Five ASOIAF characters that should have made it into Game of Thrones

From Arianne Martell to Lady Stoneheart to Young Griff, there were a lot of characters from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books who didn't (but should have) been included in Game of Thrones.
Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion - Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion - Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO /
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Both before and after the television adaptation Game of Thrones, the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin ranked among the most read books in the history of the fantasy genre. While the father of all modern fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien, created his own world of elves, dwarves, goblins and wizards, Martin redefined fantasy for the modern era, with a gritty realism that shocked readers everywhere.

In Martin’s world, no one is a hero, no one is a villain, and no on is ever safe. Unexpected twists and turns, many of which are inspired by real-world historical events, are Martin's signature, but the thing that truly makes his books so readable is the plethora of vibrant characters.

By the end of the last published novel, A Dance of Dragons, Martin had us rooting for characters who had pushed children out of windows, engaged in incest, or slaughtered other characters we were fond of. Many of these characters such — as Jaime Lannister, Cersei Lannister and Sandor "the Hound" Clegane — successfully made the transition to the small screen and became adored even by people who hadn’t read the novels. Others, such as the infamous Sand Snakes, beloved by book-readers and reviled by anyone who watched the series, didn't translate as well.

Most interesting perhaps are the characters that the show never even attempted to adapt, either because their plotlines were cut from the show or because Game of Thrones needed to reduce its acting budget to pay for CGI dragons. For many of us, this was a shame, as some of the greatest characters from A Song of Ice and Fire never appeared on our televisions. And wasn’t it the characters we loved that made us fall in love with this story in the first place? 

Below are five characters from the A Song of Ice and Fire novels that would have made Game of Thrones infinitely better if they had made it to the screen (beware book and show SPOILERS below).

Arianne Martell

Dorne is the southernmost region of Westeros, and didn't show up on Game of Thrones until season 5. When we finally got a look at Dorne and the people who live there, book-readers were disappointed on several levels; the Sand Snakes all looked the same and didn’t have the charisma they had in the novels, Ellaria Sand was too different from her book counterpart, and Jaime and Bronn traveling to Dorne to rescue Myrcella was too silly. The Dornish storylines were so famously disliked that the showrunners killed off the remaining members of House Martell -- the regions ruling house -- in the very first episode of season 6, and only visited the place for the briefest of scenes thereafter.

We all should have been warned that this would end badly when it was announced that Arianne Martell, the main point-of-view Dornish character in the novels, was not included on the show. Arianne debuts in the fourth ASOIAF novel, A Feast for Crows, and comes out of the gate swinging. In her very first appearance, she is naked with a snake wrapped around her shoulders as she — not for the first time — seduces Ser Arys Oakheart, the Kingsguard knight assigned to protect Princess Myrcella, and who is like all Kingsguard knights sworn to celibacy.

That chapter (told from Ser Arys' perspective) is followed by chapters from Arianne’s own point of view in which she hatches and follows through on a plot to crown Myrcella Baratheon, the "daughter" of Cersei Lannister and King Robert Baratheon, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Arianne hopes that crowning Myrcella will provoke a war between Dorne and the Lannisters, as the Lannisters uphold the claim of Myrcella’s brother Tommen. In a thrilling nighttime escape, Arianne has Myrcella smuggled out of the Dornish capital and crosses the deserts of Dorne to where she has a ship waiting on the river. But Arianne is betrayed twice in quick succession as her father Doran Martell springs a trap and captures her party. Her lover Ser Arys is killed. The second betrayal happens alongside the first, as one of her own knights goes rogue and tries to kill Myrcella, failing but cutting off her ear.

Princess Arianne Martell also serves as a POV character in A Dance With Dragons and has been confirmed as one of the POV characters for the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter. She is a beautiful seductress, a good-hearted princess, and a daring player of the game of thrones, though with a certain fallibility that means her plotline could go literally in any direction. Sadly her entire storyline was cut from the show in favor of ‘Jaime and Bronn go on a rescue mission.’ However, for any willing to brave spoilers for The Winds of Winter, she has two chapters already published that can be read here and here.

Who else was left out of Game of Thrones but shouldn't have been? Click the button below to read on: