"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:
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.
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.