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Arya's running from ghost Ned Stark? The Avengers snap? The week's craziest fan theories
Not all fan theories are created equal. Some are brilliant breakthroughs that unlock a whole new understanding of a popular show or movie. Others are... totally off the mark. That's okay, because part of being a fan is interacting with what you love! There are bad fan theories, but no bad fan theorists, in other words.
What's not great is when a legitimate entertainment news source spreads around one of these theories, milking it for your hard-earned click rather than actually engaging with the theory on its merits and contributing to the discourse. When that happens, SYFY WIRE will dig in and suss out the real facts (whenever that's possible, of course).
This week saw the debut of the first trailer for Game of Thrones’ long-awaited final season. While you might think that the trailer would spark a bunch of crazy fan theories, that's actually not what happened. The craziest fan theories tend to arise when there isn't much new information. For much of the year and a half between Season 7 and 8, Thrones fans had no real information off which to base theories, so instead many theorists grasped at outlandish straws in the vacuum. The new trailer provides everyone with a lot to work with, and many of the theories are pretty grounded — especially the idea that Jon Snow is probably riding one of Dany's dragons in that one shot.
Still, there was one totally out there Game of Thrones theory that got a lot of play in the wake of the trailer's release, along with an Avengers theory that demonstrates what happens when fans don't have any new information to decode.
01. Arya Stark is running away from Ned and Catelyn Stark, who are zombies (or ghosts?)
Most of the Season 8 trailer appears to be teasing the big battle at Winterfell, set to occur in Episode 3. The trailer opens with a shot of a very scared Arya running through the halls of Winterfell. What is she fleeing? The undead? A White Walker? The Night King?
Well, what this inexplicably widespread theory suggests that she is fleeing from undead versions of beloved and long-gone characters. According to the theory, she's so scared because she recognizes the undead, and is being chased by Ned, Catelyn and/or Robb Stark.
This theory is... unlikely. The big battle episode is supposedly "the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film," so from a storytelling perspective, it would be wild to also shove in the reveal of some undead characters fans assumed they'd never see again. The entire might of the undead army is bearing down on Winterfell — shouldn't that be enough drama without having to dig up Sean Bean's corpse?
And, speaking of Ned’s corpse, this theory is also impossible within the fiction of the show. See, Ned Stark was famously decapitated. The White Walkers' undead wights have demonstrated no ability to reattach severed body parts, so any zombified version of Ned would have to be headless. Also, the Song of Ice and Fire books reveal that only Ned's bones were left when Littlefinger gave his remains to Cat Stark. There's no precedent for the White Walkers being able to reanimate headless bones without any decaying muscle or sinew, and there's no way Arya would recognize her father from his skeleton alone. (A skeleton would solve one problem for this theory, though, which is that it seems unlikely that Sean Bean could've made a return to Thrones without it leaking.)
As for Cat and Robb? Well, they're not even in the Winterfell crypts. After their murders at the Red Wedding, the Frey troops cut off Robb's head and sew his direwolf's head on in its stead, so his corpse would also be headless. Not that it matters, since both corpses were dumped in the river. In the books, Cat was reanimated as Lady Stoneheart, but that hasn't happened in the show. Her bloated body has probably been eaten by catfish at this point, meaning there's no corpse up in Winterfell for the White Walkers to reanimate.
Some of the aggregations get around these problems by suggesting that Ned and co. aren't returning as traditional wights, but as ghosts or spirits. This is not something that has been a part of Game of Thrones' carefully constructed lore, and it would be playing Calvinball to just change the way the undead work in Game of Thrones' fourth-to-last episode.
02. Actually, the Avengers were behind The Snap, and did it to save everyone from Thanos
This fan theory starts off with what's actually a pretty astute little observation, but then goes off the rails. In the Infinity War post-credits scene, Nick Fury and Maria Hill receive word that Thanos' ships have appeared over Wakanda. They turn into dust as a result of The Snap about a minute later — which is weird because way more than one minute passed during the battle between the ships' first appearance and The Snap.
This is probably just an incredibly small plot hole, though there are ways to justify it in-fiction (maybe the ships had appeared long ago, but Fury's people were only getting the intel much later, for whatever reason). Still, the reason for the discrepancy probably isn't because the Avengers actually orchestrated their own Snap in Endgame and used it to whisk all the would-be dusted heroes away to safety.
"How could the 'dustings' from that scene happen an hour (or more) before the Snap?" the theorist writes. "Answer: only if the phenomena we have labeled as the 'dustings' started before the Snap. And [was] not simultaneous. So that phenomenon had to have been from something else occurring, entirely. Whatever it was, the people did disappear and evidently stay gone for quite some time."
They go on to explain how the Avengers will somehow make a snap of their own during Endgame, meaning that Thanos' infamous snap never actually happened and Marvel tricked everyone.
Why are so many convoluted fan theories determined to explain that Thanos' infamous Snap wasn’t actually what we all saw? Because fans have been mulling over the same information for a year trying to come up with new ways to over-explain the obvious. At least Captain Marvel will add some fresh fuel to the fire, and then once Avengers: Endgame hits theaters, we will all know what happened for sure. Then, we will be free. I will ascend to Valhalla.