Stannis’ death scene was different in the script—See how it changed

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

The original script for “Mother’s Mercy” reveals that Stannis Baratheon’s death scene was supposed to be different. Was the change a good idea?

Stannis Baratheon makes his last stand in “Mother’s Mercy,” the Game of Thrones season 5 finale. Defeated by the Bolton army, he is confronted by Brienne of Tarth, who executes him for murdering Renly Baratheon with black magic. Stannis, resigned to his fate, says only one thing to her: “Go on, do your duty.”

However, that wasn’t always the plan. In the original script, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss gave him a small speech before dying.

The script for “Mother’s Mercy” is available in full on the Emmys website — HBO submitted it for Emmy consideration (it won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series that year), and the Emmys decided to upload it where anyone can see it. We took a close look at the script for “Battle of the Bastards,” which is also available, a while back. Redditor clouddragon94 called attention to the “Mother’s Mercy” script change. Here’s how Stannis’ dialogue originally read:

"BRIENNE: “Do you have any last words?”Stannis considers.STANNIS: “Do you believe in the life to come?”Brienne nods.STANNIS: “I don’t. But if I’m wrong, and you’re right… tell Renly I’m sorry when you get there. I don’t imagine I’ll see him wherever I’m going. (beat) And my daughter. Tell her… tell her…”“Sorry” doesn’t begin to cover what he feels about Shireen. The thought of it brings tears to his eyes, and he’s not going to die weeping in front of a woman he doesn’t know. Stannis stares up at her.STANNIS: “Go on. Do your duty.”Brienne raises her sword and brings it down with a mighty swing."

Benioff and Weiss cut most of that out. Although mileage may vary, I think it was the right call. I think Stannis had these feelings — the experience of killing his own family members was clearly weighing on him by the end — but I don’t think he was ever the type to express them in an emotional speech. Speeches in general weren’t his thing. Well-written as this dialogue is, I think it would have sounded strange coming from Stannis.

I had problems with Stannis’ final scenes. Namely, I thought they progressed too quickly, as we jumped from one misfortune — his sellswords deserting him, Selyse committing suicide, Melisandre riding away — to another. But I think his single final line was perfect, terse and very Stannis.

But reasonable minds can definitely differ. Let us know what you think.

Was cutting Stannis death speech in “Mother’s Mercy” the right decision?