If you’ve watched Game of Thrones or read George RR Martin’s novels, you’ll know that the Starks’ direwolves are absolutely beloved by fans of Westeros. As the sigil of House Stark, the legendary creatures hold a symbolic significance in the story and early on, each of Ned Stark’s children is given a young direwolf pup after they’re discovered close to Winterfell.
Unfortunately, because this is Game of Thrones, the fate of the direwolves is pretty horrific. If Martin knows how to do anything, it’s how to be brutal to even the best Game of Thrones characters. Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind, is murdered alongside him at the Red Wedding thanks to Walder Frey’s betrayal. Sansa’s Lady is executed as a punishment for Nymeria’s defense of Arya, and Nymeria is cast away from Ayra’s side for her own protection.
In the Game of Thrones show, one of the best TV series of the past few decades, the writers also kill off Bran’s Summer and Rickon’s Shaggydog. The only direwolf that has any kind of happy ending is Jon Snow’s Ghost, and the two end up reuniting as the show concludes, once Jon has been exiled back to the Night’s Watch.
However, before their reunion, Game of Thrones fans were furious with Jon Snow, specifically for how he said goodbye to Ghost, and had more general complaints about how the best fantasy series depicted and treated the direwolves. In a Reddit thread titled ‘It’s Clear None of the Writers Own Dogs’, users were stumped by how unemotional the initial goodbye between Jon and Ghost was.
“How is Jon not going to even speak to Ghost before leaving, knowing he will never see him again. Ghost literally just went to war for you and there is supposed to be a bond with Direwolves, but Jon just peaces out with a nod. Sadly a fitting end given the way the show has treated Ghost,” said the post, setting out its creator’s opinion.
Other commenters concurred. “100% agree – Ghost looking at him and Jon’s just waking away. Killing me!!” said one, while another agreed, “I felt so sad for Ghost. He deserved better!”
Speaking more broadly about the depiction of the Direwolves, another chimed in to say, “One of the things that killed me about that scene was remembering Ned being forced to execute Lady in the first season. Insisting he do it himself, and comforting her before he did it… and then the anguish on his face (credit to Sean Bean’s acting). These writers understand the bond between Stark and Direwolf, or at least, they did once upon a time. The scene with Ghost tonight, like so many since we ran out of GRRM’s source material, just didn’t feel true to the character.”
Of course, in Martin’s novels, it’s still only Grey Wind and Lady which have died. Overall, the direwolves have had a much greater significance in the books, and it was due to budgetary and time constraints that the role of the direwolves was lessened in the series. Still, that didn’t stop dog lovers having their issues.
For more on Game of Thrones, see our guide to the Game of Thrones cast and check out the development status of House of the Dragon season 2. Or, to dig deeper into the lore explore our guide to the Targaryen family tree, and see our picks for the best House of the Dragon characters.