When Jon Snow died or the Hound was nowhere to be seen, I was 100 percent behind theories that Game of Thrones viewers hadn't seen the last of those characters. But unlike those fan favorites, there are some characters on Game of Thrones that will never return. Season 6 has been brimming with the comebacks of long-lost characters like the aforementioned Hound or Uncle Benjen, whom I irrationally love even though he's only been in a (cold) handful of episodes. But that doesn't mean you should get your hopes up for characters who just really, really seem like they are dead and gone for good.
The ninth episode of Season 6, "The Battle of the Bastards," had some pretty definitive deaths — i.e., Ramsay and Rickon — that aren't even worth theorizing or arguing about because I'm fairly certain those characters will never be seen alive again. However, due to plenty of other ambiguous deaths or characters who are dead in the show but are still kicking it in the books (and I do not mean kicking the proverbial bucket), it can be difficult not to think that there's a possibility that almost any character could return.
For example, I can't say that I don't believe there's still a very high chance for Gendry and a slight chance for Catelyn (for you Lady Stoneheart hopefuls other there) to show their faces on Game of Thrones again. But for other characters, I feel confident that it's time for all fans to realize that — in the words of Taylor Swift — they are never ever ever getting back together with Game of Thrones.
So if you're in denial like so many Game of Thrones fans out there are, here are the characters it's time to accept are never coming back, so you can start to move on.
1. Stannis Baratheon
Game of Thrones didn't explicitly show Stannis' dead body when Brienne of Tarth killed him in Season 5, but he's the one exception to the "no body, can't be dead" rule of thumb that all Game of Thrones viewers should follow. Just like Stannis, his storyline is finito ... except for the fact that Davos discovered how Shireen really died. Hey! Maybe Melisandre will resurrect Shireen now — just kidding.
2. Jojen Reed
Bran Stark's companion Jojen Reed died when their gang reached the Three-Eyed Raven's cave back in Season 4, but he's still alive in George R.R. Martin's books. Considering Jojen has supernatural powers with his warging, he's not a completely bizarre choice of character to theorize about coming back with even actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster saying that reprising Jojen "would be fun" on Good Morning Britain. Yet, his purpose on the show is finished, with him successfully getting Bran to the Three-Eyed Raven, so I'd say Brodie-Sangster won't be back again. Plus, Bran has Jojen's sister to help him anyway.
3. Mance Rayder
The King-Beyond-the-Wall received a shout-out from Tormund during "The Battle of the Bastards," which could restore fan theories that Mance is really still alive. Like Jojen, the Wildling king isn't dead in Martin's books and has a much bigger storyline in novel form. Ciarán Hinds is a busy actor, but fans on Quora theorized that Mance could come back in another form. Yet, HBO showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have seemed to move on from this plot and I'd be shocked to see Mance return at all — no matter what form he could possibly take.
I am emotionally traumatized by every direwolf's death, but in case you were hoping for the Shaggydog conspiracy theory to be true, Game of Thrones showed viewers Rickon's direwolf's head in "The Battle of the Bastards" to really solidify that the devoted pet is gone. The theory was that the head of Shaggydog wasn't really the direwolf's head and the Umbers were plotting to betray Ramsay Bolton. But I think Rickon's death and the fact that the Umbers did not switch allegiances in "The Battle of the Bastards," prove that this direwolf is gone. Arya's direwolf, on the other hand, is quite a different story... #BringBackNymeria!
5. Syrio Forel
Speaking of Arya, fans still hold out hope that her "dance" instructor Syrio Forel could return. He presumably died all the way back in Season 1, protecting Arya from the Kingsguard after her father was taken prisoner. While Syrio is known for telling the god of death, "Not today," I was fairly certain that encounter with the Kingsguard was his day of death. But when Arya was in Braavos being chased by the Waif, a silhouette of a curly-haired man started a fan theory on Twitter that Syrio is alive with even the actor Miltos Yerolemou responding to the tweet with a cryptic emoji answer. As much as I love this theory, I think it's best for everyone to just acknowledge that the water dancer is probably dead and gone — even if he was from the land where the Many-Faced God is followed.
I am the first to admit that I was initially hopeful that Hodor could come back in some form after his devastating death in "The Door," since Hodor actor Kristian Nairn told Entertainment Weekly that his fate was "left open." Although there's a chance that Hodor could return as one truly frightening White Walker, I think his story was so tragically perfect in its telling that any Hodor comeback would be unnecessary and just too damn much for me to handle. Can we all just agree to agree that Hodor is dead and let me move on with my grieving process, please?
While it's always fun to entertain the possibility of characters coming back to Game of Thrones, with the series threatening to end after 13 more episodes, now is the perfect time to accept that Benioff and Weiss are starting to wrap up the show and they can't bring every character back — even if we really wish they would.
Images: Helen Sloan/HBO; Giphy (6)