The “Game of Thrones” showrunners explain why Lady Stoneheart never made the transition from George RR Martin’s books to the popular HBO series…
As faithful as “Game of Thrones” was as an adaptation from George R.R. Martin’s books through the first few seasons, more and and more changes started to decorate the show as the years passed.
One of the most notable changes from the books to the TV series was Lady Stoneheart never being introduced after she became a fan favorite character in the original novels.
For those unaware — Lady Stoneheart is actually Catelyn Stark, the mother to Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon Stark. Following the tragic events of the Red Wedding where Catelyn’s throat was slashed by agents of Walder Frey on orders from Tywin Lannister, her body was discarded and left to rot in a riverbed near the Twins.
It was there that her body was rescued by the Brotherhood without Banners — a group that played a major part throughout the show including the final two seasons. In the books (and the show), the Brotherhood is led by a man named Beric Dondarrion, who was originally loyal to Ned Stark and he was sent to capture or kill “The Mountain” Gregor Clegane. Unfortunately for him, Beric was killed by “The Mountain” but later resurrected by his friend Thoros of Myr, who was a red priest and worshipper of “The Lord of Light.”
In the show we saw Beric fight “The Hound” Sandor Clegane and he was defeated in combat. Despite dying, Beric was once again resurrected by Thoros, who continuously brought him back from the dead.
In the books after the events of The Red Wedding, the Brotherhood without Banners finds Catelyn’s body and Beric decides to sacrifice his own life in order to restore hers. Catelyn is resurrected and she takes over as leader of the Brotherhood but thanks to her throat being slashed, she can barely speak and she takes on the new moniker of Lady Stoneheart.
As leader of the Brotherhood, Lady Stoneheart makes it her mission to kill anyone and everyone involved with the massacre at the Red Wedding.
Fans of the books anxiously awaited the opportunity to see Lady Stoneheart come to life in “Game of Thrones” but it never happened. Now former showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are explaining why they decided not to introduce Lady Stoneheart into the show.
“There was never really much debate about [including Lady Stoneheart],” Benioff says in Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon per EW. “There is that one great scene.”
“That was the only debate,” Weiss says. “The scene where she first shows up is one of the best ‘holy shit’ moments in the books. I think that scene is where the public response came from. But then…”
Benioff and Weiss added that there were three main reasons why Lady Stoneheart never appeared. First off, they didn’t want to completely ruin and/or spoil plans for Martin’s books as he was still writing the series and his intentions for Lady Stoneheart obviously played a major factor for many characters.
“Part of the reason we didn’t want to put it in had to do with things coming up in George’s books that we don’t want to spoil [by discussing them],” Benioff said.
In the books, Lady Stoneheart is last seen interacting with Brienne of Tarth with a plot to potentially kill Jamie Lannister. Obviously that’s much different than what actually happened in the show.
The second reason was the gift of resurrection being haphazardly used in “Game of Thrones” with plans already in motion to see Jon Snow die at the end of season 5 only to be brought back to life at the start of season 6.
“We knew we had Jon Snow’s resurrection coming up,” Benioff said. “Too many resurrections start to diminish the impact of characters’ dying. We wanted to keep our powder dry for that.”
The third and final reason really came down to the emotional impact that The Red Wedding played on the audience. When that episode first aired, there were dozens of reaction videos where viewers were stunned, shocked and many left sobbing after Robb Stark and his family were butchered by Walder Frey.
Bringing Catelyn Stark back to life would have taken away at least part of the overall impact of that event.
“Catelyn’s last moment was so fantastic, and Michelle [Fairley] is such a great actress, to bring her back as a zombie who doesn’t speak felt like diminishing returns,” Benioff said.
For his part, Martin pushed for the showrunners to include Lady Stoneheart in the series but ultimately he was overruled.
“In the sixth book, I still continue to write her,” Martin told Esquire in China. “She is an important character in the set of books. [Keeping her character] is the change I most wish I could make in the [show].”
Benioff and Weiss will dig even deeper into the making of “Game of Thrones” in the new book “Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon,” due out in October.