This story was first published on The Reading Room.
The massive fantasy world of Game of Thrones—based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series—is full of intrigue, and twists and turns. It seems like every episode of HBO’s popular TV adaptation includes a betrayal or a revelation. What surprises could season six hold? The fans that came up with these wild theories think they know.
Spoilers for both the television and book series follow, so turn back now if you’re not fully caught up!
1. Ned Stark Isn’t Dead
There are a lot of dead characters in Game of Thrones, but they don’t get much deader than Ned Stark, whose head got lopped off at the end of season one. But wait—maybe not! Some fans on a message board for A Song of Ice and Fire think that perhaps it was a faceless man taking the place of Ned Stark. Or maybe Ned could warg into the body of an animal, as his son seems to be able to do. Either way: totally not dead!
The evidence: There are a few moments from the text that could support this. Sansa seems to not recognize her father’s face after his death, and Catelyn doesn’t think his bones look as she would have expected (whatever that means).
2. The Mad King Wasn’t Mad
Game of Thrones gets a lot of mileage out of the “Mad King,” Aerys Targaryen. He was busy torturing people for no reason before the Starks, Baratheons, and Lannisters overthrew him, and the legacy of the rebellion against him drives the whole story. But some fans think that the version of the story that we know is backwards. By their account, Targaryen’s paranoia was justified, not self-fulfilling. There really was a shady plot to overthrow him, and Targaryen was acting rationally.
The evidence: In the books, the main houses are said to rarely intermarry. Yet they all begin to do so in a flurry shortly before Targaryen is overthrown. Was there a plan in place before the king supposedly “went mad?”
3. Jon Snow is a Targaryen, and so is Meera
What if Jon Snow isn’t Ned Stark’s son at all? Some fans theorize that Snow is actually Ned’s nephew. Snow’s real parents, according to this theory, are Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark (remember, Rhaegar’s kidnapping of Lyanna allegedly sparked the rebellion against the Targaryens). This theory is so popular that it goes by the abbreviation R + L = J. In one expansion of this theory, Meera Reed is also of this parentage, and is Jon Snow’s twin sister.
The evidence: In the book series, Jon and Meera are both said to have been born the same year that Lyanna died. In the TV series, they bear a striking physical resemblance to each other. In the books, Ned Stark’s sister dies in a “bed of blood” and asks him to promise her something. Could she be asking him to raise her son, or to hide her daughter?
4. Jon Snow is Azor Ahai
Jon Snow could be practically anyone, depending on which fans you ask. In this theory, Jon Snow is the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, who last defeated the White Walkers. Azor Ahai is the guy that Melisandre thought Stannis Baratheon was.
The evidence: When Jon Snow is stabbed by his old pals in the Night’s Watch, there’s steam coming off of his body. Is this the “smoke” that the Azor Ahai prophecy speaks of? It was pretty clear that Stannis wasn’t Azor Ahai, and if we take the prophecy seriously, someone has to be. Snow might be the top candidate, and this would also neatly allow him to return to life and continue the story.
5. Tyrion Lannister is a Targaryen
Everyone gets to be a Targaryen in fan theories! If Tyrion is actually a Targaryen, he could have a claim to the Iron Throne.
The evidence: In the books, Aerys Targaryen lusts after Tyrion’s mother. Did they ever get together? Also in the books, a prophecy given to Daenerys Targaryen says that “the dragon shall have three heads.” So you could argue that this theory fits nicely with the famous “R + L = J” one: the three heads could be Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion, all of whom would be Targaryens.
6. Syrio Forel and Jaqen H’ghar are the Same Guy
Arya Stark has been helped out by two people from Bravos: her swordfighting instructor, Syrio Forel, and a faceless immortal assassin named Jaqen H’ghar. Or maybe she’s only been helped out by one—because they’re the same person.
The evidence: Since Jaqen H’ghar can change his face, it’s not impossible that he was also Syrio Forel. Both men speak of the God of Death, and both men hail from Bravos.
7. The Hound and Mountain Will Fight
The Hound and the Mountain hated each other in life. Now they’re both dead—sort of. The show has already allowed the Mountain to return to life as a sort of Frankenstein creation. The Hound’s death was never shown, and it’s strongly hinted in the books that he could be alive. So a duel between the two, some fans theorize, is inevitable.
The evidence: Most fans agree that the Mountain is the mysterious golden knight who we see after Cersei’s Walk of Shame. That the Hound is alive is a little less clear, but in the books, it’s implied that a mysterious limping gravedigger may be the Hound. And if they’re both still alive, it seems like a matter of time before the final showdown happens.
8. Dragonglass is Dragon Poop
This is one of the nuttier theories out there. In the books and TV show, dragonglass is also called obsidian and possesses the power to kill White Walkers instantly. But where does it come from? One Reddit user has an, um, interesting theory: dragonglass is dragon poo.
The evidence: In the books, it’s hinted that dragons may be able to tunnel through the earth. That would mean they consume sand and rocks. Combine those with heat, Reddit user The_Others_Take_Ya points out, and you get glass. Compelling stuff!
All Photos Courtesy of HBO.