There are only two episodes of Game of Thrones left, and it’s getting us nostalgic for the days of old, back when he had no idea where this story was going or who might live or die. For some folks, this journey has taken more than 20 years; long-term fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series have been reading those books since 1996. For Martin, it’s been even longer, and his story has changed dramatically in shape from what it once was. Case in point: The original outline that he submitted to his publishers back in 1993, which detailed a very—um, different ending for certain characters.
Back in 2015, U.K. book retailer Waterstones tweeted out a copy of Marin’s outline, which is full of all sorts of information that feels totally surprising and kind of gross in the context of what the series eventually became. The number one most fascinating bit is the love triangle Martin initially considered to be the focal point of the series. A love triangle involving Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and Tyrion Lannister. Weird, right?
— Tyrion Lannister (@GoT_Tyrion) February 5, 2015
Yes, Arya was the relative Jon was originally going to shack up with, not Daenerys. Given his lineage, Jon and Arya are technically first cousins, but were still raised as siblings—in both the actual published book and the outline. Yikes. According to the outline, Arya “realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night’s Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon’s true parentage is finally revealed in the last book.” So it’ll be a problem… until they’re just cousins, not siblings. Gotcha.
Tyrion also had a much different trajectory, which also involved a romance with Arya. In the outline, it was Tyrion who killed Joffrey, not Olenna, and he is exiled from Westeros because of it. He would eventually cross paths with Arya and fall for her, but the romance is unreciprocated, although “no less intense for that,” and would eventually lead to an intense rivalry between Tyrion and Jon Snow.
There are all sorts of other wild details from the outline, including a storyline where Catelyn Stark meets Mance Rayder, one where Dany kills Khal Drogo, and a whole plot where Sansa actually married Joffrey and had his children. Luckily, all of this plays out like an alternate reality version of the story now, but it’s funny to think back to how things might have been.