Given the 4200-plus page count of the first five titles in A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based, it’s no surprise that the series’ creators would have to take Areo Hotah's gigantic axe to several of George R.R. Martin’s minor—and even some of his major—characters. Those on this list (and many, many others) might not have gotten their day in the premium cable sun (at least not yet), but they’ll forever live on in the hearts of readers.
(Warning: If you’re only just beginning your Game of Thrones-watching journey, some mild spoilers follow.)
For some reason, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff gave the old heave-ho to Game of Thrones’ resident creepy psychic clown, Patchface. In the books, Patchface is Stannis’ court jester and one of the only friends his daughter Shireen has. Stannis’ father Steffon discovered the young slave while on a mission overseas and bought his freedom, hoping to bring him home to entertain his sons. Patchface made it there, but neither of Stannis’ parents did: They both perished in a shipwreck, of which Patchface was the sole survivor. He washed up on shore three days later, half-mad, and with no memory of how he survived. Now, he speaks mostly in rambling riddles that occasionally do things like predict the Red Wedding. For an extra layer of creep, the name “Patchface” comes from his face and head being tattooed with a pattern of red and green squares.
2. THE GREYJOY UNCLES
When Yara (Asha in the books) Greyjoy can only get about five minutes of screen time in any given season, it’s no surprise that her three uncles—Victarion, Euron, and Aeron Greyjoy—have been cut completely. In the books, they’re part of a massive power struggle that takes place in the Iron Islands and has begun to bleed outward to other territories. Victarion, the axe-wielding leader of the Iron Islands’ navy, is even a POV character, with one chapter each in books four and five. Euron is the series’ resident pirate, and Aeron is a religious fanatic who worships the Drowned God.
In the first episode of Game of Thrones’ fifth season, Tyrion makes clear his intention to book it with Varys to Meereen so that he can meet with Daenerys Targaryen to determine whether she’s worth supporting. In the books, he wanders around being drunk a lot before eventually working his way into Daenerys’ sphere of influence (currently, he still has not actually met her). One of his companions on his not-so-merry travels is a young dwarf named Penny who, with her brother Oppo, used to make a living as entertainers … like, say, at Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery, where they were hired to ride around on a pig and a dog, humiliating Tyrion in the process. A different version of that scene made it to the show, but Penny did not. A popular fan theory suggests that Penny is Tyrion’s daughter, which would make it really weird (though Game of Thrones-y) that she has a massive crush on him.
4. VARGO HOAT
The sadistic leader of a company of soldiers that was at one point employed by the Bolton family, Vargo Hoat is responsible for the loss of Jaime Lannister’s hand and Brienne of Tarth’s near-death by bear. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Hoat was replaced in the show by Locke (Noah Taylor), who fulfilled the same narrative purpose as Hoat but was nonetheless a very different character. While Hoat is a mercenary who starts out working for Tywin Lannister before switching allegiances to Roose Bolton, for example, Locke and his cohorts are loyal servants of Ramsay Bolton through and through. Vargo Hoat never went to the Wall, as Locke did in season four; instead, he was killed by Gregor Clegane at Harrenhal. And the most obvious difference: While Locke is a serious sort of fellow, Vargo Hoat was a somewhat ridiculous character most memorable for his trademark lisp (“You thlew my bear!”).
5. EDRIC STORM
A bastard son of King Robert Baratheon, Edric Storm was conceived when Robert and a noblewoman named Delena Florent got frisky on Stannis Baratheon’s wedding night (on Stannis’ wedding bed, no less). Subsequently, Stannis was a little frosty toward his illegitimate nephew and ordered that he be raised at his little brother Renly’s court at Storm’s End. Later, Stannis brought the child—now about 12 years old, polite and charming, but also proud with an anger streak (like his father)—back to his court at Dragonstone, which didn’t exactly bode well for Edric given that it put him under the same roof as a priestess whose favorite hobby is sacrificing people with royal blood. Davos Seaworth, worried for the young bastard’s life, spirited Edric across the Narrow Sea. Presumably, he’s in the Free Cities now, thanking every God he can think of that he got out of Westeros before characters started dropping like flies. Edric’s storyline was absorbed in the show by Gendry (Joe Dempsie), who at this point in the books is still kicking around Westeros.
6. JEYNE WESTERLING
Like Vargo Hoat and Edric Storm, Jeyne Westerling was shuffled off to the side so that a different character could take her place on the show. The daughter of a poor noble family and the wife of Robb Stark (Talisa who?), Jeyne nursed her future husband back to health when he was wounded during a battle. It was while he was under Jeyne’s care that Robb learned of the deaths of his brothers, Bran and Rickon, and that Winterfell had been burned to the ground. He’s grieving, she comforts him, they have sex, and Robb marries her to protect her honor. Their story isn’t one of grand, star-crossed romance like what Robb and Jeyne’s TV counterpart had, but they still love each other, as evidenced by Jeyne’s grief following Robb’s death. Unlike Talisa, Jeyne didn’t attend the Red Wedding and is still alive in the books. There’s some hinting that she may be pregnant with Robb’s child, though knowing Martin that could easily be a red herring.
7. STRONG BELWAS
Though he’s a relatively minor character in the grand scheme of things, Strong Belwas is nonetheless a fan favorite, so many were disappointed when he was one of the first characters to be cut from the show, all the way back in season one. A eunuch and former slave in the fighting pits of Meereen, he and Barristan Selmy join up with Daenerys in A Clash of Kings and become two of her most trusted advisors. Belwas is still alive in the books, throwing his massive weight around and going up against the champion of Meereen. It’s a memorable scene that Michiel Huisman’s Daario Naharis got in the show. Instead of urinating on the ground in front of the city to show his disrespect for its masters, Belwas did ... the other thing.
8. ARIANNE MARTELL
It caused quite a stir among fans when Arianne Martell was cut from Game of Thrones. The oldest child of new season five character Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), in the books Arianne is heir to the throne of Dorne despite having two younger brothers, because the Dornish don’t care for primogeniture, thank you very much. Further, Arianne is a POV character and a major player in A Feast for Crows. Cutting her out, said some, deprived the show of both its “most feminist plotline” and of an oasis of (relative) gender equality amidst all the sexual violence and oppression of women in the rest of the show. Given that the official cast description of Arianne’s brother Trystane lists him as the heir to Dorne (not to mention the tiny matter of her not being cast), she is unlikely to make her small-screen debut. But she’s not the only Martell that happened to...
9. QUENTYN MARTELL
Ahhh, Quentyn. Poor, clueless Quentyn. In a major A Dance with Dragons plotline, Doran Martell’s oldest son is sent in secret to Meereen to bring Daenerys back to Dorne as his wife, as per an old agreement that would bind the Martell and Targaryen families together so that they could reclaim the Iron Throne. Quentyn is a very typical fantasy character: the dashing young prince who embarks on a noble quest to go up against dragons and win the heart of a beautiful young princess (here, a queen). Of course, because this is George R.R. Martin we’re talking about, things don’t end well for Quentyn. Daenerys has no interest in marrying some kid she’s never met, and his attempts to prove himself worthy by taming her dragons ends in his painful, fiery death. As of the end of A Dance with Dragons, Doran has yet to find out that his middle child has been roasted alive.
Finally, we have Coldhands, one of two characters whose omission from the show is most conspicuous for many book readers. (The other is a version of a character who did make it into the show, so they’re out of this list on a technicality. Plus, there is speculation that they may still show up [beware massive potential spoilers at the link], whereas Coldhands’ ship has all but sailed.) Though he looks like a wight, unlike his brethren, Coldhands is able to talk and has proven himself to be a helpful ally to some of our heroes (including Samwell and Bran) in their adventures North of the Wall. Basically, he’s the Friendly Neighborhood Ice Zombie.
There are a number of fan theories about Coldhands’ true identity—Ned Stark’s missing-in-action brother Benjen (Martin shot this one down), the Night’s King, Ser Waymar Royce—and what his end game is. Despite how popular a subject he is for fannish speculation, he has been written out of the show entirely. Like some of the other characters on this list, he could in theory still show up in some form, but given how the show’s already breezed past all of what would have been his key scenes, a television role is not looking good for Coldhands.