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Adaptational Wimp / Game of Thrones

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A lot of characters in the show are weaker than their book counterparts:

  • Qhorin "Halfhand" is described as The Dreaded to the wildlings and a Living Legend to the Night's Watch, but in the books he backs this up by being a master ranger who's only cornered when the wildlings deploy a warg to track him and such a skilled swordsman that Jon needs Ghost's help to survive even their mock duel, whereas in the show he has little opportunity to show his mettle, since he's captured offscreen and killed outright by Jon.
  • Viserys is described as knowing nothing about dragons or anything else in "The North Remembers" (which is odd given his sexposition about them in "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"), whereas in the books it's only when Daenerys remembers his stories that she discovers how to feed her dragons, and she also credits him with keeping them both alive during her childhood and teaching her her own identity, none of which is credited to him in the show.
  • Sansa has a bit of this:
    • The show neglects to give her any proactive role in King's Landing at all, eventually whisking her away unawares instead of showing her traverse the castle with a knife to rendezvous with an accomplice and spend months patiently preparing for her escape.
    • Her small rebellions like refusing to kneel for Tyrion are also frequently omitted, and every sensible character dismisses her as a murder suspect (which is something everyone believes she's capable of in the novels).
    • She's completely outmanoeuvred and brutally raped and abused by Ramsay, while during this period of the books she's steadily learning politics, intrigue, and manipulation while maintaining a false identity in the Vale.
  • Some of Arya's more grand and brutal accomplishments are adapted out:
    • In the books, she's exceptional at climbing and sneaking gives Hot Pie such a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that he can't walk for days, kills several (admittedly rather unskilled) soldiers in the skirmish with Ser Amory, plots a jailbreak with Jaqen's help, and escapes Harrenhal all by herself by committing her first true murder. She doesn't do any of these things during their respective scenes in the show.
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    • She's also constantly Sherlock Scanning her environment and options in the books but tries to stab the Hound in the most heavily-armoured part of his body and needs him to point out the obvious clues that Brienne was sent by a Lannister in the show.
    • In the books, she's able to warg into animals to see her environment while blind, a skill she lacks in the show. It's yet to be revealed whether she will be as skilled at fighting blind as she becomes in the show.
  • In the books, Theon is a Tall, Dark, and Handsome Casanova, a skilled warrior, and a clever tactician whose aggression and arrogance get him in over his head. In the show, his cockiness is played up and his capabilities are played down to make him a Casanova Wannabe who is bested in conversation or humiliated by failure in nearly every scene.
  • Jaime's duel with Brienne is pitiful compared to the books, in which he shows greater stamina despite worse physical condition, gives her a nasty leg wound despite wearing heavy shackles instead of just rope, and is only truly overcome when he slips on a wet stone. Brienne even scoffs at his overblown reputation in the show rather than recalling that it was "all she could do to keep his blade at bay" and that "no knight in the Seven Kingdoms could have stood against him at his full strength." This combines with Brienne's own Adaptational Badass changes.
  • Davos gets the lightest touch of this when he's promoted to leading Stannis' fleet into Blackwater Bay. In the books, the commander is a knight who treats his fleet like a cavalry charge and the fact that Davos (or any other seasoned sailor) was not in charge is a large part of how things went so spectacularly wrong.
  • In the books, Renly is a bold, physically impressive man with an enthusiasm (though little talent) for jousting, participating in the Tourney of the Hand, and has been instructed in hand-to-hand combat. In the show, he's more diplomatic, thoughtful and critical of bloodshed as well as a Non-Action Guy.
  • Edmure Tully is a General Failure Butt-Monkey in the show instead of the books' able and protective lord who is simply Overshadowed by Awesome. Most notably, his victory at Stone Mill is turned into a Pyrrhic skirmish by a Glory Hound instead of defeating Tywin Lannister and Gregor Clegane in battle, despite being outnumbered. He also fails to light his father's funeral pyre because of incompetence in the show, as opposed to his grief as in the books, and is cowed into handing over his uncle rather than using Loophole Abuse to help him escape.
  • While Robb Stark is subject to some Adaptational Badass on the show, his skills as a military and politically-minded commander are lessened. He destroys more Lannister hosts in the books than the show. And while Stannis is marching on Kings Landing, he invades the Westerlands in an attempt to draw in Tywin Lannister( subsequently trapping him between Robb's forces and Riverrun's) to defend his lands rather than assist his grandson and daughter so that Stannis can sack the city and become King, who he knows will be easier to negotiate peace with. In the show, his objectives are not clearly defined and his seemingly greatest ambition is to trap Gregor Clegane and capture him rather than Tywin Lannister himself. The Stone Mill battle disrupting his plans also counts, only being possible because he gave Edmure overly vague orders that lacked critical information.
  • In the show, Littlefinger's reputation for financial acumen is revealed to just be a ruse: he simply borrows the money. In the books, Littlefinger is a legitimate financial wizard who multiplies the revenues of Gulltown tenfold and also considerably raises the income of the crown, even though it still doesn't cover Robert's expenses.
    • There are also hints that the debts are also not all due to Robert's spending, as Tyrion partially discovers that Littlefinger has crafted quite a financial house of cards with the kingdom's finances. Due to his later prolifigate spending in the Vale, it seems likely he had undertaken quite a bit of embezzlement as well as a ponzi scheme. When Tyrion takes over as Master of Coin, he remarks that he can't understand the web of loans and expenditures, and that many of the investments "smelled like old fish".
  • Rickon is the wildest Stark child except for maybe Arya in the books, with various incidents of him attacking people. In the show he's a little overzealous cracking walnuts but otherwise quite tender and low-key, and he shows nothing but bewilderment and terror, without a hint of bravery or defiance, in Season 6.
  • Rickon's direwolf Shaggydog is the biggest and most unruly of the direwolves in the books and was feasting on unicorns on Skagos when we last glimpsed him by tree-vision in A Dance With Dragons. In the show, he's much tamer, but then again CGI-ing all his wild antics would have been difficult and expensive.
  • Rorge and Biter are among the most terrifying psychopaths in the books but are little more than Fat Bastard Stupid Crooks in the show. Rather than wreaking havoc as outlaws and providing a dangerous Dual Boss challenge, they are curb-stomped in a very ill-conceived attempt at Mugging the Monster.
  • Mace Tyrell:
    • He's a blustering yet tenaciously ambitious lord in the novels, but a totally ineffectual and sycophantic Momma's Boy in the show.
    • In the books he personally commands the left wing on the Blackwater and constantly presses for important offices for his faction rather than happily fetching quill and parchment.
    • He's also something of a Papa Wolf in the books, holding a serious grudge against Oberyn for crippling his eldest son, calling for the death of the man he believes nearly poisoned his daughter, and rushing his army back to King's Landing to confront the Sparrows after they seize Margaery (though Randyll Tarly arrives first).
  • From Season 3 on, Loras becomes much more mild-mannered and In Touch with His Feminine Side than the Hot-Blooded Glory Hound of the novels. He's also a skilled conversationalist in the books but constantly struggles with it in the show, such as at Tyrion's wedding and Tywin's funeral.
  • Hizdahr is a political version. In the books, he uses his political acumen to negotiate a truce with the Sons of the Harpy to convince Daenerys to marry him and resume the Gladiator Games, which at least ostensibly conciliates her enemies. In "Kill the Boy", he's imprisoned and forced into the marriage only to be viewed as The Quisling by the Harpies, who aren't the least appeased by the fighting pits.
  • In the books, Daenerys has many more opportunities to be physically assertive: She does some trick riding on her silver during her wedding feast, physically shoves Viserys in their confrontation in the long grass, acts as a standard-bearer within her army during the First Siege of Meereen, leaps down into the fighting pits to lash Drogon into submission and dodge his fire, none of which she does on the show. That said, she's not immune to fire in the books.
  • Selyse was much more of a Grande Dame, an extremely haughty and close-minded person (as well as a bit of a hypocrite), who just so happened to have complete and total faith in Melisandre and R'hllor (in fact, it was her who brought Melisandre to Stannis), with much more political influence in the books, including playing a vocal role on Stannis' council since her family, the Florents, are Stannis' most powerful supporters and her Praetorian Guard, the "Queen's Men", is the largest and most fanatical faction in Stannis' army. She constantly campaigns for even more radical actions and pressures Stannis for sacrifices and such. In the show, she's really just the pliant and servile wife whose fanaticism is emphasised to a degree in which she's a Mad Woman In The Attic and with a downplayed political influence (which, admittedely was a secondary matter until around the fifth book). Her main concerns are prayer and despising her daughter.
  • In both versions, Doran Martell is characterized by his caution. In the show it's simply prudence, and he's caught completely off-guard by the Sand Snakes' ruthless betrayal. In the books, he's secretly colluding with Oberyn for vengeance that is Best Served Cold, and outmaneuvers the Sand Snakes when they try to betray him.
  • Areo Hotah is easily dispatched by a back-stab from Tyene without ever getting a chance to use his impressive glaive. In the novels, he defeats a Kingsguard knight and has yet to face any threat that he cannot match.
  • Lame Lothar and Black Walder: In the books, Lothar is an Evil Genius Cripple who masterminds every detail of the Red Wedding "down to which songs would be played," and Black Walder is a legitimate badass who uses the "Yield or I'll hang him!" ploy successfully at Seagard. In the show, their talents are inverted when they take on Ryman Frey's ineffectual role at Riverrun.
  • Randyll Tarly: In the books, he's described as the best soldier in Westeros, crushes a third of Robb's army at Duskendale, frees Margaery from the Faith, and serves as Master of Laws. In the show, he plays no role in these events and gets his Valyrian steel sword stolen out from under his nose.
  • Lord Wyman Manderly literally Refused the Call to aid the Starks out of fear in Season 6 while in the books he's arguably the most steadfast, cunning, and proactive Stark loyalist because of his family's Immigrant Patriotism and he secretly works at the Bolton's downfall by sending Davos to find Rickon while he himself enjoys some tasty pies at Ramsay's wedding.
  • Grand Maester Pycelle is actually quite good at his job in the books (especially after he emerges from Tywin's shadow) and becomes the Only Sane Man on Cersei's council of Yes-Men. In the show, he's just a petty and lecherous crony whom Cersei rightfully despises on those grounds.
  • In the books, Cley Cerwyn dies at the head of his troops. In the series his solution is to head back to his castle.
  • The show's Euron Greyjoy is somewhat crafty and appears to have taken over his Adapted Out brother Victarion's superior combat abilities, but he's nowhere near the terrifying Sorcerous Overlord he is in the books, with none of his book counterpart's magic, status as The Dreaded, or Valyrian artifacts. In the book his speech at Kingsmoot is backed by magical items like a horn that can bind dragons to his will (or at least kill the hornblower) and wears a Valyrian steel armor and bribe everyone with his treasures. In the show he just talk about paying the Iron price and reveals a plan to ally with Daenerys. In addition, his ambitions are significantly lowered, from ostensibly wanting to conquer the Seven Kingdoms with the use of dragons, and secretly plotting to cause the apocalypse and become a god to being willing to act as a crony to Cersei under the flimsy promise that she will marry him when it's all over.
  • Wights are vulnerable to dragonglass just like their masters in the show. In the books, dragonglass doesn't affect them any differently than any other blade. The creators have stated this change was intentional, as sword fights are more practical to film than having to burn literally every last one of them. Burning them seems in fact to only be about as effective as it would be on humans, compared to in the books where they go up like their whole body is made of pitch.
  • In the show, Joffrey is Dirty Coward who talks a big game but shrinks from any physical confrontation. During the Battle of the Blackwater, he chickens out and chooses to flee to safety rather than stay and inspire his men. In the books, he's very physically aggressive, sparring with Robb in spite of being three years younger and suggesting that they use real swords rather than blunted ones. He also volunteers to fight during the Battle of Blackwater, and actually contributes to the battle. He only leaves the battle when forced to by Cersei, and still expresses desire to command the crossbowmen.
  • Tyrion's battle experience is less extensive in the show. He kills only one tribesmen in the Mountains of the Moon, gets knocked out and takes no part in the Battle of the Green Fork, and kills only a soldier or two in the Battle of the Blackwater. In the books, he kills a number of tribesmen, fights bravely during the Battle of the Green Fork, and goes rather kill-crazy during the Battle of the Blackwater.
  • In the books, Balon is revered for bringing back the Ironborn way despite his bad track record with the whole rebellion thing, to the point where most of the kingsmoot hopefuls are trying to ride his legacy. Here the Ironborn see him as a General Failure who did nothing for them.
  • Book Golden Company is a legendary sellsword company that can take on a city defended by the Unsullied and wins. Show Golden Company gets obliterated in one fell swoop by Danaerys without contributing anything to the siege of King's Landing. Their leader also gets a very undignified death, though he's not really a fighter in the books, either.
  • The North itself gets this a bit in the show. In the books, after the Bolton/Frey treachery that results in Roose being appointed Warden of the North, the reader soon discovers that every lord but the Karstarks and Dustins/Ryswells (and even the latter are suspect) are secretly plotting to destroy the Bolton/Frey alliance and restore the Starks to Winterfell, to the point where it scares Roose Bolton to be around so many of the Northern lords while his soldiers seem to be mysteriously dying one by one, and the rest are at each others' throats. "The North Remembers" is said about the loyal vassals of the Starks who plan to utterly destroy the dishonorable usurpers. Conversely, in the show, "The North Remembers" seems to be an empty line as the Northern lords are mostly cowed into submission, apathetic, or resent Robb Stark save for Lyanna Mormont.


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