OK, we all pretty much think that Jon Snow is going to die in the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones, right? TV critics, GoT theorists, and fans alike have been whispering about it for months, and now the day is finally nigh: All signs point to Jon getting a cliffhanger-y death in the last moments of tonight's episode... but will that really be it for him? [Book spoiler!] A Dance with Dragons ends with a dead Jon Snow, sure, but many think that the upcoming book, The Winds of Winter, will prove otherwise. Or, perhaps the show will change his narrative (hey, it's happened before), maybe he never actually died, or he could even be fancily brought to life (after all, there are a surprising amount of ways this can happen in the Seven Kingdoms).
Unrest has been brewing in the Night's Watch for a while now, and with a lot of Jon's strongest allies dead, missing, or otherwise occupied (Stannis has got his hands full, what with Ramsay Bolton's northmen raiders and all the daughter-sacrificing going on), Jon's at his most vulnerable. In the book, it's Jon's ultra-progressive policy on the Wildlings that gets him (several) stabs to the stomach... but will he suffer the same fate on the show? Dead? Not dead? And, if he's not dead, how is he not dead? Let's go through what we know, and review our options.
1. Kit Harington Is Officially On Through Season 7
First of all, we've got the fact that Harington doesn't seem to be leaving the show anytime soon. Last year, The Hollywood Reporter covered the fact that several GoT stars renegotiated their contracts for Season 7, and among those actors were Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, and Natalie Dormer.
Would he be getting a significant raise if he was going to be dead? I think not.
2. Jon Is One Of George R. R. Martin's "Major Contenders"
Have you seen George R. R. Martin's original plans for what was going to be the ASOIAF trilogy? It's some pretty crazy stuff: Apparently, Jon and Tyrion were both supposed to fall in love with Arya, and Sansa was going to marry Joffrey, and side with him against her family (ooh, ouch). Obviously, a lot has changed, but I'm thinking that his five characters designed to live through the entire series may have stayed the same: He called out Daenerys, Tyrion, Arya, Jon, and Bran, and, according to Variety, said, "My trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters."
3. He Won't Actually Die In The First Place
Sure, A Dance with Dragons ends with Jon suffering some seemingly mortal stab wounds, but it wouldn't be the first time Martin faked us out — a lot of people believe that the Hound might still be alive after Arya memorably left him for dead... so why shouldn't the same be true for Jon?
4. The Showrunners Could Rewrite History
David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have taken their fair share of flak this season for all of the book/TV adaptation divergences — most notably for Sansa Stark's disturbing marriage to Ramsay Snow and Stannis' equally disturbing fire sacrifice of Shireen. Why not rewrite Jon Snow while they're at it? After all, his storyline has already gotten some pretty significant changes. (The epic Hardhome battle was actually pretty different in the books — there weren't nearly as many White Walkers present, and Jon Snow wasn't even there.)
5. Azor Ahai Much?
Since her introduction, Melisandre's been insistent since that Stannis is Azor Ahai (aka the Prince who was Promised — a fabled Westerosi hero destined to be both reborn and to rescue the Seven Kingdoms). Now, Aemon, on the other hand, seems to believe that Daenerys is The Princess who was Promised, but could they both be wrong? Could it actually be Jon Snow?
One fan theory is pretty convinced that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai — and maybe Melisandre's growing interest (in all forms of the word) in Jon could be a nod to his potential prophecy-fulfilling birthright (as well as a nod to his secret king's blood). So what does this mean? Well, as we know, followers of the Lord of Light have been known to resurrect the dead... so in the event that Jon dies, it might be good that Melisandre's on hand.
And speaking of Lord of Light followers...
6. Beric Dondarrion Might Come Into Play
As Vanity Fair GoT expert Joanna Robinson was quick to point out, the title of the new episode, "Mother's Mercy" seems like a pretty pointed nod towards the Lady Stoneheart plotline we've been waiting for since last year. She argues that showrunners Benioff and Weiss may have delayed Lady Stoneheart's deployment so as to introduce her at the same time as a Beric Dondarrion-resurrected Jon Snow.
Now, how would that be for a one-two punch?
7. The Night's King Was Super Into Him
The Night's King (aka "Coldemort") definitely saw something in Jon — it could have been the fact that he saw Jon as a worthy adversary (and the whole "Come at me, bro" raising of the wights could have been his terrifying take on a Robert De Niro-style "I'm watching you"), or it could have been something more. Things in the ASOIAF lore are pretty foggy when it comes to the legendary Night's King, but he does seem to have a lot in common with Jon: He, too, was once Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and he's rumored to be a Stark, to boot. (Some theories even say he was a Stark bastard named... you guessed it, Jon Snow.)
Any way you cut it, there was a connection there — which could lead to a dead Jon coming back either as a wight (please, no) or even as a White Walker.
8. He's Going To Be A Dragon Rider
Jon Snow can't die — I mean, he's obviously destined to be one of the three dragon riders, right? The dragon riders theory is perhaps the most popular theory in the entire ASOIAF fandom (besides the all-but-proven R + L = J theory, of course): Based off of Daenerys' multiple visions in the trippy House of the Undying, many believe that the series will end with Dany riding off on Drogon, flanked by two as-of-yet-undecided riders on Viserion and Rhaegal.
Of course, it would make sense if the extra two dragon riders were Targaryens — and as things stand now, Jon and Tyrion seem the most likely candidates. After all, they were both name-checked as major players by Martin, and they're both rumored to have secret Targaryen parents (for Tyrion, some believe that Aerys Targaryen had a likely non-consensual relationship with Joanna Lannister — which would certainly help explain why Tywin always hated him so gosh-darn much, and for Jon, see the aforementioned R + L = J theory). Though A Song of Ice and Fire ending with three of our favorite characters riding off onto the sunset on majestic dragons really might be too much to ask for from the trigger-happy, tragedy-loving Martin, wouldn't it?
Long story short? Jon Snow's (probably) not going anywhere — and if he does happen to die, you can bet he's going to be on the next plane back, because dude is involved in way too many prophecies to kick the bucket anytime soon.
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Images: Helen Sloan/HBO; Giphy