Game of Thrones, the ever-popular fantasy-drama on HBO, based in part on the Song of Ice and Fire novels by author George R.R. Martin, has never been reticent when it comes to offing popular, well-liked, or even merely entertaining characters thought to be integral to the show’s narrative. Starting from the very beginning of season 1, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have kept viewers as on guard as Martin has left his readers over the course of the series’ near twenty-year existence. Ever since Eddard “Ned” Stark faced unjust execution, no one has proven safe in Westeros, where “all men must die.”
As the show has progressed on television, great actors like Sean Bean have exited the show far sooner than they may have wished. Unfortunately, while the books had previously served as a guide to when and where certain actors could expect to leave the production of the latest prime time TV spectacle, Benioff and Weiss have started to diverge from Martin’s source material, which has left one ex-character, who is still alive in the books, “Truthfully, miffed.”
According to THR, Ian McElhinney, who, until the character’s sudden and unexpected death early on in season 5, played Daenerys Targaryen’s chief bodyguard and former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Barristan Selmy, was unduly peeved to discover that he would not be returning for the show’s sixth season. According to McElhinney, he believed that his character was just starting to develop into a more substantial part of the show’s overarching narrative, and stated:
“I was disappointed because I had enjoyed playing the part, and I was looking forward to getting more meat in the part, and I had to dared to presume that I would at least go into season six. I obviously shouldn’t have dared to presume. So be it. The deed is done and I’m onto other things and that’s that. But I do miss it. I would have happily stayed on.”
The differences between Selmy’s role in the books and the show are numerous, namely in that his introduction to Dany, as written by Martin, was enacted under the guise of the presumed name Arstan Whitebeard, and the character is still alive in Martin’s prose. The loss of such an important guardian to the would-be queen is one keenly felt by fans of the source material, though it will leave Benioff and Weiss with two intriguing new temporary guardians to the last Targaryen; namely, Tyrion Lannister and Varys “the Spider,” which should bring more than enough drama and tension to the series.
It’s understandable that McElhinney, as both an actor in the series and a fan of the books, would feel his untimely exit from the show so profoundly, but there will always be new characters for him and his fellow readers to continue to follow week-to-week and page-to-page. Regardless of whether you felt the late ex-Lord Commander’s death was unnecessary or not, McElhinney will be just like the rest of us: watching the sixth season of the hit HBO original series from the comfort of his or her own living room come Spring 2016.
Game of Thrones will resume airing on HBO in Spring 2016.