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Bran Stark actor thought Game of Thrones ending was a joke

Contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones series finale

Game of Thrones is a series famous for its twists, having shocked fans with scenes like the Red Wedding, the gruesome battle between Prince Oberyn Martell and the Mountain, Jon Snow's impermanent "death," the haunting sacrifice of Shireen Baratheon by her own parents, and many more. The show kept surprising viewers up until its very last episode, which turned into territory few expected it to — including Bran Stark actor Isaac Hempstead Wright. 

Chatting in an interview with Entertainment Weekly following the Game of Thrones series finale, Hempstead Wright confessed that he initially thought the ending of the show was a joke. He was so taken aback by how Thrones answered its most pressing question — "Who will sit on the Iron Throne?" — that he thought series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were pranking him. Though the 20-year-old actor was "thrilled" to learn that (spoiler alert) members of the Great Houses of Westeros would choose the country's king or queen and that his character Bran, a.k.a. the Three-Eyed Raven, would be the first hand-selected protector of the Realm, he thought it was too good to be true. 

"When I got to the [Dragonpit scene] in the last episode and they're like, 'What about Bran?' I had to get up and pace around the room," said Hempstead Wright. "I genuinely thought it was a joke script and that [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] sent to everyone a script with their own character ends up on the Iron Throne. 'Yeah, good one guys. Oh s***, it's actually real?'"

Once he realized that Game of Thrones really would end with the North becoming its own independent kingdom and "Bran the Broken" rising as the ruler of the Six Kingdoms, Hempstead Wright got to thinking about whether it all made sense. The answer is a resounding "yes." From the actor's perspective, he feels Bran is a fantastic fit for the job. Bran may not be as human as past kings and queens, given his status as the ultra-rational Three-Eyed Raven, but his omniscience is also beneficial in that he can keep Westeros safe like no one else can. He's all logic and reason — with no dangerous emotions to complicate important decisions — and that can prove just as powerful trait in a leader as passion.

"I think he'll be a really good king actually," Hempstead Wright said. "Perhaps there will be something missing in having real emotive leader, which is a useful quality in a king or queen as well. At the same time, you can't really argue with Bran. He's like, 'No, I know everything.'"

The actor assured that he is "happy" with the Thrones finale, but did share his thoughts about an alternate conclusion. 

"I kind of did want to die and get in one good death scene with an exploding head or something," he laughed, later adding that the only thing he wishes he could change about the "Bran becomes king" ending is being able to talk about it sooner. "I just want to shout: 'King motherf***ers!' Though that's probably not a wise plan, obviously."

Though Hempstead Wright is pleased with the way Game of Thrones wrapped up, others still can't believe Bran assumed the kingship... or that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) had to kill Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) so the position would be free for someone more pragmatic to take. After the finale aired on HBO on Sunday, May 19, fans stormed social media and offered their incredibly blunt reactions to the conclusion. Responses ranged from complete outrage at the "horrible writing" to jokes about Bran not putting in any effort and still reaping the ultimate reward in the end

Even Thrones actors themselves have expressed frustration with how the series ended, though most of those gripes centered more on each star's respective character arcs and less on the larger picture.  

When all is said and done, Hempstead Wright is confident that the ending of Game of Thrones — as shocking and polarizing as it is — is exactly how A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin would have drawn the story to a close. 

"Not everyone will be happy. It's so difficult to finish a series as popular as this without pissing some people off. I don't think anybody will think it's predictable and that's as much as you can hope for. People are going to be angry. There's going to be a lot of broken hearts," he said. "It's 'bittersweet,' exactly as George R. R. Martin intended. It's a fitting conclusion to this epic saga."