Ed Sheeran: Arya wasn’t supposed to be on "Game of Thrones" past Season 7

The "Shape of You" singer who guest-starred in the series reveals what he learned behind the scenes

Published November 13, 2021 12:59PM (EST)

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in "Game of Thrones" (Helen Sloan/HBO)
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in "Game of Thrones" (Helen Sloan/HBO)

This story originally appeared on Winter is Coming.

Musician Ed Sheeran famously had a cameo appearance in the Season 7 premiere of "Game of Thrones," playing a Lannister soldier Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) runs into on her way to King's Landing. "We knew that Maisie was a big fan of Ed Sheeran, and for years we've been trying to get him on the show so we can surprise Maisie," showrunner David Benioff said at the time. "This year we finally did it."

It was a sweet little scene that humanized the Lannister soldiers and helped us reconnect a bit with Arya after her long strange adventure in Braavos. Sheeran recently talked about the scene on an episode of the Armchair Expert podcast, and he dropped a potential bombshell.

"She's always been awesome," Sheeran said of Williams. "I don't think they had written the ending yet. It was meant to be her last season but it wasn't. And as a surprise for her, [they got] me on. So, she was meant to turn up on set, and I was by the fire."

So Sheeran is saying that Arya Stark wasn't meant to appear on "Game of Thrones" past the seventh season? If true, that's a pretty big change.


Was Arya Stark supposed to die in "Game of Thrones" Season 7?

That said, I'm not really inclined to believe this was actually the case. For one thing, while the producers might not have written the ending to the show as a whole yet when Sheeran's scene was filmed, they'd definitely written the ending to Season 7 — on a show as complicated as "Game of Thrones," stories have to be planned out well ahead of time. And as we remember, Arya survives the season. For all I know they'd already filmed her final scenes; they never shot the episodes in sequence.

For another thing, you can see the writers laying track for Arya's final moments in the series finale — when she leaves on a ship to discover what's "west of Westeros" — as far back as Season 6; she talks to Lady Crane in Braavos about wanting to do just that.

I remember thinking at the time that this was a weird ambition for Arya to have since she'd never really expressed an interest in exploring for its own sake. Looking back, it's pretty clear that this was setup the end of her story in Season 8.

And then there's all the stuff Arya gets up to in Season 8, including killing the Night King and finally letting go of her vengeance against Cersei. So I'm guessing that Sheeran is just misremembering. He filmed this scene years ago; it happens.

By Dan Selcke

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Brief Ed Sheeran Games Of Thrones Maisie Williams Winter Is Coming