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Adaptational Attractiveness / A Song of Ice and Fire

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HBO's live-action adaptations of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire universe have a lot of this, partly because the novels actively avert Hollywood Homely and Beauty Is Never Tarnished and partly because simulating gruesome injuries is just plain impractical for television:

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    Game of Thrones 

  • Ned is described as plain and long-faced but is played by Mr. Fanservice stalwart Sean Bean and described as "even more impressive" than his late brother Brandon, while in the books Catelyn recalls her "childish disappointment" that Ned was shorter, plainer, and more solemn than the handsome and adventurous Brandon (though she got over it).
  • Like his father, Jon is described as having the traditional long-faced Stark features and never pointed out as notably attractive in the books besides one reference by Ygritte to his "sweet face" being scarred by Orell's eagle, but is played by Mr. Fanservice Kit Harington and is constantly described as "pretty" in the show. This is likely meant as an allusion to his true parentage, as Rhaegar Targaryen was known to have been exceptionally beautiful.
  • Arya is often called "horse-faced" in the books by Sansa and Jeyne Poole, and is mistaken for a boy before she starts posing as one but Maisie Williams is round-faced and cute. However, even in the books, several characters note that she is getting prettier as she grows up and she is noted to favorably resemble her aunt Lyanna, who was quite attractive, if not a great beauty.
  • Tyrion is frequently described as The Grotesque in the books, with a deformed face and mismatched eyes to go along with his dwarfism. He also receives a gruesome facial wound midway through the series that removes half his nose. The character is played by the handsome Peter Dinklage without any attempts to ugly him up. The character is even described as rather good-looking in spite of his height. There's also a Mythology Gag or two when Cersei notes his scar isn't as bad as she'd heard and Margaery claiming that it makes him look dashing. Mitigating matters a small bit is the fact that Dinklage is slightly older than the actors playing his older siblings.
  • For all their gruesomeness, Sandor Clegane's facial burns are far less extensive than in the books. This was at least partially for pragmatic purposes, since a more extensive prosthetic affected the actor's vision, making it impractical for a character with so many fight scenes.
  • Jorah Mormont is hefty, hairy, balding, and "not a handsome man" in the books, in stark contrast to the quite appealing Iain Glen (which is echoed by a number of the female cast), and he's spared the dreadful facial brand used by the slavers to mark him as dangerous and disobedient in the books.
  • Brienne is described as hideous in the books by everyone who meets her, with an overly broad face, coarse freckly features, an overly wide mouth, puffy lips that look swollen, large crooked teeth, a nose that's been broken several times and so upturned she looks somewhat pig-like, brittle hair, and a figure that actually looks ''worse'' in a gown. Gwendoline Christie is made up to look plain and mannish with some minor facial scars but not really ugly and She Cleans Up Nicely in her time at Harrenhal - out of armor and after a good bath she starts to look a little more like the normal Gwendoline Christie. The show also avoids the part from the books where Biter takes two large bites out of her face.
  • Ygritte is described in the books as having crooked teeth and a pug nose, but she is considered beautiful by Jon. In the series, she's played by the conventionally attractive Rose Leslie.
  • Pod is a debilitatingly shy and stuttering twelve-year-old in the books, whereas in the show, he's aged up to a handsome if somewhat awkward young man.
  • In the books, Osha hardly looks like a woman, with a lean, scarred body and a hard face. Natalia Tena is an attractive actress with a feminine physique and far more youthful than the Osha of the books. Her costuming, including a shapeless robe and scraggly hair, goes a long way in toning it down, but even so, she's able to seduce male characters twice.
  • Selyse Baratheon is thin and plain, with the trademark large ears of the Florents and a mustache in the books. Tara Fitzgerald is quite gorgeous in real life. The worst that can be said is that she's made to look gaunt and severe, though frequent contrasts with Melisandre and help downplay it.
  • Even without the greyscale scars, Shireen is described in the books as an extremely plain girl and the unfortunate recipient of her father's square jaw and mother's large ears. Kerry Ingram is adorable.
  • Robin Arryn is a small and sickly child with epilepsy in the books but looks fairly normal, if a bit gawky, in the show. Then in the last season, he makes an appearance and the actor Lino Facioli has grown up into a fairly attractive young man. Fans even joked about this by marking him as the Neville Longbottom of Game of Thrones.
  • In the books, Dagmer Cleftjaw takes his name from a horrific scar from an axe that cleft his jaw. In the show, he's just plain Dagmer and only has some minor facial nicks.
  • Ramsay Snow is explicitly described in the books as being " ugly man. Even splendorous garb cannot disguise this fact. He is big boned and slope shouldered, with a fleshiness to him that suggests that later in life he will turn to fat. His skin is pink and blotchy, his nose broad, his mouth small, his hair long and dark and dry. His lips are wide and meaty, wormy looking, but the thing that men notice most about him are his eyes. He has his lord father's eyes: small, close-set, and queerly pale." Iwan Rheon has none of these traits except the eyes.
  • Yoren is much more put-together and reputable-looking than the filthy, hunchbacked old man from the books.
  • In the books, Rorge's nose has been cut off. In the series, he keeps it for practical reasons and instead merely has a couple of scars on his forehead and face, and while his companion Biter retains his filed-down teeth, he's still better looking than the animalistic, pallid and obese man with weeping sores that is described in the book.
  • Walder Frey certainly doesn't turn any heads in the show, but he's still far younger and sprier looking than the bald, toothless, half-blind, crippled old vulture of a man described in the books, despite being described as being nearly ninety at the end of "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things".
  • Giants are hairy, ape-like beings more similar to Bigfoot than men in the books, but are merely oversized men with brutish facial features in the show.
  • Beric Dondarrion is much gaunter and disfigured by a blow to the head in the book, which is dropped for pragmatic reasons.
  • Reek (Theon Greyjoy) is described in the books as looking ghastly pale and malnourished, with broken teeth and premature white hair, as well as the missing fingers and limp featured in the show.
  • Inverted with Theon before his breakdown. Book Theon is described as tall, handsome, and a ladies man. Theon in the show is notably plainer with little success with women.
  • Also inverted tragically with Rhaegar Targaryen himself, as in the books he was described as being so goddamn beautiful even Cersei’s heart melts just remembering his appearance. The one time we see Rhaegar in a flashback... he’s just kinda plain looking and unfortunately has the same hair as his despicable brother Viserys. Fans made their disappointment quite clear.
  • The books' Three-eyed Crow is a one-eyed albino with a wine-stain birthmark on his cheek who's pierced through with weirwood roots (one of which is described as coming out of one of his eye sockets) and looks more like a corpse than a living man. The show's Three-eyed Raven is a two-eyed Wizard Classic who seems to be merely tangled in the roots, and with the magic of The Other Darrin turned into a graceful and dashing old sage.
  • The sleek and smooth-voiced Hot Witch Cersei met as a child in the show is a far cry from the squat, croaking crone described in the novels.
  • Lancel is very infirm, disheveled, and prematurely aged after his brush with death in the books, but is even healthier and more muscular than before in "The Wars to Come". Conversely, he gets a seven-pointed star Carved Mark on his forehead, which doesn't happen in the books.
  • Lollys Stokeworth is obese and mentally handicapped in the books, but is fairly average-looking in the show, with her dim-witted descriptor being played more as ditzy childishness than as a severe handicap.
  • The slaver Yezzan zo Qaggaz is basically a humanoid Jabba the Hutt in the novels, being too fat to stand and suffering from a debilitating disease that leaves him jaundiced and unable to control his bladder. Actor Enzo Cilenti is not the slightest bit ugly or overweight.
  • Euron Greyjoy has only a scar on his cheek left by Balon's knife instead of his sinister Eyepatch of Power, the "crow's eye" beneath it (which Theon describes as "black and shining with malice") and the creepy blue lips from drinking Shade of the Evening like Pyat Pree from Season 2.
  • Obara Sand in the books is described as very plain, big-boned, and mannish. The show tries to make her out to be gruff and aggressive (Olenna tells her she looks like an angry boy), but she's still every bit as lovely as her sisters, as she's played by the beautiful Keisha Castle-Hughes.
  • Magister Illyrio is morbidly obese in the books (to the point that people who have never met him comment on it upon seeing one of his specially made chairs), but he's a pretty normal-looking overweight man in the show.
  • Daario Naharis, although attractive, dyes his hair sky-blue in Tyroshi tradition and has a triple-forked, blue beard, a blue mustache with the tips dyed gold, and a golden tooth. In the series, the first actor who played him was clean-shaven (although the second had a normal beard), his hair is not dyed blue, and he has no golden tooth.
  • Lysa Tully-Arryn is overweight in the books but is played on TV by Kate Dickie, who is anything but. In the books, Lysa is described as having been lovely and slender in her youth but had let herself go later in life. The series plays up her paranoia and bizarre behavior to make up for this.
  • The Davos Seaworth of the books is described as being short, slight, and with a "common" face, whereas Liam Cunningham is fairly tall and well-built, and also attractive in a rugged sort of way.
  • In "Blood of my Blood", the late King Aerys is briefly shown in Bran's vision and has none of the disheveled appearance that he has in the books: no cut wounds from the throne, no overgrown and unwashed hair and beard, no fingernails that are nine-inches long, not extremely gaunt. It was kind of considered a major blunder that the brief seconds-long flashbacks of Aerys in Season 6 depicted a cleanshaven actor, when he not only had an infamously crazy appearance in the books, but prior Histories & Lore animated featurettes had depicted him with his infamously uncut and unkempt beard and hair. To top it off, even the Season 6 set of Histories & Lore videos very prominently depicts him this way, and even has Meera Reed point out in explicit detail that his inches-long fingernails and matted, filthy beard made him look obviously insane.
  • In the books, Lord Wyman Manderly is so massively fat that he has been nicknamed Lord Too-Fat-to-Sit-a-Horse by his peers. While still obese in the show, he is considerably leaner and more martial looking.
  • In the books, Syrio Forel is described as bald and leathery, in contrast to his charming appearance in the series.
  • In the books, Roose Bolton is described as "neither handsome nor plain", with pale eyes "like morning mist". His voice is also described as soft and whispery in the books, but McElhatton's deep, smooth voice has earned him quite a few fangirls.
  • Walda Bolton (nicknamed "Fat Walda" in the books) may avert Hollywood Pudgy, but she still has a pretty face, healthy hair, and a soft, euphonious voice. Her book counterpart is not only obese but also red-faced, has limp yellow hair, and an annoying squeaky voice to boot. Show!Walda is also kindhearted with an attractive personality while Books!Walda is implied to have played an active role in planning the Red Wedding.
  • In the books, when Cersei's hair is cut off by the Faith of the Seven, they shave her completely bald. In the show, they leave her with Boyish Short Hair, which isn't completely unattractive. She also has a perfect physique due to the scene being done with Rebecca Van Cleave (a rather pretty woman in her late 20s) acting as a body double, while in the corresponding part of the book her body is described as having lost some of its former luster due to Cersei's age and pregnancies, not to mention bloating somewhat from drinking lots of wine. That said, the series makes little effort to polish Lena Headey's natural minor blemishes as Cersei (her crow's feet are clearly visible, for example), so the general idea of "beauty weathered by age" still gets across, particularly when she's paired in scenes with the blossoming Sansa Stark and the young, in-her-prime Margaery Tyrell. All that said, it's still Lena Heady.
  • In the books, Ser Amory Lorch is described as fat and pig-like, while in the TV series, he looks a lot more badass.
  • Harry Strickland in the books is described as being portly, balding and not very attractive, while in the show he appears younger and is much more handsome, likely due to the fact that he seems to have taken up Griff's role as a more martial commander of the Golden Company (though he's still much younger in the show than Griff).
  • A bit with Polliver. His book counterpart is described as being more outwardly unappealing, while the show's Polliver looks completely normal.
  • Walder Frey's daughters are described as quite ugly in the books—even the prettiest, Roslin, is not as beautiful as Alexandra Dowling's depiction of her. In the show, they all look like perfectly normal, if not somewhat plain girls. It's somewhat made up for in their shabby clothes, poor postures, and greasy hair.
  • In the books, Tommen is a short, fat kid. In the show, he's played by the handsome Dean-Charles Chapman.
  • Mirri Maz Duur, the witch and healer whom Daenerys saves in the middle of a rape and then poisons Khal Drogo, is played by Mia Soteriou. Like her book counterpart, she is a mature woman. Unlike her ugly, obese, flat-nosed book counterpart, Show!Mirri is fit with chiseled features.
  • At the end of Season 1, Daenerys still has a full head of hair when she's found after Khal Drogo's funeral pyre. In the books, all her hair is burned off. Poor Dany also goes through two periods of near-starvation, one in Clash and the other in Dance.
  • Dolorous Edd is described as thin and grey-haired, with a dour face. His show counterpart is much younger and more conventionally attractive, and his gloomy demeanor isn't as omnipresent.
  • In the novels Xaro Xhoan Daxos of Qarth is described as skinny and pasty, with jewels encrusting his huge beaky nose, while in the show he's played by Nonso Anozie with no nose-gems to be seen; additionally, the show doesn't include the concept of Qartheen men weeping at the drop of a hat.

    House of the Dragon 

  • Fire & Blood establishes that Rhaenyra Targaryen had put on weight as a result of her multiple pregnancies and is no longer as beautiful as she once was. GRRM himself called Rhaenyra as a "stout woman with a thick waist" when offering descriptions for some of his characters. Emma D'Arcy, however, portrays a conventionally slim and attractive Rhaenyra.
  • Helaena Targaryen was described as being chubby and rather plain-faced for a Targaryen, albeit still appealing. Of these descriptors, only "appealing" could be applied to either of her actresses Evie Allen and Phia Saban.
  • King Viserys zigzags this. In the book, he was described as a Big Fun and Adipose Rex who got so overweight in his later years that he couldn't even walk up the stairs, whereas his actor Paddy Considine is lean and conventionally handsome. However, in the show, Viserys does become much more weathered and prematurely aged due to his worsening illnesses to the point of straight-up Body Horror.

Alternative Title(s): Game Of Thrones, House Of The Dragon