The Direwolves Are More Important Than You Think On 'Game Of Thrones'

Jon Snow's pup Ghost may play a huge role in Season 6.

We're days away from the Season 6 premiere of "Game of Thrones," and there's only one question on our minds. Is Jon Snow dead Ghost alive?

Why yes, yes he is. (Or so his on-set trainer says.) But sadly not all of the direwolves have survived the first five seasons of the hit HBO show.

As you may recall, in Episode 1, Season 1, "Winter Is Coming," Ned Stark discovers a dead stag and a dead direwolf, who were seemingly entangled in an intense battle. Oddly enough, Ned and co. find six direwolf pups -- one for every Stark child, including an albino one for "bastard" Jon Snow.

We are soon introduced to the Stark-direwolf pairings: Robb and Grey Wind, Sansa and Lady, Arya and Nymeria, Bran and Summer, Rickon and Shaggydog, and Jon and Ghost. It turns out these wolf-pets are much more than just canine companions for the Stark children; they are guardians.

As Catelyn tells Robb in George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords from his A Song of Ice and Fire book series, she trusts Grey Wind's instincts more so than any man's. (He should have listened to his dog.)

"Any man Grey Wind dislikes is a man I do not want close to you. These wolves are more than wolves, Robb. You must know that. I think perhaps the gods sent them to us. Your father's gods, the old gods of the north. Five wolf pups, Robb, five for five Stark children."

"Six," said Robb. "There was a wolf for Jon as well. I found them, remember? I know how many there were and where they came from ... "

The introduction to the near-mythical direwolves was more than just Martin's/HBO's way of pleasing the puppy-lovers in the audience. In actuality, the direwolves have very important roles to play on "Game of Thrones."

Interestingly enough, it appears the direwolves were some of the first "characters" Martin considered for his series. As the author told Mashable in 2014, he always had a fascination with the werewolf legends as a kid and simply picked the wolf as the House Stark sigil from a gut feeling. But, of course, the direwolves do serve a bigger purpose than just being a throwback to his childhood.

At this point in the series, Nymeria, Summer, Shaggydog and Ghost are still alive, and rumor has it Ghost could have a much bigger role in Season 6. But Nymeria is set up to be a part of something big, as well.

"Arya’s wolf, Nymeria, in particular, will play an important role," Martin told Mashable. "You know, I don't like to give things away. But you don't hang a giant wolf pack on the wall unless you intend to use it."

In the book, Nymeria is a part of a wolf pack of "hundreds" in the Riverlands, and "GoT" theorists insist that the pack will attack -- either Walder Frey and co. or the White Walkers. Does this signify that Arya will also lead a "pack" and become the assassin leader she's beginning to be? Or will she warg into her wolf, which she has done in the books? Now that she's blind, perhaps she will use her skinchanger abilities more often to scout out Westeros and seek revenge. We shall see.

As for Summer, he's with Bran (who's returning this season, yay!) and will probably be doing a ton of warging with his master. Plus, rumor has it he eats some Wights. Tasty? Nah.

Shaggydog is still protecting Rickon and Osha and won't get into much this season, but we know he's one of the most temperamental direwolves. As Redditor Lord_Yohn_Royce explained, "Shaggydog is too far too vicious to be around others, feeding off the negative emotions of Rickon and going into violent tantrums ... " Stay tuned on this black-haired, green-eyed wolf.

And Ghost? It's pretty certain that he will be a part of his master's rumored return. Many theories point to the fact that Jon Snow could have warged into Ghost, who will then be used by Melisandre to bring the Lord Commander back to life.

Another possibility relates back to the Song of Ice and Fire series. In Martin's book A Dance with Dragons, the three-eyed crow (three-eyed raven on the show) tells Bran that a warg may die, but a part of them is always in their animal. And with the Starks all believed to be skinchangers, Jon Snow can already be in Ghost, which would make that resurrection thing a whole lot easier.

We sure do hope Ghost is here to save the day, because there's no game of thrones without Jon Snow, and there's no hope without a man's best friend, right?

And we miss you, Jon.

"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.

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'Game of Thrones' Season 6


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