One of the biggest letdowns for fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series was the omission of Lady Stoneheart in HBO's Game of Thrones. David Benioff and Dan Weiss, creators of the television series whose name is adopted from book one of Martin's novels, made the executive decision to take the character out for multiple reasons. James Hibberd chronicled the behind-the-scenes stories of the HBO series in his upcoming book "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon" provided the background behind the decision in Entertainment Weekly.
The origins of Lady Stoneheart is she is the resurrected form of Catelyn Stark, played by Michelle Fairley in Game of Thrones. In the book, she was resurrected by the Brotherhood without Banners and starts her revenge by killing those who wronged her and her family. She was married into the Starks as a Tully. In both versions, their throats were slit in the Red Wedding, which saw her, her son Robb, and her accessible kin slaughtered due to a deal between the Lannister's and Frey's who hosted the Starks. While Lady Stoneheart emerged without the ability to speak leading the Brotherhood, Catelyn stayed dead on the show.
So Why Wasn't Lady Stoneheart in "Game of Thrones"?
There was never really much debate about [including Lady Stoneheart]," Benioff says in "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon". "There is that one great scene." "That was the only debate," Weiss added. "The scene where she first shows up is one of the best 'holy s—' moments in the books. I think that scene is where the public response came from. But then…" The first reason Benioff and Weiss left Stoneheart out was Martin's vague nature of the character. "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. In the books, Stoneheart orders Brienne of Tarth (played by Gwendoline Christie in the series) to kill Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). By then, Brienne and Jamie already established a mutual respect for one another saving each other under dire circumstances.
The second reason was they didn't want to set precedence using death as a toothless plot device. "We knew we had Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) resurrection coming up," Benioff said. "Too many resurrections start to diminish the impact of characters dying. We wanted to keep our powder dry for that." The third was Benioff and Weiss felt like bringing Catelyn back would cheapen the emotional impact of the Red Wedding. "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. Not surprisingly, Martin disagreed with the creators.
"Lady Stoneheart has a role in the books," the author said. "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." The author still has plans for Stoneheart in future novels. While Game of Thrones was supposed to reflect on the Fire and Ice series, the series concluded with season 8 in 2019. Martin still hasn't finished "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring".