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Will Bran Change History on Game of Thrones?

He's definitely solving a mystery

Alexander Zalben

Spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones past this point!

Right now on Game of Thrones, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is solving a mystery... but can he rewrite history?

Or more specifically, on the last episode of the show, Bran proved that his developing powers may be able to do more than show him the past of Westeros; he may be able to influence it as well. Traveling back to a key moment in his father's life, Bran -- ostensibly an invisible spirit -- ran towards his Dad, and shouted, "Father!"

And the young Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo) turned to look in Bran's direction! Granted, Ned didn't see anything there; and when Bran returned to the present, his mentor, the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow), told Bran that "the past is already written and the ink is already dried."

But in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hempstead-Wright didn't exactly deny the possibility. And given that a version of this scene exists in the books, fans have long toyed with the idea of a time-traveling Bran Stark. They've even gone so far as to point out that A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin has mentioned the word "fly" in relation to Bran so many times that it must be a reference to Back to the Future's Marty McFly.
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It's not. But let's assume for the moment that Bran hasn't seen any of the Terminator movies, and doesn't know anything about causality and multiple timelines. Let's say that as Bran's powers develop, he won't be able to just see the past -- he'll be able to influence it.

With that in mind, how could Bran actually change the history? Where -- and when -- would he have to go?

1. The Tower of Joy

Robert Aramayo, Game of Thrones photo: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO

Everything seems to be leading here, right? Fans know that something went down in the Tower of Joy, and most likely this is where Lyanna Stark gave birth to Jon Snow (Kit Harington), gifted the half-Targaryen baby to Ned, and made her brother swear he wouldn't reveal Jon's lineage to anyone, not even his wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley).

But what can Bran do here other than witness the secret? Telling Ned, "Yo, be honest, dude," wouldn't really change anything; and in fact, Robert Baratheon's (Mark Addy) "KILL ALL TARGARYENS" policy would spell doom for Jon -- and maybe Ned as well.

We'll almost certainly see what actually went down in the Tower this season, but it isn't a good place for Bran to pull a Looper. Spoilers for Looper, by the way.

2. The Death of the Mad King Aerys

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones

Here's a moment we haven't seen on the show yet, but has been described at length: when Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) became Kingslayer, killing the Mad King Aerys -- something that could be considered one of the kick-offs for the events of the show. There's a number of key events that happened here, including the death itself.

But perhaps more importantly, there's the moment Jaime took to rest on Aerys' throne after king-slaying him. The way Jaime describes it, he was exhausted and wasn't thinking anything of sitting on the Iron Throne; but when Ned (Sean Bean) entered and saw him, the Stark took it as a Lannister overstepping his bounds.

Maybe if Time-Travelin' Bran kicked a stool over next to Jaime or something, we wouldn't have gotten decades of animosity between the Starks and the Lannisters, and they would have been more interested in working together in the future.

In fact, some fans theorize that the "whispers" Aerys hears in the books, the ones that drove him mad and caused Robert to start the war to take the Mad King out of power, were Bran trying to change things and whispering through time. This, though, gets into the whole problem of causality in time travel and I promised we wouldn't do that, so someone please travel from the future to warn me not to type this paragraph. Thanks.
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3. The Death of Ned Stark


To my mind, this is the most likely place Bran could significantly change history: In the first season, poor, naïve Ned thought he could take down Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) by revealing her son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) was the product of incest. Only, Ned was betrayed by his "ally" Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in a long-range grab for power/revenge for Ned marrying Littlefinger's lifelong crush Catelyn.

This show is complicated.

Anyway, if Ned was somehow warned of Littlefinger's betrayal, the Stark-father wouldn't have just avoided his own execution, he would have removed Joffrey from power (as well as the Lannisters); and instead, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) would have ascended to the throne following the death of his brother Robert.

Granted, Stannis on the throne has its own host of problems (more in the books, where he's a teeth-gritting, unwaveringly lawful a--hole, versus the righteous jerk in the show); but at the very least you'd have someone who wants to do the right thing as king, versus an insane teenager with a penchant for torturing whores.

4. The Push


There's one other big moment that could change everything, and it involves Bran... which makes the Three-Eyed Raven's warnings of danger, and unwillingness to let Bran stay in the past too long all the more suspect. That's the almost literal cliff-hanger at the end of the first episode of Game of Thrones ever, when Bran discovered Jaime and Cersei making the beast with two backs; so Jaime pushed Bran out a window.

After that, Bran was in a coma long enough for Ned to leave, the conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks to ignite, Jon to head North to the Wall... basically everything that went down on the show happened -- not because -- but in spite of Bran falling. And in fact, Bran doesn't remember what he saw, to this day.
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On the other hand, if Bran had somehow avoided that push -- say, if another version of Bran from the future had distracted Jaime long enough for past-Bran to escape -- he would have been able to tell Ned that Jaime and Cersei were doing the country's most forbidden act. This would have prevented the death of Robert Baratheon, the War of the Five Kings, and possibly even the ascendance of Daenerys. Without the destabilization of Westeros, Robert would have (probably) chosen a new wife and continued his lineage, meaning Dany would have no strong reason to return (probably).

So is any of this accurate? Is Bran a time-traveler, and the show will end with Bran wiping out everything that ever happened, leading to a bright sunny future? I mean, of course not. Because the one thing we're ignoring here is the threat of the White Walkers and the Night's King. At the end of the day, the Three-Eyed Raven's warnings most likely have nothing to do with the Stark or Targaryen family lineage. Like Arya (Maisie Williams) learning that she's "no one" so that she can focus on the fight ahead, Bran needs to concern himself less with the problems of mortals, and more with figuring out how to stop the undead ice army heading towards the destruction of everything.

Or maybe he could travel back in time and trip the Night's King at Hardhome on a banana peel? That would be hilarious.