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'Game of Thrones' Director Explains Why Jon Didn't Pet Ghost & People Aren't Buying It

There's been a lot to process during the final season of Game of Thrones. The loss of another dragon, Theon's redemption, the show's treatment of women, the potential for treason, trying to understand what Bronn's up to...

Jon Snow Ghost
HBO
This post contains spoilers up through Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4. Visit Beyond the Wall, our official Game of Thrones hub page for recaps, theories, spoilers, explainers, and the best episodes of all time.

There's been a lot to process during the final season of Game of Thrones. The loss of another dragon, Theon's redemption, the show's treatment of women, the potential for treason, trying to understand what Bronn's up to...

However, the thing that may have flummoxed fans the most during "The Last of the Starks" wasn't a death, but the betrayal of a good boy. In the process of leaving Winterfell, Jon Snow and viewers may have been saying goodbye to some beloved characters like Tormund Giantsbane and Samwell Tarly. They got their due from Jon. But it was the farewell to his direwolf Ghost that made people mad. Jon's wolf was sent to live north of the wall with Tormund, and Jon didn't even bother to give his dog a scratch around his one good ear. 

The mystery of Jon's icier-than-winter farewell to Ghost has been illuminated by director David Nutter in a new interview. "Since the direwolves are kind of CG creations, we felt it best to keep it as simple as possible," Nutter told the Huffington Post. "And I think that it played out much more powerfully that way."

Practical concerns were the cause of the scene being written this way. Visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer previously noted that for scenes featuring a direwolf the crew needed to film a real wolf and then scale up in the shot. However, the wolves "only behave in certain ways," he said. 

Nutter continued, "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."

Despite getting an explanation of why Winterfell's favorite doggo was snubbed, fans are unsatisfied. The show is able to give an army flaming swords, create undead giants, put a massive arrow through the throat of a house-sized dragon, and remove an errant Starbucks cup from a shot after the show already aired. Yet, a farewell pet from Jon was too big an obstacle, it appears.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer on the news team at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.