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Direwolves vs Zombie Dragon: the battle scene cut from Game of Thrones season eight

Telegraph Reporters
Direwolves: the understated stars of season eight - HBO

Game of Thrones is over, and the dust has settled long enough for the real entertainment to begin: the telling of all the behind-the-scenes stories of exactly how the grossly underwhelming eighth season was made.

Most will agree that the third episode of the season, The Long Night, was its best, thanks to director Miguel Sapochnik's perfectly calibrated combination of horror, suspense and battle scenes. 

However, that's not to say that Game of Thrones viewers long accustomed to widespread culling of their favourite characters weren't baffled by the lack of major deaths in the most violent episode of season eight. Turns out, Sapochnik wanted more, but was prevented by Thrones showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff. 

“I wanted to kill everyone,” he said on the Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning.

“I wanted it to be ruthless so that in the first 10 minutes you say all bets are off, anyone can die. David and Dan didn’t want to. They were saving it for [penultimate episode] The Bells, kind of.”

The politics of who did and didn't die in Game of Thrones (and, indeed, how they went) will be discussed by disappointed fans for years to come. 

But perhaps Sapochnik's more surprising revelation is that a battle scene between the Night King's zombie dragon and no fewer than 50 direwolves was left on the cutting room floor.

"There were many things that happened, that people would have been so happy to have happen. Attack of direwolves and crazy stuff. At some point you’re like, '50 direwolves attacking an undead dragon does not a good movie make.’” 

With all respect to Sapochnik, we disagree. In fact, the presence (or lack, thereof) of Jon Snow's faithful direwolf Ghost and his resilience in the Battle of Winterfell became one of the most-loved aspects of a weak season. If only he had led his fellow furry friends in a victorious battle to take down the unwittingly evil Viserion.