This post includes a significant reveal from Sunday’s
confirmed a major fan theory Sunday night, finally revealing (at least half of) Jon Snow’s real parentage.
In a long-awaited sequence, Bran Stark continued his flashback to a key event during Robert’s Rebellion at the Tower of Joy in Dorne. There, Young Ned Stark just defeated the double-sword-wielding Ser Arthur Dayne, and Bran followed his father up into the tower. Ned discovered his sister Lyanna dying in a bloody bed. Lyanna was either kidnapped by Prince Rhaegar Tagaryen or eloped with him, depending on who in Westeros you ask (the Starks and Robert say kidnapped, but Littlefinger once smirked at that description, and Ser Barristan praised Rhaegar as “the finest man I ever met”). Either way, Rhaegar’s actions caused a civil war.
This much has long been backstory canon from George R.R. Martin’s novels.
But Sunday’s finale, “The Winds of Winter,” added to the tale in a huge way.
Ned finds Lyanna had just given birth to a brown-eyed baby — Jon Snow. From the very start of the books and the show, we’ve been told Snow is Ned Stark’s illegitimate son, conceived during a random hook-up during the Rebellion. Even Ned’s wife Catelyn thought this, and strongly resented Jon due the betrayal that he represented. Now we learn Jon Snow’s father wasn’t Ned (presumably it’s Rhaegar) and his mother was, in fact, Ned Stark’s sister. She whispered something in Ned’s ear – we don’t hear what it is – and then her immortal line, “Promise me, Ned…”
We assume she’s asking Ned to raise the child and keep his lineage a secret. Given that Robert Baratheon was on a mission to wipe out Targaryens, if Lyanna’s child’s father is half-Targaryen, she would want her child’s true parentage hidden to protect him. (Fun fact: Correctly guessing the identity of Jon Snow’s mother was famously one of the ways that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss convinced George R.R. Martin to let them adapt his books into an HBO series.)
The only potential wrinkle to the theory is that we’re not explicitly told Rhaegar is the father. We’re assuming he is: It makes plenty of sense, and there have been some winks in this direction in previous episodes, as you’ll see in the video below. (It would be funny if this long-awaited scene answering the question of “who is Jon Snow’s mother?” just spawned a whole new mystery of “so wait — who is Jon Snow’s
So Jon Snow is the son of a Stark and likely a Targaryen too. He was born out of wedlock, presumably, since Rhaegar was already married, but nobility still. Before this, Jon Snow has never been remotely in the running for the Iron Throne. But now that he’s also loopholed his way out of his Night’s Watch pledge by dying, and that he’s likely half Targaryen and half Stark, he’s got quite a claim to the spiky chair in King’s Landing. Jon Snow is now free to pursue his true destiny — even though he knows nothing yet about his true parentage. In the meantime, Snow also claimed Winterfell and became the Warden of the North, which is ironic because this new revelation means that while he’s a contender for the Iron Throne, he doesn’t have nearly as great of a claim to Winterfell as everybody thought.
And it’s impossible not to think about all of this without also thinking about Daenerys Targaryen. If Rhaegar is Jon’s father, then Jon and Dany are aunt and nephew, as strange as that is to contemplate. With Dany on the verge of landing in Westeros, could they end up as rivals to the Iron Thorne? Incest-y lovers? Both?
Below, a fan stitched together a rather well-edited collection of all the previous references hinting at Jon Snow’s parentage. One key beat is when Ned says goodbye to Jon Snow, he doesn’t refer to himself as Snow’s father, but rather: “You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my
READ ON: Here’s star Natalie Dormer revealing her feelings about her character’s tragic end. Here’s star Lena Headey with her thoughts on those huge game-changing twists. Plus there’s our deep-dive recap (in progress) with our thoughts on the finale.
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