The final season of Game of Thrones is finally upon us, which means that we are fast approaching the final hours of HBO’s fantasy epic. Fans — especially those who have been reading author George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series from the beginning — have been waiting a long time to find out how this tale of tragedy, betrayal, and dragons is going to wrap up and it seems hard to believe that we only have one abbreviated season left before we find out! Of course, given how dense the lore and backstory of Game of Thrones is, there are no shortage of theories out there for how Martin’s story will end —well, the televised edition anyway; Martin’s still a few books behind. Here are 12 of the best ones I’ve across online, though I’m sure I’ve missed some really good ones. If you know of any or have a theory of your own, be sure to let me know in the comments!
12. White Walkers Win
Might as well get the bleakest theory out of the way, right? While no one is expecting Game of Thrones to have a truly happy ending — and if you are, you definitely have not been paying attention — even the most pessimistic viewer probably doesn’t think Westeros is going to end up a frozen hellscape with every character they’ve ever even remotely cared about a frozen corpse. That being said, it’s kind of hard not to rule out the “ice zombies win” scenario when the series has trained us to hope for nothing and expect the worst.
Really, this isn’t so much a fan theory as it is a fan worry because from where I’m sitting, things are looking pretty good for the White Walkers to descend on Westeros and utterly destroy everything in their path. Defeating an army of undead who can only be defeated with fire or swords made from rare elements would be a challenge for even the most coordinated army and considering Westeros is about to become embroiled in yet another war — as well as the fact that only a small percentage of the population even believes the White Walkers exist — it’s hard to imagine that the Seven Kingdoms will be able to put aside their bickering long enough to repel a threat of that magnitude.
11. The Great Northern Conspiracy
This theory has actually been around for a while and the reason it remains popular is because it actually makes a lot of sense. The central idea is that before Robb Stark was killed, he had his brother Jon Snow legitimized, either in his will or to those closest to him. This means that Jon would be next in line to become “King in the North” and Northerners loyal to the Stark family have been setting things up behind-the-scenes — and without Jon’s knowledge — to put him a position to make a play for the Iron Throne ever since.
We’ve already seen some of this come to pass with Jon being proclaimed King in the North at the end of Season 6 but if Robb really did legitimize Jon, it could strain his relationship with Sansa, given that she would be the heir to Winterfell and Robb’s successor if Jon were still a bastard. And if the truth of Jon’s true lineage ever gets out, it will only further complicate things.
10. Westworld Ties
This one is pretty ludicrous but it would admittedly be incredible if Game of Thrones was somehow tied into Westworld, another HBO series. As anyone who’s watched Westworld’s first season knows, the series is set in and around a giant, highly realistic theme park populated by human-like androids. Though the series focuses exclusively on a Western-themed park, there are hints that Westworld is just one of many such themed parks run by the Delos organization.
You can probably see where this is going.
What if the characters and world of Game of Thrones are just another Delos park and the veil is lifted at the end of Season 8? Imagine Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, and anyone else who manages to survive to the finale all waking up naked in a Delos lab, suddenly aware of their true nature? It would be a cop out, sure (a gutsy cop out, to be sure) but it would also mean that all the characters we’ve seen killed off over the years didn’t really die; they were just decommissioned. In other words, Ned Stark lives! Now that’s an ending I can get behind.
9. Sam Has Been Narrating The Story
This theory gained a lot of popularity at the end of Season 6, following Samwell Tarly’s arrival at the Oldtown library. Eagle-eyed viewers noticed that a large object hanging from the library’s ceiling bore a striking resemblance to the spherical globe encircled by metal rings seen in the show’s opening credits sequence. Why is this significant? Well, it may not be, but some believe that the globe’s existence points to Sam’s possible function as a narrator of the story. We already know that he’s on a quest for knowledge, but the larger role he will play in the last two seasons is still kind of a mystery.
As the theory goes, Sam will rely on the countless volumes of Westerosi history contained within the library to help set down his story about the events he has witnessed and those yet to come. Since Sam is best friends with Jon Snow, his bias towards the Starks would come through in his story, which would help explain why the Starks have been positioned as the “heroes” in Game of Thrones so far. I think there is some merit to this theory, as I very well could see Sam recording his account of events once the great war to come is over and done with, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing a final scene of Sam recounting the heroic deeds of Jon Snow to his children at bedtime.
8. Bran is Behind it All
This is more of an important revelation than a proper ending for the series, but considering Bran Stark is likely to play a significant role in the events leading up and into the finale, I feel like it’s a theory worth addressing here. Basically, this theory posits that through his ability to send his consciousness and voice back through time (as seen in the now-iconic “Hold the Door” scene), Bran has played a larger role in the history of Westeros than anyone realizes. For instance, there are rumors in Westeori history that Bran the Builder — a legendary relative of Bran’s who is said to have built The Wall with the use of magic — told Durran how to build Storm’s End, the Baratheon seat of power. However, some think that it wasn’t Bran the Builder who told Durran this, but rather Bran Stark using his seer-like abilities.
The theory expands to include many pivotal events in Westeros history, such as it being Bran’s voice that actually drove the King Aerys II Targaryen to madness. There’s also some who believe that it will be Bran who takes down the Night’s King by reminding him that he was once a man, thus robbing him of his powers (or something like that). Whatever the case may be, it feels like we have only just scratched the surface of Bran’s abilities and it will be interesting to see how his powers figure into the conflicts ahead.
7. The White Walkers Are Actually Good Guys
This is sort of an extension of the “White Walkers Win” theory but takes kind of a crazy swerve by suggesting that the White Walkers aren’t really all that bad. That may sound absurd but think about it: do we really know what the White Walkers want or what they’re motivated by? Yes, they’re a huge threat to anyone who lives north of the Wall but to be fair, we’ve only ever seen them kill north of the Wall. While it’s a stretch to think that the White Walkers wish to broker peace with those who live south of the Wall, perhaps the Night’s King is just trying to protect the North from threats to the south. The awakening of the White Walkers could be a direct response to the rise of elements associated with R’hollor (the Lord of Light) in the world (dragons, red priestesses, etc.) and they’re just trying to even things out (the series isn’t called A Song of Ice and Fire for nothing, after all). I wouldn’t put much stock in this theory overall, but it would certainly come as a surprise if things were to turn out this way!
6. Dany, Jon, and Tyrion Are All Targaryens And Will Unite Westeros
Get ready for quite a few variations on this theory. It’s pretty clear by now that Game of Thrones is presenting an alliance between Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow, thus creating a trifecta of awesome that fans have been waiting for pretty much since day one. Now, we already know that Jon is technically a Targaryen thanks to the confirmation of R+L=J, but what if Tyrion Lannister is actually a member of the dragon clan as well? This theory rests on a number of small, but potentially revealing details that point to a possible Targaryen connection for Tyrion. The most significant is a line from Barristan Selmy (RIP) where he reveals that Dany’s father Aerys II openly lusted after Tyrion’s mother Joanna Lannister, and that during her bedding ceremony he had taken “liberties” with her.
Tyrion’s connection with Dany’s dragons is also hard to overlook, as he successfully approached and even touched Viserion and Rhaegal without being burned alive. There’s also Tyrion’s awful relationship with his father Tywin to consider. While Tywin claimed to have harbored resentment toward Tyrion for “killing” his mother during childbirth, what if the real reason why he hated his son was because he knew the truth of his lineage? After all, Tywin’s last words to Tyrion were “You … are no son of mine,” and it’s possible he meant this in the literal sense. Whether or not Tyrion is a Targaryen, I just hope he gets to ride one of Dany’s dragons at some point because that would be incredible.
5. Daenerys Becomes A Mad Queen
Though Daenerys is ostensibly one of the few noble characters in Game of Thrones, she has proven to be quite harsh when the need arises. One need only look to her actions in Meereen, where she routinely threatened anyone who disagreed with her with death and nailed all the slave-owners in the city to crosses. It’s hard to even gauge whether she will be a good ruler for Westeros, a place she literally hasn’t been since she was an infant.
By that token, it’s hardly surprising that some fans have theorized that once Dany takes the Iron Throne, she will be just as bad as her father, the Mad King Aerys II. Dany has actually vocally expressed worry in the past about turning out like her father, which is a legitimate concern. Even if Dany doesn’t succumb to mental illness due to generations of Targaryen inbreeding, she could simply just be an uncompromising ruler who rather than save Westeros, merely replaces one tyrannical dictatorship with another.
4. Jaime Lannister is Azor Ahai
There are no shortage of Azor Ahai-related Game of Thrones theories out there and while it seems pretty clear at this point that Jon Snow is the second coming of Westeros’ prophecized hero, the idea that the Kingslayer himself is the “Prince That Was Promised” is too compelling to ignore. As Reddit user Byrd82 writes in his in-depth essay, Azor Ahai is not Jon Snow, Brandon Stark, or Daenerys Targaryen, but rather Jaime Lannister. The theory itself is quite long and complex, but the gist is that Jaime’s character arc mirrors the prophecy of Azor Ahai quite closely and that Lightbringer in this case is actually Jaime’s lost sword hand.
Eventually, he will realize that he is duty-bound to kill Cersei (who is Nissa Nissa in this case) and when he does, his hand will return ablaze, marking him as the prophesied hero. He will then find a way to broker peace with the White Walkers. Granted, it all sound pretty ridiculous when written out like that, but after reading the full theory and Paste Magazine’s interview with its author, I could very well see at least some parts of this theory coming true. At the very least, it seems inevitable that Jaime will be the one to kill Cersei and after that, who knows what will be in store for the Kingslayer?
3. Daenerys Takes Back The Iron Throne
I mean, this has to happen right? Daenerys Targaryen not only has a legitimate claim to the throne of Westeros, her entire arc has been fueled by her desire to take back her birthright. Fortunately for her, she’s also in the best position to do so, with a formidable army and a pair of dragons at her command with which to take King’s Landing from the Lannisters. This is essentially the “good” ending of Game of Thrones that many fans are hoping for, as it would see Daenerys conquer King’s Landing (after Jaime kills Cersei, of course) and earning the support of the people, who recognize her nobility and legitimate claim to the throne. She would then turn her attention to the White Walker threat in the North and unite the Seven Kingdoms against its common enemy, with a lot of help from Jon Snow in particular. In this situation, Jon would join Dany’s side rather than fight her for control of the Iron Throne; a seat which he also holds a claim to, even if he doesn’t realize it yet. We’ve already seen the show veer in this direction, although it looks like Dany and Jon will try to handle the undead invasion before worrying about Cersei.
2. Jon Betrays Daenerys In Order To Save The World
This epic theory by Reddit user OneEyedChershrie has been kicking around for a while and it remains one of the best. It’s pretty complex, so I’d suggest giving the full thing a read but I’ll try to summarize it as best I can. Basically, the theory takes the second coming of Azor Ahai prophesy and argues that it’s all a metaphor. Jon Snow will indeed be the hero of light but rather than take a literal sword — Lightbringer — against the White Walkers, Winterfell itself is actually Lightbringer. According to OneEyedCheshire, Bran the Builder was the original Azor Ahai and built Winterfell as a weapon to be used against the White Walkers.
The city will be “forged” three times with Jon sacrificing Dany’s last remaining dragon, Drogon (the other two are dead at this point, according to the theory) and binding his soul with Lightbringer (Winterfell) in order to rebel the Others. This would fulfill Dany’s Three Treason Prophecy because at this point, her and Jon would be lovers and she would no doubt be heartbroken by the loss of her last remaining “child.” According to OneEyedCheshire, this would all lead to the “bittersweet” ending promised by George R.R. Martin.
1. Jon And Daenerys Will Rule As King and Queen
It’s difficult to predict what will happen to Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen in the future. Jon eventually decided to bend the knee to his new queen (despite being declared King in the North himself), and then there was that romantic scene on the boat. All of that without even commenting on the fact that the two are actually related. Admittedly, it would be a little weird to see these two together considering Jon is technically Dany’s nephew, but the Targaryens have a pretty deep history of keeping things within the family. If neither character learns the truth of Jon’s lineage, it wouldn’t be a big deal for either of them anyway. Even if they are told of Jon’s true parentage, they might choose to not believe it and remain together.
Dany is destined to rule and with Jon being the King in the North already, it would make sense for the pair to rule Westeros together as king and queen, with Jon overseeing the north and Dany the south. This is probably way too “clean” an ending for Game of Thrones, a series that unlikely to end well for a handful of major characters, but it’s hard to not see Game of Thrones heading for some sort of conclusion that sees Jon and Dany ruling it all… at least until the White Walkers come and murder everyone, of course!