21 Dead Game of Thrones TV Characters Who Are Still Alive in the Books
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. With season six chugging along, the list of alive and kicking book characters whose on-screen counterparts have gone to the great godswood in the sky just keeps growing. After all, valar morghulis: All men must die.
WARNING: Spoilers for all aired episodes and all published books.
1. Jeyne Westerling/Talisa of Volantis
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
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
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. Myrcella Baratheon
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.
15. and 16. 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.
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 book, 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
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.
An earlier version of this story ran in 2015.