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Game of Thrones replaced Lady Stoneheart with something better

The show continues to edit the books in helpful ways

Spoiler alert!

This article is intended for folks who've already seen all the episodes of the show, and may include a description of events from both the books to date as well. You have been warned!

I was wrong about Lady Stoneheart on Game of Thrones, and I admit it. You may commence the shaming.

But the show is handling the situation by replacing Lady Stoneheart with something better, and it's a wise choice. Arya is filling in for our zombie Catelyn.


I know, right? It's a great idea.

Arya has been chilling in Braavos getting hit in the face with a stick for way too long, mostly because the show loves to drag stuff out. But her decision to leave the Faceless Men, ignore her grievous stab wounds and begin to work on the list again puts her back in action in a big way. It's also very possible she'll learn that there are living Starks, and they're in Winterfell.

The idea of Arya having a few big moments by killing her enemies and then reuniting with Jon and Sansa is almost too much for my Grinch-like heart to take. Nymeria is also out there somewhere, so you know. That would be nice. The show needs some direwolf hugs after so many of them have been killed.

Lady Stoneheart, the reanimated form of Catelyn Stark, spends her time in the books with the Brotherhood Without Banners hunting Freys. She's also mostly discussed instead of seen, and she doesn't have any big scenes of murdering major characters or even showing any motivation until she runs into Brienne.

The showrunners would have had to move past the books and have the character be a direct force in the death of larger, known characters if her appearance was to make any impact. Since she hasn't shown up yet, and the body is never discussed and would be in a rather advanced state of decay, it's safe to say the dream is dead.

The show needs some direwolf hugs

Also, as noted poopyhead Russ Frushtick has pointed out to me, the show may be trying to limit the number of people who have come back from the dead. People we either know were dead, or had assumed to be, have begun to show up again with surprising regularity, and it kind of kills the narrative shock of someone dying if they can be brought back. Lady Stoneheart would have only added to that problem.

We're also both skeptical that the Blackfish is really and truly dead for all time; the circumstances surrounding his off-screen demise were just a bit too weird, to the extent that even Walder Frey remarked on it. It's very possible the writers are keeping that character in their back pocket.

So removing Lady Stoneheart solves a few problems, and I have to admit that the angel of death role being filled with Arya instead is a pretty great idea.

The list

So here is Arya's list of people she wants to kill, with a few notes:

  • Walder Frey: Got him!
  • Cersei: She's queen now, so this one is going to be tricky, but bringing Arya to King's Landing has all sorts of fun possibilities.
  • The Mountain: He's a zombie now, and is probably the single most powerful character on the show. I'd love to watch this fight go down, although we also have the Hound out there, and I would hate for this to interfere with the possible Cleganebowl.
  • The Hound: Officially off the list, the last we'd heard. But he's kicking it with other people who are on the list, so who knows?
  • Melisandre: She was exiled by Jon, so this could be an interesting way of ending her storyline completely. It also makes her a pretty good target of opportunity.
  • Beric Dondarrion: Since he didn't trade his life for Catelyn's in the show, he's still out there, and he has the Hound with him. Again, this opens the door to all sorts of interesting scenes.
  • Thoros: Still with Beric, so bringing Arya to the Brotherhood for a murder spree would allow her to kill, or at least interact with, many characters on her list.
  • Tywin Lannister: Killed by Tyrion, and then smelled bad. The end.
  • Ilyn Payne: Remember him? He killed Ned. Hasn't been seen for a while, so probably low on the list in general.
  • Meryn Trant: Arya got him! But it certainly got her in trouble with the Faceless Men.
  • Joffrey: She missed out on that one. He was poisoned, and then Stephen King spoiled the reveal a short time later, enraging Twitter. Those were innocent times.

And here's Arya selling shirts about her list:

Maisie Williams told Entertainment Weekly that Arya probably puts Cersei, Melisandre and then the Mountain on the top of the list, in that order. But she also says Ilyn Payne is on par with those three folks, which throws off my thought that we're unlikely to see him again due to his extended absence from the show.

But wait! Here's the interesting detail, and it's a pretty neat story: The actor who played Payne, Wilko Johnson, was told he had terminal cancer back in 2012 ... but then survived due to lifesaving surgery.

"You don't instantly pop back into the old world, I'm still trying to grasp the idea that I'm not terminally ill now," he told Gloucestershire Live in 2015. "When people talk about making plans and things and talk about what we're going to be doing in the summer, I still can't quite grasp that. I've just had to think two weeks ahead and that's as far as reality extends."

His story of survival is pretty great, and a rather uplifting thing to find out while researching this story. And he's up for reprising the role!

"I'd never done any acting before, I just got involved," he said. "Unfortunately my cancer came and interrupted, but I do know that my character hasn't actually been killed off and I may well be in the next series. I enjoyed it so much I really would like to, it was really great fun doing it — it really was a good experience."

I have now become an Ilyn Payne truther. I want to see him come back for a super cool death scene. Russ says Payne's role as silent strong guy has been taken over by The Mountain, so his return would be a bit redundant, but I feel Russ' role as resident poopyhead has been well-established.

I'm still sad that my Lady Stoneheart love will go unrequited, but bringing Arya back to Westeros to kick 10 kinds of ass is a great way to fill the role of avenging killer. Arya has long been a fan favorite who has been wasted in episode after episode, and nearly every name on her list would put her in an interesting place doing interesting things.

The wait for season seven begins.

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