The hit HBO television show is almost at an end. With one season left to go, multitudes of theories about how the Song of Ice and Fire will conclude are now making their rounds online. The books and TV show have been so heavily discussed that George R. R. Martin himself has confirmed that a fan has correctly guessed the ending. Many of the theories are plausible, some are pretty out there, and others have fallen into the realm of ridiculous. Get familiar with them and you'll possibly be the center of attention at your next GOT-screening session.
Who is Azor Ahai?
"There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. 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."
Thoros of Myr
The identity of Azor Ahai, or as they are referred to on the show, “The Prince or Princess That Was Promised,” is the center of many of the fan theories, and this prophecy has often been hinted at in the show, but has never actually been as clearly explained as in the books. Before the prophecy, there was the mythology, or the history—whichever you want to believe.
The Prince or Princess that Was Promised has gone by many names depending on the location and the culture of the people telling the story. Worshippers of the Lord of Light, R’hllor, call him Azor Ahai, but he is also known as Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser. In all of the stories, he comes to turn the tide in the darkest moment in the Long Night, wielding Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, to vanquish the evil. In Westeros lore, he was known as the Last Hero, who wielded a sword made of Dragonsteel, which some say was an old term for Valyrian steel.
This, in actuality, is the least important part of the story, at least as it concerns the identity of Azor Ahai. It is in the story of how Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, was forged that many of these theories were formed.
Legend has it that when Azor Ahai tried three times before he was able to forge the Red Sword of Heroes. In his first attempt, he labored for thirty days and nights, but when he tempered it in water, the sword shattered. In his second attempt, he worked for fifty days and nights, but this time, he plunged his sword into the heart of a lion to imbue it with the creature’s strength; but yet again, it shattered. On his third try, he worked for a hundred days and nights, and called for his wife, Nissa. With great sadness, he drove the sword into her heart, imbuing it with her soul. From her body, he drew Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, which glowed with the colors of the rainbow and radiated the heat of a flame.
Winterfell is Lightbringer
The first theory up for discussion assumes that stories and prophecies are themselves allegorical or symbolic. This one posits that Lightbringer does not necessarily have to be a sword. It is important to note that the words of the prophecy do not state that Azor Ahai will come to claim Lightbringer, and it can be read that Lightbringer shall become the Prince or Princess that Was Promised.
In the legend, Lightbringer was tempered three times—once in water, once in the heart of a lion, and finally in the heart of Azor Ahai’s one true love. Winterfell was taken over by the Ironborn at the behest of Theon Greyjoy—a house heavily associated with water. After that, Winterfell was taken by the Boltons at the command of House Lannister, whose house sigil is that of a Lion. The third part of this story is yet to happen, which might involve a great and painful sacrifice.
On the show, the two most likely candidates for Azor Ahai have been shown to be falling in love. Does that mean either Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen might have to cause the death of the other in order to save the world?
Jaime Lannister, Queenslayer
The slow redemption of Jaime Lannister has been a constant on the show since around season 2. Despite his toxic relationship with his twin sister, Cersei, he has shown a heart that is not entirely devoid of goodness and compassion. It was this same sense of goodness that drove him to cut the throat of the Mad King.
Cersei has certainly shown herself capable of the same sadistic insanity that the Mad King was known for, and this may lead Jaime himself to finally kill his one true love to save the kingdom. Interestingly enough, this may put him in the running to become Azor Ahai himself.
Aerys Targaryen II was once close friends—if not best friends—with Tywin Lannister, who was, for a time, his Hand. But the growing discord between them, and the growing madness in Aerys drove them apart. It is said that Tywin finally withdrew from his friendship with Aerys because the Mad King had raped his wife, impregnating her, a crime that resulted in the birth of Tyrion.
The theory banks upon the similarity in many pregnancies involving Valyrian-mixed children. It is notable that many known unions between Valyrians—the Targaryens especially—and humans have resulted in complications. Elia Martell was rendered barren by her second child due to complications in childbirth; Daenerys’s child with Drogo was stillborn, also reportedly born deformed; Lyanna Stark also died giving birth to Jon. Could the fact that Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him be attributed to the fact that his father was the Mad King?
This theory not only makes it possible for him to ride one of the dragons, it also puts him in line for the throne higher above Daenerys Targaryen. It also explains Tywin’s lifelong hate for our favorite alcoholic dwarf.
Bran Stark is Bran the Builder and the Night King
This is one of the crazier theories, and has actually been shot down by Isaac Hempstead (who plays Bran), but many proponents of this theory have pointed out the fact that producers and actors have lied about Game of Thrones theories before, particularly after season five and the death of Jon Snow.
The theory states that Bran will travel into the past for ways to prepare for the Long Night, starting with accidentally breaking the mind of the Mad King Aerys as he did to Hodor. The theory attributes the Mad King’s fascination with burning (“Burn them all!”) to Bran egging him on against the White Walkers.
Bran again travels into the past in search of his ancestor, Bran the Builder, and will warg into him. Bran will influence and manipulate him into building the Wall, and charging the Night’s Watch with the defense of the realms of men from the dead. On this, he succeeds.
Finally, Bran travels to where it all began: when the Children of the Forest created the first White Walker. Bran travels to that moment, but as he attempts to stop it by warging into the Night King, gets stuck and corrupted by the Night King’s darkness.
Tyrion and Daenerys will end up together
It is not as outlined in the books as it in the show, but Tyrion has always struggled with his appearance. In the books, his wounds at the Battle of the Blackwater rendered him more heavily scarred, and is often referred to as frighteningly ugly. Daenerys, on the other hand, has often been called the most beautiful woman in the world. These descriptions are quite the contrast to each other—could it perhaps be foreshadowing a possible union between the two? We also saw Tyrion looking sullen and thoroughly worried when Jon Snow entered Daenerys’ room. Could this have been proof of his true feelings?
Varys is a Merman
This theory has been around for years and is perhaps the most insane among them, but unbelievably enough, bears a fair amount of plausibility. On the show, this might or might not have been disproven with Varys’ legs having been shown a few times, but this one is just too crazy not to include on this list.
The evidence is as follows: first, that Arya followed a cat into the underground of the Red Keep and overheard a conversation between two men about the fate of Ned Stark, shown to be Varys the Spider and Illyrio Mopatis, the man who hosted the brother and sister Targaryens, Daenerys and Viserys. It is described that they ascended from a well. It also begs the question of how Illyrio Mopatis managed to travel all the way from Essos into the heart of Westeros without being noticed.
Second is in season two, when Tyrion says to Varys, “Threaten me again, and I’ll have you thrown into the sea,” to which Varys replies, “You might be disappointed in the results. The storms come and go, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.” Sounds a little fishy, doesn’t it? This theory also explains how quickly he was able to travel from Essos to Dorne and back.
The Night King wins, but humanity survives
Would we be surprised if it ended this way? Would we be surprised if the last shot of the series was the cold winter snow blowing over unmarked graves and unknown bodies? Game of Thrones has never been about giving the readers, watchers, and fans what they want. It has always been a critical look at human nature. Being good doesn’t mean you’ll win. Being smart doesn’t mean you’ll emerge victorious. Life is just life in the world of Ice and Fire. And as Beric Dondarrion says: “Death is the enemy. The first enemy and the last. The enemy always wins. And we still need to fight him.”