More than a few characters were missing from the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones, and among that number was Sam Tarly, member of the Night's Watch and best friend to the dearly departed (for now!) Jon Snow. At the end of Season 5, Sam left Castle Black for Oldtown, taking him away from the action right before Jon was killed. There's been no sign of Sam since. So where is Sam Tarly on Game of Thrones?
Sam left for Oldtown because that is where the Citadel is, which is where people learn to become maesters, the educated scholars that go on to teach the children of important families. The Night's Watch also had a maester in residence (Aemon Targaryen) but his death opened up a space for Sam to take over. Becoming a maester had always been bookish Sam's dream, so with Jon's blessing Sam set off to do what he had always wanted. It had the added bonus of getting him, Gilly, and her baby away from the tensions at Castle Black. Sam is still on his journey, but there have been a few hints as to what will happen with him this season, like the casting of the Tarly family.
Sam has a tense relationship with his father, a belligerent warrior of a man who had been displeased — to put it mildly — that his oldest son was bookish and didn't care for violence. He sent Sam to the Night's Watch in the first place under threat of death if Sam disobeyed, all so he could make his younger son his heir instead of Sam. Those must be some uncomfortable Christmases at the Tarly household, and since Sam's family is going to appear on the show, viewers will get to see every awkward second.
It seems like Sam and Gilly will be making a pitstop on their way to Oldtown at Horn Hill, where the Tarly family lives. In the books, Sam leaves Gilly there with her son, claiming the boy as his own so the family will take her in. Then he continues on to the Citadel where he is embroiled in even more intrigue amongst the maesters. It's hard to imagine Sam leaving Gilly even if he thinks she's in safe hands, but uncovering all of that new information at the Citadel will certainly give Sam something to do this season.