Game of Thrones and its beastly direwolves had a precarious relationship. Fans seemed to want to see a lot more of them, but the show never really capitulated as time went on. After not showing Jon Snow’s direwolf in the Battle of the Bastards, something had to give, and it eventually did.
Jon Snow's Ghost made his way to the front lines in Season 8, and was shown charging at the Army of the Dead in the lethal Battle of Winterfell. It's now been revealed that Game of Thrones had planned a giant direwolf battle for the final season soon after the city-wide brawl. “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Long Night” director Miguel Sapochnik told this to the IndieWire Toolkit podcast:
There were many things that happened that people would have been so happy to have happen. Attack of direwolves and crazy stuff. At some point you’re like, ’50 direwolves attacking an undead dragon does not a good movie make.’ [We were cautious it might become] a remix of every battle we’ve done.
Well, this would have been exciting! Fans might not have known what to do with themselves if dozens of direwolves had suddenly appeared and started going berserk on everything around them.
For anyone wondering where 50 direwolves would have even come from, let me quickly refresh your memory. Back in Season 7, when Arya ran into her direwolf, Nymeria, the pet was not alone. Nymeria was running in a pack comprising many others. Sadly, that was all Game of Thrones viewers got to see of that pack.
Had the direwolf scene that Miguel Sapochnik mentioned come to fruition, my guess is that pack would have been involved. To see Ghost getting backup from his long-lost sibling Nymeria and her pack would have been something magical to behold. It might have even worked as a sort of parallel to the Stark siblings’ own reunion, as Jon Snow was joined by sister Arya in the Battle of Winterfell in a major way.
As much as I wanted to see the direwolves used more, in this particular case, it made sense that Game of Thrones went another way with the shortened timeframe it had left. (And yes, it crushes me to say that.) The best weapons against “the undead dragon” were the fire-breathing dragons. Still, the reasoning for why Ghost did not participate in the human conflict of the Battle of the Bastards haunts me.
After standing in the shadow of Daenerys’ dragons for so long, it would have been cool and meaningful for the direwolves to get one big moment to shine on their. Hence, it is hard to completely agree with the choice to excise the direwolves' one big scene in the final season that would have showcased them.
Instead, when it came to the Battle of Winterfell, fans got to see only the aftermath of Ghost’s hard-fought fight against the dead: the precious creature lost an ear. Plus, it was something that Jon Snow uncharacteristically never acknowledged or showed concern about. (Though fans were quick to acknowledge his lack of compassion.) Please, tell me there is a deleted scene somewhere showing us more Ghost and the others!
When it came to Game of Thrones and its most magnificent mystical creature (in my opinion), it had an iffy history. There were great moments at the beginning of the series between Jon Snow and his direwolf, Ghost. However, I do not think the show never entirely leveraged Ghost or even his and Jon's dynamic. Then Season 8 happened, which included a scene that set fans’ hearts ablaze with frustration.
Before leaving Winterfell, Jon Snow decided that Ghost needed to go to the North with Tormund. He gave Ghost a heartfelt glance as a farewell, but no more than that. He gave no formal goodbyes to his loyal pet while the seemingly visibly crushed direwolf looked on. The episode’s director explained the decision, and the Season 8 finale thankfully rectified that sour note.
After thinking that botched goodbye was their last scene, Game of Thrones gave fans one sweet highlight to juxtapose Jon Snow’s crushing end. He reunited with Ghost at The Wall, and even went over to pet him! Yes, I cried, and let’s be honest, I was probably not alone. Maybe a Tormund and Ghost spinoff now, anyone?