It’s completely understandable that HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels can’t include EVERY character or story beat in their TV version, Game of Thrones. Still, some of the characters or story elements were just so cool that it seems like a real tragedy to lose them. This is a list of several characters and story elements the show has not adapted. I would guess at least three things here may still be adapted at some point so SPOILER warning if you haven’t read the books.
It’s never been mentioned on the show but in the books, there are two magical horns. One is called Joramun, the Horn of Winter. It is claimed that it once woke the giants from the Earth. It is also said that when it is blown, the Wall will fall. Mance Rayder supposedly has it. Seems like a pretty important object if it can bring down the Wall. The other horn is called Dragonbinder and Euron Greyjoy has it. He believes it can control Daenerys’ dragons. Even if they completely fail to work, it seems like the novels will eventually have characters use them. But the show has completely skipped over these items.
Vargo Hoat was completely absent from the show but some of his story went to Locke, the man at arms for House Bolton. They both ran Harrenhall for Lord Bolton while he left to take the North and both were responsible for Jamie Lannister losing his hand and tossing Brienne in the Bear Pit. But there are a lot of differences. Vargo Hoat led a sellsword troop called the Bloody Mummers who were supposedly the worst of the worst as far as mercenaries went. Vargo was described as having a 2 foot long beard with coins from everywhere he’d fought threaded into a necklace. Eventually, the Lannisters send Ser Gregor to retake Harrenhall because no one’s really running the place. Gregor chops off Vargo’s limbs bit by bit, feeding them to prisoners from the North loyal to the Starks. It’s a pretty disgusting end. He certainly didn’t go on Locke’s clandestine mission to infiltrate the Night’s Watch (which led to not much of anything other than betraying Jon Snow and getting himself killed).
There’s still a very good chance this could still happen on the show and the showrunners just didn’t want to have it happen yet for a variety of reasons. But in the books, while Brienne is searching for Sansa and Arya, she crosses the Riverlands and runs into Lady Stoneheart, who is leading the Brotherhood without Banners. Because Lady Stoneheart is Catelyn Stark revived by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. She’s still got a gaping neck wound and has to cover it in order to talk and then she can only whisper. She looks bad, having been killed and submerged in the river. Now back to life she wants to kill every Lannister, Frey and anyone she perceives as having worked with them. There’s still a good chance that Brienne could run into her, though. It just happens earlier in the books.
Griff & Young Griff
Griff and Young Griff are a father and son mercenary that Tyrion encounters as they all travel through Volantis to meet Daenerys. Except Griff and Young Griff aren’t really who they pretend to be. Griff is Jon Connington, once a knight loyal to the Targaryen family and close friend to Rhaegar. The mad king Aerys blamed Jon for a defeat to Robert Baratheon’s forces and stripped him of his title and exiled him. He became a mercenary and was later contacted by Illyrio Mopatis and Varys with a special mission – to raise and defend Aegon Targaryen. Everyone else in Westeros believes Daenerys to be the only Targaryen to have survived Robert’s Rebellion but Illyrio and Varys switched baby Aegon and got him to Jon to protect him. Ultimately, Aegon decides that they should travel to Westeros and begin a rebellion, reasoning that when Daenerys hears about it, she will join them. It’s worth noting that while traveling with Tyrion, they are attacked by the stone men and it is Jon, not Jorah Mormont, who contracts greyscale. As of the end of book five, these two and their men have begun an assault on Jon’s hereditary home and plan to retake it.
Coldhands is a mysterious character north of the Wall who helps Sam and Gilly get to the Wall. He says he cannot pass because of magic and asks them to send Bran his way. He later meets Bran, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Hodor and guides them to the cave of the Three Eyed Crow. Obviously he hasn’t been on the show to do any of that. But now it’s down to just Bran and Meera trying to escape the White Walkers. So there’s a good chance this character could still show up to help them in a different way. He’s described as looking frail and dead with a scarf covering his face. His hands are black with pooled blood. But his eyes are black, not the pale blue of the wights. There’s several theories on who he could be, including the missing Benjen Stark. But there’s really no way to know until either the next book comes out or he’s used on the show.
We recently saw the people of Pyke elect a new leader at their Kingsmoot. On the show, it was simply Yara Greyjoy and her uncle Euron who vied for the position. But in the books, Euron’s other brother, Victarion also puts his name in the ring. Victarion’s third wife was raped by his older brother Euron and honor demanded that he kill her for “cheating” on him. He hates Euron for this but is loyal. Euron wins the Kingsmoot and sends Victarion with the Dragonbinder horn to win over Daenerys as a bride for Euron. Victarion travels with a massive fleet but along the way is injured. He also suspects the maester that Euron sent with him is poisoning him. He picks up a red priest who, like Melisandre, can see the future in the fires. He uses his magic to heal Victarion’s arm which afterwards resembles a roasted pig and visibly smokes. He’s a powerful man and a good captain. He’s a badass with a magic arm! It’s a shame he was excluded.
Wyman Manderly is a loyal bannerman to House Stark. Following its fall, Manderly becomes more important in the later books once the Boltons have taken control of Winterfell. Wyman is about 60 and very fat and people underestimate him. But he fakes the death of Davos Seaworth who came to argue that House Manderly should support Stannis. And in his best move, he kills three Freys in secret and has them baked into pies that he serves to Ramsay and Roose Bolton, quietly gaining a measure of revenge for the Freys and Boltons betrayal of the Starks at the Red Wedding. When we left him, Roose Bolton had ordered Wyman and his men to march to the Wall and attack Stannis. Probably a dumb move on Roose’s part.
On the TV show, Prince Doran Martell of Dorne has one son, Trystane. But in the books, Trystane is the youngest of three children. His older brother, Quentyn, has a part to play in what is revealed to be a long game that Dorne has been playing to gain the throne of Westeros. In Dorne, the eldest child can inherit the title and lands and the eldest child is Arianne. She knows Quentyn was sent East across the Narrow Sea and thinks it’s to gather mercenaries to stage a coup and get her out of the picture. But Doran reveals the actual plan. Dorne had a pact to wed Daenerys’ brother Viserys to Arianne Martell to secure Dorne’s support. With Viserys dead, Quentyn travels to Mereen and shares the pact with Daenerys offering himself as her husband to continue the agreement. Daenerys isn’t interested and politely suggests he return to Dorne. But Quentyn doesn’t want to return empty-handed and after Daenerys flees Mereen on Drogon, he hatches a plan to tame one dragon and return home with it, reasoning that his distant Targaryen blood will allow him to do so. Instead, he’s roasted by one of the dragons and dies a few days later. Meanwhile, Arianne tried to engage in a secret plot to use Dornish rules to have Myrcella Baratheon, then staying in Dorne as their ward, crowned queen and wed to Trystane. Thus securing the throne. She seduces the Kingsguard knight sent to watch over Myrcella but her plan is discovered and her father locks her up temporarily, revealing his plan with Quentyn. By the end of the books, they’ve heard about Jon Connington and Aegon and Doran sends Arianne to find out if it’s true. While Dorne’s plans don’t amount to much, at least it shows they have plans to capture the Iron Throne. Arianne’s role is pretty much taken by Oberyn’s paramour, Ellaria Sand, on the show. Finally, Prince Oberyn had eight bastard daughters. The show and the books focus on three of them but in the books there’s a fourth, Sarella, who is sent to Old Town. There’s also a man named Arellas in Old Town who befriends Sam Tarly as soon as he arrives. There’s an excellent chance this is Sarella in disguise.
On Game of Thrones, characters have had visions here and there. But in the books, it’s really more a case of characters encountering prophecies. Among them, that Cersei would lose all her children, that there will be three heads to the dragon (three riders), that Azor Ahai will be reborn with a flaming sword and more. Readers of the books have had years to interpret these prophecies leading to the thinking that Daenerys will have two others with Targeryen blood to ride the dragons with her and that Jon and Tyrion may be those two. That Cersei may accidentally kill Tommen somehow. That Jon Snow is the reborn Azor Ahai, a legendary hero from 5,000 years ago that brought light against the darkness. Azor Ahai created a powerful sword called Lightbringer by driving it through the heart of his love and her soul joined with the sword. There’s a bunch more prophecies, all vague but almost all have come true.
The show includes the direwolves that each of the Stark children raise but they are not prominent. Probably due to the cost it takes to show them. But they are much more a part of the story in the books. And in fact, the direwolves serve as a metaphor for what will happen to each child. Nymeria is driven away and soon Arya is alone in the world. Grey Wind growls and distrusts the Freys who shortly betray and kill Robb. They also kill Grey Wind and sew his head to Robb’s body as added insult. Lady is put down in Nymeria’s place at the orders of Cersei and Sansa is later unjustly punished by the Lannisters. It’s therefore worth noting that on the show, which has moved ahead of the books in most places, Bran’s dog Summer sacrifices himself to allow Bran and Meera to escape the White Walkers. Perhaps Bran will soon have to make a big sacrifice as well.
Daenerys is not invulnerable to fire in the books. She was involved in a one-time magical event when her dragons are born at the beginning of the story. But in a recent episode, she burned some Dothraki in a hut and she emerged unscathed. Targaryens don’t have magical fire powers in the books. And of course, Viserys wasn’t invulnerable to molten gold.