There is nothing that better illustrates the passage of time than children. Unlike adults, who can stay looking relatively the same throughout their 20s and (if they're lucky) their 30s and 40s, children age rapidly over 10 years. For a show like Game of Thrones, which first cast its actors back in 2009, 2019 has been the year of the glow up, especially for the younger generation of Starks. But it turns out, in the end, Robin Arryn had the ultimate Game Of Thrones glow up to beat just about everyone.
Robin Arryn was a bit of a thankless role when Lino Facioli was cast back in the first season of Game of Thrones. Unlike Joffrey, who would have a meaty evil spoiled brat role for Jack Gleeson to play, or Arya and Sansa, characters which have let actresses Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner do some of the best acting work of their generation, Robin was supposed to be a bit of a punchline.
In the books, Lysa Arryn's son is only supposed to be five years old or so. The fact that he's still breastfeeding is supposed to be weird, but it's more commentary on Lysa not letting her baby grow up than anything creepy or weird. Facioli, on the other hand, was 9 years old when cast, giving the whole situation a disturbing overtone.
But what most fans remember is Facioli's performance in Season 4, when he behaves like a spoiled kid, dangerously close to heading down the same path as Joffrey.
This wasn't the last time fans saw Robin on screen. He appeared again at the beginning of Season 6, but he hadn't changed much, other than a bit of a height difference. His character was still very much the spoilt child who desperately needs a firm hand if he's going to be able to function in polite society, let alone be a good leader for the people of the Vale.
Perhaps that's why, when he turned up in the Game of Thrones series finale, "The Iron Throne" fans didn't recognize him at first. The clue was in the character seated to his right, Lord Yohn Royce, who Littlefinger and Sansa left in charge of Robin's upbringing when they took off for Winterfell.
Fans were impressed:
The actor was surprised and even a little touched.
Robin wasn't the only callback in the scene to leaders around Westeros who have been offscreen for a while. Edmure Tully, for instance, played by Tobias Menzies, also got a moment to shine, as he attempted to give the first ever political speech in Westeros throwing his hat into the ring to be elected. (Sansa interrupting, and telling firmly but gently to sit, was one of the funniest moments in the entire episode.) There was also a random Dornish prince, and a few older gentlemen who were not instantly recognizable, one of whom may have been Howland Reed.
But in terms of reminding the audience just how long this show has been on the air, and to never judge a person by the little kid they were, Robin's appearance took the cake. Maybe there's hope for the Vale after all.