ian mcshane game of thrones character

When Ian McShane joined the case of Game of Thrones season six, honorary citizens of Westeros from every kingdom of the internet put their heads together and tried to figure out who he could be playing. As a grizzled, older British actor who makes delivering lengthy monologues look effortless, he could be literally anybody on the show.

We know that his character will only appear in one episode, but we also know that he’s important enough to demand an actor of McShane’s caliber. Now, the Deadwood veteran has made some vague statements about his role that essentially give away who he’s playing… if you know how to looks between the words.

Read on for the latest Ian McShane Game of Thrones character news. And yes, some book spoilers and theorizing lurk below, but we’ll warn you well in advance. Proceed with caution, for the internet is dark and full of terrors.

McShane spoke with Pop Goes the News at the Los Cabos International Film Festival, where he managed to spill just enough beans about his character to ignite the speculation engine:

I’ll give you one hint. I am responsible for bringing somebody back that you think you’re never going to see again. I’ll leave it at that.

We’ll get to what that probably means in a moment. But first, here is McShane confirming that it is a single appearance in one episode, which was how he managed to fit the show into his schedule:

[It’s] a one-off episode. That’s why I did it. But I can’t reveal anything, otherwise I will never work again.

With that out of the way, it’s time to dive into show spoilers. If you haven’t seen season five of Game of Thrones, we will show you no mercy after this paragraph. Seriously. No complaining in the comments. Don’t be that guy.

Your first response may be “Oh, is he the guy who somehow manages to bring Jon Snow back from the dead?” After all, the young Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was stabbed to death by his own men in the season five finale. And we can’t even bring in book spoilers to discuss this point in detail – the last we’ve seen of Jon in author George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire novels was his assassination.

So let’s get speculating. Could McShane be playing someone, a Red Priest maybe, who shows up at just the right time and place to bring Ned Stark’s bastard son back to life? After all, there are still plenty of mysteries to be solved regarding Jon Snow (like his parentage). There is no way he’s actually dead. Then again, with Melisandre back at the Wall just in time for Jon’s murder, it seems awfully redundant to bring in another Lord of Light worshipper to resurrect him. If R’hllor is going to work his mysterious magic on Jon, it might as well come from a character we already know.

So from a strict plotting point of view, it seems unlikely that he’s the guy brining Jon Snow back from beyond the grave. Plus, everyone knows that Jon isn’t really dead, so McShane’s comments don’t quite align. Everyone knows that we’re going to see Jon again. So, based purely on show evidence, he’s almost undoubtedly playing someone else.

And we think we know who, but this is where we get into book spoilers. Seriously, if you haven’t read Martin’s novels and don’t want to know a little too much, turn away. Pretty please, with sugar on top, don’t be that guy.

Anyway, in the novel A Feast For Crows (Book 4), Brienne and Podrick visit a religious colony located on the Quiet Isle, which is populated almost entirely by monks who have taken a vow of silence. Their unnamed leader, known only as the Elder Brother, takes them in and tells them how he discovered the body of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, last seen dying from his wounds after a battle with Brienne in the show’s season four finale. He claims to have buried the body and given him the peace in death that he never had in life.

But as careful readers have noticed, one of the silent, hooded monks living at the Quiet Isle is a massive man with a pronounced limp who spits at the mention of knights. Yes, the Game of Thrones fandom strongly believes that the Hound is still alive, rescued and healed by the Elder Brother, and living as a monk in the wilderness. In other words, the Elder Brother is “responsible for bringing somebody back that you think you’re never going to see again.”

If there was a Game of Thrones betting pool, we’d put $100 on Ian McShane playing this character. After all, the Hound must be alive. How else would Clegane Bowl happen? And oh man, you really should Google Clegane Bowl if you want to take a step into the deep end. Beware speculative spoilers.

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