Posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Game of Thrones season 6 concluded with a bang last week, killing off a significant portion of the cast and radically shifting the power structure of the entire show. With season seven set to begin filming soon and with George R.R. Martin’s sixth novel nowhere in sight, fans can only do one thing: wait. Oh, and talk. And speculate. And argue about fan theories. We’ve actually reached peak fan theory – my mother-in-law was grilling me about a few of the wackier ones this past week.
So let’s take a moment to look over the main fan theories currently buzzing around the internet following the conclusion of season 6. Some of these are plausible and others are infuriating, but we wouldn’t be Game of Thrones fans unless we were arguing about something.
Ned Stark and His One Big Secret
Here is a case where “fan theory” and “obvious text of the story” start to blend together. The season six finale of Game of Thrones, titled “The Winds of Winter,” finally confirmed a long-held theory: Jon Snow is not the bastard son of the late Eddard Stark, but the offspring of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. HBO even released a chart and everything:
When Eddard arrived at the Tower of Joy to rescue Lyanna (her abduction sparked Robert Baratheon’s rebellion against the Targaryens in the first place), she had just given birth and was on the verge of death. She handed her child over to her brother, who took the baby back to Winterfell and told everyone, including his new wife Catelyn, that Jon was his own.
Naturally, this seemed out of character for the honorable and rigid Ned Stark and this mere presence of Jon continued to be a wedge in a marriage that would otherwise grow into a powerful and loving partnership. So why did Ned continue to lie about Jon parentage for the rest of his life, even to those who were closest to him? Someone has gone to the trouble to lay it all out in detail, but here’s the short version: because Robert was betrothed to Lyanna before she died, took her abduction as personally as you could get, and was totally fine with how Tywin Lannister and Gregor Clegane, uh, dealt with Rhaegar’s other children.
Although Ned was loyal (to a fault, even) to Robert, there was no way he was going to let the son of his late sister meet his end because he was half-Targaryen, which meant that he had a claim to the throne, which meant that this baby was a serious threat to Robert’s rule. Since his marriage to Catelyn was arranged out of political necessity to create a strong alliance against the Targaryens, Eddard chose to keep the truth from his new wife. Even as they grew to trust one another, Ned’s fear of spies learning the truth forced him to keep his mouth shut. After all, we saw how Robert reacted when he learned of Daenerys’ actions in Essos during season one – how would he react if he learned another Targaryen was in his midst?
Rating: Almost Certainly True
On the next page, we discuss the possibility of another secret Targaryen being revealed, and a certain book-fan-favorite character making her appearance in an unexpected form.