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The forgotten Game of Thrones characters we want back in season 8

Now Games of Thrones season 7 (opens in new tab) is over there's a bunch of unresolved character plot threads with only one season left to explain them. While last season saw a couple of previously missing names make triumphant returns (Hot Pie and Gendry), there's still some notable faces who appear to have disappeared without trace or, more importantly, a storyline reason for doing so. Below are nine such characters who could still have significant roles to play in Dany's ongoing quest to be ruler, Cersei’s defence of the Iron Throne, and the inevitable human vs White Walker face-off, but be warned, there's major spoilers to come if you're not up-to-date. 

8. Ser Pounce

Prior to her wildfiery season 6 (opens in new tab) demise, it was rare than Margaery Tyrell got outmanoeuvred. Yet that’s exactly what occurred in season 4 (opens in new tab) when she attempted to give Tommen her own, personal interpretation of a visit to Highgarden. Following grandmother Olenna’s instructions to get closer to Westeros’ new king, Margaery snuck into his chambers in order for some pre-marital, uh, swordplay – only to be interrupted by Tommen’s pet cat, and his tale of Joffrey’s threats to kill it. Mood killer. Ser Pounce has since gone unmentioned, but after Tommen’s suicide is surely in the market for a new owner. Preferably not Qyburn. 

7. Salladhor Saan

No detailed storyline explanation for this one. Put simply: Saan was the show’s most badass pirate in seasons 2-4, rescuing Ser Davos following the Battle of Blackwater, and convincing him not to proceed with a futile plan to assassinate Melisandre. One last hurrah – perhaps on the high seas, with his troops decimated by Dany’s en route to Westeros – would be a far more fitting send-off for the character than the heated exchange of words with former friend Ser Davos that preceded his original season 4 departure.

6. Ghost

Battle of the Bastards was one of the all-time great Game of Thrones episodes – but its bizarre lack of Jon Snow’s direwolf, Ghost, even at a point where he seemed to be facing certain death, was a big immersion-killer. For financial reasons, showrunners had to choose between featuring Ghost or giant Wun Wun (opens in new tab) in the big battle scene, and its aftermath at Winterfell, but they could have at least given a story reason for the absence. Worse than that, the direwolf made no appearance whatsoever in season 7! Let's hope the season 8 sees his return because Jon's going to need all the help he can get.

5. Illyrio Mopatis

Who’s looking to take down the Night King with her two remaining scaly flame-breathers in season 8? Daenerys. Who gifted Daenerys the eggs that hatched those twisted firestarters? Illyrio Mopatis. What’s never been explained is how the Pentos-based merchant prince came upon these dragon-kinder eggs, and what interest he has in seeing Dany claim the Iron Throne. He’s pals with Varys, whose motives are seemingly to serve the realm and regain (then retain) a plum job in King’s Landing, but Illyrio has demonstrated no such desire. There’s an important story thread to be resolved here. Meaning that it likely never will be.

4. Nymeria

It’s easy to forget that Ghost isn’t the only surviving four-legged Stark sidekick. Season 6 saw Summer and Shaggydog join Grey Wind and Lady in direwolf heaven – yet Nymeria hasn’t been sighted since Arya set her loose in the Riverlands after biting Joffrey way back in season 1 (opens in new tab)... until season 7 that is! Yes, Nymeria did make a brief appearance in the latest season as Arya was making the journey back home to Winterfell to be reunited with the rest of her family but it was all too brief. The direwolf chose not to go with Arya and instead stayed with her adopted wolf pack in the wild so technically, she's still missing in action. Could season 8 see a more permanent return? Here's hoping.  

3. Gendry

Season 7 saw one of the biggest character returns of the show - Gendry. After rowing his boat into oblivion back in season 3 (opens in new tab), Robert Baratheon's bastard turned up in King's Landing and subsequently helped Jon capture a Wight and ultimately convince everyone of the White Walker threat. So, if he's returned, then why is he still on this list?

Well, that's because after running back to The Wall to get a message to Dany so that she could come and rescue Jon and co from the Night King's army, he disappeared again! Ok, he needed a rest after that really long run but he didn't make it back to Jon's camp at any point during the rest of season 7. And he wasn't spotted with Tormund and Beric at Eastwatch when the Night King used Wight Viserion to bring down The Wall. And let's not forget that out of all these missing characters, Gendry is probably the most important because he's Robert’s only living son - despite being a bastard - and could potential overthrow Cersei’s claim to the Iron Throne. I can't believe the showrunners have been so careless as to loose him without a legitimate storyline explanation (again!). 

2. Ser Ilyn Payne

"Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, The Hound…" So begins Arya’s revenge list when it's first mentioned (opens in new tab) in the show, and two of those characters are still out there to be fed family-body-part pie, stabbed in the eyes, or de-faced (literally) in pitch blackness. Remember that it was Payne, as the King’s Justice, who beheaded Arya’s father, Ned – triggering her escape from King’s Landing with Yoren, and escapades since.

Payne quietly dropped off Arya's list after actor Wilko Johnson was diagnosed with terminal cancer; but amazingly he fought back to beat the disease, and has since mentioned the possibility of returning to the show. “My character hasn't actually been killed off and I may well be in the next series,” he told MTV (opens in new tab) ahead of season 6. That didn’t occur, but with Cersei in desperate need of allies, there’d be no more appropriate time for a return than season 8. 

1. Catelyn Stark

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about spoilers! Now, in the books, Momma Stark is brought back from the dead (by the Brotherhood Without Banners, no less) as the vengeful and merciless Lady Stoneheart – and now that the show has twice established this can happen (with Beric Dondarrion and Jon Snow), it’s time to complete the hat-trick with the ultimate shocker. Okay, less of a shocker now you’ve read this.

Assuming Cersei’s reign ends murderously, her last breath at the hands of Tyrion, Dany, or possibly Jon could still count as fairly predictable; Catelyn coming back to life then avenging the death of her husband and first-born would be anything but! It’s a bit too feel-good to be a realistic prospect, but the character in the books has certainly been kept around for some important purpose. Could that purpose transfer to the show, despite years of denials from Thrones' producers? Fingers crossed. 

Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.