One of the worst fears “Game of Thrones” fans had going into the final season’s third episode, “The Long Night,” was that the Army of the Dead attacking Winterfell would include the resurrected zombie versions of such beloved characters as Kristian Nairn’s Hodor. While the writers fortunately did not go down that painful route, they did once discuss the potential for beloved dead characters to return as white walkers. Vanity Fair has published exclusive storyboards from the show’s main storyboard artist, William Simpson, that reveal there was a plan at some point in early development to revive dead characters and have them join the Army of the Dead.
Per Simpson’s art, the seventh season premiere “Dragonstone” was originally set to feature the zombie version of the dead wildling Karsi (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen). The character became a fan favorite after her appearance in the battle episode “Hardhome,” which ended with the Night King resurrecting her as a white walker. Karsi was not seen again, but the show clearly planned to feature her in her undead state when in “Dragonstone” Bran has a vision of the Army of the Dead walking towards the Wall. The storyboard reveals that white walker giants were also going to be revealed in the same scene, although the show wisely didn’t go through with the plan and saved the undead giant reveal for “The Last Night.”
As reported by Vanity Fair, “The showrunners evidently considered including not only Karsi, but also Kristian Nairn’s Hodor and more to pepper the Army of the Dead.” Hodor is one of the most beloved characters in the “Thrones” universe and died in the fifth episode of Season 6 after he was viciously attacked by a horde of white walkers. The circumstance of Hodor’s death made it obvious he would be resurrected at some point but the show never provided an answer. Hodor’s fate remains unknown, at least as far as the HBO series is concerned.
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The majority of Simpson’s artwork will be featured in the upcoming book, “Game of Thrones: The Storyboards.” The behind-the-scenes compilation will be available for purchase May 28, a few weeks after “Thrones” signs off HBO for good. Other books being released to mark the end of the series include “Game of Thrones: The Costumes” by Michele Clapton, “The Art of Game of Thrones,” and “The Photography of Game of Thrones” by photographer Helen Sloan.