“Game of Thrones” fandom has never been short of compelling, confusing and even ridiculous hypotheses. Just Google “Varys” and “merman” and you’ll uncover absurd suppositions that the character played by Conleth Hill is actually half-fish. Otherwise how does he travel from Dorne to Meereen so quickly? And has anyone ever really seen the Spider’s legs?
Sadly the mer-theory has been debunked, but the Ned Stark truthers remain. Oh, you didn’t know that years ago, some fans believed Ned Stark warged into a nearby flock of birds before he was executed and that’s why the camera cuts away to the flying creatures?
The Season 7 finale has kicked up a storm of fan theories and wild speculations has grown. To keep the conversation moving, we gathered the strongest and sanest predictions into one long fan explainer.
* Warning, big-time spoilers ahead:
For those who scoff at speculation, just remember, plenty of “Game of Thrones” experts predicted that the ice dragon cometh long before any leaks. So it might be time to heed what these folks are preaching.
Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven from the past
Alicia Lutes from Nerdist is one of several theorists who believe that Bran Stark went back in time to become the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran proved he was able to warg through time in the Season 6 episode “The Door,” thus permanently altering Hodor’s brain in the chilling “Hold the Door” scene. Perhaps this unfortunate lesson will improve Bran’s time-traveling abilities?
If true, this means that young Bran, played by Isaac Hempstead Wright, is tutored by old Bran, played by Max von Sydow. (This would be kind of like the four doctors meeting in the anniversary special of “Doctor Who.”)
Even Wright wants to believe this theory and was quick to point out in the above Nerdist interview that Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) specifically told Bran (in a vision) that “the raven is you.”
Bran is all Brans
So if this Zen know-it-all can time travel, what’s stopping him from warging into additional historical characters from Westeros past? Plenty of fans have hypothesized that Bran might, in fact, be Brandon Stark, the builder and creator of the great wall of ice. Current Bran clearly knows what’s lurking beyond the wall, so did he have the clairvoyance to go back in time and load the wall with White Walker-preventing magic?
Game Spot points to the character Old Nan as evidence. In the books, this elderly figure kept getting young Bran confused with previous Brandon Starks — was her mind slipping, or did she know something others didn’t?
Bran made the Mad King
King Aerys II Targaryen, a.k.a. “the Mad King,” supposedly heard voices that urged him to burn King’s Landing. What if the voices that encouraged him to “burn them all” weren’t figments of his imagination? What if they were Bran trying to warn the past leader about the growing threat of the White Walkers, and instead of helping, it just made the Mad King, well, madder?
If this were the case, though, the show’s writers probably wouldn’t put so much effort into the exploration of Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) struggle with her family’s history of violence. As she gained power in Season 7, she often seemed teetering on the edge of setting most of Westeros ablaze. Her struggle to “be a dragon” without becoming a monster demonstrates her desire to become a fair and just ruler.
Bran is the Night King
After the episode “Beyond the Wall,” Twitter was raging with another Bran theory. What if Bran was also the Night King? The footage below began circulating:
As you can see in the video, both the Night King and Bran are wearing similar clothes. Specifically, they are both wearing pants.
Not all fan theories are equal.
Fans made the case that the Night King’s obsession with Bran (he appeared in his visions, tracked him to the location of the Three-Eyed Raven) makes sense when you realize the two are the same person. Perhaps in one of Bran’s many poor attempts at stopping the long night, he warged into the Night King or, more specifically, into the human man that the Children of the Forest turned into the first White Walker. And now he’s stuck in the body of the villain.
Maggy the Frog’s prophecy
Now that we’re running out of “Game of Thrones” episodes, it’s probably a good time to take a look at some of the series’ prophecy promises.
In the first episode of season 5, “The Wars to Come,” little Cersei Lannister visits the local fortune teller, Maggy the Frog, who tells her that she will marry “the king” and become the queen (for a time) “but another younger and more beautiful woman will cast her down and take all that you hold dear.” That sounds an awful lot like “Snow White,” but also the Mother of Dragons.
Next, Maggy predicts that Cersei will have three beautiful children who will wear golden crowns, but also golden shrouds. Check, check, check.
In the book “A Feast for Crows,” Maggy’s final prediction goes even deeper: “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Valonqar is High Valyrian for “little brother.”
Astute fans have blown past the obvious suspect, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), and focused on Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is also Cersei’s younger (though twin) brother. Will the Kingslayer become the Queenslayer as well? The duo already seems a bit rocky what with Cersei blowing up the Sept with wildfire — Jaime killed the Mad King to prevent from him using, you know, wildfire.
But Cersei just announced she was pregnant; doesn’t this clash with Maggy’s prophecy? Not entirely. Joanna Robinson from Vanity Fair has a detailed account of what this new addition could mean for the queen, and it’s not great — noting particularly that Cersei, while very upset, has yet to drown in any tears.
Who is the prince that was promised (Azor Ahai)?
Now that the army of the dead is closing in, what other weapon (besides Daenerys’ remaining dragons and various fictional metals) do the humans have? Enter the “prince that was promised.”
If you’ve been paying attention to anything Melisandre (Carice van Houten) has been preaching all these years, you know two things: The night is dark and full of terrors, and “the prince that was promised” will save humanity from the doom and darkness of the terrible night.
According to “Game of Thrones” lore, this prince will be a reincarnation of the legendary Azor Ahai, a gifted warrior who saved the land from a long night thousands of years ago.
Based on the history of Azor Ahai, here is what we know about the prince that was promised:
- Born amid salt and smoke
A bleeding comet will mark the hero’s return
Dragon blood is in the lineage
Power to “wake dragons out of stone”
Weapon of choice is the flaming “lightbringer”
Has a song of “ice and fire”
Can be a man or a woman (the prophecy was originally written in High Valyrian, and in that ancient language, “prince” is gender-neutral)
Fans have elected Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow and Jaime Lannister as possible princes.
The above video (from Alt Shift X) makes a pretty good case for Dany. She brought dragons back to life from stone, you could argue she was reborn in that same fire (which would have included both smoke and salt from tears and sweat) and the flaming breath from the dragons could be her “lightbringer.”
Jon Snow checks off plenty of these prerequisites as well. Ned Stark placed his sword, which had a star on the hilt, at the base of a bloody bed where Jon was born, which could be the bleeding comet. After Jon died and was resurrected by the Lord of Light, there was smoke coming from his wounds. Plus, the dragons seem to like him.
Talking to The Times, van Houten confirmed that Melisandre still thinks Jon is the fabled prince. But she’s been wrong before.
Reddit user Byrd82 argues that the prince is actually Jaime. What if the lightbringer isn’t a sword or dragon’s breath, but rather the golden hand of this unlikely Lannister? A deep dive into the “Game of Thrones” wiki reveals that Azor Ahai tried many times to forge the original lightbringer (including plunging the sword into the heart of a lion), but it wasn’t until he murdered his wife with the weapon that it became the lightbringer. If Jaime is going to kill Cersei, he would be fulfilling both Maggy’s prophecy and turning his hands into a weapon — yet another thing Jojen predicted when he was asked about “the end” and he envisioned his own hand, ablaze.
Keep in mind that the return of Azor Ahai does not promise a victory for the world of man; the prophecy warns that if the prince fails, the world fails with him.
Cersei is Gendry’s mother
Now that actor Joe Dempsie has returned to the game, it’s time to look at the mysterious linage of Gendry, the bastard of King Robert Baratheon.
In an interview with The Times, Dempsie discussed the Season 1 reveal that Cersei’s first child (who supposedly died) was a “black-haired beauty.” Was this a direct reference to Gendry’s locks, a big deviation from the blonde bunch of Lannister children? Or was this just another red herring for fans to salivate over?
“The first scene that I ever shot on ‘Game of Thrones’ is when Ned Stark comes to visit Gendry down in the armory,” Dempsie told The Times. “He asks me about my mother, and all I remember is that she had yellow hair, and that she used to sing to me. … I’ve always thought, well, that’s something that has to be addressed at some point.”
So do we.
The surviving Starks have been through a lot, and it shows. Separated for years and facing horrific odds, Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) managed to return to Winterfell, where they eye each other for signs of the brothers and sisters they each once knew. A gallery of their journey ...(HBO)
Eddard and Catelyn Stark’s youngest daughter, Arya (Maisie Williams), was never interested in mastering the traditional feminine arts. In King’s Landing, Braavosian sword master Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou) was hired to teach her to fight. And so it began.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
After her father was executed, Arya disguised herself as a boy in the hopes of making her way to Jon Snow. Reciting the names of people she plans to kill every night, Arya eventually meets Jaqen H’ghar, who offers to teach her the assassination skills of the Faceless Men.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Arya’s journey is often stalled by capture. She ultimately ends up the captive of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, in whose company she makes her first intentional kill in Season 3.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
During her travels with the Hound, Arya reclaims her sword Needle, killing the soldier that took it from her (he is the the first person she kills from her list). After escaping both the Hound and Brienne of Tarth, Arya finds passage aboard a ship headed to Braavos.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
In Braavos, Arya begins her assassin training. The catch? She has to be willing to become “no one,” a difficult task for a noble girl with a very personal kill list.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
As punishment for killing someone on her revenge list, Arya is blinded. Still she continues her brutal training, earning both a second chance and her vision.(HBO)
Having completed her training, Arya makes her way back to Westeros, where she finally gets payback for the Red Wedding.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Ned and Catelyn’s fourth child, Bran, is introduced as a young lord-in-training, with older brother Robb (Richard Madden) and half-brother Jon Snow helping him learn. An inveterate climber, Bran accidentally witnesses the Lannister twins’ incestuous relationship and is thrown by Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) from a tower window. He survives the fall (and follow-up assassination attempt) but is left paralyzed.
(Helen Sloan / HBO)
When his father and sisters leave for King’s Landing, Bran remains at Winterfell, plagued by strange dreams, including one of his father’s death. When Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) takes over, Bran flees with his younger brother, their faithful servant Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and loyal wildling Osha (Natalia Tena).(Helen Sloan / HBO)
On the run, Bran continues to have dreams about a three-eyed raven. Bran meets Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and learns he is a warg, which means he can send his consciousness into the minds of animals. Like Bran, Jojen has the ability to see the past and future; he urges Bran to seek the actual Three-eyed Raven.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Bran continues north beyond the Wall with Hodor, Jojen and Meera (Ellie Kendrick). There, he is almost reunited with Jon, but instead, at Jojen’s insistence, continue their journey to find the Three-eyed Raven.(HBO)
Bran trains with the Three-eyed Raven (Max von Sydow), traveling to the past in shared visions. After inadvertently leading the Night King and the White Walkers to their cave, Bran and Meera narrowly escape thanks to Hodor’s sacrifice. Following the death of his mentor, Bran becomes the new Three-eyed Raven and learns that Jon Snow is actually the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.(HBO)
As the Three-eyed Raven, Bran is armed with a new kind of mysterious omniscience of past (and likely future) events. His new power seems to have come at the cost of his previous self.(HBO)
Jon Snow is introduced as the bastard son of Ned Stark. With no rightful place in the family, he leaves Winterfell to join the Night’s Watch on the Wall that protects the seven kingdoms from the Wildlings. Jon realizes his expectations of the Watch were a bit romanticized, but he does befriend some fellow recruits, including Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West), and is noticed by the Lord Commander Jeor Mormont.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Jon accompanies the Lord Commander and other members of the Watch as they go beyond the Wall to search for Ned’s brother. Eventually, Jon is convinced to go undercover to spy on the Wildlings. Jon is forced to kill his only remaining brother of the Watch to sell his change of heart.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Still undercover, Jon learns that Wildlings, who call themselves the Free Folk, are united and making their way south of the Wall because the White Walkers are a very real threat to their survival. While Jon is actually still faithful to the Night’s Watch, he does fall in love with Ygritte, which complicates his situation.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Back at Castle Black, Jon tells the brotherhood everything he knows about the Wildling forces that are readying to attack. He is sent on a dangerous mission north of the Wall but survives and makes it back to Castle Black to await the Wildling invasion in which many die, including Ygritte.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Jon is later narrowly elected the new lord commander. Unfortunately, Jon’s past actions and sympathy for the Wildlings means many of the Watch do not like him. After coordinating a mission to bring Wildlings through the Wall to save them from the White Walkers, Jon is stabbed to death by those of the Watch who oppose him.(HBO)
Jon doesn’t stay dead for too long. He is magically resurrected by Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and executes those who killed him. Shortly after, he is reunited with Sansa, who has made her way to Castle Black after escaping Ramsay Bolton. The two manage to reclaim Winterfell from Ramsay (but not before Ramsay kills their youngest brother, Rickon, right in front of them).(HBO)
Newly declared king in the north, Jon is quick to start preparations for the upcoming war against the White Walkers. Although he seems unconcerned with the politics and power struggles for the Iron Throne, he refuses to bend the knee to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) even though he wants her help (and access to her stash of dragon glass) to fight the Walkers.(HBO)
When we meet her, Ned and Catelyn’s eldest daughter, Sansa, is embracing the arts expected of her station. It seems like all of her dreams are coming true when King Robert Baratheon proposes a betrothal between Sansa and his son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). After Sansa travels to King’s Landing with Ned and Arya to make these dreams a reality, Lannister scheming is revealed and Joffrey ends up executing Ned.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
A slave to Joffrey’s cruel whims, Sansa is eventually tossed aside so the young king can marry Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). Margaery tries to arrange for Sansa to be married to her brother but instead she is forced to marry Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Life with Tyrion isn’t terrible for Sansa, until she learns her mother and brother Robb have been killed.(Keith Bernstein / HBO)
When Joffrey is killed at his wedding feast, Sansa is accused but escapes, with the help of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen). Having made her way to her aunt and cousin at the Eyrie, Sansa finally displays that she has picked up a few tricks at King’s Landing, lying about the exact cause of her aunt Lysa’s death.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Littlefinger convinces Sansa that she should marry Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), the legitimized heir of Roose Bolton who now occupies Winterfell. Her homecoming is bittersweet as Ramsay is in fact a very cruel, terrible man. At Winterfell, Sansa is reunited with Theon Greyjoy, who she believed had killed her younger brothers and who has suffered at the hands of Ramsay as well. The two eventually escape together.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
Sansa makes her way to Castle Black and is finally reunited with Jon. She asks him to help her reclaim Winterfell. Although Jon leads his men into the battle, it is Sansa’s secret call for additional reinforcements from the Vale that turns the tide.(HBO)
Although Jon is named king in the north, Sansa shows she is no less capable of leading. While Jon worries about White Walkers, she is concerned more with he Lannisters. When Jon leaves Winterfell to meet(Helen Sloan / HBO)
After Jon leaves for Dragonstone, Bran makes his way to Winterfell to seek out his siblings. Not long after, Arya also arrives. The surviving true Starks are all reunited in their childhood home, with Jon just a raven away.(Helen Sloan / HBO)
That’s just the tip of the “Game of Thrones” fan-theory ice-spear.
For more discussions and hypotheses — such as “Why do the White Walkers want to turn babies into White Walkers when the Night King was transformed as a man with seemingly no problems?” — we recommend checking out the “Storm of Spoilers” podcast (which recently delved into the mysteries of fire wights and baby walkers), along with the Ringer’s GOT “Binge Mode” podcast, the Nerdist after-show “All Kings Considered” and Post Show Recaps.