Last week we talked about all the dumbest things that we were upset didn’t make it to the small screen, but HBO’s Game of Thrones has legions of fans and an army of Emmys for a reason—we would be lying if we told you there weren’t a few things the show actually does better than the books. Before the book purists come for us, we remind you of the budding romance between Tormund and Brienne, AKA Tormienne. The show has once again delivered to us something we never knew we wanted but love all the same.
With the show firmly beyond the books and the plot lines beginning their advance to conclusion, we want to acknowledge our favorite scenes from the show that were never in the books. And because we had so many, we’re giving you twelve! Beware of spoilers through Season 6.
SCENE: King Robert and Queen Cersei have a little chat
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 5: The Wolf and the Lion
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: Due to the POV nature of the book and Cersei not becoming a POV character until A Feast for Crows, we never have a scene that’s just Robert and Cersei. And it was something we never knew we wanted until the show did it early on in season 1. It was nice to see the two of them talking strategy (and in a fairly civil manner!), and the scene provided some good insight into their marriage (dysfunctional and unhappy, but at least they have some of the same goals?). Also, the scene offers an opportunity for the show to insert Lyanna into the narrative in a way that does not feel like other exposition moments in the show (or the books). Here, the discussion of Lyanna reveals more about Cersei and Robert than Lyanna herself, and it leads to fairly sad (though excellent) character moments.
SCENE: Ned sees Arya on the statue of Baelor
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 9: Baelor
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: We are still recovering from Ned’s death (yes, we know…it’s been years…), and, even though it feels strange to say we are glad about anything related to his death, we are glad that show!Ned got to see both of his daughters before his end. In the books and show, Ned does not know what happened to Arya following his arrest, and it’s a nice (albeit very sad) family moment when he spots her on the Baelor statue and is able to tell Yoren her whereabouts. Now excuse us for a moment…
SCENE: Theon burns the letter
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 2, Episode 3: What Is Dead May Never Die
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: Theon’s story is one of the more devastating redemption arcs in A Song of Ice and Fire. He is a character who survives physical and emotional torture, and is only now coming back to fulfill his true potential. Theon is unique, however, in that he is less a victim of circumstance than his own folly. In the beginning of the series, Theon suffers from the deadly combination of ambition, arrogance, and insecurity. In Season Two and A Clash of Kings, Theon returns to his family believing that he is owed their allegiance due solely to his birth and title. His rejection from his father Balon and the mocking he receives from his sister damages his sense of self-worth irreparably. In the scenes leading up to the letter-burning, we see that Theon’s instinctive response to hearing of his father’s plan to conquer the North was to warn Robb. He still viewed the Starks as his family, a fact that we discover fills him with shame. Balon turns this embarrassment to anger and bitterness by reminding Theon that he was the Starks’ hostage, not their ward.
The candle flame in this scene represents Theon’s tumultuous emotions. By setting his letter to Robb on fire, Theon is symbolically destroying his ties to his old life with the Starks. The quiet tone of the scene, accompanied by the atmospheric lighting and music, lets the audience know that Theon may be destroying more than just his old self. It is hard to get this sort of impact with a similar scene in a novel. However, the inclusion of such an event in the books would’ve given readers a benchmark to tell where Theon lost his way.
SCENE: Stannis leads the charge in the Battle of Blackwater
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 2, Episode 9: Blackwater
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS:
Soldier: You are too far from the gate. Fire, their archers, hundreds will die.
Now we know this isn’t just one scene, but it really is impossible to pick just one Stannis scene from this episode for this post. In A Clash of Kings the person leading the battle is Ser Imry Florent. Who? Exactly. Stannis in the book is camped out with his lords on the south bank of the Blackwater river. HOW BORING. By putting King Stannis in the thick of battle in the show it gave us another person besides Davos to follow and root for. This is without getting into the badassery of potentially reading about Stannis engaging in sword fighting against Lannister troops. He had to be physically dragged off the battlefield on the show. While the show did not do right by Stannis in season five, it is always fun to look fondly back on Blackwater as a reminder of why we all love this character. Long live the Lobster King.
Friendly Reminder: George R.R. Martin wrote the Blackwater episode, so in our heads these scenes are just revision to the original story.
SCENE: Olenna Tyrell verbally spars with Tywin (Also, Olenna is just awesome in general)
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 3, Episode 6: The Climb
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: One of the more exciting prospects of the show was that we might finally get to see scenes between characters that never had a POV in the books. Getting to see House Tyrell fleshed out more on screen was high on the list of families that did not have a POV character counted amongst them. While, we may not be happy with the direction that the show went with Loras, no one can deny that his grandmother, Olenna, is a force to be reckoned with on screen. She is a relatively minor character in the books, mainly showing up to get the dirt on Joffrey from Sansa and to inevitably help murder him at his wedding feast. In the show, however, we’re treated to much more of her character, getting to see first hand how fiercely loyal to her family she is and how she will do anything to protect them, even taking on someone as powerful as Tywin, another non POV character we get to see a lot more of in the show. There is a fantastic verbal sparring match between these two heads of their families as they discuss the prospect of marriage between Loras and Cersei. The banter between the two is top notch and would certainly be a welcome addition to the novels proper, even if we had to swap out Tyrell brothers to make it work. Olenna’s character on the show allows us to gain insight into a multitude of characters that we miss out on in the books, from Tywin, to Varys, to Margaery, and the High Sparrow and we love her for it. The books focus predominantly first on Ned’s generation, and then the children’s generation, but the show allows us to dig deeper into the perspective of the older generation—and they certainly deliver.
SCENE: Craster’s last son is delivered to the Night’s King
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 4, Episode 4: Oathkeeper
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: We have yet to glimpse the Lands of Always Winter and the Night’s King in the books and while we know that Craster’s sons were offered to the White Walkers as a way to protect his keep from attack, we aren’t really sure why. What would a White Walker want with a baby? Do they eat them? Many assumed the infants were killed via some kind of ritual sacrifice.
The show has revealed an answer by showing us that the babies are collected by White Walkers and taken to the Night’s King where he transforms them into little baby Walkers. (Can they travel incredibly fast or should we imagine the baby-fetching Walker with a bag full of bottles and diapers?) The Night’s King transforming the baby was a huge shock. This was an amazing scene because even book readers had no idea what was happening (exciting!) and it gets us asking more questions about the White Walkers and how they work. Who is raising the babies? Do they live normal life spans or are they undead? Why do they only want baby boys? Can they be turned back into humans? We would love to get even a peek into the White Walker culture in the books. Season 6, Episode 5 “The Door” also let us glimpse the creation of the White Walkers by the Children of the Forest in their war against the First Men, though it did little to answer any of our lingering questions about White Walker procreation and child-rearing.
SCENE: Brienne vs the Hound/Brienne meets Arya
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 4, Episode 10: The Children
WHY WE WISH IT WAS IN THE BOOKS: Brienne promises Catelyn Stark she will do everything possible to protect her daughters. Even after Catelyn’s death, Brienne plans on keeping her promise. Unfortunately, in the book things don’t go as planned and Brienne winds up facing Lady Stoneheart and a noose. We know that she managed to get out of the noose and now is travelling with Jaime, but where that leads is unknown to all but George R.R. Martin at this point. On the show, Brienne accidentally comes across Arya and the Hound while heading to the Vale. Although Sandor had plans to bring Arya to her family and collect reward money, they always arrived too late—narrowly missing both the Red Wedding and the death of her aunt Lyssa. Over their travels together they developed one of the best buddy comedy routines in Westeros. The Arya and Hound team was everyone’s favorite.
When Brienne first encounters Arya, she sees her practicing with Needle. The young girl and the warrior speak about their weapons. Arya is impressed to meet a woman who can fight and to hear her story, until the Hound shows up and Podrick Payne recognizes him. Brienne offers Arya safety, but Arya has been through so much and trusts no one, so it’s no surprise when she turns Brienne’s offer down. The Hound gives her further reason to distrust Brienne when he recognizes the sword as something that a Lannister would own.
Their fight is one of the best on the show as a whole and it’s satisfying to see two highly skilled and evenly matched fighters go at it. The fight is incredible (remember the ear biting?!) and we found ourselves rooting for both the fan favorites to win. The Hound’s defeat is both a victory for Brienne and an emotional resolution to Arya’s team up with Sandor. A solid addition to each character’s story. Amazing.
SCENE: Jon burns Ygritte’s body
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 4 , Episode 10: The Children
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: In this scene we see Jon burning Ygritte’s body north of the Wall following her death in the Battle of Castle Black. In addition to having Ygritte die in his arms, in A Storm of Swords Jon learns about the death of Robb—as well as the supposed deaths of Bran and Rickon—right around the time of Ygritte’s death. We wish this scene was in the books because Jon never gets the chance in the novels to grieve over the death of his loved ones and the destruction of Winterfell. We get a line from Sam about Jon grieving over the death of his brothers and Ygritte, but he never gets a moment in the books to openly weep over losing the people he loves. The scene in the show works because Jon is so often portrayed as stoic and restrained, to have him let his guard down to reveal a man who is heartbroken and in mourning was an important moment for the character. Many fans have said this scene, not Ygritte’s death scene, was what hit them the hardest.
SCENE: Barristan reminisces about Rhaegar’s minstrel days with Daenerys
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 5, Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: In the books we often hear about Rhaegar, the young bookish prince; Rhaegar the warrior; Rhaegar, the one obsessed with prophecy; or in Robert’s case, Rhaegar the rapist. We rarely ever get to hear about Rhaegar, the man. Barristan’s story to Daenerys is simply that, a lighthearted tale of her older brother singing for the people on the streets of King’s Landing, trying to see how much money he could make. It’s the first story that paints him as a human being rather than just someone to be put on a pedestal or someone to be hated. The different choices he makes with what to do with the money he earned show a lot about him too, his kindness in that he sometimes gives the money away to other minstrels or to an orphanage, but also that he is in fact just a man, faults and all, when he uses the money to get drunk with Barristan. While, it’s not exactly canon, we know that Rhaegar was fond of his harp, so it is a scene that feels very much like it could fit in the books. It also seems important for Daenerys, girl of the many titles, to remember that she is not just a conqueror or a queen or a prophesied figure, but a person as well. Barristan is still alive in the books, though perhaps not for long, but maybe if they can somehow meet up again, we could hear a little bit about Rhaegar and his harp in the fabled Winds of Winter.
SCENE: Stannis and Shireen have a Father/Daughter Moment
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 5, Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: Both book!Stannis and show!Stannis have a reputation of being emotionally detached and morose. In this one scene we got to see a glimpse into Stannis’ humanity without betraying his stubborn nature in the process. This beautiful scene between Stannis and Shireen peeled back the hardened exterior of Stannis to reveal his genuine love for his daughter. Stannis relays the story to Shireen of when she was first exposed to greyscale. He shares with Shireen how he told everyone to go to hell when they told him to send Shireen away, and how he used all the resources at his disposal to stop the spread of the disease.
So much of our understanding of Stannis comes from the point of view characters, it would have been wonderful to read about the relationships of the Baratheon family from their perspective. We understand that none of the five kings are POV characters, but that has not stopped Martin in the past from exploring the internal family dynamics of other Westerosi houses.
SCENE: Dany meets Tyrion
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 5, Episode 8: Hardhome
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: It’s a pretty safe bet that Tyrion will eventually meet Dany in the books but we think it will be hard to top the show’s power luncheon of awesome. Our best guess is that Tyrion will offer his services to Dany’s ruling council (hey Ser Barristan!) to help them gain control of Dany’s ill-behaved children. Tyrion is obsessed with dragons and has read every book a great Lord’s son could get his hands on so it’s accurate to say he’s extremely well-read on the subject. With Dany missing and Ser Barristan in charge, even if Barry is distrustful of Tyrion, he probably knows him well enough to give him a job as dragon advisor. (Maybe they will even hi-five over Lannister hating!) But sadly, so far, no chance of Dany being around.
In the show Tyrion has taken over Barristan’s role and has begun his dragon wrangling but the show was able to introduce Tryion as a player in the Mereen storyline before Dany leaves. This allowed us to enjoy a one-on-one conversation that will go down as one of the best scenes in Game of Thrones, ever. As Tyrion presents to Dany, she needs experienced and competent advisors to help her rule. While Dany is surrounded by a few honorable people, not many of them know the ins and outs of running a city or negotiating trade agreements or even doing some downright scheming. Tyrion is actually really great at all of these things and Dany can definitely use him for more than maestering about dragons. (maestering as a verb, get at that). Watching these two characters, possibly the two most iconic characters George R. R. Martin has ever created, drink wine and talk to each other as equals was thrilling. We love it when major characters share the spotlight, and the show is definitely giving us these dream scenes.
SCENE: Jon kills a White Walker (or basically all of Hardhome)
SEASON/EPISODE: Season 5, Episode 8: Hardhome
WHY WE WISH IT WERE IN THE BOOKS: Because it’s awesome! Though more seriously, the battle at Hardhome was a great way to show Jon and the audience the seriousness of the White Walker threat. Book!Jon has not even seen a White Walker in person, let alone killed one. Moreover the scene confirms that Valyrian steel can be used to kill White Walkers, something that’s not yet confirmed in the books (though heavily suggested). This episode was almost universally loved, and it’s for good reason. We love the books, but their longer format lets GRRM take his time with delving more deeply into the White Walker threat. We admit that we are happy the show cannot do this.
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.