Warning: This story contains mild spoilers for Season 6. Game of Thrones‘ Season 7 is, as everybody knows, going to be delayed by several months to allow the production to shoot it wintry conditions. Also delayed: any substantial information about the upcoming final two seasons of the Emmy-winning HBO drama. But the audience in Hall H for the show’s Comic-Con panel today didn’t seem to mind — most of them seemed to be there specifically to mourn the death of Hodor (Kristian Nairn), as the fan-favorite character sacrificed himself midway through Season 6 in a scene that spawned many viewer tears and even more door-stopper puns.
Obviously, if you haven’t seen Season 6, briefly avert your eyes. For the rest of you, as you know, we learn that Hodor died while holding a door shut trying to protect his friends from the White Walkers. Since then, in tribute to the character, the Internet has been crammed with images of his photo pasted on door stoppers, “do not disturb” signs and other places you’d expect to see instructions to “hold the door.” As such, when Nairn was brought out onstage for the panel, someone in the audience shouted, “Hold the door!” — which prompted many others to yell out “Hodor! Hodor! Hodor!” That, more than anything else, set the tone for the panel discussion, which was light on information but heavy on a conversational celebration of the show as it heads toward its endgame.
Along with Nairn, the panel — moderated by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Rob McElhenney — featured showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Winds of Winter and Battle of the Bastards director Miguel Sapochnik, and series regulars John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Conleth Hill (Varys), Faye Marsay (The Waif), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), and Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark).
The panel kicked off with a comedy video featuring McElhenney and fellow It’s Always Sunny cast member Charlie Day riffing on the Thrones‘ signature warning “Winter is coming” and complaining about the fact that winter never seems to arrive. After that, the panel began — and if you’ve read anything about the show or interviews with its cast or crew in the past few months, you already know everything that was discussed. The biggest highlight, at least for me, was Nairn becoming visibly moved when he talked about the fan reaction to his character and the emotional outpouring following Hodor’s death.
Among the other highlights:
Early on in the panel discussion, Benioff and Weiss — by way of apologizing for inarticulate answers to fan questions — claimed that Turner forced everyone to take a shot of vodka just before they went onstage. If that was true, it would explain why everyone on the panel appeared, let’s say, “tired.” Maybe it was vodka, or maybe they all treated their glaucoma, but the discussion was absolutely loose and lackadaisical.
All the cast members gave wildly different answers as to who they want to see sitting on the Iron Throne, but the best response came from Rheon, who said he would prefer that it be melted down and the monarchy replaced with a democracy.
The crowd certainly enjoyed a blooper reel that showed Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister repeatedly flubbing the word “benevolent” during a crucial scene during Season 6. You can watch it here: