I've watched the first series and I'm currently reading the book. What strikes me the most is how much extra gore and sex has been added for the TV series. I believe most of the DVDs released in the UK have been rated 18+ which seems a dramatic step up from the nature of the book.

  1. The initial sex scene in the tower is as yet the only one I've read, although it's described quite graphically it's written from Bran's perspective and is very naive. It describes both characters as naked (which I don't believe they are in the series, presumably due to contracts) but he has no idea what they're doing.
  2. Tyrion with the whores in Winterfell (where Jamie invites more in). As far as I recall this scene does not exist in the book
  3. The scene of Daenerys getting into the bath, again it mentions robes but nothing about nudity
  4. Daenerys and Drogo's first night is only briefly hinted at yet we get a graphic sex scene.

I could go on...

What was the reasoning to decision to make the sex more explicit (and frequent) than in the original books and therefore push back viewing times (and ages)?

  • In the book Tyrion was reading in the library but in the TV show they replaced the scene with the whores.
    – Hunsu
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 16:53
  • 2
    It's worth noting that Tyrion's attachment to whores is indeed spelled out in the book, even if there's no graphic sex scenes in there with him. One of Tyrion's lines in the book is that if he were to join the Black Watch, whores would go begging from King's Landing to White Tower, meaning he spends craptons of money on them. And in the book, you don't need to go into detail about what the brothel (and its inhabitants) looks like, only that Ned Stark would rather not be there. In a movie or TV show, you don't have that liberty.
    – Ernie
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:21
  • I haven't read the books, but I think the producers of the show just recognised that there's a demographic of viewer who loves the swashbuckling-adventure-wizards-warriors type story but who are adults, and are looking for something a bit more grown-up than the Lord Of The Rings type movies. It's quite refreshing for viewers who have grown tired of Sci-Fi & Fantasy being considered as kids' shows (or at least being sanitised to be acceptable for kids / teens)
    – komodosp
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:30
  • According to Carl Pyrdum, a doctoral candidate in medieval history at Yale University, it's not too far off: livescience.com/44599-medieval-reality-game-of-thrones.html
    – user55826
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 18:59
  • It's true that HBO tends to lean towards explicitly sexual and violent content, especially with genre shows, however ASoIF/GoT has a lot of adult content and is meant to counter the medieval fantasy genre by being more realistic as opposed to overly romanticized and/or idealistic with a simple good vs evil story. In addition as others have said there are things in the novels that don't need visual representation, because we have POV perspective, where the show is following the characters without being inside their heads. Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 14:54

7 Answers 7


The books are just as graphic (and perhaps more so) than the show. Just keep reading. In fact, way before the TV show was a reality, the books' author had stated frequently that if his series was ever to be turned into a TV show that only HBO could do it, because they wouldn't cut out the whole lot of sex and violence that are in the books. True, there are a few extra sex scenes that are not shown explicitly in the books, but many more are definitely implied. The reason for this is the different narrative methods used by the two mediums.

In the books, the story unfolds in a POV (point of view) style where you see only what the chapter's character sees. As you mentioned, Bran sees the Lannister twins having sex but he interprets it as two naked people wrestling. Innocent and naive Sansa refers to her stomach with the childish word tummy. And so and so forth. So, there are many events that are never actually witnessed by the POV characters (and thus the reader) and are second hand reports (subject to unreliable narrator).

On the other hand, the TV show follows the action rather than the main characters, simply because that's a lot easier and more effective in a visual medium. Thus many events are explicitly shown rather than being second hand reports. This results in extra scenes (not just extra sex scenes). For instance, the scene where Tywin is chastising Jaime while skinning a stag is not in the first book, since neither Jaime nor Tywin have their own chapters in that book. But we do know from various reports that Tywin was unhappy with Jaime's actions, we have just never witnessed it first hand in the books, which is something the TV show can allow us to.

  • 1
    Also worth noting, depending where the OP is from, I've heard that there are smaller versions of the books where many sexual contents are cut off. Here in Brazil, there are a lot of people reading this "Summarized" version without knowing.
    – LeonX
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:21

The reason that Game of Thrones is aimed at such a mature audience as either the book series or the TV series, is at least in part because the entire story is the complete opposite of the romanticised "knight in shining armour goes forth and does great and honourable deeds". The entire premise of the story is that of the reality of medieval life and war, which was at best, nasty, brutish, and short. On top of that the honourable knights of the Kingsguard are wearing tarnished armour, one is a sycophant, one is trying his best to stay out of the war, one is an oathbreaker and kingslayer, and the best of them all has been deemed "too old" to serve his post in spite of his dedication to service.

Then there are the other knights. Knights like Sandor and Gregor Clegane. One is a raging psychopath who feels no remorse for the suffering of other people, and actively enjoys causing that suffering. The other one just likes to kill and despises the title of knight for all the things his brother does. Knights lower than they tend to be barely better than brigands, and they all end up doing terrible things in the name of whatever lord they're serving at the moment, regardless of how good their intentions were.

The overriding lesson of Game of Thrones is that being the good guy isn't enough to win a war, that war does not determine who is right, only who is left, and that honour has nothing to do with it. The kind of moral ambiguity in the series is certainly above the understanding of children. Who's the Good Guy? Nobody is. All men must die. All men must serve. And don't piss off Walder Frey.


Plenty of sex and gore in the books. Whether the sex appears in the same place in the TV series as the books is pretty much irrelevant.

There's a problem with presentation though. Unless you're talking outright erotica, descriptions of sex rarely work well. There's a reason there's a "bad sex award" for books. So writers typically avoid long descriptions of it - suggestion is more effective. TV and film don't have the same problem.

As for "more mature", you're reading a series of books where people are regularly raped, tortured, burnt alive, and just generally killed. It's not your nice fluffy hobbitses. If there were ratings for books, the series would definitely rate 18 as well. Except perhaps in the US, where graphic violence is rated 15 but a single exposed nipple gets you an 18 rating. :/

  • 3
    I must correct your misconception: "Hobbitses are NOT fluffy, that is Dwarves.... Hobbitses are chewy." ... Smaug
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 19:45
  • 2
    @CGCampbell: Hobbitses has fluffy feet, precious.
    – jwodder
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 2:21

In simple words, Sex adds to the whole feel of it. Take it or leave it, it does attract a lot of audience.

And yeah, since I have read the books, I agree that most of the (sex) scenes are exaggerated. But people like it and they watch it and so they spice it up wherever they can.


Another single word: HBO. HBO's target audience has always been more adult than broadcast TV. They even allow curse words and nudity that are illegal and would be a fine if shown on broadcast TV.

  • 1
    Then explain why the books are aimed at a mature audience.
    – Ernie
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 17:51

The Martin books depict a brutal, violent, ugly world, often in the throes of war.

It's not a Disney story, and since there is torture, rape, flaying skin off of victims and cutting off body parts for sport, any attempts to make it "PG" are going to ruin the story. Since we're already in adult territory, showing breasts doesn't make it any less kid-friendly.

This is more about some people's hangups about sexuality. There's a long history of people freaking out over seeing a body part, but being fine with seeing a skull spit open or entrails spilling out, when it comes to movies and shows. Adult is adult, and this show is adult, nudity and sex or not.


Many writers and directors said that they use sex scenes because that what viewers want to see. Examples of writers/directors are, creator of True Blood, Masters of Sex.

Game of Thrones (books) contains many sex scenes but the sex scenes in show are exaggerated. It's HBO show so it must contain sex scenes.

It's the same thing with Orange is the New Black. In the book it said that in the prison there wasn't any lesbian relationships. The show is all about lesbian sex.

I'm not against sex scenes in TV show, I even hate when we show actors with clothes making love. What I hate is gratuitous sex scenes. For Game of Thrones when I watch the show for the second time I watch the censored version.

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