Which “Game of Thrones” Book Characters Absent From the Show Does George R.R. Martin Miss the Most?


The A Song of Ice and Fire novels contain a cast of literally thousands of characters. As such, it’s natural that a bunch of minor characters are going to be omitted in translation to television. Tons of folks that get the axe during adaptation aren’t overly importnant to the overall narrative, and their absence on the HBO series goes unnoticed. Despite that, everyone has their own favorites, and there are a couple characters that leagues of fans, and author George R.R. Martin included, wish they’d seen on Game of Thrones (2011).

Lady Stoneheart is easily the most-discussed omission (at least, on the Internet) from the HBO program, and the one that has caused fans of the series the most disappointment. She is the resurrected spirit of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who’s none-too thrilled about her and her son’s double murder. Game of Thrones’ showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, haven’t specifically addressed why they cut her from the program. One of the series’ directors suggested her character simply wasn’t necessary for the series, stating she doesn’t serve enough purpose in the overall narrative to justify creating on the show.

George R.R. Martin feels differently, as he told EW: “Lady Stoneheart does have a role in the books,” Martin said. “Whether it’s sufficient or interesting enough… I think it is, or I wouldn’t have put her in. One of the things I wanted to show with her is that the death she suffered changes you.” He goes on to call her Westeros’ version of Gandalf.

Online, some have speculated that not bringing Lady Stark back has something to do with the hopeful theory that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will be resurrected next season. Perhaps the showrunners used Lady Stoneheart’s omission as a creative decision; resurrecting her would have removed some of the mystery and surprise of eventually resurrecting Snow later in the series. One could argue that if a resurrection has already been done before, then it’s no big deal when it happens again. Since the TV series has not yet resurrected a traditional character (excluding Beric Dondarrion, whose character is founded upon resurrection principles), Snow’s resurrection, should it occur, would be a real spectacle.

Martin has also expressed a sadness over the absence of Strong Belwas, a pit fighter who, in the novels, joins Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) entourage in Qarth. On television, qualities of his character have been combined with those of Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) to make that character a bit richer and integral to Daenerys’ journey.

To that end, the HBO series frequently combines, or repurposes, certain characters and storylines to better suit the narrative structure of television. Sansa Stark’s (Sophie Turner) friend Jeyne Poole is a great example. She was seen in the series pilot played by an uncredited extra, then never seen again. In the book, her character goes with the Starks to King’s Landing, and Poole ends up wedding the awful Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). On television, this has become Sansa’s storyline.

Martin talked to James Hibberd of EW about one of his other most-missed characters.

“In the Tyrell family, Loras is not the eldest son in the books,” Martin points out. “There are two older brothers, Willas and Garlan. I didn’t just put them in for hoots and giggles, they have roles to play in the last two books, and they don’t exist in the show. I’ve said from the start I wish we had more hours, but showrunners [David Benioff and Dan Weiss] work 24/7, 12 months a year.”

At a minimum, it’s engaging to watch how the series’ showrunners handle the changes they’ve made. Certain storylines vary so drastically from the novels, they’ve created all-new arcs. It seems that trend will continue as the show moves forward.