How Bran Stark Could Have Made King Aerys II Targaryen Go Mad in Game of Thrones

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Ever since the first time Bran Stark’s warging skills were introduced in Game of Thrones, fans have speculated about the extent of his powers. When we first see Bran travel to the past, it’s as if he’s only an apparition—not really there, just watching. We now know that Bran has more power over changing past events than we thought possible. He isn’t just a spectator, he is a willing participant, as we saw in the scenes where he called out to a younger Ned Stark and caught his attention, as well as when he unknowingly messed up Hodor’s mind.

The mysterious magic that takes Bran to the past lets him change it, which is why fans have started to wonder whether Bran might be responsible for other key events that took place in the past—namely, making King Aerys II Targaryen, a.k.a. The Mad King, go insane. One fan believes that a well-intentioned act on Bran’s part could have inadvertently led to the wars we see happening in the present on Game of Thrones.

Redditor mvmchugh believes Bran went back in time to warn the Mad King (before he was the "Mad King") about the White Walkers, but was actually the cause of his madness after he told Aerys to “burn them all,” referring to the undead. Just like when young Hodor heard “hold the door,” Bran's warning messed with Aerys's mind—resulting in him going insane and wanting to burn the whole city down.

The theorist brings up the fact that in the season 8 premiere, Bran calls Jaime Lannister an “old friend.” While fans thought he might’ve meant this sarcastically, as Jaime is the reason he’s paralyzed, the Redditor thinks he called him that because Jaime is the only one who ultimately stopped the Mad King (which is how he earned his "Kingslayer" title. If it was Bran’s fault that the king went mad in the first place, he would owe Jaime thanks for saving King’s Landing.

The theory may seem a bit out there, but if there's any truth to it, we have been seriously underestimating the full power Bran has on the outcome of both the future and the past. With a popular fan theory arguing that Bran is actually the Night King, it’s clear we’re expecting something major to come out of the youngest living Stark's abilities in the final season. All we can do is watch it to find out.

Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
NBC

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One


Round Two


Round Three


The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.

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