Warning: This contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
The heartbreaking ending to “The Door” devastated Game of Thrones fans in such a way that hasn’t been felt since Ned Stark’s death or the Red Wedding, but as showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have revealed, aspects of that twist came straight from George R.R. Martin himself.
With much of the past couple of seasons going beyond Martin’s books, it’s hard to know exactly what things we’ll read in The Winds of Winter and what happened because of the show. But according to Entertainment Weekly, Benioff and Weiss learned about “three holy shit moments” about two years ago at the producers’ meeting with Martin in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Martin told them roughly how he planned to end A Song of Ice and Fire, which included those three moments—two which we’ve already seen play out.
Benioff and Weiss noted early on after depicting Shireen Baratheon’s death in season 5 that they learned about it from Martin, leading to some complaints that Game of Thrones had spoiled the books. If any fans had doubted it before, this is even further confirmation that Shireen will be sacrificed, though the circumstances behind it may differ due to the nature of adaptation and the butterfly effect.
As for Hodor, Benioff revealed the conversations behind the scenes in the “Inside the Episode” featurette for “The Door” and confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the origins of Hodor came from Martin.
“We had this meeting with George Martin where we’re trying to get as much information as possible out of him, and probably the most shocking revelation he had for us was when he told us the origin of Hodor; how the name came about,” Benioff explained. “I just remember Dan and I looking at each other when he said that, just being like, ‘Holy shit.’”
“It was just one of the saddest and most affecting things,” Weiss added. “Even sitting in a hotel room having somebody tell you that this was going to happen in the abstract in some way, and that ‘Hold the door’ was the origin of the name Hodor. We thought that was just a really, really heartbreaking idea.”
It’s also a topic that Martin covered during a Q&A Monday night at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, the movie theater Martin owns in Santa Fe, according to a redditor who was in attendance. In the report on r/asoiaf, Martin is said to have told the audience that while Hodor will mean the same thing in ASOIAF as it does in the show, the context and circumstances of the reveal “will be very different from the show’s reveal.” He also noted that the meaning of Hodor came to him in 1991, which dates back to the year he first started writing A Game of Thrones.
And what about that third one? That one occurs much later in the series and “is from the very end,” Benioff said. If Shireen and Hodor’s heartbreaking reveals happen in the books, we can’t even imagine that big twist.