WARNING: Best to be caught up on every season of Game of Thrones before continuing. SPOILERS ahead.
Last weekend, Game of Thrones Season 6 came to an end with a sweeping, epic, double-stuffed finale (now with extra death!). It's difficult to pick a "best moment" from the incredible episode. Was it Cersei donning black leather, sipping wine and blowing things up like a total boss? Darth Sansa sitting next to Jon Snow as the biggest, baddest, little girl in Westeros put him on the throne of the North? Lady Olenna in Dorne dishing out shade like nobody else can? Seeing Daenerys and Tyrion side by side, about to let loose the dogs of war?
In all that awesome madness, however, there was one scene in particular that had fan theorists jumping out of their seats. Bran finally saw the conclusion to his Tower of Joy flashback, revealing, once and for all, that the wonderful Ned Stark never cheated on his wife, Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and the new King in the North is also a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne and most likely Azor Ahai.
It was a perfect moment, but it wasn't the only fan theory that this incredible season confirmed — or denied. Almost every week speculation was dismissed, validated or slyly winked at — all of which can be difficult to keep up with. So here's where we stand on some of the biggest fan theories in Westeros at the end of the sixth Season.
The Return Of Jon Snow
The Theory: At the end of Season 5, Jon Snow had been brutally murdered by some of the men of the Night's Watch. Furious at Jon for letting the wildlings over the wall, a faction rose up against the Lord Commander and lured him into the courtyard, where he was stabbed repeatedly. Even though the show is known to callously kill off main characters with little regard for those watching at home, fans still refused to believe that he was really dead. Several hypotheses around his potential survival were considered, but the three main opinions were that Jon really was dead, that he would warg into Ghost and live on through his direwolf, or that Melisandre would bring him back to life.
He's Alive: Jon Snow was brought back to life in the second episode of Season 6, though the show's creators made us sweat by holding strong in their insistence he was sincerely dead. Still, Melisandre got there in the nick of time to bring Jon back from the dead. What few theorists saw coming, however, was Jon using his death as a loophole to get out of his oath to the Night's Watch. It ended at his death leaving him free to be King in the North!
The Hound As The Gravedigger
The Theory: The last time we'd seen Sandor Clegane before Season 6, he was pleading for death on a hillside as Arya walked away and left him to die a painful death. Although many thought he was dead, others speculated that he would return as the Gravedigger, a character from the book series who is a novice on the Quiet Isle and bears a striking similarity to the Hound. In the books we're still unsure if the Gravedigger is the Hound; he is currently a minor character, but it's a favorite theory for many.
Confirmed AND Denied: The Hound did indeed return, popping up with a religious group. However, no Gravedigger appearance. Instead, Clegane was helping to build a sept, not digging graves on an island, and had no meeting with Brienne. It's still probable that the Gravedigger is the Hound in the books, but on screen the Gravedigger is now unlikely to make an appearance.
The Theory: Every season since Catelyn Stark was murdered at the Red Wedding, fans of the books have been waiting for her to reappear on screen as Lady Stoneheart. Lady Stoneheart is a vicious reanimated version of Catelyn, out for revenge and killing anyone she feels is even vaguely connected to the Red Wedding and Robb's death. With this season returning to the Tullys, Riverrun and the Blackfish, many assumed it was finally time to meet Lady Stoneheart.
Still In Play (But Unlikely): Another season has passed without even a hint of Catelyn Stark's return. It's still possible she'll pop up, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely. There are only two seasons left, and we've still got kingdoms to win and White Walkers to defeat. It looks like Lady Stoneheart may simply be left out of the show entirely.
Hold The Door
The theory: There were multiple theories surrounding everyone's favorite half-giant, and why he could only say "Hodor." Some thought Hodor could himself have been a warger like Bran but driven mad after spending too much time in another body (potentially a horse, "Hodor" being a variation on the word). Some of the wilder theories included connections to dragons — that Hodor had seen a dragon under Winterfell or possibly the Great Other (a Westerosi version of the Devil) as a young boy and the event was so frightening he was shocked into only saying one word. Or, if you really want to get into it, some fans even believed that Hodor would be revealed to be a dragontamer and "hodor" is a magic dragon-taming word.
Theory (And Hearts) Broken: Hodor isn't a dragon tamer after all, just a normal kid with giant's blood who got completely screwed over by Bran on one of his time-travel jaunts. We'd already seen Bran warg into Hodor in order to get him to fight and to quiet down when afraid. Turns out that this created a connection between their minds. So when Bran went back in time, past Hodor spotted him and began to convulse. Present-day Hodor was left to his death, holding the door to save Bran and Meera against an army of White Walkers. This death via Bran's mind damaged past Hodor so much that all he could say was a distortion of the command he died fulfilling: to hold the door. And the world wept.
The Theories: After a long absence, Bran was back this season, and there are plenty of theories surrounding him. Once time travelling was established in Game of Thrones, it opened up all kinds of possibilities. First up, we have the theory that Bran would become the Three-Eyed Raven in more than name. This theory posits that old man Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) is actually future Bran traveling back in time. Another theory posits that Bran isn't just named after Bran the Builder (who built the Wall). A final theory suggests Bran may have driven the Mad King mad by time travelling into history to whisper bad ideas into the King's ear.
Wait And See: Bran has now called himself the Three-Eyed Raven, but that doesn't mean that he is the same Three-Eyed Raven who mentored him and passed away. In fact, that would cause all kinds of time paradox strangeness, not least of which is older Bran predicting the White Walker attack and his friends' impending deaths. No warning? We're not buying it. Bran as the Builder is also unlikely because, although Bran can travel in time and see things and possibly even be heard or seen by people (like Ned at the Tower of Joy), it's unlikely he could accomplish as much as Bran the Builder did while being an observer of history.
However, Bran could well have gone back to visit the Mad King and driven him mad with thoughts of fire, in an attempt to get him to stockpile wildfire to use against the White Walkers. He'd already messed with Hodor's mind, after all.
The Theory: Fans have wondered about Benjen Stark since Season 1, when the Ranger from the Night's Watch first invited Jon to come to the Wall, before disappearing beyond it. Some guessed Benjen would reappear as Coldhands, a book character who helped Bran and Meera travel to the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven. When the pair reached the cave without Coldhands' help, fans still thought that he might return as the half-dead Brother Beyond The Wall. Another theory suggested Benjen traveled to Essos, took on the name Daario Naharis, and pledged himself to Daenerys.
Coldhands Wins: Benjen finally made his reappearance this season, and not as a Tyroshi sellsword with a blue beard. As Bran and Meera fled from the Others, all seemed lost — until a cloaked man on horseback burst through the trees and saved them. He accompanied them all the way to the Wall before revealing himself as Bran's uncle, Benjen Stark. He explained he had been attacked and left for dead by the White Walkers before being saved by the Children of the Forest. They used dragonglass to save him, but it turned him into something like the walkers, thus keeping him from crossing the Wall.
Fight Club Arya
The Theories: There were a couple of theories around Arya and her assassin training this season, so we'll roll 'em all into one. The most prevalent focused on Arya and the Waif, with many wondering if the two were actually the same person. According to this theory, Arya had a Fight Club-style split personality situation with the Waif being the "No One" version of herself she was training to be. When Arya was stabbed by the Waif, another theory to emerge was that it wasn't Arya, but Jaqen H'ghar wearing her face (We really weren't willing to accept Arya had died).
Dismissed (Mostly): Well, Arya was definitely stabbed, so there goes the Jaqen H'ghar theory. The Fight Club theory is also generally accepted to have been false, as Arya and the Waif had their final throwdown, and Arya brought the Waif's face back to the House of Black and White (because she's all badass assassin now). Some still cling to the idea that they were the same person, and that Arya's killing of the Waif was her personality asserting itself over a fate as a Faceless Man. However, it's far more likely that this was a metaphorical win for Arya over A Girl With No Name, rather than a literal one.
The Theory: There were two big throwdowns that fans were looking forward to this season — the Battle of the Bastards and Cleganbowl. The Battle of the Bastards got an entire episode (and one of the best episodes of the series so far), and for a while there it looked like Cleganebowl was also on the cards. This theory, based on the resurrection of both Clegane brothers, would see the Hound fighting the Mountain in a trial by combat. Cersei would be represented by the Mountain, while the Hound would be the representative of the Faith.
Dismissed: As epic as it would be to see these two powerhouses go head to head, it was not to be. The Hound's time with the Faith was short-lived and he's returned to being a murder-y loner. Trial by combat was outlawed by Tommen as a plot to have Cersei convicted of her crimes, and the Mountain's big finish this season was as a royal babysitter. Or as a torturer of the Septa, whichever you prefer.
Cersei Burns King's Landing To The Ground
The Theory: Leading up to Season 6, Cersei found herself backed into a corner, but she's not one to go quietly. There were lots of hints that Cersei might tap into the rumored stockpile of wildfire under King's Landing; she'd rather see the city burned than either her or her children threatened. Tyrion all but confirmed it when he told Dany a story of the mad King almost using the supply himself.
Boom! Confirmed: Cersei wasn't joking about turning cities to ash, and she decided to take out all her enemies in one fell swoop. Using Qyburn's (formerly Varys's) little birds, the wildfire was leaked and lit, right under the Sept of Baelor. When the barrels exploded she killed the Faith Militant, the queen, and all who had hoped to see her on trial.
Tommen Is Doomed
The Theory: We knew from Season 5, Episode 1 that Cersei was haunted by a prophecy for most of her life and Tommen's death was part of it. Told to Cersei by a fortune teller when she was young, the prophecy claimed she would wed a king (check), she would have three children (Joffrey, Myrcella, Tommen) and that all three of those children would die before her. With Joffrey and Myrcella both dead, Tommen was next on the chopping block. Though we didn't know quite how it would happen.
Confirmed: Poor Tommen, we hardly knew ye. A weak young man surrounded by incredibly powerful women, Tommen's short stint on the Iron Throne ended by his own choice. After Cersei blew up the Sept, Tommen's grief for his queen Margaery and his mother's betrayal was too much. With a leap out the window, Maggy's prophecy was fulfilled.
Cersei Is Doomed, Too
The Theory: Maggy's prophecy covered more than the death of Cersei's children — it predicts Cersei's death, too -
"When your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you."
The valonqar has been the subject of much discussion, with the word coming from the High Valyrian for "little brother." Some think that this refers to Tyrion, younger in age and physically very small, which would partly explain Cersei's unbridled hatred for him. Others, however, think it will be Jaime who kills her in a rage over her actions causing the death of their children.
Sure To Happen: It hasn't happened yet, but there is little doubt that Cersei will meet her doom at the hands of one of her brothers in the final two mini seasons. The rest of Maggy's prophecy has been fulfilled, so there is no reason to think that this final prediction won't be. Just a matter of who, not when.
The Theory: Since Sansa escaped Ramsay Bolton at the end of last season, fans speculated he wasn't done with her quite yet. A couple of lines had fans thinking that she might be pregnant; namely her reference to feeling what he did in her body and Ramsay's last speech claiming that he was inside of her now (Which, let's face it, is intensely creepy no matter what).
Probably Not: Although this hasn't been officially dismissed, it's very unlikely. Sophie Turner who plays Sansa said in an interview that she thinks these lines are more figurative than literal. As did Liam Cunningham. It's also been pointed out by fans that, given the passage of time, Sansa doesn't look very pregnant.
The King In The North (The Northern Conspiracy)
The Theory: This massive theory has been around for some time, and centers on the idea that Robb Stark legitimized Jon Snow before his death. In the book A Storm of Swords, Robb talks about making his half-brother Jon Snow his heir, should he die in battle — a decision that Catelyn is obviously less than thrilled about. The theory suggests that before his death, Robb Stark drew up papers naming Jon Snow the heir to the northern throne, and that the bannermen and Houses of the North are planning to back him as the new King in the North.
King In The North: The finale ended with Jon Snow being hailed as the King in the North, but Robb's wishes didn't come into play. Robb may have legitimized him as heir, but that didn't come up. Nor were all the Houses secretly behind Jon Snow — as we saw this season, many of them threw their luck behind the Boltons. However, Jon and Sansa managed to obliterate House Bolton and take back Winterfell, and (thanks to Lady Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island) the Northern Houses have now pledged to support Jon as king on his own merit.
Jon Has A Twin
The Theory: Jon's parentage may now be confirmed, but there are still questions about his family, including a theory that suggests Jon and Meera Reed are twins. This theory is based on the idea that Lyanna Stark died in childbirth bearing twins, and that each of the men who survived her rescue (Ned Stark and Howland Reed) took one of the babies to raise as their own. Based largely on physical appearances and the Tower of Joy story, this theory would make Meera a Stark/Targaryen as well as Jon, giving her a claim to the Iron Throne.
An Off-Screen Baby Girl: This season, we finally saw Jon Snow's birth and it looked like there was only one baby in the room. There was definitely only one handed to Ned Stark, which would suggest the Meera/Jon twin theory isn't true. While there is a possibility that baby Meera was off screen at the time and that she will be revealed at a later date, this would seem to be an unnecessary plot twist just as things are wrapping up.
The Third Head Of The Dragon
The Theory: Another theory based on a prophecy (Game of Thrones is big on prophecies), there is lots of speculation surrounding the three heads of the dragon. Spawned from a vision of Rhaegar's, this has led to many theories around who the three heads of the dragon would be. Daenerys is assumed to be one of the heads, as the last remaining true Targaryen, but who are the other two? Now that Jon Snow has been revealed to be half-Targaryen (and the ice to Daenerys's fire), we can assume that he is the second — but who is the third?
A popular theory suggests that Tyrion is the third head and possibly a half-Targaryen himself (son of Aerys).
Still Unknown: We got a hint that this could be the case this season with Tyrion's incredible scene with the dragons under the pyramid. His obsession with dragons may be the reason that he was able to "tame" them enough for their release, but others believe this was proof that Tyrion is destined to be the third dragon rider.
One of the most incredible things about Game of Thrones is the sheer volume of detail that goes into the history and prophecy surrounding the story. With a history stretching back thousands of years and characters that connect and parallel each other in myriad ways, it's no wonder that there are so many theories surrounding the show. Add in elements of magic, time travel, and fantasy and quite literally anything could happen.
With only two seasons left, we can't wait to find out where some of the remaining theories go. Who will kill Cersei? Will she die at all? Who will finally sit on the Iron Throne? Will Jon battle Daenerys, or marry her? And what will happen with the White Walkers? Will Summer ever come?
We'll have to wait and see, but these theories should give you something to think about in the time between now and Season 7.