When it comes to Game of Thrones, believe the fan theories. Case in point: As everyone on Reddit long suspected, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is indeed the legitimate child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and therefore rightful heir to the Iron Throne. As of the season 8 Game of Thrones premiere, even Jon Snow knows the truth.
Now that one fan theory has been confirmed, we can turn our gaze to another popular — and even wilder — theory, which first originated in the Game of Theories YouTube channel. This time-traveling theory may be outlandish, but it's no less convincing than R+L=J. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be convinced that Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is actually the Night King. Here’s why.
Why The Bran Stark Night King Theory Is So Strong
Bran and the Night King both have greensight and the ability to warg.
Not many characters in the Game of Thrones universe have these abilities. Through warging, Bran can cast himself into the bodies of animals and people. Greensight is the ability to perceive the past, present, or future events in dreams.
Thanks to greensight, Bran knows everything now — including who pushed him from the tower, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. That’s why he shot Jaime Lannister (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) such an intense look in the season 8 premiere.
Like Bran, the Night King is also a super warg. Some think he can warg into his entire wight army, and he definitely uses his powers to control them. There are also theories positing he has greensight as well, which explain why the Night King — and only the Night King — can see Bran in his greensight dreams. According to this theory, the Night King's visions showed him that the dragons would fly beyond the Wall, allowing him to turn Viserion into an ice dragon.
The Three-Eyed Raven's prophecy that Bran will fly.
Bran is invisible to everyone (except the Night King) in the past, so he may have been creating reality as we know it all along. This may explain one major prophecy.
“You will never walk again, but you will fly,” the Three-Eyed Raven intones to Bran in season 4. At first, many suspected that meant Bran would warg into a dragon and fly in the battles to come. But any other skin-changer could do that.
So the Three-Eyed Raven's prophecy could indicate even more transformative powers. It could mean Bran flies — through time.
Three times so far, Bran has made his presence known in past. In the episode "Oathbreaker," Bran travels back to his father’s battle at the Tower of Joy. After Bran calls for his father, young Ned Stark turns around, as if he’d heard Bran’s voice (even though Bran is invisible). The Three-Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow) insists that Ned’s turning around is purely coincidence: “The past is already written," the Three-Eyed Raven says. "The ink is already dry."
Well, the past may be written – but Bran (and his time-traveling abilities) can play a role in writing it. Even if he can’t create alternate realities, Bran creates the present in Game of Thrones as we know it today. Take the sad reality of Hodor’s (Kristian Nairn) life as proof.
Thanks to Bran’s simultaneously casting into the past (greensight) and warging into Hodor’s body in the present, Hodor’s entire life was reduced to one mission: Holding the cave door to allow Bran and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) to escape a White Walker attack. (In the same episode, Bran is also touched by the Night King, further indicating that he can be seen in the past — and that the Night King can see him).
The Hodor Loop proves that while Bran can influence the past, he can only creates outcomes that we already see in the present. Long story short: He’s not changing the past — he’s creating present reality.
Bran may have accidentally became the Night King in an effort to save Westeros from White Walkers.
Through greensight, Bran learns that the White Walkers are one day going to march South and take Westeros. He’s been trying to intervene in the past ever since, but keeps failing. Why? Because, as the Three-Eyed Raven said, he can’t change the past — the ink is dry. He’s creating the war.
Attempt one: Bran wargs into King Aerys and tries to get him to burn all the White Walkers before they can mobilize. But warging is an imperfect science. As we saw with Hodor, Bran more or less breaks King Aerys’ brain. Aeyrs screams, “Burn them all” on a loop, translating the message to mean his subjects, not White Walkers. Jaime kills the King and becomes known as "Kingslayer."
Attempt two: With more refined abilities, Bran travels even farther back to discover how Northerners defeated the White Walkers in the past. Instead, he only succeeds at helping the White Walkers build a magical wall to shut them out — Bran Stark is Bran the Builder. Bran the Builder establishes the rule that there shall always be a Stark at Winterfell, thus establishing his future self's existence at Winterfell.
Attempt three: Bran travels the farthest back and tries stopping the Children of the Forest from creating the Night King. But Bran arrives while the Children of the Forest are at war with the First Men. Leaf and the Children do not recognize Bran, of course — they haven’t met him. So, they capture him and use his body to create the first White Walker. As this scene is filmed in Game of Thrones, there are many parallels between the first White Walker and Bran’s seating patterns.
Bran may have been been stuck in the Night King's body for centuries.
Rule one of greensight: Don’t stay too long. As the Three-Eyed Raven explained poetically, “It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long you’ll drown.” Bran almost got lost in the past when he and Meera were escaping from the cave.
Well, Bran really did drown this time. The Night King is Bran. His consciousness is rattling inside the Night King.
Bran and the Night King wear similar clothes.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Isaac Hempstead-Wright spoke to his character's connection to the blue-eyed force of evil. "I don't know. I think it's a little bit far-fetched. But the whole Hodor thing, if I had read that as a theory, I would have said, Nah, this is crazy,'" Wright said. "So, who knows? Although I have to say, people are now comparing my face to the Night King and going, "Yeah! It's him! It's over, there's no question about it!" And I'm like, "I don't look that much like the Night King, do I?"
Actually, he does look like the Night King. In the season 7 episode "Beyond the Wall," Bran and the Night King were wearing similar outfits, adding extra fuel to the theory.
Why The Bran Stark Night King Theory Doesn’t Add Up
We don't know the Night King's endgame.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, creator David Benioff was clear about the Night King's motivations. “I don’t think of him as evil, I think of him as Death,” Benioff said. “And that’s what he wants — for all of us. It’s why he was created, and that’s what he’s after.”
Now that the White Walkers have crossed the Wall, the Night King's rampage has begun. Poor 10-year-old Ned Umber (Harry Grasby), whose ancestral home, the Last Hearth, is located closest to the Wall, was turned into a wight. He was then killed for the second time by Beric Dondarrion's (Richard Dormer) flaming sword.
But if Bran really were the Night King, then would the Night King be so evil? It's hard to believe he would be.
Bran and the Night King could be ancient enemies.
Look, the "Bran is the Night King" theory isn't air-tight. But Jojen Reed confirmed that Bran is "the only one that matters." Clearly, he and the Night King are headed for some kind of confrontation. Another Reddit theory posits that since Bran is the new Three-Eyed Raven, he and the Night King are ancient enemies. According to this Reddit user, the Children of the Forest created the Three-Eyed Raven to defeat the Night King. Now, Bran – aka the Three-Eyed Raven — is the only one who can stop the Night King.
And the Night King is headed for a confrontation. “People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is,” Vladimir Furdik, who plays the Night King, told Entertainment Weekly. That target may very well be Bran.
Long story short: Bran will be one to watch this final season.