Con of Thrones 2018 – the Creation Myth of Todrick Stark

Posted: June 4, 2018 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones
Tags: , , , ,

For those of you who are a few seasons behind on Game of Thrones, this article will be referencing some significant plot points from the later seasons. And will be casting them into a somewhat ‘fictional’ light. (I’ll let my use of the word ‘fictional’ sit there a bit, stewing in its irony.) If you’re not caught up, this has been your spoiler warning.

Tod: Isn’t this image a spoiler?
Leaf: Quiet, Tod. Wait. We have you gagged. How are you talking?

During the sixth season of Game of Thrones, Bran Stark’s magical training by the Three Eyed Raven opened up Bran’s perception to something rare in the show: flashbacks.

In large part, the show had avoided narrative flashbacks as a way to fill in backstory (there had been an exception in Season Five, where a young Cersei Lannister was shown receiving a prophecy from the rustic seer Maggy the Frog) but once Bran was connected to the memories of the weirwood trees, Westeros’s past opened up.

Guided by an ancient root-bound wizard, Bran witnessed what appeared to be the creation of the White Walkers. He saw the ageless Child of the Forest Leaf plunge a dragonglass dagger into the heart of a captive human. Who then was transformed into an icy Other.

It wasn’t explicitly stated, but it’s assumed that this unfortunate captive became the taciturn Night King, leading his force of companion White Walkers and attendant horde of wights.

At the end of a May, in Dallas Texas at the second annual Con of Thrones, the Night King received specific fan attention as he was christened: Todrick Stark.

Oh, Tod.

The naming of the previously nameless horror happened over the course of several connected panels at the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire convention. A popular series of panels at the first Con of Thrones was The Great Debates, where Joanna, Dave, and Neil of the Storm of Spoilers podcast would introduce some superlative topic (best fighter in Westeros, worst job in Westeros, most disturbing death, etc.) and after each co-host had put forth their respective nominee, the audience would pitch several additional candidates, debate in support of their favorites, and have a raucous vote.

This year, the shirtless Stark sacrificed by the Children ended up as a candidate. (Why Stark? There’s a gut feeling among fan theorists that the Night King is one of the ancient Starks, the old Kings of Winter. Let’s put a pin in that for the moment.)

For practical reasons “shirtless Stark” was off-handedly labeled Todd Stark to facilitate discussion. Why Todd? Why not?

And over the course of several Great Debates, Todd Stark would continue to be nominated for things. Best lover. Most consequential death. Most mistreated character.

Since Todd Stark was being treated more or less seriously as a character, the fans in attendance began to apply rules of Game of Thrones consistency to the name. Since George RR Martin was fond of using contemporary names with small changes, Todd became Tod. Clearly, short for Todrick.

By the last day of the convention, fans in attendance wore custom t-shirts sporting Tod’s transformation from bare-chested human into icy creature.

He sprung out of the Great Debate series and into other panels.

On Sunday, at the next-to-penultimate panel on the main stage – featuring a tribunal adjudicating the worth of fan theories – the theory that the Night King was just trying to free his ancient queen, believed to be held captive in the Winterfell crypts, was met with a re-examination of the Best Lover debate. Maybe Todrick Stark was the best lover for going to war as part of his thousands-of-years love for his captive queen.

(Sorry Todrick, Prince Oberyn retains the title of Best Lover.)

Oh my … Thod?

Because fans thrive on controversy and conflict, it might not come as a surprise that the name Todrick and the nickname Tod are not the final words on the matter. When the original usage of Todd was considered too standard for a name in George RR Martin’s universe, the alternative spelling Thod was suggested. Short for Thodrick. This spelling also has its devotees.

To reveal my own biases, I’m a Tod truther rather than one who goes for Thod as the preferred spelling. I think it speaks for my fondness for Podrick “Pod” Payne. But I don’t want to persecute any Thodrick followers for their heresy. I probably wouldn’t lean on anyone preferring Todrik as a proper ancient Northern name, in the mold of Ser Rodrik Cassel.

(I reject Toderick and Thoderick though. Fight me. I’m sympathetic to Toddrik and Toddrick fans, but Todd was ruled out previously, and ‘Tod’ means ‘Death’ in German, so let’s agree to forget about Todd with two Ds. Because the one D Tod is cooler.)

What’s in a name?

In some ways, it feels thematic to have two contenders for names. After all, we might have two different characters to apply the names to.

I’ve mostly been talking about the Night King, who is more or less a show-only creation. In the books, we don’t yet know what caused the Others to come for the first time, and who or what might be leading them. That’s entirely show-canon.

A Song of Ice and Fire might not have the Night King, but instead it has the Night’s King. This is the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (who operated out of the Nightfort) and who fell in love with a chilly and pale lady with dramatic blue eyes. It’s a matter of debate if this woman was one of the Others, or just described in similar fashion.

This Lord Commander declared himself the Night’s King, his bride the Night’s Queen, and forced the men at his command to practice dark and grisly rituals. Eventually his rule was ended thanks to cooperation between the wildlings and the Starks.

The actual name of the Night’s King became forbidden to be spoken, but allegedly he was a Stark, the brother of the current Lord of Winterfell. So, his name might have been Todrick. Or Thodrick, if I want to reserve Tod Stark (instead of Thod Stark) for the show-canon Night King.

(That fact that the book Night’s King was a Stark influenced fans belief that the show’s Night King is also a Stark. To keep the book and show in a kind of harmony.)

But is it fair that only the Night’s King gets a badass backstory? In contrast, all we know about the Night King is that he was shirtless and stabbed.

This is where a particular fan really stepped up:

Twitter user @JoeMagician42 is not just any fan, he’s a moderator for /r/asoiaf on Reddit. Which doesn’t make his backstory canon, really. And right afterwards, he had to ban himself for writing fan fiction. (He did not actually ban himself, but he did pose the question.) But it adds a certain legitimacy, to be recognized by someone in the ASOIAF discussion community.

So shirtless Tod Stark now has a non-canonical backstory, to go with his non-canonical name.

Tod Lives!

Obviously, the naming of Todrick Stark is the product of fans starved for content. We’ll have to wait nearly a year for the conclusion of the television show, and we’re hoping to get the next installment in A Song of Ice and Fire in 2019. We’re hoping.

Until then, it’s fun to riff on Tod’s name. The Many-Faced Tod. The Drowned Tod. The Red Tod. By the Old Tods and the New.

Tod bless you and keep you, until we get more Game of Thrones.

(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)

Top image from Game of Thrones, obviously. The Todrick Stark shirt and the Thodrick Stark details were found via the photostream on the Con of Thrones 2018 app. I will provide attribution when I can track that down.

The graphic of shirtless, stabbed Tod next to the image of the ‘Todswood’ was created by the brilliant artist WikiRascal. I’ve written about his work HERE.

I make no claims to those images. But I did take the last picture, of Tod, Dany, and Jon in the background. That’s mine! Tod Lives!

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2018 Some Rights Reserved

  1. adityasemwal02 says:

    Hey! I just finished GoT and can’t wait to start clash of kings!

    Liked by 1 person

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