By Josh Arnup
The Hound is the best character in Game of Thrones. Wait, let me rephrase that, The Hound is the best character. Ever.Sandor Clegane, played by Rory McCann, earned the nickname ‘The Hound’ for his beast-like size and figure.
An evidently disgruntled pessimist who seems to find the worst in everything and everyone, The Hound isn’t someone I would get along with… at first.
Clegane’s character has developed so much over the seven seasons of Game of Thrones and among his layers of muscle and brawn are layers of emotion and back story. It may sound clichéd, but this is not quite the ordinary “bad guy turned good” storyline. He’s still a rude, selfish and overall unpleasant person — with a disturbed past.
One of the many strengths of the series is that it focuses on developing The Hound’s story. Despite being a side character, the writers place him amongst the series’ main characters, whether The Hound was with or against the others. Whatever the situation, he would always find a way to antagonise someone, similar to a bully at school.
The Hound’s character provides important insight into how a bully might think. I was always told that bullies are filled with hatred from the past, someone looking to release negativity onto some unlucky recipient.
Turns out, The Hound was once a boy who lived and continues living in the shadow of his big brother, Ser Gregor Clegane — played by Icelandic actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, the stronger, more celebrated one of the siblings.
Of course, Ser Gregor is also the big brother who is responsible for inflicting on Sandor a permanent burn scar on his face, a mark he is notorious for in and out of the Game of Thrones world.
What stood out for me the most was how The Hound’s character subconsciously brought to light the act of bullying and unraveled its mystery.
In the early stages of the the series, The Hound was the king’s personal guard. This is important because during this period the king was succeeded by an infamous, young, blonde boy who was the bully of all bullies; Joffrey, portrayed expertly by Jack Gleeson. At this point, The Hound’s masculine and powerful persona is brushed aside. He remains a force to be reckoned with. But, in reality, he’s a puppet and everyone knows this. I had no sympathy for the brute until this point. His vulnerabilities were laid in plain sight and his ferocious facade was fading.
This was The Hound’s breaking point. He didn’t so much as snap, but crumble, finally succumbing and submitting to the fears from his past.
When The Hound left his duties — in the most satisfying and suitable manner, might I add — it showed us what a heroic protagonist would do. He escaped the prestige and comfort of the king’s guard and went to discover himself. That’s certainly not something you would see from someone characterised as a bully.
Now, all of a sudden, The Hound’s major setbacks become his inability to make friends and… fire, two things you can empathise with. Viewers have expressed their love for his character knowing fully well that his encounters with other characters involve swear words and insults. His intentions are pure. His compassionate side is evident when he helps innocent families (and inadvertently saves the world).
The Hound makes me think twice about people who don’t give off the best attitude. But a lot of the time, such a person might have a valid reason for wearing such an attitude. A strict teacher is strict because they want their student to succeed. Equally, maybe there was a story and a reason behind The Hound’s actions. Maybe being nice didn’t work for him so he became the person he is shown to have become.
The Hound was branded, quite literally, with a bad attitude. He was trained to be a relentless warrior, as his brother taught him, ‘everyone is your enemy’.
The Hound reminded me to keep an open mind. And that if someone gives off an ‘unpleasant’ aura, rather than jump to conclusions and keep a distance, examine all possibilities. Over the years and by keeping an open mind, I have made great friends — who I didn’t think very highly of to start with. And nor did I make a great impression on them. In time though, one realises, we are all humans, whether we have a burn scar or not.
Josh is an aspiring journalist and a movie buff. He makes videos for KT