Helen Sloan, HBO
Fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire were bound to have several bones to pick with Game of Thrones series creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss when the pair embarked on the quest to bring Martin's fantasy world of Westeros to life. Martin crafted an intricate web of characters, arcs, relationships, and situations with such detail that they feel tangible, and, according to Benioff and Weiss, there was just no way all of it could make it into the series.
Lady Stoneheart definitely could have made her way onto the Game of Thrones series, and she should have, in many fans' opinions.
Finally, more than a year after the series finale, Game of Thrones showrunners opened up about why Lady Stoneheart was left out of the series.
For those who are unfamiliar with A Song of Ice and Fire, Lady Stoneheart is the reanimated corpse of Catelyn Stark, who is dead set (no pun intended) on seeking revenge after she, her son Robb, and a hoard of Stark allies were murdered at the Red Wedding. Readers were introduced to Lady Stoneheart during the shock ending of A Storm of Swords. We then learn she's the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners in A Feast for Crows, in which Lady Stoneheart kidnaps Brienne of Tarth and orders her to kill Jamie Lannister. (Now that could have been a compelling plotline to see played out in the final season, no?)
Of course, with another Ice and Fire book down the pipeline, we can only assume Lady Stoneheart will have an important arc to fulfill before Martin concludes his series.
In a new book called Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibberd, which chronicles the making of the HBO series based on Martin's books, Benioff and Weiss finally share why they decided to pull Catelyn Stark's alter ego from the storyline.
"There was never really much debate about [including Lady Stoneheart]," Benioff says in Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, per Entertainment Weekly. "There is that one great scene."
“That was the only debate,” Weiss adds. “The scene where she first shows up is one of the best ‘holy shit’ moments in the books."
As Hibberd writes, there are three reasons Lady Stoneheart was nixed. "Part of the reason we didn’t want to put it in had to do with things coming up in George’s books that we don’t want to spoil [by discussing them],” Benioff says.
Another reason was that Benioff and Weiss were already planning a major death and resurrection of another main character. "We knew we had Jon Snow’s resurrection coming up," Benioff continues. "Too many resurrections start to diminish the impact of characters dying. We wanted to keep our powder dry for that."
Finally, the show creators wanted the Red Wedding to be absolutely gut-wrenching (uh, it was) with no silver lining, and Catelyn Stark coming back from the dead would definitely be a positive. “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 says in the book.
Though the arguments are strong, Martin doesn't believe they're strong enough, “Lady Stoneheart has a role in the books," Martin tells Hibberd. "Whether it’s sufficient or interesting enough. I think it is or I wouldn’t have put her in. One of the things I wanted to show with her is that the death she suffered changes you.”
Hibberd notes that Martin once said in an interview with Esquire China, “In the sixth book [The Winds of Winter], I still continue to write her. She is an important character in the set of books. [Keeping her character] is the change I most wish I could make in the [show].”
Luckily, Lady Stoneheart will most definitely return in The Winds of Winter, and readers will hopefully see her get her revenge.