HBO’s Game of Thrones

Nitpicking HBO’s Game of Thrones: 10 Book Details the Show Got Wrong

We admit we were a bit annoyed that the awesome Arthur Dayne needed two swords in the Tower of Joy flashback that aired in Season 6 Episode 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, does not need TWO swords. He is perfect with just his one amazing sword (Jaime would totally agree with us). We know we are not alone in our rage over this admittedly very trivial matter.

The early success of HBO’s Game of Thrones was driven in part by the excited book fans (like us!) that stood in line at the early marketing efforts (remember the Westeros-themed food trucks?). These fans also told all their coworkers to watch this new fantasy show based on these awesome books they had read. Book fans form the backbone of this fandom, but sometimes book fans go bad. Book fans are often (and probably correctly) characterized as overly critical, never happy, and obsessed with inconsequential details (see above re: Arthur Dayne’s ONE sword), and they drive their show-watching friends a little mad. As overly critical fans ourselves, we present to you a list of 10 of the dumbest and most irrational nitpicks we admit to having.

BEWARE SPOILERS including the most recent episode of Game of Thrones Season 6, “Book of the Stranger”.


Nerd Rage: Peaches Are Not In Season


Description of Show Scene: In A Clash of Kings, Renly offers a peach to his brother, Stannis, during their parley before a certain shadow takes its revenge on the former. The show, however, chose to skip that poignant aspect to the scene. To attempt to appease our need for Renly holding a piece of fruit, David and Dan did treat us to a scene in “Garden of Bones” in Season 2, where Renly and Littlefinger discuss a possible alliance while he stares rather intently at…wait for it…an apple.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: Okay, so the scene with Renly’s peach in the books is obviously about way more than the peach itself. The peach is not the point, it’s the message behind the peach. Renly is basically trying to get Stannis to stop and smell the roses (blue ones hopefully!). So while we understand that the type of fruit in the scene itself is mostly irrelevant, the fact that the show decided to include a scene with Renly holding a piece of fruit, seemingly as a nod to the book scene, it kind of felt a bit trollish to make it an apple instead of a peach. Were peaches not in season when they filmed this scene? Were they spending too much on dragon CGI scenes that importing a peach was not in the budget? Could they not just have a fake peach? It’s not like he had to take a bite of it or anything. We will probably never know the real reason, but we will forever mourn the absence of Renly’s peach.


Nerd Rage: Lack of Blue Hair Blues


Description of Show Scene: Daario Naharis is played by two different actors in the show and sadly, neither of them have his iconic blue locks. First we had Ed Skrein, appearing in “Second Sons” in Season 3, who looked kind of like a Costco Eomer with a wig he bought at a gift shop in Rohan. Now we have Michiel Huisman, first appearing in “Two Swords” in Season 4, who, while gorgeous, does kind of just look a bit like everyone else on the show.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: Obviously, this is a mostly ridiculous complaint, but that is what we are here for. Critics of the blue hair often say it would look absurd on screen, that it would not work, but why not? This is a fantasy show after all and something we miss in general in this world as it appears on screen is a little bit of color every now and then. What better way to start than with some ludicrous blue hair, a gold mustache and a three pronged beard. The blue hair also represents his culture, as the Tyroshi are known for dyeing their hair all sorts of colors. We are certain that there is a way they could have made this work even within the gritty aesthetic they have adopted for the show.


Nerd Rage: His Name Is… Hey Jojen, A Little Help Here?


Description of Show Scene: In A Game of Thrones, Bran struggles to name his direwolf pup before his fall from the tower. It is through him that we find out the names of the other five direwolves as he laments that he cannot find the right one for his. When he wakes up from his coma though, his first words out of his mouth, as he looks at his wolf are, “his name is Summer.” In the show, Bran’s direwolf is nameless for two full seasons before Jojen Reed randomly pulls his name out of a dream in “Dark Wings, Dark Words” in Season 3.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: So, the Reeds magically appear out of nowhere in the middle of the woods, approaching Bran and company on their way north to the Wall and practically the first words out of Jojen’s mouth as the wolf growls at him are, “you must be Summer.” Now, it does not bother us that Jojen happens to know the name of the wolf. He has green dreams after all, so it is entirely plausible. The fact that this is the first mention of his name, though, and that it is almost like he’s telling Bran just feels strange. The name Summer feels like something of a symbol of hope for Bran—whose House words are famously “winter is coming”—and so it seems wrong that he was not the first one to name the wolf on screen. That said, at least Summer finally had a name—and this a full two seasons before Daenerys’ dragons FINALLY got names on screen. Do not even get us started on that one…


Nerd Rage: “Your Sister”


Description of Show Scene: In A Storm of Swords, Littlefinger proclaims his undying love for her older sister, Catelyn Stark, as he pushes Lysa Arryn out the moon door with the iconic line, “Only Cat.” In “Mockingbird” in Season 3, the scene is much the same, except for the altering of those two little words, replaced with “Your sister” instead.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: Not all lines are going to be kept intact and that is understandable. We can forgive things like the lack of “Edd, fetch me a block” because Olly was his steward at the time (what a mistake that was) and they were streamlining the scene and needed to make it clear that he was going to do the beheading himself. Sure. Fine. Swapping “Only Cat” out for “Your sister” just kind of feels like they did it on purpose, though. It literally makes no difference to the scene, but “Only Cat” just has a better ring to it.


Nerd Rage: Blue Roses = Desert Roses instead of Winter Roses


Description of Show Scene: In “Two Swords,” the first episode of Season 4, Daario gives Dany a bouquet of flowers in an attempt to win her favor. The bouquet includes blue roses, which Daario describes as being desert roses. Wrong! Blue roses are winter roses and from the North!

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: Because blue roses should be associated with Lyanna Stark (and by extension, Jon Snow)! Not Daario and Essos! Does Essos even have winter? GRRM repeatedly uses blue roses when discussing Northern women, in particular Lyanna Stark and the Stark maiden taken by Bael the Bard. The rose also appears in one of Dany’s House of the Undying visions (a blue rose growing out of a wall of ice, which many assume to be Jon). These clues are meant to help the reader piece together R+L=J. But now the show can’t use this item as a clue! It does not actually affect the story in any way, but the rose imagery was a nice detail that we miss.


Nerd Rage: Baby Sam


Description of Show Scene: After many name suggestions from Samwell Tarly, sitting around a fire, trying to get warm, Gilly eventually settles on the name Sam, when questioned by Maester Aemon in “Mhysa” at the end of Season 3, perhaps unable to remember any of the other boys names after the trauma of being attacked by a White Walker.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: In the books, the Free Folk do not name their children until they reach their second year. Due to harsh conditions and a high mortality rate for infants, it is considered a bad omen. It is an important part of their culture that is overlooked in the show in favor of allowing Gilly to give Sam a little thrill by naming her son after him. Like our other nitpicks, this change doesn’t matter for the overall plot, but it’s just another aspect of Free Folk culture that the show has ignored. (Also, in the books, Gilly and Sam choose Aemon as the name for the child in their care…which isn’t Gilly’s baby, but that’s for another article).


Nerd Rage: There are too many eyes on this show


Description of the Show Scene: Both Bloodraven and Euron Greyjoy have sets of two healthy eyes on the show.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: There’s an old rhyme in Westeros about Bloodraven called “A Thousand Eyes and One”. Originally it described Bloodraven’s immense spy network but during the events of A Dance With Dragons, it becomes ironic since as the Bloodraven now only has one eye—the other socket has a root growing through it. In fact, we’re pretty annoyed by the fact that Bloodraven doesn’t look like a creepy skeleton man with roots growing through him in the show but it is probably more irrational that the number of eyes he’s sporting bothers us more.

The same can be said of Euron Greyjoy. In the books he is the creepiest of the Greyjoys obsessed with the sorcery of the far lands he has sailed to for knowledge and fortune. Funnily enough he’s also referred to as the Crow’s Eye (while Bloodraven is often referred to as Three-Eyed Raven which also no longer makes sense because he’d have to be the four-eyed Raven!) and he sports an extremely piratical eyepatch and blue lips dyed from drinking Shade of the Evening, a wine favored by the warlocks of Qarth (they had blue lips in the show! Remember Pyat Pree? Why is this too weird for Euron?!) His dualistic nature is physically reflected by his scary eye and his normal, blue eye that sailors refer to as the Smiling Eye. We’re not sure why the show decided to tone down Euron’s look, perhaps for simplicity’s sake, but we think he was far scarier sporting the physical manifestations of his magical experimentation.


Nerdrage: The Thenns are not scary cannibals


Description of the Show Scene: The Freefolk / Wildling tribe called the Thenn are mentioned in Season 3 but we don’t get a good look at them until Season 4 with the introduction of Styr the Magnar of Thenn and his raiding party. They are self-described as cannibals and they are also shown to shave their heads and practice ritualistic scarification. They are one of the major Free Folk groups opposed to any truce with the Night’s Watch and seem to function in the show as beserker fighters. Styr is eventually killed by Jon Snow at the Battle of Castle Black.

Why it Irrationally Bothers Us: The book versions of the Thenns are about as opposite their show counterparts as they could possibly be. The Thenns are known as the most lawful of the Freefolk tribes. They have their own lords and laws and therefore have the most in common with the Lords of Westeros. Like the Thenns in the show, they speak the Old Tongue. Also like the show Thenns, they are incredible fighters led by a leader they call the Magnar named Styr. When he is defeated at the Battle of Castle Black his son takes on the mantle of Magnar. While many Wildlings return to their lands North of the Wall (certain death), many stay with the rest of the population in the Gift ruled by one of their own.

It is through a generous interpretation of the Thenn’s own laws that the Thenns are raised to House status and Jon Snow arranges a marriage between the new Magnar and Alys Karstark to cement the alliance approved by Stannis and protect Alys from the machinations of her own cousins. They create their own sigil (the Karstark sunburst surrounded by the flames of R’hllor). Due to other politics within House Karstark it is very likely that the Thenns will inherit the Karstark Holds, which adds to the growing tension between some of the Westerosi men of the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow.


Nerd Rage: Skipping a Targaryen Generation


Description of the Show Scene: In “Baelor” in Season 1, Jon Snow is wrestling with the decision of whether or not to flee the Night’s Watch to ride to the aid of Robb in order to free Ned from the clutches of the Lannisters in King’s Landing. He whines to Maester Aemon that “no one understands” and Aemon schools him on what it’s like when your family gets dragged into a war that you cannot take part in, revealing that he is Aemon Targaryen.

Why It Irrationally Bothers Us: During his speech, he says that his father was Maekar I, all well and good, and that his brother Aegon ruled after him, again good, and then his son, Aerys ruled after him. Hold on, wait a minute, what happened to Jaehaerys II? This is a totally trivial point, but it does kind of screw with the timeline a bit, especially when we start hearing maybe Bloodraven (the Three-Eyed Raven) talking about sitting in a tree for a thousand years. Just what is going on with Targaryen history in the show?


Nerdrage: Fire can and does kill a lot of dragons


Description of the Show Scene: Of Daenerys Targaryen’s many titles, one is The Unburnt, which refers to Dany surviving Drogo’s funeral pyre relatively unscathed. Dany believes this confirms she is the true Targaryen heir since her older brother, Viserys, always told her that fire can not harm a true Dragon. Viserys suffocated to death under a molten gold crown proving to Dany that he was not a true dragon. Most recently, Dany used her fire-proof ability to burn all the Khals of the Dothraki in a conflagration from which she emerged, again, unharmed.

Why it irrationally bothers us: Targaryens are famously NOT immune to fire. For example, we know the burning of Summerhall was responsible for the death of Aegon V (known to many readers as Egg from the Dunk and Egg novellas) and his family. Aerion Brightflame actually drank wildfire in an attempt to ascend into some kind of dragon form. It did not go well. Rhaenyra was roasted alive by a Dragon and the aforementioned Viserys was killed by molten gold. Dany herself has suffered burns from Drogon’s fire breath and depending on your theory championing, Jon Snow burned his hand pretty badly while fighting off a Wight. Finally, the destruction of Valyria was due to a volcanic eruption. Not to mention that George R. R. Martin has stated that the funeral pyre incident with Dany was a one-time only deal that many readers theorize had more to do with blood magic and dragon egg hatching than it did with any Targaryen immunity to fire.

In the end this ability of Dany’s may be related to some other kind of magic or prophecy. The prophecy of The Prince that was Promised may have originated in Old Valyria, we know the Targaryens have long studied this prophecy. The fireproofing could be borrowed from the details of this prophecy which states that the Prince would be born of salt and smoke and herald the return of dragons. Targaryens loved to exaggerate about themselves in general so it is not a hard sell that they would ascribe many of the prophecies interpreted details to themselves, especially if they believed the Prince would come from the Targaryen line.

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.


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