Bran Stark Will Win Game of Thrones—But Not By Becoming King

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Brandon Stark was Game of Thrones‘ first victim. Before the wars, before the Red and Purple Weddings, before beheadings and dismemberments—poor Bran Stark was pushed out of a window by the show’s first villain, Jaime Lannister. Bran’s fall, in many ways, set this entire story into motion. It aided in launching the War of Five Kings. And, under the most horrible of circumstances, it led to him becoming the most powerful player in this story—the one boy who can literally change the fate and history of mankind.

What’s interesting is how Bran Stark’s character—like many in this universe—at once embraces and shatters expected fantasy character tropes. While he does fall into the category of being “The Chosen One,” of being “The Royal Heir,” of “Having a Wizard Mentor,” and “A Friendly Creature Sidekick” (RIP Summer)—the moment Bran fell from that tower, his story arc became less like a fantasy novel and more like a superhero path to redemption. Like all great superheroes, Bran turned his weakness into his strength. While he was left without the use of his legs after his fall, he was able to focus on using his Greensight powers to Warg into his wolf and Hodor. His disability is one that is very rarely represented in a fantasy novel from a first person perspective of a main character. And—at least in the books—George R.R. Martin was able to beautifully write the physical and mental hurdles Bran faced.

Through it all, Bran became the Three-Eyed Raven—a mysterious entity that neither the viewer or Bran himself fully understand yet. Here’s what we do know: Bran can see anything in the past, where he’s gifted with the knowledge of the previous generations. As I already noted, he has the ability to Warg into both animals and humans. And, while looking back in time, he’s proven that he can gently influence the events of the past.

It’s exactly this ability that puts Bran in the unique position of winning Game of Thrones. But in Bran’s case, what does this mean? Well it’s not by sitting on the Iron Throne.

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HBO

As soon as Bran began to truly understand the scope of his power, his path to the Iron Throne ended. He’s destined for bigger and better things—and he’s looking at the longer game rather than ruling Westeros on his own. As actor Isaac Hempstead Wright told me after the Season Seven finale:

Showrunners [David Benioff and D.B Weiss] got me in to talk about how Bran would be now that he has the entire human history downloaded into his brain. And they basically thought that he was going to be like Doctor Manhattan from the Watchmen comics. We created this idea of Bran existing in all of these different times at once and accessing every different possible moment at any given time.

That comparison to Doctor Manhattan positions Bran as someone who is above and uninterested with the monotonous, petty duties of being king.

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HBO

Instead, a few of the most popular Bran fan theories can point toward what his triumph in Game of Thrones Season Eight might look like. The most popular of these connect Bran’s abilities to his involvement with both building The Wall and sending the Mad King Aerys Targaryen insane. Elsewhere fans predict that Bran’s meddling might be responsible for him creating the Night King—or even becoming the Night King—in the first place. But what all of these have in common is Bran using his Three-Eyed Raven powers to fundamentally alter the course of humanity for both good and bad.

Considering the legend of Bran the Builder in the books, our Bran Stark could have a much bigger fate ahead of him than simply becoming king. That might even mean he’s our long prophesied Prince That Was Promised. First let’s think back to 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.”

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HBO

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. 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.

That would place Bran as a more pivotal position in this story than even Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen.

And honestly, this is all quite a bit more impressive than what most teenagers have accomplished by Bran’s age. While Bran is off ready to save a fantasy realm, human Earth teens are just practicing