomes a bit of hot property in the North after the death of her husband, thanks to the large amount of land she owns. While she and the Northern Lords bicker over who should take her hand, Bolton bastard Ramsay settles matters by capturing Donella and raping and marrying her, declaring himself Lord of the Hornwood. He then locks poor Donella in a tower, leaving her to starve to death – and, we later learn, eat her own fingers out of desperation.
Daenerys gets terrible diarrhea
For some reason, the show opted not to show us the full extent of poor Daenerys’s suffering after she escapes from Meereen gladiator pit with Drogon. In the book, however, there’s no such reticence: Daenerys has been infected with a sickness and is still recovering.
Sunset found her squatting in the grass,groaning. Every stool was looser than the one before, and smelled fouler. By the time the moon came up she was shitting brown water. The more drank, the more she shat, but the more she shat, the thirstier she grew, and her thrust send her crawling to the stream to suck up more water.