The Butterfly Effect

by RetroZap Staff

There are lots of character deaths in Game of Thrones. Here are a few still alive in the books.

By Steve Titcomb //  If HBO and Game of Thrones have taught us anything it is not to become too attached to the characters we meet. Books or television it doesn’t matter, George R. R. Martin and the HBO show writers have had no qualms about killing off beloved characters. There is a growing difference though between Martin’s novels and Game of Thrones. HBO, due to time constraints and money, has had to cut several story lines throughout its season and along the way this has forced them to kill off characters that have yet to perish in the books. The list is ever growing for deaths in Game of Thrones, and with all these changes being made, it makes one wonder whom is set to meet the ax before the shows end.

Up to the second episode of season six, Balon Greyjoy was set to join this list. That was quickly fixed by the arrival of his brother who ended up tossing him off a rickety bridge setting up a storyline that happens much earlier in the books. The Butterfly Effect is the theory that if a butterfly flaps its wings that half way across the world it could result in a hurricane. It has become obvious by now to the readers of the series that A Song of Ice and Fire is on a much different path than Game of Thrones, which is a unique and beautiful thing in entertainment. Having the show finish before the books leaves George R. R. Martin with all kinds of possibilities to shock the readers with.

Now, lets take a look at how some of the characters still to play a role in the books are no longer alive on the show and the impact that will have.

Stannis Baratheon

Stannis Baratheon deaths in Game of Thrones

Stannis Baratheon finally met his end at the hands of Brienne in season five of Game of Thrones. Now imagine a world in which it hasn’t happened yet. In A Song of Ice and Fire Brienne of Tarth is still in the Riverlands with Podrick dealing with Lady Stoneheart. Stannis heads south from the Wall just like show but it is in an entirely different fashion. First he leaves his wife and daughter at the wall and thanks to the advice of Jon Snow he ends up taking a slower approach to Winterfell and gaining allies in the Northern Clans on his way. The changes become evident right away in that Stannis doesn’t sacrifice Shireen to the Red God and Selyse doesn’t commit suicide in her grief. His army never deserts him and there is no battle where they are greatly outnumbered by the Boltons. A drastic change in direction from book to show leaves fans of both novels and television wondering what the fate of the North will be.

Barristan Selmy

deaths in Game of Thrones

Ser Barristan Selmy is one of my favorite characters in the series. Aside from season 1 where I was coming into the franchise with a blank slate I have been able to know what was coming with seasons 2 thru 5. It is for that reason that I was caught so off guard by his death and even now thinking about it still get bummed out. His introduction to Danaerys in Essos is fairly similar in both adaptations but his non death in the books completely changes the Slaver’s Bay arc. After Danaerys flies off on Drogon it is Barristan the Bold that takes charge of Mereen as her Hand. No Varys who happens to still be in Westeros at this point and Tyrion is yet to make such an impact on the Queen to gain the role he has on the show. The last readers see of Ser Barristan the Bold in the books is when he is getting ready to lead an attack on the Yunkai who have laid siege to the city.

Doran Martell

deaths in Game of Thrones Doran Martell

Doran Martell and the Dornish arc took a sharp left turn this season. This also ties in with Myrcella Baratheon who also makes this list. Doran Martell was killed by Oberyn’s paramour who felt he was too weak to do what was necessary in the season 6 premiere. While there is unrest in the book between Doran and Oberyn’s daughters in the book it plays out much differently with a failed coup attempt. Doran is playing the slow game and has been ever since his sister Elia was raped and murdered by Gregor Clegane closing out Robert’s Rebellion. The show fails to show his true cunning and the depths he is willing to take to avenge his family.

Myrcella Baratheon


deaths in Game of Thrones myrcellaMyrcella Baratheon just like in the show is engaged to Trystane Martell but instead of him being Doran’s only son he is actually his youngest. Arianne, not a character on the TV show is a princess of Dorne and tries to use Myrcella in a plot to put her family on the throne after Joffrey’s death at the purple wedding. The plot fails but Myrcella ends losing an ear along with gaining a nasty scar on her face as a result. Her arc differs greatly in that her Uncle/Father doesn’t come and try to rescue her. Jaime Lannister is actually in the Riverlands leading the Lannister forces in finishing up the last of the holdouts from the War of the Five Kings. He actually ends up meeting Brienne of Tarth again and is being led to Lady Stoneheart at this time. As the 5th book is wraps up she is being sent back to King’s Landing with Nymeria (one of Oberyn’s daughters) who is set to join the small council representing Dorne. No poison kiss and no dead Princess, at least not yet.

Roose Bolton

deaths in Game of Thrones Roose Bolton

Roose Bolton is a cold and calculating man, of that there can be no doubt. His death came as quite the shock in the season 6 episode of Home. His storyline from book to television holds true for the most part except in the books it is him that Arya serves as cupbearer to at Harrenhal instead of Tywin Lannister. Petyr Baelish hasn’t made his play with Sansa in the book or at least not the same play he makes in the show so Roose ends up having Ramsay marry Jeyne Poole instead pretending that she is Arya Stark. Roose’s character also has a tie in with another character on this list whose actions determine the path Roose takes. That character is Mance Rayder. The last viewers see of Roose, Winterfell is falling apart around him with mysterious deaths taking place so he sends out the men whose loyalty he doesn’t trust to battle the approaching army of Stannis Baratheon. Roose ends up thinking he is safe behind the walls of Winterfell no realizing that it is a disguised Mance Rayder and some wildling spear wives causing all the trouble.

Mance Rayder

deaths in Game of Thrones Mance

Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall only wants to lead his free folk brethren south of Wall so that they might have a chance to survive the Long Night that is coming. One of the few characters in the entire series who understands the true danger that is coming for Westeros, Mance is a complex character who has no interest in the Game of Thrones. He is easy to like and along with Davos Seaworth and Jon Snow seems to be one of the few characters with pure motives. His capture and defeat play out pretty similar from book to television but his fate does not. In a ruse that is worked out behind the scenes between him and Melisandre, Mance is sent to infiltrate Winterfell to save who they believe to be Arya Stark from the Boltons. Melisandre uses her magic to disguise the Lord of Bones to look like Mance when he burned alive as a sacrifice to the Red God. Mance actually stays to witness his apparent death by taking on the Lord of Bones appearance. His mission partly succeeds allowing Theon to lead Jeyne Pool over the walls of Winterfell but things don’t look good for Mance at the end of the fifth book when Jon Snow receives a letter stating that Ramsay Bolton has taken him captive.

Game of Thrones along with killing off characters that haven’t been killed off in the book series has cut quite a few storylines and characters giving those roles to already existing characters diverging the show from the books. Audiences have already seen how some of these deaths have impacted the world, specifically Barristan Selmy and Stannis Baratheon’s. Stannis’ death has dramatically changed the course of the war in the North but only time will tell how Doran Martell and Roose Bolton’s deaths will affect the coming events in Westeros. As George R. R. Martin once said, small changes lead to large changes lead to huge changes and it is only a matter of time until viewers know what those will be.

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