Hodor hodor, hodor hodor hoder… *ahem*
Of the dozens of characters in Game of Thrones, one that you probably haven’t given a second thought to is Hodor, the simple-minded human chariot for the much more interesting Bran Stark. For many, he’s just a punchline, a useful way for Bran to get around, or possibly an explanation for how Bran has managed to survive when so many battle hardened men haven’t. However, there’s more to Hodor than meets the eye. Through the books, we know that he actually has a fully developed backstory, and it might reveal more than you expect about the fate of Westeros.
Here are Game of Thrones: 10 Things You Need To Know About Hodor.
10. Hodor Is All He Can Say – And This Is A Real Neurological Condition
Every Game of Thrones fan is aware that Hodor is limited to a one-word vocabulary (“Hodor!”), but you may not know that this is a real neurological condition. Called expressive aphasia or Broca’s aphasia, this condition is usually the result of damage to the language centers of the brain, leading the sufferer to lose control over how they express themselves.
Usually, this is less severe than Hodor’s case, and leads to missing words or difficulties with speech, but cases where the patient has been limited to a single word or phrase have been documented. Expressive aphasia is usually caused by a stroke, but can also happen as the result of another trauma or injury, such as a blow to the head.
9. He Is A Mode Of Transport For Bran
Since Bran was callously pushed off a tower by Jamie Lannister (all the way back in season 1), he hasn’t been able to use his legs. A special saddle was made for him to ride, but it didn’t solve the issue completely. It left him helpless when attacked, and while he could ride out, he could hardly ride his horse inside the castle. As a solution, Maester Luwin made him a basket that is strapped to Hodor’s back, and Bran uses him to get around semi-independently.
Hodor doesn’t seem to mind this, and placidly obeys Bran’s instructions. However, because he is simple-minded and doesn’t even appear aware of the weight on his back, Hodor often forgets about his passenger, occasionally knocking him into doorways and ledges. Oops!
8. He Was a Stableboy
Before the accident led Hodor to be turned into a pair of surrogate legs for Bran, he did actually have a job at Winterfell. He was a stableboy for the Starks, mucking out, brushing down, and generally caring for the stables and the horses. It seems as though he was happy in this position, and fairly useful, although obviously not vital in the stables as he was quickly pressed into service as a mode of transport for Bran.
This work may also have had an impact on why Hodor is so comfortable with being “ridden” by Bran; he is used to his position as a servant to the Starks, and he spent most of his life surrounded by large creatures who were used as a way to get around.
7. His Name Isn’t Hodor
Everybody calls him Hodor, and most of the Stark children actually believe that Hodor is his name, but that’s not actually the case. It was revealed in the books that Hodor’s real name is actually Walder. He became known as Hodor after his accident, when Hodor was all that he could say, and the new name stuck. It helps that Hodor sounds fairly similar to Walder, and that he still responds to it.
This new name is also useful purely from the perspective of the readers, as it differentiates him from the various other Walders that we meet in the series. His last name is never mentioned in the books.
6. He Is Related To Old Nan
Although we never learn his last name, or much of where he came from, we do know that he has one living relative in the form of Old Nan, nursemaid to the Stark boys. As well as telling the boys stories of what happens beyond the wall (many of which were assumed to be scary tales, but have turned out to be true), she revealed everything we know about Hodor’s past. His real name, how he became Hodor, and most importantly, that he is her great-grandson.
While interesting, this doesn’t tell us much more about Hodor, because we know very little about Nan herself! All we know is that she arrived at Winterfell many years ago to nurse one of the Brandon Starks, and seems to know an awful lot about life beyond the Wall.
5. He Is Part Giant (Probably)
We don’t know much about Hodor’s parentage, although we do know that he is related to Old Nan. Beyond that, his mother and father are total mysteries, as well as how he came to live at Winterfell (presumably Nan had something to do with it).
When Osha, a wildling, first laid eyes on Hodor, she announced that there must be giant’s blood in him. Given that she has spent most of her life beyond the wall (where there are giants and presumably, half-giants) she should know a giant when she sees one. While we can’t be sure (yet) if Hodor is actually part giant, we do know that he is over seven feet tall.
4. Hodor’s Name May Come From A Norse God
There are lots of theories as to why Hodor only says Hodor that relate to the plot of the series, but there are also some theories that surround why George RR Martin chose this particular word/name. One of the more interesting (and logical) theories is that he was inspired by the Norse god Hoder (also spelled Hodr, Hodur, and Hod).
The name certainly sounds the same, and the Norse Hoder is the god of both winter and darkness, and the son of Odin. A powerful being with a physical limitation, powerful parents and a connection to winter? Sounds very Hodor!
3. Hodor Didn’t Always Say Hodor
Although Hodor is known for his vocabulary, it’s not something that he has always said. We learned from Old Nan that he started saying it at a specific time (although that time isn’t specified) and that no-one knows where he got it from. It’s implied that Hodor started saying his signature word after a particular event when he was a child, one that potentially also damaged his development. There are many theories as to what this event could have been, many of which tie in to the possibility that Hodor is connected to events behind the Wall, or to the dragon of Winterfell.
Although he didn’t always say “Hodor” it is confirmed by Nan that it was “the only word he had,” although whether this is the only word he has ever had, or the only word he had once he started saying it is unclear.
2. Bran Can Skinchange Into Hodor
In recent seasons of Game of Thrones, we have been introduced to the idea of skinchangers; people who have the ability to project their mind into the bodies of specific animals, thus seeing the world through them, and even controlling them. While it has been hinted that most of the Stark children can skinchange, Bran is the one who has actually begun to train himself in this, and has successfully skinchanged at will with a few different creatures (usually with his direwolf, Summer).
He can also skinchange into Hodor – a rarity, as usually humans can’t skinchange with other humans. However, as skinchanging depends on a strong bond with a lesser mind, Bran has been able to take control of Hodor at times in order to fight or protect himself. It’s clear that Hodor doesn’t particularly like this, but is getting more used to it the more that it happens.
1. Some Fan Theories Make Hodor A Vital Character
While Hodor is important for Bran, he is generally accepted to be otherwise fairly secondary to the main plot. However, many fan theories have sprung up around the beloved giant, and some of them suggest that he could be a much bigger player than we expect. One theory suggests that Hodor encountered a dragon as a child, which was the terrifying event that stunted his development.
According to this theory, “hodor” is a magical word that can control dragons, and Hodor himself is going to be instrumental in controlling the dragons later in the series. Other theories put him as the Prince Who Was Promised, or as the godly counterpart to R’hllor – the Great Other. It seems that Hodor’s mysterious word, survival, and unknown parentage is fertile ground for fan theories!
Anything else we should know about Hodor? Let us know in the comments!