With Season 7 of HBO’s Game of Thrones concluded, I take a look at the glaring omission of Jon Snow’s direwolf Ghost in Jon’s most important season to date.“Ghost was the only protection Jon needed; the direwolf could sniff out foes, even those who hid their enmity behind smiles.” – A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
This season of Game of Thrones has moved at breakneck speed. The first four episodes weaved along seamlessly, while the last three have faltered and fallen victim to the rush of time. Expressing this opinion on social media leads to barrages of “deal with it, “we only have seven episodes,” “accept it or don’t” kinds responses, and since I don’t want to go on a rant about how I don’t have to deal with it or accept it if I don’t want to, and that only having seven episodes isn’t an excuse for gaping plot holes and drab dialogue, I’m choosing to focus on the biggest plot hole of them all, the absence of Ghost.
The showrunners have addressed Ghost’s absence on more than one occasion with the explanation that, creating a CGI Direwolf is more difficult than creating a Dragon because direwolves are based on the extinct dire wolf, audiences knows what they’re supposed to look like; therefore, it’s costlier to recreate them than a Dragon because Dragon’s aren’t real so… blah blah blah blah blah. So I know Dragon’s aren’t real, but they look pretty damn good to me on the show. The nuance in their design is amazing. Their movements and eye motion are so realistic. Also, Direwolves are supposed to be the size of horses so, no, they are not real either. Not to mention, they’re that big in the books, but they don’t have to be that big on the show, plus it’s called camera angles, use a real-life wolf, don’t CGI it. When Viserion went down in the penultimate episode of Season 7, my first thought was, “oh good, one’s down so does this mean the budget is free for Ghost?”. Of course, now that he’s a Wight Dragon, he’ll most likely be even more expensive to CGI than before.
Besides the fact that we aren’t seeing Ghost, there’s nary a mention of him either. Someone tweeted at me that Jon left him behind at Winterfell, though I don’t recall that bit of dialogue, I’m calling bullshit on this prolonged absence. There is no way Ghost is just staying behind and not accompanying Jon especially on his latest excursion with the Apple Dumpling Gang beyond the Wall. Let’s look at all the times Ghost was an asset to Jon:
- In A Game of Thrones, it is Ghost who wakes Jon to warn him of the presence of wights, and they save Jeor Mormont. Ghost bites the wights arm and tears into its belly. This is when Jeor gifts Jon Longclaw and replaces the pommel with that of a wolf’s head in the likeness of Ghost.
- In A Clash of Kings, Ghost discovers a cache of dragon glass weapons near the Fist of the First Men and leads Jon to it.
- In A Storm of Swords, Jon begins to warg into Ghost more frequently where he can dream of his siblings and will eventually be able to see that Nymeria and Shaggydog are still alive.
- In A Dance with Dragons, Melisandre warns Jon to keep Ghost close. Ghost accompanies him beyond the wall to the Weirwood grove north of the Wall, where the meet Wun Wun and some free folk. Ghost is later able to sense the betrayal of the Night’s Watch against Jon though he isn’t able to save him because he is locked up. His cries alert Ser Davos, who finds Jon’s body.
- In season 6 of the show, we see Ghost guarding the body of Jon fiercely. He is the first to see Jon’s resurrection.
The showrunners expressed that Ghost was cut from The Battle of the Bastards because they preferred to CGI the giant instead of the Direwolf. The explanation for Jon leaving him behind is that because he is aware Shaggydog has been killed, he wants to keep Ghost safe. He seemingly returns to Winterfell with Jon once the battle is won and we are to believe that is where he has been this whole time. This season, Ghost was slated to make an appearance in Stormborn, but apparently it got cut.
This tweet from writer Bryan Cogman appeared on twitter July 24, 2017.
We have now gone an entire season with no sign of Ghost. His absence has become increasingly frustrating to the point where I am rooting for Dany’s Dragons to die just so the showrunners can find some spare cash to bring him to life (if that’s even the real reason we aren’t seeing him). What’s odd to me is Jon doesn’t even mention Ghost. A short scene of Jon telling Ghost to stay behind and protect Sansa and Winterfell would have been nice, no? Wouldn’t it have been a great bonding moment for Jon and Dany, when he meets Drogon, to express to her that he understands loving a beast that others fear? Having Jon tell her about the Direwolves might have been a great opportunity for the two to bond over having these special creatures in their lives. When Viserion dies, wouldn’t it have been nice for Jon to express that he understands, because he cannot imagine what he would do if something happened to Ghost? What about that epic scene in the Great Hall at Winterfell, when Sansa gives the order to execute Littlefinger? How powerful would she have looked if Ghost was sitting there with her and Bran? I’m calling out DB Weiss and David Benioff. Ghost deserves better. #JusticeforGhost
“He always slept better with the great white wolf beside him; there was comfort in the smell of him, and welcome warmth in that shaggy pale fur.” – A Clash of Kings, Chapter 53, Jon VII.