HBO’s Game of Thrones may only be made up of 70ish hours when all’s said and done, but those hours are full of surprises, tense moments, and a ton of awesome that the show writers worked hard to translate, conceive, and birth into a shadowy dominance of Sunday night television. So it may be hard to imagine the hundreds of hours that never made it to the small screen. Unless you also read the books.
This week, while the show begins to chart unknown waters, Fire and Lunch is looking back, as we choose our favorite book scenes that we wish had made it onto the show—some small moments, witty lines, and characterizations we miss. These are just a few of the scenes we wish we could see with our eyes, but we’ll just have to settle for our imaginations/greensight. Let us know your own picks in the comments.
Beware book spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire!
Scene: Robb and Bran discuss visiting Jon at the Wall
Book: A Game of Thrones
This is a sweet moment between the Stark brothers that would melt even the heart of an Other. The rest of the Stark clan (aside from the ones not in diapers) have all left Winterfell for King’s Landing or the Wall. Bran has been crippled; at this point in the series this is actually the worst thing to happen to the Starks. The scene takes place in Bran’s bedchamber where the two brothers have a conversation about whether their family will ever come back.
They wistfully discuss a potential trip to the Wall to surprise their brother, Jon Snow. At the end of the exchange Robb breaks down in tears at his brother’s bedside and the two brothers reach out to hold each other’s hands, as if to give each other strength. Don’t worry, that is definitely dust in the air that is causing your eyes to water right now.
Why we miss it: While Ned is away in King’s Landing, Robb has been playing at being the Lord of Winterfell. In this scene, Martin chooses to let Robb’s mask of “Lord Robb” drop, to reveal to us a boy of fourteen who just had the weight of the world thrust upon him. Is it the overwhelming responsibility that causes Robb to break down? Or is it the fear that he may never see his family again? Either way it is a great family moment for the two.
Scene: The chase through Skirling Pass and Qhorin Halfhand’s death
Book: A Clash of Kings
The adaptation of these chapters for the TV show is head-scratching given the chapter’s cinematic potential. Jon Snow is part of Qhorin Halfhand’s scouting party whose mission is to figure out what the hell Mance Rayder has been up to in the Frostfang mountains. Who’s Qhorin? The only dude on the show who decided to wear a hat North of the Wall!
Back to the book, while trying to figure out what Mance was up to, the scouting party ends up being spotted by a skinchanger in the the body of an eagle. Qhorin Halfhand then calls for a retreat back to the Fist of the First Men. What follows is a tense chase through the Skirling Pass, a twisting path within the mountain range of the Frostfangs. One by one the members of Qhorin’s party are picked off, until the only two left are Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand. It is in that moment that Qhorin demands that Jon kill him in the event of them being captured and orders him to act as a spy (telling Jon, “Our honor means no more than our lives, so long as the realm is safe”). A scene that is frustratingly missing from the television show and left many a viewer confused as to why Jon was killing the cool bro with the hat.
Why we miss it: For starters, the rangers of the Shadow Tower are badasses. All of the men that are a part of Qhorin’s party were willing to sacrifice their lives to give Jon and Qhorin a chance to make it back to the Fist of the First Men. We still internally lament the complete omission of Squire Dalbridge, his bow, and his quips from the TV show. Moreover, Qhorin’s statement about individual honor is a main theme through Jon’s storyline. As the threat from the Others intensifies, it’s clear that Jon sees the safety of the realm as more important than his honor.
Scene: Jaime tells Brienne “I dreamed of you” after he saves her from the bear pit
Book: A Storm of Swords
Jaime leaves Brienne with Vargo Hoat (changed to Locke on the show) at Harrenhal to return to Kings Landing after the loss of his hand. On his trip, he tries to convince himself that Brienne will be fine and that she will be ransomed to her father. He wrestles with terrible thoughts of the very real possibility of Brienne being raped but tries to rationalize that she is tough enough to survive it. That night he dreams that he is whole with his family in a cave below Casterly Rock. They are shrouded in darkness and Cersei tells him that it’s his darkness when he calls out to her. They abandon him and when he sees a light, the light leads him to Brienne, who is chained and naked. He frees her when she reminds him that she swore she would protect him. He hears Cersei’s voice again and she tells him that when the sword’s flame dies, he would die as well. He is soon surrounded by the shades of Rhaegar Targaryen, Ned Stark, Arthur Dayne and some of his fallen brothers of the Kingsguard. Although Brienne’s sword remains lit, his dies out and Jaime wakes from his dream. The dream spurs him to return, to save Brienne. Jaime arrives to find Brienne fighting for her life in the bear pit. Afterwards, she asks him why he returned when he was well on his way home.
“I dreamed of you.”
Why we miss it: Because of this dream, Jaime realizes that his relationship to Cersei is destructive and not as strong as he believes and that the light in his life, his secret pursuit of honor, is through Brienne. Whether this is a romantic love (shippers for life!) or whether it is his realization that Brienne is the type of knight he wishes to be – honorable, kind, loyal, and truthful – is up for discussion. Jaime’s redemption story begins with him wanting to be more than what people expect of him. He is the Kingslayer in their eyes and many do not know how many lives he saved that day. He is honorable behind his bitter mask and the only person who sees through his mask is Brienne.
Scene: Strong Belwas defeats Oznak zo Pahl at the gates of Meereen
Book: A Storm of Swords
Restructured in the show to give Daario something heroic to do; this scene was so much better with Ser Barry’s old sidekick, famed locust-eater and absolute badass Meereenese pitfighter, Strong Belwas. At this point in the books, the enormous and scarred Belwas hasn’t done much besides boast (he excels at boasts) and eat. A lot. But when the fearsome Oznak rides out from the gates of Meereen yelling insults and generally being a huge tool Dany decides it’s time to see if Belwas is as good as he’s always saying he is. So out he goes on foot, against Oznak ahorse with a huge lance. (Hello). Belwas swiftly unhorses Oznak and cuts off his head. And because Belwas is the greatest shit-talker to ever live, he puts meaning to action and actually defecates towards Mereen (better than mooning?) and wipes himself with Oznak’s cloak. But yea, it was cool when Daario swiped the guy with his Lady Arakh. (Ok we got that wink, that wink was just a little bit of Book!Daario showing through that did make us happy).
Why We Miss It: “I let each man cut me once, before I kill him. Count the cuts and you will know how many Strong Belwas has slain.” Belwas is one of the many former slave characters that Dany surrounds herself with and from whom she often takes council. When Dany goes missing at the end of Dance, Ser Barry puts Belwas on the new ruling council of Meereen. Belwas is one of the supporters of reopening the Meereenese fighting pits (though he may be biased) and is generally used as a cheerful foil for the many difficult decisions Dany must ponder her way through in her rule. We hate to see the Essos character list shortened but combining him with Daario was probably a smart decision for the show. Even if that means they didn’t serve Honeyed Locusts at the pits in Season 5. TRAGEDY. The mystery of Who Poisoned the Honeyed Locusts at Dany and Hizdahr’s wedding pit fight is still a matter of fan-debate.
Scene: Jaime and Loras meet in the White Tower
Book: A Storm of Swords
Jaime Lannister meets with the Kingsguard in the White Tower and dismisses them one by one as they swear loyalty to him as their Lord Commander. At the end, he is left with only Ser Loras Tyrell. The two discuss knighthood, loyalty, Renly and what to do about Brienne who has been in a tower cell since arriving in King’s Landing with Jaime. Loras insists upon her arrest because he believes that she killed Renly.
Why we miss it: This scene encompasses everything missing from the version of Loras Tyrell that appears in the show. It displays his true love and loyalty for Renly as he speaks about how he buried him with his own hands in a place only they knew about where he would never be disturbed. This is one of the more romantic gestures in a story that finds itself lacking on that front. The scene also portrays Loras as one of the finest knights in Westeros, and Jaime recognizes his younger self in the Knight of Flowers, “he’s [him]…as [he] once was.” It’s a nice moment that allows Jaime to take on more of a mentorship role, taking cues from the likes of Arthur Dayne, Barristan the Bold, and The White Bull who taught him what it was to be a knight. It’s a meaningful, weighted conversation that in the show is a replaced with a half-hearted argument at Joffrey’s wedding about power, politics, and Cersei.
Scene: Vengeance. Justice. Fire and Blood.
Book: A Feast For Crows
After failing at her scheme to crown Myrcella queen, the Martell heir, Arianne, finds herself locked in a tower cell. When Doran confronts her, she accuses him of indifference towards the deaths of his brother Oberyn and sister Elia. She is livid that he seems to be promoting her younger brother, Quentyn, over herself, and that he has never tried to match her with a lord that would give her the power she felt she deserved. Doran Martell chooses this moment to finally reveal his plans for his family and the kingdom at large, something he’d been quietly working on for decades. Doran tells Arianne he had, in fact, planned for her brother to inherit Dorne, but only because she had been promised years ago to Viserys Targaryen. He had always intended for Arianne to be the Queen of Westeros. Viserys’ death had forced the plans to shift, so that now she would be the heir of Sunspear. It was her brother, now on a journey to Essos to find Daenerys, who must bring them back their “heart’s desire.”
“Vengeance. Justice. Fire and Blood.”
Why We Miss It: Dorne in the show has often been a sore point for book fans. Many feel that the motivation and importance of the Martell family has been sidelined in Game of Thrones, to the detriment of the richness of the plot. This point was initially raised with the tragic omission of Arianne Martell, a smart, strong woman who was unwilling to allow the men around her to dictate her path in life. She is truly a wonderful character, and one that would’ve been a privilege to watch on screen.
The point was driven home in the Season 6 premiere with the murder of Doran Martell. This man is portrayed in the novels as intelligent and strategic, the polar opposite of his flashier, action-driven brother. Doran works with the hand that he was dealt, playing the long game. The entire motivation of the Martell family is wrapped up in the above scene from the books. This reveal of Doran’s master plan proves that the Martells are, in fact, one of the most powerful families in the kingdom, and a force to reckon with. Now that there is no feasible way for any version of this to take place in the show, we’re not quite sure why Dorne was written into Thrones at all.
Additionally, “Vengeance. Justice. Fire and Blood.” is one of the best lines of the entire series.
Scene: Davos at the court of Wyman Manderly
Book: A Dance with Dragons
This moment from the book combines two Davos Seaworth chapters. Our brave Onion Knight is sent to White Harbor as an envoy to treat with Wyman Manderly, Lord of White Harbor. The goal? Ask the Lord of White Harbor to aid Stannis in gaining the Iron Throne. He is brought before Lord Wyman and the entire Merman court. This crowd, including some Freys, is hostile to Davos. Jared Frey even has the gall to claim Robb Stark killed Lord Wyman’s son at the Red Wedding.
All’s not lost for Davos as there are friendly ears amongst those loudmouth Freys in the form of Wylla Manderly, who reminds her grandfather of White Harbor’s oath to House Stark. Though Wyman ends up hushing his granddaughter it is later revealed to Davos, while Lord Wyman was on the privy, “the North Remembers and the mummer’s farce is almost done.” This scene also has us wondering if Martin draws creative inspiration while on his own porcelain throne. Sharp eyed readers know all about what happens next but we’re still hoping this tasty event somehow makes it to Season 6 so we’ll stay mum about it!
Why we miss it: On an aesthetic level the Merman’s Court would have been beautiful to see on screen, King Triton take note. Interior decorating discussions aside, the main reason we are sad to see it not included is the loss of some of the most iconic lines of dialogue in the books. The most memorable being Davos’ response to Jared’s claim that Robb Stark had murdered Wendel Manderly at the Red Wedding. The exchange ends with this Davos stating, “Ser Jared of House Frey, I name you liar!” We know Liam Cunningham would have rocked a scene like this. Here’s hoping some version of “The Grand Northern Conspiracy” plays out on HBO.
Even though there are lots of scenes we wish had made it from page to screen we should acknowledge that many of our favorite scenes did make it! In the game of script adaptations you either make the cut or you die.
Hello, we are Fire and Lunch! Five years ago, a bunch of superfans came together to celebrate their favorite book series over food, and the rest is history. You can find our in-depth analysis (complete with POP-toy gifs) of Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and other fantasy series on tumblr and twitter. If you’re into fast talking, intelligent discourse, and some pretty deep geek humor, check out our podcast, The Piecast.