Turns out, there actually is a limit to the amount of violence HBO will allow Game of Thrones to put on television.
If you’re not caught up on all the episodes (but let’s be honest, you should be), then be warned that this post contains spoilers.
In season four, one of the most brutal scenes in the history of the show happened when Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell finally got his chance at revenge against Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. While representing Tyrion Lannister in a trial by combat, Martell came within inches of winning the battle of speed vs. power.
However, in a prideful moment, Martell insisted that The Mountain confess to murdering his sister and her children before he finished him off. That’s when Clegane seized a last ditch opportunity, tripping The Viper before crushing his skull with his bare hands, while sadistically confessing to his crimes in the process. In was violent and gory and heartbreaking, as Martell had quickly become a fan favorite on the show.
But his death scene was originally way worse.
Actor Ben Crompton, who plays Steward Eddison “Dolorous Edd” Tollett of the Night’s Watch, said that he actually saw another version of the scene, one that was eventually cut from the final airing.
“I went in one session and they were flicking through stuff and they showed the Red Viper Mountain fight,” said Crompton. “And they showed an edit where he puts the fingers in and he just pulls his face apart. But instead of cutting like it does in the show he just pulls his face apart and I just said, ‘Oh my god they are never going to be able to show that on telly!’ And they didn’t, but the effects were brilliant.”