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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 


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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 


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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


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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 


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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


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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


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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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Hey, Vern: It's the Ernest P. Worrell Story
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Mill Creek Entertainment

In her review of the 1991 children’s comedy Ernest Scared Stupid, The Washington Post film critic Rita Kempley described the titular character, the dim-witted but well-meaning Ernest P. Worrell, as “the global village idiot.” As portrayed by Kentucky native Jim Varney, Ernest was in the middle of a 10-film franchise that would see him mistakenly incarcerated (Ernest Goes to Jail), enlisting in the military (Ernest in the Army), substituting for an injured Santa (Ernest Saves Christmas), and returning to formal education in order to receive his high school diploma (Ernest Goes to School).

Unlike slapstick contemporaries Yahoo Serious and Pauly Shore, Varney took a far more unusual route to film stardom. With advertising executive John Cherry III, Varney originated the Ernest character in a series of regional television commercials. By one estimate, Ernest appeared in over 6000 spots, hawking everything from ice cream to used cars. They grew so popular that the pitchman had a 20,000-member fan club before his first movie, 1987’s Ernest Goes to Camp, was even released.

Varney and Ernest became synonymous, so much so that the actor would dread going on dates for fear Ernest fans would approach him; he sometimes wore disguises to discourage recognition. Though he could recite Shakespeare on a whim, Varney was rarely afforded the opportunity to expand his resume beyond the denim-jacketed character. It was for this reason that Varney, though grateful for Ernest’s popularity, would sometimes describe his notoriety as a “mixed blessing,” one that would come to a poignant end foreshadowed by one of his earliest commercials.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1949, Varney spent his youth being reprimanded by teachers who thought his interest in theater shouldn’t replace attention paid to math or science. Varney disagreed, leaving high school just two weeks shy of graduation (he returned in the fall for his diploma) to head for New York with $65 in cash and a plan to perform.

The off-Broadway plays Varney appeared in were not lucrative, and he began to bounce back and forth between Kentucky and California, driving a truck when times were lean and appearing in TV shows like Petticoat Junction when his luck improved. During one of his sabbaticals from Hollywood, he met Cherry, who cast him as an aggressive military instructor named Sergeant Glory in an ad for a car dealer in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1981, Varney was asked back to film a new spot for Cherry, this one for a dilapidated amusement park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that Cherry considered so unimpressive he didn’t want to show it on camera. Instead, he created the character of Ernest P. Worrell, a fast-talking, often imbecilic local who is constantly harassing his neighbor Vern. (“Know what I mean, Vern?” became Ernest’s catchphrase.)

The spot was a hit, and soon Varney and Cherry were being asked to film spots for Purity Dairies, pizza parlors, convenience stores, and other local businesses. In the spots, Ernest would usually look into the camera—the audience shared Vern’s point of view—and endorse whatever business had enlisted his services, usually stopping only when Vern devised a way to get him out of sight.

Although the Purity commercials initially drew complaints—the wide-angle lens created a looming Ernest that scared some children—his fame grew, and Varney became a rarity in the ad business: a mascot without a permanent corporate home. He and Cherry would film up to 26 spots in a day, all targeted for a specific region of the country. In some areas, people would call television stations asking when the next Ernest spot was due to air. A Fairfax, Virginia Toyota dealership saw a 50 percent spike in sales after Varney began appearing in ads.

Logging thousands of spots in hundreds of markets, Varney once said that if they had all been national, he and Cherry would have been wealthy beyond belief. But local spots had local budgets, and the occasions where Ernest was recruited for a major campaign were sometimes prohibited by exclusivity contracts: He and Cherry had to turn down Chevrolet due to agreements with local, competing car dealers.

Still, Varney made enough to buy a 10-acre home in Kentucky, expressing satisfaction with the reception of the Ernest character and happily agreeing to a four-picture deal with Disney’s Touchstone Pictures for a series of Ernest features. Released on a near-constant basis between 1987 and 1998, the films were modest hits (Ernest Goes to Camp made $28 million) before Cherry—who directed several of them—and Varney decided to strike out on their own, settling into a direct-to-video distribution model.

“It's like Oz, and the Wizard ain't home," Varney told the Sun Sentinel in 1985, anticipating his desire for autonomy. “Hollywood is a place where everything begins but nothing originates. It's this big bunch of egos slamming into each other.”

Varney was sometimes reticent to admit he had ambitions beyond Ernest, believing his love of Shakespeare and desire to perform Hamlet would be perceived as the cliched story of a clown longing to be serious. He appeared in 1994’s The Beverly Hillbillies and as the voice of Slinky Dog in 1995’s Toy Story. But Ernest would continue to be his trademark.

The movies continued through 1998, at which point Varney noticed a nagging cough. It turned out to be lung cancer. As Ernest, Varney had filmed an anti-smoking public service announcement in the 1980s. In his private life, he was a chain smoker. He succumbed to cancer in 2000 at the age of 50, halting a series of planned Ernest projects that included Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse.

Varney may never have gotten an opportunity to perform in a wider variety of roles, but he did receive some acknowledgment for the one he had mastered. In 1989, Varney took home an Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a children’s series, a CBS Saturday morning show titled Hey, Vern: It’s Ernest!

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he told the Orlando Sentinel in 1991, “because it's as hard to escape from it as it is to get into it.''

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Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

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Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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