1. Littlefinger Tells the Lords of the Vale Lady Lysa Killed Herself After Obviously Murdering Her
When Petyr Baelish uses all 10 of his little fingers to shove Lysa through the moon door, the show’s infamous master of deception explains to the other Lords of the Vale that she jumped to her death. This requires a hefty suspension of disbelief from the viewers, because Baelish has literally just married Lysa and inherited her fortune, and the only two witnesses to her apparent suicide are him and his “bastard daughter” Sansa (not to mention the fact that Lysa was so devoted to her weak, insane son that she never would’ve jumped off of anything unless little Robert was tied to her back like a parachute). The Lords of the Vale totally buy his explanation, though, and Littlefinger gains control of the Vale in what is easily the sloppiest crime of his career.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, this scene makes way more sense in the books. You see, in the story, there is a third witness to the murder of Lysa — a singer named Marillion, who briefly appears in Season 2 of the show (the fact that they’d already hired someone to play this character makes his omission from Lysa’s death scene even more confusing). He’s working a full-time gig as resident singer in Lysa’s castle, and Baelish takes advantage of his presence to pin Lysa’s murder on him. He’s in the room when Baelish shoves Lysa through the Moon Door, so when the rest of the Lords of the Vale come thundering in, it’s Marillion’s word against theirs.
2. Jon and Ygritte Share a Romantic Moment Mid-Battle
There’s an odd moment in the Battle for the Wall when Jon Snow comes eye to eye with his attempted one-night stand, the wildling Ygritte. The world stops spinning around them as they exchange lusty glares, and Jon even breaks his wounded puppy scowl with a smile. In the midst of this stare, Ygritte is struck by an arrow. She stays alive just long enough to remind Jon that he doesn’t know diddly-shit about the world before dying in his arms.
There is no pause in battle, no final loving stare, and no bittersweet farewell embrace. Instead, Jon finds Ygritte’s body in a pile of other dead wildlings riddled by Night’s Watch arrows. It’s about as unceremonious as finding your cat dead in your driveway. In fact, there’s a strong possibility that Jon himself actually fired the arrow that killed Ygritte.
3. Daenerys Leaves Her Dragons Unprotected at Xaro Xhoan Daxos’ House
Xaro Xhoan Daxos is the enormous Qartheen man who finds himself locked inside his own vault by Daenerys the Dame of Dragons at the end of Season 2. He also exists as proof that George R.R. Martin deliberately names his characters just to fuck with us. Basically, Dany gets taken in by all the higher-ups in the city of Qarth, misguidedly placing her trust in Xaro, and he rewards her by stealing her goddamned dragons, because she just casually leaves them around Xaro’s house.
Xaro does have a role to play in the original novels, but not until much later in the story. All he does during Dany’s stay in Qarth is cry a whole bunch every time Dany refuses to have sex with him. But more importantly, Daenerys’ dragons don’t get stolen by anybody, because they’re her freaking children, and you don’t leave your children unattended. Those dragons are incredibly meaningful to her, as they represent both families that she lost (her royal Targaryen bloodline and the miscarried child she had with future Aquaman Khal Drogo). She knows exactly where those motherfuckers are at all times (except for later on, when Drogon takes off, but that’s … that’s a whole other thing), and she never trusts Xaro further than she can throw him, which is zero, regardless of what unit of measurement you select.
4. Robb Stark Is a Teenager in Love
Robb is the firstborn son of the Warden of the North. Ever since his first name day, he’s been groomed to take over as head of the family, which he is called upon to do once his father, played by Sean Bean, gets his head made into a lawn decoration.
Robb knows how significant marriage arrangements are — his uncle is called the Blackfish for refusing a marriage pact, fucking wars are fought over marriages, and Robb is in the middle of commanding half the continent in a war against a crown-wearing child maniac sculpted by incest. Yet, after pledging to marry one of legendary sexual predator Lord Walder Frey’s daughters in exchange for an army, Robb heroically throws the marriage in the face of Lord Frey (a man who is known throughout the kingdom for hanging onto a grudge so long that it’s almost admirable) after falling in love with some nurse on the battlefield, because Ernest Hemingway and shit.
Actually, in the books, Robb makes the exact decision Ned would’ve made in his position. You see, Robb gets injured during a battle, and is being cared for by a family called the Westerlings while the war continues without him for a bit. While in Castle Westerling (or whatever the hell it’s called; there are literally thousands of named locations in these goddamn books), he gets word that his younger brothers Bran and Rickon have supposedly been murdered by Theon, who grew up with Robb and is as close to him as a brother. Understandably upset by this development, he has sex with Jeyne, the Westerling daughter who is caring for him.
Robb’s marriage wasn’t a doofy teenage love story about defying archaic traditions — it was all about tradition. Robb screwed up and did the only thing he could to make it right with the Westerlings, knowing full well the weight his decision would carry with the Freys (although admittedly not expecting that Walder Frey would murder the tap-dancing shit out of him). But he figured the damage had already been done to Jeyne Westerling, whereas Lord Walder’s daughter was still eligible to be married off to some future lord (that’s the whole reason for the Red Wedding — Robb basically trades himself for his uncle Edmure). It makes the parallels between Robb and Ned so much more poignant — Ned’s unfaltering dedication to duty and honor is what ultimately got him killed, and Robb goes down the same way. The show just makes Robb look like a naive dummy.
5. Tyrion Kills Tywin for Insulting a Woman He Just Killed
While fleeing for his life in the Season 4 finale, Tyrion decides to pop into the Tower of the Hand to pay his father, Tywin, a visit. He makes a pit stop along the way to kill Shae, the woman who cruelly betrayed him. In the very next scene, Tyrion kills Tywin for saying rude things about Shae, which, as you may recall, is a woman he himself just killed for being a treacherous douche. It makes absolutely no sense, and the viewer is left feeling like, “Well … maybe Tyrion still cared about Shae? Even though he killed her?”
Amazingly, the only difference between the book version of this scene and the TV show version is a handful of sentences, which were omitted from the episode for reasons that cannot possibly be explained.
Before they part ways, Jaime reveals to Tyrion the truth about Tyrion’s first wife, Tysha — Tysha was not a whore that Jaime had hired to gaslight his younger brother, as Tyrion had spent the past several years believing. You see, Tyrion and Jaime came upon her after she’d just been attacked, and while Jaime rode off to annihilate the attackers (because he’s Jaime Lannister), Tyrion stayed behind to comfort her, and they fell in love. They married in secret, and when Tywin found out, he had Jaime reveal to Tyrion that Tysha had been a whore the entire time, and the whole thing was a lie. Except it wasn’t — Tywin was so furious about the marriage that he forced Jaime to lie about it.