UPDATED: Ian McShane all but reveals which dead character is coming back in Season 6


Yesterday, there was big casting news about a Game of Thrones alumnus who hasn’t even appeared on screen yet. Ian McShane was one of the higher profile actors cast in Season 6, although apparently, he won’t be on the show for long. He’s accepted a leading role in STARZ’ upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, playing the man known as “Mr. Wednesday.” (American Gods fans known that “Mr. Wednesday” is actually an alias. His true identity will be revealed down the line.)

Thrones Fans suspected that McShane’s role was a one-off, and this seems like corroborating evidence. But we still don’t know exactly who he’s playing.

Or do we? McShane recently went on BBC Breakfast to promote his role as Sir Roger Scatcherd on Doctor Thorne, the ITV adaptation of the third installment of Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire. Along the way, he mentioned his role on Game of Thrones.

Although he immediately claimed that he couldn’t tell us anything, he proceeded to drop big circular hints about who his character is and what he’ll be up to this coming season.

A tight end became from underground like an Oiler
Here like I never left, back like a spoiler


My character is an ex-warrior who’s become a peacenik. So I have this group of peaceful…it’s like a cult, peaceful tribe… who have brought back…I bring back this beloved character that everyone thinks is dead. So, I’ll leave it at that.

An “ex warrior who has become a peacenik.” I can see where McShane thinks he’s being vague, and for those who haven’t read the books (a smaller and smaller group everyday), this might not reveal much.

For everyone else, this is telling us who he is in large flashing neon letters. The Elder Brother, who is in charge of a place called the Quiet Isle that Brienne visits during her search for Sansa in A Feast for Crows, is a former knight who fought in the Battle of the Trident. He was knocked unconscious and his comrades thought him dead. They proceed to do to him what all soldiers do to the dead: steal his armor, his clothes, and his weapons. (After all, as The Hound points out to Arya once, the dead don’t need things like money.) His body floated downstream, and when he woke, he found himself at the Quiet Isle, stripped of all his worldly possessions. He saw this as a sign, had a religious awakening, and took a vow of silence which he kept for 10 years.

As we discussed in our spoiler round up, the Hound has been rumored to be returning this season, even though he appeared to die back in Season 4. Unlike with some other characters we could mention, the show appears to have convinced at least some fans that he’s gone for good. In the books, many believe the Hound is still alive and living as a Gravedigger on the Quiet Isle. Others think that, like his Mountainous brother in King’s Landing, he did die, but he has been somehow resurrected by the Elder Brother, and is one of the many “undead” characters who populate the books.

I personally subscribe to the former theory—I think the Elder Brother’s story about “the Hound” dying in his arms was metaphorical, and that what died was his rage and need to fight, and that now he is , much like the Elder Brother, living a repentant life, atoning for his sins. Get ready to be filled in once the season starts on April 24.


UPDATE: In another interview, this time with Radio 5 Live, McShane basically abandoned all pretense and did everything but stand on his chair, cup his hands in front of his mouth, and scream the name of the dead character who’ll be coming back from the dead in Season 6.

    Radio 5, speculating on which dead character McShane’s character has nursed back to life: “It can only be the Hound or Jon Snow.”

    McShane: “It’s not the latter. It might be the former.”

This seems to leave little doubt that McShane will indeed play the Elder Brother (or a composite of the Elder Brother and Septon Meribald) and that the character he’s nursing back to life is the Hound, as many fans who’ve read A Feast for Crows have guessed.

Another important question: how is HBO letting McShane get away with saying this stuff? The actor has confirmed that his appearance is “a complete one-off,” so I suppose they can’t fire him, but you figure there are a lot of executives tearing their hair out over his statements. They tried and failed to keep Jon Snow’s return a secret, but somehow they’d managed to keep the Hound out of sight, and now McShane is blabbing about it on the radio.

Since we never saw Rory McCann, who plays the Hound, during Season 6 filming, I’m guessing he’ll have a small role next year. We might see, perhaps toward the end of the year, that the Hound is indeed alive, but if he did anything substantive I figured we would’ve gotten more word about it. We can’t know for sure, though. Onward to April 24.