The Game of Thrones writers originally intended for Ser Jorah Mormont to survive the whole show. What ending did they have planned, and why did it change?
The Game of Thrones writers originally had a completely different ending in mind for Ser Jorah Mormont, Daenerys Targaryen’s long-time devotee and protector. Is it better than the one we got?
On Game of Thrones, Jorah died in “The Long Night” protecting the queen of his heart from wights. He was steadfast to the end and took his last breaths in Daenerys’ arms.
But according to James Hibberd’s new Game of Thrones oral history book, Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, that wasn’t always the plan. “For a long time we wanted Ser Jorah there at the Wall in the very end,” said GoT writer Bryan Cogman. “The three coming out of the tunnel [in the series finale] were to be Jon, Jorah, and Tormund.”
So why the change? Well, in order to get Jorah to the point where he was in the Night’s Watch alongside Jon at the end, he would have had to betray Daenerys. Jorah’s purpose in life was to protect her, and the writers couldn’t wrangle a way for him to go back on this that made any sense, so he got a different ending.
Iain Glen, who played Jorah, liked the ending his character got. “He would absolutely sacrifice his life for her to succeed,” he said. “In a way, he was given the conclusion he wanted.” Fair enough.
There is one connection that could have made a Night’s Watch ending for Jorah work a little better. As you may remember, Jorah’s father Jeor Mormont was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch at the beginning of the series. Unfortunately, he died at Craster’s Keep, betrayed and murdered by his own men. (That seems to be a Night’s Watch recurring theme, doesn’t it?)
Although this scene didn’t appear on the show, in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, Sam is at Lord Commander Mormont’s side as he speaks his last words. “Tell my son. Jorah,” he says. “Tell him, take the black. My wish. Dying wish.”
Had this scene been in the show, it could have been redemptive for Jorah to take the black at the end of the series and fulfill his father’s dying wish. It may still come to pass in Martin’s books. Will he keep Jorah alive until the very end, completing his father’s wishes? I have a sneaking suspicion he will.