One thing we love about Game of Thrones is that it not only manages to capture the spirit of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, but in some cases it (gasp!) actually improves on the original.
Oh, put down your pitchforks. We agree that the show, as good as it is, will never be able to replicate all the nuance and depth of G.R.R. Martin's world, but it does manage to give us a different take on the same characters. And in some cases, we actually like the show's version better.
Whether it be a change in the way the characters are written, an interesting new scene, or a softer side imbued by the actor, here are seven characters we think were improved in the transition from page to screen:
1. Cersei Lannister: Cersei's character is perhaps the most obviously changed. Unbearably cold and enigmatically cruel in the books, the Cersei we get on the show is far more accessible, which appears to be a deliberate choice. In the first two books we almost always see Cersei through the point-of-view of characters who aren't inclined to show her in a good light — mostly Ned, Sansa, and Tyrion. The added scenes in the show of her disastrous marriage with Robert and her failed attempt to control Joffrey paint her struggles more sympathetically, and the character is allowed to show more emotion on screen than she does on the page. It also helps that Lena Headey has a talent for capturing the hurt that bubbles beneath Cersei's every cruel dictate.
2. Robb Stark: Robb isn't a POV character in the book, and we mostly see him through his mother's eyes. On the show, we're given a much more well-rounded look at who this young-man-turned-King is; we especially appreciate the nuance given the emotional turmoil that surrounds his new position of power. Also, on a shallow note: Richard Madden's face is a good thing.
3. Theon Greyjoy: We're not gonna lie: at this point in the books, we hated Theon. We barely noticed he existed in Game of Thrones, and in Clash of Kings his POV chapters were so self-aggrandizing we were already sick of him even before he (spoiler for this week’s episode!) stabbed Robb in the back. Ironically, getting out of his head actually helps us sympathize with his internal conflict more, mostly thanks to Alfie Allen's ability to blend ego with sense of genuine desire for familial love and connection.
4. Sansa Stark: Sansa's POV, especially in the early books, can be a little hard to take. She's an eleven-year-old girl (thirteen on the show), which makes her romanticized view of the world understandable, but that doesn't mean it's not frustrating to be stuck in a kid's head while fascinating court intrigue whirls around her. It's far more interesting to watch Sansa from the outside, especially because Sophie Turner is perfect at embodying a child on the verge of breakdown, holding it together by sheer force of will. It's much easier to see how strong Sansa really is on the show.
5. Margaery Tyrell: Margaery is an enigma in the books. Part of the fiercely ambitious House Tyrell, it's always a little hard to tell how much agency she has, and how much she's just a pawn in her family's games. We've always liked to think she's a player in her own right, and the show bears that out wonderfully. Natalie Dormer is a commanding screen presence, and that added scene of Margaery encouraging Renly to do whatever it takes to get her pregnant is everything we could have ever wanted in the character, and more.
6. Shae: Tyrion's prostitute lover is another character that has undergone a major transformation. Sweet, meek, and somewhat cloying in the book, Shae mainly serves as an object for Tyrion to project his myriad prostitute-related feelings onto. The Shae we get on the show, on the other hand, is assertive and hilarious, and it's a lot easier to see why Tyrion might fall for her as an individual. She's great.
7. Melisandre: Melisandre's mysterious sorceress act just plays better on screen. Carice van Houten gives her the right amount of gravitas, and while in the books we mostly see her through Davos's skeptical eyes, on the show we're allowed to watch her performance without the bias. It's much clearer why so many people would fall under her (metaphorical) spell.
Agree? Think we're totally off base? Have another favorite you want to expound on? Voice your opinions in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Check out all of Wetpaint Entertainment’s Game of Thrones coverage.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.
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