Beyond The Wall

What to Know About That Big 'Game of Thrones' Prophecy That Brings Jon & Daenerys Together

melisandre game of thrones season 7 prophecy
HBO
This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2, "Stormborn," and every episode before it. Visit our "Beyond the Wall" hub for more Thrones recaps, theories, and spoilers.

Talk about great timing. Only a few days after landing on the shores of Dragonstone, a visitor knocked at Daenerys Targaryen's oversized castle door, and in this week's episode of Game of Thrones, "Stormborn," it's a surprise that Melisandre is the one who knocks. Daenerys welcomes her warmly into the fortress. Afer all, Melisandre's fellow Lord of Light worshippers -- like the Red Priestess, Kinvara -- helped restore peace to Meereen by spreading word that the Mother of Dragons was sent by their god, R'hollor, to end slavery – fulfilling an ancient prophecy.

"The Long Night is coming," Melisandre tells Daenerys of why she's come to her. "Only the prince who was promised can bring the dawn."

It's not the first time we've heard about "The Prince That Was Promised" on Game of Thrones. Melisandre once believed the title referred to Stannis Baratheon, and later to Jon Snow. Now, it appears that Daenerys has something to do with it, too. And with the revelation that "prince" has no gender in Valaryian, might Dany be the the princess who was promised? The one to end the Long Night and restore peace to the world?

"I believe you have a role to play," Melisandre admits. "As does another: the King in the North, Jon Snow."

So, what exactly is the Prince That Was Promised prophecy and why is it so important? Is it possible that it refers to both Daenerys and Jon? Here's a brief history of the Long Night, Azor Ahai, the Prince That Was Promised, and what he or she could mean for the future of Westeros.

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HBO

The Long Night comes again

The "Long Night" that Melisandre refers to is the growing threat of the White Walkers, who bring with them a harsh and endless winter. She knows this, because there is another Long Night on record, one that happened 8,000 years before the Targaryens invaded Westeros. This Long Night lasted a generation, freezing crops and killing thousands. Like the Great Flood described in our own Western religions, every sect and region – from Westeros to Essos – has their own accord of the Long Night, and of the hero who finally ended it. The people of Melisandre's homeland of Asshai call this hero Azor Ahai, and he is a key figure in the teachings of R'hollor. According to the prophecy, another Long Night will come, and Azor Ahai will be reborn to fight the White Walkers and end it once more. The reincarnation of Azor is referred to as the Prince That Was Promised.

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HBO

Fire, birth, sacrifice, dragons

There are many "rules" and interpretations that come with the Prince That Was Promised prophecy, but the main means of identification seem to be that he or she will be reborn "amidst salt and smoke" and beneath a bleeding star, and that they will wield a flaming sword known as Lightbringer. There is also talk of this hero waking stone dragons.

In George R.R. Martin's books, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen -- Dany's brother -- is obsessed with the prophecy, and believes that it refers to either himself or someone in his direct bloodline. In the second book, A Clash of Kings, Dany has a vision of Rhaegar in the House of the Undying, where he speaks to his wife, Elia, of their son. "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire," he says. Rhaegar also mentions that the "dragon has three heads," another oft-repeated element of the prophecy.

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HBO

Daenerys is a strong candidate...

So, who exactly is the Prince That Was Promised? Fans have been wondering for decades now, and the show is inching closer and closer to a reveal. If we take what we know, Daenerys Targaryen is the most obvious answer. She was reborn in Khal Drogo's funeral pyre, amidst the salt of her tears and the smoke of the fire, and woke stone dragon eggs in the process. She doesn't have a fiery sword, but she does have three fiery dragons, and, as Melisandre points out, prophecies aren't always precise. As Rhaegar's sister, she is of his bloodline, and she has three literal dragon heads. As for the bleeding star, remember the red comet we see in Season 2? It showed up right after her dragons hatched and she left the pyre unburnt.

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HBO

...but don't rule out Jon Snow

Yes, Dany fits all the requirements, but Melisandre is fixed on Jon Snow. She has, of course, been wrong before. Her blind faith in Stannis Baratheon led to the unnecessary burning of his daughter Shireen, the decimation of his army, the suicide of his wife, and, ultimately, his death. Melisandre, so desperate for a Prince to follow, misread the signs – to the detriment of everyone who put faith in her fire.

But what if Stannis was only the conduit through which Melisandre would eventually find Jon Snow? In the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons, a frustrated Mel asks for a sign from her god. "I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hollor shows me only Snow," she ponders. And yes, "Snow" is capitalized in the text, which seems like a pretty big wink from the holy R'hollor.
In the show, Jon is also, quite literally, reborn. It's hard to parse out what might be the salt and smoke (The fireplace? The potions Mel uses?) but again, those finer details might matter less than the actuality of his rebirth. Or perhaps we're talking about his first birth, to his mother, Lyanna, who died shortly after. On the show, when Ned arrives at the scene, he sets a sword at Lyanna's bedside: Arthur Dayne's sword, Dawn. Emblazoned on Dawn is a fiery star, to symbolize the falling star it was said to be forged from.

And if the popular R+L=J theory proves to be true, and Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and therefore part of his bloodline, this would make him – as a Stark/Targaryen – the "song of ice and fire" that Rhaegar spoke of in Dany's vision. Jon's also currently leading the fight against the White Walkers, just like Azor Ahai, and has an interesting dynamic with the Night King, who watched him with piqued curiosity at Hardhome. Does he sense a threat in Jon?

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HBO

The dragon has three heads

Given the importance of both Jon and Dany in the great war to come, it seems pretty likely that together they'll fulfill the Prince That Was Promised prophecy. And, if the whole "the dragon has three heads" part is important, maybe there's another who will complete it. Tyron Lannister is one popular theory, and in the books there are even some hints that he might be a secret Targaryen himself. Bran is another option, since the Three-Eyed Raven told him he'd fly one day – maybe by warging into one of Dany's dragons?

Or maybe Jon and Dany will fall in love and conceive a baby, and he'll be the Prince That Was Promised -- the true song of ice and fire. It's pretty unlikely that the story will go on long enough for him to grow old enough to fight, but maybe the birth will trigger some sort of magical event, enough to send ripples into the next Long Night.

For now, it's really anyone's guess. But next week's episode promises to finally unite Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, an event seven seasons in the making. No matter how it plays out, we're sure these two will do big things together.

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Lindsey Romain is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She covers politics for Teen Vogue and has also appeared in Vulture, Birth.Movies.Death, and more. Follow her on Twitter @lindseyromain.