The Big Picture
- Game of Thrones deviated from George R.R. Martin’s novels and made unfortunate choices by cutting important characters and plot lines.
- The show’s decision to remove Aegon aka Young Griff as a claimant to the Iron Throne, had significant repercussions on other characters’ storylines and the overall plot.
- Aegon’s presence could have prevented the unsatisfying conclusion of the show and provided a missing piece that better explains Daenerys’ descent into madness.
Game of Thrones had a daunting task adapting George R. R. Martin‘s lengthy Song of Ice and Fire novels. The show started well, sticking closely to the books. But eventually, it deviated. This isn’t helped by the fact that Martin’s series is incomplete, but the show began taking its own path before it had to, sometimes cutting entire characters from the novel. While the impact of these changes will not be fully understood until the final book is released, there are already some notable ways Game of Thrones‘ changes affected the series. Some of the show’s changes improve the story, but others were unfortunate choices. Attempting to simplify the plot, Game of Thrones removed convoluted plot lines, like Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) becoming Lady Stoneheart. But even more strangely, they cut a claimant to the Iron Throne.
In a series largely about the fight for the throne, every player matters, but Game of Thrones didn’t include one character who sets his sights on the throne in the later novels. Aegon VI, or Young Griff as he is first introduced, is Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) believed-dead nephew, but he has his own ambitions. Aegon is set up to grow in importance in The Winds of Winter, but the show ignores him completely. As his story starts in the novels, even readers don’t know how this plot will end, but it will have a profound impact on the plot. Removing Aegon changed other characters’ trajectory, such as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), who inherits the greyscale plot of Aegon’s protector, Jon Connington. This change also contributes to the massacre of Doran Martell’s (Alexander Siddig) character. If they kept this storyline, the later parts of Game of Thrones would look very different, and the much-disliked conclusion may have been better.
‘Game of Thrones’ Never Introduced Aegon Despite his Significance
Though never appearing in the series, Aegon is mentioned. Even in the novels, his gory death is legendary. A baby during Robert’s Rebellion, Aegon was the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell. When Lannister soldiers sacked Kings Landing, Aegon was one of the many casualties. Allegedly, Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) brutally murdered Aegon, his sister, and his mother. That’s the end of Aegon’s story in the show, but A Dance with Dragons reveals more. Here, Aegon was not the baby killed in Kings Landing, but he had been swapped with another infant with the Targaryen look. Luckily Clegane was so thorough that it would be impossible to identify the baby later. While King Landing fell, Aegon escaped to Essos, where he was joined by his father’s loyal friend Jon Connington. Posing as father and son, the two hid Aegon’s identity, but with Aegon older and Westeros destabilized, they decided it was time to take back the kingdom.
Originally, Jon Connington planned to unite with Aegon’s aunt, Daenerys, who was gathering power in Maureen at the time. But they encounter Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who learns enough of their story to guess at the rest, and bitter at his sister, he advises the young prince on how to take Westeros. With Tyrion’s encouragement, Aegon declares he would prefer to take Westeros in his own name, as his claim to the throne comes before Daenerys’. So Aegon, Jon Connington, and their army move to take the Stormlands. With a victory in Griffin’s Roost, they plan to attack Storm’s End, presenting a threat to the already broken kingdom of Westeros. The news of Aegon’s attack reaches Kings Landing at the end of A Dance with Dragons causing Varys (Conleth Hill) to kill Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder) to further weaken the capital.
Cutting Aegon Change Certain Characters’ Stories in ‘Game of Thrones’
The show cut Aegon in favor of Daenerys remaining the primary Targaryen, but that impacted many other characters. For one thing, with Aegon went Jon Connington, whose plot included saving Tyrion from the stonemen and contracting greyscale. This plot was given to Jorah Mormont instead, which certainly changed his storyline. Yet Sam Tarly (John Bradley) saves him from greyscale. Yet Jorah in the book will progress differently because of his lack of greyscale. Another character who likely took some of Aegon’s story is Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Revealed to be Rhaegar’s trueborn son instead of Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) bastard, Jon was seemingly named Aegon and had a better claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. While the books have not confirmed Jon’s parentage, at the very least, he is unlikely to have the same name as his potential brother. It’s also possible that Jon’s story is entirely different.
But the biggest change that removing Aegon caused was making Dorne irrelevant. The kingdom of Dorne has been bitter about Elia Martell’s death since Robert’s Rebellion. Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) sets his sights on killing Gregor in revenge and loses his life in the process. But Doran, the leader of Dorne, had a different plan. Like Varys, he has played the long game, knowing that Daenerys and Aegon escaped, Doran secretly aligned with them. The leaked chapters from Winds of Winter show he is quick to get involved with Aegon after his arrival in Westeros, giving Dorne much more relevance than they ever got in the Game of Thrones. In the show, after Oberyn dies, Dorne’s story forged a new and unfortunate path. Oberyn’s daughters and paramour, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), were offended by Doran’s inaction and overthrew him, eventually aligning themselves with Daenerys. But with Doran’s plan taking shape and him very much alive, Dorne’s story will certainly look very different.
Aegon’s Presence Could Prevent ‘Game of Thrones’ Ending
Introduced late in the series, Aegon is unlikely to be the ultimate victor, but he certainly will play an important role. Some fans remain convinced that Aegon is an imposter, whether he knows that himself or not. But the truth is, another Targaryen taking Westeros first could accelerate Daenerys’ descent into madness and perhaps better explain it than the show did. Just having one more enemy or ally in play could change the entire story. While Martin’s ending is unknown, fans were unsatisfied with the show’s conclusion, and this plotline could be a missing piece that explains why the show’s ending felt off. While Game of Thrones attempted to limit characters to avoid confusion, they never should have removed someone who has their own army. The true king or not, Aegon is an important part of the conflict, and cutting him was a mistake.