There have already been two huge plot changes in Season 4 of ‘Game Of Thrones’ that have had diehard fans of ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ up in arms! Read on for the 7 biggest plot changes from page to screen since the series began.
We haven’t even hit mid-season in Game Of Thrones‘ stellar fourth season, but already there have been two fairly huge changes that have been made from the source material, George R. R. Martin‘s A Song Of Ice And Fire. However, not all of the changes made in the HBO series have been unwelcome! Read on and check out our gallery as we revisit the 7 biggest plot changes from ASoIaF to GoT — the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Some SPOILERS are abound, but nothing too crazy — you’ve been warned.)
‘Game Of Thrones’ Biggest Plot Changes: The Good
1. Aging up the characters
It was a good move on part of the Powers That Be over at HBO to age up the characters. When we were first introduced to Tommen Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire, he was just 6 years old. While nothing untoward has happened between Tommen and his wife-to-be, Margaery Tyrell, it would have made their scene in “Oathkeeper” — where Margaery breaks in to his bedroom to ask him to share all of his secrets — even more creepy if he was 6 instead of the 10 he was at the beginning of the GoT TV series. (He is approximately 12 in the current timeline.)
In GoT, Jon and Robb were made to be 17 instead of 15, Rickon was 6 instead of 3, Sansa 13 instead of 11, and Arya 11 instead of 9. The “Baratheons” are a bit older; Joffrey was 16 instead of 13 and Myrcella 12 instead of 8. The dragon-having, world-conquering Daenerys was made to be 16 instead of 13 — a vital difference.
2. The characterization of Margaery Tyrell
Being as how Margaery was never a POV character in the ASoIaF series, readers were never really able to get inside her head or figure out her true intentions. Her character had been a mystery that readers were dying to unravel, and the TV series grants way more insight into her character than the books do — which is rarely the case in a book-to-screen adaptation.
We already knew that Margaery was sly and calculating, but thanks to the TV series, we know that she is also genuinely kind and, while power-hungry, has the best interests of Westeros and the people around her in mind. Furthermore, while it was certainly in her best interests, she had no idea that it was her own grandmother who had machinated Joffrey’s death — in the books, her involvement and awareness is more ambiguous.
3. Bran Stark’s capture at Craster’s Keep
To be kind, Bran Stark’s storyline in ASoIaF is… not always thrilling. And a faithful adaptation of his long, long journey north would have been terrifically boring for viewers of GoT. However, in “Oathkeeper,” Bran is captured by the Night’s Watch mutineers at Craster’s Keep — with Karl as their ringleader — and he is forced to reveal his identity as the heir to Winterfell when everyone in Westeros — save Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow, and the Boltons — thought him dead.
It’s a pretty big change, but it’s certainly more exciting than episode after episode of Bran skinchanging, being told not to by Meera Reed, doing it anyway, being hungry, skinchanging again, being told not to again, and trudging through the snow, endlessly. No?
4. Arya Stark as Tywin Lannister’s cup bearer
In A Clash Of Kings, the second ASoIaF novel, Arya is captured by Gregor Clegane and his men and forced to live as a servant at Harrenhaal, which was held by Roose Bolton. There, Arya was made Roose Bolton’s cup bearer and she and Jaqen H’ghar were serving up justice left and right in a largely internal journey that relied heavily on being able to get inside her head through reading from her POV.
In Game Of Thrones, it was Tywin Lannister who was heading up Harrenhaal at the time, and he and Arya develop a bizarre kind of father figure relationship which gives us more insight into two characters we were dying to see more from. Tywin, a cold and calculating man with a head for battle strategy, taught Arya a lot about surviving her enemies and contributed heavily to the cunning that she shows in every episode — that which continually serves her to have one leg up on her enemies.
‘Game Of Thrones’ Biggest Plot Changes: The Bad
5. Shae’s characterization
In GoT, Tyrion’s mistress — a prostitute — genuinely appears to love Tyrion, which is not the case in the novels. We don’t want to spoil it for you too badly, but it’s safe to say that she always behaved as a woman who was simply very good at her job — that is, pleasing and flattering the man who keeps her fed, clothed, and sheltered.
In the TV series, Tyrion wants to send her away for her own safety by putting her on a ship to Pentos where she’ll have a house with servants of her own and she’ll never want for anything. Instead of immediately taking the deal with a cartoon cloud of dust behind her as she flees, she fights against Tyrion’s decision and cries when he tells her he doesn’t love her. What?? ASoIaF Shae would have taken the deal in a heartbeat.
It’s not the worst characterization decision, but it is a bit fanciful. We all want to see a love story, but the one between the “dwarf” and the prostitute is not the realistic, star-cross’d tale that the viewer is necessarily looking for.
6. Talisa Stark
Talisa was a total invention for the TV series. In ASoIaF, when Robb Stark receives word of the apparent death of his brothers Bran and Rickon, he seeks carnal comfort from Jeyne Westerling, a Westerosi noblewoman. Because Robb was as bound by honor as his father was, he married the girl whose virginity he took because that’s what honorable men do in the ASoIaF universe. He had made an oath to marry a Frey girl, which would have united the Starks and the Freys in the War of the Five Kings, but by succumbing to his grief and to his more base urges, he was forced to break that oath to make another in order to preserve Jeyne’s honor. Robb’s marriage to Jeyne was a duty in itself — he didn’t necessarily love her.
In the end, it was a totally human error, and the fallout got him killed.
In GoT, Talisa is a healer whom Robb meets on the battlefield of the War of the Five Kings, and they fall madly, deeply in love with each other. Their love story was painted as some tragic, love-conquers-all romance for which Robb just had to throw away his oath — and his honor — for. ASoIaF Robb would have never thrown away his duties for something like love. It was much more true to his character for him to have made a very human mistake in a moment of weakness and for him to have to own up to that mistake — instead, in GoT, it’s like he asked for the Red Wedding.
If there’s anything that the Freys care about less than preserving the honor of a girl whose virginity you took, it’s love.
‘Game Of Thrones’ Biggest Plot Changes: And The Ugly
7. Jaime Lannister’s rape of his twin sister, Cersei Lannister
Finally, the ugliest — and most unnecessary — change to the GoT series. In “Breaker Of Chains,” the third episode of Season 4, Jaime rapes Cersei next to Joffrey’s casket. She said no, he continued — it was rape, simple as that. Despite the episode’s director, Alex Graves, claiming that “it becomes consensual by the end,” that’s certainly not what was portrayed on screen and absolutely not what a TV series with millions of eyeballs should be portraying as consensual sex.
In the books, while the scene was still disturbing, it was more consensual — though it’s certainly up for debate. However, there is no question that Jaime raped Cersei in”Breaker Of Chains,” and there are a number of reasons why this was such a tasteless idea. Firstly, if Cersei has anything in the books, it’s cunning and sexual agency. Cersei does who she wants, when she wants. A Lannister cousin? Sure! A member of the Kingsguard? Why not! Cersei had been raped by Robert Baratheon a number of times during their marriage, and after his death, she had decided that her life was now her own to live. And Jaime knew that.
For better or for worse, Cersei is a strong character whose agency and independence were stripped from her when her brother — the person whom she trusted most — raped her. For him to do the same to her was not only abhorrent, but went directly against all of the positive character development that he had been showing up until that point due to his time spent with Brienne of Tarth.
The worst part of all of this is that in the following episode, “Oathkeeper,” Jaime and Cersei shared a scene in which the rape was not addressed whatsoever. No, this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t actually rape — it means that the writers of GoT were not only irresponsible enough to have written the rape in the first place, but that they had no idea how to deal with the emotional fallout. Perfect.
What do you think, HollywoodLifers? What was the most egregious — or the best — change from the books to the TV series? One of the above, or did you have something else in mind? Let us know!
— Amanda Michelle Steiner