Back in September, Game of Thrones star Kristian Nairn revealed that his character Hodor, along with Isaac Hempstead-Wright's Bran Stark and Ellie Kendrick's Meera, will be sitting out Season 5. While Isaac Hempstead-Wright hinted a few days later that he may return, series co-creator David Benioff confirmed that Bran Stark will not be featured in Season 5, while offering an explanation why.
Isaac Hempstead-Wright's absence marks the first time in series history that a main character is sitting out an entire season. In the Season 4 finale, Bran, Hodor and Meera finally reached the weirwood tree, where Bran encounters the raven he has been seeing in his dreams. It was speculated that these characters' story lines are too far ahead of the other characters, which was confirmed by David Benioff.
"Ideally that wouldn't have gotten out and it's unfortunate it did. The fact is, even though we're making changes to the books and adapting as necessary, we're trying to keep the various storylines the same as the books and trying to keep them roughly [chronologically] parallel. And last year we caught up to the end of Bran's storyline [in George R.R. Martin's most recent A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons]. So if we pushed him forward this season, then he's way ahead of where the other characters are."
Naturally, the show and the books are two different entities, which can be illustrated by Alfie Allen's Theon Greyjoy character, who was out of the action in a large portion of the books but was given an expanded story in the series. With Bran, David Benioff added that it felt right to hold off on continuing his story further, since he is about to enter a long period of training.
"It made sense to stop where we did. He's now entering a training period which is going to take quite some time, much of which isn't particularly cinematic. So rather than being stuck in a cave for a year, we figured it would be interesting to leave him out for a little bit, so when you see him again..."
There will still be plenty of stories to tackle in Season 5, which will take fans to Dorne with plenty of new characters to be introduced. It's worth noting that the series will have its first flashback scene this season, so it's possible that Bran may be featured in that sequence. In George R.R. Martin's novel A Dance With Dragons, Bran uses his "greensight" to access memories of his father and communicate with other Westeros characters. Are you upset that Bran Stark and his companions won't be around this season? Chime in with your thoughts below.