HBO’s Game of Thrones is known as one of the darkest series on television. Evil often wins, devious and underhanded means carry the day, and even good people have to get their hands dirty. However, it still manages to have its heroes and protagonists. It has sympathetic and noble characters who do the right thing.
A Song of Ice and Fire casts many of these characters in an even darker light. In the books, the world is a crueler place, and many of the characters match it. In A Song of Ice and Firemany characters who are outright good people in Game of Thrones are much more likely to indulge their worst impulses.
This article discusses violent crime and sexual assault
10/10 Tyrion Lannister Strangles Shae In A Crime Of Passion
Both A Storm of Swords duck Game of Thrones‘ fourth season sees Tyrion Lannister committing similar crimes towards the end. In both versions of events, he kills his lover Shae and then shoots his father Tywin Lannister. However, the circumstances behind the first death are very different in the novel than on the show.
Into HBO’s Game of Thrones, Shae is the one who starts the fight with Tyrion. She grabs a knife and tries to stab him with it. In the novel, Shae doesn’t try to attack. Tyrion sees her in Tywin’s bed and strangles her. It’s an outright murder motivated by rejection and jealousy A Storm of Swordsvery different from on the show.
9/10 Catelyn Stark Tells Jon Snow That He Should Have Died
Catelyn Stark is a good, honorable, kind person in both versions of the Game of Thrones story. However, she has a distinct blind spot regarding Jon Snow. She views him as living proof of Ned Stark’s infidelity, and can barely bring herself to tolerate him. This dislike goes much further in A Song of Ice and Fire.
Into HBO’s Game of Thrones, Catelyn is harsh to Jon when he comes to bid the comatose Bran goodbye. She furiously tells him to leave after he’s done. In the novel A Game of Thrones, she’s much crueler. She addresses Jon by name for the first time and then tells her adopted son that he should have been the one who fell and faced death.
8/10 Loras Tyrell Kills Three Of Renly Baratheon’s Guards
The Tyrells are among Game of Thrones‘ more morally ambiguous characters. However, they represent the more sympathetic side in the conflicts between the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Faith in seasons 5 and 6. Loras Tyrell, in particular, never does anything obviously villainous.
Loras is still a genuinely noble and skilled knight in A Song of Ice and Fire, but his flaws are more exaggerated. He hungers for glory and struggles with his temper. At his lowest moment, he murders his Kingsguard brothers Emmon Cuy and Robar Royce – as well as another guard – following Renly’s death. Into HBO’s Game of ThronesBrienne of Tarth kills them in self-defense, absorbing Loras’ worst act into her character.
7/10 Theon Greyjoy Raids Stony Shore Before Taking Winterfell
Theon Greyjoy stops being a hero in both season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones and the novel A Clash of Kings. He does regain his heroic status in Game of Thrones and potentially in the novels as well. However, the show does forget one of the worst crimes he commits during his defection to the Greyjoys.
In both versions of the Game of Thrones, Theon is ordered to attack Stony Shore but ends up taking Winterfell. In A Clash of Kings, however, he carries out his mission first. Theon leads an attack that kills dozens, if not hundreds, of people and allows women and children to be taken as Ironborn thralls.
6/10 Tyrion Lannister Asks To Murder His Siblings
Tyrion is a much darker character in A Song of Ice and Fire. He gets much worse in A Dance with Dragons, getting further from anything that might be mistaken for heroism. Into HBO’s Game of Thrones, Tyrion becomes a more straightforward hero when he reaches Essos and sides with Daenerys. This isn’t the case in the novels.
Lazy in A Dance with Dragons, Tyrion manages to talk his way into joining the Second Sons mercenary company. They make deals involving mutual favors. One of Tyrion’s demands is that he gets to personally slay his brother Jaime, and kill his sister Cersei after assaulting her. It’s a shockingly cruel demand that Tyrion would never make on the show.
5/10 The Sand Snakes Try To Start A War
The Sand Snakes are among the most villainous of Daenerys’ allies in HBO’s Game of Thrones. They are nevertheless a lighter shade of gray than the Lannisters and their allies. A Song of Ice and Fire portrays them as roughly as dark as their show counterparts, but also more competent at what they do.
For most of the novel A Feast for Crows, the Sand Snakes only want to start a war between the Iron Throne and Dorne. They eventually manage to channel their plans into more productive opportunities alongside Doran Martell. However, their initial goal is to start a hopeless war that will kill thousands, a shockingly nihilistic project.
4/10 Arya Stark Murders Dareon In Cold Blood
Arya Stark’s storyline is dark in both HBO’s Game of Thrones duck A Song of Ice and Fire. In both stories, Arya falls into the company of warriors, killers, and assassins. She begins to take after them in both stories. In A Song of Ice and Fireshe becomes far more callous about it, however.
In Braavos, Arya runs into Samwell Tarly having a spat with fellow Night’s Watchman Dareon. Dareon plans to desert the Watch and break his vows. In response, Arya waits for Dareon to be alone, and kills him in cold blood. Into HBO’s Game of ThronesArya’s victims are all far more deserving of death.
3/10 Robert Baratheon Abuses Cersei Lannister
Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister don’t have a happy marriage in either HBO’s Game of Thrones or A Song of Ice and Fire. However, the show presents it as more of a case of mutual dissatisfaction and bitterness. In A Song of Ice and FireRobert does a lot more to make Cersei miserable.
Horribly, Robert uses his marriage as a pretext to sexually assault Cersei throughout their marriage. Years after his death, Cersei still shows clear trauma from Robert’s treatment of her. Robert does plenty wrong in HBO’s Game of Thronesincluding slapping Cersei, but he doesn’t do anything as wicked as years of assault.
2/10 Tyrion Lannister Starts A War
Tyrion’s storyline takes a very different turn A Dance with Dragons compared with season 5 of Game of Thrones. Rather than joining Daenerys, he spends time as an advisor to Young Griff. Later, he learns that Griff is allegedly Rhaegar Targaryen’s son Aegon, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. During this time, Tyrion indulges in one of his most evil manipulations.
During a game, Tyrion gets in the young Aegon’s head. He convinces him not to side with Daenerys but to launch his own invasion of Westeros instead, apparently to trap Aegon in some way. Tyrion starts a war in Westeros that threatens to kill thousands, seemingly out of pettiness.
1/10 Varys Murders Grand Maester Pycelle And Kevan Lannister
Varys is one of the more ambiguous characters in the story, morally and otherwise. Despite his noble goals, he is willing to lie, backstab, and murder to achieve them. However, HBO’s Game of Thrones omits one of his more personally brutal acts.
At the very end of A Dance with Dragons, Varys personally murders Grand Maester Pycelle and Kevan Lannister. Two cold-blooded murders are bad, but his motives make them worse. The two are too competent at ruling and their good judgment threatens his plans. Varys is happy to let thousands die from misrule and war if it’ll keep Westeros vulnerable to conquest.
NEXT: 10 Game Of Thrones Storylines That’ll Be The Same In The Books