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Adaptation Expansion / Game of Thrones

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By focusing on a limited number of storylines and characters, the series has the opportunity to expand on some aspects of the story:

  • Renly and Loras' relationship is only ever implied in the novels and the dynamics of Renly's marriage to Margaery are never revealed, but the show brings both things to the forefront. In Season 5, Loras is even arrested for homosexuality while in the books, his sexual orientation is never an overt plot point. (Some readers actually miss the hints about it, in contrast to the show where it's his defining trait and even in-universe everyone seems to know.)
  • Tywin's Establishing Character Moment of butchering a stag (the symbol of House Baratheon) while lecturing Jaime about legacy is unique to the show.
  • Robb's campaign in the Westerlands is told entirely second-hand in A Clash of Kings and never actually seen. The show distills this into the Battle of Oxcross to make room for a romance with Talisa that leads him to marry for love instead of the self-imposed Shotgun Wedding of the novels.
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  • The Qarth arc lasts only five chapters in the books, one of which is delayed until Astapor in the show. Therefore, very little of the show's Qarth arc happens in the books: Dany is never opposed at the gates, never betrayed by Xaro and Doreah, never robbed of her dragons, and her visit to the House of the Undying is completely different, with the result that Rakharo, Irri, Pyatt Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and the Thirteen all remain alive.
  • Tywin and Catelyn's relationships with their respective Unfavorite is expanded upon. Both admit they once wished death on the child, repented of that impulse, but still could not bring themselves to love him.
  • Theon's extensive torture throughout Season 3 is only recalled in flashbacks, sometimes very obliquely, in the novels. For instance, his penectomy is only referenced as "that other thing," in a list of lost appendages.
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  • Ramsay appears in only two of the five published novels (one of which the show makes him only The Ghost in) and is mostly the Arc Villain of Theon's story since Bran is the only other POV to actually see him. The show gives him innumerable new scenes and a much more prominent role in the Big Bad Ensemble. Ironically, it also tones down his cruelty which says a lot.
  • The majority of Olenna's scenes, particularly those that characterize her as a Cool Old Lady, have no counterpart in the books. Her role in Season 5 is especially original since she returns to Highgarden after Tommen's wedding in the books and hasn't returned since. In the books it's Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly (a.k.a. Sam's dad) who arrive in King's Landing (with their armies) to aid Margaery.
  • The final scene of "Oathkeeper" explicitly shows what the novels only hint happens to Craster's sons.
  • The mutineers at Craster's Keep are embellished into minor antagonists for both Jon and Bran in the first half of Season 4, with their eventual fate shown, while the books only subtly imply what happens to them.
  • In the books, Arya's travels with the Hound after the Red Wedding consist of a travelogue chapter about coming to terms with what's happened and a second chapter covering the fight at the inn, her parting from the Hound, and her departure from Westeros. In the show, they spend all of Season 4 developing their relationship while traveling to the Vale.
  • Gilly is never sent to Mole's Town or sexually assaulted by black brothers in the books.
  • Everything Brienne and Pod do after Season 3 is original material, particularly finding both Stark girls, killing Stannis, and entering Sansa's service. In the books, their quest is rather hopeless (as they themselves acknowledge), and they instead get caught up in the aftermath of the war, dealing with renegade sellswords, the tranquil side of the Faith, and the Adapted Out Lady Stoneheart.
  • Stannis' Season 4 detour to the Iron Bank is original, since in the novels he goes straight from Dragonstone to the Wall and the Iron Bank eventually comes to him as he's marching on Winterfell. Everything Davos does from that point on is also new, since he's sent to White Harbor and later Skagos in the books.
  • Everything Bronn does as The Lancer to Jaime, which is very different than his offstage actions to usurp the lordship of Stokeworth in the books.
  • Since Tommen is only eight in the books, he doesn't consummate his marriage and he's never in a position to exert actual authority, nor is it expected of him.
  • The Sand Snakes' main role in A Feast for Crows is to be promptly arrested for advocating war, thereby helping motivate Arianne Martell into a plot of her own. The show eliminates Arianne and expands the Sand Snakes into antagonists for Jaime and Bronn.
  • In the books, the closest equivalent to Jaime and Bronn's roadtrip to Dorne is Balon Swann's open diplomatic procession to deliver Gregor Clegane's head and return with Trystane and Myrcella, which the Dornishmen delay with hunts and feasts while Prince Doran puts together a cover-up for the damage done by the War Hawk Gerold Dayne during Arianne's failed coup.
  • In the books, Jon remains at Castle Black and only receives news about what is happening at Hardhome. In the show he goes there himself, slays a White Walker, and comes face to face with the Night King.
  • For that matter, there is no equivalent of the Night's King in the novels, at least as shown yet. In the Novels, the Night's King was the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch who was corrupted by a White Walker lover, and the North had to rally with the Wildlings to kill him and free the Watch from his influence. George RR Martin has said that it's unlikely that he's present in the current books as "in the books he is a legendary figure, akin to Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder, and no more likely to have survived to the present day than they have." Instead, the leadership structure of the White Walkers (Others) is left deliberately opaque to the readers and characters, although Bran is given a vision of something called "The Heart of Winter" very far north of the wall.
  • In "The Dance of Dragons", the Sons of the Harpy attack Daznak's Pit and Drogon arrives to save Daenerys. In the books, the threat to Dany is poisoned food she is urged to eat in an attempt to assassinate her but she casually declines it (though a member of her queensguard, Strong Belwas, finds it and ends up eating it instead) and Drogon is drawn to the pit by the noise and commotion of the Gladiator Games, going on a rampage when the Meereenese attack him, killing over 200 people in the ensuing stampede.
  • Varys accompanies Tyrion to Meereen in the show so they can continue their Snark-to-Snark Combat until the plot requires him back in Westeros to prep for Daenerys' return. In the books, Varys remains in Westeros the whole time as a Chekhov M.I.A. (with a very different plan) and Tyrion snarks at other people.
  • Davos and Edd (neither of whom are present in the novel) have to summon the wildlings in "The Red Woman". In the books the wildlings are already present, in fact it's rallying them against Ramsay that actually provokes Jon's assassination and Wun Wun being attacked that provides the backdrop.
  • The High Sparrow's Backstory monologue in "Book of the Stranger" isn't to be found in the books.
  • Ramsay's letter in "Book of the Stranger" is very different, calling Jon a traitor for letting wildlings past the Wall and revealing he's captured his Rickon before demanding his bride back and launching into a Long List of gruesome threats. In the books, Ramsay's letter is very gruesome but focuses on claims that he destroyed Stannis and captured Mance Rayder (who Jon sent to rescue Ramsay's bride), describes how he made a cloak from the skins of Mance's spearwives, calling Jon a liar, and a Long List of demands for Stannis supporters (who are mostly Adapted Out or already dead in the show), punctuated by a final threat.
  • Lyanna Mormont is The Ghost and sixth-in-line to Bear Island in the books, and it's her adult sister Alysane who joins Stannis against the Boltons after he rallies the mountain clans. In the show, Lyanna's the head of the House.
  • Sam and Gilly's confrontation with Lord Randyll doesn't happen in the books, not only because geography and shipping routes basically force them to go to Oldtown first, but also because Randyll is a thousand miles away commanding a Tyrell army and serving as Master of Laws at the time.
  • The Green Trial. While the show has certainly overtaken the books, the only mention of a wildfire cache under the Great Sept in the books is its explicit removal: "Only last year, 200 jars were discovered in a storeroom beneath the Great Sept of Baelor. [...] I myself saw that they were safely removed," and the scene seems more like an Up to Eleven version of Cersei's non-fatal demolition of the Tower of the Hand from the books.
  • Arya never learns to fight while blind in the books, where that isn't even the point of the exercise but rather to decipher who's attacking her, and even then she cheats by using her latent skinchanging ability to see who it was.
  • In the show, Arya is sent to the Braavosi theater to assassinate an actress with a jealous understudy. In the books, Arya is only sent to the actors for further practice at adopting an identity, similar to her time as a shellfish peddler and a blind beggar (which also had no murderous motives in the books).
  • Xaro Xoan Daxos is given a much more detailed backstory and motivation.
  • In the books Littlefinger reveals himself to Sansa as one of the poisoners of Joffrey and openly states his motivations for the deed, while the extent of the Tyrell participation is more vague with Olenna Tyrell mentioned as a co-conspirator with possibly Margaery as well. In the show Olenna also openly admits her guilt to Margaery, who it is made clear had no involvement with the murder.
  • Talisa's page-bound alter-ego doesn't get much characterization in the books. Replacing her called for a character who could legitimately be around Robb for the entire season, so the show runners abandoned the more realistic prospect of a lesser lord's daughter in favor of a more active field nurse. However, later there is an inversion on the books, which is in turn an expansion compared to the show: Jeyne survives Robb because she is left at Riverrun for her own safety (and to lessen tensions with Walder Frey).


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