The huge budgets for Game of Thrones Season 8 mean good news for Ghost fans
The return of the direwolves. Yes!
Now that the directors of the best episodes in the history of Game of Thrones have officially signed on for Season 8, the excitement levels are growing as production starts on the final six episodes of the world's most beloved show.
With every season, Game of Thrones continues to push its boundaries - both thematically and visually - and with the Great War approaching, the spectacle and scale will only increase.
Fans are expecting the battles to be more intense, the dragons to be bigger and the Night King's army to grow.
We're already salivating at the prospect of what's in store, but an increased budget should also see the return of a beloved character.
As reported by Variety, the final six episodes of Game of Thrones will cost a staggering $15 million apiece. It's also looking very likely that each episode will have a duration of 90 minutes plus - essentially, the final six episodes of Game of Thrones should be as long as a film.
Throughout Season 7, Jon Snow fans were desperate to see a reunion between the King in the North and his beloved direwolf, Ghost.
As Game of Thrones fans will know, Ghost has been an instrumental part of Jon's journey throughout the series.
In fact, the badass direwolf has done all of the following; threatened a Night's Watch soldier that was bullying Sam, alerted Jon that a wight was attacking Castle Black, saved Sam from a wight when they ventured beyond The Wall and the killed Rast at Craster's Keep.
All this without mentioning the fact that the loyal animal stayed by Jon's side after those mutinous Night's Watch soldiers stabbed their Lord Commander in the chest.
In the most recent season, Jon didn’t spend a lot of time at Winterfell and the King in the North never explained why he decided not to bring Ghost along with him to Dragonstone.
When asked why Jon’s wolf was completely cut from Season 7, Bryan Cogman - the writer of Stormborn - said that a reunion scene was omitted from the final version. "We shot a Jon/Ghost scene. Didn't make it in. I tried! Thx for watching, everybody," Cogman said.
The simple truth is that any scenes that feature the direwolves are quite expensive - that's why we only got to see a reunion between Arya and Nymeria in Season 7.
In fact, Miguel Sapochnik also cited the budget as a reason why Ghost didn't feature during the Battle of the Bastards episode in Season6. “[Ghost] was in there in spades originally, but it's also an incredibly time-consuming and expensive character to bring to life. Ultimately, we had to choose between Wun-Wun [the giant] and the direwolf, so the dog bit the dust.”
Entertainment Weekly reporter James Hibberd has also spoken about the difficulty of making the direwolves appear realistic on-screen - aka more money is required for VFX.
"One reason we haven't seen the direwolves more often is that the producers set a high bar for visual realism on the series and ultra-large wolves are difficult to render convincingly. A naturalistic furry animal takes more time and resources to create using computer effects than a fantastical scaly dragon," he said.
Given the fact that Season 7 was primarily focused on the journey of Daenerys and her dragons, it would also make narrative sense to omit Jon's trusty companion. The focus was on a more expensive beast - well, three beasts.
However, with only six episodes to wrap up everything, we're expecting every single character to get a fitting farewell.
With an increased budget of $15m per episode, the Game of Thrones producers have no reason to leave Ghost out. The Great War is here and Jon Snow will need all the help that he can get. As we've seen before, his beloved direwolf is more than capable of fighting the dead.
Make. It. Happen.
Meanwhile, Irish fans of Game of Thrones can actually meet the direwolves on Friday.
Full details here...