Game of Thrones was a great adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire. For the most part. Purists will complain about certain scenes, characters, and diversions from the source material, but that’s typically the case for all book-to-screen adaptations. And for the most part, the showrunners did well when they surpassed the source series and struck out on their own.
Of course, as is often the case with adaptations, some scenes were better than others. Some were exactly how we pictured them in our minds, while others could have used a bit more work.
1. Ned’s Execution
Ned’s execution is the “wham” line of Game of Thrones – the scene that captures audiences and gets them talking. With it, we knew that Game of Thrones was not some derivative fantasy series, and we knew that it wouldn’t be holding any punches when it came to fan-favorite characters. The scene was brilliantly written in the novels and it was brilliantly filmed for the series. It was just how fans imagined it, and it perfectly captured the necessary feelings of doom and pessimism.
2. The Battle Of The Blackwater
The Battle of the Blackwater was the show’s first major set piece, and what a set piece it was. Before this, Game of Thrones was a moderately-budgeted political drama. But with The Battle of the Blackwater, HBO needed to prove that they could accurately adapt the story’s bigger and more elaborate sequences. It was a fantastic battle, especially for television, and the shot of the ships exploding in a flurry of wildfire remains one of the series’ most iconic.
3.The Red Wedding
The Red Wedding is by far the most famous scene in Game of Thrones, and filming it was one of the major reasons why David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wished to adapt the series. This was certainly a shocking scene in the novels, and the show captured it to nightmarish perfection. In fact, the scene is arguably even more brutal in the TV show thanks to the murder of Talisa (Jeyne Westerling’s TV counterpart) and her unborn child.
4. Tyrion’s Trial
Season four is a masterpiece of television, and Tyrion’s trial is one of the show’s very best sequences. It’s a masterfully edited, written, and performed piece of television, and Peter Dinklage earned himself an Emmy nomination for his performance. This sequence proves that Game of Thrones never needed dragons, epic swordfights, or big, shocking twists to make great TV. Sometimes all you need is a great performer with a great script.
5. Tyrion Kills Tywin
On the other hand, Tywin’s murder was a brilliantly adapted sequence that ended season four on a high note. The show nailed the dreary atmosphere, the snappy dialogue, and the conflicting emotions involved in the murder, and the music helped elevate the scene to greatness. It’s dramatic, it’s a major turning point in the story, and it’s a wonderful piece of filmmaking. In other words, it’s one of the show’s greatest scenes.
1. Jon Snow’s Death
Jon Snow’s “death” in season five certainly made for a great cliffhanger, but it was poorly adapted from the source novel. In the show, the Night’s Watch seemingly murders Jon for bringing the wildlings through the Wall. In the novel, Jon receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton and decides to attack Winterfell. Because the Night’s Watch doesn’t partake in Westeros politics, they kill Jon to prevent him from taking action. It’s also more of an impulsive decision than a premeditated event.
2. Tyrion In Essos
Some of the show’s critics will argue that it started to go downhill in season five, and that’s largely due to sequences like this. Tyrion in Essos isn’t one specific scene, but rather his entire subplot. Therefore, it’s incredibly disappointing to have seen it handled so poorly. Tyrion’s character and moral ambiguity were all but ruined, and his relationship with Varys became a literal joke. That, and the whole Essos subplot just wasn’t that interesting.
3. The Purple Wedding
This one may be a bit controversial, but the Purple Wedding could have been done a bit better in the television show. This gripe mainly comes down to Joffrey’s demise, and it’s a complete reversal of the Red Wedding situation. In the series, Joffrey chokes to death, goes purple, and bleeds from his nose and eyes. In the novel, he violently claws at his own throat, leaving behind grisly gashes as he desperately searches for air. It’s far more grotesque and far more impactful.
4. Balon Greyjoy’s Murder
In it, we learn secondhand that Euron “fell” from the Pyke bridge, and speculation arises surrounding his younger brother, Euron. We later learn in a snippet from The Winds of Winter that Euron is indeed responsible for Balon’s death, although he did not personally commit the murder. This air of mystery and skepticism is far more interesting than simply watching Euron throw Balon over the Pyke bridge.
5. Everything Involving The Sand Snakes
Granted, the Sand Snakes aren’t exactly George R.R. Martin’s greatest creation. They’re somewhat controversial in the source novels, but their inclusion in season five was downright laughable. The Sand Snakes proved incredibly disappointing and were often criticized for their clunky dialogue and exposition. That one line has was made infamous within the Game of Thrones community.