Slowly but surely, like the army of the dead marching on the Wall, Game of Thrones season 8 is coming – which means it's time to look at the best Game of Thrones theories. While we're still at least six months off from the conclusion to this epic tale, that does at least mean we have plenty of time to ponder the twists and turns that are still to come.
As Game of Thrones season 7 moved waaaay beyond George R. R. Martin's books, all bets are off as to what exactly will happen in these final six (feature length?) episodes, but that's a boon for Game of Thrones theories. What will happen with Jon and Daenerys and their burgeoning (and just a tiny bit gross) romance now that the truth of Jon's heritage is known? Who will be the one to finally take down Cersei? And is Bran going to indulge in a spot of time travel before the show is over? From the plausible to the ridiculous, it's all here – including the suggestion that Varys is secretly a merman. Read on and make your own mind up about which of these Game of Thrones theories will come true...
Note: There’s Game of Thrones spoilers ahead, even if these predictions don't come to pass.
1. Jon and Daenerys are even more closely related
If you were thinking it was bad enough that Jon and Dany, who consummated their romance at the end of season 7, appear to be aunt and nephew, then this theory suggests that the extent of their unintentional incest could be far worse...
A few telltale signs, such as Dany's misplaced memory of lemon trees in Braavos (they don't grow there, but in Dorne) and the fact that fellow Thrones actor Alfie Allen has likened Jon Snow's parentage to a "Luke Skywalker situation", suggests that Game of Thrones' newest love birds could in fact be half-brother and half-sister.
The idea here is that Daenerys was not King Rhaegar's sister, but one of his children conceived with his first wife, Elia Martell. It's postulated that, following Rhaegar's death, Dany was smuggled to Dorne and brought up there in hiding, in the same way that Jon was taken under Ned Stark's wing as his supposed bastard child. That means Jon and Dany share the same father, Rhaegar, but different mothers, Lyanna Stark and Elia Martell respectively, which explains why they look so different from one another despite the blood relation.
This theory leads us to re-interpret all sorts of events from Game of Thrones' televised history. Did Ned, as the King's Hand in Game of Thrones season 1, try to dissuade Robert from killing Dany because he somehow knew of Jon's close familial connection to her? What does this mean for the Azor Ahai prophecy about the Prince Who Was Promised? As for the future, could Jon and Dany end up as lovers, half-siblings, and shared rulers to the Iron Throne? There would certainly be a dramatic irony in Jaime and Cersei being replaced by an equally incestuous pairing.
2. Cersei will become the mad queen
After Cersei went all 'girl on fire' against the Sept of Baelor and declared herself ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, it seems she's fast turning into a metaphorical reincarnation of Aerys Targaryen, AKA the Mad King.
Throughout season 7 her behaviour pointed to an increasing loss of perspective and control. Especially as she's already gone back on her pledge to help fight the White Walkers. This could be a serious problem. It’s no secret that Cersei isn’t the most pragmatic ruler that Westeros has ever had, but her recent actions show she’s only interested in doing what she wants, when she wants. In fact, one psychologist even “diagnosed” Cersei as a classic narcissist on Reddit (adding that he knows you can’t diagnose fictional characters).
For the longest time, Cersei’s only saving grace was her love for her children. Now that all of them are dead, she really doesn’t have anyone to hold her accountable… except for Jaime, but they're going through a bit of a rocky patch at the moment. Cersei is alone, vindictive, pregnant, and sitting on the Iron Throne. She has enemies in all directions. She's losing her grip on power after the Loot Train battle, and even Jaime – her closest ally – is now in her eyes guilty of treason. Oh, and she’s still got a ton of wildfire in the basement. Let’s just say Cersei’s reign of terror has only just begun. At least, until...
3. Jaime will kill Cersei
With the death of Tommen, Maggy the Frog’s prediction that all of Cersei’s children will die has come true. Where her latest pregnancy fits in... We don't know. However, there’s one more tidbit that concludes the childhood prophecy: Cersei will be killed by her “Valonqar,” or little brother. A lot of people have taken that to mean Tyrion, who’s already gained access to the Red Keep to meet with Jaime. However, he’s not Cersei’s only little brother. Jaime, Cersei’s twin, was born a few minutes after her.
Jaime has seen Daenerys' dragons first-hand, he knows Cersei won't win in open battle, and he's clearly not happy with the direction the kingdom and his family are taking. Especially as Cersei has pretty much just sacrificed the entire North to the White Walkers. Even though Jaime has said time and time again that Cersei is the most important thing in his life, he may be more sympathetic to Tyrion's pleas after discovering his little brother didn't murder Joffrey at the Purple Wedding. I mean... he did agree to a secret meeting without telling his sister. And, given his reputation as the Kingslayer, it would be heartbreakingly poetic justice to have Jaime kill the Mad Queen, too, if she pushes her rulership of King's Landing too far.
Then again, is this too obvious? Could Cersei, in fact, die in the throes of childbirth? After all, she did get pregnant because of her little brother…
4. Arya will strike another two names from her list
It's been a while since we heard about Arya's famous kill list, but we can't imagine that she's not going to get another chance to wear someone else's face before the series is done. Indeed, season 8 may give her the chance to kill two Lannisters with one stone (or, more likely, a sword).
We mentioned the Valonqar prophecy above and the possibility that Jaime might kill Cersei. What if the truth is rather more twisted? One Game of Thrones theory goes that Arya will assassinate Jaime and steal his face, using it to get close to and finally kill Cersei. The early turning point of Game of Thrones season 1 was Ned's execution by Joffrey, Cersei's son. There would be poetic justice in the series ending with Ned's daughter finally getting some much-deserved vengeance.
5. Tyrion Lannister is actually a Targaryen
Jon might not be the only secret Targaryen. Tyrion Lannister is also believed to be one of the prophesied heads of the dragon along with Dany and Jon. It comes from the theory that mad King Aerys Targaryen had an affair with Tywin Lannister's wife, Joanna, the mother of Tyrion, which might explain why Tywin hated him so much. And despite what happens in the books, the TV show is pointing in that direction, with Tywin saying "you're no son of mine" just before Tyrion shoots him with an arrow. Although this could just be part of Tywin's constant rejection of Tyrion's suitability as a Lannister, it's something that's alluded to again and again throughout the first four seasons.
We’ve also seen a strong connection develop between Tyrion and Dany, with her trusting him above almost anyone else. This is likely to be Tyrion showing loyalty to Dany (loyalty is a genuinely new thing for Tyrion, given his rather selfish nature) and vice versa, but some corners of the internet think it goes deeper than respect and friendship. Season 7 only shed light on Jon's lineage, but season 8 may yet provide a familial twist of its own for Tyrion.
6. Jon Snow is Azor Ahai, or the Warrior of Light, or The Prince Who Was Promised
Now that we’ve gotten that pesky R+L=J theory out of the way we can look further into what that means. The biggest is whether Jon Snow is the Warrior of Light or The Prince Who Was Promised - and all signs point to yes.
Melisandre’s prophecy states that The Prince Who Was Promised will have the blood of the dragon and will be reborn in smoke and salt (in the books Jon's wounds smoke and his comrades cry salty tears all over him). Whenever she’s looked into the fires for Azor, she’s only seen things to do with snow, which can’t be a coincidence. In addition, Jon picked his Night's Watch post over his lady love (Ygritte), which ties into the original Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa prophecy.
Interestingly, a less popular fan theory suggests that Ser Davos could be The Prince Who Was Promised. He has been linked to Melisandre throughout the show, and was reborn in smoke and salt when he was pulled from the water during the Battle of the Blackwater. His presence could also explain why Melisandre assumed it was Stannis for five seasons, before he was killed by Brienne. Food for thought.
In Game of Thrones season 7, episode 2, Melisandre suggests it could be Daenerys, as she speaks to her about the prophecy. The show makes a point of stating that the High Valyrian term for 'Prince' is non-gender specific, suggesting it could even be Dany herself.
7. Bran is Bran the Builder
For those who don’t know, Bran the Builder is the Stark ancestor who created Winterfell and raised The Wall over 8000 years before the events covered in Game of Thrones. Some believe that our Bran and the former Bran are one and the same person because of his ability to influence the past. We already know Bran can see into the past and future, and he can influence events and 'warg' into people. “Hold the door,” anyone?
Seeing as he's aware of the White Walkers in the present day, maybe it's his responsibility to travel into the past and raise The Wall to keep them out. Also, in the books Old Nan mentions – on several occasions – that Bran's favourite stories are the ones about... yup, Bran the Builder. Is that an echo of the young Stark's future? Maybe. But hang on, if Bran builds the wall, but also gets marked by the Night King in the present and allows the White Walkers to pass it, does that mean he's wasted his time? Or does it mean he built The Wall to hold the undead at bay until mankind is ready to deal with them? Hmmm... If we don't get this reveal in season 8, expect the Game of Thrones prequel to delve into the history behind this one.
8. Cleganebowl is still on
The Hound and his brother The Mountain will almost certainly meet and fight to the death. At the end of Game of Thrones season 4 it looked pretty bad for the Clegane brothers. Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane was beaten by Brienne and left to die by Arya, while Gregor 'The Mountain' Clegane was fatally poisoned by Prince Oberyn of Dorne. However, both of them survived and now they're on a collision course.
Cleganebowl is one of the biggest Game of Thrones theories, and it's almost certain that we’ll see it in season 8. The Hound is currently teamed up with Jon Snow and the Northmen. But before he was fighting alongside Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood without Banners, who were originally sent by Robert Baratheon to kill Gregor Clegane (in the books). Wouldn't it be delicious if Gregor finally fulfilled this mission in season 8, by taking down undead Gregor once and for all? The fans demand it, and the showrunners are listening.
9. A Wedding of Ice and Fire
Snow and Fire. Black and Blonde. Cute and Cuter. Yes, people have been shipping Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen since basically the beginning of the series, and for good reason. They’re both attractive and awesome and cool and they’d make super cute babies. Overall, an alliance between these two is a smart idea. She’s the Dragon Queen, and he’s the newly crowned King of the North. No one would be able to stop them.
At the end of season 7 Jon has definitely bent the knee, as their steamy night on the boat and his letter to Sansa proved. Sure, they might be related, but that’s kind of been the Targaryen M.O. for a long time. These two need each other to take down Cersei and to put an end to the White Walker invasion. Will they make it official?
10. Sam Tarly has exposed a conspiracy of Maesters
During his time at the Citadel, Samwell pleaded with the Archmaester to help him fight the White Walker invasion. However, despite admitting that he believed Sam, the Archmaester refused to act – even belittling Sam in a meeting when the raven arrived from Winterfell in Game of Thrones season 7, episode 5. It could just be that the Maesters are stubborn old fools, refusing to face impending disaster. After all, they've weathered countless wars and catastrophes. However, the Maester conspiracy theory suggests that they're in league with Cersei, who has paid them to help her win the PR war against Daenerys. After all, the common people will do as the Maesters tell them, so while they don't fight they remain a powerful ally.
Another branch to this theory suggests that the Maesters have an agenda to deny all magic in the world of Westeros, promoting fact and history over the unexplained. The existence of dragons and White Walkers would threaten this worldview, so the Archmaester will never publicly admit the existence of either. If that’s the case, they’re going to have a hell of job explaining the fall of the Wall and the hordes of shambling ice zombies currently marching on Westeros…