That Game of Thrones Hold the Door sequence was originally a lot more gruesome

Director Jack Bender sheds some light on the thinking behind the emotional farewell - but does it seal the fate of that character?

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Game of Thrones rarely shies away from gruesome deaths – just ask Prince Oberyn Martell or the guests at the Red Wedding (oh wait, you can’t, they’re dead). But showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss clearly still have their hearts in the right place, because they vetoed a similar end for loveable giant Hodor.

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Jack Bender, who directed Hold the Door – the episode in which Hodor pins back hordes of undead soldiers so that Bran and his friends can escape – has revealed that he originally intended for Hodor to be torn to pieces by the zombies but that Benioff and Weiss warned him it could damage the emotional impact for fans.

“I talked about it with Dave and Dan a lot,” Bender told the Observer. “I said, ‘What the dead would be doing to Hodor would be ripping his clothes off once they got through that door. They would be ripping his flesh off. If the dead can go through wood, they’re going to be tearing Hodor apart.

“And they said something to me that really stuck. Which was ‘If it’s too horrific, we’re not going to feel the loss of Hodor.’ And that was my compass the entire time, to make us really care at the end… to not let the horror of it overwhelm the emotion of losing that character and making it really land on the idea that he was sacrificing himself so his friends could get away.”

It was a good call by the showrunners, as any Game of Thrones fans will agree – many were in tears following the emotional scene.

But Bender may also have dashed hopes that Hodor somehow escaped his apparent fate, adding that he assumed the undead “were eventually going to smother and kill and rip him apart, or whatever they were going to do that we didn’t see”.

That’s right Jack, just rub it in…

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Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic at 2am and 9pm on Monday