All men must die and ruin fandom canon

Credit: Courtesy HBO

Spoilers for the season 5 finale of Game of Thrones are below!

It’s not often that Game of Thrones can truly shock its audience with a major character death. After five seasons, both viewers of the HBO show and readers of the Song of Ice and Fire series have developed the certain sense of detachment necessary to watch the show without a full-scale mental breakdown 10 Sundays per year.

However, GoT really outdid itself on Sunday when it killed off Jon Snow (Kit Harington). While his death was not a surprise to readers of A Song of Ice and Fire – his last scene in A Dance with Dragons played out in a similar fashion to the finale of GoT – it’s Harington’s confirmation of Jon Snow’s death that really has the fandom in a tizzy.

To Entertainment Weekly, Harington said, “I’ve been told I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m not coming back next season.” To Vulture, he said, “Jon dies. It’s final. He’s dead.”

Now, we can certainly parse his words – it’s certain that the actors of GoT have had to dance around the truth a time or two in their lives. According to the Ironborn, “What is dead may never die but rises again, harder and stronger.” Who’s to say that Jon does not come back to life after his brutal death by stabbing?

Furthermore, the fact that Harington won’t return for season 6 is not necessarily a final death knell, either – Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) was absent from season 5 as the series explored other character arcs, but that doesn’t mean Bran is gone from the canon entirely.

That said, we must also set aside our collective denial and consider Occam’s Razor – sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one. All men must die, after all, and perhaps even Jon Snow is no exception.

If Jon Snow’s watch has definitively ended, here are five fan theories that are now ash on the wind. Mild book spoilers are below!

1. Jon Snow Is Azor Ahai Reborn

Azor Ahai is a legendary hero who fought against a darkness which lay over the world over 5,000 years ago with his burning sword called Lightbringer. Legend dictates Azor Ahai will be reborn by R’hllor (whom you may know as the Lord of Light or the Red God) to save the world once again.

“There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world,” reads a passage from A Clash of Kings. “In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”

Sound familiar? Winter is coming with a vengeance as the White Walkers’ literal cold breath gains on Westeros while Jon actually managed to defeat one of them. However, Melisandre thought that Stannis would be Azor Ahai reborn – maybe she was right after all? (Perish the thought – Occam’s Razor strikes again.)

Stannis (Stephen Dillane) faced certain death in the finale, but we never actually saw Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) deliver the final blow.

2. Melisandre Will Bring Jon Snow Back from the Dead

Speaking of Melisandre (Carice van Houten), many fans found comfort in the belief that Melisandre would simply bring him back to life. We’ve not yet seen her exercise that particular power, but we know that priests and priestesses of the Red God can resurrect the dead – at a terrible cost, naturally. Thoros of Myr brought Beric Dondarrion back from the dead many a time. (Not to mention Lady Stoneheart, whom even George R.R. Martin is sad to see removed from the show’s canon.)

3. Jon Snow Is a Warg and Will Live Out the Rest of His Life as Ghost

Where Bran is a skinchanger and can go into the body of any man or animal, Jon is a warg – someone who can go into the bodies of wolves or dogs. We’ve not seen Jon exercise this ability often in the series, but in the novels he once warged into Ghost and often dreams as a wolf.

Furthermore, in A Dance with Dragons, Varamyr Sixskins notes Jon’s capabilities as a warg but that he is untrained – Melisandre has offered to help Jon with his abilities, but he has no interest.

Upon their death, a warg can jump into the body of the animal to which they’re connected, but it’s a half-life – eventually, the memories of the skinchanger will disappear and only the beast will remain. This theory may still hold true, as it proves Jon’s death and Harington’s absence, but it’s unlikely: “It’s a slightly outlandish possibility,” John Bradley (who plays Samwell Tarly) told Vulture.

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4. The Night’s King Will Resurrect Jon as a White Walker

This theory is newer than the others. In “Hardhome,” Jon’s victory over a White Walker was fairly short-lived when the Night’s King simply resurrected for himself an army of dead wildlings and members of the Night’s Watch, growing his White Walker army ever more. The Night’s King could surely do the same to Jon, but that would require Harington’s handsome, mopey face to be present next season, unless GoT drops the issue of the impending snowmageddon until season 7.

5. “The Dragon Has Three Heads” – Including Jon Snow’s

As read in A Clash of Kings, Daenerys comes across a vision in the House of the Undying of her late brother, who tells her: “The dragon has three heads.” The Targaryen banner sigil is a three-headed dragon, and Daenerys has three dragons. There are many different interpretations for what Rheager told Daenerys in the vision, but the prevailing theory seems to be that Daenerys cannot rule Westeros alone – that she needs two more dragon-riders at her side.

With Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) as one head on the dragon, many fans can agree that Jon is one of the others based on the widely held belief that his parents are actually Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

While that still might be the case for Jon’s parentage, the impact of his death may create ripples that extend as far as Essos if Daenerys cannot bring her dragons back under full control without Jon. Or the theory could have been a non-starter since its inception.

What are your favorite Jon Snow-related theories that have now been dashed? Sound off below, and let us know what you think about Jon’s true fate – is he really gone?