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Game Of Thrones Moments In The Books Too Intense For TV

While the hit HBO series Game of Thrones has had its share of controversial TV moments that caused quite a stir, sometimes its source material goes even further. Author George R.R. Martin is known for his realism and attention to detail, and he doesn't shy away from depicting rapes, brutal murders, and other depraved situations on the pages of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Even though some of these controversial television moments—like the rape of Sansa—were based on scenes from the books, it could have been much, much worse. Here are some of the most intense scenes that had to be drastically toned down (or removed completely) for the TV show.

Dany in the Dothraki Sea

On the show, Daenerys made her escape from Meereen on the back of Drogon in season five, when he rescued her from an uprising in the fighting pits and took her to the edge of the Dothraki Sea, where she was eventually found by a khalasar and taken as a captive. While she got a little dirty along the march and had to listen to some bloodriders insult her in Dothraki, the show's version of Daenerys got off rather easily.

In A Dance with Dragons, her escape from Meereen happens in similar fashion, but without an attack by the Sons of the Harpy. She rides away on Drogon's back, who takes her to a lair he's made in the Dothraki Sea. Once there, Dany finds that her dragon is unwilling to listen to any of her commands, so she heads back to Meereen on foot. Along the way, she fills up on some questionable berries and water, and then spends several days suffering from vomiting and explosive diarrhea: "Sunset found her squatting in the grass, groaning. Every stool was looser than the one before, and smelt fouler. By the time the moon came up, she was s—ting brown water."

She falls into a deep sleep eventually, and wakes to find her upper legs and thighs are covered in blood. It's strongly implied that she may have had a miscarriage. Drogon returns to her side, and they're soon found by the khalasar of Khal Jhaqo. This is one change we can get behind. As much as we love Emilia Clarke, we're glad this sequence didn't make it into the script.

Brienne has her face chewed off

While there's no doubt that Brienne has survived her share of nasty fights on the show—like the brutal fisticuffs with Sandor Clegane in season four—she's managed to avoid the even worse fate the character has suffered in Martin's novels. The book version of Brienne was always teased for her looks—she's tall and broad in the shoulder, with messy straw-colored hair, a too-wide mouth, freckles, and buck teeth. Poor Brienne can never seem to catch a break on the page; she's never actually set eyes on either of the Stark sisters, and her effort to chase down a rumor of the Hound results in only more pain.

Following a tale of a man wearing Sandor's characteristic dog-head helm raping and pillaging his way around the Riverlands, Brienne eventually finds the source. Unfortunately, it isn't the Hound at all, but Rorge, an escaped outlaw leading a band of criminals. 

You may remember Rorge from the show; he was locked in a cart along with Jaqen H'ghar and a man named "Biter" when Arya travelled with the Night's Watch recruits. Biter was noted for having his teeth filed down to points, and he illustrates how he got his name when he and Brienne fight in A Feast for Crows. Biter manages to knock Brienne down, and before Gendry can save her, he bites deep into her cheek, tearing a huge chunk of the flesh away. No doubt the showrunners left this encounter out of Brienne's TV timeline for the same reason they didn't have Tyrion lose his entire nose in the Battle of the Blackwater—prosthetic makeup for injuries that severe are time-consuming to apply and even harder to make look realistic.

Ramsay's wedding night

Ramsay Bolton marries a "Stark sister" in the books as well as the show, but the circumstances differ greatly. In the books, Sansa is tucked safely away in the Eyrie, living under an alias as Littlefinger's baseborn daughter, and a fake "Arya Stark"—actually Sansa's childhood friend Jeyne Poole—is offered up as Ramsay's bride. Besides the Boltons, the only one in Winterfell who knows the truth is Theon, who remembers Jeyne.

On the television series, Theon was forced to stay in the bedchamber as Ramsay ripped open Sansa's dress and raped her. In the books, this scene is much worse: Theon undresses Jeyne, and then Ramsay orders him to "get her ready" for him—or he'll "cut off that tongue of yours and nail it to the wall."

Weeks later, when Theon tries to help Jeyne escape, she thinks it's a trap and pleads with Theon, "Tell him, you tell him, I'll do what he wants ... or whatever he wants ... with him ... or ... or with the dog or ... please ... he doesn't need to cut my feet off, I won't try to run away, not ever, I'll give him sons, I swear it, I swear it." That's right. Ramsay's not only been raping her regularly, he's also been forcing her to have sex with his dogs. 

Ramsay was far beyond the pale on the show, but the showrunners no doubt wanted to give Theon a shot at redemption—which would have been out of the question if they'd kept the full wedding night scene in the series.

Qyburn's dark secret

Although the show's version of Qyburn is more than a little creepy, and frequently has his child spies help him commit crimes (like the murder of Pycelle or blowing up the Sept of Baelor for Cersei), he seems mostly benevolent. Don't let that grandfatherly smile fool you, though—the real Qyburn has a dark secret. While we all know his penchant for experimenting allowed him to bring back the Mountain from the edge of death, the show hasn't depicted any of his other victims.

In the books, Qyburn becomes Cersei's pet advisor, and she often indulges him by sending him new test subjects. Among them is the noblewoman Falyse Stokeworth, who ticked Cersei off by failing to kill her sister's new husband (Bronn) as she'd been ordered. We also learn Qyburn has been abducting prisoners from the Black Cells, and whatever he does to these poor souls leaves them "quite used up." Later, Cersei has a change of heart and asks him to let Falyse go, but it's too late: she's in no condition to rule her House, or "even to feed herself." Although it was fun to see Qyburn's curiosity piqued by the wight's twitching hand in the Dragonpit during the season seven finale, the show could have gone far darker in exploring the depths of his obsession with necromancy.

Sandor's sex drive

On the show, Sandor Clegane has definitely had some cruel moments—most notably, the way he rode down the poor butcher's boy Mycah in season one. However, he's been mostly portrayed as a gruff and misunderstood knight who actually has a fairly good sense of right and wrong. He comes to Sansa's aid on the show more than once, covering her with his cloak after Joffrey has her publicly stripped and beaten, and rescuing her from three would-be rapists following a riot in King's Landing. What the show doesn't tell you is that the Hound has entertained the thought of raping Sansa (and Arya) himself.

In A Clash of Kings, Sandor goes to Sansa's chambers following the Battle of the Blackwater. He's quite drunk, and it's heavily implied that he thinks about raping Sansa for a few moments, instead offering to take her with him to escape King's Landing. She turns him down, and so he leaves alone—but later encounters Arya and takes her captive in hopes of getting a ransom for the younger Stark sister. 

While the relationship between Arya and the Hound on the show went from standoffish to almost friendly, the pair don't get along quite so well in the books—although they do manage to reach some level of mutual respect. However, the show left out one argument during which Sandor tells Arya that he "should have raped her when he had the chance."  While the Hound didn't actually rape either of the Stark sisters in these instances, no doubt the show's writers felt that even raising the possibility would make the character far less sympathetic to viewers.

Sansa's wedding night

Being married off into the family that helped orchestrate the slaughter of your father, mother, and brother was no doubt traumatizing, but Sansa's wedding night with Tyrion Lannister on the show was rather tame—at least compared to the books. Despite Shae's jealous worries over another woman taking her place and Tyrion's constant drinking at their wedding, Sansa was no doubt pleasantly surprised when her new husband nobly told her that he would never touch her unless she wanted him to.

In the books, he wasn't quite so valiant. Determined to do his duty for his House (and comply with his father's wishes), a thoroughly drunk Tyrion undresses Sansa and then himself, giving her a good look at his erect manhood (which George R.R. Martin describes for the reader in graphic detail). It's only when Tyrion gets a glimpse of Sansa's terrified face that he realizes he can't go through with it, and gives up on trying to consummate their marriage. No doubt this scene was left out for the show not only because it would violate British law (which prevents minor actors from being depicted in sexual situations), but also because viewers would no doubt find Tyrion unsympathetic from that point on.

Tyrion hits rock bottom

On the show, after killing his father, Tyrion escapes to Essos, where Varys does his best to prevent him from drinking himself to an early grave. In the books, Tyrion's "rock bottom" moment in exile takes a much darker and more depraved turn. When Jaime releases Tyrion from prison in A Storm of Swords, he reveals that Tyrion's first wife Tysha (who Tywin Lannister had gang-raped by his guardsmen) wasn't actually a prostitute—she was genuinely in love with her new husband, and Tywin had forced Jaime to lie about her being a whore.

After vowing retribution, Tyrion goes to his father's bedchamber, where he kills Shae and confronts Tywin about Tysha. When Tyrion asks what became of Tysha, Tywin dismissively tells him, "wherever whores go," which prompts Tyrion to shoot his father with the crossbow. After making his escape, Tyrion becomes obsessed with thoughts of Tysha while in Essos, asking random people if they know "where whores go." 

In one particularly awful passage, a drunk Tyrion visits a brothel and pays for a prostitute. She's a slave, and her back is marked with scars from lashings; after he has sex with her once, he reflects on how the girl is basically like a corpse, and couldn't protest anyway. Then he drinks some more, vomits all over the floor, and has immediately has sex with her again. Like the wedding night scene with Sansa, it's probably a good thing that this was left out of the show—the TV version of Tyrion is much too honorable to rape a slave.

Daenerys 'uses' Irri

Speaking of raping slaves, Daenerys had her own sexual encounter in the books that didn't make it onto the show, likely for similar reasons. While we did see Doreah trying to teach Dany what she knew about pleasing a man during season one, that wasn't the only time Daenerys got frisky with one of her handmaidens. In A Storm of Swords, she's feeling frustrated and lonely one night, so her handmaiden Irri takes care of the problem by sexually servicing her mistress. Daenerys' initial surprise quickly fades—she tries to use Irri to satisfy her sexual urges on other occasions, such as when her new lover Daario is away from Meereen.

It should be noted that while Irri initiated that first encounter, Daenerys is aware that Irri is only doing it to serve her, even thinking to herself that Irri's kisses "taste like duty." While Irri isn't a slave, and these encounters aren't a clear-cut case of rape, they definitely enter into a morally gray territory that we're not surprised was left out of the show in order to keep Daenerys a more heroic and sympathetic figure for viewers.

Euron's hood ornament

There's no doubt that Euron Greyjoy is unpredictable and more than a little crazy, but the show doesn't delve into the true depths of his depravity the way the books do. For the purposes of the show, two of Euron and Balon's other siblings—Victarion and Aeron—were left out. If they had been included, the audience might have learned some unpleasant Greyjoy family history. In one instance, Euron raped and impregnated Victarion's salt wife (a woman who was captured on a raid), and then the only slightly-less insane Victarion beat her to death for it. In another case, it's heavily implied that Euron likely molested or raped his younger brothers when they were children. As both of these events happened in the past, with characters who aren't part of the series, it makes sense that they were left out of the show.

Perhaps most disturbing, however, was an incident that occurred in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter. After successfully raiding and defeating the strongholds on the Shield Islands west of the Reach in A Feast for Crows, Euron takes Falia Flowers (a lord's bastard daughter) as his lover. She relishes this rise in her fortunes at first, dressing in the furs and jewels of the House and having the trueborn ladies of the keep stripped naked to work as serving wenches at table. When we next see her in The Winds of Winter, Falia is pregnant, but Euron has had her tongue cut out, and she's been stripped naked and tied to the prow of his ship alongside Aeron Greyjoy. Although the storyline has been changed for the show, it isn't hard to imagine TV Euron doing something similar (perhaps with one of the Sand Snakes) to showcase just how insane he really is.

Varys' little birds

We don't see too many scenes with them on the show, but for the most part, Lord Varys' "little birds" (who later become Qyburn's=) seem to be well taken care of by their masters. After inheriting them from Varys when the Spider flees to Essos, Qyburn is even shown giving them sweets or arranging for abusive family members to disappear. Although using children as spies and murderers no doubt enters a morally shady realm, the truth about those little birds is much more tragic in the books.

In the first book, A Game of Thrones, Arya is skulking around in the dungeons below the Red Keep when she accidentally overhears a conversation between Varys and Illyrio Mopatis. While some of that dialogue was kept for the show, the writers left out one major revelation: all of Varys' child spies are mute. Why? Because Illyrio procures them for Varys, who specifies that not only must they be very young, but they must also know how to read and write—because Varys wants their tongues to be cut out first. 

That's right—Varys, who himself was sold and mutilated as a child, in turn has children bought and mutilated for him to use as his spies. It makes sense from a narrative standpoint—because they're mute, there's less danger of them revealing any information to a third party—but it was undoubtedly a good idea to leave this detail out of the show, because keeping it in would make Varys (who professes to hate slavery) look like quite a hypocrite.