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What Happened to Benjen Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire?

Updated on June 6, 2015

Benjen Stark

Benjen Stark Theories

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't read through A Dance With Dragons, the following article may contain some surprises for you.

It wasn't very far into A Game of Thrones that Benjen Stark (younger brother of Ned Stark, and chief Ranger of the Night's Watch) went out ranging and was never seen or heard from again. But what could have happened to him? This is one of the underlying mysteries that underlies the series and which has nagged at his nephew, Jon Snow.

Benjen Stark: Coldhands?

One of the more popular theories is that Benjen was Coldhands, the mysterious stranger who helped Bran make it to three-eyed crow.But this theory can easily be dismissed for two reasons:

  1. Bran should have recognized him. Granted, Coldhands kept his face covered (and there may have been a very important reason for that, which we will learn about later in the series), but Bran would still have recognized his own uncle's voice.
  2. Their stories don't match. More importantly, Coldhands tells us he was killed "long ago," which makes it unlikely he is Benjen. Of course, It is possible that he was not telling the exact truth to keep his true identity a secret, or perhaps time seems different for those who are Others, White Walkers, and the like. But still, it does not seem likely that Benjen andColdhands are the same person.

Is it possible that Benjen has died somewhere out in the wilderness, and no one has encountered his body? It's possible. After all, the bodies of two of his companions were found with their belongings. It is likely that Benjen would have still been alive at this point, as the bodies of these two Rangers appeared to have been laid to rest with some care, and someone who knew these men (and wanted to show them some respect after they died) would most likely have been the one to arrange their bodies and belongings this way. If nothing else, he was probably alive at this point, but is he still alive now? I think that it is likely.

Game of Thrones: House Stark

Benjen Stark: Alive, Dead, or Other?

It is true that Starks have a bit of a habit of getting killed. But they also have a habit of being important and of possessing abilities that others don't have (such as being wargs). So, it is more than possible that Benjen is still alive somewhere and he is preparing for some special purpose.

R'hllor and the Great Other: The Coming Battle

What if the series all comes down to a war between R'hllor and the Great Other? And what if these two deities need humans to act as surrogates for them in this fight? What if the reason that we haven't seen Benjen for all of this time is that he is being groomed to become the representative of the Great Other? Perhaps the Rangers that went along with him were tested by the Great Other, to find out if one of them might be an appropriate surrogate, but they died during the test.

Benjen and the White Walkers

If the starks have the ability to warg, the Great Other may find that a useful ability. Moreover, since R'hllor is trying to gain a foothold in Westeros, it would benefit the Great Other to find a surrogate who is from Westeros (and who has invested interest in making sure that the people of those lands are able to survive through the winter).

Being a part of the Night's Watch, and being the chief Ranger, he is not only able to put himself in danger to help others, he willingly does put himself in danger on a regular basis. As such, this may make him look more attractive to a powerful entity who wants to stop another powerful entity.

What do you think of my theory? Let me know in the comments!

What Do You Think?

What happened to Benjen Stark?

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    • profile image

      Thrones 2 years ago

      She's seeing john snow reborn after he's stabbed to death by the nights watch ? (Theory dnt get ye knickers in a twist )

    • profile image

      Laura 2 years ago

      Matt,

      Matt,

      Clearly your opinions, by your own criteria, are barely worth commenting upon since you had not just one but several typos and grammatical errors in your post. An intelligent mind who's ideas are worthy of consideration would never do such a thing as to actually post such an egregious series of errors and expect those ideas to be taken seriously! Here is a possibly incomplete list of errors in your above post:

      1) In the first sentence of the third paragraph, you have left a typo: "int the." Use your spellcheck. I dismissed everything you had to say as soon as I saw that error. ; )

      2) In the final sentence of the third paragraph, you have typed "etc." as "et c." Use your spellcheck. I dismissed everything you had to say as soon as I saw that error.

      3) In the second sentence of the fourth paragraph, there should be a comma between the words "or" and "Sansa" since Sansa is clearly a new complete subject connected to the verb "grow." Learn the most basic rules of punctuation. I dismissed everything you had to say as soon as I saw that error.

      4) In the second sentence of the fifth paragraph, there should be a comma placed between the words "battle" and "or." Learn the basic rules of punctuation. I dismissed everything you had to say as soon as I saw that error.

      I am not attacking you, just pointing out the flaws in your idea that others are to be dismissed if there written theories have typos, spelling and/or grammatical errors. You, clearly, are not perfect in that area yourself.

    • profile image

      Matt 2 years ago

      First of all Kris, use your spell check. I dismissed your theory as soon as I saw you spell surely as "surly."

      Next, Daenerys is the obvious choice for the mortal incarnation of R'hollar and that alone will exclude her from the final decision because that is not how GRRM writes. Take the most unlikely choice or plot line and then throw that out the window of a moving car on the freeway, because that is about as much weight that can be given to such choice.

      Next, Jon Snow is the most obvious choice for the incarnation of the Great Other because he is already established as a warg and his death has been left ambiguous in the final book. With the wights left in the ice cells, it is most plausible that he becomes a wight himself and is chosen by the Great Other to lead the armies of the dead/cold/et c to battle against the armies of the light.

      Next, there are too many variables in the story currently, as is the way that GRRM writes, to effectively determine who is a major character int the coming plot. Arya may become a central figure, such as a general, in the coming battle(s) because of her training or Sansa may grow to power to control the armies of Westeros before Daenerys crosses the Narrow Sea to claim her birth right.

      Next, in the books and theatrical renditions it is shown that Benjen is concentrating on the fire atop the wall. Is this an act of foreshadowing towards the coming battle or is it just a man that is cold and wishing the fire in front of him was the god he truly seeks (AKA R'hollor speaking to him through the flames)? Again, too many variables within the plot to decipher what GRRM is really planning.

      Take a step back, watch all of the seasons and reference the books again before you make such a ridiculous post claiming that Benjen Stark may be Coldhands, the incarnation of the Great Other, or any other thought that may cross your mind. We will never know what the future holds until GRRM puts it onto paper and allows us to experience his coming masterpiece.

      This was not an attempt at attacking you, just pointing out the flaws in your theory. Please respond, coherently, if you feel that I am wrong or if you have a variation on my theories.

    • Kris Oller profile image
      Author

      Kris Oller 4 years ago from Modesto, Ca

      Thanks. :)

      Yeah, if he had been that White Walker that we saw at the end of season one, I don't see why the effects department wouldn't have tried to make the White Walker look a little more like Benjen so that it would be a little more obvious that it was him.

    • Eva Berlin profile image

      Eva Berlin 4 years ago

      Interesting thoughts. One of my friends said that he could be the one came out at the end of season 1, but that doesn't make sense cos it was a White Walker. If Benjen died and became one of them, he would be a wight instead.

    • Kris Oller profile image
      Author

      Kris Oller 4 years ago from Modesto, Ca

      I wondered if Benjen might have been Coldhands in the beginning, but I'm fairly certain now that he isn't. If he had been, Bran surly would have recognized his voice, and he stated that he died long before when Benjen feasibly would have died (if he is at all, which we still have no evidence of).

    • profile image

      Sid 4 years ago

      Melisandre is R'hllor's representative? But she's been wrong about everything. She came seeking Stannis when her prophecies referred to Daenerys. Benjen is Coldhands, and he is not a representative of the "Great Other."

    • Kris Oller profile image
      Author

      Kris Oller 4 years ago from Modesto, Ca

      I have a feeling that Bran is going to be very important in the world at large (what with him being so powerful as a warg). And it could be possible that I'm only wanting Benjen's disappearance to prove to be far more important than what it will end up being, because of the significance that has been put on it.

    • djashburnal profile image

      Doug 4 years ago from Minnesota

      (spoilers) I keep thinking that it will come down to the white walkers and Daenerys Targaryen with her dragons. Although R'hllor is the god of flame and shadow, the heart of fire, this could easily be interpreted as a dragon.

      As for Benjen, I doubt he could be the champion of the Great Other. Melisandre says she sees a corpse white, wooden face and a thousand red eyes. It sounds like a weirwood to me. She goes on to see a boy with a wolfs head, indicating that one of the Stark children are likely to be involved, either Bran or Rickon.

    • Kris Oller profile image
      Author

      Kris Oller 4 years ago from Modesto, Ca

      That assumes that he is a White Walker at all. Just because he is called "the Great Other" does not mean that he is one of them. It could be that he is called this because of his relationship to R'hllor (in that he is "other" when compared to this particular deity).

    • profile image

      smarterthenyou001 4 years ago

      Ah but what if the great other is just like all the other , other's and has a physical other ( whitewalker) form

      i mean consider this why is he even called the great other ? u must assume he's like all the rest only greater , which to me means he is a physical creature already