Why Game Of Thrones Didn't Make Jon Snow Pet Ghost Goodbye

Game of Thrones Ghost HBO
(Image credit: Game of Thrones / HBO Screenshot)

Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 are discussed below.

Jon Snow made a brutal decision in Game of Thrones’ latest episode. As he was leaving Winterfell, he told Tormund to take Ghost with him to the North-North because Winterfell is not north enough. That meant Jon Snow and Ghost would probably never see each other again.

As if Jon and Ghost not sharing one real scene together in Season 8 was bad enough, Episode 4 added another layer to it. Supposedly bidding farewell to his direwolf for the final time, Jon just gave Ghost a head nod before turning away forever. A. Head. Nod.

Jon did not pet him or share a real goodbye with the direwolf. That’s right, there was no scene of him saying farewell to his loyal companion. Ghost’s crushed expression was a heartbreaker. Game of Thrones fans were outraged.

Now, Game of Thrones’ director David Nutter has explained why Jon Snow and Ghost did not share the screen, despite it potentially being their very last scene ever together on Game of Thrones. Nutter told Huff Post:

Since the direwolves are kind of CG creations, we felt it best to keep it as simple as possible. And I think that it played out much more powerfully that way. Keeping Ghost off to the side, I thought that played out better... Then he just walks off by himself, he turns to Ghost and has this moment with Ghost that I thought was very, very powerful.

I would have preferred it if Game of Thrones had alternated between close-ups of Jon and Ghost, if CGI constraints were the issue. Just some work-around to give them and fans a real moment that paid tribute to their time together.

In truth, as someone who has always wanted the direwolves to be given more prominence, I've been disappointed by how Daenerys’ dragons have always been the priority. In this very episode, Daenerys shared a scene hanging out with the dragons by herself. Jon meanwhile gives a head nod to Ghost.

If this was the last Jon/Ghost scene, it was incredibly heartrending one. After eight seasons together and Jon raising Ghost, that was it. That is all their relationship on Game of Thrones came to.

Even though Ghost had lost an ear fighting at the Battle of Winterfell, there was no dialogue wherein Jon addressed Ghost’s injury. Just another day at Winterfell. As a fan, that just seems wrong.

In my opinion, Ghost has been underused throughout all of Game of Thrones, so his maybe-final scene managed to fit with that pattern. It also called back to what Jon Snow was sort of doing in explaining what was best for Ghost. In not petting him, Jon treated him like he was a wild animal.

Back in Season 1, it was Jon who had argued for the Stark children to keep the direwolf puppies that were found. Ned Stark argued that direwolves were not pets. He ultimately relented after Jon cited the seemingly fated nature of their numbers equaling the number of Stark children.

In the end, only two of the direwolves are still alive: Jon's Ghost and Arya's Nymeria. Arya shared a brief scene with Nymeria, in Season 7. It was short, and the very next season, Ghost is gone too. Maybe they, like the Stark children, will reunite.

Game of Thronesfinal season continues with its last two episodes. They will air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.