This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, episode 2, titled “Stormborn.”
Arya finally reunited with her long-lost direwolf, Nymeria, in this week’s Game of Thrones, and it was totes emosh — and actually a really effective moment of character development for Arya, thank you very much — but it did get us thinking about another furry friend we haven’t seen in a while.
WTF happened to Ghost?
According to the official record-keepers at the Citadel (or, more accurately, some observant fans over at the show’s wikia page), the last time we saw Jon Snow’s faithful direwolf on screen was in episode 3 of Season 6, “Oathbreaker,” just after our favorite bastard was resurrected. That can’t be right, can it?
Apparently, Ghost was originally intended to be a part of the Battle of the Bastards in episode 9 of last season, but director Miguel Sapochnik told Business Insider that the direwolf’s scenes were scrapped for budget reasons. He pointed out that as much as everyone loves Ghost, he’s “an incredibly time consuming and expensive character to bring to life. Ultimately we had to choose between Wun-Wun and the direwolf, so the dog bit the dust.”
Jon has had a huge character arc over the past couple of seasons, so it seems particularly egregious that Ghost hasn’t appeared by his side — especially in this week’s episode, when Jon decided to leave Winterfell and head south on a potentially deadly mission to meet Daenerys Targaryen, seemingly without his four-legged sidekick.
But it turns out that Jon and Ghost did share a moment in episode 2, we just didn’t see it. “Stormborn” writer Bryan Cogman revealed that they wrote and shot a scene between the pair, but it didn’t make it into the final cut — curses!
The relative absence of the Stark family’s direwolves is one of the major differences between the books and the show.
In George R. R. Martin’s novels, Bran, Arya and Jon have all displayed warging abilities while they’re sleeping, even if Arya and Jon don’t consciously understand that they’re inhabiting their wolves’ bodies while they dream. The show hasn’t touched on this power in Arya and Jon yet, and Bran lost his direwolf, Summer, last season when the Night King attacked the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave.
But as Sapochnik pointed out, putting the direwolves on screen is a costly and labor-intensive task, and it seems as though the series prefers to simply keep them out of sight and out of mind whenever possible, even when the story might benefit from their presence.
With Nymeria and Arya’s reunion providing an emotional sucker punch in “Stormborn,” perhaps another wolf scene felt somehow redundant when the episode was being edited? (IDK, we’re grasping at straws here!) Either way, here’s hoping Nymeria isn’t the only direwolf who gets some long-overdue face time in Season 7.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.