WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the finale of Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne," which aired Sunday on HBO.
Some Game of Thrones viewers haven't been shy about expressing their displeasure with the final season of the hit HBO fantasy drama, whether over certain character decisions or the pacing. But few scenes united fans in their outrage than Jon Snow's seeming callous dismissal of his beloved direwolf Ghost.
However, that outcry was premature, at the very least, as Sunday's series finale reunited the two, and sent them Beyond the Wall, where Ghost was born.
In the Season 8 episode "The Last of the Starks," Jon left Winterfell and the North to march alongside Daenerys Targaryen to King's Landing. Before doing so, he left Ghost in the care of Tormund Giantsbane, who planned to return home with the remaining Free Folk. The decision was sound, but the goodbye left something to be desired.
Fans were up in arms, saying that Ghost, for all his years of service and sacrifice -- the poor direwolf lost an ear in the Battle of Winterfell -- deserved more than a nod. According to "The Last of the Starks" director David Nutter, the farewell was largely due to production constraints. "Since the direwolves are kind of CG creations, we felt it best to keep it as simple as possible," he said. But that may have been only the partial truth.
Now, perhaps we know the real reason Jon didn't pat Ghost goodbye. In the finale, "The Iron Throne," Jon is exiled to the Night's Watch for his "treasonous" act of killing the Mad Queen. He returns to the Wall, where he finds not only his friend Tormund and the Wildlings who greet him as a hero, but also his direwolf.
With a loving smile, Jon walks up to Ghost, kneels and gives him the pat we had been waiting for. Given the duo's brief, chilly goodbye, their reunion is given much more weight.
In retrospect, we now have context for Jon's farewell. If he'd given Ghost the pat or the hug so many fans desired, their reunion wouldn't have been quite as sweet. Instead, Jon and Ghost meeting again is a touching moment that would melt even the coldest of Northern hearts.
Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.