The most spoilery of spoilers follow, so if you’re not caught up on Game of Thrones season 5 and somehow managed to miss the big news, for the love of Westeros, go watch it and come back to us when you know who’s dead.
For everyone else, holy crap, can you believe that last scene?
Of course, readers of George R.R. Martin’s source books knew what was coming for Jon Snow, but while A Dance with Dragons left us wondering whether Jon’s watch was truly ended, the show was clear.
But before you join the legions of disappointed fans who are swearing off Game of Thrones forever (again), here are six reasons why we think Jon Snow is coming back.
1. Both the show and books have clearly established that death isn’t always final.
Remember Thoros of Myr? You may have forgotten the red priest from season 3, but you’d better believe Melisandre hasn’t. The priestess witnessed her holy brother’s talent for reviving the dead when he brought back Beric Dondarrian, and despite her spotty prophesying (how’s that working out for you, Stannis?), she’s still hella powerful — way stronger than that old drunk, Thoros. After all, this is the woman who birthed the regicidal ghost-thing that murdered Renly Baratheon, the woman who sacrifices innocents like she’s baking cupcakes, and the woman who walks around coatless in the snow, because cold can’t touch her blazing, blood magick soul. And hey, guess what? She’s back at The Wall just in time to try a new trick.
Still, she’s creepy, and she’s not even the only character capable of reanimating the dead. But while you may suspect Melisandre’s power to revive Jon, George R.R. Martin’s is indisputable. And here’s what he’s said about the death of Jon Snow:
Finally, readers take solace in the Lady Stoneheart storyline. She hasn’t been featured in the TV show, and we don’t want to say much more, since there’s a slim chance she could be. But some fans are asking: have Weiss and Benioff left her out to raise the stakes on Jon’s return?
2. Besides, Sam’s not worried
Let’s take a trip back in recent history to season 5, episode 8, Hardhome, shall we? Our hero, Jon Snow, is heading into enemy territory on a sensitive political mission. Imagine that was your BFF and sworn brother trekking towards uncertain death and certain undead things? You’d probably be worried, right? But established ‘fraidy cat and Jon Snow bestie Samwell Tarly barely gives his friend’s departure a second thought. Whatevsies, Jon will be fine, he tells (that turncoat!) Olly. “I’ve been worrying about Jon for years. He always comes back.” Get that? HE ALWAYS COMES BACK.
3. Jon is a warg
Readers know what Jon doesn’t: he’s a warg like his brother Bran, with the power to control bodies not his own. When he’s betrayed in the books, his last word is “Ghost.” Who knows? Maybe Kit Harington’s off for season 6 because Jon will be spending it as a direwolf?
4. We don’t know who Jon Snow’s mother is yet
Before he could trust HBO showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff to take his story, George R.R. Martin made them answer a pivotal question: Who is Jon Snow’s mother? And while it’s true that shows sometimes finish with a few loose ends, this isn’t the pineapple incident! This is an important question, and it’s just as essential for Jon Snow to learn the answer as it is for us.
5. But we do have a theory about his parentage, and that makes us more confident he’s alive
The book has as many hints about Jon Snow’s origins as Littlefinger has schemes, and the most likely answer is that Jon is Ned Stark’s bastard nephew, not son. The R+L=J theory contends that Jon Snow was born of an illicit union between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. That would make him Daenerys’s nephew, a bonafide Targaryen, and one of only two characters on the show qualified to ride a dragon. Currently we have three dragons, one definite rider (Daenerys) and one likely (Jon). Can the story afford to lose him?
(The books contain even more secret Targaryens, but, to the benefit of the story, they’ve been written off the show. But there is one remaining character whose potential Targaryen status is as appealing as it is uncertain.)
6. The story is full of prophesy and symbolism that point to a resurrection
This detailed explanation tells you everything you need to know about Azor Ahai, the prophesied hero who will save the world from darkness, but the short story is that this hero will be REBORN. Admittedly, this promised saviour could be Daenerys, who was symbolically reborn as the Mother of Dragons. It could also be that Daenerys and Jon are both manifestations of this mythical character. If we’ve learned anything from Melisandre, it’s that Stannis is not Azor Ahai, and interpreting ancient prophecy is tricky work (also important: burning children on the stake doesn’t get you where you want to be). But the symbolism around Jon and his death make him a strong contender.
But what about Kit Harington’s EW interview? Two possibilities: one, he’s lying. Words are wind, and this is a guy who plays pretend for a living. If he can face down White Walkers, surely he can handle an entertainment reporter. Plus, there are (unsubstantiated) rumours that he’s already filming in Belfast. Second possibility: he’s truly not going to be in season 6. But he hasn’t said anything about season 7, and last we checked, that’s how far his contract extends.
We’re not sure how this story is going to play out, and that’s exciting. But by the old gods and the new, until the very last episode airs without him, we will swear that Jon Snow still has an important role to play.