If you haven't reached the end of Game of Thrones season five, well, you probably shouldn't be reading this. Those who have... you guys saw Jon Snow die. Stabbed to death Julius Caesar-style (complete with Et Tu Brute moment) by his Night’s Watch companions, we see a very pale bastard bleeding to death in the snow at Castle Black. However, fans have refused to accept that one of their favourite has kicked the bucket, and there's a decent quantity of evidence to suggest that we'll see Snow in season six. As such, I've rounded up the evidence that suggests Jon will return, and a few raw bits of info that suggest he really is gone for good. We'll find out for sure in a few weeks, but for now you should consider...
He isn't dead because...
1. Kit Harington has been on the set of season 6
Ok, this one's a whopper. The actor who plays Jon Snow, Kit Harington, has been spotted on location in Ireland. It seems unlikely he's there for a vacation, or that he's catching up with buddies. Of course, he could be filming flashback scenes, but it's tough to see how this would integrate into the current narrative threads. More popular speculation, based on the look of some of the locations GoT has filmed in, suggests that there's another battle to match Hardhome, and that Jon Snow will feature in it. That last part is a major, major stretch, but it's a hard fact that Harington has been on set while season six was filmed.
2. The presence of a Fire Priestess seems highly convenient
Lady Melisandre is at the Wall. She followed Stannis up north, but made her excuses and scarpered when it was obvious that the wannabe king's campaign was over (or is it: hot rumours suggest Brienne hasn't made good on her threats to kill Stannis, and we don't actually see it happen). Not only is she a Fire Priestess, and can therefore resurrect people from the dead - something that is well explained in the books during the Beric Dondarrion chapters - but she's also handy at spotting those of noble birth. Remember how she adopts Gendry, the bastard-son of Robert? Melisandre could well be the key to not only resurrecting Jon Snow, but kicking off the quest to discover his lineage, which is very much a matter of debate.
3. He's a fan favourite, and the show needs heroes
Not so much a rumour as an observation: Game of Thrones has killed off most of its likeable characters, or made them rather unsavoury. Even Tyrion isn't the force he once was. The show has now officially deviated from the book's plotlines, so it's accountable to its audience. You can't give the people everything they want, but it'd be foolish to fly so hard in the face of public demand, especially when season five received such a lukewarm reaction. There's no-one quite like Jon Snow in the public opinion, and a season that's going to be heavy on the Bran really needs to offer something for fans to cheer about / to keep them awake. Also, for some reason, he's popular with Thrones' female viewers. Can't think why...
4. The cast are protesting too hard
Official word from the GoT cast and crew is that Jon Snow is dead. However, there has been a real lockdown on leaks and a tightening of comment in interviews during the filming of season six, and many see this as an indication that there's a major secret or two being hidden. However, admittedly, it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. While comment has often been clear on the fate of Jon Snow, fans will always make up their own mind. For some it's honest, for others it's all part of the big conspiracy and a deliberate lie. Only last week, Natalie Dormer - who plays Margaery Tyrell fuelled the fires even further when she told the Telegraph that “Jon Snow's dead... right now”. Make of that what you will. Oh, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jamie Lannister? He insists Jon Snow is "Dead, dead, dead" but caveats that by saying "At the end of season five: he was dead".
5. His sword appears in one of the official teaser images... maybe
Eagle-eyed Thrones fans have spotted what they think is Longclaw's pommel in one of the mundane press images that released alongside the season six teaser trailer. It's... pretty unclear what's in the picture, but many claim it's Snow's sword on the back of a horse, which just happens to be in the same convoy as Melisandre (who we've already established could resurrect him). Ok, it's hardly concrete proof - Longclaw is Valyrian steel and therefore hugely valuable, so someone was always going to pick it up - but there's a good chance Jon is riding again, and its inclusion in the image is a bit of a clanger on HBO's behalf. Or maybe it's just a bit flake of snow. Who the hell knows?
6. The Wall and Jon Snow's role in it will be a massive focus of the next season or two
It's crunch time for the Wall in season six. The Others are massed and perilously close, the Wildlings have been escorted through, and winter is all set to swarm into the seven kingdoms. With the Wall being so pivotal, it can't be left without a major character to hold it. Ok, perhaps that's Stannis, who probably hasn't been killed by Brienne - maybe that's his last stand. But surely Jon will play some part in the battle. However...
7. The question of Jon Snow's lineage hasn't been answered (and it's important)
We're not done with Jon Snow's story, that's for sure. Internet debate is currently raging over the boy's lineage, and neither TV show nor books have properly dealt with it. While the official explanation is that Ned Stark fathered him with a random tavern wench, that feels narratively inconsistent: it's not in Ned Stark's very honourable character to do that. So... hot speculation says he's the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, which could provide a potentially tasty end-game that involves some kind of Jon Snow / Bran Stark / Danerys team-up.
He is dead
1. Everyone sort of says he's dead
The official word on Jon Snow is that he's dead. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Kit Harington said: “Quite honestly, I have never been told the future of things in this show, but this is the one time I have. They sat me down and said, “This is how it is.” If anything in the future is not like that, then I don’t know about it – it’s only in David and Dan and George’s heads. But I’ve been told I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m not coming back next season”. Well, that's... quite bold. Director David Nutter also told The Hollywood Reporter that “Jon Snow is dead”. Even more bold. Could be that they really aren't kidding. Then Natalie Dormer said he was dead, but then also said “...right now”. So, yeah.
2. He appears in the teaser in the Hall of Faces (but so does Tyrion)
The pre-launch marketing for season six is all about death. The first teaser trailer basically implies that the show isn't afraid to kill off any of its characters, no matter how popular they are. Jon Snow's death mask appears in the Hall of Faces, which the Faceless men use to impersonate those who have passed away. He appears alongside Cat Stark (dead), Ned Stark (dead), Robb Stark (dead), and... oh, is that Tyrion Lannister (not currently dead). It's clearly all part of the game, designed to spark the 'is he, isn't he' debate. And it worked...
3. He's literally dead
Well, he does look very dead at the end of season five. His injuries are certainly enough to kill any man, and he appears to have breathed his last in that parting shot. Medically speaking, the boy is a goner, and Game of Thrones is no stranger to killing off its heroes. Could be that the Snow fans are in for a thoroughly disappointing revelation in season six.