People — the good ones, at least — love pets. And the direwolves on Game of Thrones are no exception. From their first appearance in the very first episode, the Stark family direwolves have been fan favorites. HBO even sells plush toys on their website.
After Ned Stark (along with Bran, Robb, Theon Greyjoy, and Jon Snow) discovers a dead female direwolf in the woods, the boys find a litter of pups hiding against her bloodied corpse. Direwolves are the sigil of House Stark and were thought to be extinct. This particular female’s death after a fight with a stag (the sigil of House Baratheon) may have been meaningful to Ned.
Just like all little kids when they see puppies, the Starks begged to keep the young wolves, noting that there were five — one for each of the Stark children. Jon Snow finds an albino pup, the odd one out, and knows that wolf is his.
WARNING: Spoilers are coming.
With the recent death of some of the remaining wolves, let’s look at each of the pups and see where they are now.
Ghost is perhaps one of the best known direwolves because of his white coat and red eyes. He has appeared in the show more than any of the other wolves, accompanying Jon Snow to the Wall and beyond. During Jon Snow’s time with the wildlings, Ghost became the protector of Sam and Gilly, saving them both from a group of Night’s Watch bullies who meant to rape Gilly and beat Sam senseless. The little pup pictured above has since grown into a massive beast, and he most recently laid beside Jon Snow and guarded his body after a group of Night’s Watch traitors stabbed their Lord Commander to death.
Ghost was even the biggest hint to Jon Snow’s resurrection, as he awoke and looked over at his corpse just before Snow took his first gasping breaths. The direwolf will go with Jon to wherever he’s headed next, now that his watch has ended.
In the novels, Jon Snow is hinted as being a warg like his (alleged) half-brother Bran. After his death at the hands of his brothers, he is able to see through Ghost’s eyes. As the books and show have diverged, this part of the plot may be removed from the television series completely, but could hint at how Snow survives in the books.
STATUS: Alive and well, accompanying Jon Snow. (Most likely, they’re headed to Winterfell to kick some Bolton butt.)
Grey Wind served as Robb Stark‘s hound of war, inspiring fear in his enemies and taking out lots of Lannisters on the battlefield. He defends Robb during several key moments in his rise to becoming King of the North, including biting off the fingers of Lord Greatjon Umber when he draws his sword on Robb. He is also instrumental to the North’s victory at the Battle of Oxcross, frightening the Lannister horses and killing seven men.
Unfortunately, Grey Wind was kenneled at the Twins during the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. When the Freys and Boltons turn on the Starks, killing Catelyn, Robb, and Robb’s pregnant wife, Grey Wind is also killed. His head is then cut off and put onto Robb’s body, paraded around in a mockery of Robb’s nickname – “The Young Wolf”.
STATUS: Deceased and partially attached to Robb Stark.
Summer, the direwolf of Bran Stark, is an interesting one because of Bran’s ability to transfer his consciousness into the wolf. Summer serves as Bran’s other body, allowing him to run around after his own body is broken after being pushed out of a tower window by Jaime Lannister. When Bran is convalescing at Winterfell, an assassin of the Lannister’s comes to kill him, but Summer rips the man’s throat out.
Summer continued to protect Bran as he traveled north of the Wall on his way to find the Three-Eyed Raven. He stayed with Bran in the giant weirwood tree, but met his fateful end at the hands of the invading White Walkers.
STATUS (UPDATED 5/22): Summer’s met a sacrificial end at the hands of the White Walkers, while saving Bran from the invading Night’s King and his army.
Lady was adopted by Sansa Stark. She accompanied Sansa on the way to King’s Landing when Ned, Arya, and Sansa moved there for Ned’s appointment as the Hand of the King. Along the way, however, Joffrey and Arya get into a fight and Lady’s sister Nymeria bites the prince. Arya sends Nymeria away, and it is Lady who pays the price. Cersei Lannister demands that one of the direwolves must be punished, and so Lady is sentenced to death. Although the king’s executioner, Ser Ilyn Payne, was supposed to kill the wolf, Ned demands that he be allowed to carry out the sentence himself, as is the way of the North.
Sansa blames Arya for the incident, driving a wedge between the sisters.
In real life, Lady’s story has a happy ending, as the actress who portrays Sansa, Sophie Turner, adopted the dog that portrayed Lady in the show.
STATUS: Deceased and buried near the Kingsroad.
Shaggydog was adopted by the youngest of the Stark children, the wild boy Rickon. Rickon often would escape and explore the family crypts with Shaggydog, giving Bran and Osha quite a fright when they come looking for him. He escapes Winterfell with Bran, Osha, Hodor, and Summer after Theon Greyjoy takes over their home.
When Bran meets the Reeds and determines he must go north of the Wall, he sends Osha and Rickon away, to find somewhere safe to hide. Shaggydog accompanies them and they disappear from both the books and television series for some time.
STATUS: Deceased (apparently), but at least his head’s at Winterfell.
Nymeria, named for warrior-queen Nymeria of Dorne, is the direwolf of Arya Stark. Like Arya, Nymeria is intelligent, brave, and feisty. After Joffrey draws a sword on Arya along the Kingsroad, Nymeria bites him on the arm and Arya chases her away so that she will not be punished. That was the last time viewers have seen Nymeria on the show, however, there have been hints of her whereabouts in the novels.
In the novels, Arya has heard stories about a huge female wolf who leads a pack near the Riverlands that do not fear men. She later sees a pack of wolves on her way toward Riverrun while looking for her mother and howls at them – the largest howls back. Arya also shares a warg bond with Nymeria, and through this she sees when Nymeria finds Catelyn Stark’s body in a river and pulls her to shore.
There are several mentions of a great pack of hundreds of wolves prowling the Riverlands and the Trident, led by a “she-wolf of monstrous size”.
STATUS: Alive and likely doing very well. Hopefully, viewers will get to see Nymeria and her giant pack take down some villains soon.