'Game of Thrones' Showrunner Explains Bran's Season Five Absence

'Last year we caught up to the end of Bran’s storyline," says David Benioff. "So if we pushed him forward this season, then he’s way ahead of where the other characters are"

Isaac Hempstead as Bran Stark in 'Game of Thrones.' Credit: Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

When Game of Thrones returns for its fifth season next year, it will do so without Bran Stark and his beloved helpers Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) and Hodor. While fans will certainly miss the motley crew — especially Hodor — showrunner David Benioff told Entertainment Weekly that their absence is crucial to constructing the narrative scope of the show.

"Even though we’re making changes to the books and adapting as necessary, we’re trying to keep the various storylines the same as the books and trying to keep them roughly [chronologically] parallel," Benioff explained. "And last year, we caught up to the end of Bran’s storyline [in George R.R. Martin’s most recent A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons]. So if we pushed him forward this season, then he’s way ahead of where the other characters are."

Actor/DJ Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor, accidentally let the news slip in September that the trio wouldn't be involved in Season Five, offering a similar explanation for their absence: "We have a year's hiatus… Solely because, I imagine, our storyline is up to the end of the books."

Benioff, however, went on to note that now that Bran, Hodor and Meera have found the Three-Eyed Raven, the youngest Stark must undergo training to understand his warg power, which the writer and executive producer described as not "particularly cinematic." He continued, "So rather than being stuck in a cave for a year, we figured it would be interesting to leave him out for a little bit."

Still, Game of Thrones has plenty planned to make up for Season Five's lack of Bran, Hodor and Meera: The show added a number of new cast members including, Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Doran Martell, the ruler of Dorne and the older brother of the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, who met a gruesome demise in Season Four. Toby Sebastian will play Doran's son and heir to Dorne, Trystane, while Nell Tiger Free plays his wife-to-be, Myrcella Baratheon, officially the daughter of Cersei Lannister and King Robert Baratheon (though her father is really Jaime Lannister). The Oberyn extended family will also include a few bastard daughters played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jessica Henwick and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers.