After seasons of blowing off Bran's story line for more showy plots like dragons and deaths at weddings, Game of Thrones sucker punched me right in the gut during Season 6 when the true meaning of the word "Hodor" was revealed. As a way to grieve, I went back through every episode Hodor ever appeared in to see if Game of Thrones had warned us all along. Well, fellow Hodor grievers, turns out that we should have seen the pain coming that the phrase "Hold the door" now causes. Although going through every Hodor episode may be a cry for help, it was a rewarding experience. While most fans know by now that there was evidence throughout the series about why Hodor could only say "Hodor," there were more clues about Hodor's fate than I ever imagined.
Plus, with strong imagery from the very beginning, I am now in the camp that believes Bran may be the most important character on Game of Thrones — a title I had previously reserved for the likes of Daenerys and Jon Snow. And, when you read all of the times that Hodor's tragic demise and the noteworthiness of Hodor protecting Bran was foreshadowed for six seasons, you may even feel the same way. An added bonus being that knowing Hodor's entire adult life was sacrificed for such a noble cause definitely helps ease the Hodor pain just the tiniest bit.
Hodor may not technically be dead (you know the rule — if you didn't see the death on Game of Thrones, did it happen?), but dead or not, the majority of his life was still dedicated to Bran in one of the most depressing story lines I have ever seen played out on television. Here are the 15 times Game of Thrones attempted to warn fans that all of Hodor's Hodoring had been for Bran the whole time.
1. Arya Pushes Bran Next To Hodor
During the very first episode, "Winter Is Coming," the Starks present themselves for the arrival of King Robert and Queen Cersei. Arya runs in late and pushes her younger brother Bran to fit in the space between him and Sansa. This leads to Bran standing directly next to Hodor in this epic Stark lineup. Not only was this the first time Hodor was shown on Game of Thrones, this moment highlighted his connection to Bran instantly. Also, I must bring up that the first episode was the only episode — ignoring his abilities while warging, dreaming, or greenseeing (the ability to see the past, present, and future) — where the adorable Bran was able to walk.
2. "Help Bran Down The Hall"
Hodor next appears again in the fourth episode of Season 1, "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things." Tyrion Lannister is visiting Winterfell and Bran is ordered to come greet their family's guest. Theon Greyjoy demands that Hodor, "Help Bran down the hall," which Vanity Fair connected to Hodor's final moments of literally helping Bran down the hall of the Three-Eyed Raven's cave. Regardless if the first words spoken to Hodor on the show were intentionally linked to his death or not, "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" is an excellent episode to rewatch post-Hodor's death since you see Bran first being visited by the Three-Eyed Raven in a dream and just how easily Bran takes to ordering Hodor around.
3. Hodor Wakes Bran Up From His Dream
In the sixth episode of Season 1, "A Golden Crown" Hodor bangs down Bran's door to present him with the saddle that Tyrion had given him the blueprints for, which will make him able to ride a horse despite his paralysis. Bran's face is one of pure glee at seeing Hodor, but the clue is that Hodor's appearance wakes Bran from a Three-Eyed Raven dream, an indication that Hodor will have something to do with Bran's journey to the Three-Eyed Raven.
4. Hodor Interrupts Osha & Bran Under The Weirwood
Ah, Hodor's infamous nude scene. This scene in the eighth episode of Season 1, "The Pointy End," is more about Bran's destiny than Hodor's, but it does give insight into the pair's relationship. Under a weirwood tree, Osha helps explain the old gods to Bran saying how they have the power to see through these magical trees. Perhaps this isn't a direct correlation, but Hodor appearing helplessly naked by the tree and Bran telling him to put on clothes could be a sign of how dependent Hodor is on Bran — and Hodor's lack of control over his own fate to come at the weirwood in Season 6.
5. Summer & Hodor Wake Up Bran
By the third episode of Season 2, "What Is Dead May Never Die," Bran is dreaming of warging into Summer — even if he doesn't understand what he's doing. Hodor greets the direwolf in Bran's dream by saying, "Hodor" and the pair of Summer and Hodor go to wake up Bran. It may be a bit of a stretch, but this bonding between Summer and Hodor could be a clue that both of them will die in the same scene while saving Bran from the White Walkers (...I write, holding back all of the tears).
6. The Escape From Winterfell
Osha may have orchestrated the escape of Bran and Rickon from Winterfell in the sixth episode of Season 2, "The Old Gods and the New," after Theon Greyjoy had taken it over, but without Hodor it would have been nearly impossible for her to save Bran from the wrath of Theon. The episode sent Bran and Hodor farther into the North — before they ended up returning to Winterfell again in "The Prince of Winterfell." However, this was the episode that really started Bran's physical journey toward the Three-Eyed Raven, unbeknownst to him and the viewers.
7. Osha & Hodor Heed The Advice Of Maester Luwin
After Winterfell is burnt in the Season 2 finale, "Valar Morghulis," Maester Luwin tells Bran and Rickon to go North to the Wall to seek safety with Jon Snow. Luwin may have told Osha directly to protect the boys, but Hodor was present for the moment and both Stark servants ended up protecting Bran and Rickon until their dying breaths. Plus, this episode introduced the cart to pull Bran, which surely was a welcome addition to Hodor actor Kristian Nairn.
8. Jojen Reed Spoils The Story
Bran dreams of killing the Three-Eyed Raven in the second episode of Season 3, "Dark Wings, Dark Words," when Jojen Reed appears to tell Bran he can't kill the raven, because he is the raven. Later in the episode, the new characters Meera and Jojen show up to join Bran's journey. Jojen gives vital information to Bran about the Three-Eyed Raven, like that it "brings the sight" of "things that happened long before you were born." He tells Bran that he has seen, "The only one thing that matters," which is Bran himself. This scene is particularly affecting now watching Hodor pull Bran in his cart while Jojen provides this insight. Meera also tells Osha, "Some people will always need help, that doesn't mean they're not worth helping." So Game of Thrones pretty much laid out all of the facts for viewers in this episode: That Bran will become the Three-Eyed Raven, he will see the past, and that his companions will risk their lives to help him. Is anyone else feeling really stupid right now?
9. Osha Talks White Walkers
Osha gets fed up with all the dark magic talk that Jojen has been filling Bran's head with in the seventh episode of Season 3, "The Bear and the Fair Maiden," but Jojen insists that he is explaining, "What's happening to [Bran] and what that means." Osha describes her own experiences with the White Walkers and while viewers can assume Hodor doesn't comprehend Osha's White Walker story, he does appear to be listening and he will ultimately be destroyed by White Walkers just like Osha's love was.
10. Bran Wargs Into Hodor
While you may have been distracted by the Red Wedding during the ninth episode of Season 3, "The Rains of Castamere," Bran's gang traveled to The Gift, which is the area before the Wall that Brandon the Builder gave to the Night's Watch. (Insert theories that Bran is Brandon the Builder here.) The episode marks the first time that Bran wargs into Hodor, this time as a way to stop Orell — the Wildling who wargs — from hearing Hodor as he panics because of the thunderstorm. This situation is extremely similar to how Hodor panics when the Night's King attacks in "The Door," which leads to the devastating warging and greenseeing combination that ruins Hodor's mind. After this Season 3 successful warging session though, Bran tells Osha, Rickon, and Shaggydog to go to the Umbers as Bran, Meera, Jojen, and Hodor head for the Three-Eyed Raven.
11. Bacon Foreshadowing
Besides Hodor adorably calling into a well to hear his "Hodor" echo during the Season 3 finale, "Mhysa," Bran told a scary story about the Rat Cook that featured bacon (and cannibalism). This exact breakfast food was discussed by Hodor and Meera in the final moments before Hodor's death. Coincidence? Probably. But still, I couldn't help but make the connection. The real clue in this episode came from Sam and Gilly, who found Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor. After failing to convince Bran to join him at the Wall to reunite with Jon, Sam gave the group — and specifically Hodor — Dragonglass to protect them from the White Walkers. Too bad no amount of Dragonglass could save Hodor.
12. Jojen Gives A Major Warning
Jojen warns Bran about his extended time warging into his direwolf in the second episode of Season 4, "The Lion and the Rose," by saying, "Spending too much time in Summer's skin is dangerous." This warning of staying too long in a moment is repeated by the Three-Eyed Raven in Season 6 multiple times and it ultimately leads to Hodor's fate since if Bran hadn't stayed too long observing the White Walkers, the Night's King wouldn't have marked him. Yet, the biggest moment of foreshadowing in this episode is a small one. As Bran is warging through Summer, he hears Hodor saying, "Hodor" while Meera shakes him out of his warg. However, it doesn't appear that Hodor was speaking in that moment, so I choose to interpret it as the first time fans saw the mixing of warging and hearing the past and present at the same time that led to the destruction of Hodor's mind.
13. "Even Hodor"
Jojen is the character who provides the most insight of Bran's path — and thus, Hodor's. After Bran, Meera, Jojen, and Hodor got captured by the Night's Watch mutineers at Caster's Keep, Jojen reveals in the fifth episode of Season 4, "First of His Name," that he can see the great weirwood tree on the hill where the Three-Eyed Raven is, just like Bran can. "Meera and I, even Hodor, we're only here to guide you," Jojen says. This line, which I blew off upon first viewing, show's the significant importance of Hodor being involved in Bran's journey to successfully become the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran also wargs into Hodor again in this episode to help them escape from Locke, marking another time where Bran exerts his power over Hodor.
14. Meeting The Three-Eyed Raven
The gang finally makes it to the Three-Eyed Raven in the Season 4 finale, "The Children," but Jojen is killed by a wight. Meanwhile, Bran is warging into Hodor, as a pile of wights attack him — an image that is very reminiscent of Hodor's final moments in "The Door." Yet, Hodor escapes the wights this time and when they enter the cave, the Raven informs them that Jojen knew he would die and that the Raven had been watching all of them — all of them, which means Hodor too — for the entirety of their lives. Guys, the Raven was saying that just like Jojen's fate was sealed to die for Bran, so was Hodor's.
After an entire season off, Bran's story starts back up during the second episode of Season 6, "Home," with him greenseeing the past with his young father in Winterfell alongside the Three-Eyed Raven (recast with Max von Snowden). Here's where fans are first introduced to Wylis — a young Hodor as a mentally capable stableboy. When the Three-Eyed Raven pulls Bran from the vision, Bran says to Hodor, "I saw you as a boy. You could talk. What happened?" Hodor responds as he always does with, "Hodor," which, for the first time ever, is the appropriate response.
While these clues may have never truly indicated the horrors that were to come during the fifth episode of Season 6, "The Door," there is no doubt that Game of Thrones was trying to hint that Hodor was not merely a gentle giant who loved Bran. Hodor was destined from a young age to save Bran at the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven — even if he never understood it himself. Now, who needs a Hodor-sized hug?
Images: HBO (15), Helen Sloan/HBO