ByElise Jost, writer at
"It's a UNIX system! I know this!" Twitter @elisejost
Elise Jost

Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 10 "The Winds of Winter"!

The R+L=J theory had been rocking the Game of Thrones fandom for a while now, and the show even teased us with a preview of the Tower of Joy back in Episode 3. Now, the Season 6 finale finally confirmed what book readers had been anticipating all along: Jon Snow isn't Ned Stark's bastard son, he's his nephew.

That's because R is Rhaegar Targaryen, L is Lyanna Stark, sister of Ned Stark, and J is Jon Snow. In the flashback to the Tower of Joy, we saw Ned Stark come to the rescue of his sister, who gave him a newborn baby and made him promise to protect him. Protect him mostly from Robert Baratheon, who's become a true Targaryen hater ever since his betrothed Lyanna received blue roses from Rhaegar at the tourney of Harrenhal.

Jon Is A Targaryen: Did You See It Coming?

'Game of Thrones' / HBO via MTV
'Game of Thrones' / HBO via MTV

Of course, Game of Thrones isn't the kind of show that would just drop a plot twist on its fans without giving a few hints before, and the R+L=J theory was no exception. Season 5 was rich in indications that Jon Snow wasn't the bastard son we'd all been told he was.

Sansa and Littlefinger in the crypt of Winterfell / HBO
Sansa and Littlefinger in the crypt of Winterfell / HBO

The most obvious hint might be when Littlefinger walks up to Sansa in the crypt of Winterfell in Season 5, Episode 4. He tells her about the tourney at Harrenhal, the key to the story of Sansa's aunt Lyanna, and how Prince Rhaegar basically kickstarted the war by putting a few roses in Lyanna's lap. The fact that Sansa and Littlefinger discuss what truth lies behind these events — Sansa believing that her aunt was kidnapped and raped — is just the first sign of how crucial to the story Lyanna is about to become.

Keeping in line with the hints that Rhaegar might not be a kidnapper, despite everyone's beliefs, Ser Barristan tells Daenerys during the same episode about how Rhaegar loved to sing: "Rhaegar never loved killing, he loved singing." Surely a man like that wouldn't kidnap and rape someone else's betrothed?

But it's a scene in Season 5, Episode 5 that might have dropped the biggest hint of all. Just before he dies, Maester Aemon wistfully comments that: "A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing." And boom, the next frame shows us Jon Snow's face.

Add to that Ser Alliser Thorne's iconic line in Season 5 Episode 9: "You have a good heart, Jon Snow. It'll get us all killed." While it was mostly relevant to the Night's Watch massacre at Hardhome, it's a strong parallel with the story of Rhaegar and Lyanna, whose love provoked Robert Baratheon to the point where thousands of people died in a bloody war.

Can you think of more hints? YouTube user Robbie McD compiled all the signs he could find in a video that was already solid proof for the R+L=J theory when it was created last November.

What's Next For The Son Of R And L?

Jon Snow in 'Game of Thrones' / HBO
Jon Snow in 'Game of Thrones' / HBO

So, what happens now? While L was pretty much confirmed in R+L=J, is the R just a matter of accepting a family tree that has been impatiently waiting to fall into place, or is another plot twist coming? Funny how Robert Baratheon's name also starts with an R, and he just happened to be waiting to marry Lyanna.

While that seems very unlikely, the main question is what Jon Snow will do once he finds out the latest version of his birth story. Since he was freshly proclaimed King in the North and doesn't have many soldiers left, it's hard to imagine him riding off to King's Landing right away.

Is The Song Of Ice And Fire Finally Coming Together?

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen / HBO
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen / HBO

There's already quite a few contestants lined up for the Iron Throne, but what if two of the biggest competitors didn't have to resort to a war to decide who would rule over Westeros? What if Jon Snow actually joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen, especially now that he turns out to be a Targaryen himself? Marrying within the family isn't unusual for the former line of kings, and Daenerys has already left her dear lover Daario behind so he wouldn't step in the way of any strategic wedding arrangements.

And even if Jon Snow doesn't really feel like leaving his frozen lands, he might actually need Daenerys to join him against the White Walkers. Which would mean that the title of the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is telling us that Game of Thrones is heading toward the union of Jon Snow — the ice — and Daenerys Targaryen — the fire.

What do you think is Jon Snow going to do once he finds out that he's a Targaryen?


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