In the long-awaited reveal of all long-awaited reveals, the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale confirmed the R+L=J theory: Jon Snow's true parents were Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. However, although HBO has confirmed Rhaegar as the father, the show purposely made it difficult for us to hear Jon Snow's true name, given to him by his mother. Check out the clip at 03:48 to work it out yourself.
The "his name is" part is relatively clear, and it's gotta be a Targaryen name (more on why here) but what does Lyanna say to Ned then? What is Jon's given name?
It sounds like there's an "R" then an "S" sound: Aerys? Jaehaerys?
Of course, the name Aerys had some pretty bad connotations, but Dany chose to name one of her precious dragon babies Viserion, after the brother who threatened to let an entire Dothraki horde (and their horses!) rape her to death, so clearly family fealty runs deep in the Targaryens. Jaehaerys is the popular consensus after the sterling investigation from Redditor sparkledavisjr (nice work, my Lady!) who listened to the clip over fifty times — but I really, really think she says Aerys!
Jon Snow's true, Targaryen first name is either Aerys or Jaehaerys (probably).
What Is Jon Snow's True Surname?
First, we need to establish whether Jon Snow could have been born in wedlock. As Rhaegar Targaryen was married to Elia Martell of Dorne at the time of the Jon Snow's birth, it seems unlikely. The last recorded incidence of Targaryen polygamy in Westeros was Maegor I Targaryen, ''Maegor the Cruel,'' who had six wives — Rhaena Targaryen, Jeyne Westerling, Elinor Costayne, Alys Harroway, Ceryse Hightower and Tyanna of Pentos — way, way back before the action of the Game of Thrones show. Jon Snow was born 283 AC and Maegor the Cruel died 48 AC, so it's fairly safe to say that polygamy, outlawed by the faith and deplored in the Seven Kingdoms, is not an option for Jon's dad. With Rhaegar at war at the Trident and Lyanna bleeding to death in the Tower of Joy, there also wasn't any time for a quick pre-death marriage for the illegitimate lovers, even if she'd borrowed Littlefinger's jetpack.
What Is Jon Snow's New Bastard Name?
What began as a simple question is actually kind of complicated. Jon Snow got the name "Snow" because of the rules of regional bastardy in the Seven Kingdoms. Jon was known as a bastard of Ned Stark, and as a man of the North, he would call a bastard Snow. But what would a regional bastard name mean for Jon Snow now? In Westeros, the common folk do not have last names at all, so only highborn bastards have the regional names of the seven kingdoms: Snow for House Stark and the North, Stone for the Vale, Rivers for House Tully and the Riverlands, Hill for House Lannister and the Westerlands, Flowers for House Tyrell and the Reach, Storm for House Baratheon and the Stormlands, Waters for whichever House sits the Iron Throne and the Crownlands, Pyke for House Greyjoy and the Iron Islands and Sand for House Martell and Dorne.
Jon Snow And Regional Bastard Names
Past Targaryen Bastards: Daemon Waters, Aegor, Brynden and Gwynys Rivers
Aegon IV "The Unworthy" had a bunch of bastard children, called Rivers, born to Melissa Blackwood around 175 AC. With Aegon living in King's Landing, that should have put his bastards in the Crownlands, where the regional bastard name is Waters. However, the Rivers took their surname from their mother's homeland, and House Blackwood is in the Riverlands.
Which surname would this give Jon Snow? Sand, because he was born in Dorne. Snow, because his mother was a Northerner, or Waters because his father was a prince of the Crownlands. The Targaryens originate from old Valyria, now a pile of smoking ruins overcome by the Doom, so there's nobody we can ask about standard bastard names for House Targaryen.
Incidents Of Bastards Taking Their Mother's Name
Past Targaryen Bastards: Bellanora, Narha and Balerion Otherys
Despite the kick-ass female characters, the world of Game of Thrones still follows the tradition of patrilineage, except in Dorne. In most of Westeros, kids automatically take their father's name. Still, there is precedent for a Targaryen bastard to take their mother's name. Bellegere Otherys gave Aegon IV Targaryen three bastards who all took her name.
Which surname would this give Jon Snow? This would make Jon Snow a Stark.
'Nickname' Bastard Names And Blackfyres
Past Targaryen Bastards: Shiera Seastar
Some bastards are given nicknames rather than official names, such as Shiera Seastar — named for "Star of the Sea" — born to Aegon IV Targaryen and Serenei of Lys. With no known regional bastard name for the free city of Lys, Shiera had a name invented for her at whim.
Similarly, Bronn's stepson was born from his wife, Lollys "Lackwit" Stokeworth's gang rape by many unknown men during a riot in King's Landing. The child is named Tyrion Tanner: Bronn is lowborn so has no surname other than Blackwater, given to him by Tyrion Lannister, so "Tanner" derives from the fact that Lollys was ravaged behind a Tanner's shop, and likely Bronn's dark sense of humor.
I haven't forgotten to mention the Blackfyres, but this was an invented name (stupidly) given to Daemon Waters by Aegon IV Targaryen when he legitimized his four "great bastards" on his deathbed. Blackfyre was the name of the ancestral Valyrian steel sword of House Targaryen, so Daemon took the name Blackfyre when he was bequeathed the sword. It's not a standard Targaryen bastard name, as such, but is a pretty cool historical name and has a funky inverted Targaryen sigil.
What does this mean for Jon Snow? If Jon Snow were to be given a name based on his deeds, appearance or sword, this opens up many possibilities. He could be poetically named Blackrider or Nightheart after his service to the Night's Watch, for example. He could be Jon Longclaw after his sword, or better yet Jon Ice after his family's Valyrian steel — which would fit nicely into theory that Jon is the Ice to Dany's Fire in the Song of Ice and Fire.
Newfound Targaryen Legitimacy
The simplest explanation would be if Jon was granted legitimacy by whoever sits on the throne by the end of A Song of Ice and Fire — probably the most likely option — which makes Jon Snow Jaehaerys Targaryen or Aerys Targaryen, depending on which first name you think Lyanna wheezed out on her deathbed.
From a number of angles, the most likely names Jon Snow should or could have at this point, or at a later point after learning his identity are Sand, Snow, Waters, Stark, Ice, Blackfyre or Targaryen. Jon Snow's real name is technically one of the following:
- Aerys Sand — Jaehaerys Sand
- Aerys Snow — Jaehaerys Snow
- Aerys Waters — Jaehaerys Waters
- Aerys Stark — Jaehaerys Stark
- Aerys Ice — Jaehaerys Ice
- Aerys Blackfyre — Jaehaerys Blackfyre
- Aerys Targaryen — Jaehaerys Targaryen
TL; DR: Jon Snow's name is pretty much Aerys Targaryen now.