Are you ready to have your mind blown? If not, prepare yourself — because if this latest GoT fan theory turns out to be true, viewers will be left reeling. Is Bran the Night King on Game Of Thrones? That's what some fans are speculating… and there's actually a surprising amount of evidence to support this completely bonkers claim.
Given that the White Walkers have been a mounting threat for six seasons, there's still a lot viewers don't know about the icy demons. The Night King made his first appearance in the Season 4 episode "Oathkeeper," in which Craster's last son was taken to the Land Of Always Winter and turned into a White Walker by the Night King's frosty touch. Viewers learned a little bit more about him in Season 6, when Bran was treated to a vision of the Children of the Forest creating the first White Walker — the immortal Night King — by plunging a dragonglass dagger into a man's chest.
Other than these little nuggets, there's not much else that's known about the Night King, his motives, and his ultimate goals. So who is he, really? What does he want? And how does the idea of him and Bran being the same person make any sense?
Well, let's start with who the Night King isn't. Despite his confusing moniker, the show's Night King (sans possessive) doesn't appear to have anything in common with the mysterious book character known as the Night's King (with possessive). In the books, the Night's King is a figure of legend, the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night's Watch who fell in love with a woman "with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars"… which sounds an awful lot like a White Walker. Together, the Night's King and his icy bride ruled from a castle called the Nightfort, and it took the combined might of the Night's Watch, the Lord of Winterfell, and the King Beyond the Wall to end their reign of terror.
However, viewers have seen the Night King's origin on the show, and it bears nothing in common with that legend from the books. Since the villain's backstory is apparently not beholden to Martin's source material, that divergence leaves room for Benioff & Weiss to craft a truly mind-blowing twist.
The theory that Bran is the Night King, as explained by Reddit user turm0il26, involves the Stark boy's penchant for meddling with the past… and the inevitable consequences of that action. Bran has been warned on multiple occasions not to stay too long while warging or greenseeing, lest he lose himself somehow. What if all those warnings have been foreshadowing, and Bran does lose himself eventually — inside the mind of the man who becomes the Night King?
Viewers have already seen that Bran has the capability to warg into someone's consciousness while visiting the past; this is what he was doing when he inadvertently broke Hodor's mind. What if Bran becomes so desperate (perhaps because he feels guilty for his part in letting the White Walkers through the Wall?) that he believes the only way he can help end the Great War is to go back in time and stop the Children from ever creating the Night King to begin with?
Of course, savvy fantasy fans know how these time travel plots usually work: history is written in ink, and anything you do to try and change it will only end up causing whatever happened in the first place. But Bran, frantic to rectify the mistake he made, might forget that simple fact. And if warging back 30 years was enough to break Hodor's mind, warging back thousands of years should be more than enough to break the mind of not just the man he's trying to save… but Bran's own mind as well.
With Bran's consciousness lost inside the Night King's mind — and with the Night King's mind shattered beyond any thought other than vengeance against the beings who created him as a weapon of war — the Stark and the White Walker would truly become one.
There's foreshadowing of this twist in the scene of the Night King's origin. Bran clenches his fist, as though in pain, just as the man is about to be stabbed. When he wakes up, Bran is lying against the tree in exactly the same position as the man in the vision. Bran's first words upon awakening are to tell Leaf, "It was you," as though part of him recognized the being who stabbed him thousands of years ago. And when he asks Leaf who the Children needed to defend themselves from, she responds, "From you."
This theory would also explain how the Night King knew to locate Bran in the vision where he put his mark on the young boy: because he is Bran, and thus remembered their encounter from when he was on the other side of it. It also explains the Night King's apparent desire to kill the Three-Eyed Raven: because, as Bran, he realized that his magical mentor knew about his horrible fate all along… and did nothing to stop it.
If this theory turns out to be true, then it can only result in a tragic conclusion. Since many fans believe that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai reborn, the Prince That Was Promised — the man destined to defeat the Night King once and for all — the ultimate conflict of the series may be not Stark vs. Lannister or Stark vs. Targaryen… but Stark vs. Stark. And just as Azor Ahai himself could only fulfill his destiny once he plunged his sword into the heart of his beloved wife, so too might Jon Snow only be able to fulfill his destiny once he plunges his sword into the heart of his beloved brother.
Now that would be a twist worthy of George R.R. Martin.