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This question points out that the dagger in the books was actually meant to be plain:

The blade Joff chose was nice and plain. No goldwork, no jewels in the hilt, no silver inlay on the blade. King Robert never wore it, had likely forgotten he owned it. Yet the Valyrian steel was deadly sharp . . . sharp enough to slice through skin, flesh, and muscle in one quick stroke. I am no stranger to Valyrian steel. But he had been, hadn't he? Else he would never have been so foolish as to pick Littlefinger's knife.
A Storm of Swords, Tyrion VIII

However, in the show the blade is obviously fancy and goes against this description.

In the paragraph above Tyrion describes Joff's own dagger:

The prince's own dagger had a jeweled pommel and inlaid goldwork on the blade, Tyrion seemed to recall. At least Joff had not been stupid enough to use that. Instead he went poking among his father's weapons. Robert Baratheon was a man of careless generosity, and would have given his son any dagger he wanted . . . but Tyrion guessed that the boy had just taken it. Robert had come to Winterfell with a long tail of knights and retainers, a huge wheelhouse, and a baggage train. No doubt some diligent servant had made certain that the king's weapons went with him, in case he should desire any of them.
A Storm of Swords, Tyrion VIII

Note that GRRM also thinks the dagger is different in the show:

A handsome blade, I think. Though rather completely different from the dagger in the books, which was far plainer (though made of Valryian steel, with a dragonbone grip).

Did the show intend for the Catspaw dagger to actually be Joffery's or did they make a mistake in the props department?

The question is essentially: why was the dagger in the show fancy when in the books it is plain?

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    Probably to be easily recognisable should it show up again at a later date. – BMWurm Sep 29 '17 at 12:02
  • @BMWurm Well it has shown up again and Ice wasn't fancy but recognisable. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 12:05
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    Well, Ice was so absurdly large, even for a greatsword (which Tywin remarks on in S04E01), they could make two swords out of it after all, so its size alone made it a visually identifiable feature... – BMWurm Sep 29 '17 at 12:08
  • @BMWurm Okay then another example but the opposite way, Oathkeeper and Widows Wail are supposed to have red blades in the books but don't in the show. A sword can be easily recognisable without being fancy. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 12:11
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    Whoever is voting to close this. It can't be opinion based because of our "we don't know" answer rule where not everyone can know all the canon or something like that. – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 15:44
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I would imagine that it was simply to distinguish it from other, regular daggers.

The Valyrian Steel dagger is referenced many times in the first book/ season, and is the catalyst for almost every major political thing that happens until Ned's death.

It is used when attempting to assassinate Bran, it is used as the justification for Catelyn arresting Tyrion, Littlefinger puts it to Ned's throat just as he betrays him.

In the books, it is easy to describe it as a "Valyrian Steel" dagger, which immediately makes it special without us having to see it, yet it being plain allows for the excuse of Joffrey selecting it to order Bran's death.

But for these occurrences to have as much significance in the show, it really can't appear as a dagger that is just a regular dagger unless inspected closely. Otherwise it would be much harder to justify to the audience how it is so recognizable, or have as much of an emotional impact for each of these moments.

If I remember correctly (though I might be wrong), the issue of Tyrion tracing it back to Joffrey is not done in the same way in the show as it was in the book, i.e. realizing that it was Robert's knife and assuming that Joffrey chose it mistaking it for a normal weapon.

  • I've given you an upvote as this is reasonable speculation, however evidence from an interview would take this a long way – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 15:10
  • I suppose you're right though a dagger can still be plain and recognisable. Also in my opinion Valyrian steel is based off of Damascus steel which has a swirling pattern on the blade so it could still be plain yet with this pattern it could be recognisable. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 15:10
  • For example, Longclaw is plain apart from the wolf pommel, Needle and Ice are plain but recognisable though mainly due to their size. Once an item is named it is usually recognisable because the name draws people to study it more. Though I suppose in this case the dagger is never actually named. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 15:13
  • @TheLethalCarrot it's true that it could have been plain and still recognizable, but much of the plot happens based on the sole fact that this dagger is unique. It's much easier for the audience to believe it is a unique dagger by simply making it look unique, rather than just taking the word of the characters. – Mike.C.Ford Sep 29 '17 at 15:18
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    @Mike.C.Ford Looking at the script the quote it goes off is Sansa's and unless she asked Bran about it we wouldn't know if that's true or not. I think it is still left open intentionally, the same as who sent the assassin. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 15:34
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It is actually fancy in the book as well.

Just because it is missing a couple of ornaments a Valyrian Steel dagger do not become plain. We do not know the exact information on Valyrian Steel daggers, arakhs, axes or other armaments, but we do know that there are 227 Valyrian Steel Swords in the whole Westeros. (Maybe 228 depending on how Ice is counted.) So, any Valyrian Steel armament is expensive and rare.

The question should be "Why anyone would order to kill someone with their own blade?", and I guess Tyrion asks this question in his defense with the words:

Only a fool would arm a common footpad with his own blade.

Joeffrey may have done it for two reasons:

  • He wants the act to be traced to him, so that King Robert would think highly of him.

  • He is so arrogant that he is not afraid of any possible repercussions because of these acts.

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    This is incorrect. We do get a description of the blade. It's described as a plain Valyrian steel blade. Secondly the second half of your question is entirely irrelevant and really should be removed. – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 13:15
  • The blade Joff chose was nice and plain. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 13:16
  • "Why anyone would order to kill someone with their own blade?": It isn't Joff's blade – TheLethalCarrot Sep 29 '17 at 13:16
  • @Edlothiad Oh I remember now. It was Tyrion saying that in his defense.. – C.Koca Sep 29 '17 at 13:21
  • When, where's your source? That part is irrelevant anyways as it is in no way related to the question? – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 13:22

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