You’ve seen the commercials on your television, read the posts on social media, and heard the delighted shrieks of fan boys and girls everywhere: Game of Thrones returns to HBO this Sunday for the start of its fourth season. It is hard for me to stay calm long enough to sit still and write this.
Of course, as the many devoted readers of George R.R. Martin’s popular series are sure to remind you, they were books first, and A Game of Thrones is only the title of the first entry. The series itself is called A Song of Ice and Fire, and at the rate the books are being written, the TV show is on pace to be caught up sooner rather than later. If you’re familiar with either version of this universe (and by all accounts there are very few differences) you are well aware by now that Martin likes to pen the demise of main (and beloved) characters. I have often thought about how different some works of fiction would be if Martin had written them. Here’s a few literary characters that he would almost certainly have killed off if he had the chance.
Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas)
Edmond is falsely imprisoned and betrayed in Alexandre Dumas’ epic tale of revenge. After six years of misery, he manages to escape and come across a life altering treasure that he uses to punish the men that wronged him. His journey is arduous and yet cathartic to the reader. Imagine though, that after all of his hard work, when he was finally on the verge of making everything right…he was betrayed yet again and stabbed in the back by his ally Luigi before being imprisoned (again) and dying alone in a cell. The reader, meanwhile, is left sitting in the fetal position, rocking back and forth.
Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
As J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy draws to a close, it becomes more and more apparent that Frodo Baggins will never be the same. Carrying the One Ring has contaminated his very soul. I don’t think that Martin would have been content to let him sail away to Valinor.
Here’s an image for you: Frodo and Gollum tumbling into the fires of Mount Doom together, frantically fighting over the ring they have loved and loathed for so long.
A bunch of actual mockingbirds (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
Thought this book had enough bummer moments? Think again.
Alex Cross (Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, etc., by James Patterson)
Alex is a detective, and the main protagonist in several of James Patterson’s crime novels. If you need Alex, he’ll usually be mixing it up with his very own psychotic rogues’ gallery and succeeding against all odds. And if there is one thing that Martin hates, it’s predictable happy endings. As the fictional land of Westeros has taught us, when you surround yourself with this many crazy murderers, your life expectancy isn’t going to be very long. If Martin had his way, he would have most likely made the title Kill Alex Cross a literal one by having the detective die twenty pages in, leaving his audience baffled and confused about what is going to happen during the rest of the novel. But don’t worry; there are twenty new detectives to meet! And all of their families.
Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
He is young, good looking, not physically intimidating, sarcastic, and very rich.
Whether it’s a wannabe suitor for Elizabeth, or just a random person he makes fun of at a party, someone would not be happy with Mr. Darcy in a George R. R. Martin universe.
Are there any popular protagonists in literature that you wish had been killed off?