Circumstances in Game of Thrones always seem to be pretty dire, so it's hard sometimes not to wonder about the ifs, the ands, and the buts — for instance, what if Bran Stark had never been paralyzed when Jaime pushed him out the window back in Season 1? What if instead, there was a medical miracle, or Bran had landed on a huge bed of hay? At the very least, his character wouldn't have had to deal with the same specific challenges he faces now — just the normal ones that go with your entire family getting murdered/beaten/resurrected while you are able to do pretty much nothing but try to survive yourself.
Even though the fall paralyzed him, it seems that Bran has been able to use his powers of body-jumping for Summer and Hodor, and while he can't run, scout, or hold doors against White Walkers by himself, he can pop into another being's body, which has been shown to come in handy. As the Three-Eyed Raven said about Bran, “You will never walk again, but you will fly.” And yet, it seems that destiny, or the godswood or the Night's King, wants Bran to be trained by the old guy living in a petrified tree house, and so even if Bran could walk, he would likely still be on the journey he currently is. But what might have been different about his Game of Thrones path if he'd never been paralyzed?
1. He Might Have Just Died
It's an awfully sad thought, isn't it? But a fall that intense has to have some consequence, and Bran was in a coma for a little bit, so it wouldn't have been that off the cuff if he hadn't made it. So let's be aware that this could have been a possibility, and then talk about a few other changes — ones that don't stress fans out horribly.
2. He Would Have Gone To King's Landing
The original plan for The Starks take King's Landing was that Bran would join the Ned-Sansa-Arya trio. Little boys who want to be knights someday learn about the court at King's Landing, but alas, Bran being at the court probably wouldn't have changed the disastrous results of Ned's "treason." Ned would still be beheaded, because even if Bran could walk like Arya and Sansa, he wouldn't be able to prevent Joffrey from being an unmerciful little jerk. The Lannisters might even have accused Bran of treason right along with his pops. Just like his sisters, Bran would have gotten pushed around by the hands of fate.
3. He Might Have Joined Forces With Arya
Maybe, just maybe, Bran could have escaped the Lannisters with Arya, who truly is the scrappiest of the Starks and best at handling tough situations. He would then have gotten to be a part of her crazy adventures, but for some reason, I see the lifestyle not working out very well for young Bran.
4. But He Could Also Have Been Stuck With Sansa
I have to hope the Lannisters would have had some mercy for a little boy and would've just let Bran hang out with his big sis in her courtly prison-life after Ned's execution. The two Starks could've stuck together and became super close. Yet Bran, like the rest of us, would have had to watch his sister be placed in horribly abusive situations.
5. Rickon Would Have Died Much Sooner
If the Lannisters had three Stark children in their clutches, you best believe Catelyn and Robb Stark would have been riding their horses even faster to battle with the Lannisters. Rickon would have been left with the adults at the castle taking care of him, but this time he wouldn't have had Bran to help him out. When Theon and later Ramsay's men came, he wouldn't have stood a chance.
6. Bran Might Have Joined The Night's Watch
When in doubt, join the Night's Watch. It helps when you've got a family relation with a Valyrian steel sword chilling on the Wall. If Bran's warging soul is being drawn to the North and the Three-Eyed Raven, it makes sense that he would head that way regardless of whether or not he could walk.
7. He Wouldn't Need Hodor
Hodor and Bran grew to have a close (though conversation-less) relationship as the gentle giant carried Bran around town. The relationship went into a little bit of a grey area when Bran started hopping into Hodor's brain, but that is all besides the point. Would Bran have even gotten the idea to use Hodor in that way if not for his injury?
8. He Would Have Gotten Further In His Knight Training
Bran's first goal was to be a knight in the Kingsguard, which is a really noble dream. If he had never lost the ability to walk, he would have been training for the feat every day, even without a teacher assisting — a lot like his sister, Arya.
9. He Might Be More Interested In Revenge
While Bran was hunting for the Three-Eyed Raven, he missed out on the worst of what his family experienced back home. His lust for revenge, thus, isn't as strong now as Arya's, Sansa's, and Jon's — but who knows how that would have differed if he had been seeing the bad stuff head-on?
10. Maybe Summer Would Still Be Alive
If I'm theorizing alternate realities, I want one with Summer still being alive and I think that's only fair. Rest in peace, Stark Direwoves.
11. Things Would Have Gone Down Differently With The Three-Eyed Raven
Bran is going to be the next Three-Eyed Raven regardless of his ability to walk. It is his *destiny*. But maybe the journey would have gone down in a much different way if he hadn't been paralyzed.
Fate is fate, and I'm pretty sure Bran would still be on the path to figuring out his all his cool time travel/knowing all/being all powers no matter what happened to him. But, if he hadn't been paralyzed in Season 1 of Game of Thrones, the steps to that path might have been quite different.
Images: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO, Giphy (11)