It wasn't 100 percent clear to fans whether Ser Barristan and Grey Worm died in the final scene of Episode 4, but -- sadly -- all hopes for Ser Grandfather were put to rest in Entertainment Weekly's exit interview with actor Ian McElhinney. McElhinney explained how he found out about his character's death, and it's actually pretty clever of him to deduce it just from his filming schedule:
It proves you should probably not read the books. I've read the books. So I thought this season I was going to have more to do, and I was really looking forward to that. And then I got my dates from my agent and I thought, 'That doesn't tally.' Because there was no way if they were sticking to the books that I should be in for that number of weeks. It seemed to me they must be writing me out. So I had a word with the line producer and said, "Can you corroborate that they're writing me out?" Then the [showrunners] rang me and told me, 'Your time is up in this series.' So perhaps I took them by surprise that I knew.
Come on, he deserves some extra scenes just for sleuthing that out! McElhinney was asked what he'd say to book readers who are upset that Ser B is already gone.
I'm disappointed. But I think you have to accept-as I have accepted-that the demands of TV are different than the demand of book writing. With TV there's a pressure to create a number of high points. One of the big things about this series-it's true in the books and even more true in the series-is the surprise element, the shocks. They've got to keep that up because people expect that. You can't predict anything but what you can predict is that there will be surprises."
He did praise Ser Barristan's end scene with Dany as very well written, adding that he was happy with the way his character's story ended. He's keeping it classy -- and it was great to see Barristan the Bold die during battle, as he would've wanted. But still. Dany just lost her closest friend and historical link to Westeros and fans lost a great hero who had so much more to give. But that's "Game of Thrones" for you. Hopefully Rhaegar is waiting for Ser Barristan with a song, and we'll have to wait and see how Dany responds to this Harpy treachery. (One good "Dracarys" should melt those masks right off. Just a suggestion.)