Sunday’s penultimate Game of Thrones Season 7 episode gave us at least one notable death “Beyond The Wall,” but you’d be forgiven to overlook another end that came shortly after. Now, bosses confirm a certain cold-handed character won’t be returning, and why he came back in the first place.

You’re warned of full spoilers for Sunday’s “Beyond The Wall” from here on out, but if any Deus ex Machina from the hour seemed more anticlimactic than Dany and the dragons high-tailing it up north, it was the sudden appearance of Jon’s uncle Benjen Stark. Season 6 answered the question of his Season 1 disappearance by grafting Benjen into undead book character “Coldhands,” but Season 7 seemingly finished him for good, sacrificing the character while Jon escaped on his horse.

Of course, Benjen was already more or less dead, and Game of Thrones being Game of Thrones, it’s worth wondering if perhaps Jon might have another, longer reunion with his cherished uncle. As showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss confirmed with Sunday’s “Inside the Episode,” Benjen is officially no more (and definitely their “Coldhands,” were that still in question):

For Coldhands, I think it’s almost a relief in some ways because he’s been trapped in this kind of purgatory state between life and death for quite some time, and like so many characters on the show, waiting to find out what his purpose is. You know, why is he still alive when he should be dead? For him, it seems like he’s found his purpose in these last two seasons by saving first Bran and now Jon.

Not only that, but Benioff acknowledged the reunion’s brevity, saying “it allows us to work in a pretty compressed timeframe because there just isn’t time. We need the emotional connection. Coldhands has to somehow convince [Jon] very quickly, ‘Do what I say.’” One has to imagine the moment would be undercut if Benjen simply showed up the next time Jon ventured north of The Wall.

We’ll likely check on The Night King (and his scaly new friend) with this coming Sunday’s finale, but did Game of Thrones make Benjen’s demise an afterthought?

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