Almost any death on HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” is hard to stomach, but some hit home more than others. Early in the show, a cast of four-legged supporting characters known as direwolves were introduced to viewers and the Stark family, quickly becoming fan favorites. The appearances of the furry stars have since dwindled, much to the displeasure of many viewers.
The direwolves are first seen in “Game of Thrones” Season 1, episode 1. Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and his children enter the woods beyond the walls of Winterfell and find a dead direwolf, which has given birth to a litter of puppies. While the Lord of Winterfell is ready to kill the pups, his bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is able to convince him that their birth is a sign, and each of the Stark children is given one. As they exit the wooded area, the future lord commander of the Night’s Watch spots an albino direwolf, which also happens to be the runt of the litter. He takes it for himself. From then on, the Stark children’s wolves stuck close by their sides, defending them when necessary.
Many theories have cropped up about the direwolves. Some “Game of Thrones” fans believe the animals, which are somewhat mythical despite being close relations of actual wolves, were activated because of the resurgence of White Walkers beyond the Wall. Others speculate that the Stark children have powers similar to those of Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who can take on the form of his direwolf. However, it is believed that most of the Starks are unaware of these powers.
Unfortunately, throughout the course of the series, several direwolves have been killed — one too many, some fans say. As we head into the Season 6 finale, you may find yourself wondering how many Stark direwolves remain. Well, wonder no more.
Lady: Sansa Stark’s (Sophie Turner) direwolf was among the first to die. She moved to King’s Landing from Winterfell with her owner, but her stay was short-lived. After an outburst by Arya Stark’s (Maisie Williams) direwolf, Nymeria, leaves Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) with a bite on his hand, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) orders that Lady be killed in the place of the youngest Stark girl’s pet. Sansa attempts to convince her father not to do it, to no avail. Lady is killed near the Inn at the Crossroads, leaving her owner distraught.
Nymeria: Arya sends her direwolf away after the incident in King’s Landing. In an effort to convince the wolf to leave her side, she and a friend throw rocks at the animal. Arya reveals to her dad that she hit Nymeria twice, at which point the direwolf disappeared into the woods. The younger Stark girl continues to dream about her wolf, although she has not been seen since Season 1. It is believed she is still alive.
Greywind: Robb Stark’s (Richard Madden) direwolf stuck close by his side through battle and all. That is, until Season 3, episode 9, when Robb, his wife Talisa Stark (Oona Chaplin) and mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) are all invited to attend the wedding of Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) and Roslin Frey (Alexandra Dowling). The ceremony has since been dubbed the Red Wedding, a nod to all the bloodshed that ensued. Greywind is among those slain. The wolf’s head is cut off and affixed atop an effigy, meant to represent Robb.
Shaggydog: Rickon Stark’s (Art Parkinson) direwolf escaped Winterfell in Season 2 when Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) took over the castle. Along with Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Osha (Natalia Tena), Bran and Bran’s direwolf Summer, the youngest Stark boy flees to a nearby farm where the two wolves team up to kill wildlings lurking in the area. It is there that Bran decides he and Hodor must travel to meet the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) while urging Osha and Rickon to continue their original quest. They do so. In time, they are captured by the Umbers, who kill Shaggydog, presenting his head to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) along with his two new prisoners. Many speculated that the direwolf presented was not actually Shaggydog, noting the head appeared significantly smaller. However, it seems the wolf is dead.
Summer: During Season 6, episode 5, Bran and Hodor encounter White Walkers. They make a run for it, while Hodor holds a large door shut to slow down the humanoid ice creatures, but both Bran’s direwolf and his right-hand man are killed.
Ghost: Jon Snow’s direwolf followed him from Winterfell to the Wall and beyond. Ghost has been there in times of need, protecting Jon and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) on more than one occasion. Even during the few episodes when Jon was dead, Ghost lived on and stuck close to his owner.
Will the remaining direwolves make an appearance in the Season 6 finale? Tune in to HBO, Sunday, June 26, at 9 p.m. EDT to find out.