Let’s clear up the confusion over whether Benjen Stark is Coldhands. He is and he isn’t. In the books, and according to George R.R. Martin, Coldhands is another figure altogether. Or Martin’s messing with us and his editor. In the show, Benjen Stark is Coldhands, and it makes a lot of sense, shooting-wise.
The Game of Thrones showrunners, Dan Weiss and David Benioff, have to cover a lot of ground on Game of Thrones since it was announced that that the last two seasons will have fewer episodes (Season 7 will have just seven episodes and Season 8 will only have eight). That’s not a lot of time to invest into other characters. So chances are, if a character shows up on screen this season, he or she has a part to play. There’s no room for anything extra.
By contrast, GRRM can go his own way and take his time with storylines in the books. In other words, as interesting as Coldhands is, he’ll just have to ride his elk through the pages of the books, and meanwhile Game of Thrones' Benjen Stark as Coldhands will have to get on with it.
This list will mainly cover Benjen Stark theories as the figure of Coldhands. But, we’ll throw in some Coldhands background from the books for good measure. Also, that background could give hints as to where Bran, Meera, and Uncle Coldhands are headed next. Let’s hope it’s somewhere safe from those pesky, deadly wights.
While we wait to see how it all plays out, vote up the craziest, most interesting theories and fun facts about Coldhands and Benjen Stark.
Coldhands’s Appearance in the Books
In Storm of Swords, Sam and Gilly escape Craster’s Keep only to be attacked by wights who want to snack on her child or take their rightful brother back to the White Walker-making place. A mysterious figure rides up on an elk (yes, an elk) wearing clothing of the Night’s Watch. His face cloaked with a scarf, he calls Sam “brother.”Sam notices that this cloaked figure doesn’t have any visible breath in the cold air, and the figure’s hands are “black and as cold as ice.” When Bran smells Coldhands when he wargs into Summer, Coldhands smells like a dead thing.
Coldhands’s Appearance in the Show
His fingers are black at the tips, he shows no breath in the cold, and he rides a horse instead of an elk. Maybe his elk is somewhere else, resting up. He’s got a ball of fire possibly like the Children have, only it’s at the end of a chain. Or it’s just regular ol' fire and Coldhands is a ninja with it. And the big thing is, he’s Benjen Stark, only scarred and much changed in his demeanor since we saw him in Season 1.
What About GRRM's Vehement Denial That Benjen Is Coldhands?
Martin went so far as to shoot down his editor, Anne Groell, when she speculated that Coldhands was Benjen. She made the annotation in the book’s manuscript. “Is this Benjen? I think it’s Benjen… [smiley face] And does Bran never recognize him because he never sees his face fully?” GRRM wrote, “NO” in red ink. Will Martin stick to this in the books? A man can change his mind, after all.
By the way, _honeybird (who is credited with this photo) visited the Cushing Library and pored through the entire 1600-page manuscript for A Dance with Dragons. Diehard.
Uncle Coldhands’s Purpose
In the books, Coldhands takes Bran TO the Three-Eyed Raven. In the show, he’s taking Bran and Meera to the Wall for a showdown with the Night King. He assures Bran that he will have control of his powers as the Three-Eyed Raven. Other than that, they’re going to need Benjen’s fighting skills, Children of the Forest protection, and half-White Walker magic to get there.
Now, drink your blood, Bran.