Minor Season 7 Episode 1 spoilers, beware!
During the scene where the Brotherhood Without Banners are seeking shelter in an abandoned house, Sandor Clegane starts a discussion with Berric Dondarion about his resurrection, and what makes Berric so special that he gets resurrected.
He then follows up with this:
So why does the Lord of Light keep bringing you back?
I've met better men than you, and they've been hanged from crossbeams, or beheaded, or just shat themselves to death in a field somewhere.
None of them came back.
I remember two of the three men he references, I'm curious who the third is.
1. "Hanged from a crossbeam"
Brother Ray (played by Ian McShane), the ex-septon who started building the peaceful community that Sandor was a part of until it was wiped away and Brother Ray was hanged.
From Sandor's general reaction both when part of the commune and on discovering the massacre, you can see that Ray had a big impact on Sandor; he seemed to open up to the idea of a peaceful life and letting go of his bitterness.
When Ned was still alive, Sandor was still the Hound. He was Joffrey's bodyguard. Sadly, Sandor's "awakening" happened after Ned had already been murdered.
To clarify the awakening: it is the moment where he pushed away from being a Lannister puppet ("Fuck the king") and (in my eyes) stopped being the Hound and started being Sandor again.
Although Sandor isn't a proud man, he does stick to a moral code that is similar to Ned's. This is evidenced by offering to take Sansa away from King's Landing, actually saving her from being raped, burying the dead in the same scene that I am talking about, and also the "every fucking chicken in this room" scene a few seasons ago.
Sandor is much more crude than Ned would be, but their underlying ideal is the same: standing up to injustice and bullies.
Even if he did not directly observe Ned in King's Landing, he did spend a lot of time travelling with Arya. It took a while, but Arya grew on him. Arya's character is mostly based on Ned's (compared to Cat's). Arya lives by a similar code as Ned.
If Sandor respected Arya for who she was, he must by extension also connect with Ned's moral code.
3. "Shat themselves to death in a field somewhere"
I am not understanding who this is referring to. I considered the fact that shitting was not the cause of death, but rather the miserable circumstances of their death (e.g. bowel release after being poisoned, or even just figuratively shitting themselves in fear).
However, I can't think of anyone who Sandor would look up to who died such a death.
Who is being referenced here?
Edit As per the comments below.
People have argued that Sandor's statement uses the plural ("crossbeams", "themselves"), therefore not referencing specific people.
However, I think that is a much too literal reading of the quote. Sandor was not trying to be factually accurate to Berric. He wasn't talking about the three better men; he was merely listing ways in which he has seen better men die.
As far as his intended message to Berric is considered, he did indeed mean that there are many better men, and he merely listed some (miserable) ways in which he had seen them die.
But that does not necessarily mean that the list of examples he draws from isn't from personal memory! It does not stand to reason that Sandor would be inventing ways that better men could die. His phrasing inherently implies that the examples he gives are things he experienced (although it does not necessarily state that he was present when they died, only that he has met these men and knows how they died).
I'm not saying there is definitely a specific person who is referenced, but I do not think that the pluralization is reason enough (by itself) to discard the possibility that it references someone we know (of).