Game Of Thrones: 10 Things About Bran Stark The Show Changed From The Books

The first season of House of the Dragon has come to an end, and fans of the show are sad to see it go. With so many complex and well-developed characters, it can be hard to say goodbye to them after the season ended with such a heart-wrenching cliffhanger.

Of course, fans have certainly considered the ending of House of the Dragon‘s first season as an improvement over the ending of Game of Thrones. Countless fans have rallied against the defeat of the White Walkers, Daenerys’ attack on King’s Landing, and Bran Stark becoming king. Yet there is a reason Bran became king, and it is because the book version of Bran is very different compared to his show counterpart.


His Looks

Isaac Hempstead as Bran Stark in 'Game of Thrones'

While Bran appeared on Game of Thrones with the brown hair and dark eyes of House Stark, in the books, he looks remarkably different. Taking after his mother, as most of his other siblings did, Bran had the blue eyes and auburn hair of House Tully.

In a show that focused so much on how looks could play into parentage, it helped make Catelyn’s hatred of Jon Snow much more palpable when only Jon and Arya had the Stark look. So changing Bran’s features just made her fury against Jon more confusing, as she no longer had a palpable issue to point to.

His Age

An image of Bran looking serious in Game of Thrones

One of the best changes that Game of Thrones made was aging up the Stark children. The Bran of the books was merely 7 years old when the books started and is currently little more than 10 years old. For a boy with so much independence and agency, it is somewhat absurd for him to be so young.

Having him end the series as a teenager helped to give Bran more experience and an identity of his own. It made his crown marginally more acceptable, even if it wasn’t enough to make the final crowning any more comprehensible. Still, it was certainly an improvement.

​​​​​His Love For The Smallfolk

Bran Stark

While Bran was never outright malicious against the smallfolk in the show, he was incredibly kind to them in the books. Often promising to pay back any lowborn who helped him, he often showed his kindness whenever he tried to serve as a fair and dutiful lord.

There are not many honorable characters in Game of Thrones, which made Bran a light in the darkness. Unfortunately, the show never had Bran spend much time around the smallfolk, which meant that side of the character was never shown. In fact, he even chose not to intervene, despite knowing that Daenerys would burn King’s Landing.

His Love For His Friends

hodor holding the door in game of thrones

As much as Bran could sometimes hurt Hodor, in the books, he still loved his friends implicitly. In fact, at feasts, he even chose to send them sweets for no reason at all, while often professing his love for them. It made him out to be an incredibly sweet little boy and helped made the fans love him.

​​​​​​In the show, Bran rarely actually showed that side to himself. Instead, he often argued with his friends or else ignored them in favor of greenseeing. Meera Reed, a character who deserved a better ending, even hated him for it. It showed how much Bran had changed from the beloved book character.

His Ruthlessness

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark on Game of Thrones

While Bran certainly did care for his friends, there were times when he wasn’t actually able to express that love. After all, with the Ironborn, the freefolk, and the Boltons hunting them down, they didn’t have a choice but to occasionally rely on Hodor to get the job done.

Yet, while Bran typically only skinchanged into Hodor in desperate situations in the show, the book version of Bran was much more callous. In fact, he often slipped into Hodor just to walk and explore caves. Though it distressed Hodor, Bran always overlooked his panic and charged forward. It showed a hint of cruelty in Bran and even made him an abomination among skinchangers.

His Relationship With The Freys

Arya walks out after killing the Freys in Game of Thrones.

While the show gave the task of dealing with the Freys to Arya and Robb, Bran had his own interactions with a house filled with traitors. After all, Robb and Catelyn chose to send two Freys to be raised in Winterfell alongside Bran and Rickon. Bran quickly took to disliking the boys.

In the show, however, Bran never actually interacted with the Freys. Winterfell was conquered by the Ironborn, and then he ran away before ever meeting Big or Little Walder, the two Frey wards. It took away Bran’s own agency in the Stark rivalry against the house, which was certainly disappointing.

His Relationship With Rickon

Bran and Rickon Stark in The Rains of Castamere

While Bran and Rickon are stubbornly loyal to each other in the show, the book versions of the two weren’t actually as close as they might have seemed. After all, Rickon was often happier to spend time with the two Frey boys than he ever was with his brother.

Though Rickon was certainly upset to leave Bran, he was more upset about the fact that his family had completely abandoned him and Bran was leaving too. Rickon could be summed up as a little boy who didn’t understand and dealing with Rickon often showed Bran’s patience and love for his family.

His Relationship With Summer

The bond between a Stark and their direwolf is a bond no weaker than marriage. Bran and Summer were one, and the books showed just how clearly Summer was bleeding into Bran and how Bran was bleeding into Summer. The two were one and the same, and Bran’s bond with Summer helped him connect to the other direwolves.

Yet the show version of Summer was never too present. Like the other direwolves, Summer was often sidelined or entirely forgotten until it was too late. After his death, he rarely even earned comment, despite how close Bran was to him. It was a major change in the relationship Bran had with his wolf, which was doubly disappointing, since the direwolf is one of the coolest creatures in the books.

His Obligation To Robb

Robb leaning on the table in Game of Thrones

Every Stark looked up to Robb, after he led a fierce campaign across Westeros to save and then to avenge his father. While Arya looked to him for inspiration and Sansa looked to him as a hero, Bran often looked up to his brother as someone to emulate and to serve.

Raised as a second son, it was Bran’s responsibility to serve his brother well. So when he became Lord of Winterfell, he tried to emulate Robb. In the show, he didn’t seem as close to Robb, nor did that underlying obligation seem to be present. They were loyal brothers and little else, while the book version of the character understood his role well.

​​​​​​He Is A Skilled Lord

Game Of Thrones -Bran Stark Weirwood cave scene

In the books, Bran is one of the few characters to experience an arc where he learned how to become a proper ruler. With Robb away, he was the Stark in Winterfell and needed to rule his castle well. Though his regents aided him, he had great instincts and always did what was just and what was expected.

It was one of many traits that made him a great candidate to become king. While the show did feature some of his training, it lacked the many chapters of context that showed just how well he was improving as a little lord. Had the show dedicated more time to his training, his rise to the throne would have been much more understandable.

Next: 10 Quotes That Prove Jon And Bran Were The Best Siblings In Game Of Thrones

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