The most recent episode of Game of Thrones packed some serious plot twists. But none was so exciting as the glorious return of the long-missing northerner Rickon Stark. The last time we’d seen the youngest Stark son was way back in Season 3 where he, his direwolf Shaggydog, and the wildling Osha left Bran and company. In an attempt to finding safety, Rickon, his main dawg, and his main dog left to find House Umber, who had always been loyal to the Starks. The big cliffhanger from this week’s episode had Smalljon Umber presenting crazypants Ramsay Bolton with Rickon, Osha, and the head of Shaggydog.

While this was an equally shocking and satisfying moment in Game of Thrones history, fans began immediately speculating on the direwolf’s fate. Was it really him? The head seemed a bit small compared to Ghost, so was it all a lie? Art Parkinson, who plays Rickon, recently opened up when Huffington Post asked if the head was legit:
Uh, yeah, I’d say so. It was a little bit disappointing because, you know, looking at the dogs we had on set ... and that you’d never really get to hang out with them again. When I read that Shaggydog was dead, I was definitely a little upset.

There you go, people. It looks like the Stark family has suffered another loss in the Game of Thrones: Shaggydog has gone to that doghouse in the sky.

While it’s sad that we’ve lost another one of the Starks' direwolves, Art Parkinson’s honestly seems to rule out a potential plot line moving forward. Namely, that Smalljon Umber was planning a coup alongside Rickon to take Winterfell back from the Boltons. We’ve been told all along that the North remembers, so it certainly appears that the smallfolk would support a revolt. But Ramsay also mentioned that the strongest houses in the North have already pledged their fealty to the Boltons. 



The loss of Shaggydog marks the third direwolf that has died during the course of Game of Thrones. Sansa’s wolf Lady was killed under orders from Robert Baratheon back in Season 1, because Joffrey was the worst. Robb’s wolf Grey Wind died in the Red Wedding, alongside all of our hopes and dreams for the Starks. And Nymeria, Arya’s direwolf, has been missing since Since 1, when she convinced it to run away to avoid execution. We can only hope that, once Arya finally returns to Westeros to kick some ass, she ends up reunited with that pup.

While we may have lost another direwolf, it’s exciting to have long lost Rickon Stark return to the narrative of Game of Thrones. With Sansa arriving at Castle Black next week, this might finally be the season where our characters reunite. It’s about damn time.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO.

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