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So, have you heard the latest rumor about a 'Game of Thrones' favorite returning?

It's reaching a point where if any actor comes within a thousand miles of filming, fans are ready to assume he or she has been rehired. But maybe it's true!

Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, has been AWOL from "Game of Thrones" for several seasons now, but fans still have hope he'll return.

HBO

Starting a good "Game of Thrones" rumor is as easy as life in Westeros is hard. Cut "Thrones" fans some slack, we've got a long dark winter of our own coming, probably 8-9 months before the hit fantasy drama returns to HBO. And that next book's not getting here any time soon, either. You can understand our wanting to pounce on every scrap of intel as if we're starving dogs and it's Ramsay Bolton's face. Uh, or something.

The newest rumor concerns late King Robert Baratheon's only surviving son, fan favorite Gendry (Joe Dempsie). Gendry was last seen rowing away from Dragonstone several seasons ago, and hasn't been seen since. Showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff jokingly addressed his eternal row-a-thon on the UFC Unfiltered podcast in July, and they didn't sound too enthused for a Gendry return.

But this week, a fan spotted Dempsie at the airport in Belfast, Northern Ireland, near where "Thrones" films, and snapped a startled photo, which was shared online by fan site WatchersontheWall.com.

Could it be? Could Gendry be coming to Ireland to film more scenes featuring his character? Will the last of the Baratheon bloodline stampede into town and kick Cersei Lannister off the Iron Throne, reuniting with Arya Stark in the process? Or maybe he was just in town to go to Belfast's Titanic museum, another reminder to work on those rowing skills?

Dempsie's not the first actor whose mere appearance has sparked fans' hopes. Let's backtrack three weeks to when Jason Momoa, who played the late Khal Drogo, posted a photo of himself drinking Guinness in Belfast with Benioff and Weiss. Talk about something a-brewin'.

That happy beer-thirty gathering was all it took for Thronies to dream of a future season in which Drogo is somehow resurrected, perhaps to fight for the Iron Throne alongside his Khaleesi. (I highly approve of this rumor, by the way, but one would think Momoa is a little busy learning how to speak underwater so he can play Aquaman.)

This latest rumor is pretty weak summerwine, even for a show that had me nearly convinced Syrio was coming back because of a shadowy extra with a perm. But since Gendry (and yes, Drogo) would offer this oft-gloomy show rare happy moments (probably for all of five minutes, until they're horribly killed), fans may want to go right ahead and cling to this scenario over the winter months. Row, row, row your hopes.