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Where the Game of Thrones Writers Failed

May 31, 2019

Now that we’ve had a little time to let the finale sink in, I thought it would be good to write a little follow up on the show as a whole and talk about some of the writing in the later seasons that had many fans up in arms. Game of Thrones is a completely unique show in that it was based off of a book and then actually passed the story line where the novels left off. As far as I know that’s an entirely new phenomenon for stories that have made the transition from book to TV.

The show writers basically stuck to the script of George RR Martin’s original works through the first three or so seasons, however, once they passed the books and Martin put a halt on writing for the show in order to focus on other projects (such as the much anticipated Winds of Winter) the writing suffered noticeably.

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George R.R. Martin; author of the 'Game of Thrones' novels

I won’t say that the writing was bad the whole rest of the way. I thought that the entire northern conflict involving the Starks and Boltons, especially Ramsey’s character, was extremely well done. However, the show runners already had a clear idea of his character from the books and knew what sort of villain Ramsey was before finishing his storyline.

Other characters whose involvement in the show went well beyond what we saw in the books seemed to suffer the most. In my opinion, the most disappointing character on the show was Euron Greyjoy. On a series overflowing with interesting, multifaceted characters, Euron was deficiently simple and surface level. He never diverted from the cocky and arrogant tough-guy type and his only dialogue came in the form of crude remarks to female characters, veiled threats, or “Theon-has-no-penis” jokes. After a while, his character became predictable and didn’t do much that was surprising or interesting.

I also felt that the show writers failed some of the best- written characters in the end, most strikingly, Bran and Tyrion. Tyrion’s wit and clever quips were a huge part of his identity early on, but many of the fast-tongued one-liners that won us over from early episodes were direct quotes from the books. When George RR Martin stopped writing the character for the showrunners, Tyrion’s cleverness died along with his absence. In the last couple of seasons, we were introduced to a quieter and more emotional Tyrion whose dialogue lacked the sharpness that originally drew us to him.

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Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark.

Bran, to put it bluntly, is who the show runners completely gave up on. Bran was one of the most intriguing magical characters I’d ever encountered on a show or a book, but doing his character justice would’ve meant working through a lot of complicated issues. They would have had to deal with paradoxical timelines due to Bran’s ability to affect the past (an ability which never came up again after he called out to young Ned Stark in a vision). They would have had to consider how someone with Bran’s ability to see through other people’s eyes (and have visions into the past) would speak, and how they would use their power within the constraints of an already tangled web of other characters and storylines. Instead of working through those issues, they simply shrouded Bran in mystery and explained away his character as being beyond human comprehension. That is, quite frankly, lazy writing.

If there is any silver lining for Game of Thrones lovers, it’s that with George RR Martin comes good writing. I think it’s safe to say that even if some of the biggest plot points have been spoiled, the driving forces behind how the characters will arrive in those situations--and the complexity of the characters and their interactions--will be much more fulfilling in the books.

A boy can dream (of Spring), can’t he?

-by Austin Bruns

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