What ‘Game of Thrones’ characters should really look like?

Written by Kamil Arli

“Game of Thrones” TV fans, prepare to have your visions of your favorite characters altered as Tyrion loses his nose, the Khaleesi’s eyes change color and Arya goes equine.

Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, and while HBO has adapted some parts very faithfully, it’s strayed away from the books at other point. When we discuss this topic, it’s usually about plot changes, but WhatCulture took another angle in a recent video: Do the characters on the show resemble how they’re described in the books?


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The site has put together a run-down of 22 characters (23, technically, since they include Bran and Hodor together). Check it out below and see how good a job the HBO casting department did.

All in all, I think HBO did an excellent job of finding actors who reflect George R.R. Martin’s descriptions, although pretty much everyone has gone through a few changes. Actors like Sean Bean, Michelle Fairley, and Emilia Clarke have certainly captured the essences of Ned Stark, Catelyn Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen, but that’s with the understanding that a lot of the main characters are aged up for the show. Can you imagine if Jon and Daenerys were actually 14 and 13 in season 1? It would have made things very uncomfortable.

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Then there’s the group of characters who were changed because Martin’s original descriptions would have looked silly on TV. For example, can you imagine a Tywin Lannister who was stark bald and sporting bushy mutton chops? And what of Daario Naharis? His appearance in the books is so flamboyant I’m shocked Daenerys doesn’t struggle to keep from cracking up whenever he’s around.


And while it might have added some grit to have Tyrion lose most of his nose, as happens in A Clash of Kings, I think I get why HBO opted for the more photogenic version of a battle scar. They didn’t mention her in the video, but that kinda applies to Ygritte, too. She’s described as having bad teeth in the books (although it apparently doesn’t matter when she smiles), which makes sense, since there probably aren’t many qualified dentists beyond the Wall. But this is TV, and TV avoids physical imperfection when it can.

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Finally, there are the characters who underwent complete changes, like Ramsay Bolton. As WhatCulture points out, he’s described as straight-up ugly in the novels, but actor Iwan Rheon is hardly an ugly man. Personally, I thought the contrast between Ramsay’s deep depravity and Rheon’s impish good looks made the character more interesting, so I’m in favor of that change.

Incidentally, WhatCulture isn’t the first outlet to take on this topic. Enjoy some other side-by-side comparisons below.

Any other notable book-to-show changes the videos missed?

About the author


Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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