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Game of Thrones showrunners finally explain the Lady Stoneheart omission

They even tease her role in George R.R. Martin’s future books

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Catelyn Stark at the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones Image: HBO
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

There are plenty of changes between HBO’s Game of Thrones series and George R.R. Martin’s original A Song of Ice and Fire books — at least the ones that have been released so far. But even with all the changes, Lady Stoneheart garnered so much fan attention and was talked up so relentlessly by book-readers that even the most casual Game of Thrones watcher had questions about whether or not she would appear.

Since the revenant never actually made an appearance in the series, fans have always had a few outstanding questions about why she was cut. Thankfully, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have finally provided some answers.

[Ed Note: This post contains spoilers for the entire Game of Thrones series.]

The showrunners’ Lady Stoneheart info comes from the upcoming book “Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon,” James Hibbard’s behind-the-scenes look at the making of HBO’s Game of Thrones series, which had an excerpt published in Entertainment Weekly.

As a bit of brief background for those who aren’t in the loop, Lady Stoneheart is the resurrected form of Catelyn Stark. Following the events of the Red Wedding, where Catelyn was murdered, Beric Dondarrion gives his life to resurrect Catelyn. But she’s different when she returns to life.

Her wounds from the wedding don’t heal, and prevent her from speaking. More importantly she now has an all-consuming desire for vengeance over her and her family’s betrayal. She takes control of the Brotherhood Without Banners, and roams Westeros seeking her revenge against the Lannisters and the Freys.

According to Benioff and Weiss the the first reason they skipped out on Lady Stoneheart was thanks to a plot detail from one of Martin’s upcoming books. Unfortunately, the pair only offered this tease, but avoided actually discussing the events in question to avoid spoilers for Martin’s books. Of course, we can always make our own inferences, and based on where Lady Stoneheart is in the books it’s certainly possible that this has something to do with Brienne.

The second reason was a little more straightforward and practical. Benioff and Weiss knew that Jon Snow’s resurrection was on the horizon, so they opted to minimize the number of characters who came back from the dead. They figured if too many characters came back it would dampen the shock when Jon came back in season 6 after dying in season 5.

The final reasons the showrunning duo had for not including Lady Stoneheart was simply that Catelyn Stark’s death was just too good the first time around. For Game of Thrones as a series, the Red Wedding might be its most iconic and important moments and Benioff and Weiss felt it could lessen the wedding’s emotional impact if one of the characters returned, no matter how badly scarred. Another related issue for the pair was that they felt the Lady Stoneheart role would have been a waste of Michelle Fairley.

“Catelyn’s last moment was so fantastic and Michelle is such a great actress, to bring her back as a zombie who doesn’t speak felt like diminishing returns,” Benioff said.

While none of these answers are too surprising, it’s nice to finally have some explanation of why the fan-favorite character never made it to the screen. On top of that, it’s difficult not to feel like characters like Lady Stoneheart, or Young Griff could have been integral parts of the show’s last few seasons had they been included.

In fact, Martin himself has said that Lady Stoneheart “is an important part of” the series’ sixth book, “The Winds of Winter.” At least with Benioff and Weiss’ tantalizing hint that part of the reason she wasn’t included being a plot point in Martin’s unreleased books, fans can rest assured that Lady Stoneheart is once again returning to the series.

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