George R.R. Martin has two strong consistencies in his professional life. One is writing infuriatingly mouthwatering food descriptions. The other is repeatedly reminding the world that he’s still not over Game of Thrones cutting one of his favourite characters from the novels: Lady Stoneheart.
Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark in slightly happier, slightly less dead, times on Game of Thrones.
Stoneheart—the resurrected, undead form of Catelyn Stark who, in Martin’s books, becomes the vengeful leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, turning them into a bloodthirsty force enacting executions across the Riverlands for criminals she perceives as having aided the Lannisters enact the infamous Red Wedding—should have shown up by around Game of Thrones’ fourth season in 2014. But she didn’t, and despite constant fan speculation about her arrival, she has yet to show up even as the HBO series barrels along to its conclusion.
Back when her storyline would’ve made the most sense to appear, the team behind the show made it pretty clear that they didn’t ever consider bringing Catelyn back as Lady Stoneheart, but that has not stopped fans from asking about her. And it’s certainly hasn’t stopped her most prominent fan, Martin himself, from spending the last few years telling the press that he’s sad the show left her behind. Here he is telling Entertainment Weekly in 2015:
Lady Stoneheart does have 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.
Speaking to fans at a dinner at Balticon in 2016, Martin restated that the character was cut, something that wouldn’t have happened if he were still heavily involved in the series:
[An Italian fan] then asked George if Lady Stoneheart was going to appear on the show. George said no, that she’d been cut. He said if he were involved in the show things would be different, but he’s busy trying to finish books.
Fast forward to 2017, here’s Martin talking to TIME about how he argued against the show cutting her:
At some points, when [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] and I had discussions about what way we should go in, I would always favour sticking with the books, while they would favour making changes. I think one of the biggest ones would probably be when they made the decision not to bring Catelyn Stark back as Lady Stoneheart. That was probably the first major diversion of the show from the books and, you know, I argued against that, and David and Dan made that decision.
In the book, characters can be resurrected. After Catelyn is resurrected as Lady Stoneheart, she becomes a vengeful, heartless killer. In the sixth book, I still continue to write her. She is an important character in the set of books. [Keeping her character] is the change I most wish I could make in the [show].
This has been your now-annual reminder that yes, George R.R. Martin really likes Lady Stoneheart, and wishes she was on Game of Thrones. See you next year?