Sandor Clegane: The Anti-Hero Game of Thrones Deserves

Hound Sandor Clegane Season 7 Header

By Randy Holt

When Sandor Clegane came striding up to Winterfell as part of Robert Baratheon’s company, he didn’t stand out as much more than a brutish secondary character, whether in the context of A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones. Yet, seven seasons later, the death and desolation that has caused the amount of focal characters to dwindle has allowed The Hound to emerge as one of the more fascinating characters remaining in GoT. This is true to the point of Clegane serving as the prototypical anti-hero, as far as that archetype is concerned.

In terms of the presentation of the archetypal anti-hero, it requires a character who maintains a level of ambiguity in terms of morals, but does tend to live by some sort of behavioral code. Rather than being motivated by a higher purpose or calling, as in the case of the “hero”, the anti-hero tends to reflect the more animalistic side of human nature. At the foundation of it all is survival, which almost no one showcases more than Clegane (in addition to his incessant desire for chicken).

At the heart of it all, there are good intentions, even if those intentions are shrouded in murder, profanity, and constant brooding. Of course, the humor element often serves as a supplement to the archetypal anti-hero as well, something that has become more of a mainstay in relation to The Hound’s character as the series has worn on. So there are heroic deeds in there, but they’re buried under violence and tragedy, as is the case with Sandor Clegane.

Sansa and the Hound

Clegane’s presentation has required significant development, especially after his initial depiction as a potential antagonist, or direct threat to those fighting for good in Westeros. Upon his arrival in Winterfell, Clegane stirs up some trouble by merely intimidating young Sansa Stark by virtue of his ghastly appearance alone and executes Arya Stark’s friend Mycah, “the butcher’s boy” who unfortunately had crossed Joffrey.

From there, The Hound continues to demonstrate antagonistically-charged elements, sitting menacingly on the other side of Ned Stark’s failed pursuit against Cersei Lannister and as a constantly threatening presence looming over Sansa. Yet, in all of that, there’s a gentle element to Clegane with her, as even with King Joffrey hurling demands his way in forcing Sansa to do things as simple as change her clothes and demonstrating abuse toward his betrothed, The Hound encourages her to take a path of least resistance and wipes blood from her face. This becomes a regular occurrence that graduates to a more significant rescue as a rioting crowd came after Sansa in Episode 6 of Season 2. He physically removes her from the setting, in what serves as the culmination of his visible compassion toward Sansa.

The Hound and Loras Tyrell

There is one exception within this time in which Clegane tries to compensate for a potential soft emotional interior, of course, coming when he comes to the aid of Loras Tyrell at the Tournament of the Hand. Clegane successfully intervenes when his brother The Mountain attempted to end Loras’ life. The Hound is declared tournament champion by Loras, representing an early bit of redemption for Clegane.

There’s also an interesting element throughout this time, which is that of self-deprecation. Clegane constantly refers to himself as no more than the “king’s dog” and renounces any sort of title, whether that of ser or even generally being referred to as a knight. This, perhaps, serves as something of an indicator of that moral or behavioral code that exists even beyond The Hound’s brutal deeds. If nothing else, there’s certainly an element of existing, at least within his own mind, above those heinous actions that he commits early in the story’s plot.

Hound and Arya

It’s during The Hound’s odyssey with Arya that the transformation from early antagonist to an archetype more similar to that of the anti-hero begins to take shape. After their “reuniting” after both being taken by the Brotherhood Without Banners, The Hound “kidnaps” Arya in order to turn her in for ransom. It’s a malicious action, to be sure, but despite its status as just that, it allows for Clegane’s character to continue its evolution.

The journey with Arya paints The Hound as far less menacing than we’re led to believe. Not only does he tend to demonstrate a soft spot for his young traveling companion, but some semblance of a code is alluded to through this exchange from the Season 4 premiere, “Two Swords.”

Sandor: “I’m not a thief.”
Arya: “You’re fine with murdering little boys, but thieving is beneath you?”
Sandor: “A man’s got to have a code.”

The code element here absolutely lends itself to the idea of the anti-hero, even if it is a direct reference to The Wire. Despite being a figure who relentlessly kills anyone who gets in his way, there’s some order that Clegane follows. Which is something that is largely reflected throughout. The instances of him killing have largely been on the orders of others or for his own preservation.

Brienne-vs-Hound

He’s not a cold-blooded murderer in any sense, despite his early depiction. His encounters throughout his voyage with Arya that feature violence include it only out of necessity, whether for food or protection. Even the injury of the farmer and subsequent abandoning of his daughter is rationalized by The Hound as a sort of mercy killing. In his own mind, he and Arya had use for their money and their goods. The farmer and his daughter did not.

Their encounter with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick lend themselves to another element of Clegane’s inevitable journey toward establishing himself as the anti-hero. Upon their collision, Clegane insists on keeping Arya for ransom, but it’s almost undeniable that there’s an element of affection and respect both ways, even if disguised in contempt. After The Hound falls against Brienne, not only does Arya refuse to mercifully end his life (as she’d removed him from her list at that point), but even after Clegane yells obscenities her way to try and entice her to do so, it’s still only out of an effort to end his own tragic life. If The Hound were the antagonist which he was originally introduced and portrayed as, the level of sympathy from readers and watchers alike would not have been as significant as it was when we thought we saw him for the last time in the final episode of Season 4.

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It’s within Sandor Clegane’s resurrection of sorts that begins the final phase of his transition toward the anti-hero. A visibly reformed man trying to lead a peaceful life after such a violent history, it isn’t until the villagers with which he’s building a sept are killed by members of the Brotherhood that we see The Hound revert towards those violent tendencies. And even then, after the death of Brother Ray, who serves as the individual to help revive him, there’s a certain level of reluctance in wanting to do so. But even here, this instance of violence is spurred in a revenge effort, rather than cold-blooded tendencies that we would’ve initially believed The Hound to possess.

Which brings us to the most recent material presented in Game of Thrones. With the books having worn out their material, his development as the anti-hero has continued on in the show.

Helen Sloan - HBO (Photo 5)

Perhaps at no point was Clegane’s development more evident than when he and the Brotherhood came upon the homestead at which he killed the farmer and left his daughter to die alongside him. His return there is met with visible remorse as he buried what remained of the bodies. An individual who killed out of spite or greed would represent a true villain, rather than what The Hound actually represents: the anti-hero. His willingness to go along to Eastwatch beyond The Wall indicates a change in Clegane toward serving a legitimate purpose, rather than just wallowing around in self-hatred and contempt for the world around him.

If we’re talking about the anti-hero archetype and the elements that it entails, then The Hound fits the bill above virtually any others in A Song of Ice and Fire and in Game of Thrones. There are brutally violent elements. There are unimaginable crimes committed. But those actions which Clegane undergoes lend themselves to the darker side of humanity: those more animalistic tendencies. He’s preserving himself in a way that he legitimately believes in; he’s protected those who are worth protecting and killed those who are worth killing. Only recently has he begun to demonstrate some serving of a larger purpose, as his vision of Eastwatch could indicate something of a reliance on the Lord of Light in the future. There’s an inherently cynical view of himself and the world, but it serves as a heavy exterior of his entire character more than anything. In his heart, there’s a hint of good intentions and a desire to overcome his horrible past. And, of course, there’s the element of humor that he’s provided more consistently as the books and the television seasons have worn on.

It certainly stands without question that we still have more development to witness in regard to Sandor Clegane. It’s even possible that he could gradually take more steps toward a more “heroic” archetype, as he continues to fulfill a larger purpose. The growth he’s experienced at this point, though, has been extraordinary and serves as a legitimate representation of what the archetypal anti-hero is expected to be.


Randy Holt is an AP Literature Teacher in Phoenix, AZ whose brain is constantly in peril over whether or not Tyrion Lannister is actually a Targaryen. A long-time die-hard, Randy has only begun to dabble on the writing side of Game of Thrones lore, despite a wealth of writing experience in the internet’s baseball division.

69 responses

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    1. I’ve loved Rory since The Book Group, and I’m almost certain that they’ve expanded Sandor’s role due to him, and his ability to make everyone he pairs with shine that much brighter.

      Sandor did not kill the farmer, however.

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    2. The Hound didn’t kill the farmer though, just robbed him of his silver.
      the farmer was still alive when they left as far as I could tell.

      and when he and the BWB overnighted at the farmstead the farmer’s skeleton and his daughters were on the bed.

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    3. Clegane didn’t “kill” that farmer and leave his daughter to die with him. He sucker punched the man and took his money. The dying took place much much later, as winter set in and the farmer chose to kill the girl and then himself, to spare them both the suffering of starving and freezing to death. The two of them were nestled on a pallet together, the farmer’s corpse holding the body of his daughter.

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    4. Sandor!

      The Hound may be many things (easily bored, Volume 11 of Hotness), but not the farmer’s murderer. He roughed the fellow up (a lot), and left him and his daughter without financial resources, but the farm family were more the victims of rampaging soldiers who stole livestock, and armies who trampled late summer fields throughout the Riverlands.

      The Hound’s compassion in Season 7 was as much for his own actions–which made the farmer’s situation suck that much more–but seemingly also for his inaction–he could have helped father and daughter prepare for winter.

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    5. I really wish he would have been the focal point of the Sansa-Arya reconciliation:

      Arya: You stayed there! After father died. You stayed there!
      Sansa: They kept me prisoner! No one from the Night’s Watch came to cut my hair and protect me. I didn’t have a group to run away with. They killed every Northerner in the city except me.
      Arya: You never had a chance to leave? Not even during Blackwater?
      Sansa: I thought Stannis would win. We all did. I thought he’d be decent to me and trade me back to Robb. I guessed wrong. I should have gone with the Hound
      Arya: What? The Hound?
      Sansa: He asked me to go with him. He was sort of decent to me. When he had the chance to protect me from Joffrey, he did. I should have.
      Arya: He kidnapped me. Was going to ransom me back to Robb and Mother. We were outside the Red Wedding. 10 more minutes and they’d have killed us too. Then we got to Aunt Lysa’s three days too late. She was dead. He … could have killed me, or… hurt me, but he didn’t.
      Sansa: I was in the Eyrie. We were right near each other. Littlefinger killed Lysa.
      Arya: He did? And he’s still breathing air?
      Sansa: We needed him to defeat the Boltons. The Vale lords are loyal to him, but they are growing more loyal to me. I was going to reveal it, but I wanted Jon here when I did.
      Arya: Now I’m here. You spin your honeyed words. I will be your sword.
      Sansa: You are still pretty weird.
      Arya: And you’re still a bitch
      Sansa: Let’s hug it out!
      Littlefinger (In another room): I sense a disturbance in the Force…

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    6. He’s not a cold-blooded murderer in any sense, despite his early depiction. His encounters throughout his voyage with Arya that feature violence include it only out of necessity, whether for food or protection. Even the murder of the farmer and subsequent abandoning of his daughter is rationalized by The Hound as a sort of mercy killing. In his own mind, he and Arya had use for their money and their goods. The farmer and his daughter did not.

      I don’t think that description is in any way inconsistent with the term “cold-blooded”. Cold-blooded essentially means inhumane; leaving a guy in a situation where he’s essentially doomed because he selfishly wants the farmer’s money for himself is quintessentially coldblooded.

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    7. Sandor didn’t kill the farmer, he just stole his silver. He left the farmer and daughter saying “they’ll both be dead come winter.” When they come upon the farm again, the farmer and daughter are decomposed in an embrace. Beric observes they farmer must have slit the daughter’s throat before killing himself to save them from starvation.

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    8. You can’t discuss the Hound and Arya without mentioning his solliloquy (sp?) to Arya in 4×7 (?) that ends with him letting her wash out his wound. It’s the only time he drops his gruff veneer and speaks from the heart.

      Also, in the encounter with Brienne, when she chides him “And that’s what you’re doing? Watching over her?” and he affirms, “Aye, that’s what I’m doing”, it’s no longer about ransom or money. It’s out of love. That’s according to the DVD episode commentary by the writer/director.

      PS Sandor is the best character on the show. By far. 15 of the all-time best scenes involve The Hound. Including the #1 all-time greatest scene, ie, last ten munutes of 4×1 “Two Swords” aka “Every Fu*king Chicken in this Room.”

      And he’s got the best redemption arc going. F*ck Jaime. F*ck Theon.

      All hail Sandor Ahai! The Warrior of Light!

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    9. WorfWWorfington,

      Sandor was more than just decent to Sansa. He went back and saved her from gang rape and murder when nobody else would during KL riot.
      “You’re alright now, Little Bird.” Sigh

      What a shame he was so damaged he couldn’t even accept Sansa’s gratitude.

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    10. So in that top picture those three guys with the Hound, in the background, other Brotherhood guys, were any them the Red Shirts with the Seven beyond the wall?

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    11. WorfWWorfington,

      Deleted Scene – S7e7

      (Great Hall of Winterfell. Empty except for Sansa and Arya cleaning up after Littlefinger’s execution. Sansa mopping up blood on floor; Arya lashing LF’s corpse to rolling chair for disposal. Sansa turns around to see Arya has peeled off LF’s face.)

      Sansa: Arya! What are you doing?
      Arya (smiling): Get it?
      Sansa: Get what?
      Arya (pointing to corpse): Come on…
      Arya (giggling): … “Faceless Man”, get it?
      Sansa: Ewww, gross! You are one strange chick, you know that? Now I assume you’ll add that face to your mask collection?
      Arya: Ewww, gross! Like I’d ever want to wear this ugly mug. No, I’m going to finish up my H*nnibal Lecter mini-arc and feed it to the dogs.
      Sansa: Huh? Lecter ate his victims. And Buffalo Bill didn’t feed skins to Precious.
      Arya: I guess you didn’t see the sequel or read the second book.

      While a practicing psychiatrist, Lecter convinced a drugged patient it’d be a good idea to cut off his own face with a shard of glass and feed it to his dog. – From “H*nnibal”, the follow-up to “Sil*nce of the L*mbs”; great book; mediocre film adaptation.

      Sansa: Hey! How’d you make that grey box cover your words?
      Arya: A girl has many gifts.
      Sansa: Look, Arya, letting dogs eat human tissue is revolting. Only someone truly sick would even think of feeding a person to dogs.
      Arya: Oh, really?

      (Conversation interrupted when Sandor Clegane walks in)
      Sandor: Dogs? What are you two yammering on about ?
      Sansa & Arya (excitedly, in unison): The Hound!!!!
      (Both run over and hug him)
      Arya: We thought you were dead!
      Sandor: Now I wish I was…. Damn it! Stop with the cheek kisses! No kissing!
      Sansa: Get used to it, big guy.
      Arya: Ummm … I think I’ll just go take out the trash (wheels out LF’s corpse; closes door behind her).
      Sansa: I’m Lady of Winterfell now. I can do whatever I want to you…
      Sandor: W-w-what do you mean?
      Sansa: I think we both know what I mean.

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    12. Lady Mychelle:
      The Hound didn’t kill the farmer though, just robbed him of his silver.
      the farmer was still alive when they left as far as I could tell.

      and when he and the BWB overnighted at the farmstead the farmer’s skeleton and his daughters were on the bed.

      Robbed him of his silver that he could have used to buy food for him and his daughter

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    13. Ten Bears,

      Sansa: I’m Lady of Winterfell. I can do whatever I want to you…
      Sandor: W-w-what do you mean?
      Sansa: I think we both know what I mean… I never properly thanked you for saving me
      (Porn Music starts playing)

      Arya: Seriously?
      Bran: You were so pretty, the night Sandor tried to take you away and rape you… Or was that when Ramsay was raping you? Or when Joffrey was hitting you. It’s running together a little. I’m going to shut down and reboot.
      Lyanna Mormont: Go girl. I’d hit it.
      Ghost: (Turns his head in a “WTF?” expression and then walks out again)
      Nymeria: (Walks in, expecting Arya and Sansa to run up and hug her… sees the scene and walks out, shaking her head)
      Lady Stoneheart: (Walks in, looks at the scene, takes knife and re-slashes her throat)

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    14. I like to think that the inspiration for the relationship of Joel and Ellie in ‘The Last of Us’ owes more than a little to The Hound and Arya (from the books), with both originally starting out as a purely financial operation from the male “anti-heroes POV to begin with.

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    15. The Hound’s decision to kidnap Arya from the BwB was not a “malicious” action. It was an opportunistic one, and a self-serving one. He wan’t out to hurt Arya – just to collect a ransom to replace the tourney prize money he’d been relieved of by the BwB. Malice means deliberately doing harm just for the sake of doing harm.

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    16. WorfWWorfington,

      Sansa: You have no idea what I went through. Joffrey had Ser Meryn hit me and punch me in the stomach.
      Arya: You mean Meryn F*cking Trant?
      Sansa: Yes. And he enjoyed it. He smiled and had a look of excitement in his eyes when he was beating me.
      Arya: Meryn F. Trant hit me and punched me in the stomach too.
      Sansa: Really?
      Arya: But wait until you hear what I did to HIM.

      [Okay, Lt. Worf. Your turn.]

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    17. Firannion,

      And as Sandor (truthfully) told Arya, she was better off with him than with most men who would’ve come upon a young girl traveling alone. “Men who like to beat little girls. Men who like to rape ’em. I saved your sister from some of them. …Ask her. Ask her if you ever see her again. [Arya: “You’re lying.”] “Ask her who came back for her when the mob had her on her back. They would’ve taken her every which way and left her with her throat cut open.”

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    18. Ten Bears,

      Gotta go home, but a quickie:

      Sansa: OK, what did you do?
      Arya: Stabbed out his eyes. Stabbed him at least 1,038 times. Yes, I counted.
      Bran: You looked so pretty with milky white eyes
      Sansa and Arya: WE’VE TOLD YOU TO STOP!!!!!
      Bran: Sorry.
      Arya: So, did you need me to do something about Ramsay? I got your back. No one does that to my sister.
      Sansa: No, I fed him to his dogs.
      Arya: Wut?
      Sansa: Yeah, Jon was going to beat him to death with his bare hands, but he stopped because I glared at him. Then I fed Ramsay to his dogs
      Arya: Dat’s fucked up.
      Sansa: I know. He had it coming, though.
      Arya: What happened to those dogs?
      Sansa: I turned them loose. They still write to me. Fluffy is ruling Dorne now. Muffy made it over to Mereen and is keeping an eye on things for Daario.
      Arya: Who’s Daario?
      Sansa: My future lover whenever I decide to take one of these Northern lord dipshits as a husband. He’s hawt.
      Arya: What about the other dog?
      Sansa: Not sure. Haven’t heard from Ser Puddles in while.

      Cut to King’s Landing… The Mountain in his private chambers:
      “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? Sit! Sit!”

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    19. My favorite from the start…could be because he is a walking redwood tree…I digress…. The Prince that was Promised? thought?

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    20. I very much enjoyed Randy Holt’s piece, and boy does that photo of Sansa and the Hound show how many miles those two have traveled, physically and psychically.

      “A man’s got to have a code” is essentially the theme of the show, isn’t it?

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    21. Dan: Robbed him of his silver that he could have used to buy food for him and his daughter

      Yes exactly – I agree with him being portrayed as an anti hero, and have loved seeing his redemption, but he did kill them, and he bloody well knows it.

      BTW really loved this article! And Randy, another Valley of the Sun GOT fan here! Stay cool!

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    22. I think there is at least one “ginger” Sandor Clegane won’t hate next time he sees her…

      Sansa and Sandor would be perfect companions!!!!

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    23. I very much liked this article and agree with the conclusions. I have long felt that Sandor has high need to be of service to others, even if that service is often disagreeable to him. It’s what gives him identity and purpose, since his self-loathing controls his emotions.
      Much of GoT is about rebirth and new starts, redemption is a big theme. With Ser Clegane, I feel we are watching an onion peeling. I really hope he finds his peace as he has suffered far too long.

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    24. Dothraki Scum,

      “Go in peace, Sandor Clegane. The Lord of Light isn’t done with you yet.” – Beric S3e5

      “There’s a reason you’re still here…The gods aren’t done with you yet.” – Brother Ray S6e7

      “There’s something greater than us, and whatever it is, it’s got plans for Sandor Clegane.” – Brother Ray S6e7

      “You can still help a lot more than you’ve harmed, Clegane. It’s not too late for you.” – Beric S6e8

      “It’s never too late…to start helping people. It’s never too late to come back.” Brother Ray, S6e7

      “He’s the Lord’s Chosen, born amidst salt and smoke.” -Melisandre S2e4
      “Is he a ham?” – Renly S2e4
      “Foul mouth and s face like a half-burned ham.” – Hot Pie S4e7
      “The Hound.” – Pod S4e7
      “That’s the one.” – Hot Pie S4e7

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    25. And to go back to ‘The Last of Us’, this dialogue could just as easily come from GoT if you change the names Joel for Sandor and Ellie for Arya

      Ellie: How did you know?
      Joel: Know what?
      Ellie: About the ambush.
      Joel: I’ve been on both sides.
      Ellie: Oh. So, ah, you kill a lot of innocent people?
      [Joel sighs.]
      Ellie: I’ll take that as a yes.
      Joel: Take it however you want.

      I await with interest where The Hound’s story pick ups and leads to in the books too, I’m sure the hint we were left with is not all GRRM intends for Sandor. It’s so interesting when what seems like a minor and one-dimensional character grows in importance and we see so much development which is not necessarily linear.

      I’ll just add this comment about Sandor which was in ADWD but implied differently in the show

      “Sandor Clegane was a man in torment.” – Thoros of Myr

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    26. Such a lovely post, thank you!

      (Sandor would probably nod his head in appreciation and then swear a bit because he’s not used to this stuff 🙂 )

      Definitely the anti-hero, and to my view one of the most interesting,complicated characters in GoT – and Rory McCann’s portrayal of him is amazing. An excellent actor!
      I’m looking forward for him meeting with Arya and see what plans the Red God – or D&D- have for him! I generally hope we get to see more of him! 🙂

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    27. I’ve always believed the core (sword) of Sandor Clegane was forged when his brother pushed his head into the fire, and all of his actions & personality form a thick, leather sheath of protection. I can imagine at that moment in his life, he saw Gregor for what he was, and knew he would not, and did not want to, be exactly like his older brother. This series could very well be viewed as an exploration of PTSD, among other things, and The Hound’s story is just as compelling as the others who’ve suffered. Because he suffered trauma at such a young age, he’s had decades to construct his protective exterior, and hone his inner core. But, in building that exterior, he hasn’t been as close to his inner self as he could have. Until he came into contact with the Starks, he most likely hadn’t been around many people who could inspire his core being into nobler actions. Certainly not the Lannisters. Light will find it’s way in, though. Of course, I wasn’t expecting the Lord of Light to make such a dramatic entrance into Sandor Clegane’s psyche this season, lol. I’m not disappointed, however. The Hound’s arc has been the most satisfying one of this series, to me.

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    28. Silent Sister:
      I’ve always believed the core (sword) of Sandor Clegane was forged when his brother pushed his head into the fire, and all of his actions & personality form a thick, leather sheath of protection. I can imagine at that moment in his life, he saw Gregor for what he was, and knew he would not, and did not want to, be exactly like his older brother.This series could very well be viewed as an exploration of PTSD, among other things, and The Hound’s story is just as compelling as the others who’ve suffered.Because he suffered trauma at such a young age, he’s had decades to construct his protective exterior, and hone his inner core. But, in building that exterior, he hasn’t been as close to his inner self as he could have. Until he came into contact with the Starks, he most likely hadn’t been around many people who could inspire his core being into nobler actions. Certainly not the Lannisters. Light will find it’s way in, though.Of course, I wasn’t expecting the Lord of Light to make such a dramatic entrance into Sandor Clegane’s psyche this season, lol.I’m not disappointed, however. The Hound’s arc has been the most satisfying one of this series, to me.

      While there is another whose arc has been more satisfying for me, you make a very strong case for Sandor. Very well put!

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    29. Sandor has been my favorite character in the Series for a long time. I’m afraid that his amazing character arc and redemption is going to be wasted for the sake of “Clegane-bowl.” While revenge is surely a core part of Sandor’s driving force, I believe his central tenet is defending the weak from the strong. He has always been the sheep-“dog” in a world of lions and wolves and dragons . . .

      The cold-open to “The Broken Man” is still one of my favorite moments in the whole series.

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    30. Brilliant character – so very complex! I love that we get glimpses of the *decent human being* beneath the hard, gruff exterior. He is the lovable rogue, so very damaged by his life experiences but not completely beyond saving.

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    31. I think that Sandor “the Hound” Clegane was born an intelligent, innately “good” person into a harsh world that not only placed no value on goodness, but denigrated its existence as weakness. A small child, born with a personality more predisposed toward goodness, trust and generosity of spirit, naturally expects the world around him to be the same.

      Poor Sandor got a horrifying reality check as a small child into the true nature of the world immediately around him. He played with his brother Gregor’s toy without fear and learned, to his permanent dismay, that the true nature of his brother was the polar
      opposite of his. Sandor’s brutal disifigurement via Gregor’s lesson of fire, coupled with the heartrending betrayal by his father, affected his personality for most of the rest of his life.

      His own family not only didn’t denounce the horrible wrong done to him, but allied with the perpetrator of that deed as the more desireable son. They lied about what happened. Of course Sandor would grow up with a sense of diminshed value, to the point where it would seem natural to assist a wretch like Joffrey, all the while being subject to unending denouncement and insult. The power of Lannister gold and selfish Lannister personality is all he knows. Yet,
      there’s that innate intelligence strongly at play, ratcheting into adapt-or-die mode, rather than allowing him to be totally beaten down. If the world he sees admires killers, then a killer is what he must become. It’s not his true nature, the goodness doesn’t go away; it’s always there, unused but not forgotten.

      Killing is a necessary survival ploy, and he becomes exceptional at it. He also becomes gruff, frightening, and jaded. Until Ned Stark comes to live in Kings Landing with two young daughters.

      Ned Stark is an entirely different being than the Hound has ever seen before. Here is a strong, respected man, a man in charge, who kills when deemed necessary, not for sport or vanity. Ned isn’t greedy, selfish or vengeful. He is good to and admiring of both his daughters, even though their personalities are different from each other. Ned is inherently good, he seeks goodness in, and expects goodness of, all around him.

      Slowly, the goodness hibernating in the Hound is nudged into the open. We don’t realize it until Season 7, but Sandor Clegane comes to admire Ned Stark. In Sandor’s mild tirade at Beric Dondarrion, he says he has seen better men than Beric die and not be brought back, men who were beheaded. I took that to mean Ned. His admiration
      comes to serve Ned’s daughters well.

      The Hound is disgusted by Joffrey’s treatment of Sansa. Here is an innocent at the mercy of a demented being backed up by a demented general mindset.

      He can’t see Sansa mistreated without offering aid. He urges her to adapt to avoid foul treatment, just as he had to adapt. Slowly, all the Lannisters and their way of thinking begin to disgust him. He is pushed, maligned and threatened by fire until he can take it no longer. Adaption will no longer do, he has to escape. He does, but not before offering one last bit of aid to Sansa. She refuses it; he leaves and his path crosses Arya’s.

      It’s worth noting that the further away from Kings Landing he gets, and the longer away he is, the more his inherent goodness appears, and the less inclined he is to shove it down inside. The way he deals with Arya is a joy to behold; he never mistreats her. Their antics together make for one of the most beloved seasons of Game of Thrones. He protects her, he comes to admire her, and even when there is no longer hope of self-enrichment, he won’t leave
      her. Brienne almost beats him to death and Arya refuses to give him a merciful death. His rescue is a bit of luck attributed to the gods.

      But his true rescue is that for the first time in his life, his goodness, and his belief in the worth of goodness, comes fully forth. He allows himself, as much to his own surprise as anyone else’s, to be talked into doing something that will aid humanity. He grumbles about it, but he goes forth whole-heartedly, and we viewers love it. Better, we accept it. So, I see Sandor Clegane not only as an anti-hero, he sems more of an awakened hero. I hope his awakening takes him to a happy place; he deserves more sweet than bitter; I hope in the few episodes that are left, we get to see it.

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    32. JohnnyLaw,

      Sandor “I’m Not a Knight” Clegane is the one who comes closest to abiding by chivalrous virtues, despite his foul mouth and violent behavior.

      Certainly, cowardly jackssses like “Ser” Meryn Trant don’t deserve the title.

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    33. Thronetender,

      Wow, very nice written!
      I can’t remember where I read it, but Sandor had a sister who died in strange circumstances. He hadn’t been able to save her. But I think that is the reason he tried to save the Stark sisters.

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    34. Chilli: I can’t remember where I read it, but Sandor had a sister who died in strange circumstances. He hadn’t been able to save her.

      Yes, it’s in the books somewhere that Gregor is suspected of having been behind the deaths of both their mother and their sister.

        Quote  Reply

    35. JohnnyLaw,

      As I’ve noted a number of times on other threads, I’ve never been a fan of the Cleganebowl idea and I hope it never materializes. Given the gravity of the sin of kinslaying, although Gregor Clegane is more deserving of it than anyone on Planetos I don’t think it would do anything to advance Sandor’s character or, far more important, his mental health and progression as a character. Personally, I would like to see FrankenMountain meet his end either a) through Arya, as both a name off her list and, in Faceless-Man style, a life for a life (since Sandor saved hers), or b) through his own creator, Qyburn, a brilliant man who has thus far sided with darkness for the sake of his own intellectual and scientific advancement but who, in the long run (pardon the cliché), may ultimately redeem himself in the moral sense.

        Quote  Reply

    36. Insightful post followed by a fascinating (and joyful 😀 ) set of comments. Well done and thanks, Randy, Thronetender, and everybody.

      I don’t really have anything to add. The point about Sandor not killing the peasant farmer has been already made, though he did hit the farmer and leave them in the knowledge that they wouldn’t survive Winter. I look forward to see where Sandor goes in season 8 and (maybe someday) how his slightly different story plays out in WoW…

        Quote  Reply

    37. Wolfish:
      JohnnyLaw,

      As I’ve noted a number of times on other threads, I’ve never been a fan of the Cleganebowl idea and I hope it never materializes.

      Yeah, I agree especially since Gregor isn’t really Gregor anymore. But pretty clear the show is going to go there so I just hope ‘Cleganebowl’ has a greater meaning than just the Hound getting vengeance on his brother who is, in effect, already dead. Maybe he takes out Frankenmountain so someone (Arya? Jamie? Tyrion?) can kill Cersei.

        Quote  Reply

    38. Lord of Coffee: Yeah, I agree especially since Gregor isn’t really Gregor anymore. But pretty clear the show is going to go there so I just hope ‘Cleganebowl’ has a greater meaning than just the Hound getting vengeance on his brother who is, in effect, already dead.Maybe he takes out Frankenmountain so someone (Arya? Jamie? Tyrion?) can kill Cersei.

      Agreed. I’m already unhappy with the show having Sandor backslide so readily into revenge mode after his time with Brother Ray’s commune. It’s a disservice to the source material if the show ends up depicting vengeance as ultimately satisfying (though it’s on Arya’s arc to demonstrate this most clearly; that’s why I believe LSH will be her last kill in the books).

      If Cleganebowl is to happen at all, I would hope for something less clichéd than a one-on-one showdown. Something as messy as the climactic confrontation in Hamlet, with a whole lot of collateral damage including Cersei/Gertrude, might prove satisfying.

        Quote  Reply

    39. Yet another little detail: “striding up to Winterfell “ is wrong. The Hound came riding in (on a horse), wearing his snarling hound helm, and cantering alongside Jaime Lannister. He didn’t “stride.”

        Quote  Reply

    40. Wolfish,

      I agree. I thought his statement indicated he’d seen visions in the flames about his brother’s future, possibly when he was a child. Thus, Sandor’s lifelong fear of fire was more than just being brutally burned.

        Quote  Reply

    41. Thronetender,

      Wow! Really excellent; where’s the “Like” button??

      One minor detail – according to Sandor, he did NOT play with Gregor’s little toy knight “without fear” – he did it with guilt and terror, looking over his shoulder to make sure Gregor didn’t see him at it. He knew, even at the age of 6, what Gregor was like.

        Quote  Reply

    42. zandru: He knew, even at the age of 6, what Gregor was like.

      Thank you! Glad you liked it. I read books 1-3 and a small part of 4 years ago, right after I started watching the series. I read them fast and have forgotten many of the written details, like the one you noted. I’m going mainly from the show, and in show Sandor just mentioned that he played with the toy. What a devastation to a family to have a creature as evil as Gregor in a family. From what other posters have said, in the book Gregor was also suspected in the deaths of their mother and sister, and possibly his own wife. It’s interesting to me to have these details from the book added in.

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    43. Wolfish: What. Not who.

      Sorry Wolfish. I replayed this on YouTube. Sandor said “who.” I remember when I first watched the scene, with someone who was a casual watcher, and I said that the internet would probably go nuts now, chanting about Cleganebowl. He definitely said Who

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    44. Thronetender,

      I stand corrected. I just watched it too, and he does say “who.”

      Nevertheless, I think my point still stands. There could be many “whos” (especially given the spectacularly brutal life Gregor has led), and given recent events in Sandor’s life, I still think he’s referring to a higher power. We’ll find out in a couple of years, right? 😉

        Quote  Reply

    45. Thronetender,

      “possibly his [Gregor’s] own wife.” At least three wives. He could never keep from killing them, and thus had no heirs.

      You’re exactly right about Gregor “devastating” the family. He appears to have murdered his father on a hunt, causing Sandor to run away from home at the age of 12. Ned Stark remembers hearing something about a “sister”, but she seems to have “disappeared”, too. There was no word at all about the mother; I’m assuming she probably died in childbirth, like so many others.

      Again, great analysis … and memory!

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    46. Cleganebowl lost any appeal for me once FrankenGregor was created. It isn’t Gregor anymore. Sure, bits remain. But he is an undead monster, a pathetic creature who simply needs to be put down, not a worthy opponent in any real-life contest of meaning or justice.

      Oddly enough, that’s also exactly how I feel about Lady Stoneheart in the books.

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    47. WorfWWorfington:
      I really wish he would have been the focal point of the Sansa-Arya reconciliation:

      Arya: You stayed there! After father died. You stayed there!
      Sansa: They kept me prisoner! No one from the Night’s Watch came to cut my hair and protect me. I didn’t have a group to run away with. They killed every Northerner in the city except me.
      Arya: You never had a chance to leave? Not even during Blackwater?
      Sansa: I thought Stannis would win. We all did. I thought he’d be decent to me and trade me back to Robb. I guessed wrong. I should have gone with the Hound
      Arya: What? The Hound?
      Sansa: He asked me to go with him. He was sort of decent to me. When he had the chance to protect me from Joffrey, he did. I should have.
      Arya: He kidnapped me. Was going to ransom me back to Robb and Mother. We were outside the Red Wedding. 10 more minutes and they’d have killed us too. Then we got to Aunt Lysa’s three days too late. She was dead. He … could have killed me, or… hurt me, but he didn’t.
      Sansa: I was in the Eyrie. We were right near each other. Littlefinger killed Lysa.
      Arya: He did? And he’s still breathing air?
      Sansa: We needed him to defeat the Boltons. The Vale lords are loyal to him, but they are growing more loyal to me. I was going to reveal it, but I wanted Jon here when I did.
      Arya: Now I’m here. You spin your honeyed words. I will be your sword.
      Sansa: You are still pretty weird.
      Arya: And you’re still a bitch
      Sansa: Let’s hug it out!
      Littlefinger (In another room): I sense a disturbance in the Force…

      😀 😀 😀 I like this!

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    48. Ten Bears,

      “He’s the Lord’s Chosen, born amidst salt and smoke.” -Melisandre S2e4
      “Is he a ham?” – Renly S2e4

      This really is the best. I’ll miss Renly and his good-natured wit.

        Quote  Reply

    49. Another minor detail I just picked up on during a rewatch of S7e1:

      How gently and tenderly Sandor lowers Rabbit Stew Sally’s body into the ground. 🐶🐇😢

        Quote  Reply

    50. Ten Bears:
      WorfWWorfington,

      Deleted Scene – S7e7

      (Great Hall of Winterfell. Empty except for Sansa and Arya cleaning up after Littlefinger’s execution. Sansa mopping up blood on floor; Arya lashing LF’s corpse to rolling chair for disposal. Sansa turns around to see Arya has peeled off LF’s face.)

      Sansa: Arya! What are you doing?
      Arya (smiling):Get it?
      Sansa:Get what?
      Arya (pointing to corpse):Come on…
      Arya (giggling): … “Faceless Man”, get it?
      Sansa: Ewww, gross! You are one strange chick, you know that? Now I assume you’ll add that face to your mask collection?
      Arya: Ewww, gross! Like I’d ever want to wear this ugly mug. No, I’m going to finish up my H*nnibal Lecter mini-arc and feed it to the dogs.
      Sansa: Huh? Lecter ate his victims. And Buffalo Bill didn’t feed skins to Precious.
      Arya: I guess you didn’t see the sequel or read the second book.

      Sansa:Hey! How’d you make that grey box cover your words?
      Arya: A girl has many gifts.
      Sansa: Look, Arya, letting dogs eat human tissue is revolting. Only someone truly sick would even think of feeding a person to dogs.
      Arya: Oh, really?

      (Conversation interrupted when Sandor Clegane walks in)
      Sandor:Dogs? What are you two yammering on about ?
      Sansa & Arya (excitedly, in unison): The Hound!!!!
      (Both run over and hug him)
      Arya: We thought you were dead!
      Sandor: Now I wish I was…. Damn it! Stop with the cheek kisses! No kissing!
      Sansa: Get used to it, big guy.
      Arya:Ummm … I think I’ll just go take out the trash (wheels out LF’s corpse; closes door behind her).
      Sansa:I’m Lady of Winterfell now. I can do whatever I want to you…
      Sandor:W-w-what do you mean?
      Sansa:I think we both know what I mean.

      Quit Trying to make me choke.

        Quote  Reply

    51. Brilliantly written piece Randy, I really enjoyed reading that. The Hound is one of if not my favourite secondary character in GOT/ASOIF, in fact I prefer him on the show because Rory McCann portrays him so well. Thankfully I’m fairly confident he will survive the series but it’s going to be fun seeing/reading how it plays out for him.

        Quote  Reply

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