If you’ve managed to set aside the countless hours necessary to read A Song of Ice and Fire, the series that inspired Game of Thrones, you’re familiar with how many storylines are woven together. The complexity is exactly why some fans were drawn to the series in the first place -- it’s an experience that demands to be revisited if you ever want to understand everything.
Obviously, not every storyline is equally important. Some are red herrings, purposefully meant to distract you from the real endgame that creator George R.R. Martin is setting up. Others seem to have been abandoned, though there’s no way to know for sure until the last two books are released (if they ever are). And still others just don’t hold up when compared to the brilliance of the rest of the novels.
Whether it’s because the plot seemed unnecessary or because grand finales are always best with an element of surprise, there are probably a lot of storylines that George R.R. Martin would be alright with fans conveniently forgetting. We rounded up the top 16 Storylines GRRM Wants You To Forget.
16 The Power of the Faith
On the show, the Faith’s storyline seems to be over. After all, we watched Cersei blow everyone up at the end of season six. However, in the books, they’re still gaining power, and the show has diverged so far from the books that we don’t know what will happen in the series and what's just for television.
Since the Faith is still so powerful in the source material, they technically have a say in who the King or Queen of Westeros should be. The crown and the Faith are tied very closely together, but the Faith hasn’t made any comments (yet) outside of parading Cersei through the streets. We can’t imagine that the High Sparrow has nothing to say about who should rule, but it might be more convenient to the story to simply push him aside.
15 Stannis’ debt to the Iron Bank
Show-watchers who were fans of Stannis should rejoice -- he’s still alive in the books! However, he’s also got a pretty large debt looming over his head. He borrowed money from the Iron Bank, and the Iron Bank does not mess around when it comes to getting their money back.
Remember how Cersei was borrowing a ton of coin to finance her war? That hasn’t been paid off. Stannis, who is sure he’s going to end up on the Iron Throne, agrees to pay back the loan in exchange for Braavosi support. That means he owes a huge sum of money, with no guarantees of being able to get his hands on it. There’s no way of knowing yet how this will play out in future books, or if it will at all, so the 'Stannis in debt' storyline might not be needed.
14 The Wights at The Wall
Season seven concluded with a plot that brought most of the main storylines together, albeit one that more than a few fans were critical of -- to convince Cersei to join the fight against the undead, Jon and some well-chosen men would go beyond the Wall, snag a wight, and bring it to King’s Landing as proof. NBD.
That won’t be necessary in the books, since there are two wights currently in sleep mode in the Ice Cells. In the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons, Jon brings two wildling corpses past the Wall hoping to study them after they turn. Jon keeps checking on them, but they still haven’t turned to wights by the time the book ends. Right now, fans are just left wondering what’s going to happen with the two dead bodies in chains.
13 The “Pale Mare” in Meereen
One thing the show has given us that the books haven’t yet is Daenerys’ return to Westeros. In the books, she is still camped out in Meereen. There are a host of problems for her to deal with, but one has been getting less attention than others.
The “pale mare” is basically the dysentery of the Game of Thrones universe. It sweeps through populations easily, and doesn’t leave many survivors. Three cases were reported amongst Daenerys’ men in A Storm of Swords, and soon enough, the disease spreads through both Astapor and Meereen. This is a nice touch of realism, but unless it affects Daenerys’ army (and adds yet another reason she can’t sail for Westeros), it’s probably just another way to fill up pages.
12 The Hound’s fate
Stannis might still be alive in the books, but we’re not too sure about The Hound. According to some characters in the books, he’s dead as a doornail.
Like on the show, Arya leaves The Hound to die (although Brienne wasn’t the one to nearly kill him). After killing Polliver and The Tickler, Sandor is seriously injured, and Arya leaves him for dead in the second book. In A Feast For Crows, rumors spread that he’s still alive and leading a band of outlaws. However, a monk tells Brienne that The Hound is dead, and that he buried him himself.
Fans are still holding out hope that Sandor Clegane will return for an ultimate showdown with his older brother, but there’s no guarantee that this plot will be picked up again.
11 The Lannisters’ marriage pact with the Freys
The Freys and the Lannisters are the perfect match made in hell. They're not just perfectly devious allies in the books, they’re also joined by marriage. (Technically, every house on this show could probably find a marriage bond somewhere, but this is way more recent.)
Ser Daven Lannister is one of the lesser-known members of the Lannister clan. He’s not mentioned often in the first books, other than to recognize that his father was killed by Rickard Karstark. As part of the “Freys stabbing the Starks in the back" deal, a Lannister had to marry a Frey. Daven’s not the biggest Frey fan, but he says he’ll do as he’s told.
We don’t have confirmation of which Frey daughter he wed, and there also isn't a lot of evidence that it’ll become relevant in future books, so it really looks like this plot thread could stand to be snipped entirely.
10 Bronn’s claim to be Lord of Stokeworth
In season seven, right before the Lannister army was set on fire by Daenerys and her dragons, Bronn reminds Jaime that he’s supposed to be a lord with a castle. He might joke about it on the show, but in the books, he’s not messing around.
In a slightly less important storyline, Bronn marries into the super rich House Stokeworth in A Storm of Swords. Even though he’s become Ser Bronn, this still doesn’t make him a lord, since a different branch of the family lives in Castle Stokeworth. Not good enough for Bronn.
Bronn kills his brother-in-law in a duel (that was organized by Cersei in an attempt to kill Bronn), kicks his sister-in-law out of the castle, and names himself Lord Stokeworth. This is some great character development, but it doesn't seem to do a ton for the overarching plot.
9 Robb Stark’s Will
In the ASOIAF storyline, no one knows that the trueborn Stark children are still alive. Rickon is MIA, Bran is beyond the Wall, Arya is with the Faceless Men, and Sansa is living in the Eyrie under a fake name. The North, however, isn’t satisfied without a Stark in Winterfell.
In A Storm of Swords, Robb is adamant that if he were to die before the war is over, he would name Jon as his successor. What we don’t know, though, is if this desire was actually written down anywhere. A popular fan theory says that Robb wrote a will that would legitimize Jon in the case of Robb’s death, so that someone with Stark blood could still hold Winterfell.
However, the revelation of Jon as a Targaryen would probably take precedence over a will that may or may not materialize, so this unresolved plot point seems pretty minor.
8 How Regular Westerosi Citizens Deal With the Winter
This is a logistical piece that isn’t addressed as much as some fans would like. We’ve known since the very beginning of A Game of Thrones that winter is coming, thanks to the words of House Stark. What we don’t know is how everyone else is supposed to deal with it. If you’re not from one of Westeros’ ancient houses, how do you survive the winter?
If it seems like nitpicking, it’s because fans are used to an incredible level of detail from GRRM. He took the time to create an entire history for his fictional world. This explanation would be part of his world-building, but instead GRRM seems to be saying, “Shh...don’t think about that…”
The show, on the other hand, touched on this in season seven. Sansa has a brief scene in Winterfell where she directs men to build up the food supply and line their armor to stay warm.
7 The Horn of Joramun
In A Storm of Swords, Ygritte tells Jon that Mance Rayder has been searching for the Horn of Winter, AKA the Horn of Joramun. The horn is said to have magic that could bring down the Wall when blown. Mance eventually claims that he has the Horn, but doesn’t want to use it to destroy the Wall, so that there’s still something in place to stop the White Walkers from following them down south.
He never has a chance to decide, though, because Stannis Baratheon’s army comes riding in and decimates the free folk. The Horn doesn’t appear again until A Dance With Dragons, when it’s found in a glacier. It’s burned along with ‘Mance’ (the real Mance escaped) in the books. Tormund later admits that Mance was lying and it wasn’t the real Horn.
So, if it was the real horn, it's burned. If it wasn't, we don't know where the horn is. Either way, the plot seems pretty pointless.
6 Dorne’s plot to install Myrcella as queen
While the television adaptation of Game of Thrones has gotten a lot right, most fans agree that the showrunners really dropped the ball when it came to Dorne. The Sand Snakes all seem like one person, and a lot of the more interesting Dorne-centric storylines were removed.
One of those storylines was Dorne’s plot to install Myrcella as Queen, mostly just to tick off Cersei and provoke a war with the Lannisters. According to Dornish law, Myrcella should have been Queen before Tommen became King, since she’s older than him. Princess Arianne steals Myrcella away to kick her plan into action, but she’s thwarted by guards who figure out her plot. Myrcella loses an ear in the scuffle, but lives. So much has happened with Dorne since then that this plot is only memorable due to Myrcella's missing ear.
5 Rickon’s whereabouts
Before the show brought Rickon back just to kill him off in season six, his MIA status had become a long-running joke within the fandom. Just like Gendry was constantly rowing (until recently), we could just assume Rickon was still...walking? Somewhere?
Rickon is mostly forgotten in the books as well. At the end of A Dance With Dragons, Ser Davos is on his way to attempt to find him after a tip from Wex, a survivor of the sack of Winterfell. Wex says that Rickon fled to the island of Skagos with a woman, presumably Osha. While this could be true, we still don’t have absolute confirmation of his whereabouts, and the character has been mostly missing since book two, A Clash of Kings.
If he's going to come back just to suffer a frustrating death like he did in the show, however, GRRM might as well forget about him.
4 Victarion’s Quest To Bring Dany Dragonbinder
Euron Greyjoy is currently occupying the space of “slightly pervy villain” on Game of Thrones, so it’s easy even for book-readers to forget that there is yet another Greyjoy who is chasing after one of the female POV characters. Victarion Greyjoy, Euron’s baby bro, is sent to offer Daenerys a marriage proposal from Euron at the end of A Feast for Crows. He also takes the horn Dragonbinder with him, which is said to control dragons.
In A Dance With Dragons, GRRM hits us over the head with how awful Victarion is in all of his POV chapters. He reminisces about beating his third wife to death and daydreams about killing Daenerys’ husband so that he can have her for himself. We’re sure we would have gotten the point about how much he sucks in far fewer pages.
3 Tyrion’s Side Adventures
Before he can (presumably) become Hand of the Queen in the books, Tyrion has to reach Daenerys. While the show kept some of his stories from the fifth book, like being captured by Jorah and sold to slavers, a lot was cut for the sake of time. It’s hard not to wish the same had been done in the source material.
While he learns a good deal of useful information throughout the book -- more on that in a bit -- a lot seems like purposefully throwing obstacles in his way to draw out the plot longer. We spend a lot of time getting to know Penny, another dwarf with whom Tyrion is forced to mock joust for spectacle, and not a lot of time actually moving the plot forward.
2 Quentyn Martell
The Martell family is known to Game of Thrones fans as sexually free, forward thinking people. While this is also true in the books, there’s one character who’s notably different. Prince Quentyn Martell, son of Prince Doran (seen above), is the awkward virgin black sheep in the Martell family.
He’s also the Martell who was sent to Meereen to try to woo Dany and get her to agree to come to Dorne and form an alliance through marriage. Yes, this makes no sense.
We spend pages upon pages hearing about all of Quentyn’s struggles before he finally reaches Meereen, where Daenerys of course turns down his offer. Then, after all that buildup, Quentyn dies because he stupidly tries to tame Viserion. Not the most essential plot.
1 Aegon/Young Griff
You’ve probably heard the (basically canon) fan theory that not only is Jon secretly a Targaryen, but that Tyrion is as well. What you may not know is that in the books, there’s another character who believes he has a claim to the Iron Throne through blood -- a boy who claims to be Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar.
The story goes that he was switched with another poor infant who the Mountain killed when King's Landing was sacked at the end of Robert's Rebellion, and the real Aegon is alive and well. Tyrion meets him while he’s traveling east, though he’s going under the pseudonym Young Griff. Real Aegon or fake, the story has invested too much time in Daenerys for her to not have one of the ultimate claims to the throne. His storyline seems like nothing more than a way to draw out Dany’s path to the Red Keep.
What storylines do you and George R.R. Martin wish you could forget? Let us know in the comments!