As popular and acclaimed as Game of Thrones is, there are always going to be those fans who will point out how the books did it better. The show only has so much time and money, so they can't possibly include everything from George R.R. Martin's books. Still, when your favorite parts don't make it in the show, it's hard not to be disappointed.
There are plenty of great characters who never made it on the show, but there are also those fan-favorites whose depiction on the show was a bit of a letdown. Whether the role was cut down or key characteristics were missing, the show version failed to meet our expectations. Here are some of the great book characters who were wasted on Game of Thrones.
10 Lem Lemoncloak
Lem Lemoncloak is introduced in the books as part of the Brotherhood without Banners. Along with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, Lem helps protect the smallfolk from the horrors of war. Once Lady Stoneheart takes over leadership of the Brotherhood, Lem really gets to shine, helping to track down and execute the Freys.
In the show, Lem has much less of an impact. In fact, he is never mentioned by name and only identifiable by his signature yellow cloak. He is also much less heroic, butchering Brother Ray and his followers before being executed by The Hound.
9 Roose Bolton
In the books, Ramsay Bolton is just as sadistic and cruel as is depicted in the show. However, the scariest Bolton in the books is still his father, Roose Bolton. Much more low-key than his son, Roose is a soft-spoken, calculating and ruthless man. However, what makes him so unsettling is how pragmatic he is about his horrible crimes. Unlike Ramsay, he takes no pleasure in killing but still does it without breaking a sweat. He makes for a very effective villain.
Sadly, in the show, the spotlight is taken by Ramsay. The more cartoonish and violent Bolton takes center stage and eventually dispatches Roose very unceremoniously.
8 Mance Rayder
In the books, Mance Rayder is the charismatic leader of the Wildling army. He is also a known trickster, having once snuck into Winterfell disguised as a musician and attended a feast. It is thought he was burned to death by Stannis, but it's later revealed he was spared and sent on a secret mission to infiltrate the Bolton-held Winterfell.
The show doesn't spend enough time with Mance to get any sense of how he united the Wildlings. There is also no sign of his trickster nature, with Wildlings like Tormund being much more interesting. His death by fire proves to be the real deal in this version.
7 Doran Martell
Doran Martell is the prince of Dorne and a seemingly ineffective leader. We meet Doran following the death of his brother Oberyn. Despite his family's insistence they strike back at the Lannisters, Doran remains loyal to the throne. However, it is eventually revealed his inaction is all a facade and he is part of a conspiracy to put Daenerys Targaryen on the Iron Throne.
The show is much less nuanced with handling such an interesting character. In their version, there is no greater plan and Doran is actually the useless leader he appears to be. He does nothing and is quickly killed by his family, then never spoken of again.
6 Aero Hotah
Areo Hotah is personal bodyguard to Doran Martell. Though calm and quiet, Areo is known as one of the most skilled fighters in all of Westeros. Armed with a longaxe, he dispatches his opponents with complete ease. The books are currently setting him up for some exciting confrontations.
In the show, we do not get a single glimpse at to Areo's fighting prowess. He just stands silently by Prince Doran's side before being killed off by one of the Sand Snakes in one of the show's lamest death scenes. He was, sadly, collateral damage for the show's mishandling of the Dorne storyline.
5 Illyn Payne
Illyn Payne is the executioner in King's Landing and the man who took Ned Stark's head. If that position wasn't intimidating enough, he is also mute after having his tongue cut out by the Mad King. He plays a larger role later in the books when he helps Jaime Lannister learn to fight with his left hand and they form an unusual friendship.
Ser Illyn is introduced in an appropriately intimidating way, but disappears from the show after Season 1. Bronn takes on his role as Jaime's BFF, and while those two make an entertaining pair, the interactions with Ser Illyn were very compelling.
4 Aeron Greyjoy
Aeron "Damphair" Greyjoy is one of Theon's uncles and a priest of the Drowned God. He was once a worthless drunk, but after a near drowning, he rededicated his life to serving his god. He also has a deep-seated and painful hatred towards his brother Euron which causes much conflict when Euron returns home.
You'd be forgiven for not realizing Theon had another uncle in the show. In fact, it is never stated that the character credited as Aeron is actually related to Theon as he is little more than a background character in a couple episodes.
3 Stannis Baratheon
Stannis Baratheon is a humorless and stern man, but in the books, he's probably best suited to sit on the Iron Throne. Stannis doesn't care about power, but knows it's his right and responsibility to rule Westeros. He is also the only would-be king to come to the North's rescue and may be the man to liberate Winterfell.
In the show, Stannis is a puppet to Melisandre, unable to make decisions and inept in his quest for the throne. Despite being a skilled fighter and total badass, he is not king material. Plus, he burned his own daughter to death which made it very difficult to root for him.
2 Wyman Manderly
Wyman Maderly is a fan-favorite character from the books. Manderly is the butt of many jokes due to his enormous size. However, there is more going on with Manderly than meets the eye. Despite acting loyal to the Freys and Boltons who now control the North, Manderly is secretly plotting revenge against those responsible for the Red Wedding. He is also the man who made the infamous Frey pies.
In the show, Manderly is simply one of the Northern lords who name Jon Snow King in the North. Arya takes over his role of the Northern avenger and Manderly is relegated to a quick cameo.
1 Barristan Selmy
The books have established one individual as the most feared fighter in the Seven Kingdoms, Barristan Selmy. He served two kings as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard before being dismissed by Cersei. He then travels across the Narrow Sea to serve Daenerys Targaryen. Despite his age, Selmy is still a very impressive fighter and military leader. When Daenerys flees Meereen, Selmy is the man who takes charge. He has continuously proven to be one of the queen's most valuable assets.
Selmy's reputation is the same in the show, but we are given little proof of it. Whenever a battle is happening, he is stuck standing beside Daenerys doing nothing. Once he finally does get in a fight, he is impressive but quickly killed off.