It's been more than three seasons now since we saw the handsome face of Gendry disappearing into the distance, rowed away to obscurity at the behest of Ser Davos (in one of his biggest hero moments), and you could have been forgiven for thinking his Game Of Thrones watch had been quietly declared over.
After all, he might be a Baratheon, but he's not important anymore, because his House is no longer on the Throne. He is as strategically important as Hot Pie at this point, but that doesn't mean his return isn't one of the most hotly anticipated moments of the rest of season 7. That's just what happens when you find a character so charming and so roguish who is so uncharacteristically NICE.
And the good news is you no longer have to wait very long for his return, because it seems that he's coming back in the next episode, "Eastwatch". At least, that's according to IMDB, who have him listed in the cast list for the episode. So that's the end of his 34 episode hiatus, and not a moment too soon.
It's been something of an open secret that Gendry would return, as Joe Dempsie turned up at the Game Of Thrones season 7 premiere (though he was gagged by HBO, naturally), and set leaks have suggested that he's featured in some key scenes. Not only that, he also appears to go North as part of Jon Snow's raiding party to Eastwatch, as his hammer was spotted in the trailer...
So why does he actually matter?
Even without his blood being important, Gendry is always going to be a favourite son of Westeros because he's one of George RR Martin's patented underdog figures. As a bastard he's in the same pool as Jon, as a cast-away he was like Arya, as a surprisingly skilled "lower" character he's like Sam and Davos, he's an orphan like Dany and the target painted on him by Cersei makes him a lot like Tyrion. He's also one of the very few purely good characters on the show (Sam and Ebrose being up there with him currently), and his story still has something to say.
Like all underdogs in this world, he will get his chance to shine. Arya blossomed into a fearsome warrior and now has the means to kill a White Walker; Davos saved Gendry and undid Melisandre; Jon is the King In The North; Dany is a dragon; Sam killed a White Walker; Tyrion fought back at his father... The only one yet to get their validating strike is Gendry.
All that remains now is seeing what that will look like. There's a theory that his blacksmith skills will come into play to craft Dragonglass weapons or Valyrian steel armour, but that's a little underwhelming. More likely it's something to do with the expedition North, which will put him in direct conflict and peril. If he dies within two episodes of returning though, it would cause riots.
But then, it does sound an awful lot like a Game Of Thrones thing to do. Now we just wait.
Want to know exactly how he comes back? Click next for a more spoilerish reveal...