Why Game of Thrones Introduced Time Travel (But Didn't Use It)

Bran and Hodor in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones introduced the concept of time travel, so why wasn't it ever used to advance the plot? The epic fantasy series featured a number of characters with mystical abilities but they only scratched the surface when it came to traveling through time.

Bran Stark's supernatural abilities were hinted at right in the Game of Thrones premiere. He began to have strange dreams involving the Three-Eyed Raven and also envisioned his mind being was transported into his Direwolf Summer. Bran then had a vision about his father in the crypts shortly before he found out that Ned had been executed. As the series went on, Bran embarked on a journey to investigate his connection to the Three-Eyed Raven.

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Related: Game of Thrones: How The Ending Will Be Different In The Books

Bran didn't get a hold of his true abilities until he trained under the Three-Eyed Raven in Game of Thrones season 6. Through "greensight", Bran was able to have visions of the past, present and future. Most revealing was going backward: he had visions of his father and uncle as young boys in Winterfell, and the origins of the first White Walker. But it wasn't just visions: at one point, Bran directly interacted with the past.

Bran Stark in Game of Thrones Season 1 and Season 8

The Three-Eyed Raven claimed that the past is already written and there's nothing Bran could do to change the future in his visions. However, that wasn't totally the case: he was able to call out to his father during Robert's Rebellion, and later warged into past Hodor, destroying his mind with the fusion of the future and giving young Walder aphasia. While it appears that Game of Thrones timeline is an infinite loop, meaning events happened as they always did, this proved that not everything was linear.

Yet in the following two seasons of Game of Thrones, Bran's ability to time travel (and, indeed, much of his Three-Eye Raven powers in general) weren't used again. He did use his visions at pivotal moments, such as proving Jon's Targaryen heritage, but no more time loops were created of even hinted at. A popular fan theory was that Bran would eventually find himself trapped in the past and become the Night King himself, but that never came to pass.

The simple reason why is that Game of Thrones had no further use for time travel in its story. The show was speeding towards its ending, and the purpose of the "Hold the Door" moment was to show the extreme dangers of Bran's power more than set up the future.

Related: Game Of Thrones’ Ending & Real Meaning Explained (In Detail)

Time travel is always a very complicated plot device. For a monumental series like Game of Thrones, leaning into into changing past events would have been too confusing for viewers. There was already so much to keep track of and the possibility of retconning past details would have probably been too much to keep track of. Sometimes it's better to just keep everything as simple as possible, especially when it came to Game of Thrones.

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