Game Of Thrones' Most Enduring Fan Theory, Explained

Game Of Thrones' Most Enduring Fan Theory, Explained

Some fan theories wilt and die while others linger and persist. One Game of Thrones theory — you probably already know which one — just seems too good not to be true.

Warning: This theory contains spoilers for both the TV show and books, and possibly for some things that haven't even happened yet in the books, so don't watch it if you don't wanna know.

In the video above, YouTube user Alt Shift X breaks down a classic theory about Jon Snow's parentage known as R+L=J. It posits that Snow is not the bastard son of Eddard Stark, but the product of Stark and Targaryen canoodling.

Its incredibly plausible as far as theories go. Not only are the books littered with that evidence to support it, but Jon Snow's parentage is still a huge point of contention. When the showrunners of the HBO show asked George R.R. Martin for his blessing, Martin asked them if they had any theories regarding Snow's parentage.

DAN WEISS: He asked us, "Who is Jon Snow's mother?" We had discussed it before, and we gave a shocking answer. At that point, George didn't actually say whether or not we were right or wrong, but his smile was his tell. We knew we had passed the Wonka test, at that point.

Of course it is still just a theory... for now. For more wild fan theories, check out this comprehensive guide at i09.

Alt Shift X via Uproxx


    Stark woman + Targaeryn fellah is the theory - you can see details here:

    It also explains some of the special ties between Eddard Stark, Jon Arryn, and Howland Reed.

    Wouldn't he need Targaeryn white hair then?

      he dyes it. its one of the bigger story arcs in the books but they cut it out in the tv show.

        ... really I don't remember anything in the books about John dying his hair

      dark pigment have always been the more dominant genes when it comes to eye and hair color, maybe that explains it.

        Bingo, also being a dark haired Targaryen would make him kinda special.

        Yeah, given the majority of other Targaryens are products of incest, it's not surprising dark-haired Targs are rare.

      Similar to what Choosk said, the Targaeryn traits are necessarily always the dominant ones.

      Rhaenys had Dornish features, Baelor Breakspear as well.

      He's described as looking like a Stark, isn't he? Maybe Stark genes stronger,

      Not necessarily. It's noted that Robert Baratheon's bastard children inherited his dark hair, so Wesetrosi genetics seem to behave as you would expect. The Targaryen's were notoriously inbred from marrying off siblings, and this would preserve their white hair. Inheriting the dark hair from his Stark parentage would be consistent for Jon.

      Not all targaeryn blood has light hair, not all targaeryn blood is immune to fire, not all targaeryn blood has purple eyes.

      Not always. Arya is more like a Stark while the other children are more like Tulleys

    While it's not hard evidence, if he has Targaryen blood it is weak, where Danny's is strong. Just think if Danny had been in Mormont's tower when the wight attacked, and it had been her that grasped the iron lantern to throw at the wight. Jon's hand was badly burned by that feat, and fire cannot harm the dragon.

    Like I said, not concrete, he could still be an heir, but I think it means he lacks the 'powers' associated with Targaryen blood.

    His hand gets burnt by fire, how can he be a targaeryn

      Viserys died from molten gold being poured on his head & Daenerys commented that he was no true dragon. It's not a consistent family trait.

    "How would he prove his parentage?"

    Easy, walk through a bonfire unscathed!

      He did burn the shite out of his hand throwing a lantern on that Wight/walker to save Commander Mormont in season 1...

        Yep. Even late in book three he's still having issues flexing the skin of his sword hand because it's tight from the burn scars. He's definitely not immune to fire, but then neither was Viserys.

      Viserys was a true born, but he didn't have the blood of dragon.

        Fire didn't kill Viserys, molten gold did

          I don't even know how to reply to this stupidity. You do understand that it was the heat from the metal that killed him right? Gold melts at just over 1000°C, fire is 2000+°C if he couldn't withstand molten gold, how could he withstand fire? If metal coins were poured onto his head would that have killed him? No, therefore your logic is flawed.

          Last edited 17/07/14 5:52 pm

            Still not fire. And you are putting a bit to much science into a fictional story. Your logic is out as no fire killed him. Heat or not heat melting point of gold or not in a story with dragons magic and frozen undead logic is a bit of a stretch.

            2000 degree fire is brilliant white. Orange fire is closer to 1100 degrees. That's a moot point though, Viserys died from wounds caused by contact heat, not fire. And that's moot as well, because Targaryens aren't immune to heat or fire anyway. Martin has said Daenerys' experience with the dragon eggs was a magical miracle that would likely go differently if she were to attempt it again.

    I think this is strongly implied in the books, enough so I don't think it qualifies 'fan theory'. I don't think you need to read about it on the internet to come to this conclusion.

    Mind you I could be wrong When Tryion was on his Apocalypse Now river cruise and a black shape flew over him in the fog I was sure it was Drogon flying north west

    Last edited 17/07/14 2:04 pm

    His mum's name is Wylla. It's revealed in book three that she was the wet nurse to lord Edric Dayne who is Lord Beric's squire. The Dayne family is from Dorne so I'd say it's more likely that he'd be related to one of the Dornish families than Targaryen

      I think the main fan theory is that all of that is just part of Ned's cover story, to protect Lyanna (or her memory anyway) and Jon.

      Robert also mention she was a bar wench at one point and she has also been said to be a whore, hence perpetuating it as a cover up as the story isn't clear enough.

    This is a good solid theory, if you want to go even deeper and more fringe watch the Dornish Master Plan
    Now thats theory crafting
    Mind you I don't think proving his lineage will be an issue, adhering to the theory that Azor Ahai's Lightbringer is a person rather than a weapon, I personally think Jon will be Lightbringer, rather than the currect track that he is Azor Ahai himself, I think that will go to Danny

    Last edited 17/07/14 3:12 pm

      Geez, I think I need to reread the last book or two, he's got a grip on things a lot better than me. Very interesting stuff though.

        haha yeah i felt the same watching it, i was like waaaahhhh? whhooooo?

    So, Jon could be the only one that could truly bring together the Seven Kingdoms, and combat the threat to the North as will (with his influence with the wildlings?). Uber King Jon Snow (surely a King can renounce or reform the nature of the Night's Watch, including their vows, to allow himself to 'wear a crown'...particularly if the threat to the North is removed then the Wall will be unnecesary...)

    Do I get any bonus points for coming up with this theory independantly? No? Oh well..

      Heh, I finished the books and was idly thinking and came up with it. Jumped online and was "oh hey, cool. Not (even remotely) alone in this line of thought, so it's probably right".

      So yes, have some bonus points!

    I always thought he was Ned Stark's sister (The one that had been dead for years in the first season.) and Robert Beratheon's illegitimate child. Oh well, lol.

    Last edited 17/07/14 4:45 pm

      The TV show hasn't made it as obvious at the books do that Rhaegar was infatuated with Lyanna, even though his "kidnap" of her was the trigger for Robert's Rebellion, which is the whole reason Daenerys is in the east on a campaign to reclaim her throne and has possession of the first dragons seen in over 300 years.

        The way it has been treated in the show is one of the biggest detractors to the theory. The writers are aware of the major points in the shore that are yet unwritten and they have glossed over a lot of the story of Robert's Rebellion that is very clear in the books, R+L's relationship in particular. Now if this theory is true it would be a major point of the story, but for the show it would be confusing to people watching because the history isn't very complete.

        Unless of course they drag out the series with some really dedicated time to the rebellion, which would also make sense with the whole show catching up to the book thing.

        Maybe it's because I'm losing interest in GoT (I liked season 1 the most and my interest has been steadily declining) and have unfortunately not yet read the books, but your reply unfortunately made no sense to me I'm sorry lol :/

        I'll have a cup of coffee and come back and try it again.

        Last edited 17/07/14 7:34 pm

    But doesn't it say in the books he has quite a resemblance to Ned?

      It refers to him having the 'Stark look,' aka grey eyes, dark hair and long face. The rest is open to interpretation.

    R+L=J is one of the oldest ASOIAF 'fan theories' and GRRM has more-or-less confirmed it in several interviews... while lamenting how the internet allows the minority of readers who actually figured it out, to ruin it for everyone else, even those who are up-to-date with the show or books but haven't yet come to that conclusion themselves. You know, like this very post.

    I know Kotaku is a joke but between this and Patricia Hernandez's purple wedding spoiler-filled post that basically parroted book knowledge from the wiki to show watchers... I'd avoid this site if I actually wished to experience this story on my own terms.

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