The 8 Best Game of Thrones Fan Theories

Everyone’s favorite epic fantasy show, Game of Thrones, begins its final season on Sunday, April 14, 2019. The show, which began with incest, dwarf-abuse, and catapulting a child from a tower will end with fire, blood, and possibly the death of every living soul in Westeros.

Ever since George R. R. Martin published the first book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series in 1996, he’s attracted a legion of loyal fans who have looked beyond his words to the living, breathing world he has created. There are tons of fan theories about his written work, and since the TV show premiered in 2011, it’s only created more questions for fans. There are so many fan theories out there, crafted by people who put in almost as much work as the showrunners of the Game of Thrones TV series.

Here are some of our favorite fan theories you’ll need to know before Season 8 premieres.

1. R+L=J

The Season 7 episode “The Dragon and the Wolf” revealed that the beloved fan theory R+L+J is actually true.

R+L+J stands for Rhaegar + Lyanna= Jon, and was a theory that posited that Jon Snow was actually the child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The circumstances of their meeting are still up for debate, with two distinct camps emerging: one that says that Lyanna was raped by a lascivious and brutal Prince of Dragonstone, and another that believes the couple was actually in love and eloped to live together in secret.


Martin himself dropped hints that supported this theory all along. Ned Stark always said Jon was his “blood,” but not actually his child. The reveal of this theory was so satisfying, and it’s going to incredible to see how Jon finds out his true parentage in Season 8.

2. The Knight of the Laughing Tree

The Knight of the Laughing Tree theory is another one that affects the world of Westeros before the first book picks up the story. It’s possible that it will be revealed by Bran during one of his flashbacks or if we ever get to see Howland Reed again.

The Knight of the Laughing Tree is a mysterious knight who showed up at the tourney at Harrenhal to defend the honor of a young crannogman (a swamp-dweller, like Meera and Jojen Reed’s father, Howland), who was bullied by three brash squires. The Knight of the Laughing Tree rode against the three squires, beating them all. Before he could be unmasked, he vanished. King Aerys sent his own son Rhaegar after him.

Many people believe that the Knight of the Laughing Tree was Lyanna Stark, and that was how she and Rhaegar met. If this theory is true, it’d tell the audience a lot about Lyanna and support the idea that she ran away with Rhaegar willingly.

3. Southron Ambitions

The ‘Southron Ambitions’ theory actually deals with something that happened well before the start of the books. If true, it would have a huge impact on the way we see all of the primary characters.

The Southron Ambitions theory hypothesizes that the heads of the greatest families in Westeros were secretly working with Rhaegar Targaryen to overthrow his father, the Mad King Aerys. They were doing this through marriage – instead of marrying their children to loyal bannermen and keeping their power localized, Houses Tully, Stark, Baratheon, Arryn, and Lannister were beginning to intermarry. This move would have been wholly unnecessary in times of peace, and is thought to be an indication that these great Northern lords had “southron ambitions” and were hoping to wrest power from the king.

This makes the killing of Ned’s father and brother by Aerys seem like a more lucid political move and less like the madness of a crazed maniac. It’s unlikely the show will touch on this, as most of the primary players are now dead, but it may be something we see through Bran’s flashbacks.

4. Cleganebowl

As everyone knows, most families in the world of Game of Thrones just don’t get along. And if they do get along, it’s far too well, like Jaime and Cersei Lannister.

Two siblings who hate each other with a burning fiery passion are Sandor and Gregor Clegane, known as The Hound, and The Mountain, respectively. Although they started off as grudging allies working for House Lannister, Sandor has since had a change of heart and has become a pretty good person, watching over Arya and doing his best to protect her to make up for all the harm he was forced to do to her sister, Sansa.

Since the end of the fifth book, there’s been a theory that the brothers will eventually face off in an epic event that people online love to call ‘Cleganebowl’. It’s still unconfirmed whether The Hound and the Zombie Mountain will clash, but if they do, it’ll be incredible.

5. Jaimie Will Kill Cersei

In both the books and the TV series, a minor character called Maggy the Frog prophesied to a young Cersei that she would marry the king, not Prince Rhaegar, as she’d been hoping. Maggy also said Cersei would bear three children while her husband had sixteen, and “when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”

In High Valyrian, “valonqar” means “little brother.” For most of Cersei’s life, she mistrusted her youngest brother, Tyrion, convinced that the valonqar in the prophecy refers to him. However, many people believe that Jaime is actually the valonqar. The twins’ fate has been tied together for so long, it makes sense that only Jaime could get close enough to his sister to end her life.   

6. Tyrion Targaryen

While it’s been set up that dwarves are mistrusted and mistreated in Westeros, many people believe Tywin Lannister’s hatred of his son Tyrion is about more than just him being a dwarf. Some believe that somehow, the Mad King Aerys took advantage of Tywin’s wife Joanna Lannister, and her son Tyrion is actually Aerys’ son.

Even after Jaime goes into the Kingsguard, effectively removing him from the Lannister line of succession, Tywin refused to even consider Tyrion as a potential heir. We also saw in Season 7 of the TV series that Tyrion is suspiciously good with dragons – he’s one of the only people other than Daenarys who can touch them. The combination of Tywin’s abject hatred and his mysterious dragon-handling capabilities makes this theory believable.

7. The Maester Conspiracy

In most Game of Thrones episodes, maesters manage to disappear into the background. Their role is to serve the people of Westeros, without regard for politics. However, what if there was a huge conspiracy of maesters working behind the scenes to destroy magic and bring about the extinction of House Targaryen?

Some people theorize that the maesters of Westeros have been working with House Lannister, betraying their neutrality in an effort to rid the world of magic. This would explain why Brother Aemon (aka Aemon Targaryen) was sent to waste away at the Wall rather than being elevated to a higher position. In the TV series, it’s likely this theory will manifest in some kind of alliance between Cersei and the Citadel.

8. The Horn of Winter

When we first meet Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, he’s looking for something he calls Joramun’s Horn, or the Horn of Winter. A legend says this horn has the power to bring down the Wall. Even though Mance Rayder is dead, there’s still a possibility the horn will come into play again, and it may become something that’s sought after by both the humans and the White Walkers.

Many people believe the old horn that Samwell Tarly found at the Fist of the First Men is actually the real Joramun’s Horn. In that case, Sam better get his butt back to the Wall, fast. It’s unlikely that the horn will be of much use to anyone at the Citadel in Oldtown.  

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