(Warning -- the following is packed to the gills with MASSIVE, HULKING POTENTIAL GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS. Proceed with caution...)
Now, if there's one show that lends itself to rampant plot speculation, it's surely Game of Thrones. Between only being on the air for one fifth of the year, featuring more mysterious deaths than the average Kennedy family vacation, and -- of course -- being based on a beloved (and as yet incomplete) series of novels from which it frequently deviates, the show is essentially perfectly designed to illicit the maximum amount of fan theorizing that's humanly possible.
As such, pondering just what's set to happen in Season 6 -- due this coming Spring -- is less a waste of valuable TV-watching time, and more an entirely necessary pursuit. And so, I thought it was probably about time we took a look at one of the biggest Westeros-related questions of them all. Specifically:
Which Characters Could Make a Shocking Return to Game of Thrones in Season 6?
Let's take a look...
(Note, this is where those massive, hulking potential SPOILERS come in. As Taylor Swift might have pointed out to Jon Snow, had she been hanging around at the end of Season 5 dispensing political advice: "Don't say I didn't say I didn't warn ya...")
7. Jon Snow
Now, this may be one of the more obvious possible returns, seeing as Kit Harington, who plays Snow, has been pretty much straight-up telling us he'll be back for months now.
Even so, though, a return from the dead is still a pretty big deal -- especially if it does indeed end up having something to do with Melisandre and the Lord of Light. That being said, it sure sounds like we're -- as has long been rumored -- set to find out that Jon isn't actually Ned's bastard son, but instead another Stark's child -- so expect a newly named Jon Stark, rather than Snow...
Speaking of Ned...
6. Ned Stark
Yup, that's right. Ned 'no head' Stark could well be back -- and might even be played by Sean Bean. The only catch? He's still very much going to be dead, so he'll only be there in flashback form.
If rumors coming out of Spain are to be believed, though, Bean may already have filmed a flashback scene -- one that might just confirm that aforementioned Jon Snow parentage rumor...
Speaking of flashbacks, we might also get the chance to see...
5. Khal Drogo
With Jason Momoa -- who played Drogo -- also having seemingly been spotted on set in costume, it's looking like we might be set to see a whole lot of flashbacks this season -- including one for Daenerys.
That, though, might well not be all...
Another character who looks likely to appear in flashback, after appearing on set recently, Sibel Kekilli's Shae may well be set to return to haunt Tyrion's dreams -- y'know, after he killed her at Season 4's end...
There's more, though...
(Note, this is where we wander off from set spots a little, and into the terrain of speculation...)
Now, the funny thing about Shae and Drogo seemingly both being set to appear in flashback cameos, is that -- unlike Ned, who could well appear within one of his son Bran's visions, and reveal a vital plot point along the way -- there doesn't seem to be any reason for them to appear. Unless, of course, they're there to symbolize a connection between the two characters experiencing the visions -- Daenerys and Tyrion. Who, it just so happens, are considered by many fans to be two of the three rumored 'heads of the dragon,' the saviors who're set to take over Westeros. The other favored candidate? Jon Snow.
Or, in other words, don't be too surprised if Rose Leslie's Ygritte turns up for a brief flashback during Season 6 -- a vision during Jon's resurrection, perhaps?
2. The Hound
Now, this one is perhaps more speculative still -- but very much grounded in the books. Keen-eyed fans of George R.R. Martin's novels have long since noticed that The Hound may well still be alive -- and there's a distinct possibility that his literary survival may be mirrored in the series.
After all, we didn't actually see him die -- and without seeing a corpse, it's usually best to assume that everyone in Game of Thrones is alive... A surprise team-up option for one of our newly roaming characters, perhaps?
1. Catelyn Stark
Yup. That's right. That Catelyn Stark.
Y'see, in the novels, Catelyn has long since turned out to be very much not dead. Instead, she's become a vengeance-fueled zombie-like monster known as Lady Stoneheart, hellbent on bringing gruesome murder to the doorsteps of the Lannisters, Boltons and Freys who betrayed her family.
Which, if it's going to happen in the show, probably has to happen pretty darned soon... A big surprise for the close of episode 10, perhaps?
The big question, though -- seeing as the chances of all of those characters coming back are relatively slim?