We understand that Game of Thrones isn't so much a fantasy show as it is a knotted tapestry of plot threads, characters, and thematic arcs, so you can hardly blame HBO for dropping the needle every now and again. Even so, now that Game of Thrones season 8 is over, we can't help but feel as though a bunch of secondary characters were never given their due, having a major presence for entire episodes and seasons before disappearing off screen without warning to never return. With the final season, some had expected these forgotten players to come back for one last hurrah, and that happened to an extent with the return of Edmure Tully and Robin Arryn, but many were still mysteriously absent, leaving us to forever wonder what happened to them off screen now that the show's over for good.
Perhaps Game of Thrones' showrunners are commenting on the fact that, in art as in life, the people you care about come and go like the ebb and flow of a lunar tide. Or perhaps HBO just didn't have the budget to pay every actor with a speaking role to come back. Either way, the Game of Thrones ending means we can definitely say that the following list of characters were shafted, shortchanged, or otherwise left behind by the show that introduced them to us in the first place. Here's hoping they somehow make it into the Game of Thrones prequel TV show.
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1
Last seen: Conspiring with Varys beneath the Red Keep in season 1, episode 5
For a character who set the war for the Iron Throne in motion by organising the marriage of Daenerys Targaryen to Khal Drogo, Illyrio is suspiciously absent from later seasons of Thrones. His ability to play both sides of the war – navigating the politics of the Seven Kingdoms with relative ease – suggests he's the kind of person who'd survive the game of thrones longer than most, but when Varys and Tyrion arrive at his homeland of Pentos in season 5, the man is a no-show, despite Varys making mention of his name outright. Illyrio's actor Roger Allam is something of a prestigious thespian in his UK homeland, so perhaps HBO wasn't willing to spend any more money for a recurring role into season 2 and beyond.
Ser Ilyn Payne
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 2
Last seen: Playing bodyguard/mercy killer to Cersei during the Battle of Blackwater in the penultimate episode of season 2
The man who killed Ned Stark got off pretty lightly for his crimes in Game of Thrones, mysteriously fading into the background after holding a firm and steady presence as a minor villain through seasons 1 - 2, and only briefly mentioned once more in season 4 by Tywin, before never being heard of or from again. The Lannister's loyal killer was even on Arya Stark's infamous hit list for a time, but she curiously dropped his name from the running for reasons that still aren't completely clear. Some believe Payne died during the Battle of King's Landing in season 8 along with, well, everyone else, but I guess we'll never know for sure.
First appearance: Season 3, Episode 2
Last seen: Searching for Arya (unsuccessfully) in season 3, episode 7
One of the few named members of the Brotherhood Without Banners, Anguy is the (ahem) guy who captures Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie in season 3, and even teaches the youngest Stark daughter how to use a bow and arrow. He's pretty skilled as an archer himself, but fails to capture Arya when she scampers off towards the Red Wedding at House Frey, only to be captured again by The Hound just before the bloodbath takes place. While we meet several banner-free members again in later seasons, Anguy is nowhere to be seen, implying that he's either died or left the Brotherhood in the intervening time. How convenient.
First appearance: Season 3, Episode 8
Last seen: Reluctantly parting ways with Daenerys in the season 6 finale
Alas, spare a moment for poor Daario Naharis. Not only did the character get abruptly recast following his season 3 introduction, confusing everybody when fresh face Michiel Huisman was suddenly seen getting very close to Daenerys in season 4, but the poor Second Son sellsword was swiftly sidelined right as the Khaleesi was about to fulfill her destiny as the breaker of chains. After Dany breaks it off with Daario in season 6, we never see or hear from the mercenary again, aside from a brief reference made by the Dragon Mother in season 7. He's presumably still holding the peace in Meereen, awaiting his lover's return, painfully unaware of the fact that a) she's with another man, b) that man killed her, and c) she committed genocide upon an entire city. What is it they say about ignorance and bliss again?
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 10
Last seen: At the long end of a needle in season 6, episode 8
Let's start by saying, yes, it's all too possible that we have seen Jaqen H'ghar since his last confirmed appearance in season 6, but he was just wearing a different face. Shapeshifting and duplicity is the Faceless Man's specialty, after all, though that still doesn't mean we're okay with Game of Thrones. Arya's mentor/frenemy was one of the best characters of the show's early days, and you'd have thought he'd wanted to have a say in the war with the Night King at the very least. Wait a second… perhaps he was the Night King?! Now I'm questioning everything.
First appearance: Season 3, Episode 2
Last seen: Being rudely dismissed by emo Bran in season 7, episode 4
Perhaps no one has been so rudely yanked with HBO's Vaudeville hook than that of Meera Reed, who we now know was nothing more than a plot device to carry Bran from Winterfell to the Great Weirwood Tree and back again, before being sent off screen as soon as her use to the story subsides. Last we heard, Meera headed back to Greywater Watch to be with her family before the Night King arrived, storming out of Winterfell after Bran basically repaid his debt to her with a series of backhanded insults. And yet the Night King was defeated before he ever made it that far south so, presumably the warrior youngling is still there, happily living out her life. I bet she's still pissed at Bran, though.
First appearance: Season 2, Episode 2
Last seen: Lending his ships to Stannis Baratheon's cause in Season 4, Episode 6
A pirate lord in charge of a cutthroat fleet of 30-plus ships, Salladhor Saan was a native of the Summer Islands, and part of Stannis Baratheon's naval army for hire during the Battle of Blackwater. Saan fled Stannis' side following that defeat, but we see Ser Davos wooing the mercenary back around to the cause in season 4 with the promise of more money. He seems to be game… but then we never see Saan again, leaving us to assume he died alongside the rest of Stannis' army sometime during season 5.
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 10
Last seen: Baking Arya a, well, hot pie in Season 7, Episode 2
The culinarily gifted orphan who befriends Arya in Game of Thrones season 1 quickly became a series favourite amongst fans, and was given a send-off of sorts in season 7, when the pair meet again for one last conversation. Frankly, though, it wasn't enough. Is Hot Pie still making direwolf loaves in the Inn at the Crossroads? Is he aware that Gendry is now Lord Baratheon of Storm's End? I need answers HBO! Funnily enough, the real hot pie (or rather actor Ben Hawkey), has opened an actual bakery in London called “You Know Nothing John Dough" that sells real Direwolf loaves. Maybe we should go visit, and ask him what happened to Hot Pie instead.
First appearance: Season 2, Episode 5
Last seen: Being an ominous know it all in Season 2, Episode 7
We don't know much about Quaithe, over than the fact she's a shadowbinder, resides in the Eastern city of Asshai, has a run in with Daenerys and Jorah in season 2, and is never seen again since. There's a theory that this soothsayer is actually Elissa Farman; the woman who stole three eggs from Dragonstone during the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen… which eventually make their way into the hands of Dany herself and, well, you know the rest. As far as the show is concerned, that mystery remains just that, but perhaps R. R. Martin's future books will provide us with more insight on this enigmatic purveyor of the dark arts.
Check out our Game of Thrones season 8 recap to catch up on every episode, or watch the video below to find out what happened in the finale.