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Hodor bootstrap Paradox? Spoilers for the Game of Thrones

  1. May 24, 2016 #1
    The night is dark and full of SPOILERS...


    Okay, so in the last Game of Thrones episode, a massive twist involving what appears to me to be a bootstrap paradox occurred. I was wondering what anyone who saw thought about it and for those who did or didn't whether or not it makes sense. The only rational explanation I can come up with is a universe that is predestined but involves predestined time travel.

    Here is what happens:

    In the series in season one, a man named Hodor says only one word, his name: Hodor (not his real name but this is what he goes by since it's all he can say). He is obviously mentally disabled in some way, but seems capable of understanding English. He is a gentle giant of a guy who is pure and innocent like a child. He eventually becomes a personal servant to a young paraplegic noble boy named Bran.

    As the story progresses, Bran develops the ability to "warg" or control the mind of another, including animals and eventually Hodor. With this talent Bran uses Hodor to fight off wights or murderous men who attack them at various points.

    In season six, Bran gains the ability to view events happening all over the world or even the past as a passive observer (let's ignore the part about seeing photons from the past a necessity for this because it's a tangent). However in one such event in the present Bran is "seen" by some White Walkers, and his avatar is touched by one (they are kind of evil snowman litches. Necromancers basically. ). Because of this these litches are able to track down his location, and they bring an army of their necromanced dead to kill Bran.


    While these litches and their army of dead are attacking, Bran is off viewing Hodor's past when he was a child. He was completely normal at this time, able to say more than just "Hodor." Meanwhile, Hodor and Meera (a young woman who helps protect him) are desperately running for their lives in their cave. They get outside, and Meera screams into Bran's unconscious body (in the present) to "warg" into Hodor to help them escape. Bran hears this in the past, and so he attempts to warg into Hodor from there. However, he ends up also influencing the past version of Hodor, semi-warging into both.

    Meanwhile, Meera gets them outside the cave door and yells at Hodor to "Hold the Door" to keep the undead from killing Bran as they escape. He complies, and holds the door shut against the dead as Meera drags Bran away. But her voice travels through present day Bran's ears into the past, and young Hodor (in the past) hears it and suddenly has a seizure. He screams repeatedly " hold the door! Hold the door!" as he lies seizing, and eventually the words blend together to just "Hodor." Presumably from that point on, Hodor is only able to say 'Hodor' for the rest of his life.

    So we have a paradox in which a disabled man is only disabled because an event that happens at his death is somehow causally connected to the moment he has a seizure and loses the ability to speak anything other than the word Hodor. The only reason as an adult he is even with Bran at the pivotal moment where Bran wargs simultaneously in the past and present is BECAUSE he was the gentle disabled giant, but the only reason he was the gentle disabled giant is because 40 years after becoming disabled he was at the pivotal moment when Bran simultaneously wargs in the past and present.

    In what universe types (if any) is this possible?

    Sorry for the long post but thanks to any who read it and any who offer their insight.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2016 #2


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    The one they make up in books. Seriously, there's no way to make sense out of this. That's why it's a paradox.
  4. May 24, 2016 #3
    That's what I figured, but I did read in one of Brian Greene's books a thought experiment on something similar (can't remember if it was Fabric of the Cosmos or The Elegant Universe). He used a loaf of bread as an example of time, and mentioned a predestined time traveler who had only one history, which involved moving to the past.

    Also I read about closed timelike curves being mentioned by Kurd Gödel, but I still haven't worked up the mathematical skill to look at GR. Is there any relation to that and the question I posed in this thread?

    Or is there simply no possibility for a predestined backwards time travel trip?
  5. May 24, 2016 #4


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    And movies. I mean, we have all seen the Back to the Future trilogy, right?
  6. May 25, 2016 #5


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    Sure. If possible, that's one way to have backwards time travel.

    The requirements to create a closed timelike curve usually involve "exotic matter" or FTL travel, both of which are thought to be impossible. Exotic matter has never been seen, has never been created, and there aren't even any theoretical methods of creating it. It came straight out of someones imagination as a way of keeping a wormhole open. FTL travel runs into similar issues.
  7. May 25, 2016 #6
    So basically nothing but a mathematical curiosity then? I am guessing there is a lot of that with GR, seeing as it seems to govern not just the laws of physics but also the laws of what kind of laws of physics are even hypothetically possible.
  8. May 25, 2016 #7
    That always happens when you warg. That's why I don't do it.
  9. May 25, 2016 #8


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    GR is strictly involved with the rules governing spacetime. Since all objects and all other forces and interactions are located within spacetime, GR does place certain constraints on what is and isn't possible.
  10. May 26, 2016 #9


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    Here is a published redditor fan theory which attempts the explanation:

    I've seen a lot of people confused about the implications of the scene last night on how time works in ASOIAF, and how it opens up a lot of paradoxes. And I'm here to tell you, no it doesn't.

    "The past is already written. The ink is dry."

    Time travel in ASOIAF follows Novikov's Self-Consistency Principle, which posits that there is only one timeline, and people who go in the past to change the past have already changed the past and that it was destined to happen all along.

  11. May 27, 2016 #10
    There was a really interesting article I read some years ago, I can't begin to find a link now, that elegantly explained the inherent paradox of time travel. It involved a man arriving at a point in time, sticking around for a length of time and then traveling back to that first point in time, in a loop. He would always arrive at the same time, and always return from the same point in time. But if he did different things during his stay, between those two points, there can be no reconciliation. If he arrived at 3:25pm on December the 18th of 2016 and assassinated the president, and then departed twenty-four hours later to arrive again at 3:25pm 12/18/16, could he foil his own assassination attempt?

    But even if he did nothing, just stood and watched life go by, the universe would be filled with an infinity of this one traveler, and they would crowd together at the point of arrival and rip space time apart.

    With Hodor, it's a little different, because the event occurs in a realm of existence that is not quite realty (even within the GoT universe) so doesn't need to align with physical or mathematical law.

    But I really liked that article. Wish I could remember where I read it..

    Good episode too, FWIW.
  12. May 27, 2016 #11
    For fictional time travel, and causality in logical but fantastical terms, there are some really good Futurama episodes that deal with it really well. I thought GoT handled it right. In a magical universe, sure. It works.

    Edit: My favorite instance of bootstrap time travel is in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, when all they have to do is say that they will go back later and set something up, and it's clear that even though it works, they never actually will go back and set it up. Obviously that was for comedy, and totally flies in the face of any logic, fictitious or otherwise. I think with Hodor, it was meant to express that there is a destiny inherent to his life, inescapable and permanent, and to me, it works and was really fun to watch.
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
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