Beric Dondarrion's Return Means Lady Stoneheart On 'Game Of Thrones' Will Never, Ever Happen

One of fans' favorite pasttimes over the past few years has been heatedly debating whether or not Lady Stoneheart would be on Game Of Thrones . After the reanimated version of Catelyn Stark didn't appear in the wake of the Red Wedding at the end of Season 3, most book readers assumed her first appearance had been postponed to the end of Season 4 (which would have lined up with the character's debut during the epilogue of A Storm Of Swords). But, she didn't show up then, either… or in Season 5… or at any point in Season 6 so far. Are the showrunners simply delaying her entrance or has she been cut from the show entirely? Well, the endless theorizing seems to be is an end: Lady Stoneheart is officially cut from Game Of Thrones, if Beric Dondarrion's reappearance means anything.

Although both sides of the debate have offered compelling arguments and evidence over the years for why Stoneheart would/wouldn't make the translation from the page to the screen, the most recent episode, "No One," offered the first definitive proof one way or another — and it won't make fans of the character very happy.

For those who had given up hope after Season 5 came and went with no vengeful zombie-Catelyn in sight, Season 6 did an expert job of trolling us all by laying the groundwork for what seemed like her imminent debut. All of the elements that are necessary for her resurrection to make sense were reintroduced to the show after having been missing for several seasons: The Freys, perpetrators of the Red Wedding; the Brotherhood Without Banners, the group of outlaws Lady Stoneheart commands; and Thoros of Myr himself, the Red Priest who brings the dead matriarch back to life in the books.

After sending Jaime Lannister on a detour to Dorne last season and sending Brienne of Tarth north in search of Sansa, both characters finally converged in the Riverlands, where they have their fateful encounter with Lady Stoneheart in A Feast For Crows. There has been an awful lot of talk about Catelyn lately — especially in "No One," where her memory was invoked first in Brienne's conversation with Jaime, and later in Jaime's conversation with Catelyn's brother Edmure Tully. Heck, the writers even took the trouble to have a minor Frey character remind audiences that he was the one who slit Catelyn's throat during the Red Wedding, seemingly setting him up for retribution at the hands of his reanimated victim.

In the face of all of this evidence, why am I so certain that Lady Stoneheart has been cut from the show? It's not just because the return of uncle Benjen (a possible departure from the source material) makes the resurrection of a second member of the older generation of Starks redundant. No, it's specifically thanks to a character that Sandor Clegane encountered during this Sunday's episode. Tracking down the men who slaughtered Brother Ray and the rest of the villagers, the Man Formerly Known As The Hound ran into the Brotherhood Without Banners, including the aforementioned Thoros of Myr… and Beric Dondarrion.

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Since the character has been absent from the show for 30 episodes in a row, a brief refresher: Beric was the leader of the Brotherhood, and the first character we ever saw brought back to life. He was killed during trial by combat against The Hound (despite his badass flaming sword), but quickly reemerged alive and well thanks to the ministrations of Thoros — who, like Melisandre, is a follower of R'hllor. In the books, it's thanks to Beric that Catelyn is still alive. When the Brotherhood found her body (which had been dragged out of the river in which it had been thrown by Arya's direwolf Nymeria), the immortal leader sacrificed himself to save her, administering the kiss of life that allowed the dead Stark to return to life while Beric finally died for good.

Have you spotted the problem? If Lady Stoneheart was going to be introduced on the show, then Beric would have needed to give his life to bring her back; therefore, his presence in "No One" directly negates the possibility that Catelyn will ever return. Beric popping up again is perhaps the only thing the showrunners could have done to directly disprove all the Lady Stoneheart theories once and for all… and so, of course, that's exactly what they did this week.

But couldn't Beric just resurrect Catelyn now, rather than us having learned at some point that it had already happened offscreen? Sadly, no. The Red Wedding was a good three years or so ago; at this point, Catelyn Stark is no more than a pile of bones. There would simply be nothing left to resurrect even if Beric wanted to… and it doesn't seem like he does, since the Brotherhood has gone in an entirely different direction than they did on the page — yet another mark in the column against Lady Stoneheart.

In the books, the Brotherhood morphs under Stoneheart's single-minded leadership from a band of Merry Men-like outlaws who protect the common people into a marauding gang of murderers whose sole mission is to hunt down and hang Freys, Boltons, and anyone involved in the Red Wedding. But the show's version of the Brotherhood has no such mission; rather, Beric tells Sandor that they're preparing to head north to help fight the White Walkers. (Presumably they've been clued in to the brewing conflict thanks to Thoros' communion with the Lord of Light.)

This new mission has nothing to do with the Freys or the Red Wedding — hence, there's no reason at all for the show to include Lady Stoneheart at this point. The whole time Sandor was talking with Beric and Thoros, there was no mention of a ruthless zombie overlord, ruling out the possibility that Catelyn had been resurrected in some way that didn't involve Beric dying. And this season has already seen so many returns (Jon, Bran, Rickon, Benjen, Sandor) that including Stoneheart at this late stage would just feel like piling on.

As satisfying as it would have been to see a resurrected Catelyn wreak some unholy vengeance on the Freys as retaliation for the Red Wedding, it seems like it's finally time to admit defeat and acknowledge that, in the words of Regina George, Lady Stoneheart is never gonna happen.

Images: HBO (2); Giphy