ByTom Chapman, writer at
tweet: tomtomchap Warden of the North - bearded, tattooed and square eyed 'til the end
Tom Chapman

One surefire way to be classed as dead on any TV show is to lose your head and have it placed on a pike for millions of viewers to see. While Prison Break pulled the old head switcheroo for Dr. Tancredi, we are pretty sure that Ned Stark losing his noggin on HBO's was a finite demise. The noble Hand of the King lost his life (and his melon) in Season 1's "Baelor" to the open-mouthed awe of audiences everywhere.

As one of the most shocking moments to ever grace the blood-soaked screen of Thrones, Ned Stark's execution brought the events of 's book to life and solidified the show's first season as one to watch. It may have just been another notch on 's substantial movie and TV death bedpost, but now an insane fan theory poses that Lord Eddard is still out there in Westeros, combing his beard, sloshing back ale, and yammering away in his gruff Yorkshire accent. Could Ned Stark really be alive?

Don't Lose Your Ned

The theory is the tinfoil-crowned brainchild of the Fire and Blood YouTube channel. Prepare to go way down the rabbit hole of Faceless Men and conspiracy theories on this one — seriously, this is some grassy knoll kind of shit.

The crux of the theory comes from the fact that the original books recap Ned's execution from the point of view of Arya Stark in the crowd. Both Arya and Sansa mention how their father looks different (hm, maybe it has something to do with the fact he is about to have his head lopped off in front of a baying crowd?). The theory then suggests that it is actually Jaqen H’ghar wearing the face of Ned on the chopping block. While we know that the Faceless Men usually only wear the visages of the dead, Season 6 of the show did depict Jaqen wearing the face of a very much alive Arya Stark.

Admittedly, there has always been a question surrounding Jaqen's incarceration in the cells below the Red Keep, but is it theory-worthy? When Arya meets Jaqen in Season 2, the character is shrouded in mystery and referred to as being "dangerous." Now, I'm no assassin, but getting yourself locked up in King's Landing seems like a pretty ridiculous thing to happen to a master of disguise. There is a slim chance that Ned and Jaqen could've crossed paths in the jail, and the theory suggests that Varys paid Jaqen to take Ned's place at the execution.

Smoke And Mirrors

OK, so Jaqen loses his head instead, but then who the Hot Pie is the Jaqen that Arya meets in Season 2? Well, then it gets even more crazy. With "real" Jaqen dead, Syrio Forel takes his place to become the man we see played by Thomas Wlaschiha. There is no doubt that Arya's closeness with H'ghar mirrors her relationship with Forel, but how could they be the same person? The theory further backs itself up by reminding us of Jaqen's words, "There is only one God, and A Girl knows his name," which sounds strikingly familiar to Forel saying, "There is only one God and his name is Death." Oh wow, well if I wasn't convinced before, I sure am now *insert eye roll emoji*.

There are several glaringly obvious problems here. Mainly, if the faceless Jaqen H’ghar was pretending to be Ned, he would look no different at all to the real deal. Secondly, why would H'ghar agree to have his head chopped off to save some noble lord he has never met before? Also, although some hold out hope that Forel wasn't hacked to death by Ser Meryn Trant in the premiere season, the showrunners confirmed that the dancing Bravosi is very much brown bread. Admittedly, they could be referring to Forel being dead while his H'ghar persona remains alive, but I still ain't buying them apples.

There is a second ludicrous theory that Ned simply warged off into a bird and is out there shitting on Cersei Lannister from above somewhere. We did see Arya clock a flock of pigeons as Ned's head hit the deck, and it would explain where Bran gets his warging ability, but that theory doesn't fly for me either.

Even if by some slim miracle Ned is alive, where has he been all this time, and why has he not stepped in to stop the terrible crimes committed against his family? This isn't some Benjen Stark theory where Ned will ride in as Coldhands to save the day. However, perhaps the biggest problem is that this theory doesn't fit in with the universal rule that Sean Bean in a starring role has to die, so consider this case closed.

You have to blame and the showrunners for things like this, because the Hound, the Mountain, Beric Dondarrion, and Jon Snow have all proved that death isn't always the end of the show. However, unless Ned is planning on returning as Lord Stoneheart, this theory flies "head and shoulders" above the rest as a ludicrous no-no. For those who still haven't faced facts after all these years, Ned Stark is dead!

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