Movies and TV6 Ways Game of Thrones Surpasses Its Source MaterialMovies and TV - RSS 2.0
6. Elevating the minor characters
One of the problems with creating a story as big as A Song of Ice and Fire, with so much history, with so many families, and so with many characters running around, is that it's difficult to keep track of them, let alone make them all interesting and likeable. This, combined with the budget constraints, led to many decisions which combined or drastically changed characters to better capture the audience's attention. While the books might be about the grand events of the land viewed through the eyes of certain people, the show is absolutely about the characters themselves, who just happen to have the unfortunate fate to be dragged into these events.
The most obvious examples of characters that are elevated from their original status are the non-point of view characters, the ones who have not had their own chapters in the books but are still given their designated moments in the show, such as Little Finger, Varys and Ramsay. The show gives us the unique opportunity to view these characters not through the eyes of others, but just as themselves. There are also characters like Bronn, a savvy but common sellsword in the books, who through some strong dialogue and excellent performance has risen to be one of the most charismatic characters of the show, so much in fact that he was gifted a major role in the Dorne storyline during the fifth season.
But the most drastic and powerful change, in my opinion, was the character of Shae, a simple prostitute in the books whose alterations added much drama and emotion into Tyrion's story.
In the show, Shae is in fact a combination of two characters: the book's version of Shae, as well as Tysha, the prostitute whom Tyrion married when he was younger, only to be later told that she had been paid by Jaime to marry him. It was also originally Tywin's slander towards Tysha, not Shae, which provoked Tyrion to shoot him. The decision to attach this romance to Shae might have made Tyrion's story arc more traditional, but I thought it also made him much more sympathetic. The original storyline where Tyrion falls in love with the prostitute he knows he's paying to love him was tragic, yes, but there wasn't a huge emotional shock when Shae finally betrayed him. But by making the relationship between the two an actual two sided romance and then tearing it apart, Tyrion's fate was rendered much, much sadder. The contrast between what I still believe to be one of the most beautiful lines on TV, "I am yours and you are mine," and Tyrion strangling Shae until she lies dead in front of him is just much more tragic and something that I'll happily take over what was delivered in the books.
Niko Nikkilä is a Finnish explorer of games, comics, movies and general geekery. He produces a regular, critical gaming series on his Youtube channel but is also working on his first book, which'll hopefully be finished once the summer is over... and winter is coming. He can be best stalked on Twitter @CoconutmilkF.