1. Daenerys Targaryen Wouldn’t Feed People To Her Dragons And Force Some Guy To Marry Her
Daenerys Targaryen has a whole mouthful of titles, from “The Unburnt” and “Breaker Of Chains” to “Mother Of Dragons.” And while fans of the show might add “Maker Of Human Torches” and “Askteller Of Marriage Proposals” to that already lengthy list of monikers, book fans know that the real Daenerys doesn’t deserve them. Mostly.
Although she did have Drogon incinerate Kraznys mo Nakloz in Astapor, nowhere in the books did Daenerys line up the heads of Meereenese families and feed them to her dragons as means of intimidation. What difference does it make? A lot, when it comes to Daenerys’ character. It’s said many times how she’s a better, kinder, far less crazy person than her father Aerys was. Yet feeding people to a dragon was exactly the sort of thing Aerys would do, if Aerys had a dragon to feed.
With the exception of allowing the torture of a wine seller’s daughters (which she did out of grief and anger), in the books, Daenerys’ use of violence is restrained and soberly considered. She crucified the Good Masters because they crucified slave children. She burned Kraznys mo Nakloz because he was a piece of shit. The books even make the point that although Daenerys has taken hostages from every wealthy family in Meereen, everyone knows she won’t hurt them, so keeping the hostages is mostly pointless. Using dragons to intimidate and kill people she doesn’t know to be guilty is outside her character.
There’s also the small matter of her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq. In the books, Hizdahr is her suitor and the marriage is a political union that’s agreed upon by both parties. But in the show, she informs him that he’ll be marrying her while he’s on his knees in fear for his life.
This isn’t a small thing either; Daenerys is doing exactly what Cersei did to Sansa when she married her off to Tyrion. Daenerys doesn’t have to be a saint, but when she’s exactly as bad as her nemesis, it does kind of muck up her character arc a bit.
2. Littlefinger Would Never Risk Someone As Valuable As Sansa On A Loose Cannon Like Ramsay Bolton
There are no two ways about it, Littlefinger is a manipulative turd. That said, he’s also a smart turd, and has a healthy instinct for self-preservation. So while we’re very sure he doesn’t have Sansa’s best interests at heart — in the show or in the books — we’re also pretty certain he wouldn’t hand her over to someone who might feed her to actual dogs. He places great value on Sansa, never mind that it’s for all the wrong reasons.
In the novels (and the released chapters from Winds Of Winter, which might be a novel sometime this century), Sansa is still with Littlefinger in the Vale, where she’s getting a first-class education in intrigue and deception. It’s the incredibly unfortunate Jeyne Poole (daughter of one of Eddard Stark’s men) who is forced to pose as Arya at Winterfell and endure a marriage to Ramsay Bolton and the accompanying physical and mental torture.
Giving this role to Sansa in the show was probably done to condense storylines and avoid introducing new characters, but this change belies how much her character has grown since her days of starry-eyed Joffrey worship. Lying about her Aunt Lysa Arryn’s death was the first glimpse of her transformation from pawn to major player; changing her storyline to incorporate a lengthy spell of helplessness during her marriage to Ramsay shat all over her character’s progress.
3. Jaime Lannister Would Never Rape Cersei (Or Anyone Else)
When a scene in Game Of Thrones manages to stand out because of its violence, that should be a signal that something’s wrong. The scene we’re thinking of here is the one where Jaime forces Cersei to have sex in the middle of a church, right next to the body of their dead son. If you need to feel uncomfortable and gross, you can rewatch it here.
In the books, Jaime Lannister is many things, but a rapist isn’t one of them. In fact, after pushing Bran Stark out a window and killing a bunch of Stark men, Jaime turned out to be a likable character who’s funny, level-headed, and compassionate. Which brings us to this scene, where the book version is very, very different:
“Hurry,” she was whispering now, “quickly, quickly, now, do it now, do me now. Jaime Jaime Jaime.” Her hands helped guide him. “Yes,” Cersei said as he thrust, “my brother, sweet brother, yes, like that, yes, I have you, you’re home now, you’re home now, you’re home.” She kissed his ear and stroked his short bristly hair. Jaime lost himself in her flesh. He could feel Cersei’s heart beating in time with his own …
Once you get past the brother/sister part (take your time), it’s actually kind of sweet. But in the show, what had been a moment of creepy if consensual sex is now a rape, which changes everything. Jaime’s no longer a hero; he’s a brute who’d rape his sister in front of her dead son. Worse still, episode director Alex Graves seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of “no means no,” having stated that the sex/rape “becomes consensual by the end.
4. Jaime Lannister Would Never Kill His Kin
While we’re on the subject of Jaime Lannister the occasional monster, another decidedly out-of-character decision for him was when he killed his cousin, Alton Lannister, in a half-baked escape attempt in the second season. Alton isn’t actually in the books, but his character is loosely based on Jaime’s cousin Cleos, whom Jaime informs us “looked like a weasel, fought like a goose, and had the courage of an especially brave ewe.”
Needless to say, Book Jaime didn’t kill Cleos, because while Jaime was grudgingly OK with being a kingslayer, he would never off a member of his own family. In fact, when Cersei asked him to avenge Joffrey’s death by killing Tyrion, Jaime acknowledged that “Kinslaying was worse than kingslaying, in the eyes of gods and men.” If he believed that, it’s extremely unlikely Jaime would ever harm a Lannister, particularly one as benign as Alton.
But TV Show Jaime Lannister? Hey Alton. Get your butt over here.
5. Jaime Also Wouldn’t Turn Up On A Random Beach In Dorne With No Army And No Plan
By now you might just be thinking, “Boy oh boy, that Jaime Lannister is a much better dude in the books than he is in the show!” Well, there’s another time the show totally jacked him over. In yet another attempt to condense storylines and avoid introducing dozens of new characters, the goings-on in Dorne were (horribly) approximated by sending Jaime and Bronn there for stupid fights, stupid interactions with the Sand Snakes, and in general just being much stupider than their characters should or would be.
Dorne’s a desert — a desert so vast and inhospitable that even the Targaryens couldn’t conquer it. So their plan was to wander onto the beach, with no horses, and do what? Walk to the Water Gardens? Once there, what were they going to do? Sneak into a palace and steal back Myrcella? “We’ll improvise,” Jaime says, in lieu of dialogue that actually makes sense. And then once they actually make it there following a series of extremely lucky breaks, they’re bested by three teenagers with whips and knives? Please.
As Jaime is both a skilled military commander and a Lannister, there’s no way he’d go to Dorne in a crappy ship with no guards and no plan. This whole subplot was insulting, and played out less like a Game Of Thrones story than like a recap of a terrible bachelor’s party weekend. (Which was admittedly a nice change of pace from all the terrible weddings we’d seen.)
6. Loras Tyrell Is A Lot More Than A Gay Stereotype
You wouldn’t know it from watching the show, but the most compelling love story in A Song Of Ice And Fire is arguably that of Loras Tyrell and Renly Baratheon. In fact, Loras mourns the death of Renly right up to the last line George R.R. Martin has written, and when Loras is asked about the possibility of finding someone else, the still-distraught knight poignantly replies “When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”
But of course, this is Game Of Thrones, so we can’t have nice things. What did writers do with an expertly drawn, deep, and only incidentally gay, character? They reduced him to a homosexual stereotype and had him hook up with the male prostitute Olyvar. Jane Johnson, one of Martin’s editors, weighed in on the show’s adaptation of Loras Tyrell, saying “I’ve never been happy that they made him a gay cartoon in the TV series: the characterization is much more nuanced in the books.” Instead of being a badass like he is in the books, Loras is simply “Margaery’s gay brother,” and the little screen time he gets is focused, in some way, on his sexuality.
7. Ser Barristan Selmy Would Never Be Killed In An Alley By Untrained Thugs
Of all the changes made for the TV show, the decision to kill off the legendary Ser Barristan Selmy was arguably the worst. People who have only seen the show might be surprised to know he’s still alive and well in the books, which exist in a rational universe where there’s no way in hell a trained knight of Barristan’s caliber would be taken out by a gang of a-hole teenagers.
First, as the former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Selmy is a master of strategy and tactics, trained to look for danger and potential plots against his king. So Barristan the Bold would never even have wandered into such an obvious trap or let himself be surrounded in the first place.
Secondly, there are numerous mentions of how incredibly strong and capable Selmy is, even despite his age. Compared to the “Sons of the Harpy,” who are nothing more than the children of upper-class Meereenese, Selmy is infinitely better trained and in far better physical shape. Just as an example of his power, when Cersei kicked him out of the Kingsguard a few months previously, gold cloaks and the city watch were sent to apprehend him. He killed them all. Without a sword.
So why did the show’s makers kill a character who doesn’t actually die in the books? To make room for 12 friggin seasons of Ramsay Bolton’s torture chamber? Or was it just to prove they can kill beloved characters too? Come on, guys. Don’t try to beat George R.R. Martin at breaking our hearts. That’s a contest where there is no winner.