Catelyn Stark (played by Michelle Fairley) was killed in one of the bloodiest episodes in Game of Thrones history in the iconic Red Wedding sequence. Slaughtered alongside her son Robb (Richard Madden) as well as many of her men, the murder was major turning point and shaped a number of character arcs. George RR Martin has revealed that this could have all ended very differently for her in the books.
How was Catelyn Stark really supposed to die?
The fierce mother to the Stark children, Catelyn was one of the most popular characters in the first few seasons of the show.
After the beheading of her husband Ned (Sean Bean), she became an influential figure in defending the North and waging war on the Lannisters.
However, there was no happy ending for her character after she was brutally murdered in the Red Wedding episode.
Attending the nuptials of her brother Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) to Roslin Frey (Alexandra Dowling) at the Twins, she was slaughtered by the Freys.
In a particularly grisly moment, she watched as her son was murdered before Black Walder (Tim Plester) cut her throat.
But it could have been a very different end for Catelyn if George RR Martin had stuck to his original plans.
In a leaked pitch letter that the author originally sent to publishers, there were a number of changes to the eventual story.
The document reveals that Catelyn was never meant to meet her grisly end at the Red Wedding.
In fact, Martin planned for her to die in another way after heading North beyond the wall with her children to the world of the wildings.
In his original synopsis the author revealed that Catelyn could actually have died at the hands of the ‘inhuman others.’
Fans of the series and the novels know that the “Others”’ are what Martin calls the White Walkers.
He wrote in the synopsis: “Catelyn and her children will find their only hope of safety lies even further north, beyond the Wall, where they fall into the hands of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall.
“And get a dreadful glimpse of the inhuman others as they attack the wildling encampment.
“Bran’s magic, Arya’s sword Needle, and the savagery of their direwolves will help them survive, but their mother Catelyn will die at the hands of the others.”
This could have meant that Catelyn was killed by the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) and his terrifying army in the first book.
Such a huge difference would have had a major impact of the trajectory of a number of the characters.
However, fans will know eventually that in fact it was only on Snow (Kit Harington) who ventured beyond the wall into the wilding encampment.
The letter was reportedly leaked in 2015 after someone took a photo of it in photo of it in HarperCollins’ London office.
In the original plans sent to his agent in October 1993, the trajectory of his trilogy has some shocking changes.
Another idea was to have Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) fall in love with her half-brother Jon while Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) had unrequited feelings for her.
And, of course in the books, Catelyn did make something of a comeback as Lady Stoneheart.
Although this was never added into the series, she returned as a ruthless undead character keen on revenge.
So while the series has now come to an end, it is fascinating to think about how different it could have been.
Game of Thrones season 8 is now available to buy on Amazon Prime.
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