- Warning: Spoilers ahead for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
- Some fans believe Bran is the Night King, thanks to his greensight and skinchanging powers.
- But this bad fan theory doesn’t make any sense.
- The theory works against all of the established rules of Bran’s powers, and also doesn’t have a logical endpoint.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Fan theories are a staple of the “Game of Thrones” community, but every now and again an idea sparks without a whole lot of hard evidence to back it up. The latest in this craze is a theory stating that Bran Stark is really the Night King on the HBO drama.
While it might be an interesting notion, people should probably set aside their tinfoil hats for a moment and consider the facts. First, we’ll give an overview of the theory – then break down why it’s nonsensical.
Why people believe Bran is the Night King
The traumatic scene of Hodor’s death on season five seems to have sparked the theory. People believed that seeing Bran accidentally skinchange into past-Hodor/Wylis was meant to show us that he can change the past and inhabit the bodies of historical figures.
From there, some people began speculating that Bran might try to prevent the coming war against the White Walkers by using his powers to go back in time and stop the Night King from ever being created.
Remember when we saw the Children of the Forest plunge a dragonglass dagger into a man’s heart, turning his eyes blue?
According the Night King theorists, Bran actually skinchanged into this man in an attempt to prevent the Children of the Forest from turning him, but his plan failed and Bran gets stuck. And thus, Bran became the Night King.
People have also pointed out that Bran and the Night King wear a similar costume on the show, and their face shape is even a bit similar. This theory also claims that the reason the Night King has now had two stare-offs with Jon Snow and made no attempt to kill him is because it’s really Bran who recognizes his half-brother (well, cousin).
There’s no proof Bran can affect the past, only observe it
Here’s major problem No. 1: According to the current canon in both the books and the show, there’s no evidence that Bran can actually change the past. Known “A Song of Ice and Fire” expert and one of the moderators of the /r/asoiaf subreddit, BryndenBFish, laid out the counter-argument to this on Twitter:
"But Bran can control space and time, and he's…"
Listen up, you godless hippie. No, he cannot. He can observe past & present events.
— BryndenBFish (@BryndenBFish) August 22, 2017
The full quote makes this entire point. pic.twitter.com/UWHOG1ZOYb
— BryndenBFish (@BryndenBFish) August 23, 2017
In the book series, Bran has a small “whisper” moment with Ned Stark – similar to the scene in “Game of Thrones” when Bran yells “father!” at young Ned and he turns around.
But there’s no evidence that Ned actually heard him, and not just a rustle of the wind. They didn’t have a conversation, and Bran isn’t interacting with the environment. He’s there as an observer.
Bran’s accident with Hodor was a one-time mistake
Then there’s what happened with Wylis/Hodor. This appears to have been a one-off mistake – a huge lesson learned by Bran that his powers can have devastating consequences. But that event was presented as a causal time loop – that mistake had already happened, because Hodor was only Hodor because Bran was always going to accidentally skinchange into Wylis and force him to witness his own death while “holding the door.”
Bran didn’t change the past, he fulfilled a pre-determined loop of events. Confusing, we know. But the logic there is sound.
INSIDER spoke with Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran, after the tragic Wylis/Hodor episode. We asked if he could explain what happened, and whether or not Bran being separated from the weirwood tree had anything to do with his accidental time-jump skinchange.
“I think the whole point of Bran not having physical contact with the tree during that big sequence in episode five is it’s almost like a malfunction,” Hempstead Wright explained to INSIDER. “It’s like when your iPhone’s connected to your Mac and it [automatically opens] iTunes – then you pull it out just as it’s syncing and everything goes haywire.”
Point being, that was not how his powers normally work. Hinging a theory on the assumption that Bran would be able to consciously make this choice is inherently wobbly logic.
Not to mention, that entire scene with the heartbreaking “Hodor = Hold the Door” reveal was meant to be a major lesson for Bran and the damage he can inflict if he misuses his abilities. Everything changed for Bran after that. He became the Three-Eyed Raven. Why would he decide the best thing to do now is recreate that mistake by trying to skingchange into the past?
“Game of Thrones” likely wouldn’t change a major character like Bran
One really important thing to keep in mind is that the Night King is a show-only character. His name is derived from a legendary figure in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” but it’s not meant to be the same person. In the books, we haven’t seen any sort of leader or figurehead for the White Walkers.
So it’s very unlikely that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would introduce the new character of the Night King on the show, and then have him actually be Bran Stark. We know Martin told the Benioff and Weiss the broad strokes of his planned ending for the major characters on the show, and it’s very unlikely they would’ve changed Bran’s storyline to dovetail with their show-only Night King.
Having Bran literally be the Night King would significantly change Bran’s storyline from the books, and we can’t see them making that drastic of a shift with a main character, especially if it meant needing to introduce complicate time travel paradox to the story.
There’s no good explanation for why the Night King would be attacking Westeros if he’s really Bran
Another huge issue with this theory is the reasoning (or lack thereof) for why Bran as the Night King would be waging war on humanity. If the theory goes that he warged into the man who was turned into the Night King as an attempt to stop the war, why would he change his mind and continue the war anyways?
Also, how are Bran and the Night King existing in the same time, separately?
We’ve seen Bran skinchange into ravens which then saw the Night King – if Bran literally is the Night King, how’s his mind present in two bodies at once? When Bran skinchanges, his spirit enters another body and leaves his own behind and useless – not active and walking.
It just doesn’t compute that present-Bran would be able to interact with future-Bran stuck inside the Night King’s body after warging.
The Night King will never talk on the show
The reason why this theory has taken hold with so many people is simple: The Night King is an important but mysterious character, and fans are trying to establish a deeper level of complexity to him.
There are many gaps in our understanding of who he is, why the Children of the Forest chose him to “turn,” and why he has suddenly become active again and is marching south.
Martin has said that he doesn’t write pure good or evil characters, so people think there must be an underlying motivation for the White Walkers that we just don’t know yet. But showrunners Benioff and Weiss have said the Night King will never have a speaking line on the show.
That makes it pretty tough for us to ever be given some nuanced explanation for his attack on Westeros.
“I think he wants revenge,” the actor behind the Night King, Vladimir Furdik, told Entertainment Weekly. “Everybody in this story has two sides – a bad side and a good side. The Night King only has one side, a bad side.”
That sure doesn’t sound like Bran Stark-turned-evil to us. Instead, fans should keep their expectations at a minimum when it comes to deep, complex explanations for anything happening on the final six episodes of the series.
There isn’t enough time for a wild, time-travel skingchanging twist showing Bran is actually the Night King. So please, “Game of Thrones” fans, let’s put this theory to bed once and for all.
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