In “The Long Night,” the third episode of Game of Thrones‘ eighth and final season, a rough alliance of enemies, acquaintances and others faced off against the Night King’s dreaded “army of the dead” in the Battle of Winterfell. Many, many characters — including some who’d been with the show since its first episodes — were killed off during the episode-long conflict. As dreaded as these deaths were, however, fans were just as fearful that some old favorites might show up among the dead army’s reanimated ranks.
According to a series of unused storyboards from the forthcoming book Game of Thrones: The Storyboards that were exclusively debuted by Vanity Fair, the fans were right to be fearful. Sure, a few such characters (like the dragon Viserion) were on hand for the battle, but others — like Hodor, who sacrificed himself to save Bran in season six — weren’t. But they almost were, at least in discarded storyboards of Bran’s vision of the army’s invasion in the season seven premiere “Dragonstone”:
[William] Simpson’s storyboard reveals that the wildling Karsi (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), introduced and then bumped off in the Season 5 stunner “Hardhome,” was originally supposed to be among the ranks of the zombified humans (and giants!) trudging towards the Wall.
The show-runners evidently considered including not only Karsi, but also Kristian Nairn’s Hodor and more to pepper the Army of the Dead. But audiences were spared that pain, just as they were spared watching any of the show’s heroes having to fight the reanimated corpses of Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey), Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton), and other fallen fighters at the Battle of Winterfell.
Thankfully, Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss chose not to inflict even more pain than usual on their show’s fanbase. Then again, seeing as how we know next to nothing about this Sunday’s series finale, there’s still plenty of time for the late Night King’s dreadful magic to pop back up in such a truly horrifying fashion.
(Via Vanity Fair)