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11 Key Characters from the Game of Thrones Books That Were Cut from the TV Series

11 Key Characters from the Game of Thrones Books That Were Cut from the TV Series

HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones was a worldwide phenomenon that dominated television and pop culture between 2011 and 2019. The series has been praised for its unpredictable plot twists, its combination of realism and fantasy, its high-quality production, its epic battle sequences, and its large, ensemble cast. And yet, despite the show’s enormous cast, there are still a number of characters who never made it to the screen.

Game of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s bestselling book series A Song of Ice and Fire, which he started in 1996. Of the supposed seven entries in the series, Martin has written five books so far. The last installment, A Dance with Dragons, was released in 2011, the same year that Game of Thrones premiered. And unfortunately, the series came and went without ever seeing another book.

Martin has been infamously working on the sixth entry, The Winds of Winter, over the last 13 years — and there’s still no word of when it will be completed. Because of Martin’s painfully slow writing, the showrunners were forced to take creative liberties that caused Game of Thrones to deviate from its source material.

Some of these liberties include cutting characters who may have a larger role in the books’ plot. Of the many characters excluded from the series, here are 10 key players from the books who got the ax before they could get it on the show. Stream Game of Thrones on Max.

Quentyn Martell

Quentyn Martell from the Game of Thrones collectible card game
Fantasy Flight Games

Dorne’s storyline in Game of Thrones was one of the weakest parts of the show. It also differs dramatically from the books, which feature several key players who were cut from the show. One of those players is Quentyn Martell, a Prince of Dorne who is also the second child and eldest son of Doran Martell, the ruler of Dorne. Quentyn is the centerpiece of Doran’s sneaky plot; unbeknownst to the rest of the kingdom, the prince has sent his eldest son to wed Daenerys Targaryen and form an alliance with House Martell.

Quentyn Fails to Impress Daenerys Targaryen

Unfortunately, though, things don’t go as planned (when do they ever in Game of Thrones?) When Dany is unimpressed with him, Quentyn gets brazen and decides to woo her with what seems like a courageous and brilliant idea to him but a stupid one to everyone else: he tries taming one of her dragons.

This attempt costs Quentyn his life, as he’s burned alive by dragonfire. It might seem like a useless plot point that wasn’t needed in the show. But House Martell has yet to learn of Quentyn’s death — and when they do, it’s likely to have repercussions for Daenerys.

Jeyne Poole

Jeyne Poole in Game of Thrones
Warner Bros Discovery

Jeyne Poole is Sansa Stark’s best friend and a native of Winterfell. She does appear in the show’s first season, though she’s never mentioned by name. She vanished after the feast at Winterfell in season one and was never heard from again. Was she killed? Maybe. But it’s more likely that the writers forgot about Jeyne and didn’t include her in future episodes, basically cutting her from Game of Thrones.

A Massive Role in the Books

Jeyne actually plays a pretty big role in the books. In A Dance with Dragons, the fifth novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, Jeyne is disguised as Arya Stark and wed to the vicious and psychotic Ramsay Bolton. It’s Jeyne, not Sansa, who becomes a prisoner of Winterfell and endures Ramsay’s abuse.

Similar to Game of Thrones, Jeyne is rescued by Theon Greyjoy, and the two take shelter in Stannis Baratheon’s encampment. Believing Jeyne to be Arya, Stannis sends her to the Wall to be reunited with Jon Snow, who he doesn’t know has just been killed by his brothers in black. What becomes of Jeyne remains to be seen, but her escape will likely spark a battle as the enraged Ramsay tries to find her.


Image of Coldhands from Song of Ice and Fire calendar
Penguin Random House

Coldhands is the nickname that Samwell Tarly gives to a mysterious undead figure in A Song of Ice and Fire. Not much is known about Coldhands, including his identity. He’s thought to be a former brother of the Night’s Watch, as he’s draped in all black and refers to Sam as “brother”.

His pale face is covered by a scarf, his eyes are black unlike the bright blue eyes of the undead wights, and his hands are as cold as ice (hence the brilliant nickname) and have turned black from congealed blood. He also rides an elk rather than a horse and seems to be one of the good guys, aiding Bran Stark and working with the Three-Eyed Raven.

Not the Same as the Show

Game of Thrones sort of included Coldhands, but not really. In the show, a similar character appears who’s revealed to be an undead Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle), Ned Stark’s younger brother who goes missing beyond the Wall. As of A Dance with Dragons, Benjen’s whereabouts are still unknown. Benjen’s reappearance in the show brought to life a popular fan theory — that Coldhands is actually the missing and deceased Benjen Stark.

But despite its popularity, this theory isn’t true. Coldhands is said to have died a long time ago; meanwhile, Benjen has only been missing for two years in the books. George R.R. Martin also noted that Coldhands is not Benjen in an early manuscript to his editor. Who really is Coldhands, and what role will he play in Bran’s journey? It’ll take Martin finishing the remaining two books in order for those questions to be answered.

Edric Storm

Edric Storm from the Game of Thrones The Card Game
Fantasy Flight Publishing

Edric Storm was actually an early cut from the show. He’s one of the many bastard children of King Robert Baratheon and one of the few who survived Queen Cersei’s slaughter (in the show, it’s actually King Joffrey who orders this massacre). Edric is the spitting image of a young King Robert and resides at Dragonstone, where he’s the semi-prisoner of Stannis Baratheon.

An Important Piece in the Lore

In the books, it’s Edric’s blood that Melisandre uses to curse the three false kings of Westeros. Fearing what Stannis and Melisandre might do to the boy, Davos has Edric shipped away. Sound familiar? That’s because Game of Thrones combined this character with another bastard child of King Robert: Gendry (Joe Dempsie). Edric was last seen hiding in Lys, one of the nine Free Cities of Essos. Will he come to have a similar fate as Gendry and rise up to become the lord of Storm’s End? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Related: House of the Dragon Season 2 Releases Dueling Trailers

Wilas and Garlan Tyrell

Remember when the Lannisters wiped out House Tyrell toward the end of Game of Thrones? Well, the Tyrells might be a bit harder to kill in the books as there are two additional children, aside from Loras and Margarey Tyrell. There’s Willas, a kind-hearted and intelligent, physically challenged person, who is Mace Tyrell’s oldest son and the heir to Highgarden.

The True Heirs to the House of Tyrell

His younger brother Garlan, Mace’s second son, is an exceptional swordsman. But unlike his little brother Loras, Garlan has no desire for knighthood or personal glory. Wilas and Garlan were cut from Game of Thrones, which made the Tyrells much easier to vanquish. But with these characters alive and well in A Song of Ice and Fire, House Tyrell is likely to be a more formidable opponent in the wars to come.

Jon Connington/Griff

Jon Connington with greyscale
Fantasy Flight Games

Jon Connington is a key character who’s been cut from the books. He plays an important role in the current storyline of A Song of Ice and Fire, and also in the history of Westeros. Connington was the Lord of Griffin’s Roost and the head of House Connington. He served as Hand of the King to Aerys, also known as the Mad King, during Robert’s Rebellion.

The Mad King exiled Jon for his failures. After the war, the newly crowned King Robert Baratheon kept Jon in exile for being a staunch Targaryen ally and stripped House Connington of its lordship.

A Hand of the King

While in exile, Connington was given precious cargo by the ever-convincing Lord Varys (more on that in a bit). Connington is tasked with protecting the cargo, traveling under disguise and with an alias (Connington goes by the name of Griff). Although Connington was cut from A Game of Thrones, aspects of his story were included in the show. In the books, it’s Jon Connington who contracts the deadly greyscale disease, not Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). It remains to be seen, however, if Connington will be cured similarly.

Arianne Martell

Arianne Martell from Game of Thrones collective card game
Fantasy Flight Games

The beautiful and ambitious Arianne Martell is perhaps the most important and alluring character to come out of Dorne, aside from Oberyn Martell. As Prince Doran’s eldest child, she is the future ruling Princess of Dorne. Wishing to protect her birthright and exact revenge upon the Lannisters for her uncle’s death, Arianne hatches a plan to crown Myrcella Queen of the Seven Kingdoms (in Dorne, an older sister inherits the throne before a younger brother), sparking a civil war between Myrcella and her little brother, the current King Tommen Baratheon.

A Key Player with the Martells and Sand Snakes

She is close with the Sand Snakes, who were included in Game of Thrones but never really got their time to shine. Arianne herself was discarded and instead combined with Oberyn’s paramour, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) — though Game of Thrones significantly altered Arianne’s plans for Myrcella. Only at the end of Dance with Dragons does Arianne learn about her father’s scheme with Quentyn. But with her brother’s death, it’s likely that Arianne becomes a key player in Dorne’s storyline for the remainder of the series.

Victorian Greyjoy

Victorian Greyjoy on Song of Ice and Fire calendar
Penguin Random House

Throughout Game of Thrones, we meet many Greyjoys, ​​​​​​the hardened seafarers of Westeros. But the most badass one, Victorian Greyjoy, was sadly cut from the series. He’s the younger brother of Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands, and the Captain of the Iron Fleet. After Balon’s death, Victoria tries to proclaim himself king of the Iron Islands, a bout that he loses to his loathsome older brother Euron — a name that you will surely recognize from Game of Thrones. The show’s version of Euron combined his literary counterpart with Victorian, making Euron a very different character in the show.

A Sea-Faring Warrior

Victorian is an exceptional and formidable warrior. In one scene, he catches a blade with his hand in the middle of a battle and then has it magically replaced with an unnatural, charred, and stronger hand. When Euron becomes king, Victorian agrees to become his underling, sail to Slaver’s Bay, and bring back Daenerys Targaryen for Euron to wed. Little does Euron know, Victorian plans to take the Dragon Queen for himself, which will only heighten the conflict between these two estranged brothers.

Related: Is Game of Thrones Worth Rewatching?

Lady Stoneheart

Lady Stoneheart killing people
Penguin Random House

When Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) is killed in Game of Thrones, that’s the last we see of her character — but that isn’t the case in the books. It’s revealed at the very end of A Storm of Swords, the third book in Martin’s series, that Catelyn’s corpse has been resurrected. She bears the gruesome wounds that claimed her life: her skin has grown soft and white from being submerged so long in the river, and she can barely speak due to the deep gash across her throat.

But she’s no longer the maternal or empathetic woman that we had known her to be. She’s now a ruthless and vengeful killer, murdering anyone associated with the Red Wedding — the jaw-dropping event that killed her and her son Robb, the King of the North at the time. Catelyn Stark is truly dead. She is now known only as Lady Stoneheart.

An Entire Arc of Catelyn’s Character Was Cut

Lady Stoneheart’s appearance was a major plot twist. Book fans were surprised when she didn’t surface in the season four finale. They kept waiting for her to pop up — but the series came and went without ever mentioning her. Not only was Lady Stoneheart cut from the show, but the writers also altered the character of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer). In the show, Beric sacrifices himself to save Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), allowing her to kill the Night King, implying that Beric has been repeatedly brought back to life for this very purpose.

But in the books, it’s Beric who revives Catelyn, trading his unnatural life for hers. Lady Stoneheart’s appearances in Martin’s books have been few and far between; it’s hard to know what role she’ll play in the end. But her absence in Game of Thrones marks a big departure from the books and a disappointment to many fans.

Aegon Targaryen/Young Griff

Aegon Targaryen_ from Game of Thrones collective card game
Fantasy Flight Games

Remember Jon Connington and that precious cargo he was given by Varys? Well, that precious cargo happens to be another character who was cut from Game of Thrones, perhaps the most significant one of the bunch. While in exile, Connington learns that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen’s infant son, Aegon (named, of course, after the legendary conqueror of Westeros), had survived the Sack of King’s Landing. Connington is tasked with protecting the boy and helping him to take back his throne from the Baratheons and Lannisters. The pair travel under disguises and aliases (Aegon goes by the name of Young Griff) and are currently heading to Westeros to commence their rebellion.

Aegon’s survival throws a massive wrench into the central plot; he has more of a claim to the Iron Throne than Dany does. Jon’s claim, however, would overpower Aegon’s if Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark really did get married in the books. Because Aegon is alive, though, it’s unlikely that Jon’s birthname is really Aegon; the showrunners likely combined their characters together. Maybe Dany’s claim being challenged by two different people is what ultimately drives herover the edge. The books do sow some doubt, however, whether Aegon is really the son of Rhaegar and not some imposter. Hopefully one day, we’ll get to find out the truth.

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