With its sixth season now underway, Game of Thrones has done the seemingly unthinkable and outpaced its own source material. As many frustrated readers are acutely aware, author George R.R. Martin has repeatedly delayed his next novel, The Winds of Winter, to the point where its own TV adaptation has managed to pull ahead of it. While we’re now in the weird, not very ideal situation where the overarching plot of Martin’s remaining novels will be spoiled by the show, up until this point, the opposite has largely been true. Although Game of Thrones can reasonably be declared one of the best cinematic adaptations of literary fiction of all time, it’s had to make a number of significant concessions and changes along the way that make it quite a bit different from Martin’s source material. Many of these changes have not necessarily been for the better, but there are some ways in which the show actually improved on the books, with the following being the most prominent examples.
10. Aging The Characters Up
Game of Thrones is a drama for adult viewers, which makes it surprising that so many of its most important characters are quite young at the beginning of the series. That being said, if you look at Martin’s source material, these characters are significantly younger than their on screen counterparts, so much so that the show’s producers really had no choice but to age all the younger characters up. For reference, these are the ages that the following characters begin the series at in Martin’s text: Robb, 15, Jon, 14, Daenerys 13, Sansa, 11, Arya, 9, and Bran, 7. All of these characters were aged up at least a few years in the show, primarily to avoid some extremely awkward situations down the road.
Witnessing a 13-year-old Daenerys getting raped on her wedding night would have been unnerving even by HBO standards, not to mention how jarring it would have been to see a 14-year-old Jon Snow pull of the heroics that Kit Harington has accomplished. Of course, there are exceptions in all of this: Margaery’s age in the books is listed as 16 and though it’s never explicitly stated on the show, it was still more than a little unsettling to see a 33-year-old Natalie Dormer take young Tommen to bed for some wedding night intercourse.