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Jon’s beloved direwolf has been with him since the very first episode. Ghost traveled to the Wall with Jon, protected both he and Samwell time and again, and even kept vigil over Jon’s body long after all life had left it. He fought in the Battle of Castle Black and the Battle of Winterfell. He’s been a loyal companion to Jon for eight long seasons.
Sam got a hug. Tormund got a hug. Even Gilly got a hug. But not poor, loyal Ghost.
After asking Tormund to take him north of the Wall, Jon gave Ghost a solemn, mournful look and walked away. Devastated fans couldn’t help but ask why he didn’t even approach his longtime companion before sending him away forever.
Thankfully, the episode’s director has some answers. David Nutter spoke to the Huffington Post this week about the decision to keep the scene brief and clean. “Since the direwolves are kind of CG creations, we felt it best to keep it as simple as possible,” he said. In another recent interview, this time with the New York Times, he also conceded that CGI restrictions were “very much” the reason we didn’t see a more intimate goodbye.
Though fans are still disappointed by the lack of a heartfelt moment between two longtime companions, the explanation makes sense. It turns out that digitally creating a realistic wolf twice the size of a normal man is costly. A 2017 Business Insider interview with the director of the Battle of the Bastards revealed that Ghost was intended to make an appearance in Jon’s final showdown with Ramsay.
“It’s also an incredibly time consuming and expensive character to bring to life,” director Miguel Sapochnik told Business Insider. “Ultimately, we had to choose between Wun-Wun and the direwolf, so the dog bit the dust.”
Ghost is one of two remaining Stark direwolves. He and Nymeria have both been freed by their former masters to live in the wild as they were intended to. Fans were disappointed to find out that the last two episodes will lack any contributions from the Starks’ loyal furbabies, but at least we know Ghost is roaming free.
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Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.