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Helaena Targaryen joins George R. R. Martin’s elite list of adapted TV series characters

Halaena and more characters Martin said were better on-screen than on paper.



phia saban
Credit: Max

There seldom occur such situations where an author openly appreciates the changes made by a show over the book they wrote. George R.R. Martin, being one of the most candid and open authors, recently appreciated how the showrunners of House of the Dragon portrayed Halaena Targaryen on the show. He even went as far as to say that the on-screen character is better than the one he wrote in the pages of Fire and Blood.

Here’s a list of more such characters who Martin found to be better on-screen than on paper.


  4 Minutes Read



Credit: HBO

Back when the HBO juggernaut Game of Thrones was going on, George R.R. Martin expressed that the showrunners did a splendid job of bringing Osha’s character to screen. Osha is a wildling from beyond the wall who goes on to protect Bran and Rickon as they journey North of Winterfell.

In an interview with Sky Atlantic, Martin claimed, “Her Osha [Natalia Tena] is actually a far more interesting character than my Osha.” He specifically appreciated how the actor immersed herself in the role and brought it to life.

Martin added, “The character in the book fulfills a certain function, but never mesmerized or made you just want to, you know, watch this character and learn more about this character and see more scenes with this character the way that Natalia does when she plays that role on screen. When I bring Osha back in the future books, I’m probably gonna have to make her more interesting.”

Osha is brave, smart, and ready to face any challenge. Moreover, the blossoming friendship between her, Hodor, and Bran is heartening to watch.



Credit: HBO

All Game of Thrones fans must have bawled their eyes out watching Tyrion get betrayed as he did. He loved Shae with all his heart and their relationship was straight out of romance novels. However, in the end, Shae chooses to leave Tyrion for a more powerful man. In the books, however, Shae and Tyrion don’t share such a romantic relationship. Moreover, her concern for Sansa shows how brave and empathetic she is. None of that translated well in the books.

Martin shared in his blog, “Show Shae, thanks to David and Dan and Sibel, was actually a much different and more interesting character than Book Shae, I blush to admit.”

Giving Shae such a holistic personality helped the creators of the show to make her character more impactful.

Also Read: Fans think that Helaena is pregnant with Maelor in House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1

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Viserys I

Paddy Considine

Credit: Max

Coming to House of the Dragon now, the prequel show has been making big waves on HBO and in streaming in general. Season 1 of House of the Dragon focuses on how Viserys I is balancing his past and his present. He remarries after his first wife and Rhaenyra’s mother passes away. Now, with Alicent and their kids, Viserys struggles to keep Rhaenyra in the loop and care for all his kids equally.

Martin particularly expressed how actor Paddy Considine made the character more engaging and emotional. Consequently, he thinks Considine deserves an Emmy for his strong performance. He added, “The character he created (with Ryan and Sara and Ti and the rest of our writers) for the show is so much more powerful and tragic and fully-fleshed than my own version in FIRE & BLOOD that I am half tempted to go back and rip up those chapters and rewrite the whole history of his reign. Paddy deserves an Emmy for this episode alone. If he doesn’t get one, hey, there’s no justice.”

Masked Viserys House Of The Dragon Funko Pop! Figure – Warner Bros. Shop
  • Vinyl figure is approximately 3.95 or 3.75-inches tall
  • House of the Dragon edition.

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Martin was so taken by Considine’s performance that he recently emphasized his striking performance and reiterated, “Last season HOUSE OF THE DRAGON essentially recreated King Viserys, giving him a much different backstory and far more depth than the jolly party-loving king I created for FIRE & BLOOD. I talked about that last year, so I won’t repeat myself, save to say it was very well done, and DAMN but Paddy Considine was glorious in the role. (He should have won an Emmy).”



Credits: Max

Most recently, after the royal funeral scene in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 2, Martin claimed how the show managed to add a breath of fresh air to Halaena’s character. Martin envisioned her as a reserved, plump lady. However, Phia Saban’s portrayal topped all his expectations and gave an award-winning performance.

He said, “Phia Saban gave a wrenching, powerful, heart-breaking performance as Helaena Targaryen, Aegon’s doomed, haunted queen, and mother to his children. Saban’s performance is especially noteworthy; very little of what she brings to the part was in my source material.”

Martin has been all praises for the cast and crew of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. Barring the dissatisfactory ending of the former, he has consistently complimented the show and the actors who brought the characters to life.

Also Read: George R. R. Martin says Phia Saban’s Halaena is a more fascinating character than what he created

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Vidhi has been an entertainment writer for the past 4 years. She has a knack for identifying subtleties and intricacies of movies and television shows that can add a new dimension to her content. Having watched Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon countless times, she knows most details by heart and thrives in trivia contests related to the same!


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