Ser Jorah almost had a different fate in ‘Game of Thrones,’ and it ties into a detail from the books

  • In "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon," a new book from Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd, "Game of Thrones" writer and coproducer Dave Hill says Jorah Mormont was originally going to survive the series.
  • "For a long time we wanted Ser Jorah there at the Wall in the very end," Dave said in an interview for the book. "The three coming out of the tunnel [in the series finale] were to be Jon, Jorah, and Tormund."
  • This was likely inspired by a line in George R.R. Martin's books that got cut from the show's version of events.
  • In the books, Lord Commander Mormont told Sam Tarly that his dying wish was for his son, Jorah, to join the Night's Watch. 
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In a new book, "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon," which chronicles the creation of HBO's "Game of Thrones," author James Hibberd reveals a small detail about how Ser Jorah Mormont, Daenerys Targaryen's loyal advisor, was originally going to survive the whole series.

"For a long time we wanted Ser Jorah there at the Wall in the very end," coproducers and writer Dave Hill told Hibberd, an Entertainment Weekly reporter, in an interview for the book. "The three coming out of the tunnel [in the series finale] were to be Jon, Jorah, and Tormund."

This is an interesting insight that likely has a connection to Jorah's father, Lord Commander Mormont, and his dying wish that was cut from the show.

Jorah never joined the Night's Watch in 'Game of Thrones,' but instead died at the Battle of Winterfell

Jorah had an emotional death near the end of the episode.
HBO

Hill says they changed Jorah's ending because the writing team couldn't work out the logic of getting him to the Wall. It would have meant him breaking away from Daenerys to whom he had undying loyalty.

"There's no way to do that blithely and Jorah should have the noble death he craved defending the woman he loves," Hill said.

"He would absolutely sacrifice his life for her to succeed," Iain Glen, who played Jorah, said in the book. "In a way, he was given the conclusion he wanted."

So instead of winding up among the men of the Night's Watch, Jorah died while fighting valiantly to protect his queen during the fight against the White Walkers. Then, in the series finale, it was just Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane leading the wildlings out beyond the Wall and into the North once more.

The original plan for Jorah's fate was likely inspired by a line in George R.R. Martin's books that got cut from the show's version of events

Kit Harington and Kristofer Hivju as Jon Snow and Tormund in "Game of Thrones."
HBO

Jorah, as most fans should remember, is the son of Jeor Mormont — the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, who served before Jon Snow. In both the books and the show, Lord Commander Mormont is killed during a mutiny at Craster's Keep. In the show, Sam Tarly is there when the mutiny begins and he flees immediately. But in the books, Sam survives through all the fighting and chaos and winds up sitting with the Lord Commander as he dies. 

"Tell my son. Jorah. Tell him, take the black. My wish. Dying wish," Lord Commander Mormont tells Sam just before he dies in Martin's book series. This line never appears in the show.

Many years before, Jorah had exiled himself from Westeros when he was discovered selling poachers into slavery as a way to make more money and support his then-wife's desired lifestyle. Westerosi laws demanded that Jorah be executed for his crimes. Instead of facing his punishment though, Jorah fled to Essos and eventually met Daenerys there.

Lord Commander Mormont always wished for Jorah to return to Westeros and face the consequences of his actions. Though Ned Stark (the liege lord of House Mormont) had condemned him to death, the Lord Commander believed his sons crimes could be absolved if he joined the Night's Watch. Once he "took the black," meaning pledged his life to the service of the Night's Watch, Jorah would have lived beside his father in service of the realm.

Iain Glen as Ser Jorah Mormont on "Game of Thrones."
Helen Sloan/HBO

Following Lord Commander Mormont's death in the books, fans would often discuss this dying wish as a possibility for Jorah's ultimate fate in the series. 

"Will Jorah take the black?" was a relatively common discussion prompt on fan forums like Westeros.org and the "A Song of Ice and Fire" subreddit. Clearly it was a question the "Game of Thrones" writers took into account for some period of time while planning out Jorah's story arc in the show.

But like the show's writing team, most fans concluded that the circumstances required to get Jorah to the Wall and in service of the Night's Watch were unlikely. His character was wholly dedicated to Daenerys and her cause — what would cause their separation? 

With Martin's books unfinished, we have yet to discover how Jorah's fate will shake out in that version of events. For now, in the books, Ser Jorah is still very far away from the Night's Watch as he continues trying to serve Daenerys in Essos.

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