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As Game of Thrones Season 8 approaches, fans’ excitement only grows. The HBO show, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, has always been ripe for the kind of fan theories that spark internet-engulfing arguments and ruin friendships.
But some fan theories are made greater than others. Over the past seven seasons, many of these theories have proven fruitless, while others — R+L=J, for instance — have proven shockingly accurate. Season 8 is six episodes long, leaving little time for wrap-ups (even if they are extra-long episodes). Before Season 8 premieres, it seems fitting to round up the biggest remaining fan theories, the ones that have either long awaited an answer or simply haunted fans’ latest stress dreams.
Here are the six biggest remaining fan theories for Game of Thrones Season 8, which premieres April 14 on HBO.
01. Azor Ahai
This is arguably the biggest mystery left beyond who will sit on the Iron Throne. Azor Ahai, also known as The Prince That Was Promised, is a prophesied person, reborn from a legend, who will wield the sword Lightbringer and defeat the White Walkers. It’s simpler than a lot of people (and Melisandre) make it out to be. The most complicated part is figuring out who fits the bill. See, there are some requirements.
According to Melisandre, “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.” Not that Melisandre is really the best person to be deciding who Azor Ahai could be (Stannis Baratheon, anyone?), but at the beginning of Season 7, she did label Daenerys Targaryen “The Princess” That Was Promised.
Dany is definitely the leading candidate — she was born at Dragonstone, a volcanic (smoke) island by the sea (salt), and she gave birth to her dragons from supposedly dead (stone) eggs right before a red comet streaked across the sky.
Other candidates include Jon Snow (of course), Jon and Dany’s hypothetical future child, Beric Dondarrion (and his flaming sword), Tyrion Lannister, Jaime Lannister, and a few more characters, as well. Or maybe it’s none of these people. We’ll just have to wait and find out.
02. Bran is the Night King
If this comes true, some people are gonna eat a lot of s**t. This inexplicably popular fan theory posits that, yes, Bran is the Night King. The gist is this: Bran, using his various powers — warging into humans, greensight, visions, and prophetic dreams — went back in time to try and stop the Great War but screwed up and made things worse.
After several supposed attempts to go back in time and stop the war before it started and fix his own mistakes, Bran got stuck inside the Night King and then lived for thousands of years as him. Ostensibly, that’s why the Night King is so powerful.
It’s all very… unlikely. Given Game of Thrones has six episodes left, a significant amount of that precious remaining time would have to be devoted to this storyline, and Bran already has enough stuff going on that introducing anything else would be cruel. Plus, if everything was predestined, that removes the narrative stakes of the whole series, proving we’ve wasted the past decade of our lives.
Ah, the elusive Cleganebowl. The Hound vs. The Mountain, a throwdown for the ages.
This fight has been brewing since the day Sandor and Gregor Clegane were born — they’ve been enemies since childhood. There’s always a new clue that Cleganebowl is going to happen, but this is the final-final chance, since, y’know, we’re about to wrap up the entire series. Between Bran’s visions of dogs (House Clegane’s symbol) fighting and other, smaller clues along the way, as well as that Season 7 meetup between the two, Cleganebowl feels inevitable.
04. Jaime will kill Cersei
When Cersei Lannister was young, she received a prophecy that was three-fold. The first two, depicted in Game of Thrones, told of a Snow White-style younger beauty coming for her throne and the death of her three children (“Gold will be their crowns, and gold their shrouds”). The third part of this prophecy, included in A Song of Ice and Fire, was: “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.” While many assume this means Tyrion will kill Cersei, others guess it might be her younger twin and lover, Jaime. This is all due to Jaime’s incredible personal growth over the seasons and interpretations that he might eventually switch sides, driven away by Cersei, who’s kinda taken on a Mad Queen vibe at this point. And who was it that killed the Mad King?
05. Littlefinger faked his death
Another dubious theory, but a popular one nonetheless. This theory posits that rather than killing Petyr Baelish in Season 7, the Stark girls actually killed a Faceless Man who’d taken the form of Petyr Baelish. Supposedly, this explains why Littlefinger became so harried and ill-at-ease in Season 7 after being cool and collected for so many years, as it wasn’t really him behind that face.
This all comes from a brief scene in which Littlefinger gives a woman a coin and says, "Your time is up." Some folks took this as proof that the woman was actually Faceless and this was her signal to take Baelish’s place, saving him from certain death.
This one’s unlikely due to how pointless it would be to bring Littlefinger back now. His death was an enormous personal victory for Sansa Stark, who’d lived under his watchful, perverted gaze for years, and bringing a villain back for a final few episodes just wouldn’t make sense.
06. Tyrion is a Targaryen
Woo boy. Way back in Season 6, Tyrion Lannister found himself nose-to-snout with two of Dany’s dragons. Against all odds, they didn’t kill him. While some might think this was hinting at how Tyrion would later join Dany’s side, others think there’s more to it. In fact, others think this means the dragons sensed some rare Targaryen blood in Tyrion’s veins. Those folks also tend to think that Tyrion is the bastard son of Aerys “The Mad King” Targaryen.
Theorists point to Aerys’ obsession with Joanna Lannister (Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion’s mother) as proof that they had an affair and produced Tyrion. Tied to this is Tywin Lannister’s disgust for Tyrion, which theorists read as meaning he hates him for being the product of Joanna’s alleged affair (similar to how Catelyn Stark detested Jon Snow). Tywin even denies with his dying breath that Tyrion is his. All of this mixed with Tyrion’s love for dragons and the fact that Dany had three dragons (one for her, one for Jon, and, maybe, one for Tyrion) all add up to many people believing Tyrion Lannister is actually Tyrion Targaryen.