Warning: This post contains spoilers for the current season of Game of Thrones.
When we found out the reason why Hodor only says "Hodor," and then quickly saw the lovable character die at the hands of white walkers, the effect was like a punch in the gut. Hodor was one of the only truly good characters on Game of Thrones, and his lost was felt deeply among fans. But it turns out that his death almost was even worse to watch.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, director Jack Bender reflected on the process behind crafting a scene around Hodor's tragic demise. He said that his vision for Hodor's death was a lot more gruesome than what ended up on screen. "We wanted to make the end of the episode with Hodor as scary as it might be," he said. "I had this image of the rats sort of coming through the subway, climbing the walls, and just scurrying toward that door."
He elaborated on that in a separate interview with the Observer. "I talked about it with [the showrunners] a lot," he said. "I said, 'What the dead would be doing to Hodor would be ripping his clothes off once they got through that door. They would be ripping his flesh off. If the dead can go through wood, they're going to be tearing Hodor apart.'"
But luckily, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss talked him out of it. "They said something to me that really stuck. Which was, 'If it's too horrific, we're not going to feel the loss of Hodor,'" he said. "I still wanted to make it scary enough, see Hodor surrounded and engulfed by these skeletal arms and long fingers, that were eventually going to smother and kill and rip him apart, or whatever they were going to do that we didn't see. But to not let the horror of it overwhelm the emotion of losing that character and making it really land on the idea that he was sacrificing himself so his friends could get away."
For everyone who teared up at the scene—or made "hold the door" jokes on every elevator ride since—it's clear the emotional effect was the right way to go.
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