It has long been rumored (and at this point, seems in all likelihood true) that Game of Thrones season six will feature at least one major flashback scene.
That scene is the the battle at the Tower of Joy, a pivotal moment in Game of Thrones history in which Eddard Stark plays a major role. This caused some to believe that perhaps Sean Bean would return as Ned in the show's upcoming season, but the actor says in a new interview that isn't the case.
When asked whether or not his character would return to the show on Larry King Now (via Comicbook.com), Bean confirms that he wasn't approached by HBO for season six. He says he isn't sure how they would bring his character back were he to be resurrected. After all, Ned lost his head toward the end of the show's first season. However, he also says a flashback is equally unlikely, as he assumes HBO would cast a younger actor for any scenes involving a younger Ned Stark.
The actor is likely correct. If Bean isn't returning for season six and we are assuming the Tower of Joy flashback is really happening, it appears HBO did in fact recast Bean with a younger actor.
That does little to diminish the excitement many fans are likely to have upon seeing the flashback play out on screen. It's one of the most important moments from George R.R. Martin's novels; as Ned's sister Lyanna lays dying in the tower, Ned and his allies battling the kingsguard in order to rescue her. What exactly transpired at the tower is one of the franchise's biggest mysteries, with many believing Lyanna to be the mother of none other than Jon Snow.
Though Game of Thrones has featured one flashback in the past, the Tower of Joy scene (and other flashbacks, if they are to be shown) will likely be approached differently. Book readers will know that Bran's new powers allow him to see into past events using the power of the weirwoods sprinkled across Westeros, so there is a good chance the flashbacks will play out as one of Bran's visions. Unfortunately, those flashbacks just won't include Sean Bean.
Game of Thrones season six airs April 24 on HBO.