'Game of Thrones' Showrunners Break Silence on Controversial Ending

Game of Thrones writers and showruners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have spoken publicly about the [...]

Game of Thrones writers and showruners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have spoken publicly about the controversial ending of the series for the first time. They spoke to author and Entertainment Weekly reporter James Hibberd about the making of their show for his new book, Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon. Hibberd released an excerpt on Wednesday about one of the most controversial omissions from the books: Lady Stoneheart.

For those that have not read George R.R. Martin's novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire, there are small changes that the show made early in the series which had ripple effects later in the series. One of the most noted changes is the absence of Lady Stoneheart, who — spoiler warning — is the revived form of Catelyn Stark in the books. After the Red Wedding, Lady Stoneheart takes leadership of the Brotherhood Without Banners to seek revenge on House Frey. Benioff and Weiss told Hibberd that, since Stoneheart has only appeared in two scenes in the book so far, they did not feel the need to include her on screen.

"There was never really much debate about [including Lady Stoneheart]," Benioff said. "There is that one great scene."

"That was the only debate," Weiss cut in. "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..."

Benioff and Weiss gave three reasons for leaving Lady Stoneheart out in seasons 3 and 4 of their series. One was that they felt the Red Wedding was one of the show's most powerful moments, and that resurrecting one of the slain characters would only blunt its impact. "Catelyn's last moment was so fantastic," Benioff said, "and Michelle is such a great actress, to bring her back as a zombie who doesn't speak felt like diminishing returns."

Another reason is that, while writing Season 3, Benioff and Weiss already knew from the books that Jon Snow's resurrection would be the cliffhanger of Season 5 into Season 6. "Too many resurrections start to diminish the impact of characters' dying," Benioff said. "We wanted to keep our powder dry for that."

Finally — and perhaps most importantly for fans of the books — Benioff and Weiss hinted that Martin had told them what he was planning for Stoneheart in the books, and they did not want to do it on screen. They said that providing any further details would only spoil the two upcoming novels.

"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 said. This answer will undoubtedly lead to a lot of speculation among fans, but it also hints at a general aspect of Benioff and Weiss' thinking for the adaptation — that even in Season 3, they did not think they needed to follow Martin's story too closely, even knowing that Stoneheart had a big role to play coming up. For fans that are hoping the ending of the books will be vastly different from the ending of the show, this is good news.

Martin has said that Stoneheart is one of the omissions he most regrets in the show, and he reiterated that for Hibberd. He said: "Lady Stoneheart has a role in the books. 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."

There are more in-depth interviews with Benioff and Weiss, as well as others in the cast and crew, in Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon. The book will be available everywhere books are sold on Tuesday, Oct. 6, and is available for pre-order now in print, digital and audio formats.