Every episode of Game Of Thrones cuts fresh wounds thanks to the relentless character deaths, but our hearts are still stinging from the treatment of Ghost, Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) direwolf. Our good boy charged into battle and briefly went missing earlier this season, only to get the lamest exit from the show in episode 4 of season 8 when Jon simply sent him away with Tormund Giantsband (Kristofer Hivju). There was no hug, no tears, not even a pat goodbye — but the reason has nothing to do with Jon's questionable dog ownership ability. According to a Vulture interview with a Game Of Thrones special effects supervisor, it's just too damn complicated.
This was touched on briefly back in season 7 when Ghost was absent during the Battle of the Bastards.
"Ghost was there in spades originally, but it’s also an incredibly time-consuming and expensive character to bring to life,” director Miguel Sapochnik told Business Insider. “Ultimately, we had to choose between Wun-Wun and the direwolf, so the dog bit the dust."
Kirk Brillon, who has worked on over 200 GoT VFX shots for Spin VFX, explained to Vulture just how complicated it really is to have the direwolves on screen.
“It’s an old-school method, the way they do it,” he said. “And it absolutely looks better because they do it that way.”
The gist of it is this: Real wolves are shot on green screen and then superimposed using digital compositing. During IRL filming, everything has to be painstakingly marked, choreographed, and tracked to perfectly match up with the green-screen replication. If the IRL actors and the digitized wolves have to touch, then things get even more complicated, which is why it's only occurred sparingly, like when Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) touches Summer in season 3.
"They shot him on a fake floor, and they shot the wolf on a fake floor, and they kept everything exactly in position so the eyelines match," Steve Ramon, another Spin VFX supervisor who’s worked on Game Of Thrones, explained. "You need it to actually look like the kid’s looking in the wolf’s eyes, and that’s hard."
While all that makes sense and my heart goes out to the team etc., I counter with this: Just look into Ghost's beautiful eyes — are you saying this good boy isn't worth it?