Considering Bran Stark's abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven are mysterious and powerful, his possibilities for Game of Thrones Season Eight are endless. Fans have spent years sifting through his visions, his trips into the past, his connections to history, and the vague purpose of the Three-Eyed Raven to find clues to what role he'll play in this long-awaited conclusion.
That's what makes him such a fun character for fan theory fodder. Fans have come up with some equally batshit and compelling theories for Season Eight. And, as we continue our character studies of each major player in Game of Thrones, we unpack the most convincing theories floating around out there about the youngest living Stark.
Bran Stark Is the Night King
Let's get this one out of the way first, as it's certainly the most popular and pervasive fan theory out there-and has been for years. Now this one involves a number of time travel paradoxes that might be difficult to unpack here, but the gist of it has been summed up most succinctly in this Reddit thread.
Here's the short version: We know the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers thousands of years ago to protect themselves in a war against the First Men. Unfortunately, the Children of the Forest lost control of the White Walkers, who threatened to destroy every living thing. During the War Before the Dawn, the people of Westeros, alongside the Children of the Forest rallied to drive the White Walkers back and Bran the Builder constructed the wall to keep them at bay. Now, Bran has looked into the past, where he's witnessed the creation of the White Walkers and proved he has the ability to manipulate the past. If that's the case, it's possible that he might attempt to travel into the past and attempt to stop the creation of the Night King entirely, but in the process fuck it up and accidentally become the Night King himself. After this Night King theory got so insane that people were comparing the similarity between their clothes, I asked actor Isaac Hempstead Wright about it.
"I personally think the Night King theory is a bit far-fetched, but I would have said the same thing about the Hodor theory," he told me after Season Seven. "And when I saw that on paper, I was like, 'What! No way!' But this is Game of Thrones, and anything is possible. I'd love to be the Night King. That would be so fun to be like, 'It was me all along.' But I don't know-I doubt it."
The White Walkers Are Actually Good ... Because Bran
To be fair, we don't know much from the White Walkers's perspective. For all we know, they're traveling south to get rid of Cersei. But, let's consider for a second that the above Bran = Night King theory is true. That means poor Bran has found himself trapped inside a tool created with the singular goal of killing all humans, but he's still trying to stop the events he's set into motion. As one Reddit user wrote as part of a massive theory:
How do you protect life when you know the only thing you can do is bring death and when you know that no one has the power to stop you from inflicting it? Destroying the source of magic that keeps him bound to the curse: the main Heart tree at the Isles of Faces that is at the center of all Weirwood trees in Westeros and killing himself by killing Bran ... This is why the army of the dead completely turns around and goes back North when the Night King marks Bran. Because killing Bran is the priority ... Had they known, all Westerosi people had to do was let the Night King and the White Walkers pass through ... As a result, who would be the villain in this scenario? Is it the Night King and the Whitewalkers that killed tens of thousands so they could stop themselves from endlessly killing life? Or is it Jon/Bran & Co. that sent tens of thousands to their death instead of stepping aside like Sam did in his first encounter with a White Walker? One thing is for certain, knowledge would have been their true savior. Even with the most unlikely kind of people or thing, there may be common ground. In this case, both the Night King & Jon Snow were fighting for the same cause without realizing it: to protect the living.
Yeah, it's crazy, but George R.R. Martin does love to mess with the usual fantasy tropes. What better way than to make the horrible bad monsters the good guys?
Bran Built the Wall
Season Six revealed that Bran Stark can not only see the past-he can manipulate it, too. There are a number of theories that consider the endless possibilities of his powers. Overall, they seem to connect Bran to every key moment in Westeros history. Bran already accidentally destroyed poor Hodor's mind by traveling to the past, and some speculate that he'll do the same thing to the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, who was known to "hear voices." To go back even further, it's been theorized that every person named Bran in Westerosi history is actually our Bran-meaning he actually built the wall.
Fans often point to this passage from George R.R. Martin's books:
"I could tell you the story about Brandon the Builder," Old Nan said. "That was always your favorite." Thousands and thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder had raised Winterfell, and some said the Wall. Bran knew the story, but it had never been his favorite. Maybe one of the other Brandons had liked that story. Sometimes Nan would talk to him as if he were her Brandon, the baby she had nursed all those years ago, and sometimes she confused him with his uncle Brandon, who was killed by the Mad King before Bran was even born. She had lived so long, Mother had told him once, that all the Brandon Starks had become one person in her head.
Bran Is Responsible for Ending the 300-Year Targaryen Dynasty
Okay, so if Bran is actually Bran the Builder and if he was able to manipulate past events, what if he was responsible for something that happened more recently, like send Aerys Targaryen into madness? As u/EaseGaming pointed out on Reddit:
We just watched the scene in which Jamie and Robert Baratheon were discussing the Mad King and the events around Jamie killing him. Jamie says that he kept saying "burn them all" even after he had stabbed him.
My girlfriend brought up a good question that I had never considered - is it possible that he had some sort of vision of the future and saw that the White Walkers were coming and that is what drove him mad? and as a result he was saying "burn them all" in regards to the White Walkers?
Now, taking this a step further, we know that history says that the Mad King Aerys Targaryen was known to hear voices. Is it possible that Bran traveled into the past and messed with Aerys Targaryen's mind as he did with dear, sweet Hodor? Consider Bran's motivations here. The Targaryen dynasty was the last time there was a unified Westeros. It's possible that he used his ability as the Three-Eyed Raven to convince Aerys to fight the White Walker threat using the full power of the Seven Kingdoms. Another reading of this could be that Bran knows he needs to manipulate Aerys in order to set this whole series of events into motion.
Bran is the Prince That Was Promised and He and the Night King Are Ancient Enemies
This theory is predicated on the recent interview Entertainment Weekly ran with Night King actor Vladimir Furdik, who said his character "has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is. There’s also that moment [in “Hardhome”] when Jon Snow was on the boat and the Night King looked at him and raised his arms - there’s a similar and even stronger moment between Jon and the Night King this time."
So, let's now assume that this person the Night King is after is actually Bran aka the Three-Eyed Raven. Let's take into consideration everything we know happened during the long night and the climactic battle where the army of the living was saved by the Last Hero, who may or may not be the legendary Azor Ahai. As this theory speculates, maybe this Last Hero was the first Three-Eyed Raven, a.k.a. Bran the Builder, who drove the White Walkers back to save humanity. As one Reddit user writes:
So the last hero and the children ban together and create something that can defeat the NK. They gave this man the power he needs to put a stop to the NK. That's why the NK has tried to stop any three eyed ravens from being trained. That's why the NK killed Bloodraven and tried to kill Bran. That's why he is coming after Bran. That's why the NK and three eyed raven are ancient enemies!
Dan and Dave told us that the three eyed raven is not entirely human. Just like the NK. Both of them are not human because they were created by the children! All of the ancient past three eyed ravens, went inside of Bran when he uploaded all of the history of the world. All of the souls of the past three eyed ravens are now in Bran. So Bran is not Bran anymore he is all of the three eyed ravens in one mind. He's not exactly human anymore.
So, if Bran is the first Three-Eyed Raven, that means the Night King is marching toward killing Bran-possibly as revenge or, more likely, to defeat the only person with the knowledge or ability to stop him. It certainly would make for a great parallel if the Children of the Forest created both the Night King and the Three-Eyed Raven to balance out their own mistakes.
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