'Game Of Thrones' Fan Theories Graded From Plausible To Preposterous

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:

GoT chart

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.

Arya Is the New Lady Stoneheart

Even Game of Thrones watchers who haven't read George R.R. Martin's novels have heard the name Lady Stoneheart, because book-readers won't shut up about her. In the original books, this figure runs the Brotherhood Without Banners and has been systematically hunting down and murdering members of House Frey and, as her name implies, she does so without mercy. We quickly learn that this is none other than Catelyn Stark, who was resurrected after the events of the Red Wedding by Thoros of Myr, a process that required Beric Dondarrion (the leader of the Brotherhood) to give up his life. Catelyn then took Beric's place and shifted the group toward being her own personal vengeance brigade.

Lady Stoneheart was cut from the show for reasons that have yet to be explained (possibly because the writers didn't want to tip their hand for Jon Snow's inevitable resurrection) and the characters involved in her storyline have been given entirely new business. However, since Arya arrived back in Westeros in "The Winds of Winter" and slit Walder Frey's throat, some fans are speculating that the youngest Stark girl will take on the role that belonged to her mother in the books and become the new Lady Stoneheart. Maybe she'll even meet up with the Brotherhood (whom she declared an enemy when they sold Gendry to Melisandre in season three) and take the reins of the organization.

This is all plausible enough, especially since it will allow Arya and Sandor Clegane to reunite after their brutal parting of ways at the end of season four. However, it seems unlikely that Arya will take on a new name and even more unlikely that she'll do what her mother did in the books and focus her wrath strictly on her foes in the Riverlands. Arya's revenge list has names scattered all across the Seven Kingdoms, so even if she does meet up with the Brotherhood, her basic needs will take her beyond their jurisdiction. Yes, Arya has become an instrument of cruel revenge and she is not above feeding a man his own sons before cutting his throat, but her path is too different, her motivations too wide-ranging, for this to be a clean adaptation. So it could be partially true! Just don't expect her to go by that new name.

Rating: Maybe, Possibly True-ish

Tyrion Lannister is a Secret Targaryen

Like Jon Snow's secret parentage, this is a theory that has been floating around book readers for years, inspiring fierce debates from those who believe it and those who think it's complete and utter dragon poo. It goes something like this: while visiting the House of the Undying (see: season two of the show), the book version of Daenerys learns about a prophecy involving a "three-headed dragon" and the implication is that the Mother of Dragons will be joined by two others to ride her three majestic children into battle. Of course, it takes a Targaryen to control a dragon, but we already have one of those spots covered – Jon Snow is a secret Targaryen, which means he's in the perfect position to join Daenerys should duty call. But what about the third dragon?

Enter Tyrion Lannister.

Some fans have combed the books and collected all kinds of evidence to suggest that Tyrion is a secret Targaryen, the result of a certain encounter that has been left out of the Lannister family tree. Now, the internet has noted that Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion all have something important in common: all of their mothers died in childbirth. Coincidence? Or evidence that these three are connected and destined to, oh, ride three dragons into battle against an army of the undead?

The evidence here is shaky at best, especially since the books feature an actual third secret Targaryen who was axed from the show. Still, I can see why some fans want this to be true. It gives a character who has spent his entire life struggling uphill a chance at proper redemption. However, this may be my most hated theory in all of Game of Thrones fandom, because it feels like it would ultimately cheapen Tyrion in every way. It would cheapen his relationship with Daenerys, a partnership built on them overcoming their family names and seeing each other for who they really are. It would cheapen his relationship with Tywin, the deceased lord of Casterly Rock who wouldn't allow himself to realize that his most hated son was the most like him in every way. It would cheapen his relationship with the audience, who have had to reconcile Tyrion's family with his personal actions. Making him a secret Targaryen feels like an easy out – he's not a bad guy like Tywin and Jaime because he's a secret Targaryen! Whew. Good to know things were so black and white after all.

Rating: Seven Hells, Don't Let This One Be True