The 13 Best Game Of Thrones Characters Who Weren't In The Show

Adapting a book for television is a tricky business, especially when you're dealing with source material that encompasses several novels that aren't complete yet. There is always going to be controversy over which characters get left out.

George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire," adapted into HBO's mega-hit "Game of Thrones," has several point-of-view characters and literally hundreds of supporting characters, so it was inevitable that the story would have to be truncated by the showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Unfortunately, streamlining the plot meant that the writers ended up cutting corners, removing swathes of story and some of the most important characters in the book series. Some omissions made sense, but the removal of others meant that the show's ending felt rushed and nonsensical.

For the sake of clarity, we're not including characters who died before the start of the book series. However, we are including potential spoilers for future books, some of which are speculative but incredibly likely given what we know about the story so far.

Vargo Hoat and the Brave Companions

While "Game of Thrones" has many faults, one thing it does well is grounding the series in a more realistic setting. The Brave Companions might be the most colorful, extravagant characters in the novels: a ragtag bunch of murderous, sadistic mercenaries, consisting of (among others) a pedophiliac septon and a psychopathic jester. They were omitted from the show and replaced with Bolton bannermen in a move that admittedly makes sense — it lets the audience know the Boltons are more sinister than they appear. 

However, the excision of Vargo Hoat — the lisping, slobbering leader of the group — is unforgivable. Resplendent in his necklace of gold coins and riding a zebra, he looks ridiculous while remaining a truly sinister character. Hoat's decision to cut off Jaime Lannister's hand is more politically calculated than the act of sadism in the show. Here, it's a decision Hoat makes to tie his fate to Roose Bolton, driving a wedge between himself and Tywin Lannister as insurance against any future double crosses. 

Despite his foresight, Hoat still ends up with one of the book's more grisly fates. Having been bitten by Brienne, his wound becomes infected, and he is abandoned by his men to the monstrous Gregor Clegane, who has Hoat slowly dismembered, feeding the starving mercenary his own limbs before killing him.

Aeron "Damphair" Greyjoy

The high priest of the drowned god, and uncle to Theon, Aeron Greyjoy is a dour character, reduced to an unnamed priest in the show. Having been resurrected after nearly drowning as a child, Aeron has been a devout follower of the Iron Islands' religion, and is almost unrecognizable when his nephew sees him again. He's humorless, unforgiving, and has all but disowned his family. What makes him interesting is both the insight he gives the reader as a fanatic of the Ironborn religion — something that is barely touched upon in the show — and his twisted relationship with his older brother Euron, a truly terrifying character whose plans to take over Westeros involve Aeron intimately. 

After Euron is crowned king of the Iron Isles, Aeron tries to start a revolt, but is abducted by Euron before he can talk to anyone. "The Forsaken," a chapter of the unreleased "The Winds Of Winter" featuring Aeron, is truly disturbing; Euron's merciless treatment of Aeron is comparable to Ramsey Bolton's torture of Theon. After this chapter, it seems like Aeron is in a pretty hopeless situation — humiliated, malnourished, and lashed to the bow of Euron's ship — but characters have escaped worse fates before.

Strong Belwas

Another instance of a character who was probably judged a little too colorful for the show, Strong Belwas is a eunuch fighter who serves as Daenerys' bodyguard. A fat man dressed in a tiny waistcoat and covered in scars (one for every man he has killed; he always allows his opponents to draw first blood), Belwas seems content to sit next to Dany and talk about himself in the third person. 

While she is initially doubtful of Belwas' abilities, when Dany needs a champion to take Meereen, she chooses Belwas over Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy, as he's much more expendable (having spent most of his time eating and boasting). Belwas proves his worth, though, in a memorable fight scene, which is given to Daario in the show. Facing an opponent on horseback, Belwas deftly sidesteps the champion of Meereen's charge and slashes his horse before decapitating him with his arakh. He then defecates in view of the masters of Meereen, endearing himself to Dany and the reader. A much-loved, flamboyant character, Belwas injects some much needed fun into Martin's dour Essos chapters — something the show could have really used, too. 

Donal Noye

A slightly deeper cut, Donal Noye was the one-armed carpenter at the Wall who essentially served as a mentor to Jon Snow. The show, through no fault of its own, limited the number of characters we met in the Night's Watch, whereas in the books it's a huge institution made up of several castles. For the show, Noye's most significant plot points (berating Jon for showing up the other young recruits, taking the lead in the Wall's defense against the wildlings) were divided up and given to Tyrion Lannister and Alliser Thorne, making those characters more interesting at Noye's expense. 

In the book, Noye also manages to take down a giant before dying, which is especially badass given that he only has one arm (this beat was given to Grenn in the show). There are dozens more characters who were cut from the Wall, and while it's an understandable decision to give Noye's traits to other characters, Donal's absence is keenly felt. He's an insightful, shrewd character, as well as a rare ally and confidante for Jon, and serves to give more personality to the Night's Watch.

Howland Reed

A bit of a cheat, really, as this character hasn't actually appeared in person in the books yet (or has he?), but Howland Reed is perhaps the most important person we haven't yet encountered. The father of Jojen and Meera and Lord of Greywater Watch, Reed is the only living person who can confirm that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. It certainly feels like George R. R. Martin has intentionally held him back for this long because once he appears, that particular cat is out of the bag. 

For now, all that we have learned about Reed comes from his children and Ned Stark's chapter in the first book. He's a notoriously secretive character who operates in the shadows, and has largely avoided involving himself in wars by hiding in the marshes, ordering his crannogmen to use guerilla tactics to weaken the Lannister forces. 

The omission of this character from "Game of Thrones" is doubly vexing. We know he exists in the universe of the show, so it should have been obvious to have him turn up at some point — it would have made more sense than the way Bran found out about Jon's lineage, anyway.

Garlan and Willas Tyrell

Two characters George R. R. Martin himself regrets cutting from the show, Garlan and Willas, demonstrate the Tyrells' genuine kindness, particularly in contrast to their sister Margaery and their aunt Olenna, who are outwardly warm but secretly calculating and manipulative. 

Garlan is the only one we've actually met, but he proves to be that most rare thing in the books: a genuinely nice character! He is the only person who acknowledges Tyrion's crucial role in the Battle of the Blackwater, and speaks kindly to Sansa, dancing with her at her wedding. He also is a formidable opponent in battle, training with three or four opponents every morning. Along with Tywin, Garlan saves the day during the Battle of the Blackwater, wearing Renly's armor (a beat given to Loras in the show). If, as some suspect, Garlan is to face Euron Greyjoy in the upcoming books, then this is going to be interesting. 

As for Willas, the heir of Highgarden had his fighting potential curbed by a duel with Oberyn Martell that left him crippled. While this exacerbated the feud between the Tyrells and the Martells, Willas himself bore Oberyn no ill will, and has since occupied himself by studying and reading in Highgarden. He hasn't appeared in person in the books yet, but Martin clearly considers him an important character. He seems to be the brains of the Tyrell family — when he does appear, he's sure to make an impact.

Young Griff

Young Griff is supposedly Dany's nephew Aegon, who was smuggled safely away after the death of his father Rhaegar during Robert's Rebellion and is presumed dead. Ilyrio Mopatis and Varys have been secretly scheming to put Aegon on the Iron Throne ever since, and he's making his way to Westeros with Jon Connington and the Golden Company. 

Even more complicated is the fact that Young Griff is likely not actually Aegon Targaryen at all, but rather an imposter, which adds an interesting wrinkle into the story. As a character, Griff is a fairly archetypal heir apparent, initially friendly and idealistic, but quite entitled and taken with himself, something that becomes apparent in his increasingly dismissive attitude towards Connington. Will he become a benevolent ruler like Daenerys or another Joffrey? 

We've already seen a glimpse of the ambition that lies beneath Griff's amiable exterior, so once it's made apparent that he isn't a real Targaryen, things could get complicated. The theory goes that Aegon will arrive in King's Landing to rapturous reception, so when Daenerys later arrives to take the throne, she will have to supplant her own "nephew" rather than the tyrannical Cersei.   

Doran Martell

Another slight cheat, as Doran did briefly appear on the show, but like many characters he bears so little resemblance to the book equivalent that he's essentially a different character. He also only lasted about three episodes before getting unceremoniously murdered. 

In the books, Doran is a master manipulator on par with Varys and Littlefinger, though more patient and less Machiavellian than either, confiding in no one until it's almost too late. His plans include marrying off his son to Daenerys and his daughter to Viserys, and taking revenge on the Lannisters for the death of his sister and brother. Make no mistake, Doran is preparing to go nuclear. 

Riddled with gout and confined to a chair, Doran makes an interesting counterpart to Tyrion, who is considered weak because of his affliction. The difference is that Doran is the head of his house, so his subjects have to hide their disdain for him. Everyone underestimates him, and as such Doran easily outmaneuvers them. He's not a weak character, just a cautious one. Still, he might have waited too long. We still don't know how Doran's plans will unfold, especially once he learns of the death of his son, and it remains to be seen if he's all talk or one of the books' best schemers.

Lady Stoneheart

This is the biggie, the one who all the book readers were waiting for on the show. After the Red Wedding, Freys begin turning up hanged in the woods, only for it to eventually be revealed that Catelyn didn't die — or, rather, she did, but has been resurrected. Martin has always been very clear that this is a completely different character than Catelyn, with a shock of white hair, red eyes, a deep, open wound where her throat was cut, and a rasping whisper for a voice. She is utterly merciless and unforgiving, completely single-minded in her objective to bring her own brand of justice to those she deems responsible for the deaths of her children. 

The choice to not include this character speaks to Benioff and Weiss' decision to keep their world a bit more grounded, and it gave more screen time to Richard Dormer's excellent Beric Dondarrion, but Lady Stoneheart would have been an iconic villain, and it would have been incredibly impactful to see her encounter the surviving Stark children.

Victarion Greyjoy

Victarion Greyjoy is not the brightest character in the books. He's not a strategist, nor a popular man, but he is a warrior. In fact, he's so sure of his abilities as both a sailor and a fighter that he dons a full suit of armor when fighting on deck, having no fear of drowning. Victarion's chapters are incredibly basic, but as a character he's fascinating. Brother to Euron, Aeron, and Balon Greyjoy, he's potentially the dimmest of the group, but he's grimly determined to kill Euron, and he is clearly going to be a major player in the upcoming books. He's currently on course to Meereen, ostensibly to bring Daenerys back to Euron, but is actually planning on marrying her himself. 

Somehow we get the feeling that this won't go according to plan. However, Daenerys has just lost her master of ships, a role Victarion is ideally suited for. With a kraken-styled helmet and a newly acquired smoking fire hand (the result of having a wound treated by the red priest Moqorro), Victarion makes a fearsome figure, and is all set to wreak havoc both in Meereen and upon his return to Pyke — provided he gets back alive. He also gets some of the most iconic lines in the books, blunt, direct, and full of foreboding; at one point, he provokes an oncoming foe with the chillingly simple, "Come kill me if you can".

Arianne Martell

A curious exclusion, purely because she's such a compelling character and provides the most insight on Dorne (a region singularly ill-served by the show). Arianne is impulsive and scheming, but also a warm and likeable character — she's flawed, but has a conscience. 

Unlike other cultures in Westeros, the Dornish line of succession is determined by age, not by sex, so Arianne is the heir apparent despite having younger brothers. This is crucial in her plan to depose Tommen Baratheon and replace him with his sister, Myrcella. To do this, Arianne makes the unprecedented move of seducing one of Tommen's Kingsguard in order to put the young Baratheon on the throne. However, her plans are thwarted by her father, Doran. He and Arianne have perhaps the healthiest father-daughter relationship in the books, but it's strained by Doran's secretive behavior. 

In the preview chapter of "Winds Of Winter," Doran and Arianne have finally reconciled and, after he confides in her, he sends her to meet with the Golden Company. It seems increasingly likely that Arianne will seduce Aegon, allying the Martells with the Targaryens and positioning herself as the power behind the throne. More worldly than Sansa, more alluring than Margaery, and more than a match for Cersei, Arianne is a force to be reckoned with in the books to come.

Jon Connington

Probably the most interesting character on this list, Connington's arc was partially incorporated into the show when Jorah Mormont contracted Greyscale after rescuing Tyrion, although Connington looks like he won't find a cure in time. Briefly hand to king Aerys Targaryen, and a very close friend of Rhaegar Targaryen, Connington is instrumental to the plan to supplant Tommen with Young Griff (Aegon Targaryen), serving as a personal mentor to the young heir. 

A brooding, morose figure, Connington is still traumatized by his failure to defeat Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Bells, where his mercy — he refused to massacre the whole town — meant that Robert was able to escape. Aerys banished Connington from Westeros as a result. Connington also blames himself for Rhaegar's subsequent death; the sound of the bells still rings through his head. 

Characters who try to redeem themselves rarely have a happy ending in "A Song of Ice and Fire," and if the books follow the show's footsteps and have Daenerys attack King's Landing, it could be a continuation of Connington's tragic arc. Either the bells will trigger his PTSD, or, more worryingly, convince him not to show mercy this time. What's going to happen is still up in the air, but while we know that Connington is not getting out of this alive, he's likely not going out quietly.

Wyman Manderly

Wyman Manderly might be the most awesome character in the whole series. Nicknamed "Lord Too-Fat-to-Sit-a-Horse" Wyman is the obese lord of the White Harbor, and his main function in the books is to demonstrate the repercussions of the Red Wedding. While fans of the show may know the Red Wedding as a horrifying slaughter, in the books the main issue is that it's a violation of guest right (the Freys massacred the Starks while they were under the Freys' protection, a big no-no in Westeros). Both of Manderly's sons were present at the event — one was murdered, the other held hostage to keep Manderly in line. 

 When Davos Seaworth approaches Manderly and asks him to support Stannis Baratheon, Manderly feigns allegiance with three visiting Freys. Secretly, though, he's planning his revenge. He plays the perfect host, but once the Freys leave he has them killed and baked into pies, which he then serves to the Boltons and Freys at Winterfell. As Theon notes, nobody eats more of these than Manderly himself. Now that Manderly's surviving son has been safely returned, he is free to boldly insult the Freys to their faces, delivering what is perhaps the most badass line in the whole series: When a Frey child is found murdered, Manderly says "Mayhaps this was a blessing. Had he lived, he would have grown up to be a Frey."

Now very much in the lion's den, Manderly clearly doesn't plan on leaving Winterfell, but will hopefully see his revenge through before he dies.