There was big news for Game of Thrones fans this week, as a new piece of information came out about the super-secretive Season 8. While some characters have been confirmed not to return to Season 8 despite being alive, like Meera Reed and Tycho Nestoris, this week fans learned one character who has been sadly underused is coming back: Ghost the Direwolf. Not only is this excellent news for Stark fans, who love the oversized family pets, but this Game of Thrones Season 8 theory about Ghost suggests one of George R.R. Martin's hinted endgames in the novels may make it to the screen.
The direwolves have had a hard go of it in the TV version of The Song of Ice and Fire novels. On the page, these creatures are to the Starks like dragons are to the Targaryens — mystical creatures who have an affinity for a particular family line. The direwolves are what make the Starks equal to the Targaryens. Both are tied to nature. One of the reasons Jon Snow is extra special is he has an affinity for both.
The decline in Starks having direwolves as pets mirrors the Targaryens' loss of their dragons. When this generation of Starks finds a pack of direwolf cubs, one for each child, it is an echo of Daenerys and her dragon eggs.
In the early seasons, the direwolves were cubs and didn't require much CGI. But as both wolves and dragons grew, the budget had to give somewhere. The show sank the money into fantastical flying creatures, taking advantage of the Stark children losing their pets as an excuse to leave the direwolves off-screen. By Season 7, they were mostly dead anyway. Only Jon's Ghost and Arya's Nymeria survived, reduced to cameos.
So, it was a big deal this week when VFX head Joe Bauer told The Huffington Post Ghost would be back for the final episodes.
Oh, you’ll see him again. He has a fair amount of screen time in Season 8. He does show up... He’s very present and does some pretty cool things.
Most feared Ghost would turn up only to be slaughtered, much like Lady, Grey Wind, Summer, and Shaggydog before him. But "fair amount of screen time" sounds like the budget has gone into putting Ghost front and center for at least a few scenes.
[Y]ou don't hang a giant wolf pack on the wall unless you intend to use it.
The "wolfpack" he's referring to is Nymeria's gang of furs, who Arya ran into in Season 7. In the books, Arya sees the pack grow through wolf-dreams. Their encounter in the woods when Arya returns will be less about the shock of meeting Nymeria again, but discovering those dreams were real.
Fans have wondered if the wolves were being primed to join the final battle, with Ghost and Nymeria as leaders. With Bauer's suggestion Ghost is finally getting his day, perhaps those surviving Stark wolves will finally get to stand tall alongside their Targaryen dragon counterparts.
Game of Thrones Season 8 arrives on HBO in 2019.