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The 5 Best Book Characters That Game of Thrones Has Left Out

By  · Published on May 14th, 2015

HBO/Beautiful Death

As we move further into the back-half of the run of HBO’s Game of Thrones, it has become clear that some characters from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books just aren’t going to make it into the show. This is a topic that we’ve been discussing at length on the weekly podcast A Storm of Spoilers, co-hosted by yours truly alongside Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson and Geek.com’s Dave Gonzales. While we remain steadfast in our belief that not all hope is lost (there is still one particularly cool, less-talkative character we still believe to be wreaking havoc in the Riverlands), there are many characters that we can now safely place into what we call The Boneyard. These are characters that have not yet and almost certainly will never appear on your television screens.

If you’re into the spoilery version of this discussion, check out the latest episode of A Storm of Spoilers below, in which we discuss the latest episode, “Kill the Boy” and begin to fill The Boneyard with denizens:

For those who aren’t into spoilers – or perhaps those who just want to see my favorites from The Boneyard – I’ve put together the following list of the best characters from the books that have almost certainly been passed up by the show. I know that it’s possible that any of these characters could be introduced at some point, in some odd way, so nothing is ever completely certain. But it’s safe to say that the chances are slim. Warning: Each of these character names is linked to their page on the Wiki of Ice and Fire. You can find out more about each character on those pages (including great artist renderings), but beware of book spoilers.

1. Strong Belwas

In the books, Dany’s traveling company of advisors grows substantially as she and her Unsullied army sack Slaver’s Bay. It’s not just Daario, Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah. Strong Belwas is perhaps the most fun member of her advisory team that didn’t make it. He’s a former slave from Meereen who is sent by Illyio Mopatis (Varys’ friend who helps Dany and her brother in season 1) to hook up with Dany and support her in her journey. We meet him in the books initially as the traveling companion of Barristan Selmy in Qarth. He is described as a man with a gleaming bald head, a huge chest and a massive belly. He’s a eunuch like the Unsullied, but he carries with him a large arakh-style sword (curved blade) and in battle, he has never been bested. For fun, he likes to let each of his opponents cut him once before he kills them. He uses his scars to convince Dany of his fighting prowess. I can understand by Dany’s small council needed to be lean and mean for the show, but Belwas would have been all kinds of fun. He’s big and loud and pompous, something that would have added spice to Dany’s otherwise bland Slaver’s Bay storyline. He’s also there for some of the best moments – he’s part of the raiding party that goes into Meereen to get the slaves to revolt, he’s the one who drags Ser Jorah out after Dany dismisses him and he has a huge moment in a scene that I’m convinced we will see later in season 5. He was important and fun. And while a lot of what he brought to the story can be condensed into the show characters of Daario and Grey Worm, it would have been nice to see him come to life.

2. Arianne Martell

This is one we’ve known about since before season 5, but I secretly hoped that the show would toss her in there because she’s such an interesting character. In the books, Prince Doran Martell (Oberyn’s brother) has two sons and a daughter. Arianne is the eldest and because they are in Dorne (where women are equals to men), she is the heir to the Dornish kingdom. In the show, it’s Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand who devises a plan to do something terrible to Cersei’s daughter Myrcella in response to Oberyn’s death, ultimately launching a war between Dorne and the Lannisters. In the books, the plot is similar (although not quite as mean-spirited) and driven almost entirely by Arianne and her cousins, The Sand Snakes. The reason she is missed on the show is that her role as heir is one of the things that makes Dorne really special. It’s a place unlike anywhere else in Westeros, where it’s not all patriarchy. The show swapping out Trystane as they heir and Ellaria as the schemer really robs it of an awesome character. I have faith that Dorne will still be a very cool place to visit on the show, but I still miss Arianne greatly. She would’ve been a lot of fun.

“Coldhands” by Eva Maria Toker

3. Coldhands

This is a character that would have shown up either during Sam and Gilly’s time North of The Wall or during Bran’s journey to meet the Three-Eyed Raven. He’s a mysterious character who dresses in the black cloaks of The Night’s Watch and rides a massive elk. His identity is concealed by a scarf covering his face, but the rest of his features give away the fact that he’s dead, just like a white walker. Only his eyes are black and he can speak. He’s a helpful party for both Sam and Bran, working in congress with the Three-eyed Raven to bring Bran to his final destination under the weirwood tree. If you are brave and not affected by spoilers, look up some of the fun theories about the identity of Coldhands. He’s one of the more interesting mysteries within Martin’s books. From a show standpoint, his presence may have been a little too magical too quickly for the show’s audience. It’s clear that Dan Weiss and David Benioff have been very careful about introducing the various magical elements of Martin’s story. Keeping the only walking dead characters as bad guys makes things more simple, but Coldhands would have been a wonderful nod for book readers. The saddest part of his exclusion from the show is that it proves, as these things often do, that his presence in the books wasn’t important beyond being a guide for Bran. Sad times for Coldhands.

4. Patchface

As we’ve seen in season 5 thus far, the story of Princess Shireen Baratheon has taken a jump forward. She’s becoming a more important character as her father Stannis moves further into the forefront. By way of attrition, Stannis is really one of the last “good guys” still vying for the Iron Throne. Shireen’s true importance is yet to be revealed, but her purpose thus far has been to humanize her father and be cute with Ser Davos. These moments have been great, but there’s something missing from Shireen’s story: her little buddy Patchface. He is a former jester slave from Volantis whose freedom was bought by Stannis so that he could be a friend to the otherwise lonely, greyscale-stricken Shireen. I’ll admit that there’s really no purpose to having Patchface tagging along with Shireen in the show. He doesn’t do anything particularly interesting in the books. He’s just a weirdo and I think it would have been interesting to see the show try to pull him off. It just goes to show that the show’s creators know better than me, which is usually the case.

5. Nine page descriptions of food.

This one came via Brian Byrd on Twitter in response to a poll from our @StormofSpoilers account. We asked which left-out characters were our listeners’ favorites and he delivered this gem:

@StormofSpoilers Nine page descriptions of food. Critical to the plot yet Benioff and Weiss cast it aside like an unwanted toy. Absurd.

— Brian Byrd (@BrianByrdman) May 11, 2015

I couldn’t agree more. In the books, the meals are luxurious. Even if I had never seen a picture of George R.R. Martin, I would know based on his writing that he’s a man who knows how to eat. As a man with a similar affliction, I’ve always appreciated the depth of description in almost every single meal consumed by characters in his story. This is why those books are so long – it’s all in the food. It’s so extensive that someone even made a cookbook based on his descriptions (which I own, don’t judge me).

Header image from A Beautiful Death, courtesy of HBO. Coldhards art via Eva Maria Toker on Behance.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)