Throughout the entirety of the Game Of Thrones, audiences very rarely hear Sandor Clegane referred to by his name. Rather, more often than not, Sandor is reduced to his moniker ‘The Hound’, which reflects how the people of King’s Landing and Westeros view the horribly disfigured knight of the realm. And while he is often seen as the more bestial of the Clegane brothers, it is often Sandor who carries and aura of control and understanding.
Much like many of the disfigured characters on the show, Sandor is exiled from society, ostracized by the nobles that are, in fact, his peers. But like many of the characters who carry themselves with an outer shell viewed as ugly or misshapen, within Sandor’s shell lies a truly loyal, compassionate, and straightforward man who longs to be freed from the traumas of his past.
7 A Good Dog
Throughout the course of season one, The Hound can be viewed as a bit of a tour guide through the darker sides Westeros. When he arrives in Winterfell with King Robert he can immediately be identified as the personal bodyguard of Prince Joffrey, the boy who would grow into a sociopathic tyrant. He later introduces Sansa to Ser Ilyn Payne, the knight whose tongue was removed on the order of the mad king before later tracking down and murdering the young boy Joffrey blames for his injuries.
Later, as his brother and Ser Loras fight during the tournament held for Robert’s enjoyment, it is The Hound who steps in when his brother begins losing control. It’s important to note that the second Robert commands it, The Hound is on his knee in obedience while The Mountain remains standing in silent, but noticeable rage. Through Sansa (and later Arya) audiences begin to see underneath the disfigured face and get a look at how compassionate, albeit straightforward, Sandor can be.
6 Forget The King
The Hound’s journey through the second season is marked by death, war, and a surprising amount of compassion for the young Sansa Stark. While the Battle Of Blackwater rages on, the citizens of King’s Landing raging against their violent monarch, and Joffrey dead-set on ensuring the streets of King’s Landing run red with the blood of anyone in close enough proximity; Sandor is also waging war on himself.
Through his continued relationship with Sansa, the Hound seems to be fighting against the oaths and the rules that force him to serve a tyrant. He willingly and repeatedly comes to the aid of Sansa and as the city is being sacked, he begs her to leave King’s Landing with him, worried about the life she’ll have to endure if she doesn’t.
5 Kissed By Fire
After making his escape from King’s Landing, The Hound is picked up by the Brotherhood without Banners. When they put him on trial, however, Sandor is found innocent of his crimes through trial by combat after killing Beric Dondarrion. While Arya is dismayed by his innocence, she will be happy to have him around fairly soon. As Arya escapes Sandor seizes the opportunity to scoop her up in order to ransom her back to Robb Stark who is currently in Riverrun preparing for a wedding.
As The Hound and Arya witness the bloody mess that is the Red Wedding, The Hound again seizes the opportunity to wipe up Arya before the Frey soldiers realize who she is. As they make they escape Arya steals Sandor’s dagger and tries to decapitate a Frey soldier with it. Sandor does not move to stop her. He simply watches and moves to back her up and asks for a warning next time.
4 A Girl And The Hound
With Robb Stark dead and the remaining Stark’s scattered to the wind, The Hound and Arya begin heading toward the Vale so that Sandor can collect a ransom for bringing her in. As they travel, Sandor, much like with Sansa, can be viewed as a tour guide through the darker aspects of Westeros. While Arya has made the decision to dedicate her life to the pursuit of vengeance, there are many things that only Sandor can teach her about walking the path of the vengeful.
Perhaps, it’s because he sees a little bit of himself in her hatred. Perhaps, The Hound is simply trying to something right in a lifetime tainted by reckless and senseless violence, but The Hound not only helps Arya seek her vengeance, but he guides her through it. He teaches her the skills and disposition necessary for the life she has chosen. And as he lay broken and defeated after his fight with Brienne of Tarth, Arya, just as he had taught her, shuts her emotions down and walks away leaving The Hound to die in agony.
3 The Broken Man
After a noticeable absence throughout the entirety of season 5, Sandor Clegane makes his return having been offered a second chance at life. Having been saved by Septon Ray, Sandor is nursed back to health and begins helping the villagers build building their new sept. While Septon Ray speaks of truth and justice, Sandor argues that if there were any justice in the world he’d have paid for his crimes by now.
However, Ray offers that Sandor might have already paid what was owed. After denying them food, several members of the Brotherhood with Banners come back and massacre the villagers, and with them Sandor’s mirage of a new beginning. As he hunts them down and kills every member he thinks may have been involved, Sandor finds himself again on the path of vengeance. A road paved only with blood.
2 Beyond The Wall
Having joined up with Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion, Sandor begins traveling north to help fight the incoming army of the dead. As they make their way north the men stop at a house all too familiar to Sandor. A house he had once visited with Arya. While he had originally left the farmer and his daughter’s bodies out to rot, Sandor now takes the time to bury their bodies. He stumbles around a prayer and apologizes to them both.
As the men continue their march up north, Sandor slowly begins to believe the words of Beric and Thoros after witnessing a vision of his own in the flames. After meeting up with Jon Snow, the intrepid group make their way beyond the wall and capture a wight before bringing it to King’s Landing. Sandor exchanges brief words with his brother, The Mountain, making sure to let him know that his time is soon to come.
1 Before Seeking Revenge, Dig Two Graves
As the final season begins, Sandor, like many others, is preparing for the fights still to come. After making amends and surviving the Battle of Winterfell, Sandor and Arya are united once again. The two kindred spirits of vengeance head for what will likely be their last battle, King’s Landing. While Arya has distinguished her as a warrior, as they make their way through the Red Keep, Sandor grabs Arya by the nape of her neck, much like her father once had so long ago. He beckons her to take a good look at where a life lived in hatred leads.
In his last lesson to the only daughter he will ever know, Sandor Clegane, the man who was once a lowly beast, teaches Arya to release her hatred and find a life worth living. As Arya escapes the Red Keep Sandor makes his way to his (epic) final battle.