Why 'Game Of Thrones' Shouldn't Bring Nymeria Back Again

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

At the beginning of the first season of Game Of Thrones, Arya Stark was forced to say goodbye to her direwolf, Nymeria, who ran away into the forest so she wouldn’t be killed at the behest of the Lannisters. Six years later, the episode “Stormborn” has finally clued us in to where Arya’s former companion went; now fully grown, she appears to be leading a pack of smaller wolves in the wilderness surrounding Winterfell. So will Nymeria ever return to Game Of Thrones for another appearance, or is this the last time fans will see her before the show ends?

It’s clear from their encounter that Nymeria is no longer interested in being a pet; as Arya said, “That’s not you.” It’s a similar sentiment to what Arya once expressed about her own life to her father, Ned. When he told her that she’d be expected to grow up and become the demure wife of a nobleman, she replied, “That’s not me.” Now, both she and Nymeria are living their lives free of domestication, but where Nymeria has embraced her situation so thoroughly that she’s even formed a new pack, Arya still holds out hope that she might be able to reach her family. Whether or not she sees Nymeria again might depend on how she chooses to proceed — if she finally does give up her Stark heritage and seeks out a more hermit-like existence, then perhaps their paths will cross in the woods again.

Arya isn’t the only Stark whose current circumstances perfectly mirror that of her direwolf, either. Sansa’s wolf was executed by the Lannisters in a way that symbolized her abuse at Joffrey’s hands; Robb and Rickon’s wolves were murdered the same time that they were, both by the Boltons; and Bran’s wolf was killed by White Walkers in the cave of the Three Eyed-Raven last season, right after he made a terrible mistake that put him and his travel party in danger. This only leaves Ghost and Nymeria left, although Ghost hasn’t been seen since Jon Snow came back to life last season.

Speaking of which, Game Of Thrones hasn’t exactly been that interested in featuring the direwolves more than necessary; I could probably count on one hand the number of times they’ve appeared in scenes where they were not dying. This deviates from the way they’re depicted in in A Song Of Ice And Fire — there, the Starks have such intense bonds with their animals that many of them, not just Bran, are able to “warg” into them and inhabit their bodies. In fact, warging was how Arya first reunited with her direwolf in the books; prior to leaving Braavos, she would have dreams of leading a pack as Nymeria in the Riverlands, the central region of Westeros where the Red Wedding took place.

Of course, Game Of Thrones has passed beyond what's happened in the books, so whether Nymeria will return in the future is anyone's guess at this point. Because of the way the show has skimped on direwolf appearances in the past, however, I feel pretty confident in saying that this is likely the last time she'll appear, at least for the rest of the season. If she does come back, it will be for a very specific reason — she might get symbolically killed, too, or maybe she'll swoop in at the last moment like Summer once did for Bran way back in the first season and save Arya from some unforseen danger.

Either way, until that moment comes, I will choose to imagine Nymeria how audiences last saw her in Game On Thrones — ruling over the forests with a band of badass wolves, living her best life. At least someone's thriving on this show, even if that someone is a direwolf.