The fourth episode of season 8 of Game of Thrones brought with it its fair share of shocking moments. The Mountain brutally executed Missandei. Euron Greyjoy shot down Rhaegal with his giant crossbow. Worst of all, however, was Jon leaving Ghost, his most faithful companion. While Jon may have been correct to say that the south is no place for a direwolf, his lack of goodbye before leaving really rubbed people up the wrong way.
YOU SHOULD NEVER MAKE AN ANIMAL LOOK LIKE THIS EVER. EVER pic.twitter.com/qaxrpUa7wz
— Melissa Anelli (@melissaanelli) May 6, 2019
Ghost first proved his worth in Season 1, letting Jon know when there was a wight about to attack the Lord Commander, and helping him protect Sam. He protected Sam from wights, and fought at the battle of Castle Black. Ghost stood vigil after his master was stabbed by his Night's Watch brothers at the end of season 5. Ghost was never anything but a very good boy, by Westeros standards.
*even hugs Gilly who he doesn’t know very well*
— Fardeen (@Fardeen_02) May 6, 2019
The episode’s director David Nutter gave an upsettingly practical and reasonable reason for the snub. Speaking to The Huffington Post Nutter said:
Since the direwolves are kind of CG creations, we felt it best to keep it as simple as possible," said Nutter. "And I think that it played out much more powerfully that way.
While this makes sense from a production point of view, Jon leaving Ghost was one of the most heart-wrenching moments in all of Game of Thrones for many people.
— Kat (@katfromphilly) May 6, 2019
— ChrisOnTheCanesBandwagon (@ChrisInTheSix) May 6, 2019
There could be a symbolic reason for Jon leaving Ghost behind too. Throughout the show, the fate of the direwolves has mirrored the fate of their respective siblings. Sansa’s direwolf Lady met her end in season one, as did Sansa’s youthful innocence in King’s Landing. Nymeria (Arya’s) is roaming wild somewhere in Westeros, and as we saw with Arya declining Gendry’s proposal, Arya wants to spend her life roaming free. Grey Wind (Robb’s) died with his master at the Red Wedding, trapped, and peppered with arrows, as Robb was. Summer (Bran’s) died holding off wights in a cave, as did “Bran Stark” (because he’s the Three Eyed Raven now). Shaggydog (Rickon’s) was captured and killed, as was the youngest Stark.
Many people took Jon leaving Ghost as him trying to leave behind his Stark roots, but maybe there is more to it. Jon has been vocal about not wanting the throne, and told Tormund he would leave to be going back north with him, so maybe there will be a reunion in the finale? We can only hope, because let's be honest, Ghost is a much better animal companion than Rhaegal was. Dragons are too high maintenance.