Last Night's GAME OF THRONES Season Finale Confirmed The Biggest ASOIAF Fan Theory of Them All
This article contains spoilers for Season 6 of HBO's Game of Thrones. If you haven't caught up, turn back now.
Since the very beginning of the series, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels and HBO's mega-successful TV adaptation Game of Thrones has teased the mystery of Jon Snow's true parentage. When showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss initially met with Martin about adapting the show, the biggest reason Martin gave them his blessing was because he asked them who Jon's real mother was and they answered correctly. Listen to them tell the story themselves, starting around the 27:10 mark below.
Book readers have been left hanging on issue this for twenty years, and as you can imagine for a property that has such fervent fans, some theories popped up about it. One particular theory has been around far longer than the godawful "Sansa is pregnant with Ramsay's rape child" theory, or the one about Jon Snow being resurrected with the mind of a wolf, or any other ridiculous one you may have heard about this season as large portions of the story continued passed the established events in Martin's novels.
The biggest, most well-known fan theory about the books and the show is known by the spoiler-friendly name "R+L=J," which stands for "Rhaegar plus Lyanna equals Jon," and that theory was finally confirmed in last night's season six finale, "The Winds of Winter." If you're looking at those names and scratching your head, let me break it down for you.
Rhaegar Targaryen was Dany's older brother. He was married to Elia Martell, but was in love with Ned Stark's sister Lyanna, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon. Rhaegar and Lyanna ran off together, which infuriated Robert and kickstarted an event known as Robert's Rebellion, a battle that ended with most of the Targaryens dead (including Rhaegar and the Mad King) and Robert on the Iron Throne. Remember how Ned and Robert disagreed about sending assassins to kill Dany early in the show? That's because Robert knew his claim to the throne was suspect (he usurped it) and didn't want her coming back to stake her claim one day (too bad, dude — she's on the way now!). The story that spread throughout the land was how Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna, but the two were actually lovers, and Lyanna birthed Jon in a place nicknamed the Tower of Joy (as we saw last night). She made Ned promise to raise him as his bastard "son" to keep Jon safe from Robert's wrath, because if he found out about Jon's true heritage, Robert would surely have him killed.
So Ned, being the honorable man he was, kept the promise he made to his dying sister all those years ago and never told anyone — not even his own wife, Catelyn, who despised Jon because she thought he was the product of Ned cheating on her with another woman.
So Jon Snow isn't a Snow at all — he's a Targaryen. He's Dany's nephew! A Song of Ice and Fire may be about Jon himself, the resurrected offspring of both Stark (Ice) and Fire (Targaryen). Mind blown, right? As Vanity Fair points out, the show has hinted multiple times at this reveal. You had to know what you were looking for, and you could put the pieces together.
That cut in last night's episode from Lyanna's brown-eyed baby to Jon's bearded face is as much confirmation as we need. R+L=J is one Game of Thrones fan theory that actually came true.