(This post contains plot details from the fifth episode of Game Of Thrones’ sixth season.)
Read enough Game Of Thrones fan theories and you’re bound to stumble across correct predictions now and again. For instance, while last night’s Hodor “twist” caught many fans off guard, a fantasy sci-fi writer/Poconos lawyer named Michael A. Ventrella correctly guessed it (kind of) three years ago, as he detailed on his blog.
On last night’s episode, it was finally revealed that young farm boy Wylis became monoverbal Hodor through a complicated bit of Bran-related time travel. In the past, Wylis heard present-day Meera screaming, “Hold the door,” which he garbled into “Hodor,” thus setting him on a path to fulfilling his destiny of protecting Bran. It was a pretty shocking reveal and also super sad because Hodor died. (R.I.P. Hodor.)
But as Ventrella described in his 2014 blog post, he had early confirmation from author George R.R. Martin himself that “Hodor” stood for “hold the door.” In 2013, Ventrella and Martin were both guests at a D.C. literary festival, and because their rooms were on the same hallway of the hotel, they frequently shared an elevator. Here’s how Ventrella remembers their interactions:
Around the third time we were on the elevator together, he pushed the button for our floor and then asked the others what floors they needed, and then after everyone left, he turned to me.
Martin: I always wanted to be an elevator operator. If the writing thing hadn’t worked out…
We both laughed and went on to our rooms.
The final time we ended up together, the conversation went like this:
Me: I finally figured out why you have a character named “Hodor.”
Me: I was thinking about your comment about wanting to be an elevator operator. It’s clear to me now that “Hodor” is short for “Hold the door.”
Martin: (laughing) You don’t know how close to the truth you are!
So there you have it. If we ever learn why Hodor says “Hodor” (which, as readers know, is not his given name) and it has something to do with elevators, remember: You read it here first.
Come Monday morning, Ventrella was something of a minor celebrity for his correct prediction. His blog jumped from around 500 page views a day to 300,000 before noon. When interviewed by Philly.com, however, it turns out Ventrella hadn’t even had time to watch the episode yet. He told the site, “All I know is Hodor has something to do with holding a door, and judging by the sad faces in the messages it doesn’t end well.”
While Ventrella’s prediction is the one making headlines, the Hodor-equals-“hold the door” theory has actually been a pet one among Game Of Thrones fans for a while now, dating back to 2008. The speculation really ramped up once it was revealed that the fifth episode would be called “The Door.” To be fair, most fans incorrectly guessed the context in which the “hold the door” accident occurred (some guessed it involved Lyanna; others thought Hodor was actually Aegon Targaryen), and a few seemed to have predicted time travel would be involved. But it’s still a fairly impressive bit of close reading.
Of course, other people thought Hodor was a horse, so you win some, you lose some.