4. The Madness of King Joffrey
THE CHANGES: Don't get me wrong: Joffrey Baratheon is the absolute goddamn worst in the books and the show. But as far as we know, the Joffrey of the books has at this point limited his most sadistic rampages to cats, rabbits and any other adorable creatures unfortunate enough to come within crossbow range. Yes, he had Ned beheaded, Sansa beaten, and countless prisoners tortured and killed, but that's still a far cry from his very personal supervision of the rape-torture of two prostitutes, or personally ordering the murder of his "father" King Robert's baby bastards (that was Cersei's doing in the books).
THE VERDICT: There's a reason why "the man you love to hate" entered the pop-culture parlance. Simply put, King Joffrey is the best villain on television, thanks not only to young actor Jack Gleeson's flawlessly repulsive performance, but also to the decision to take his sociopathy to new heights (or depths). There's something to be said for the books' handling of the character as a time bomb who has yet to really go off, but the explosiveness of the TV version makes us hope all the harder that he'll lose the game of thrones so bad he'll need to be squeegeed off the playing field.