11 Game of Thrones Fan Theories That Came True

Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones
Macall B. Polay, HBO

Game of Thrones has inspired some truly wild fan theories over the course of its eight-season run. Now that the HBO epic has ended, we can confirm that neither Bran Stark nor Jon Snow is the new Night King. But fans were right on the money with these 11 theories that came true. Read on to find out how savvy viewers called Coldhands, and the ultimate fate of the Mother of Dragons.

Warning: Lots of spoilers for all aired episodes of Game of Thrones ahead!

1. The Hound and The Mountain face off in Cleganebowl.

Rory McCann and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson face off in Cleganebowl—finally—in Game of ThronesHBO

Since at least 2013, the internet has been extremely hyped for Cleganebowl, a theoretical showdown between brothers Sandor Clegane (The Hound) and Gregor Clegane (The Mountain). These two hate each other, but their paths didn’t cross much after the first season. Fans believed the brothers would finally settle the score with a fight to the death, which is exactly what happened when The Hound and The Mountain reunited during the fall of King's Landing in season 8's "The Bells." They subsequently pummeled one another atop a crumbling castle, but since they both dropped to their deaths, we’ll call this one a draw.

2. Benjen Stark is Coldhands.

In George R.R. Martin’s books, Coldhands is a mysterious hooded figure who frequently saves Northerners from wights. His identity is never revealed, but Game of Thrones fanatics had a person in mind. Viewers believed that Benjen Stark, Ned’s little brother who disappears in season 1, was the man beneath the hood. Their suspicions were confirmed in season 6, when Uncle Benjen rides to the rescue of Bran and Meera with a swinging, flaming chain.

At least, Coldhands is Uncle Benjen in the show. In an exchange written on the manuscript of A Dance with Dragons—which can be seen at Texas A&M's Cushing Library—Martin's editor writes next to an entry on Coldhands, "Is this Benjen? I think it's Benjen ..." Above her notes, in red and circled, is the word "NO," written by Martin himself. So Coldhands's identity in the books is still an open question.

3. The Wall falls.

This is why you never get cocky about walls, no matter how many people are watching them. Viewers grew extra nervous over Westeros’s main line of defense against the White Walkers when the season 7 opening credits revealed the water around the Wall had frozen. Could the dead simply walk by the longstanding barrier? Or could something actually tear it down? Fans had already floated theories about an ice dragon that could match Dany’s fire-breathing children. It was pretty easy to fill in the gaps once the Night King speared Viserion and brought him back to life (as an ice dragon) in season 7's penultimate episode.

4. Arya kills the Night King.

The Battle of Winterfell, a.k.a. the hotly anticipated clash between the living and the undead, was not looking great for the human side up until its final moments. That was when Arya snuck up behind the Night King and drove a dagger through him, slaying his entire zombie army in the process. Multiple Redditors predicted this twist, noting that Arya had the right equipment (Valyrian steel) and attitude (ruthlessness) to get the job done.

5. Jon Snow returns from the dead.

Kit Harington comes back from the dead in Game of ThronesHBO

Resurrections are never a done deal, but viewers were pretty sure Jon Snow would rise again after his death in the season 5 finale. Davos simply had to call in the red priestess Melisandre, who was able to bring Jon back to life through a series of magical chants and rituals.

6. Daenerys goes Mad Queen.

The “Mad King” looms large in Game of Thrones lore. Aerys Targaryen’s descent into insanity—which eventually ended with a sword in his back, courtesy of Jaime Lannister—has long been talked about by the show's characters. Robert Baratheon was subsequently installed on the Iron Throne, restoring order to the Seven Kingdoms. At least for a little while. But Daenerys, Aerys’s surviving daughter, has been plotting her way back to power since the show’s beginning—and some Redditors feared she could take after her dear old dad.

The “Mad Queen” theory suggested insanity runs in the family, and that Dany’s increasingly brutal attitude toward her enemies was laying the path for her eventual mental collapse. The argument grew harder to ignore as season 7 progressed. By the time Dany arrived in King's Landing, she was ready to fulfill her (controversial) destiny.

7. R+L=J.

Robert Aramayo and Aisling Francioso in Game of ThronesHelen Sloan, HBO

Did it really make sense for noble Ned Stark to father a bastard child? Or did it sound more like a cover story? Suspicious fans rallied around the R+L=J theory, which claimed that Lyanna Stark, Ned’s long-dead sister, was the mother of Jon Snow. His father was Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany’s older brother. That would place Jon ahead of Daenerys in line for the throne, massively complicating the fight for the Seven Kingdoms. The R+L=J theory was confirmed via flashback in season 6, and it was even juicier than fans assumed. Jon Snow was not only Rhaegar and Lyanna’s kid; he was their legitimate heir, since Rhaegar had secretly annulled his marriage to Elia Martell to wed Lyanna. This made things super awkward for Dany and Jon, the show’s newest couple.

8. The Iron Throne is destroyed.

The Iron Throne inspired centuries of squabbling and bloodshed, which is why so many fans offered up this poetic theory: in the finale, the throne would burn, symbolically ushering in a new era of Westerosian politics. Sure enough, Drogon melted this testament to absolute power into a puddle after witnessing a plot twist that fans also saw coming ...

9. Jon Snow kills Daenerys Targaryen.

Emilia Clarke in the series finale of Game of ThronesHBO

Daenerys Targaryen’s firebombing of King's Landing turned her into an unequivocal villain, the kind that needs to be stopped before she can massacre another city. The only question was who would be the one to do it? Arya, fresh off her assassination of the Night King, seemed to be a likely candidate. Tyrion Lannister, who had already gone against the queen’s wishes by freeing Jaime and spilling Targaryen family secrets to Varys, was another contender. But in the end, it was Dany’s nephew/boyfriend Jon Snow who betrayed her in the most devastating way possible—with a blade to the heart. Theorists had predicted this ending long ago, through close reads of the Azor Ahai prophecy, which concerns a prince who murders his wife for a greater cause.

10. The whole show is samwell tarly's story (sort of).

Fans have long championed the idea that Samwell Tarly is the true “author” of Game of Thrones, writing down the events that transpire onscreen as they happen. This meta theory picked up steam after Sam arrived in Oldtown in season 6 to train as a maester. The library he entered bore a striking resemblance to the show’s opening credits, suggesting the story might come from Sam’s perspective.

Though ultimately it turned out that Archmaester Ebrose, Jim Broadbent's character, is the show's true author, this theory was partially true. Sam confirmed his unique place in the narrative in one of the final scenes of the series finale. During a meeting of the small council, Sam presented Tyrion with A Song of Ice and Fire, the historical text Ebrose wrote on the wars following Robert Baratheon’s death. While the full story is the work of Ebrose, Sam did tell the maester to name the tome something “poetic” in season 7 and, as Sam eagerly told Tyrion, he “helped him with the title.”

11. Bran Stark becomes king.

Isaac Hempstead Wright stars as Bran Stark in Game of ThronesHelen Sloan, HBO

Over the course of eight seasons, a number of characters—many of whom have since died—were predicted to ultimately win the Iron Throne. One character who has often been overlooked, especially since his transformation into the Three-Eyed Raven, is Bran Stark. But in recent weeks, the idea that the youngest living Stark could ultimately rule the Seven (now Six) Kingdoms has gained a lot of traction. So much so that the online betting experts at OddSharks even predicted that Bran would take the Throne. As we saw in the finale, the same traits that made Bran a long shot for the crown—especially the fact that he now lives so much of his life in the past—are ultimately what made him the best choice to take the world into the future. 

Get Into the Halloween Spirit With Harry Potter and Star Wars Costumes and Accessories From Hot Topic

Hot Topic
Hot Topic

Halloween is fast approaching, and that means it's time to start picking up those decorations, planning your costume, and settling down for a few monster movie marathons. Hot Topic is already way ahead of you, with a selection of costumes and accessories based on fan-favorite movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Stranger Things, and Hocus Pocus. We've picked out some of our favorites for you to check out below.

Harry Potter

1. Beauxbatons Hat and Cape Uniform; $60

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If Fleur Delacour is your favorite character from the Triwizard Tournament, then this look is for you. Beauxbatons baby blue hat and cape can now be yours to prance around in and pretend you're from the magical French academy for young witches.

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2. Hogwarts Zip-Up Hoodie Cloak; $55

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One of the most iconic parts of the Hogwarts uniform is the cloak. The sweeping black robes looked so official and mystical in the movies that it almost seems wrong not to wear one if you want to be a Hogwarts student for Halloween. These hoodie cloaks are available in all four house colors.

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3. Hogwarts Cardigan Sweater; $49

Hot Topic

Much like the cloak, the sweater vests and cardigans the students at Hogwarts got to wear are essential to any costume. You can choose from the four house crests and colors, so you can show your allegiance while also making a fashion statement.

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4. Hogwarts Plaid Skirtall; $45

Hot Topic

Though this isn't a look you'd recognize from the Harry Potter movies, these plaid skirtalls—skirt overalls, basically—feature the crest and colors of whichever house you represent.

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Star Wars

1. The Mandalorian Helmet; $17

Hot Topic

With the second season of The Mandalorian coming out right in time for Halloween, going as one of the show's main characters is a no-brainer. And since you probably can't pull off the Baby Yoda look, this simple Mando helmet is your best option.

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2. Yoda Pet Costume; $20

Hot Topic

Baby Yoda is easily the cutest thing to emerge from the new Disney+ series, and there's no shortage of merchandise with that little green face plastered across it. From Amazon Echo Dots to slippers to LEGO sets, the little rascal is everywhere. But if you're more a fan of classic Yoda, you can impose your love of the character on your dog with this costume, complete with floppy green ears and tiny Jedi robe.

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3. The Force Awakens Rey Costume; $48

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Rey represents a new generation of Star Wars hero, and her costume during her time on Jakku from The Force Awakens is still her most iconic look. It's also a costume that's simple enough to throw on for Halloween and still feel comfortable in.

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4. R2-D2 with Pumpkin Decoration; $50

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When trick-or-treaters stop to collect candy from your house, greet them with this inflatable R2-D2 decoration that's primed for Halloween. Standing around 3 feet tall, this will show off your love for a galaxy far, far away and your holiday spirit.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

1. Sally Scrunchies Set; $10

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If you're looking to embrace your The Nightmare Before Christmas love in a more subtle way, opt for these Sally-approved scrunchies that embody the colors of the movie without going too far overboard.

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2. Jack Skellington Button-Up Shirt; $35

Hot Topic

If Jack Skellington is your ultimate fashion hero, then this button-up pinstriped shirt is the ticket for you. It mimics Jack's look right down to the unique bat-shaped collar.

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3. Jack and Sally 'Love is Eternal' Eyeshadow Palette; $17

Hot Topic

Makeup inspired by your favorite characters is the key to completing a Halloween look, and this palette will help you make a colorful, smokey eye featuring shades seen in The Nightmare Before Christmas. You can even use these colors long after Halloween is over once you've mastered your favorite style.

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4. Zero Dog Costume; $29

Hot Topic

The real star of The Nightmare Before Christmas has to be the dog, Zero, and now you can drape your own pooch in the ghostly visage for under $30.

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- Stranger Things
- Coraline
- Disney
- Haunted Mansion
- Hocus Pocus
- The Craft

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12 Surprising Facts About T.S. Eliot


Born September 26, 1888, modernist poet and playwright Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot is best known for writing "The Waste Land." But the 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was also a prankster who coined a perennially popular curse word, and created the characters brought to life in the Broadway musical "Cats." In honor of Eliot’s birthday, here are a few things you might not know about the writer.

1. T.S. Eliot enjoyed holding down "real" jobs.

Throughout his life, Eliot supported himself by working as a teacher, banker, and editor. He could only write poetry in his spare time, but he preferred it that way. In a 1959 interview with The Paris Review, Eliot remarked that his banking and publishing jobs actually helped him be a better poet. “I feel quite sure that if I’d started by having independent means, if I hadn’t had to bother about earning a living and could have given all my time to poetry, it would have had a deadening influence on me,” Eliot said. “The danger, as a rule, of having nothing else to do is that one might write too much rather than concentrating and perfecting smaller amounts.”

2. One of the longest-running Broadway shows ever exists thanks to T.S. Eliot.

Getty Images

In 1939, Eliot published a book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which included feline-focused verses he likely wrote for his godson. In stark contrast to most of Eliot's other works—which are complex and frequently nihilistic—the poems here were decidedly playful. For Eliot, there was never any tension between those two modes: “One wants to keep one’s hand in, you know, in every type of poem, serious and frivolous and proper and improper. One doesn’t want to lose one’s skill,” he explained in his Paris Review interview. A fan of Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats since childhood, in the late '70s, Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to set many of Eliot's poems to music. The result: the massively successful stage production "Cats," which opened in London in 1981 and, after its 1982 NYC debut, became one of the longest-running Broadway shows of all time.

3. Three hours per day was his T.S. Eliot’s writing limit.

Eliot wrote poems and plays partly on a typewriter and partly with pencil and paper. But no matter what method he used, he tried to always keep a three hour writing limit. “I sometimes found at first that I wanted to go on longer, but when I looked at the stuff the next day, what I’d done after the three hours were up was never satisfactory," he explained. "It’s much better to stop and think about something else quite different.”

4. T.S. Eliot considered "Four Quartets" to be his best work.

In 1927, Eliot converted to Anglicanism and became a British citizen. His poems and plays in the 1930s and 1940s—including "Ash Wednesday," "Murder in the Cathedral," and "Four Quartets"—reveal themes of religion, faith, and divinity. He considered "Four Quartets,” a set of four poems that explored philosophy and spirituality, to be his best writing. Out of the four, the last is his favorite.

5. T.S. Eliot had an epistolary friendship with Groucho Marx.

Eliot wrote comedian Groucho Marx a fan letter in 1961. Marx replied, gave Eliot a photo of himself, and started a correspondence with the poet. After writing back and forth for a few years, they met in real life in 1964, when Eliot hosted Marx and his wife for dinner at his London home. The two men, unfortunately, didn’t hit it off. The main issue, according to a letter Marx wrote his brother: the comedian had hoped he was in for a "Literary Evening," and tried to discuss King Lear. All Eliot wanted to talk about was Marx's 1933 comedy Duck Soup. (In a 2014 piece for The New Yorker, Lee Siegel suggests there had been "simmering tension" all along, even in their early correspondence.)

6. Ezra Pound tried to crowdfund T.S. Eliot’s writing.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1921, Eliot took a few months off from his banking job after a nervous breakdown. During this time, he finished writing "The Waste Land," which his friend and fellow poet Ezra Pound edited. Pound, with the help of other Bohemian writers, set up Bel Esprit, a fund to raise money for Eliot so he could quit his bank job to focus on writing full-time. Pound managed to get several subscribers to pledge money to Eliot, but Eliot didn’t want to give up his career, which he genuinely liked. The Liverpool Post, Chicago Daily Tribune, and the New York Tribune reported on Pound’s crowdfunding campaign, incorrectly stating that Eliot had taken the money, but continued working at the bank. After Eliot protested, the newspapers printed a retraction.

7. Writing in French helped T.S. Eliot overcome writer’s block.

After studying at Harvard, Eliot spent a year in Paris and fantasized about writing in French rather than English. Although little ever came of that fantasy, during a period of writer’s block, Eliot did manage to write a few poems in French. “That was a very curious thing which I can’t altogether explain. At that period I thought I’d dried up completely. I hadn’t written anything for some time and was rather desperate,” he told The Paris Review. “I started writing a few things in French and found I could, at that period ...Then I suddenly began writing in English again and lost all desire to go on with French. I think it was just something that helped me get started again."

8. T.S. Eliot set off stink bombs in London with his nephew.

Eliot, whose friends and family called him Tom, was supposedly a big prankster. When his nephew was young, Eliot took him to a joke shop in London to purchase stink bombs, which they promptly set off in the lobby of a nearby hotel. Eliot was also known to hand out exploding cigars, and put whoopee cushions on the chairs of his guests.

9. T.S. Eliot may have been the first person to write the word "bulls**t."

In the early 1910s, Eliot wrote a poem called "The Triumph of Bulls**t." Like an early 20th-century Taylor Swift tune, the poem was Eliot’s way of dissing his haters. In 1915, he submitted the poem to a London magazine … which rejected it for publication. The word bulls**t isn’t in the poem itself, only the poem’s title, but The Oxford English Dictionary credits the poem with being the first time the curse word ever appeared in print.

10. T.S. Eliot coined the expression “April is the cruelest month.”

Thanks to Eliot, the phrase “April is the cruelest month” has become an oft-quoted, well-known expression. It comes from the opening lines of "The Waste Land”: “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”

11. T.S. Eliot held some troubling beliefs about religion.

Over the years, Eliot made some incredibly problematic remarks about Jewish people, including arguing that members of a society should have a shared religious background, and that a large number of Jews creates an undesirably heterogeneous culture. Many of his early writing also featured offensive portrayals of Jewish characters. (As one critic, Joseph Black, pointed out in a 2010 edition of "The Waste Land" and Other Poems, "Few published works displayed the consistency of association that one finds in Eliot's early poetry between what is Jewish and what is squalid and distasteful.") Eliot's defenders argue that the poet's relationship with Jewish people was much more nuanced that his early poems suggest, and point to his close relationships with a number of Jewish writers and artists.

12. You can watch a movie based on T.S. Eliot’s (really bad) marriage.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Tom & Viv, a 1994 film starring Willem Dafoe, explores Eliot’s tumultuous marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a dancer and socialite. The couple married in 1915, a few months after they met, but the relationship quickly soured. Haigh-Wood had constant physical ailments, mental health problems, and was addicted to ether. The couple spent a lot of time apart and separated in the 1930s; she died in a mental hospital in 1947. Eliot would go on to remarry at the age of 68—his 30-year-old secretary, Esmé Valerie Fletcher—and would later reveal that his state of despair during his first marriage was the catalyst and inspiration for "The Waste Land."

This story has been updated for 2020.