If anything, Jon Snow’s direwolf lived up to his name in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.”
Throughout the course of seven episodes, the King in the North’s constant companion didn’t show up once. Ghost was an actual ghost.
This despite the fact that the wolf would probably come in handy in confrontation with zombie hordes, undead polar bears and the Night King, who’s taking down dragons with pinpoint accuracy like he’s plaid-wearing, retired sniper Mark Wahlberg in any Mark Wahlberg movie.
In fact, the direwolf was barely even mentioned. In Season 7, Episode 5, Sansa said that it was unfair for Jon to expect the North to “sit and wait for him like Ghost.” But that was about it.
A cut scene did intend to show Jon petting Ghost on the head, as “Game of Thrones” writer Bryan Cogman revealed, instructing the direwolf to watch over Sansa. Alas, it didn’t make it in the season.
But I’m here to tell you today that Ghost will no longer be ghosted.
“Oh, you’ll see him again. He has a fair amount of screen time in Season 8,” VFX supervisor Joe Bauer told me in an interview in August. “He does show up.”
During our conversation, Bauer explained that the lack of direwolves in the last “GoT” season might have had something to do with the fact that regular wolves aren’t as magical to work with.
“The direwolves are tough because you don’t want to get them wrong, so we end up always shooting real wolves and doing a scaling trick with them, but the real wolves only behave in certain ways,” Bauer said.
The VFX supervisor added that show creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss could have more to add about why the direwolves didn’t show up as much as we’d hoped, but he reiterated that working with real wolves is “a bit limited.”
“I think that has something to do with why the direwolves are in the show but they’re not maybe as integral as they are in the books,” he said.
Unlike the show, which has killed off all but two of the Starks’ direwolves, the books aren’t quite as ruff. R.I.P. to Sansa’s Lady and Robb’s Grey Wind, but Shaggydog, Nymeria, Ghost and Summer all appear to be alive and kicking in book form so far.
In fact, in addition to Bran, siblings Jon Snow and Arya also seem to have warging abilities with their wolves in the books. The HBO series opted not to include this detail.
Since the show’s final season is upon us, fans can probably expect Arya’s wolf, Nymeria, who did make an appearance in Season 7, to show up again, too. But while Bauer didn’t comment on her fate specifically, he was clear about Ghost.
“Ghost does show up, and he does some … he’s very present and does some pretty cool things in Season 8,” he said.
Because really, howl you gonna have Season 8 without Ghost? Snow thank you to that.
By Bill Bradley