Game of Thrones fans are by no means strangers to character deaths. We've seen people die since the prologue of the series. But there was a particular resonance regarding Hodor's death that strikes a unified cord with the fan base.
So few characters in the series have no agendas; Shireen Baratheon is another that comes to mind. Like Shireen, the circumstances of Hodor's death in season six's fifth episode — "The Door" — are painfully tragic. Yet the tragedy of Hodor's death could also overshadow what the episode set in place: It unearthed revelatory moments for the scope of Bran Stark's powers and whether they have already affected other characters, as well as the origins of the White Walkers.
The White Walkers were a weapon created to fend off humanity: The first of Bran's visions in Sunday's episode demonstrated what was likely the creation of the first White Walker, and who was behind it. The Children of the Forest — the mysterious, elf-like creatures who live beyond The Wall — created the first by apparently thrusting a dragonglass bade into a man's chest using some type of magic (though like most of Bran's visions, the context is pretty vague). And as the icy blue eyes we've grown accustomed to take shape, a new species is formed.
Leaf, one of the Children with Bran in the Weirwood tree, explains that it was for self defense. "We were being slaughtered," she proclaims — a reference to the First Men making it across the Narrow Sea and exploring Westeros for the first time, which started the first of many wars in the continent.
Ironically, though, the White Walker manifestation could have been an unintentional harbinger of peace between the First Men and the Children. The Wall constructed by Brandon the Builder, and the Children giving the first members of the Night's Watch dragonglass (the series has shown it can kill White Walkers) might have been a necessity if the White Walkers were on a relentless killing spree across Westeros.
The Children are all but gone now — the last of them likely perished while they defended Bran from the White Walker horde attacking the Weirwood tree. Perhaps it wasn't simply an act of selfless sacrifice, but the result of centuries-old guilt for creating a near-unstoppable weapon.
Bran's time travel could be a series-wide catalyst: We caught a glimpse of Bran's ability to alter the past when he shouted his father's name at the Tower of Joy. Ned turned back, confused.
Clearly, Bran's greensight can do more than just turn heads. Hodor is the embodiment of the damaging effects of this power. Though it happened in the future, it affected Hodor for the majority of his life — a time paradox, in other words, with Bran as the catalyst.
Now, the question is how far Bran's influence can reach. There were initial theories that Bran's ability to meddle with the past could have been what turned King Aerys II Targaryen into the infamous "Mad King" his monarchy is known for. As a result of Sunday's episode, the theory has even more traction. If Bran tried to warn Aerys of the White Walker threat, but Aerys himself couldn't comprehend the voices in his head, he might have been compelled to set everyone ablaze — one of the few things that can stop the icy undead.
Moreover, Bran might've needed to do this meddling to even be born. Ned Stark's brother Brandon was initially betrothed to Bran's mother, Catelyn. Yet the "Mad King" killed Brandon as well as Ned's father Rickard, which ultimately led to the marriage of Catelyn and Ned.
It's a lot to take in, but as the Three-Eyed Raven told Bran after the Tower of Joy sequence, referencing the past, "The ink is dry." Bran might have always been destined to alter these events; we just have to wait and see what else is in store.
RIP, Hodor: Save for some savvy Redditors from as far back as 2008, the mystery of Hodor's origins was one of Game of Thrones' many unanswered questions, though one that wasn't widely debated (recent horse theories aside). We now know the saying is a simplification of "hold the door," which he did to help Meera and Bran escape the White Walkers that stormed in to kill the Three-Eyed Raven and Bran.
It's the last phrase the stableboy formerly known as Wylis hears in Winterfell before descending into his disheveled state, and Hodor's death was a bittersweet pill to swallow for fans on Twitter. Yes, he saved Bran and Meera by literally holding the door and keeping his friends safe. However, Bran's greensight affected the majority of his life, and led the death of a beloved character.
Game of Thrones is gearing up for even more groundbreaking revelations with Bran, who might just be the most important character on the series. He still could lead us to the true patronage of Jon Snow, among other key revelations. Yet before one door in Game of Thrones could open, another had to be held in place — and Hodor did just that.