Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, HBO’s Game of Thrones has gone through some big changes during the transition from page to screen. Check out our rankings of the 30 biggest differences.
The novels in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series are long, dense, and complex. There are characters aplenty, plot threads within plot threats within plot threads, and an in-world history so detailed it could probably serve as the basis for its own TV show. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that HBO had to cut and change stuff when adapting Martin’s novels for television.
And yet, it pays to remember that Game of Thrones, currently the jewel in HBO’s programming crown, is far more faithful to the source material than it might have been. When asked about the possibility of adapting the series as a movie, George R.R. Martin once revealed that he’d been approached with the idea before, but that Hollywood producers were only willing to do it if they could make it all about Jon Snow, or about Daenerys Targaryen, with everything else receding into the background. “The whole movie would be about this exiled princess, and she gives birth to dragons,” he told The Guardian. “That might be a good movie, and it might be interesting, but it wouldn’t be my story. My story is a combination of stuff.”
All things considered, I’d rather have a basically faithful TV adaptation of Martin’s novels than an incredibly truncated movie series, but that doesn’t mean HBO hasn’t altered its fair share of stuff. Let’s count down through the 30 biggest changes Game of Thrones executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss have made to Martin’s novels during the first five years the show has been on the air, and you can decide for yourself if they were worth it.