In the rush to get this character or that character an advantage in the never-ending fight for the Iron Throne, it's easy to overlook characters whose ambitions don't lean that way. While Jon Snow is being named "King in the North", Sansa "The Lady Of Winterfell" and Arya "Most Likely To Kill You While Wearing Your Own Face," Bran Stark has been up north, almost completely forgotten by all those south of the Wall.
But Bran's journey has been an important one, ever since the very beginning. He could be the lynchpin that helps control the forces of magic against the looming threat of the Night King.
How did one poor paralyzed kid become so important to the story of Game of Thrones? Let's review.
Season 1: Fly My Pretty
And your little wolf too... Oh wait, wrong show.
Bran would be out cold until just about his entire family had left to go on adventures too. At least most stopped by his bedroom to kiss him goodbye. But this fall was the one that started it all.
Season 1: Three Eyed Raven Dreams
Once Bran woke up, things were... different than they were before. The loss of the lower half of his body seemed to have opened up his mind. In his dreams, he saw himself as his wolf and was even spoken to by a Three-Eyed Raven. What Bran didn't know at the time is that he was warging. Or that last one was a warning that his father had died, though news wouldn't travel to Winterfell for hours.
Season 2: My Little Lord Stark
With his father dead and his brother and mother away at war, Bran Stark found himself having to run Winterfell. The lessons with the Maester were interesting, but on the whole, he found being a ruler no fun. (Let's hope he continues to feel that way when he gets back to Winterfell, since Jon's been named King in the North, and Sansa isn't going to take to kindly to any more men honing in on her turf.)
It was almost a relief when Theon came through and took the place over, even if he did kill Maester Luwin. Bran and Rickon escaped with Hodor and Osha.
Season 3: Meeting Jojen
Out on the road, Bran and company would probably have gone to the Umbers and all wound up dead by Ramsay's hand a few seasons later, if it hadn't been for a fortuitous meeting with the Reed siblings. Jojen, who was an actual trained greenseer (unlike Bran's amateur-hour wolf dreams), told him what he was, and that he must go North of the Wall.
You know, destiny and all that.
Season 3: North of the Wall
Osha chose not to go North, sealing her and Rickon's fate a few seasons later. (Though to be fair, had they gone North, they would have just died via wights during "The Door," so there were no good options.)
Bran, on the other hand, followed the Reeds and took Hodor North. He even met up with Samwell and Gilly on the way. Hey, guys! Just passing through.
Season 4: Crossing Paths
Sam and Gilly weren't the only "ships passing in the night" that Bran and company experienced. They also were in Craster's Keep when Jon and his forces from Castle Black attacked the traitors. His attack allowed them to escape, though Jon never knew they were there.
It was also the first time Bran warged into Hodor and made him attack people. Questionable morals.
Season 4: The Three-Eyed Raven
Season 4 ended with Bran arriving at his destination: He would train with the Three-Eyed Raven to become the most powerful greenseer in Westeros.
But why? And what does that mean? And how bored were Meera and Hodor going to be while Bran laid around in a tree? (Answer? Very.)
Season 5: (NO BRAN)
Awwwwwww. Sorry guys. Bran's story got so boring that even the show didn't bother to televise it for a whole season.
Season 6: Dreams of Young Ned
When we returned to BranTree and his companions in Season 6 though, things got interesting. Really interesting. One of our first journeys back in time gave us Bran seeing his father at the Tower of Joy to rescue Lyanna Stark at the end of Robert's Rebellion. He also learned that "Honorable" Ned Stark wasn't always so. (Too bad no one told Robb.)
Season 6: Hodor
I wish I could actually post all of the scenes from this episode. Of course, what we remember is that Bran made Hodor into what he was so that he could be a tool decades later so Bran and Meera could escape, and Hodor has been seeing himself die in his memories for god knows how many years.
But there was so much ELSE Bran saw. The making of the White Walkers, back when the world was new. The Night King's army, and the looming threat those down south face. Too bad it accidentally got everyone he loved other than Meera killed.
Season 6: Bran's Visions
When the Three-Eyed Raven died, Bran received a total Westerosi history braindump in one warging session. (And a few glimpses of the future.) He was now the new Three-Eyed Raven.
Chances are, he will be facing the Night King in some fashion on a higher plane when Jon Snow and co face him in the real world in the final battle. Let's hope these visions help.
Season 6: R+L=J
Our final vision from Bran Stark last season: Jon's true parentage. As Hempstead Wright himself put it in an interview post-Season 6, explaining this to Jon is going to be awkward as hell: "Hey, yeah, by the way, I'm a tree wizard now, and Dad's not your father. I think Jon will go: You've been spending way too much time in the cave, mate."
Has Bran spent too much time in caves with his dreams? (Dumbledore warns against that, you know.) We'll find out next season.
Game of Thrones Season 7 returns this Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m. ET, on HBO.