A maester could write tomes about all of the changes Game of Thrones made from George R.R. Martin’s books. The most controversial one of them all, though, might have been the show’s exclusion of Lady Stoneheart. Readers waited years to see the character appear on HBO’s hit series—but she never showed up. Now we finally know why. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have broken their silence and explained why they didn’t include her. However, disappointed fans of A Song and Ice and Fire might not agree with their reasons.
Entertainment Weekly‘s James Hibberd shared the real story of why the infamous character was cut from the HBO series. It will be included in his upcoming behind-the-scenes book about the series, Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon.
Lady Stoneheart is the resurrected Catelyn Stark. Ser Beric Dondarrion brought her back to life with a kiss, which killed him. (Unlike the show, where he made to the Battle with the White Walkers, book Beric bows out of the story much earlier.) The mostly mute Lady Stoneheart, whose skin is gray and who still bears the throat wound from her execution, made her shocking return at the end of A Storm of Swords, the third novel in the series.
She also made one appearance at the end of A Feast for Crows. She haunts the Riverlands with the Brotherhood Without Banners, seeking vengeance against everyone who betrayed her and her family, especially those responsible for the Red Wedding.
Her appearance is one of the best, most shocking moments in the books. And she seems primed to play a major role in the story going forward. Which is why readers always anticipated Michelle Fairley’s return. She never did, and the series’ showrunners, who also said there was very little debate about using the character, told Hibberd there were three reasons why.
The first reason they wouldn’t get into the specifics of, because it would be a spoiler for Martin’s last two books. The last time Lady Stoneheart was seen she was demanding Brienne kill Jaime Lannister. Those two might have very, very different fates in the books than they did on the show.
The second reason had to do with Jon Snow. Benioff and Weiss long knew they’d be bringing the Lord Commander back from the dead and they didn’t want to lessen the impact or shock of that moment by bringing back another major character too.
Finally, they thought bringing back Fairley for a primarily non-speaking role would not be fair to her or her great final scene. They didn’t want to retroactively lessen the impact of the iconic Red Wedding’s last moment, one of the best in the show’s run.
Martin disagreed with their decision to exclude her, and a lot of book readers still do. The Red Wedding is even more devastating in the books, and Lady Stoneheart’s shocking return doesn’t change that. Also, the character is fascinating and offers so much promise for amazing future plot twists. And Michelle Fairley, whose onscreen rage was incredible, could have excelled in the role.
So while Benioff and Weiss had their logical, defensible reasons for not including her, that doesn’t mean they were right.
Featured Image: HBO
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.