The HBO series Game of Thrones has advanced far beyond the book series it's based on, meaning that not even diehard George R.R. Martin readers know how the show will end. All we can do is theorize as we wait for the eighth and final season to premiere this Sunday. One of the biggest questions we all have is in regards to the Night King and whether or not he, along with his army, can and/or will be defeated. And if so, what consequences will that bring? One theory claims that the undead leader will be conquered, but that the living Starks will be sacrificed in order for it to happen.
The Telegraph posed the idea that the Night King was once a Stark (as Old Nan once told Bran was a possibility). This theory, when paired with the idea that killing a White Walker would also kill all of its creations, could mean the end of the House of Winterfell.
What's the evidence behind this bold theory? The publication explains a few key things. The first, and the most obvious, is that the series is known to kill off main characters we all love. Eliminating the remaining Starks would mean saying goodbye to Sansa, Arya, Bran, and even Jon, whose mother was Lyanna Stark. They also point out how showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss previously revealed there would be "three holy s**t moments" throughout the show—which came directly from Martin—with only one left for the final season. (The co-creators clarified that the first was Shireen's death, and the second was Hodor's origin story.) The last moment could be any number of things, but killing off the fan-favorite family in one move might be the most shocking possibility.
Another potential reason this theory could work is the Starks' connection to the White Walkers. Thousands of years ago, the Wall was created by a Stark named Brandon the Builder, as the legend goes. It's also believed there was magic involved in building it, something that hints the undead were involved. The Telegraph goes on to explain that since it was apparently Brandon who enforced that there must always be a Stark at Winterfell, it begs the speculation that he could have made some type of pact with the Walkers. There are a ton of details from that time that we just don't know.
And of course, if you're into the theory that Bran Stark is actually the Night King, this also aligns nicely. There's no doubting Bran has a connection with the lead White Walker, even if you don't believe he is or will become the Night King. Could their bond be because they're family? There's not enough evidence to know for sure, but the idea is interesting.
The other part of this theory derives from something we learned in the season 7 episode "Beyond the Wall." While trying to capture a wight, Jon Snow kills the White Walker the wight was traveling with, which in turn destroyed nearly all of the wights in that group. The men wonder if killing a Walker means killing any wights that he turned, which leads Beric Dondarrion to point to the Night King and urge Snow to "Kill him, he turned them all." Jon cryptically responds, "You don't understand." If killing a Walker means killing its creations/followers/descendants, would killing the Night King mean immediate destruction of all the undead? But what of the living? If the Night King is a Stark, and the current Starks of Winterfell are his descendants, might they die along with the undead?
What The Telegraph is suggesting here really is a complex two-parter, but as with any theory, there's always a possibility of there being some truth to it. The Night King being a Stark would explain a lot, and having the remaining Starks die in order to defeat him would fit the kind of tragic, bittersweet ending we should all be expecting from the series.
Soon enough, all of these theories won't matter, as the finale is almost here. Game of Thrones returns for its final season on April 14.
[h/t The Telegraph]