This Unlikely Pairing Gave Us Some of Game of Thrones' Best Moments

May 24 2019 - 2:25pm

If there is one relationship on Game of Thrones [1] that's kept us guessing more than any other, it's the friendship between Arya Stark and Sandor "the Hound" Clegane [2]. The pair meet in season two during Ayra's travels and eventual capture along the Riverlands. She initially loathes the Hound for the role he plays in killing her childhood friend Mycah and torturing the hostages of Harrenhal. The two violent acts along with his loyalty to the Lannisters disgust her enough to place him on her hit list [3].

In contrast, his give-no-f*cks attitude doesn't allow sympathy for little girls. But when the War of the Five Kings puts them both on the run, the two join forces and build a morbidly humorous kinship that resonates with fans. So as our beloved series ends, let's look at 12 of the most memorable moments between Arya and the Hound.

Sandor Clegane, King Joffrey’s Guard Dog

At the top of the third season, Arya and the Hound's bittersweet relationship begins to take shape. While traveling through Riverrun with Gendry and Hot Pie, the young Stark takes refuge with the Brotherhood Without Banners. Clegane arrives a few hours later as the group's prisoner. He immediately exposes Arya's identity and places her fate in jeopardy. So when Clegane is brought before the Brotherhood's leader, Beric Dondarrion, she retaliates and accuses the Hound of murdering her friend Mycah at Joffrey's command despite the young Lannister being the true aggressor. A trial by combat is ordered, and the Hound overpowers and kills Beric (temporarily). The victory earns Clegane his freedom, much to Arya's chagrin.

Ayra Stark, the Wolf Girl

When the Brotherhood reneges on their promise to deliver her to Riverrun, Arya steals away from their camp and falls into the clutches of the Hound. He plans to take her to House Frey where her uncle is getting married and her mother and brother will be in attendance. He hopes to use the occasion to ransom her back to her family. The next morning, she attempts to bash his head with a rock while he sleeps. Whereupon, he opens one eye and replies, "Kill me and you're free. But if I live, I'll break both your hands."

Once they resume their travels, she sits on the horse they share and refuses the food he offers her. He warns her that worse people could have captured her and proceeds to tell the story of how he rescued Sansa from a mob of would-be rapists while the royal entourage made their way through the city to the Red Keep. The story and their destination give Arya enough solace to smile at the Hound's efforts.

Dead Rats Don’t Squeak

As they draw near House Frey, they meet a hog farmer whose wagon has broken down on his way to deliver salted pork for the wedding [4]. Clegane decides to knock the man out to steal his supplies. As he goes to slice the man's throat, Arya stops him and accuses him of being a coward who preys on children and old people. The Hound mocks her naiveté and replies, "You're very kind. Some day it'll get you killed." At which point, the farmer wakes up and Arya gives the man a second blow to the head. This becomes the first of many survival lessons he offers during their travels.

The Red Wedding

When they arrive at House Frey, Arya displays apprehension. The Hound jokes that she fears something awful may happen to destroy the reunion with her family. Arya lashes back, revealing that she noticed his fear of Beric's flaming sword during their fight and that she knows what the Hound's brother did to him as a child [5]. Clegane then taunts Arya about her father's death. She counters, saying, "Someday I'm going to put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull."

Amid the harsh banter, they decide that it is perhaps best to approach the castle with caution, so they disguise themselves as the hog farmer and his daughter. The Hound then tells the guard they have salted pork for the feast, but the man replies the wedding [6] is over and orders them to leave. Arya then breaks from Clegane's side and hides near a group of Stark banner men. Moments later, a group of soldiers exits the castle and murders the Stark forces. The move causes Robb's direwolf, Grey Wind, to howl, and a second set of forces murder the animal before Arya can intervene. When she tries to enter the castle, the Hound knocks her unconscious and carries her away in a move that saves her life, for he understands any attempt to help would be suicide.

Arya Stark, the First Avenger

As they continue their travels, Arya and the Hound discover a group of Frey soldiers camped along their path. They overhear the four men mock her mother's death and delight in descriptions of her brother's mutilated corpse. Arya slowly dismounts from the horse she shares with her pseudo captor and offers the men money for food, showing one of them a Braavosi coin as collateral. When the man reaches for payment, she drops the coin and stabs him in the back several times. The other men react, but the Hound strikes them down. After the fight, he asks her if this is the first time she's intentionally killed a man, and she confirms. The moment is brief, but a bond is formed as it's clear that they will fight for each other when necessary.

You’re Going to Die For Some Chickens?

In the fourth season, the Hound decides to ransom Arya to her aunt Lysa Arryn of the Eyrie. The pair stop at a tavern on the way, and Arya suggest they attack a set of Lannister soldiers because she recognizes one of them as Polliver, the man who stole Needle and killed her friend Lommy. He even has her sword on his belt, so Arya is eager to retrieve it.

When they enter the tavern, Polliver recognizes the Hound, and the pair exchange heated words over some chickens and Arya's virtue. A fight ensues, with Clegane killing several men. But when Polliver attempts to attack the Hound from behind, Arya cuts their enemy down and steals back Needle. "Something wrong with your leg, boy?" she asks, repeating the words Polliver spoke before murdering Lommy. She then presses Needle into his throat, killing him in the same way he did her friend. And thus, Polliver becomes the first person marked off her kill list.

Upon exiting the tavern, the Hound trusts Arya enough to allow her the freedom of having her own horse, another signal that they're a team rather than adversaries.

Sandor Clegane, the Worst Sh*t in the Seven Kingdoms

While watering their horses on the way to the Eyrie, a farmer reprimands the pair for trespassing. Arya engages in some quick thinking and claims Clegane as her father, representing him as a soldier for House Tully. The lie not only gets them room and board for the night but also a job proposal for the Hound. The farmer offers a few pieces of silver if Clegane stays to defend the farmer's homestead from bandits during the winter. The Hound agrees, but when Arya wakes in the morning, he's killed the farmer and his daughter. The move causes Arya to proclaim, "You're the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms!" To which Clegane replies that the man never would have survived the winter because he's weak. "There's plenty worse than me," he says. "I just understand the way things are. How many Starks they got to behead before you figure it out?"

The statement is harsh, but it reiterates a lesson Arya is slow to learn — kill or be killed.

Arya and the Hound Share Hit Lists

One night by the fire, Ayra recites her list of names loud enough to disturb the Hound's sleep. He asks her if she plans to name every person in Westeros, and she replies: "Only the ones I'm going to kill." He nods his consent and says, "Hate's as good a thing as any to keep a person going. Better than most." Then he adds that should his brother cross their paths, both of them could cross a name off their kill lists. He tells Arya to finish her litany of doomed men, and she completes her chant by saying, "The Hound."

The next day, Clegane finds Arya practicing her water dancing alongside a stream. Naturally, he teases her for the effort and provokes her into sharing that she learned the style from Syrio Forel, who was murdered by Meryn Trant. The Hound counters that her teacher couldn't have been any good if he lost his life to Ser Meryn and invites Arya to attack him. When her sword fails to pierce his armor, he backhands her and takes her sword. "Your friend's dead and Meryn Trant's not because Trant had armor and a big f*cking sword," reminding her she should learn from her mentor's mistakes rather than remain loyal and repeat them.

The Two Form a Real Bond

As they pass through a ransacked village, the Hound faces attack from Biter and Rorge, two nasty criminals Arya reluctantly saved from a fire during her season two adventures near Harrenhal. Rorge reveals that King Joffrey's dead, and there's a bounty on Clegane's head for killing Lannister soldiers.

The Hound snaps Biter's neck in defense, but the act doesn't deter Rorge, who Ayra recognizes from the Riverlands. Clegane asks her if that's because he's on her list. She says, "He can't be. I don't know his name." Clegane asks the man for his moniker. And after he says it, Ayra thanks Rorge and stabs the thief in the chest with Needle. When the man falls to the ground, the Hound growls, "You're learning."

Afterwards, Clegane attempts to dress his wounds from Biter, and Arya suggests cauterizing the gash. The Hound bristles because of his pyrophobia and confirms the story of his brother's mistreatment, adding that his father covered up the truth. Arya then offers to clean and stitch his wounds, which the Hound allows without complaint.

Arya Leaves the Hound For Dead

At the end of season four, the pair finally arrive at the Eyrie only to learn that Lysa Arryn died just three days prior. The news that the Hound essentially missed his last chance at a payday leaves him dumbstruck, while Arya simply laughs at their perpetual bad luck. As they depart, Brienne and Podrick approach. Clegane doesn't trust the pair since Brienne carries a sword with a lion on the hilt, a gift from Jaime Lannister. Brienne reveals her loyalty to Catelyn Stark and insists Arya join her side.

With both warriors convinced they have the Stark girl's best interests at heart, a fight unfolds with Brienne emerging as victor. However, Arya hopes to travel to Braavos and join the Faceless Men. So, she hides from Brienne until she can have a moment alone to make her peace with the Hound, who's immobilized from his wounds. When she approaches, he taunts her with his misdeeds, hoping she'll grow angry and kill him. However, she refuses, knowing he's suffering the pain of a slow death. Another name checked off her list, though not by her own hand.

The Hound and Arya Reunite

Arya and the Hound don't see each other again until season eight where they meet by the forges in Winterfell. Clegane complains about the quality of the dragonglass ax Gendry makes for him, and Arya comes to her friend's defense. The pair lock eyes, and the Hound gives Ayra a backhanded compliment that simultaneously cheers and jeers her decision to leave him to die: "You're a cold little bitch, aren't you? Guess that's why you're still alive."

The next night the Army of the Undead attacks Winterfell, and Arya finds herself trapped in the castle library surrounded by wights. Beric rallies the Hound to help save Arya, and the three narrowly escape.

Arya and the Hound Make 1 Last Run

As season eight draws to a close, the duo travel to King's Landing with murder on their minds — Ayra with the intention to kill Cersei, and Clegane on a mission to battle his brother. As they enter the Red Keep, Daenerys and her dragon begin their destruction of the sovereign stronghold, and the Hound realizes that if they move forward together, they'll both die. To spare the young woman's life, he reprimands her decision to embrace death, saying, "You think you've wanted revenge a long time? I've been after it all my life. It's all I care about. And look at me. LOOK AT ME! You want to be like me? You come with me, you die here."

Arya recognizes the sacrifice in these words, and for the first time, returns the affection the Hound shows her by thanking him and addressing him by his birth name, Sandor.
It's a fitting end to a relationship fraught with antagonism and peril, as well as a true indication that mutual respect took root during their time together.

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