This post is dark and full of spoilers for both Game Of Thrones and A Song Of Ice And Fire**, so proceed accordingly!**
As most people know, HBO’s megahit Game Of Thrones is based on the epic fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R. R. Martin. If you have read the original Game of Thrones books, you know that the number characters on the show, which is a huge amount, is dwarfed by the number of characters in the thousands and thousands of pages in the (so far) five books that make up the series.
Even as sprawling and huge as Game Of Thrones was, there was no way for the creators and writers would have been able to include every detail of the book. So at times, they combined the storylines of some characters from the books into characters that were on the show and occasionally they left them out all together or even changed the story completely.
Sadly, that means that some really important and popular characters were left out. These are the five Game of Thrones characters from the books that we missed the most while watching the TV series.
Jeyne Poole is Sansa Stark’s best friend in the books. She is a member of House Poole, one of the Stark's loyal bannermen, and she moves with her father and the Starks to King’s Landing when Ned is named Hand Of The King by Robert Baratheon.
When Ned is accused of treason after the death of Robert. Jeyne’s father is killed because of his loyalty to Ned. Jeyne is handed over to Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish in the first book, A Game Of Thrones, and she disappears for a time.
Jeyne reappears in A Storm Of Swords and is presented as Arya Stark, used as a ruse to fool the Boltons to gain their loyalty to the Lannisters. Jaime Lannister tells Brienne that she is being sent to marry Roose Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay.
Finally, in A Dance With Dragons, Jeyne, as Arya, marries Ramsay and she is given away by Ramsay’s servant, Reek, who is, of course, the beaten-down Theon Greyjoy, just as Sansa was on the show. All of the horrible things that befall Sansa at the hands of the brutal Ramsay on the show fall on poor Jeyne Poole in the books, and yes, they are just as shocking.
There was (supposedly) a brief sighting of Jeyne Poole in the Game Of Thrones TV show, at the feast in the very first episode, but she had no lines and isn’t mentioned by name.
Jeyne Westerling is Robb Stark’s wife in the books. That’s right, it’s not the battlefield nurse-turned-pregnant wife-turned-dead wife Talisa as on the show. Talisa is a completely made-for-TV character. In the books, Robb betrays Walder Frey by marrying Jeyne, whom he meets after he and his army sack The Crag, which is the Westerling family keep.
During the battle, Robb is injured and he is nursed back to health by Jeyne, whom he eventually sleeps with as they grow closer. As was the custom, he decides to marry her to preserve her honor, and because he loves her, despite what it means to his alliance with House Frey.
When negotiations over the betrayal between Robb and Walder Frey are settled, Robb agrees to attend the marriage of his uncle, Edmure, to one of Frey’s daughters and he leaves for Frey’s keep, The Twins. Of course, everyone knows what happens next. The Red Wedding changes everything.
In a MAJOR change from the book, on the show, Talisa and Robb both attend the Red Wedding and it is revealed before it that Talisa is pregnant. In the book, Jeyne stays at Riverrun and doesn’t accompany Robb to the Red Wedding. In fact, currently in the books, she is still alive and there is a dangling question that is so far unanswered as to whether or not she is pregnant with Robb’s child. The answer to that question could be a huge plot point in the upcoming books.
Young Griff (Aegon Targaryen)
So here’s a MAJOR plot difference. In the books, there is another Targaryen out there, other than Dany (or Jon Snow for that matter). Aegon Targaryen is another son of Rhaegar, Dany’s brother. Of course, in the books, it hasn’t been revealed that Jon Snow is also a legitimate son of Rhaegar. Though the theory (R+L=J) is well known among book readers, it’s still not technically true, yet, in the books. Of course, on the show, it is revealed that Jon Snow’s real name is Aegon Targaryen, but in the books there is another Aegon, also a son of Rhaegar (nephew to Dany, sound familiar?) and Elia Martell.
In A Dance With Dragons, an exiled Tyrion Lannister is on a ship headed to Volantis to hopefully find an audience with Dany when he meets Young Griff and his “father” Griff (more on him later). Young Griff’s identity is hidden, his hair dyed blue to avoid any suspicion because of his white Targaryen hair.
Young Griff reveals his true identity to Tyrion as they travel and explains that Varys snuck him out of Kings Landing before Robert sacked the city and took him across the Narrow Sea, leaving him under the care of a Targaryen loyalist and former Hand Of The King of the Mad King, King Aerys II named Jon Connington, or “Griff.”
This character is, obviously, another big change in the plot between the Game of Thrones books and the show. Not only is Griff another living Targaryen, but he has a better claim to the throne than Dany, much like Jon Snow has been revealed to have on the show. This changes a lot in the books, especially because in the books he is under the care of the Golden Company and they have made their way to Westeros by the end of A Dance With Dragons.
Jon Connington (Griff)
All of that brings us to Young Griff’s protector, who calls himself “Griff,” but really is named Jon Connington. He is from a noble house in Westeros, House Connington. Connington, a lord who was loyal to King Aerys II and at one point his Hand, was defeated in battle during Robert’s Rebellion, Jon Connington was stripped of his title and exiled by the Mad King. By the end of the Rebellion, House Connington had been devastated and Jon was living in exile in Essos, hiding with Aegon (Young Griff) after Varys smuggled "Young Griff" out of King’s Landing.
While exiled, he joined the Golden Company and eventually traveled back to Westeros with them and takes back Griffen’s Roost, his family’s keep, which is where he currently is in the books, along with Aegon. In the books, he, like Jorah Mormont on the show, is dealing with a wicked case of greyscale.
Jon Connington, like Aegon, is completely left out of the show. It was theorized for a long time by book readers that he would arrive with the Golden Company on the show, after they were hired by Cersei, but the only character that appeared was the Golden Company’s leader, Harry Strickland, and, of course, he didn’t last long. Sadly again, Jon Connington never made to the show.
Lady Stoneheart is, by far, the biggest omission from the Game of Thrones TV show, as she is the re-animated, zombie Catelyn Stark. In the third book, A Storm Of Swords, one of the biggest moments in the story happens: the infamous Red Wedding. Catelyn, along with Robb Stark (but not his wife, as mentioned earlier), have their necks slit by Walder Frey and Lannister loyalists. While Robb Stark’s body was paraded around with his dead dire wolf’s head on his shoulders, Lady Catelyn’s body was dumped in the nearby river by Frey men.
Three days after the wedding, Arya wargs into her dire wolf, Nymeria (yeah, Bran’s not the only Stark who can warg in the books), finds her body and pulls it out of the river. As she is doing this, she hears the footsteps of approaching men and runs away, leaving Lady Catelyn’s naked body by the side of the river.
It turns out that the approaching men are The Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros Of Myr. As show watchers know, Thoros, using the power of the Lord Of Light, has the ability to bring people, mostly Beric, back to life. Beric demands Thoros bring back Lady Cat back to life, but he refuses, so Beric, in another major change to the show, sacrifices his own life for hers. She is revived, but Beric dies for the final time.
From that point on in the books, she is referred to as Lady Stoneheart. Because she had been dead for three days, she doesn’t bounce back like Beric used to. She is mute because her throat was cut and she only has one motivation – to kill Lannisters, Boltons and Freys. Lady Stoneheart takes control of the Brotherhood Without Banners and leads them through the country side, murdering Lannisters, Boltons, and Freys as often as they can.
There is one other major change from the books to the show involving Lady Stoneheart. At the very end of the fourth book, A Feast For Crows, she encounters Brienne Of Tarth, and Podrick and mistakenly thinks that Brienne has betrayed her because Brienne is carrying the sword Oathkeeper that Jaime Lannister had given her. In a cliffhanger, Lady Stoneheart is about to execute Podrick when Brienne yells one word, but that word wasn’t revealed (and still hasn't been, maybe one day George R. R. Martin will finish the next book!). This is where her story currently is in the books as she doesn’t appear in the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons.
Those are the most important five Game of Thrones book characters, as we see it, that didn’t make it into the show, but there are a whole slew of other popular characters that didn’t make it either. Like Strong Belwas, a former slave freed by Dany and one of her most loyal guards. He’s a minor character but his loyalty, immense physical strength and humor have made him very popular among book readers.
Another Is Arianne Martell, part of whose story was added into Elia Sand’s storyline, but like much of the rest of the Dorne subplot, it was handled a bit clumsily by the show.
And there are others too, like Theon Greyjoy’s uncle Victarion, who is a great rival to Euron Greyjoy, who himself was a bit of a disaster on the show, compared to Euron in the books. There is also another bastard of Robert Baratheon in the books named Edric Storm, who had part of his story mixed into Gendry’s on the show. We could go on and on.
So, while the Game of Thrones show did an amazing job adapting the epic story, there were just some characters that weren’t feasible to include for one reason or another. Maybe one day, 30 years from now, there will be a Game Of Thrones reboot and we will finally see some of these characters on screen.