Warning: This post contains spoilers about “The Dragon and the Wolf,” Game of Thrones’s seventh season finale. If you’re not caught up, stop reading now.
“The Dragon and the Wolf,” the season finale of Game of Thrones's seventh season, tied up a few loose ends in particularly satisfying fashion (bye bye, Littlefinger) but left just as many unanswered questions. Game of Thrones fans, however, have been notoriously quick to try to answer those questions for themselves, with varying degrees of success. As the snow settles on the icy rubble that used to be the Wall, we’re analyzing the status of seven Game of Thrones fan theories—predicting everything from Jon Snow becoming the Night King to Ned Stark being alive and well—as the show takes a break before its final season.
1. THE THREE-HEADED DRAGON
The Theory: Some of the most hotly contested Game of Thrones speculation has centered around the so-called "Three-Headed Dragon" prophecy: a vision Daenerys had in the House of the Undying of her brother Rhaegar saying, “the dragon has three heads.” (This happens in the books, although the show omitted this tidbit from Daenerys’s vision in season two.) Fans interpreted this to mean that there would be a rider for each of the show’s three dragons and tried to guess their identities. Daenerys, of course, rode Drogon, named for her late husband Drogo. Fans have long speculated that Jon Snow, revealed to be a true Targaryen, would ride Rhaegal, the dragon named after his father. They’ve offered many predictions for the third rider, including Tyrion Lannister, Bran Stark and Jorah Mormont.
The Verdict: Uncertain. “The Dragon and the Wolf” confirmed that the Night King is Viserion’s rider. The identity of the third rider remains unknown, but Jon Snow is still the clear favorite.
2. ARYA’S GAME OF FACES
The Theory: Arya’s story arc seemed to take a 180 in “Stormborn,” when she abruptly dropped her plans to travel to King's Landing to assassinate Cersei and instead journeyed to Winterfell to spend the rest of the season bickering with Sansa. Fans everywhere let out a collective groan when Arya, a master of stealth and deception, allowed Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish to trick her so easily into a pointless feud with her sister. But some began to think that Arya may actually have been the one leading Littlefinger on all along. Arya, they claimed, was playing a version of the Game of Faces during her fight with Sansa in “Beyond the Wall”—pretending to threaten Sansa to lull Littlefinger into a false sense of security.
The Verdict: Confirmed. The finale kept us guessing until moments before Littlefinger’s doom, but the open-mouthed gape of genuine surprise that came across Baelish’s face when his schemes finally failed him was oh-so-worth it.
3. BRAN STARK THE TIME TRAVELER (AND THE NIGHT KING?)
The Theory: Bran Stark will hone his greenseer and warging abilities to try to change the past and defeat the Night King. With very little training, Bran was able to short-circuit Hodor’s brain and call out to young Ned Stark. With a little practice, some fans predict, he will go back in time and become his legendary ancestor Bran the Builder, who built the Wall to keep out the White Walkers. Take the theory a step further and Bran could have driven Aerys Targaryen mad trying to warn him about the undead. And take a massive leap forward and Bran Stark is the Night King, warging into his icy body in an act of self-sacrifice to lead the dead away from Westeros for millennia, before finally losing himself inside the zombie’s mind and turning on the living.
The Verdict: Still plausible. We didn’t see much of Bran this season, but surely there must be a bigger payoff for his character than facilitating Littlefinger’s demise (although for us, that would be enough).
4. JON SNOW IS THE PRINCE WHO WAS PROMISED (AND THE NIGHT KING?)
The Theory: Jon Snow will fulfill the Prince Who Was Promised theory in the cruelest possible way. According to one Redditor’s theory, there must always be a Night King in the universe of Game of Thrones. During the last Long Night, the theory goes, Azor Ahai defeated the Night King and pulled the dragon glass out of his chest. But with their king dead, the remaining Wights and White Walkers roamed freely, threatening all of Westeros. So Azor Ahai stabbed himself in the chest with the dragon glass and became the Night King to control the army of the dead and lead them away from the living. Over many years, he forgot his purpose and turned against men. Now Jon Snow, the Prince Who Was Promised and the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, must take his turn as the Night King to save Westeros.
The Verdict: Who knows? The theory is far-fetched, but nothing we’ve seen through seven seasons disproves it. Fans would be heartbroken, but it’s not like Jon Snow could get any mopier about it.
5. JAIME WILL KILL CERSEI
The Theory: There’s a prophecy hanging over Cersei’s head that she will be killed by “the Valonqar,” Valyrian for “little brother.” Cersei hears this from Maggy the Frog, a fortune teller who gives a younger version of the Queen a series of very accurate predictions about her future (including her marriage to Robert Baratheon, her feud with Margaery Tyrell, and the death of her three children). The obvious choice for Cersei’s “Valonqar” killer would be Tyrion, who has pledged his loyalty to her rival for the Iron Throne. But some fans predict that Jaime—her lover, twin brother, and younger sibling by a few minutes—will be the one to do her in.
The Verdict: Looking more likely every episode. Jaime openly defied his sister in the finale after Cersei revealed her plan to back-stab Daenerys in her fight against the Night King, and Cersei threatened to kill him for it. The rift between the two has never been wider.
6. NED STARK IS STILL ALIVE
The Theory: Ned Stark wasn’t the man who got beheaded on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor. Varys hired the Faceless Man known as Jaqen H’ghar to wear Ned’s face—or one similar to his—and be executed in his stead. The theory holds that master swordsman Syrio Forel didn’t die either, but helped Ned escape King’s Landing and then took Jaqen H’ghar’s face and trained Arya when she went to Essos. For the past six seasons, Ned has been hiding out with his friend Howland Reed at Greywater Watch.
The Verdict: Keep dreaming. Although the showrunners seemed hesitant to kill off beloved characters for much of the seventh season, they aren’t likely to reanimate long-dead fan favorites, either (or at least, not in any form we’d like to see them in).
7. JON AND DAENERYS FALL IN LOVE
The Theory: This is less a theory than a case of much of the Internet “shipping” the aunt-and-nephew pair. From the moment Jon and Daenerys met there was tension in the air. They, of course, don’t know they’re related, and anyway the incest thing isn’t uncommon within the world of Game of Thrones. But we know. And it’s at least a little weird.
The Verdict: Aggressively confirmed. Interspersing Bran and Sam’s extended conversation about how the pair are very much related with graphic shots of Jon and Dany having sex, the finale pulled no punches in gleefully confirming this fan prediction.