From the mouth of Hodor himself, actor Kristian Nairn explained in an interview that his and Bran's storyline will not appear in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones.
Spoilers for season 5/A Dance With Dragons
“We have a season off and we have a year’s hiatus, solely because I imagine our storyline is up to the end of the books,” said Nairn, who plans to use his time off from the show to continue his international DJ tour Rave of Thrones.
At the end of season 4 Bran, Hodor, and Meera (and almost Jojen) made it to the their destination beyond The Wall, where the young Stark finally met the Three-Eyed Raven. Things ended somewhat cryptically, with the old man claiming Bran would never walk again but that he would ‘learn to fly’. It was a dramatic conclusion for the particular subplot, but didn’t bring a whole lot of closure for fans clamoring to know what Bran’s supposed destiny holds for the Stark family, especially now that we know this part of the story won’t continue until season 6.
One of the most maddening aspects book fans had to endure upon finishing A Feast For Crows (the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series) was that Martin’s epic saga had grown so large he couldn’t publish a single novel that continued to follow each and every character he’d created. As a consequence, A Feast For Crows and the fifth and most recently published book, A Dance With Dragons, split the story up by character and location, meaning readers had to wait for years before finding out what was happening to the rest of Westeros at the same time as the events of AFFC.
While the HBO series began its run by attributing a season to each book, by the time season 3 began they were faced with the looming problem of chronology; The series could struggle to continue their book-per-season schedule, which would be more in line with the source material and keep that extra book buffer between Martin’s infamously slow writing process, or it could move forward in chronological order, forsaking the novel series’s strategy of breaking up the timeline. The producers opted for the latter, and by the end of season 4 this year, plot threads stemming from as far as halfway through A Dance With Dragons have been already tied into the Game of Thrones.
Which leads us back to this week’s news. By the end of A Dance With Dragons, readers are still a little bit ahead of the show in terms of Bran and Hodor’s storyline (albeit not by much), so this sort of contradicts Nairn’s assumption that the show has taken their characters as far as the books have. Additionally D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have reportedly been briefed on how Martin’s fantasy epic plays out in the end, and considering some of the events this season that indicate the show may be moving past the published books, it’s strange that they would decide all of a sudden to break things off for an entire season. Finally, as the seasons have gone on, Game of Thrones has made more and more decisions, big and small, that differ from the source material, the largest of which have indeed affected Bran and Hodor’s journey, so it’s not even certain that the two will even follow their pen and paper counterparts in their direction through the end of A Dance of Dragons and beyond.
If pushing Bran and Hodor ahead one season is a measure to keep the published novels one step ahead of the TV show, it will be interesting to see how else next season will be affected, and which other characters get bumped out of the spotlight for a year. A lot of the padding Game of Thrones has added to flesh out otherwise meager plot points has been beneficial to the story and a welcome addition to the established canon, so there’s some trust built up in Weiss and Benioff to get creative in their methods.
The most difficult part of this decision will be weaving Bran and Hodor back into the story after an entire season. It’s not even three months since season 4′s finale and it already feels like Tyrion made his escape from King’s Landing ages ago. Imagine how far away Bran and Hodor will be in the minds of viewers by the time season 6 debuts.