“Game of Thrones” fans are creatures of habit. Most viewers of the HBO series watch the “previously on” clip to get an idea of where the new episode is headed before using the opening sequence (which feels like  20 minutes) to prepare for an hour without a bathroom or snack break. However, during episode 7 Sunday, the show shook things up with a cold opening featuring the Hound.

Why did “Game of Thrones” throw in such a big surprise? According to co-executive producer Bryan Cogman, who also wrote episode 7, the show didn’t want to ruin the return of Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann)!

“We figured it would make his reveal more impactful if the audience hadn’t seen [McCann’s] name in the opening credits first,” Cogman revealed to Entertainment Weekly.

Sandor Clegane hadn’t been seen since Season 4 when Arya (Maisie Williams) left him for dead after he battled Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). Fans assumed he had succumbed to his injuries, but the cold opening from episode 7 revealed he had been rescued by a man named Brother Ray, played by “Deadwood” alum Ian McShane. Brother Ray explained that he had found the Hound close to death, and didn’t believe that the latter would survive. But somehow Clegane managed to pull through, and it appeared as though he had found peace chopping wood for Brother Ray’s flock.

Unfortunately, that peace was short-lived. While the Hound was in the woods gathering firewood for the night, Brother Ray and his people were slaughtered. Despite Brother Ray's lesson on removing violence from his life, the episode concluded with the Hound grabbing a hatchet.

Although “Game of Thrones” viewers have to keep watching to find out what happens next, many are theorizing the Hound will be out for revenge — and possibly even face his brother, the Mountain ( Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).

“Game of Thrones” Season 6 airs on HBO Sundays at 9 p.m. EDT.

Game of Thrones The Hound (Rory McCann) returned in episode 7 of “Game of Thrones” Season 6. Photo: HBO