We know Bran can see thousands of years into the past; we see the Children of the Forest create the Night King for instance. Is there some minimum time that Bran's vision works at? Could he see what happened a few seconds ago?

Specifically I'm thinking about the end of the Battle of Winterfell. If Bran can see the very recent past as well, why didn't he tell Theon that Arya was coming? Why let Theon throw his life away?

I know this scene hasn't happened yet in the books, but I am interested in any information they may have on the subject as well.

  • Just to clarify, are you asking if there is a gap between what he can see of the past versus what he can see of the present?
    – krb
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 5:33
  • 1
    The show's hand-wavey way of dealing with this would almost certainly be to have Bran say "Theon did what he needed to do". Perhaps if Theon hadn't committed to throwing his life away in a last-ditch effort to save Bran, the Night King would have more readily suspected a trap and Arya's attack may have failed. Perhaps it was the very act of Bran's last companion throwing away his life to save Bran that convinced the Night King that Bran was truly vulnerable.
    – delinear
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 8:07
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    @delinear FWIW Theon's charge slows the Night King down, had he not done that Arya would have arrived late.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 8:11
  • In which episode to we get to see the Night King being created? I simply cannot find it…
    – Johan
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 9:16
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    @Johan Season 6 Episode 5.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 9:25

3 Answers 3


Books: No

It appears from Lord Brynden's instructions, that there is no real limit on what the greenseers can and cannot see:

"Will I see my father again?"

"Once you have mastered your gifts, you may look where you will and see what the trees have seen, be it yesterday or last year or a thousand ages past. Men live their lives trapped in an eternal present, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow that is all we know of the days to come. Certain moths live their whole lives in a day, yet to them that little span of time must seem as long as years and decades do to us. An oak may live three hundred years, a redwood tree three thousand. A weirwood will live forever if left undisturbed. To them seasons pass in the flutter of a moth's wing, and past, present, and future are one. Nor will your sight be limited to your godswood. The singers carved eyes into their heart trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new greenseer learns to use … but in time you will see well beyond the trees themselves."
A Dance with Dragons, Bran III, emphasis mine.

However, as is mentioned, the sight is limited so what the (Weirwood) trees have seen. Whether Arya was visible from the hearttree in the godswood is not certain.

Show: uncertain

In the show, Bran's visions are not limited to what Weirwoods were able to see. After all, he knows of things where no Weirwood was present, like the events at the Tower of Joy, Sansa's wedding night, Littlefinger's speech.

And despite all that, his powers didn't show anything useful in Season 8, so it's hard to make statements on what exactly he can and cannot do in the show's canon.

  • I've added an answer from show perspective... Bran can see the whole past and also the present.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 8:11

Bran describes this himself when he is reunited with Sansa in Season 7, essentially he can see the whole past so there is no gap in time from now to previously that he can't see. Apparently he can also see the present.

Bran: It means I can see everything. Everything that's ever happened to everyone. Everything that's happening right now. It's all pieces, fragments. I need to learn to see better. When the long night comes again I need to be ready.

Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 3, "The Queen's Justice"

As for your Theon point who's to say Bran even knew Arya was coming? Just because he can see into the past doesn't mean he is actively looking at it. And even if he is he might not be able to make sense out of it. He does seem to get better by the end of the Season but in the above quote he states that he still has a lot to learn.

Though lets assume he could tell what was happening, he still had no way of knowing Arya would actually get there in time. Maybe Theon charging was actually required to slow the Night King down enough so that Arya would actually make it in time?

There are too many variables for this point that it may or may not have made sense in the moment to tell him. Apparently it made sense not to tell him.

  • One example of seeing the very recent past was when Arya turned up at Winterfell, having changed her destination after talking to Hot Pie. Bran had seen her making that decision
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 13:58

There's no minimum time as evidenced by both the show . Bran is able to go back in time to cause Hodor's mind to go weird, he is also able to see Ned's battle to get to Lyanna. As long as he is alive and/or warging, he can either go to any point in history, or, through different animals (most commonly a raven), he can go to any point in the world (so long as the animal can get to it).

One thing I would like to add though is he can not go into the future. I've seen quite a few youtube videos and questions asking "If Bran can see everything, why can't he do X?"

Bran can only see into the past, not the future

To add on to the above point, the only time we see Bran 'go into the future' is when he touches the special tree and has a vision. AFAIK The vision and warging aren't the same thing If anyone can supply a specific moment where through warging, Bran sees the future, then please do so, but I don't recall at any point in time where Bran went directly into the future through warging.

If Bran can see the very recent past as well, why didn't he tell Theon that Arya was coming? Why let Theon throw his life away?

The first and second part of this sentence are contradictory. Bran can see into the past, however recent, but that specific part you mention of "Why didn't he tell Theon that Arya was coming?"-it's because it's in the future.

Bran doesn't know that Arya is about to save him. He's not expecting Arya to come, he's not expecting anything actually. But he knew that Theon was about to go kill himself. The dude had been through a lot and now the Night King and the WhiteWalkers are literally 10 feet in front of Bran with only Theon in their way. Theon knew this as well so it's either get cut down, or die fighting. Hence the running to his death-he knew he was about to die either way and so did Bran. So it was a (pathetic) last ditch attempt to try and kill the NK (which obviously failed).

But, to answer your question in a summary:

Bran can only see into the past, not the future (the vision wasn't warging), and Arya coming to kill the NK wasn't in the past-that still had yet to happen despite it being seconds/minutes away. So there was no way for Bran to check if he was about to be saved or not.

  • 1
    Warging is the ability to "take control" of an animal. I think for most of this you are actually mean to say greensight instead. Also your first sentence is incomplete.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 14:44

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