Ghost, Jon Snow’s beloved direwolf, will be back for season eight. But how will this impact the finale?
We’ve bid farewell to our fair share of beloved characters over the course of Game of Thrones’ seven dramatic seasons.
There was Ned Stark (RIP), Robb Stark (RIP), Catelyn Stark (RIP) – basically, a whole lot of Starks – not to mention Hodor, the smooth-talking Oberyn Martell and Viserion, everyone’s favourite of Daenerys’ three dragon children.
But as much as Game of Thrones is about mercilessly dispensing with its key characters, it’s also in the business of bringing them back into the fold. Remember when we all thought Jon Snow had died, only for him to literally return from the dead at the start of season six? You can never trust those Game of Thrones producers to keep anyone, dead or alive, off the screen.
Which is why fans are so excited about the news that Ghost, Jon Snow’s devoted direwolf, is returning to the show for its final season.
Technically speaking, Ghost isn’t dead, he just hasn’t been seen in an episode of Game of Thrones since season six. But Game of Thrones’ VFX supervisor Joe Bauer confirmed to HuffPost today that Ghost will stage a triumphant comeback in the eighth and final season of the show next year. “Oh, you’ll see him again,” Bauer said. “He has a fair amount of screen time in season eight… He does show up. He’s very present and does some pretty cool things.”
Ghost’s absence from Westeros this past season was partly due to budgetary constraints. Animating the direwolves is an expensive enterprise, especially when there are other costly special effects in play, like, you know, dragons and white walkers. Getting the right look for the direwolves on screen involves filming live, actual wolves and then increasing them in size during post production, an understandably difficult and timely process.
“The real wolves only behave in certain ways,” Bauer noted, adding that he worked on a sequence where Jon instructed Ghost to stay at Winterfell to guard his sister Sansa, but it was cut from the final edit of season seven.
But there might be another reason for Ghost’s timely return. The final season of Game of Thrones is gearing up for an epic, winner-takes-all battle for the throne and, indeed, the entirety of Westeros. Jon and Daenerys, plus two dragons, and maybe the treacherous Cersei and her swashbuckling Iron Islands paramour Euron Greyjoy against the Night King, white walkers, an ice dragon, giants and all sorts of supernatural creatures from north of the Wall.
A direwolf sure would come in handy during one of those battles, especially if Jon finds himself in a one-man stand-off behind enemy lines, as he did in the ‘Battle of The Bastards’ in season six.
Remember, Ghost isn’t the only direwolf left running around Westeros. Nymeria, once the companion to Arya, is still alive as we learnt at the end of last season. If Arya and Jon are to be reunited on the battlefield, as many fans pray and hope that they will be come season eight, then it would be truly thrilling to see them reunited with their direwolves, too. It might even be more thrilling to see the direwolves bound in and save their masters.
But it would be most thrilling – and truly “cool”, to use Bauer’s turn of phrase – to see Ghost or Nymeria dispatch with one of Game of Thrones’ most awful antagonists. Might Cersei come to her timely, much overdue end at the hands (and jaw) of a Stark-reared direwolf? We can only hope.
Game of Thrones will return to television in 2019.