Thursday morning, Game Of Thrones fans awoke to some brand new tease-y morsels for the HBO juggernaut’s upcoming finale season. No, a full-length, spoiler-filled trailer hadn’t arrived. Instead, Thrones debuted 20 character posters on Twitter. The photos show many of the remaining cast members sitting atop the Iron Throne solo, trying to copy Kanye West’s mean mug as best they can (unsurprisingly, the Night King excels).
But, amid all of the fanfare about Thrones’ newest piece of the promotional puzzle, we’re all forgetting one very important person is missing from the photo series: Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), No. 1 fan of Brienne Of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Wildling hunk. This isn’t the first time the fantasy epic has left Tormund out of the lead up to season 8's April 14 premiere. If you really look back at everything HBO has slipped fans ahead of Thrones’ return, you’ll realize the network may just be trying to tell us Tormund actually died in the season 7 finale’s catastrophic cliffhanger. With every trickle of information, the fan-favourite possibility of Brienne and Tormund finally falling in love slips away a little bit more.
Viewers' first real look at Thrones season 8 came in the form of the Golden Globes-premiering network trailer. Tormund was left out of the footage HBO chose to release since it had nothing to do with him. Instead, the the snippet released set up a possible feud between Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), reigning Lady Of Winterfell, and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his new girlfriend Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Jon left the Starks’ ancestral home a king and returned to his sister as a dragon queen’s knee-bending lord — there’s going to be some drama there.
It made sense that Tormund wasn’t a part of this meeting. First of all, he’s not a main character in the style of the Starks and the Targaryens. Plus, the last time we saw the Wildling, he was all the way at the Wall as the Night King decimated the supernatural boundary while riding atop a newly icy Viserion (hence, the theory Tormund died in the collapse). There’s no way he would be at Winterfell yet, even if he did survive. This logic also applies to the newest Thrones “trailer,” which shows Dany’s army and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in Winterfell. The sole glimpse we see of Tormund in that video appears to be from season 7.
That’s why Tormund’s absence after the attack on the Wall is most felt in Thrones’ promotional images. The first batch of photos show us many characters who are also part of the series' B Team. We see Brienne, the object of Tormund’s ardent affection, Varys (Conleth Hill), and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). But, no Tormund. In Thursday’s parade of character portraits, GoT went similarly deep into its cast's bench. Most of the giant-killer’s fellow surviving “Beyond The Wall” Suicide Squad members appear, including Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Even eternally failing Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) scored a few seconds on the throne for a photo. Tormund remained MIA.
It’s possible all of this exclusion is Thrones’ way of telling Brienne and Tormund shippers not to expect to see their faves get together after the Night King’s deadly attack. After all, Brienne’s other possible love interest, a broody, bearded Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), will almost definitely be in Winterfell with her come season 8, as promo images confirm.
But at least there's still a glimmer of hope Tormund will return to Thrones, and our hearts, come April. Remember, this is the show that convinced the world Jon Snow was really dead and gone. If they lied about that, anything can happen.