A Study in Adaptation and Empowerment
  • Book!Sansa:Often spouts off random historical and literary trivia, referencing various Westeros myths, historical events, and figures such as Queen Naerys, Aemon the Dragonknight, the twin knights Ser Arryk and Ser Erryk, Baelor the Blessed and his trials walking through the snake pit, the lineage of House Tyrell and how it traces back to Garth Greenhand, the Arryn family tree, Florian and Jonquil, and Jenny of the Oldstones and Prince Duncan. Has an encyclopedic knowledge of every house and sigil in Westeros. Can also read and write better than her much older brothers, play two instruments, and eventually gets to the point where she can sniff out little plots of Littlefinger's.
  • Show!Sansa:Thinks "shift" is the rude word for dung. Doesn't appear to have any actual interests or skills beyond sewing (sometimes), eating lemoncakes, and fawning over boys.
  • Book!Sansa:Is such a suave motherfucker that even Tyrion Lannister is like, "Daaaaamn" while observing her at the purple wedding.
  • Show!Sansa:Says jack shit. I'm sorry, "jack shift" and Tyrion's all just like, "Aw, look at the sad little woobie dumbass."
  • Book!Sansa:Can identify Barristan Selmy and Renly Baratheon on sight, even when she's never met them before.
  • Show!Sansa:Doesn't even recognize the man whose life she saved, and doesn't pick up on the fact that Tyrion and Shae know each other despite their obvious signals.
  • Book!Sansa:Carefully inspects a secret message she gets for signs of a trap, carries a knife with her to a clandestine meeting and threatens the person there just in case it is. Spends months plotting a potential escape, even trying a different route independent of her former plans when her co-conspirator is evasive and slow to act. Also refuses to speak to any of her maids, who she knows to be spies immediately. By Joffrey's wedding, though she doesn't know about the poison, she does know she's meant to escape and already has things packed. She immediately realizes who was behind the poison and how it was transmitted through her hairnet, which she knew would play a part in her escape without being aware of the poison plot. Does not trust her "rescuer" at all, refusing the food he offers her and confronting him on his lies, constantly trying to work out what he's up to.
  • Show!Sansa:Just sort of sits around and cries a lot without any sort of active involvement in insuring her escape. Trusts Littlefinger even though there's no reason to because he says he's her friend. Just sort of randomly gets accosted by Dontos months later in a garden and accepts his random and suspicious gift without any hesitation or questions asked. Later happily walks into the home of the family that killed hers for "revenge" without any knowledge of what the actual plan is, what the situation is, or means to protect herself or take action in case things go wrong. Is eager to bond with Tyrion at first because he promised he would never hurt her (a promise Joffrey made her before almost verbatim), even kneeling to him at once with little prompting. Also blindly trusts this random maid for no reason. And is totally okay with believing Ramsay has "already fallen for her" with no question as to how she's supposed to handle things if he hasn't. Also trusts the broken down Theon (whom she has already verbally abused) with an errand integral to her escape from Winterfell. And just blindly offers up her secret identity (while being wanted for regicide) to a bunch of strangers after having been betrayed repeatedly.
  • Book!Sansa:Sees Lancel Lannister, a young man who taunted her and took active part in her abuse, bleeding on the floor from a terrible wound, and makes sure he sees a maester, just in time to save his life.
  • Show!Sansa:Looks at the physically and psychologically tortured and mutilated Theon Greyjoy, who can barely walk or speak properly anymore, and tells him that she doesn't care what Ramsay does to him and later tells him that she'd do everything Ramsay did to him if she could.
  • Book!Sansa:Fights off Lysa Arryn when she tries to kill her by grabbing her by the hair and pulling herself from her mad aunt's grip.
  • Show!Sansa:Just cries and fidgets helplessly as she is abused even more and is utterly helpless until Petyr comes to save her.
  • Book!Sansa:Risks herself to save Dontos, talks Joffrey out of running down a beggar woman and instead convinces him to throw her a coin because she knows it would be better if he appeared gentler. Listens to Cersei preach about how fear is the only way to rule and, even after all the terror she's experienced and all the awful people she's seen rise to power through violence and fear, reflects internally that love is definitely, surely the better path to loyalty and devotion and vows that if/when she is queen, she will make the people love her.
  • Show!Sansa:Is so oblivious that she doesn't understand what poverty is and has to have it explained to her. Upon learning that Theon didn't kill her brothers and instead killed two farm boys, doesn't seem to give a shit that two other innocent children were still fucking murdered.
  • Book!Sansa:Is often threatened and taunted by Sandor Clegane The Hound and always responds with kindness, courtesy, and sympathy. When he responds to a compliment upon their first private interaction by taunting her, telling her a violent story, and belittling her, she is sweet and kind. She stays this way even after he threatens her life. Then she includes him in her prayers. When he breaks into her room, forces her onto a bed, holds a knife to her throat, and demands a "song", she responds with a kind and soothing hymn that calms him, reminds him that there is goodness in the world, and gets him to back off. Eventually this helps inspire him to change his life entirely and pursue a path of peace and public service.
  • Show!Sansa:Just acts generally freaked out by the Hound, even though his threats are FAR less explicit and only ever accompanied by well-meaning advice. Is not sexually assaulted by him the night of the Blackwater, just sort of talks to him and rejects his offer to help her escape. There is no sign that she thinks of him again.
  • Book!Sansa:Is offered a marriage to Willas Tyrell, heir to Highgarden. While she is attracted to Loras and has a sort of schoolgirl crush, she notes that he doesn't care for her too much. Upon being told Loras is off the table, accepts this without a second thought and turns her thoughts to the scholarly, disabled, older Willas, whom she has never met. She eagerly awaits and fantasizes about him because it is her path out of King's Landing and her new friend Margaery assures her that he is kind and intelligent. Knows him to be disabled, and actively thinks about how she won't care if he's fat or unattractive like his father. She still sees him as her rescuer, a man she is eager to marry despite his disability, and decides she'll make him love her and give him sons. Upon having the marriage to Tyrion sprung on her (after she's in the damn dress, when she is dragged to the sept and told she's going to get married and raped whether she likes it or not), she looks at his disfigurements and acknowledges that he is not so bad as the rest, and notes that he was kind to her once, even while actively insisting she just doesn't want to marry a Lannister (any Lannister, regardless of appearance). Still manages to hold back her tears for fucking HOURS and hold her resolve through numerous threats, sexual assaults, and humiliations that happen throughout the day. Refuses to kneel at first because she's just so fucking sick of being expected to just take the cavalcade of abuse, but eventually does kneel and kiss her husband because she feels bad about people laughing at him. Feels active pity for him (even after he molests her, even after she finds out her mother and brother were killed by one of his family's plots, even though she doesn't trust him), despite her constant fear of him raping her and her ongoing trauma, all while withholding her secrets and still pursuing escape.
  • Show!Sansa:Is totally into marrying Loras, constantly waxing on about how hot he is even after she's alerted to the Tyrion marriage weeks ahead of time. Seems far more interested in his pretty hair and nice ass than his personality or getting the fuck out of King's Landing (something that only occurs to her when Margaery brings it up weeks later. It never occurs to Sansa because she's too busy staring longingly at Loras's pretty hair to consider this). Mulls on about the contrast in her suitors' physical appearance, despite Loras's repeat displays of a complete lack of interest (which she never seems to recognize). Upon learning of the new marriage arrangement, spends hours crying as she gazes at Loras. Kneels immediately at the wedding when prompted, then later totally starts confiding in and bonding with Tyrion (even after learning of the Red Wedding, she tells him the real reason she goes to the Godswood for no fucking reason).
  • Book!Sansa:Notices hostilities from Loras at once. Upon learning the Tyrells want her for political purposes, just accepts this and decides to make the most of it. Highgarden is still a lovely place, she'd be safe, and she can make Willas love her even if he only cares about her claim right now.
  • Show!Sansa:Never notices how uninterested Loras is and talks about how she "feels like she is in a dream" even as Loras is looking around with an "EWWWW! GIRLS!!!" face.
  • Book!Sansa:Cares for the sickly, disabled Robin Arryn all while firmly instilling some (grievously needed) boundaries upon him, managing at thirteen to be twenty times the mother thirty-something Lysa Arryn was. Even manages to get the epileptic, panic-attack prone kid across a narrow mountain path a mile into the air beset by winds as she talks him down from an attack. Is the only one who can control him, and is adored by everyone in the Vale for it.
  • Show!Sansa:Never takes responsibility for anyone, never really charms anyone, is totally content to just leave her cousin with some people she doesn't trust to set off to wherever the man in her life wants her to go (even without knowing where that is).
  • Book!Sansa:Manages to get some of Littlefinger's plans out of him, and learns of his means of accomplishing his goals. Keeps all of these things in mind constantly and notes subtle facial ticks and movements he makes when he is wearing his "Littlefinger" mask and playing people.
  • Show!Sansa:Just sort of takes his word for it when he says she should marry Ramsay for "vengeance" without asking for specifications as to how. Later is willing to accept the plan B of just "making Ramsay hers" even though he's a fucking Bolton and that doesn't really clear up how this is supposed to lead to vengeance. She takes Littlefinger's word for it that Ramsay has fallen for her. Is totally okay with being left in the den of her enemies without any means of protection.
  • Book!Sansa:Charms and manipulates people she needs with subtle hints of snark. Uses this to not only occasionally talk Joffrey out of violence, but later starts seducing Harry the Heir, acknowledging that she needs him to like her even if she doesn't like him.
  • Show!Sansa:Openly antagonizes Ramsay when she even bothers to interact with him, showing no sign of trying to "make him hers" or confirm that he's fallen for her. Continues to taunt her rapist and abuser even after he's revealed how dangerous and temperamental he is.
  • Book!Sansa:Knows immediately that Marillion is a creep, that Lyn Corbray is a fucking scumbag, that Harry the heir is a douche.
  • Show!Sansa:Can't even realize how much of a psycho Ramsay is even after he parades his torture victim around, doesn't realize Loras isn't into her, doesn't realize that maybe the mutilated, brainwashed, obsessively obedient and cowed Theon might not be the best person to trust with her one means of escape from his master.
  • Book!Sansa:Actively forces herself to think as her alternate identity "Alayne", purposely picks clothes that will disguise her better, thinks up little details to add to her character, and tries to be careful around people who might recognize her, like Bronze Yohn Royce.
  • Show!Sansa:Can't even think to cover her distinctive red hair when walking out in the open. Later just decides a dye job is enough to hide herself even after she's dispensed with the false identity. Travels out in the open and greets people as Sansa Stark even though SHE IS STILL WANTED FOR FUCKING REGICIDE.
  • Book!Sansa:Doesn't really trust anyone. The last person she trusts is a man whose life she saves (who turns out to just be acting on Littlefinger's orders). After that, no one, though she still tries to reach out and make friends.
  • Show!Sansa:Randomly trusts this random old lady with a dumb plan, walks into the dark Bolton kennels at Myranda's bidding, then lets her bathe her, reveals her secret identity to strangers in the Vale, trusts Theon with the candle plot. But either dismisses or insults almost everyone she encounters.
  • Book!Sansa:Intends to go into the North with an army and proclaim her rights to Winterfell.
  • Show!Sansa:Let's Littlefinger lead her all the way to Moat Caillin without a word about where they're heading. When she finds out they're heading to the Bolton-controlled Winterfell, agrees to go with only a small group of guards (despite the price on her head and the war torn area), and is later way too cool with letting Littlefinger ditch her for King's Landing without even leaving the guards. Is ready to just rely on Stannis winning and just handing over Wardenship of the North, even though none of these things are assured.
  • Book!Sansa:Doesn't voice all of her thoughts to anyone, particularly regarding her loyalties. Twice she tries to warn Margaery away from marrying him. The first time when there is a cover of singing and tons of pressure. A second time without prompting or pressure, purely out of the goodness of her heart, and only when she is riding out in the middle of the Kingswood with Margaery, where she is far more assured of privacy. Takes a similar route with Dontos, only meeting him in the godswood.
  • Show!Sansa:Will openly talk about hating Joffrey to a maid hired by the Lannisters right smack dab in the middle of the Red Keep.
  • Book!Sansa:Carries a dinner knife with her to a clandestine meeting just in case it is a trap, even threatening to stab a potential attacker. Makes frequent trips at night to meet with her ally, using religious fervor and prayer as an alibi to the point where she spends hours upon hours during the day praying in the sept to reinforce this show of piety. It fools everyone, including her usually perceptive husband who expresses an interest in getting to know her. Even after she's escaped and she's accused of regicide, people talk about how pious she was.
  • Show!Sansa:Grabs a corkscrew and instead of using it as a weapon (or grabbing a knife from her food tray) against her rapist (who likely sleeps next to her after he's done raping her), uses it to.... pick a lock? And then just walks out in broad daylight in front of her rapist's men, expecting not to be caught. This works until it doesn't.
  • Book!Sansa:As of the latest installment, is making close friends, has figured out a way to draw all the power players in the Vale to the same location, is charming Harry the Heir and all the Vale lords, eating lemon cakes, dancing, eavesdropping on Littlefinger's conversations, and caring for a sick kid.
  • Show!Sansa:As of the latest installment, is (kind of?) rescued by a man when he kills her husband's mistress, grabs her, and they jump off a wall. This is after weeks of being locked in a room where she is raped and beaten nightly and spending some time in a tower.
  • Book!Sansa:All this happens ages 11-13
  • Show!Sansa:All this happens ages 13-15.
  • Game of Thrones defenders and creators:The Sansa of the show is smarter, stronger, more likable, and more active. She's actually started to play the game. We wanted to make her more empowered. This seasons especially was all about her taking action and putting the skills she's learned to good use, no longer being a bystander who sits around and weeps but actually being a player. This Sansa is no weak little girl!
  • Me:Yeah, I can totally see how people think this is a progressive show that makes the "weak, passive, stupid, mean-spirited, shallow" Sansa of the books a more likable, resourceful, intelligent, empowered, and stronger character. Look how much better she plays the game! Look how likable they've made her! Look at that black dress! Yes, this show DEFINITELY improved upon the source material and gave us a far more feminist and empowering storyline. The show gives us a Sansa who can FINALLY play the game! This is the Sansa who knows what she's doing, who is a REAL player, who isn't some weak, shallow, stupid damsel in distress. I'm so glad they went in this direction, it's so much more empowering! Yay! A Sansa who is finally learning and taking on a cool and active story!