Beyond The Wall

The Craziest Theories in 'Game of Thrones' History

This post contains spoilers for all available Game of Thrones episodes and books. Visit our "Beyond the Wall" hub for more GoT recaps, theories, and spoilers.

Being an ongoing television show and an in-progress series of novels means that HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones, and the original source material that supplies it with direction, often collide to inform and/or discount each other. George R.R. Martin has talked about the butterfly effect; small changes to his story could (or have) completely changed the endgame. Without preloaded payoffs, Thrones has become a catalyst for wild speculation. The show has answered questions that the novels have only hinted at -- Jon Snow's parentage, his resurrection, and the true meaning of "Hodor" -- but that hasn't stopped any antsy viewers from imagining (and often declaring in an Internet forum) what's to come in the end.

The guessing game has not always been... levelheaded. Here, we've collected some of the craziest theories that have bubbled up around both Game of Thrones and the A Song of Ice and Fire books, determined if they're still on the table or a distant, wacky memory, and asked the essential question of each one: "Is this theory crazy crazy, or crazy like a fox?"

Robert
HBO

Robert Baratheon is... alive!

Show status: Not true.
Book status: Dubious, but not impossible.
The logic behind it: This one makes more sense to people who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, where chapters written from various points of view take us around Robert Baratheon's death at the hands of an accurate boar, but manage to avoid anyone seeing his body or attending his funeral firsthand. On the show, it isn't until Season 3 ("And Now His Watch Has Ended") that we find out Robert wasn't buried in the Sept of Baelor in King's Landing, but sent to Storm's End. It's another occasion where we only hear about dead Robert Baratheon secondhand. No body plus no firsthand accounts means Robert could still be alive, but some book readers think Robert's been actively participating in the story as Strong Belwas, a character from the novels that was never introduced on the show. That probably means this theory is debunked.

euron dragonbinder
HBO

Euron has a dragon horn in his back pocket

Show status: Unlikely
Book status: When is George R.R. Martin going to publish Winds of Winter?
The logic behind it: In Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, most Westerosian "history" learned by characters could very well be legends more than factual accounts of what happened before the novels. Then again, the worlds of Essos and Westeros contain a great deal of magic, seemingly more everyday. There are two magical horns of myth that seem super-important in Game of Thrones lore: the first is a horn that can magically bring down The Wall, and the second is a horn called "Dragonbinder." It does what it sounds like: It bends the will of dragons so they fall under control of the person with the horn, not their mothers or other people with Targaryen blood. In the books, it sounds like Euron Greyjoy has Dragonbinder, which could have turned the battles decisively in Cersei's favor all through Season 7 if the horn existed on the show. At one point, Pilou Asbæk, who plays Euron Greyjoy, trolled fans by saying: "Guys! First of all, this is a fictional character. I am here as an actor to interpret. Yeah, he doesn't have an eye patch. Yeah, he doesn't have the Dragonbinder... or does he?'" He probably doesn't.

hodor horse
HBO

Hodor is a horse

Show status: False
Book status: Likely false (as it has nothing to do with doors)
The logic behind it: This theory all depends on how much you want to read into the relationship between Lyanna Stark and Wylis, the stable boy that Three-Eyed Raven-empowered Bran fated to become Hodor. Before "The Door" revealed to us the simple meaning behind "Hodor," fans struggled with how the capable, English-speaking Wylis became the mentally damaged Hodor of later seasons. There was conjecture that, as a stable boy, there was a high probability that a horse kicked him in the head.

Some fans took it even further, suggesting that Wylis was at one time a warg that would frequently spend time inhabiting Lyanna Stark's white horse. Wylis would appreciate the affection from Lyanna and enjoy galloping around the North, but came close to losing himself in the horse's mind. Or, it's possible the horse died unexpectedly while Wylis was warging into it, leaving only "Hodor" behind, part man, part animal. This seemed like it would explain why Bran could warg into Hodor -- Hodor was part horse to Wylis' full human -- but the actual events ended up being much more chilling.

howland high
HBO

Howland Reed is actually the High Sparrow

Show status: That'd be the weirdest, delayed reveal on television.
Book status: Murky
The logic behind it: This one may mean even less to people who watch the show than it does to people who read the novels, but the whereabouts of Howland Reed was a burning question before Bran gained the Three-Eyed Raven's ability to play back history. Howland Reed was the only member of Ned Stark's party to survive the attack at the Tower of Joy (he was the one who stabbed Ser Arthur Dayne in the back). Therefore, he would be one of the few to know Jon Snow's true parentage.

In the book A Feast For Crows, the High Sparrow is forcibly elected High Septon and all High Septons abandon their name, so the true identity of the High Sparrow is as masked in the books as he is on the series. In the book, the High Sparrow makes reference when talking to Cersei about the Sept of Baelor being dirtied by the execution of Ned Stark (who prayed to the Old Gods and did not follow the Sparrow's religion), and the Sparrow in the book fails to anoint Tommen as the King, suggesting to some that he's waiting for Jon (Snow) Targaryen to resurface so Howland Sparrow can recognize his lineage in the Light of the Seven.

syria jaquen
HBO

Arya's old sparring partner, Syrio Forel, is Jaqen H'ghar

Show status: False.
Book status: Probably False.
The logic behind it: Another crazy theory spun out of the valid belief that if a presumed-murdered character's body is not seen bleeding out on-screen that we cannot officially confirm that said character is dead. What if Arya Stark's favorite sword fighting teacher actually didn't die at the hand of Meryn Trant in Season 1? What if Syrio Forel is still around because he was Braavosi, and we know another Bravosi fighter of great renown: the Faceless Men.

People who hold out hope for Syrio Forel clung to a truth about our heroine, a "No One" in training: "If she can wear any face, Arya could be anyone." Most of these hopes and theories were dashed last season when Arya got her revenge on Meryn Trant (who was beating young whore girls at the time, so he deserved it). Justice for Syrio was served. If Thrones planned on having Syrio turn up, Jaqen might have stopped Arya from having to murder that guy. Or once Arya left the House of Black and White after rejecting most of the Faceless teachings, Jaqen might have taken off his mask (or put on his Syrio one?). Neither happened. Syrio Forel is dead. Long live Syrio Forel.

Bran
HBO

Bran is R'hllor, the Lord of Light

Show status: Unprovable
Book status: Uncharacteristically sci-fi.
The logic behind it: Conceived between Season 6's "Oathbreaker" and "The Door," this theory focuses in on Bran being able to make Ned Stark stop in his tracks while climbing the stairs at the Tower of Joy. The Three-Eyed Raven assures Bran that the ink is already dry and his father only heard the wind, but Bran, and the audience, is convinced Bran can somehow influence the past. What if the Night King actually wins the war between the living and the dead and all Bran can do as the Three-Eyed Raven is dip into the past to save everyone? This theory suggests that Bran is influencing history at R'hllor, the Lord of Light, this time, from a future where humanity has lost. This starts from whispering in the ear of the Mad King and maybe even originating the voice Varys heard come from the fire of his mutilating magician. We don't know how people in the past can "hear" Bran Stark, nor have we heard the Lord of Light, but both are supernatural presences. That is, if you think Game of Thrones is going to end up being a story with a lot of time travel at the end of it.

hizdahr zo loraq
HBO

Hizdahr zo Loraq ran the Sons of the Harpy

Show status: Not impossible.
Book status: Kind of a totally different situation, so...
The logic behind it: Remember the Sons of the Harpy? That's right, those golden-masked people in Meereen who killed Ser Barristan Selmy and severely injured Grey Worm. When Tyrion and Varys arrived to govern the city in Daenerys' absence, Varys was quick to send out his little birds to find out about the Sons of the Harpy and deduced they were being funded by the Great Slave Masters of then-Slaver's Bay (now Bay of Dragons -- long live the Breaker of Chains).

Up until she re-opened the fighting pits to disastrous results, Thrones fans were convinced that a character we knew was secretly the leader of the Sons of the Harpy: Hizdahr zo Loraq, the son of one of the old noble families of Meereen, and almost the Dragon King. Remember, Dany crucified his father when she took the city and frequently denied his counsel about what would be good for its population. Maybe, because Hizdahr was secretly playing both sides. The most interesting scene when viewed with this reading in mind is when Dany takes the leaders of the noble families, including Hizdahr, for some dragon intimidation. All the men besides Hizdahr fall to their knees and beg for someone to spare their lives... but were they begging to Hizdahr or to Dany?

sansa wedding
HBO

Sansa will marry a Targaryen

Show status: Nah.
Book status: Seems possible!
The logic behind it: This one is book only, but is orbiting an actual George R.R. Martin proclivity to have slightly modified events repeat throughout time. The theory has to do with a tourney in The Hedge Knight, the first book of the "Dunk and Egg" A Song of Ice and Fire spin-off novellas that follow Ser Duncan the Tall and Aegon V Targaryen ("Egg"). In that novella, the two end up at a tournament for a 13-year-old lady's name day. The Lady Ashford ended up having five champions fighting for her that day (if you defeated her champion, you became her champion): Lyonel Baratheon, Leo Tyrell, Tybolt Lannister, Humfrey Hardyng, and Prince Valarr Targaryen.

Back in the novels (behind where we are in the series), Sansa is at the Vale where Littlefinger plans to marry her off to Harry Hardyng. Sansa of the books is also 13 and has been engaged to Joffrey Baratheon, Willas Tyrell (in the show, Loras Tyrell was briefly engaged to Sansa instead), Tyrion Lannister, and now Harry Hardyng. Which means she's right on track to marry a Targaryen next, if the historical pattern holds. Book readers are hoping it ends up being Aegon VI Targaryen (a character who didn't make the show), not a post-resurrection Jon. Show watchers dodged this possibility, instead suffering through the Ramsay/Sansa marriage instead. 

balon death
HBO

Balon Greyjoy was killed by a Faceless Man

Show status: False
Book status: True?
The logic behind it: Balon Greyjoy was the last of the Five Kings from the War of the Five Kings to meet his end on the show. This isn't the case in the books, but the circumstance of murder remains the same in both mediums: while crossing a bridge at Pyke, a hooded man confronts and kills Balon. In the novel A Storm of Swords, we only hear of Balon's death instead of witnessing it through the eyes of a character. But there is evidence that the person who killed Balon was a Faceless Man: A seer named the "Ghost of High Heart" gives a prophecy to Arya and Beric Dondarrion's men that says, "I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks. All this I dreamt, and more."

The shadow butchering a stag is the death of Renly Baratheon by smoke baby, and the woman that is a fish is Catelyn Tully (Catelyn Stark) whose body was dumped in a river after the Red Wedding. The middle prediction is about Balon's death, but indicates a "man without a face" that has a drowned crow. The drowned crow is Euron "Crow's Eye" Greyjoy, but the crow being perched on shoulder of the man seems to mean Euron hired the House of Black and White. In the show, Euron does the dirty deed himself.

dany time travel
HBO

Daenerys can (or will) time travel

Show status: Uh...
Book status: Well...
The logic behind it: This one goes back to Season 2 of the series, when Jorah Mormont happens across a mysterious masked woman named Quaithe in the city of Qarth. In the books, Quaithe gives even more prophecies, but never removes her mask or reveals her identity. Much like the idea that Bran could be the Lord of Light, this theory suggests that Daenerys Targaryen gets thrown back in time at some point in the future and decides to come back and give both herself and Jorah advice as a mysterious masked stranger. Maybe because in a world with Faceless Men, it's dangerous to have a true time doppelgänger?

This would require Dany to absorb some new types of magic she hasn't displayed yet. Since she hasn't come face-to-face with a Three-Eyed Raven -- and since Bran hasn't mentioned the Dragon King -- it's hard to conjure a world where Bran lets Daenerys go back to correct some of her mistakes and doing so through cryptic prophecy... but it's not impossible.

roose bolton
HBO

Roose Bolton is an undead monster

Show status: Unlikely.
Book status: Unprovable, undisprovable.
The logic behind it: This theory didn't manage to make it through Season 6 unscathed, thanks to Ramsay Bolton's planting a dagger in his dad's chest at the captured Winterfell. But based mostly on descriptions of his behavior in the books, some think that Roose Bolton, head of House Bolton, isn't a man: rather, he's some sort of vampire or undead monster. This mostly comes from his George R.R. Martin written descriptions, which can be read out of context as basically inhuman:

In Game of Thrones: "His eyes were curiously pale, almost without color, and his look disturbing."

In A Clash of Kings: "He had a plain face, beardless and ordinary, notable only for his queer pale eyes. Neither plump, thin, nor muscular, ... Only his eyes moved; they were very pale, the color of ice."

Then there's the fact that Roose Bolton of the novels gets regularly leeches, which he claims purges the "bad blood" from his body. Compare this with a Coldhands quote from the third novel, A Storm of Swords: "Once the heart has ceased to beat, a man's blood runs down into his extremities, where it thickens and congeals." Doesn't it sound like Roose Bolton could be leeching congealing blood out of himself? Gross. Apparently he also smells weird and barely eats. There's even a line or two about him mopping up blood from his rare meat with bread. There's more textual evidence that Roose Bolton is an undead monster than there is for most of the other theories on this page.

meera jon
HBO

Meera is Jon's twin sister

Show status: False
Book status: To quote Star Wars...
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be the Jedi Anakin Skywalker and 'became' the Sith Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So, what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
The logic behind it: Although some people think this theory arose because Kit Harrington and Ellie Kendrick, the actress who plays Meera, have similar hair, it actually grew out of speculation about who could be the third head of the dragon from the "Dragon has three heads" prophecy about the "Prince That was Promised." If they all have to be Targaryens, then Jon and Dany makes two... who is the third?

In a Vulture interview in 2012, George R.R. Martin told Alfie Allen who Jon Snow's parents were, which Allen described as "a bit of a Luke Skywalker situation." Years later it seems more likely this means Jon Snow is going to fall in love with Aunt Daenerys, but back then it got the fandom thinking: What if Jon Snow also had a secret twin sister? The thinking being that Meera Reed, "daughter" of Howland Reed, the only other Stark loyalist to survive the Tower of Joy, is actually a daughter of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark -- a third Targaryen. There are many reasons this could have been true (if Meera is the same age as Robb and Jon and their dads were so close, why isn't she engaged to one of them?), but more compelling reasons it is not (Meera has green eyes; Starks don't have green eyes).

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Dave Gonzales took The Black in 2012 and has been defending the realms of men ever since. His watch began on Twitter @Da7e and through the Weirwood 'net at StormofSpoilers.com.