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43 Dead Game of Thrones TV Characters Who Are Still Alive in the Books

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George R.R. Martin may be famous for killing off fictional characters, but let’s not downplay the homicidal tendencies of Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and Davis Benioff. The list of alive-and-kicking book characters whose on-screen counterparts have gone to the great godswood in the sky just keeps growing, especially now that the show’s many plotlines have flown past their book counterparts. The season six finale, in particular, was a bloodbath. And who knows? Maybe season seven will get the “dead in the show, alive in the books” list up to an even 50. After all, valar morghulis: All men must die.

WARNING: Spoilers for all aired episodes and all published books.

1. JEYNE WESTERLING/TALISA OF VOLANTIS


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One of the major book-to-show changes made by Game of Thrones is a complete overhaul of the character of Robb Stark’s wife. In the books, she’s Jeyne Westerling, the daughter of one of Stark’s minor vassals. In the show, she’s Talisa, a noblewoman from the foreign land of Volantis. Whatever the specifics about Mrs. King of the North, in the show she’s dead—memorably killed during the Red Wedding—and in the books she’s alive, mourning her late husband and possibly (according to some fans) carrying his child.

2. JOJEN REED

This one’s a bit iffy, because if you believe a popular fan theory, Jojen Reed—one of Bran Stark’s traveling companions and the one who taught him about his supernatural powers—is actually dead in the books. In the show, however, it’s a sure thing: the season four finale saw him get stabbed multiple times by a zombie skeleton (a “wight,” in Thrones parlance), before his sister Meera mercy killed him by slitting his throat. Oh, and then his body was blown up. This character is no more. He has ceased to be!

3. AND 4. PYP AND GRENN

Game of Thrones book readers were shocked when season four’s penultimate episode, “The Watchers on the Wall,” saw Jon Snow’s close friends Pyp and Grenn killed during the battle between the Night’s Watch and the Wildling army of Mayce Rayder. They’re still around as of A Dance with Dragons, serving at Castle Black and freezing their butts off.

5. SHIREEN BARATHEON 


Helen Sloan/HBO

In one of Game of Thrones’ more gruesome scenes (and there have been a fair number of those), season five’s penultimate episode saw Stannis Baratheon burn his teenage daughter Shireen at the stake as an offering to the god R’hllor, who counts sacrifices of those with king’s blood among his very, very favorite things. In the books, Shireen and her mother Selyse are still at Castle Black, while Stannis and his army are snowed in several days’ march from their intended destination of Winterfell. Showrunners Weiss and Benioff have implied that Shireen’s show fate is what eventually happens to her in the books, though if that’s true, the specifics of her death may change.

6. AND 7. RAKHARO AND IRRI

By the end of George R.R. Martin’s most recent A Song of Ice and Fire book, A Dance with Dragons, these two members of Team Daenerys—one of her bloodriders (essentially a bodyguard) and one of her handmaidens, respectively—are out hunting for their MIA queen, who took one of her dragons out for a quick jaunt and never came back. In the show, the pair of them have been long dead—Rakharo killed offscreen in early season two by an anonymous khalasar, Irri strangled to death a few episodes later as part of a plot to steal Daenerys’ dragons.

8. XARO XHOAN DAXOS

Irri’s death, as revealed in a deleted scene, came at the hands of fellow handmaiden Doreah, who had secretly been conspiring against her Khaleesi with the merchant prince Xaro Xhoan Daxos. As punishment, Daenerys locks the pair of them in Xaro’s vault, leaving them to die. In the books, while Doreah’s dead (of a wasting disease), Xaro’s still around to be a pain in Daenerys’ queenly neck. In book five, he pops up in Meereen to try and bribe her into going to Westeros and stop messing around with the slave trade. She refuses, and Qarth declares war on her.

9. PYAT PREE

This character—warlock, bald, purple lips, creepy—is in the same boat as Xaro Xhoan Daxos: They were both part of season two’s Qarth storyline, they both conspired to steal Daenerys’ dragons, they both died in the show (Pyat Pree was burned alive, which is just what happens when you mess with dragons), and they are both still alive and nursing major chips on their shoulders in the books. Pyat, a minor character, hasn’t actually been present for three books now, though Xaro mentions to Daenerys in book five that his warlock bud is still very much alive and plans to get revenge against her for burning the House of the Undying to the ground.

10. MANCE RAYDER 


Helen Sloan/HBO

The death of Wildling King Mance Rayder is one of eight season five deaths that didn’t happen in the books. In the show, he was burned at the stake for refusing to declare allegiance to Stannis Baratheon. Ditto the books, except—the way Martin writes it—it’s revealed that the man who actually died is a Wildling named Rattleshirt, who was glamored by Melisandre to look like Mance. The show could conceivably still pull a bait and switch and reveal that Mance is alive and protected by a magical disguise, but given HBO’s fondness for truncating plot lines, it doesn’t seem likely.

11. BARRISTAN SELMY

Fans of Barristan Selmy who were upset by his tragic death midway through season five can take refuge in the original books, where the former knight and hardcore Daenerys supporter wasn’t slain by the group of insurgents known as the Sons of the Harpy. Instead, book-Barristan assumes the title the “Hand of the Queen” after Daenerys disappears from Meereen and does his best to keep the city standing while his sovereign is away. He has a particularly hard time dealing with Daenerys’ husband, Hizdahr zo Loraq, who, oh yeah …

12. HIZDAHR ZO LORAQ

… is also not dead in the books—though a scene in the penultimate episode of season five had him stabbed to death by the Sons of the Harpy.

13. CATELYN STARK

This one’s less straightforward, so stick with us: In the books, Catelyn Stark was murdered at the Red Wedding but came back as Lady Stoneheart, a sort of vengeance-minded, zombie version of her former self. In the show, there’s been nary a whisper of Lady Stoneheart, even though we’ve passed the point in the story when she would have shown up. Actress Michelle Fairley has said outright that her character won't be coming back, but hey, this cast has lied before. But for now, Catelyn is dead in the show, and undead in the books.

14. AND 15. DORAN AND TRYSTANE MARTELL

The Dornish plotline is a lot bloodier in the show than it is in the books. Shortly after Myrcella is assassinated by Ellaria Sand, Prince Doran Martell and his son and heir, Trystane, are murdered as well; Doran by Ellaria, Trystane by his cousin Obara. In the books, Doran is still playing the long game, trying to stay out of a war with the Lannisters while secretly attempting to broker an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen. Book Trystane, younger than his show counterpart, has still only been mentioned, never actually seen.

16. MYRCELLA BARATHEON


Helen Sloan/HBO

In the books, Myrcella Baratheon—the only daughter of Cersei and Jaime Lannister—is currently missing an ear, the result of a botched Dornish plot to install her as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms over her younger brother Tommen, thereby starting a civil war. In the show, she fares quite a bit worse, having been assassinated by Ellaria Sand in the season five finale as payback for her family’s role in the death of Oberyn Martell.

17. STANNIS BARATHEON

The end of A Dance with Dragons leaves Stannis Baratheon and his army in a pretty bad place: en route to Winterfell to take the North back from the Boltons, they’re trapped in a blizzard that shows no signs of relenting. Back at the Wall, Jon Snow receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton claiming that Stannis has been killed. (An already-released chapter from The Winds of Winter gives us some additional information on that front; obviously, there are spoilers.) In the show, Stannis makes it out of the snowstorm after he sacrifices his daughter Shireen (see above) to the Red God, but during the subsequent battle between his army and the Boltons, he’s killed by Brienne of Tarth. Brienne, you’ll remember, vowed vengeance on Stannis for his role in the assassination of his brother (and Brienne’s liege lord) Renly back in season two. See, Stannis? This is why you don’t kill family members.

18. SELYSE BARATHEON

Lest you think any of the Baratheons make it out of Game of Thrones happy and whole (Robert’s bastard son Gendry is at least supposedly out there somewhere, not dead), Stannis’ wife Selyse hanged herself in the season five finale after allowing her daughter to be sacrificed. In the books, Selyse and Shireen are currently living in Castle Black with the Night’s Watch.

19. AND 20. ROOSE AND WALDA BOLTON 


Helen Sloan/HBO

In the second episode of season six, Lord of Winterfell and betrayer of the Starks Roose Bolton is in turn betrayed by his own son, Ramsay, after his wife, Walda, gives birth to a son that Ramsay believes could threaten his standing as the Bolton heir. In addition to stabbing his father to death, Ramsay murders his stepmother and unnamed half-brother by setting his dogs on them.

21. MERYN TRANT

In the books, Kingsguard member Meryn Trant hasn’t been up to much lately; since testifying at Tyrion’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey, he’s mostly tooled around King’s Landing guarding the Lannisters. The show, however, sent him off to Braavos as a guard for new Master of Coin, Mace Tyrell. Let’s just say there have been better business trips; Arya Stark, training to be an assassin at the House of Black and White, happened upon Trant and tracked him to a brothel, where she killed him in retaliation for his (presumed) murder of her mentor Syrio Forel back in season one.

22. BRYNDEN TULLY

Fan favorite character Brynden “Blackfish” Tully—uncle to Catelyn Stark—is still alive and kicking alive in the books, out somewhere in the Riverlands causing problems for Lannister forces. In the show, on the other hand, he was ultimately unable to escape the Lannister family’s wrath and received an offscreen death at the hands of anonymous soldiers.

23. AND 24. SUMMER AND SHAGGYDOG

Poor, poor direwolves. In Martin’s books, two have been offed so far: Sansa’s Lady, killed in A Game of Thrones, and Robb Stark’s Grey Wind, one of the casualties of A Storm of Swords’ Red Wedding. In HBO’s Thrones, Bran’s Summer and Rickon’s Shaggydog also met violent ends at the hands of the Wights and Ramsay Bolton’s allies the Umbers, respectively. Ghost and Nymeria had better watch out.

25. WALDER FREY


HBO

One character whose death Thrones fans have long craved is turncoat Walder Frey, who was instrumental in orchestrating the infamous (and very bloody) Red Wedding. For his part in the murder of her brother and mother, Arya Stark has long had ol’ Walder on her kill list. In the season six finale, the youngest Stark daughter made good on her deadly promise and slit Frey’s throat. In the books, Walder’s still around, his extended family being picked off by Lady Stoneheart (who hasn't made it into the show, disappointing fans and Martin himself) and her followers.

26., 27., AND 28. HODOR, LEAF, AND THE THREE-EYED RAVEN

The wight battle that saw Summer bite the dust also took out three characters who are still, in the books, an integral part of Bran’s storyline: Leaf, a Child of the Forest; the Three-Eyed Raven (called the Three-Eyed Crow in the books), Bran’s mentor; and Bran’s longtime companion Hodor, whose death and backstory revelation (“Hold the door”) was a particularly traumatic one for Thrones fans.

29., 30. AND 31. MARGAERY, LORAS, AND MACE TYRELL

Game of Thrones’s season six finale was, in a word, a bloodbath. Cersei’s grand plan for vengeance came to fruition when she and Qyburn managed to blow up King’s Landing’s Great Sept, with—among others—Margaery, Loras, and Mace Tyrell trapped inside. That leaves one Tyrell, matriarch Olenna, still alive and plotting vengeance in the show, while in the books the Lannisters' rival family (one of them, anyway) is still more or less intact.

32. AND 33. THE HIGH SPARROW AND LANCEL LANNISTER

Two other poor characters who went kablooey in the season six finale are the High Sparrow, leader of a fanatical religious group, and his acolyte Lancel Lannister. In the books, the whole “Cersei vs. the Church” plotline is still playing out, with Cersei unsuccessful at outmaneuvering her cultish enemies… so far. Another character, Septa Unella, has been captured by Cersei in the show and handed over to Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. The Mountain, to be tortured. She appears, for all intents and purposes, to be out of commission, but she’s not technically dead.

34. RAMSAY BOLTON


Helen Sloan/HBO

Turnabout is fair play for the sadistic Ramsay Bolton. Season six’s penultimate episode, “The Battle of the Bastards,” sees Jon Snow finally go head-to-head with Bolton at Winterfell. Snow beats Bolton half to death and then locks him up in his kennels … but it’s at the hands of his own starving dogs, unleashed by Sansa Stark, that Bolton finally meets his doom.

35., 36., AND 37. RICKON STARK, OSHA, AND WUN WUN

Before being eaten alive, Ramsay and his men managed to take out three still-alive-in-the-books characters: The Wildling giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, a.k.a. Wun Wun; youngest Stark child Rickon; and Rickon’s Wildling guardian Osha. In the show, Rickon and Osha were betrayed by Smalljohn Umber and delivered to Ramsay Bolton, who stabbed Osha in the neck and, several episodes later, shot Rickon to lure Jon Snow into an attack. In the books, Rickon and Osha haven’t been seen for a while, but we know they’re hiding out on the cannibal-infested island of Skagos. The end of book five has Davos Seaworth embarking on a quest to retrieve Stark so that his family’s still-loyal allies can rally around him.

38. BROTHER RAY

As with Jeyne Westerling/Talisa of Volantis, Ian McShane’s Brother Ray is a character who’s different in the show than he is in the books. Or, rather, Ray is something of a combination of two book characters: Septon Meribald, a man of the faith who ministers to war-beset commoners, and the Elder Brother, the leader of a community of monks that (per a popular fan theory) is harboring a still-living Sandor Clegane. (In the show it’s been confirmed that Sandor is still alive, while in the books his status is officially TBD.) Regardless of character specifics, in the books Meribald and the Elder Brother are both alive, while in the show Brother Ray was killed by the marauding Brotherhood Without Banners after one episode.

39. DAGMER CLEFTJAW

A fairly minor character in the show and the books, Dagmer Cleftjaw is a warrior and man-at-arms hailing from House Greyjoy. In the show, he and his men received an offscreen death-by-flaying at the hands of Ramsay Bolton after the latter’s capture of Winterfell from Theon Greyjoy. In the books, he has his life and his skin, having been holding the Northern stronghold of Torrhen’s Square with a force of Ironborn for quite some time.

40. TOMMEN BARATHEON


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Let’s pour one out for little Tommen. The season six finale saw Cersei and Jaime’s youngest child join his sister Myrcella in the “Wait, You’re Not Supposed to Be Dead Yet!” club. Pulled back and forth all season by the competing interests of his mother and his wife Margaery, Tommen committed suicide after the former engineered the latter’s death-by-explosion. In the books, the conflict between Cersei and the Tyrells hasn’t come to a head quite yet. Tommen could probably use some hugs before things get really bad.

41. LOTHAR FREY

One of the more popular theories among A Song of Ice and Fire fans is one called “Frey Pies,” which posits that Stark bannerman Wyman Manderly baked some of Walder Frey’s relatives into meat pies and fed them to him. That theory’s credibility got a boost in the season six finale when Arya Stark did that very thing before cutting Frey’s throat. In the show, one of the pie-bound Freys was Lothar, who killed Arya’s sister-in-law Talisa and her unborn child during the Red Wedding seasons earlier. In the books, though still involved in the Red Wedding, Lothar has so far managed to escape that cannibalistic fate.

42. ALLISER THORNE

A perpetual… er… thorn in Jon Snow’s side, Night’s Watch master-at-arms Alliser Thorne is all but exiled by Snow in A Dance with Dragons when he’s sent on a mission beyond the Wall. As such, he’s not around for the mutiny that fells Snow (if only temporarily). In the show, Thorne spearheads the mutiny and is hanged for treason once Snow is resurrected.

43. MAEGE MORMONT

Maege Mormont, known as She-Bear, is a loyal follower of the House Stark and the matriarch of a whole clan of kick-ass ladies. In the show, she sacrifices her life for her liege, dying in some unspecified battle after appearing very, very briefly in a handful of episodes. Her death makes way for her young, steel-willed daughter Lyanna to become head of her family. In the books, Maege is still involved in the fighting, though readers haven’t actually seen her in quite some time.

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25 Wonderful Facts About It’s a Wonderful Life
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Mary Owen wasn’t welcomed into the world until more than a decade after Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life made its premiere in 1946. But she grew up cherishing the film and getting the inside scoop on its making from its star, Donna Reed—who just so happens to be her mom. Though Reed passed away in 1986, Owen has stood as one of the film’s most dedicated historians, regularly introducing screenings of the ultimate holiday classic, including during its annual run at New York City’s IFC Center. She shared some of her mom’s memories with us to help reveal 25 things you might not have known about It’s a Wonderful Life.

1. IT ALL BEGAN WITH A CHRISTMAS CARD.

After years of unsuccessfully trying to shop his short story, The Greatest Gift, to publishers, Philip Van Doren Stern decided to give the gift of words to his closest friends for the holidays when he printed up 200 copies of the story and sent them out as a 21-page Christmas card. David Hempstead, a producer at RKO Pictures, ended up getting a hold of it, and purchased the movie rights for $10,000.

2. CARY GRANT WAS SET TO STAR IN THE ADAPTATION.

When RKO purchased the rights, they did so with the plan of having Cary Grant in the lead. But, as happens so often in Hollywood, the project went through some ups and downs in the development process. In 1945, after a number of rewrites, RKO sold the movie rights to Frank Capra, who quickly recruited Jimmy Stewart to play George Bailey.

3. DOROTHY PARKER WORKED ON THE SCRIPT.


Getty Images

By the time It’s a Wonderful Life made it into theaters, the story was much different from Stern’s original tale. That’s because more than a half-dozen people contributed to the screenplay, including some of the most acclaimed writers of the time—Dorothy Parker, Dalton Trumbo, Marc Connelly, and Clifford Odets among them.

4. SCREENWRITERS FRANCES GOODRICH AND ALBERT HACKETT WALKED OUT.

Though they’re credited as the film’s screenwriters with Capra, the husband and wife writing duo were not pleased with the treatment they received from Capra. “Frank Capra could be condescending,” Hackett said in an interview, “and you just didn't address Frances as ‘my dear woman.’ When we were pretty far along in the script but not done, our agent called and said, ‘Capra wants to know how soon you'll be finished.’ Frances said, ‘We're finished right now.’ We put our pens down and never went back to it.”

5. CAPRA DIDN’T DO THE BEST JOB OF SELLING THE FILM TO STEWART.

After laying out the plot line of the film for Stewart in a meeting, Capra realized that, “This really doesn’t sound so good, does it?” Stewart recalled in an interview. Stewart’s reply? “Frank: If you want me to be in a picture about a guy that wants to kill himself and an angel comes down named Clarence who can’t swim and I save him, when do we start?”

6. IT WAS DONNA REED’S FIRST STARRING ROLE.


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Though Donna Reed was hardly a newcomer when It’s a Wonderful Life rolled around, having appeared in nearly 20 projects previously, the film did mark her first starring role. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role today, but Reed had some serious competition from Jean Arthur. “[Frank Capra] had seen mom in They Were Expendable and liked her,” Mary Owen told Mental Floss. “When Capra met my mother at MGM, he knew she'd be just right for Mary Bailey.”

7. MARY OWEN IS NOT NAMED AFTER MARY BAILEY.

Before you ask whether Owen was named after her mom’s much beloved It’s a Wonderful Life character, “The answer is no,” says Owen. “I was named after my great grandmother, Mary Mullenger.”

8. BEULAH BONDI WAS A PRO AT PLAYING STEWART’S MOM.

Beulah Bondi, who plays Mrs. Bailey, didn’t need a lot of rehearsal to play Jimmy Stewart’s mom. She had done it three times previously—in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Human Hearts, and Vivacious Lady—and once later on The Jimmy Stewart Show: The Identity Crisis.

9. CAPRA, REED, AND STEWART HAVE ALL CALLED IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE THEIR FAVORITE MOVIE.


Liberty Films

Though their collective filmographies consist of a couple hundred movies, Capra, Reed, and Stewart have all cited It’s a Wonderful Life as their favorite movie. In his autobiography, The Name Above the Title, Capra took that praise even one step further, writing: “I thought it was the greatest film I ever made. Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody ever made.”

10. THE MOVIE BOMBED AT THE BOX OFFICE.

Though it has become a quintessential American classic, It’s a Wonderful Life was not an immediate hit with audiences. In fact, it put Capra $525,000 in the hole, which left him scrambling to finance his production company’s next picture, State of the Union.

11. A COPYRIGHT LAPSE AIDED THE FILM’S POPULARITY.

Though it didn’t make much of a dent at the box office, It’s a Wonderful Life found a whole new life on television—particularly when its copyright lapsed in 1974, making it available royalty-free to anyone who wanted to show it for the next 20 years. (Which would explain why it was on television all the time during the holiday season.) The free-for-all ended in 1994.

12. THE ROCK THAT BROKE THE WINDOW OF THE GRANVILLE HOUSE WAS ALL REAL.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain 

Though Capra had a stuntman at the ready in order to shoot out the window of the Granville House in a scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock through it, it was all a waste of money. “Mom threw the rock herself that broke the window in the Granville House,” Owen says. “On the first try.”

13. IT TOOK TWO MONTHS TO BUILD BEDFORD FALLS.

Shot on a budget of $3.7 million (which was a lot by mid-1940s standards), Bedford Falls—which covered a full four acres of RKO’s Encino Ranch—was one of the most elaborate movie sets ever built up to that time, with 75 stores and buildings, 20 fully-grown oak trees, factories, residential areas, and a 300-yard-long Main Street.

14. SENECA FALLS, NEW YORK IS “THE REAL BEDFORD FALLS.”

Though Bedford Falls is a fictitious place, the town of Seneca Falls, New York swears that it's the real-life inspiration for George Bailey’s charming hometown. And each year they program a full lineup of holiday-themed events to put locals (and yuletide visitors) into the holiday spirit.

15. THE GYM FLOOR-TURNED-SWIMMING POOL WAS REAL.

Though the bulk of the film was filmed on pre-built sets, the dance at the gym was filmed on location at Beverly Hills High School. And the retractable floor was no set piece. Better known as the Swim Gym, the school is currently in the process of restoring the landmark filming location.

16. ALFALFA IS THE TEENAGER BEHIND THAT SWIMMING POOL PRANK.

Though he’s uncredited in the part, if Freddie Othello—the little prankster who pushes the button that opens the pool that swallows George and Mary up—looks familiar, that’s because he is played by Carl Switzer, a.k.a. Alfalfa of The Little Rascals.

17. DONNA REED WON $50 FROM LIONEL BARRYMORE ... FOR MILKING A COW.

Though she was a Hollywood icon, Donna Reed—born Donnabelle Mullenger—was a farm girl at heart who came to Los Angeles by way of Denison, Iowa. Lionel Barrymore (a.k.a. Mr. Potter) didn’t believe it. “So he bet $50 that she couldn't milk a cow,” recalls Owen. “She said it was the easiest $50 she ever made.”

18. THE FILM WAS SHOT DURING A HEAT WAVE.

It may be an iconic Christmas movie, but It’s a Wonderful Life was actually shot in the summer of 1946—in the midst of a heat wave, no less. At one point, Capra had to shut filming down for a day because of the sky-high temperatures—which also explains why Stewart is clearly sweating in key moments of the film.

19. CAPRA ENGINEERED A NEW KIND OF MOVIE SNOW.

Capra—who trained as an engineer—and special effects supervisor Russell Shearman engineered a new type of artificial snow for the film. At the time, painted cornflakes were the most common form of fake snow, but they posed a bit of an audio problem for Capra. So he and Shearman opted to mix foamite (the stuff you find in fire extinguishers) with sugar and water to create a less noisy option.

20. THE MOVIE WASN’T REQUIRED VIEWING IN REED’S HOUSEHOLD.

Though It’s a Wonderful Life is a staple of many family holiday movie marathons, that wasn’t the case in Reed’s home. In fact, Owen herself didn’t see the film until three decades after its release. “I saw it in the late 1970s at the Nuart Theatre in L.A. and loved it,” she says.

21. ZUZU DIDN’T SEE THE FILM UNTIL 1980.

Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in the film, didn’t see the film until 1980. “I never took the time to see the movie,” she told Detroit’s WWJ in 2013. “I never just sat down and watched the film.”

22. THE FBI SAW THE FILM. THEY DIDN’T LIKE IT.

In 1947, the FBI issued a memo noting the film as a potential “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry,” citing its “rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘Scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.”

23. THE MOVIE’S BERT AND ERNIE HAVE NO RELATION TO SESAME STREET.

Yes, the cop and cab driver in It’s a Wonderful Life are named Bert and Ernie, respectively. But Jim Henson’s longtime writing partner, Jerry Juhl, insists that it’s by coincidence only that they share their names with Sesame Street’s stripe-shirted buds. “I was the head writer for the Muppets for 36 years and one of the original writers on Sesame Street,” Juhl told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000. “The rumor about It's a Wonderful Life has persisted over the years. I was not present at the naming, but I was always positive [the rumor] was incorrect. Despite his many talents, Jim had no memory for details like this. He knew the movie, of course, but would not have remembered the cop and the cab driver. I was not able to confirm this with Jim before he died, but shortly thereafter I spoke to Jon Stone, Sesame Street's first producer and head writer and a man largely responsible for the show's format … He assured me that Ernie and Bert were named one day when he and Jim were studying the prototype puppets. They decided that one of them looked like an Ernie, and the other one looked like a Bert. The movie character names are purely coincidental.”

24. SOME PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS FOR A SEQUEL.

Well, two people: Producers Allen J. Schwalb and Bob Farnsworth, who announced in 2013 that they would be continuing the story with a sequel, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, which they planned for a 2015 release. It didn’t take long for Paramount, which owns the copyright, to step in and assure furious fans of the original film that “No project relating to It’s a Wonderful Life can proceed without a license from Paramount. To date, these individuals have not obtained any of the necessary rights, and we would take all appropriate steps to protect those rights.”

25. THE FILM’S ENDURING LEGACY WAS SURPRISING TO CAPRA.

“It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen," Capra said of the film’s classic status. "The film has a life of its own now and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.”

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Listen to What Darth Vader Sounded Like On the Star Wars Set
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The voice of Darth Vader, provided by James Earl Jones, is one of the most iconic aspects of the original Star Wars movies. But James Earl Jones wasn't the actor wearing that outfit—it was British actor David Prowse, who was cast in part because he was huge (reportedly 6'5" and a former body-building champion).

George Lucas always intended to replace Prowse's voice, but it's still a bit of a shock to hear a muffled British voice coming out of Darth Vader's helmet. Here's video showing what Darth Vader sounded like on the set before James Earl Jones re-recorded the dialogue.

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