It has been a while since I read the books, but season 5 feels totally different from what I remember.

I don't remember Sansa being raped (she wasn't in Winterfell), Tyrion meeting Mormont and Jaime travelling to Dorne. These are just a few examples, but it feels like a lot more has changed.

What has changed in terms of the plot in Season 5 of Game of Thrones in comparison to the books?

  • 3
    – his
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:29
  • 1
    Does it matter? The show is only based on the books. From what I understand, the plan is for them to branch significantly in the future.
    – Catija
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 17:01
  • Related: movies.stackexchange.com/q/8599/49 and movies.stackexchange.com/q/21379/49.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 17:01
  • 8
    @Catija "Does it matter?" - Does it matter if it matters? The question isn't if the changes are good or bad, just what the changes are.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 17:02
  • 4
    Changes DO matter. I've never read the books, but as reading that there are some big differences, I ordered them to read another story in this universe.
    – Trollwut
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 10:14

2 Answers 2


I feel like this question would benefit from a spoiler-free overview, by character. The final section details which book characters don't appear in the TV show and visa versa, so stop reading before that heading if you don't want to know. Where the TV show contains possible spoilers for unwritten books, I've put the episode numbers where these occur in spoiler tags so they are easier to avoid.

First, overall, Season 5 is where Game Of Thrones starts to really diverge from the books. Before Season 4, the main plots are similar enough that a book reader could start watching the show at Season 4 and have little trouble understanding what's going on. Things started to diverge irreversibly in Season 4, then in Season 5 these develop into major multi-season plot lines that only exist in the TV show and replace some major multi-book plots. Arguably, and probably not coincidentally, the writing becomes sporadically less tight in terms of characterisation, dialogue and consistency (some fans wonder if the writing team changed) - but let's not get into that here.

Spoiler-free (books and show) plot changes by character, from least-changed to most-changed:

Somewhat similar storylines

  • Arya. While many details are different, including which previously-named characters she encounters, the general direction and tone is very similar. The books go further than the show, continuing along similar lines.
  • Cersei. Massively simplified in the TV show, with very few new characters introduced (compared to many, many new characters in the books). Cersei is also portrayed slightly differently (a little stronger and arguably saner in the TV show, certainly not quite as risk-taking, erratic, inconsistently trusting or... predatory as she is in the books), but the overall storylines have a similar general gist and tone.
  • Sam's storyline doesn't go nearly as far in the TV show as the books, but it looks to be heading in a similar direction - with some added drama that doesn't feature in the books but fits the theme and his situation. The books contain a "journey of discovery" theme storyline not (yet?) in the TV show. In seasons 6 and 7:

    Sam's story takes some show-only twists and skips much of the book's journeying, but converges to end up in a similar-looking spot.

Some very big changes

  • Jon. Begins quite similar (but simplified and accelerated in the TV show). His storyline then takes a dramatic turn that is very different to the books and depicts things not (yet?) seen in the books. Jon's story in the books is intensely political, while in the TV show, there's much more action. It's hard to say more without dropping massive spoilers... but it's possible the book and TV storylines might converge in future works.
  • Stannis. There are some big differences around which characters in Stannis's company go where, and the TV show spends much more time with Stannis directly - most of the equivalent events happen off-stage in the books, which means the TV show appears to answer some questions which are left unknown in the books (containing possible Winds of Winter spoilers). There are some major, very dramatic scenes and plot points added to the TV show that can't happen in the book world, but which could be spoiler-y clues as to events that may happen, or turn out to have happened, under different circumstances. If book readers want to avoid these episodes, they occur in episodes numbered:

    9 and 10, following lots of foreshadowing particularly in episode 6. Episode 10 is the most spoiler-y.

  • Dany. Similar gist, but almost all the details are different. While the TV show dips slightly into political themes around the difficulties of ruling a city, the books go into much more rich details about the economic situation, precise relationships with regional neighbours, factional politics, etc etc. Her personality continues to be somewhat different - more stern and decisive in the TV show, more naive and reliant on advisors in the books (partly due to her being younger in the books). Very few new characters are introduced in the TV show, compared to many in the books, but some dramatic scenes are added.

  • Tyrion. In the TV show his journey is massively simplified and shortened, with very few new characters introduced and different character(s) accompanying him. In the books his storyline is much more meandering and much less linear. The TV show then features events which haven't happened in the books, can't happen how they do here in the book world, but could be clues as to where Tyrion's story will go. Therefore, there are possible spoiler-y clues about where Tyrion might be going in Winds of Winter, in episodes numbered...

    6 and onwards, and all of seasons 6 and 7

Mostly different

  • Littlefinger. He's still scheming in both, but his schemes are very different, in different locations. The TV show spends more time with him than the books.
  • Jorah. Starts somewhat similar, takes a very different twist in the TV show. Is slightly more central in the TV show than the books.
  • Theon & the Boltons. Similar predicament and some events in common, but most of the details are extremely different. Similar characterization, although Ramsay, as with earlier seasons, arguably shows more strategic savvy and self-control in the TV show than his often crude knee-jerk bullying in the books, and his relationship with Roose is more developed in the TV show than the books which focus more on his relationship with his younger peers (but he is just as sadistic, savage and shocking in both)
  • Doran Martell and some associated Dornish characters have a storyline that has a few very slight similarities between the books and TV show in terms of main characters' rough intentions, but the content, tone and style are completely different. Whereas in the books, it's based around many interweaving political plots and mysteries, in the TV show it's simplified to the point of barely being a storyline (quite one-dimensional and shallow, but dramatic in places).
  • Varys. Takes over the storylines of a few characters who don't feature in the TV show. He starts in a similar place but goes somewhere very different, literally and figuratively.

Completely different

  • Sansa. Has a much, much bigger and more dramatic role in the TV show. In the books, she features little, but in the TV show, hers is one of the most central plot lines of the season.
  • Jaime. Has completely different storylines in the show and books, in content, location, company, and tone. His TV show storyline is somewhat cartoonish and action-oriented, while his book storyline is more based around character development towards leadership and strategy.
  • Brienne. Her storyline had already diverged last season, and continues to take a completely different course. Her story has more drama and is more closely integrated with other characters in the TV show, but has less personal character development and much less walking around compared to her storyline in the books.
  • Davos. He plays a smaller, supporting role to other character(s) in the TV show, completely unlike his adventure in the books.
  • Jaqen arguably appears in both, but in ways which are different in every possible way. Or perhaps he doesn't appear in either? Both Jaqen H'ghar storylines, if they are Jaqen H'ghar storylines, have only one thing in common, and that's mysteriousness.

After this are changes in which characters appear at all.

You might want to stop reading if you consider this a spoiler - but no particular plot points are given away.

Not featured in the TV show

  • The iron islanders have three interwoven storylines in the books that don't feature in the TV show, with a mix of politics, action, adventure and... disturbing moments. There's nothing to rule out some of the new characters here appearing in season 6.
  • Quentin Martell, a son of Doran, appears in the books and has an adventure-themed storyline that appears to have been dropped completely from the TV show.
  • Arienne Martell, a daughter of Doran, appears in the books and has an intrigue and mystery themed storyline that appears to have been dropped completely from the TV show except for a few elements merged into the Doran et al story.
  • Griff and company are introduced in the books and have a complex storyline that doesn't appear in the show (but, unlike the above Martells, isn't necessarily ruled out from appearing in a later series under different circumstances)
  • Pate, a hapless wannabe maester, and some acolytes and maesters in the Citadel are introduced in the books but not the show, in storylines that introduce new mysteries
  • Bran and company don't appear this season, while in the books their storyline continues very slightly further and, arguably, he is seen using his new abilities to influence other events
  • Varamyr, a wildling warg/skinchanger, appears in the books and has a mysterious, dark high-fantasy storyline, which doesn't have any equivalent in the show
  • The brotherhood without banners return in the books with a chilling new leader. In the TV show, that new leader isn't introduced and they don't feature this season

In seasons 6 and 7:

Euron and Aeron Greyjoy appear, and the brotherhood without banners return, with storylines that are fairly different and dialled down compared to the books

Not featured in the books

  • Bronn is talked about and causes some mischief in the books, but doesn't appear directly, whereas in the TV show he joins another character's storyline in a more prominent role
  • Karsi, a female wildling leader, is introduced late on in the TV show only (played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, who played Borgen's Katrine Fønsmark), as a strong character with some excellent lines, in a political storyline that doesn't really have an equivalent in the books.
  • The white walkers / others don't appear directly in the books this season is loosely based on. TV show contains possible small Winds of Winter spoilers around the attributes and organisation of White Walkers / others (assuming that the TV show's white walkers aren't differently imagined to the books' Others, which is possible), in episodes numbered...


  • Hardhome and the wildlings sheltering there are only referred to indirectly in the books, but shown directly in the TV show. The events are different enough that this can't realistically be considered a spoiler for future books.

I think that covers all the major characters whose stories aren't at this point arguably covered by another character's story


list of some changes for Season 5: more here

For the first six episodes:

1. The Wars to Come

  • Cersei was accompanied by two girls instead of one, when she went to see Maggy
  • Maggy's prophecy has several differences in the books
  • Maggy predicts that Robert Baratheon will have sixteen children rather than twenty
  • Maggy's physical appearance is quite different in the show
  • Petyr Baelish never agreed to foster Robin Arryn at Runestone
  • Brienne never told Podrick to leave, she was in fact never less than polite to him.
  • Cersei never thought Jaime had released Tyrion but suspected the Tyrells, because a golden coin of House Gardener was found in the possession of the missing galoer, who disappeared the same night Tyrion did
  • Varys never went to Pentos with Tyrion
  • Jon never went to see Mance, and Stannis never asked him to convince him to kneel
  • Mance was not very calm during his execution, he was screaming and begging until his death
  • It was not Jon himself but several archers on his orders who shot Mance
  • Lancel Lannister never joined the Sparrows

2. The House of Black and White

  • Petyr and Sansa never leave the Vale
  • The Faceless Man Arya encountered had a different appearance - did not like Jaqen H'gharr
  • Ellaria did not wish for war with the Lannisters to avenge Oberyn's death
  • Jaime never goes to Dorne to rescue Myrcella
  • Bronn does indeed marry Lollys Stokeworth, and never goes to Dorne with Jaime
  • Mace Tyrell never serves as Master of Coin
  • Kevan demands Cersei name him Regent, to rule until Tommen comes of age, and that she leave King's Landing
  • Mossador does not kill a Son of the Harpy against Daenerys's wishes. In fact, he is killed by the Sons of the Harpy. Also, he is Missandei's brother in the books and his death devastates Missandei
  • Jon wins by a huge margin, not a single vote.

3. High Sparrow

  • Due to Tommen Baratheon being nine years old, he and Margaery Tyrell have currently not consummated their marriage
  • Jon's steward is an Oldtown boy named Satin, who was raised as a whore
  • Littlefinger does not intend to marry Sansa to Ramsay Bolton, he instead plans to marry her to Robin's heir Harrold Hardyng
  • Littlefinger also disguises Sansa's childhood friend Jeyne Poole as Arya Stark and marries her to Ramsay instead
  • Tyrion does have sex with the whore in the brothel
  • Jorah had the Daenerys lookalike whore on his lap when he noticed Tyrion
  • When Arya disposes of her possessions in the canal, she returns to the House of Black and White completely naked

4. The Sons of the Harpy

  • Barristan Selmy is not slain by the Sons of the Harpy, he is still alive and also a POV character in the latest novel
  • Cersei sends another Kingsguard, Balon Swann, to take Myrcella back
  • Littlefinger does not intend to return to King's Landing
  • Loras Tyrell is never arrested for his sexuality

5. Kill the Boy

  • Daenerys did not intimidate the head of each family of Meereen using her dragons. Instead she took hostages (children) from each of the noble families to serve as her "cupbearers"
  • Jon sent Val, a wildling girl who was a companion of Mance's wife Dalla, north of the wall to find the Wildlings after the battle. The remaining Wildlings were led by Tormund himself, as he was not captured during the battle
  • Walda Bolton is not believed to be pregnant, although Roose does mention to Reek that if they had any children he suspects Ramsay would kill them
  • Davos did not march with Stannis, he was sent to negotiate with Lord Manderly at White Harbor, hoping to get him to side with Stannis
  • Jorah and Tyrion never went near Valyria, as in the books anyone who sails within hundreds of miles of it vanishes without a trace
  • Jorah was never infected with Greyscale

6. Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

  • Jorah is not made aware of hisfather's death
  • Tyrion and Jorah are captured when slavers board their ship rather than on land
  • The Sand Snakes planned to spark a war with the Lannisters, but with different means
  • In the books, Ellaria Sand does not play any part in the scheme involving Myrcella, yet she is still arrested along with her four young Sand Snakes
  • Olenna Tyrell has not returned to King's Landing since the High Sparrow became High Septon
  • Margaery Tyrell was arrested due to rumors that she was unfaithful to Tommen, rumors that were mostly invented by Cersei
  • Ramsay marries Jeyne Poole under the guise of Arya Stark, not Sansa.Theon was forced to participate in Ramsay and Jeyne's wedding night by stripping her clothes and performing oral sex on her to "warm her up", before he is made to watch. In the TV series, he is merely forced to watch Ramsay force himself on Sansa.
  • 1
    Links die, so please be sure to edit your answer to include the actual content of the link using quote text.
    – Catija
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 19:35
  • uhhh did a bad copy paste with my phone
    – Redbeard
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 19:54
  • 3
    Dude, this is plagiarism. You've copied word for word the original text from the link you provided. Just citing where you got the information is not enough to bypass copyright rules (and yes even Wikis licensed under CCA licences are bound by copyright laws); this is why we don't allow copy paste of Wikipedia etc: We regularly smack down anything that copies wholesale; we want a contextual quote with the most relevant information to the answer, and always a link to the rest.Jeff Atwood.
    – Möoz
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 3:12
  • ah sorry, gonna fix that later. I am on my phone tight now
    – Redbeard
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 6:20
  • 1
    +1. After reading the comments, the movie SE does not seem like a welcoming place so let me be the first to welcome you and hope you enjoy it here. Hope to see more of your contributions! Commented May 20, 2015 at 21:37

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