As the finale of Game of Thrones’s penultimate season quickly approaches, we thought it would be useful to compile a list of the most popular and outrageous fan theories left standing. Warning: there are major spoilers are ahead.
Bran Stark is the Night King
The most popular fan theory currently circulating the web is how Bran Stark has been the Night King all along. As the theory goes, using his powers of warging and greensight, Bran has been trying to stop disastrous events from happening, only to fail and ultimately bring about the present as we know it.
So Hodor was only the beginning. Bran is to blame for three separate time loops: going back to the time before Robert’s Rebellion and driving King Aerys insane, building the Wall as Bran the Builder to keep the white walkers out, and finally warging into the human version of the Night King, either to stop the war from happening or stop the Children of the Forest from creating white walkers. During his last failed time-traveling attempt, Bran warged into the Night King for too long and got stuck in the past, as the previous Three-Eyed Raven warned him not to do.
If this theory sounds interesting, the full explanation, given by reddit user turm0il26, is worth the read.
Daenerys Targaryen will die on the Iron Throne
This theory, explained in a popular reddit thread, makes the case that Daenerys will die by the end of the series, possibly as a tragic hero after winning the Iron Throne.
“Having already embraced her Targaryen nature and had laid waste to King’s Landing…Daenerys will be utterly broken once she realizes that the people of Westeros sees her only as a conqueror,” explains reddit user apam_balik. “And for what? She is still barren and has no known heir and once she dies, the realm will be at war again.”
Some fans believe George R.R. Martin foreshadowed in the book series that one more main character would die as an unexpected plot twist, and who better to do that than the supposed chosen one?
Arya Stark is laying a trap for Littlefinger
This fan theory, by reddit user ScienceMuddafucka, suggests the tension between Arya and Sansa in the last two episodes was just a ruse. Arya actually intentionally allowed Littlefinger to follow her, retrieved the letter she knew was a trap, and staged arguments with her sister—all in order to trick him into thinking he is orchestrating chaos. This is part of a larger plan Arya is concocting to bring an end to Littlefinger’s meddling and influence.
It’s unclear whether this theory is popular because it seems likely or because it’s wishful thinking on the part of fans, who didn’t relish the idea of a fan favorite like Arya being dragged into a sister-to-sister catfight. The theory does have merits based on the fact that Arya is a highly trained assassin, who is likely to have a bigger plan in place (like she did in defeating the Waif) and unlikely to fall for Littlefinger’s simple manipulation.
Who is Azor Ahai (the Prince who was Promised)?
Azor Ahai—which means “the Prince or Princess who was Promised” in High Valyrian (the term is non-gendered)—is a legendary figure in the faith of the Lord of Light who saved humanity in their last war against the White Walkers and will return to save it again.
The most widely accepted Azor Ahai-related theories are that either Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen is the promised prince/princess. But Martin is well-known for dramatic plot twists. What if Azor Ahai is actually someone else? According to fans, the other contenders could be:
- Jaime Lannister: A Valyrian translation error reveals that everything we know about the Lord of Light is actually false, and “Lord of Light” is meant to be “Gold Hand.” With that shift in thinking, some fans think the true savior is actually Jamie Lannister. Though long, this fan theory, explicated on reddit by user byrd82 here, is a fascinating read that does an unexpectedly good job at connecting most of the dots.
- Ser Davos Seaworth: reddit fan FollowtheBeard makes a compelling case for the Onion Knight as the Prince who was Promised. This theory notably echoes the plot lines of fantasy stories like the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter series, where some fans believe the true hero turns out to be the companion or sidekick, such as Samwise Gamgee or Neville Longbottom, respectively.
- Rhaegar Targaryen: Yes, this is the same Rhaegar Targaryen who is Jon’s father and Daenery’s oldest brother, meaning Azor Ahai is dead. George R.R. Martin has shown a disdain for prophecies and archetypes in the past, so the possibility of Azor Ahai being either dead or nonexistent is a possibility all fans must accept.
Cersei Lannister is the Mad Queen
This popular fan theory has been around for several seasons, and it hasn’t been disproven yet. Since using wildfire to destroy her enemies, Cersei has become a ruthlessly cold ruler. Something will push Cersei to the brink of madness and by the end of the series, she will be stopped by Kingslayer-turned-Queenslayer Jaime Lannister. Or so the theory goes.
Ned Stark is still alive
This is perhaps the most outlandish fan theory out there, but it is enjoying a recent resurgence. First posited by reddit user AleksandrSnow in 2013, some fans believe that Varys arranged for Ned Stark’s escape in the first season and replaced him with someone—either Arya’s Braavosi sword teacher Syrio Forel or Jaqen H’ghar of the Faceless Men (who was jailed in King’s Landing around that time before being sent to the Wall)—wearing Ned’s face. As this theory goes, the man we know as Jaqen H’ghar later in the series is another Faceless Man wearing Jaqen’s face. Thus, Ned Stark has been alive all along and will play a significant role in the last few episodes.
Though farfetched, this theory would explain why Sansa thought the head that Joffrey showed her didn’t look like her father, and why Catelyn thought what was left of his body looked too small to be her husband. It also connects with Arya’s storyline in Braavos, which currently exists in an unusual plot vacuum. Find out more on this theory here.