Game of Thrones is a show filled with death, and it takes a lot of those cues from its source material. George R.R. Martin’s book series is filled with bloody deaths, often involving beloved characters. But sometimes, the deaths we see on the show aren’t what they were in the original books.
Due to things like story changes or diverging from the books, sometimes the show has to come up with new ways of killing off characters. While this is sometimes inevitable, there are also those deaths created by Martin that are too good to change. Have a look at some of the deaths on Game of Thrones that differ from the novels and some that remained the same.
10 Changed: Rodrik Cassel
In both the books and the show, Rodrick Cassel is the loyal Master-at-Arms for the Stark family. He also meets a painful end in both instances, largely thanks to Theon Greyjoy. In the show, Cassel refuses to bend the knee when Theon takes over Winterfell and is then beheaded – after a few attempts.
In the books, Cassel is leading the siege against Winterfell as Theon and his small army wait inside. When Ramsay Snow and the Bolton army arrive, Ramsay quickly turns on his fellow Northmen and murders Cassel.
9 Same: Robb Stark
The Red Wedding taught many fans that George R.R. Martin, and therefore the show, were not going to play fair. Many hoped Robb would be the one to ultimately find justice for House Stark. Instead, he was the victim of terrible betrayal that nearly decimated House Stark.
The brutality and terror of the scene is played out similarly in both versions, though with notable differences. Unlike in the show, Robb’s wife is not present and therefore was spared. But the show finished Robb off in the same manner as the book -- filled with arrows and stabbed through the heart by Roose Bolton.
8 Changed: Polliver
Polliver, one of The Mountain’s henchmen, is among one of the most despicable characters in the series and we were glad to see him go in both versions of the story.
The book and show play out somewhat similarly leading up to his death. The Hound and Arya run into Polliver and his companions during their travels, leading to a brutal fight. In the book, Polliver is killed by The Hound. However, in the show, they make the significant change that Arya is the one to kill him and reclaim her sword Needle. It is a big turning point for Arya in becoming a stone-cold killer.
7 Same: Lysa Arryn
Lysa Arryn’s death is an odd mix between satisfying and extremely cruel. Lysa was certainly never a likable character. She is unhinged, immature, pathetic, and way too attached to her son. By the time she tries to throw Sansa to her death via the Moon Door, few people were cheering for her survival.
As unlikable as she was, the iconic death at the hands of her beloved Littlefinger is just mean in each version. Littlefinger finally admits it was her sister Catelyn he loved all this time before shoving her to her death – adding insult to death.
6 Changed: Rast
Seeing as the Night’s Watch is largely made up of criminals, it’s not such a surprise that someone as immoral as Rast is a member. In both versions, he is put at odds with Jon Snow, Sam, and the other thanks to his cruel behavior. In the books, he is one of the many killed in the Battle of Castle Black and quickly forgotten about.
In the show, Rast is even less likable and actually kills Lord Commander Mormont during the mutiny at Craster’s Keep. Justice is served when Jon and the others attack and Rast is mauled to death by Jon’s direwolf, Ghost.
5 Same: Joffrey
Since the first book and the first season of the show, everyone was dreaming of ways for Joffrey Baratheon to die. He was so evil and so easy to hate, that we didn't even feel bad about wishing him a torturous death.
While few people would have chosen choking to death as the ideal way for this little monster to go, it was certainly a slow and painful death. In both the book and the show, we are given a very lengthy and graphic account of his demise. It was brutal, and ultimately satisfying.
4 Changed: Smalljon Umber
Smalljon Umber is given very different treatment between the book and show. In the show, Umber is one of the main Northern houses that sides with Ramsay Bolton in the Battle of the Bastards. He is also the jerk who captures Rickon Stark and kills the direwolf Shaggy Dog. Thankfully, he is brutally killed by Tormund Giantsbane in the aforementioned battle.
In the novel, Smalljon is a much more loyal warrior, serving as bodyguard for Robb Stark. Predictably, that means he’s one of the victims of the Red Wedding when he is beheaded protecting his king.
3 Same: Oberyn Martell
We all should have known better than to fall in love with Oberyn Martell. He was charismatic, a skilled fighter, and seemed to have noble causes. In other words, he was a goner.
The book and show both tease out his inevitable death almost beat for beat. Oberyn squares off with The Mountain in single combat, taunting the gigantic man and demanding he confess for murdering his sister years ago. He finally seems to have overcome The Mountain but gets too cocky. In a few quick seconds, Oberyn has his teeth knocked out, his eyes gouged, and his head crushed like a melon.
2 Changed: Kevan Lannister
Kevan Lannister is certainly one of the more forgettable members of the Lannister clan. However, following Tywin’s death, Kevan took a main role in the running of the family. He’s also one of the few people who can stand up to Cersei. However, Cersei gets the last laugh in the show when she blows up the Sept of Baelor, killing Kevan and many others.
In the books, Kevan is victim to a larger conspiracy. He is murdered by Varys and his “little birds” as a way of creating chaos in the realm and leaving room for someone new to sit on the Iron Throne.
1 Same: Ned Stark
The most iconic death in the show and the books remains virtually the same in both instances. Ned Stark, having been betrayed and imprisoned for treason, is marched in front of the people of King’s Landing where he is forced to confess in exchange for mercy. However, King Joffrey goes back on his word and Ned, the main character up until this point, is beheaded.
In both versions, the excellent and tense build-up lulls the audience into a false sense of safety. In fact, even as the chapter ends and the screen goes black, many refused to believe they actually killed off the head of House Stark.