A Guide to the Many, Many Game of Thrones Season 6 Theories

Evan Lewis
Game of Thrones Bran

Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

When you play the Game of Theories, no one wins...

Spoiler Alert: This post contains plot points from the Game of Thrones books and TV series.

We're calling it right now: Hodor and Wun Wun will be reborn as Azor Ahai and the prince that was promised to lead the combined Stark/Baelish army against the oppressive forces of the White Walkers and the Mad Queen Daenerys.

A disproportionate amount of internet real estate these days is filled with Game of Thrones theory crafting. Everything from the ramshackle hovels of farfetched wish fulfillment (Syrio Forel is totally alive, guys!) to the solid foundations of the all but confirmed (R+L=J) has been clogging up precious bandwidth and vying for SEO supremacy since HBO’s favorite ratings juggernaut returned for Season 6.

It’s not possible, physically or emotionally, for one person to keep track of every proposed theory (not for lack of trying), but there are a few major ones that have been significantly built up or torn down over the past nine episodes. Allow us to spare your sanity, at the expense of our own, by curating some of the most relevant theories, then decide for yourself which ones could still factor into Sunday’s season finale.

Game of Thrones, Season finale, Sunday, June 26, 9/8c, HBO

Game of Thrones Brienne Blackfish

Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

Lady Stoneheart

The Theory: Lady Stoneheart, the vengeful reanimated corpse of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), is past due on Game of Thrones, but the undead matriarch's appearance on the show is still entirely theoretical. In A Storm of Swords, it’s revealed that the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), gave up his life to resurrect Catelyn a few days after the Red Wedding, and Catelyn became the new leader of the Brotherhood.

This Season’s Evidence: If Lady Stoneheart isn’t gearing up to make an appearance, the Game of Thrones showrunners are certainly having a laugh at our expense. First, Season 6 reintroduced Walder Frey (David Bradley) of Red Wedding infamy after a long absence from the show, then just about every other character started reminiscing about Catelyn, from Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Edumre (Tobias Menzies) to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and the Blackfish (Clive Russell). We even got to see glimpses of Catelyn’s death in Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead Wright) visions. To top it all off, a number of characters closely associated with Stoneheart in the books have started to show up, including Dondarrion, who resurrected her, and Lem Lemoncloak (Jóhannes Haukur) who is already dead on the show, but who could conceivably be replaced by The Hound (Rory McCann), since Lem had The Hound’s helmet in the books.

One more Season 6 reveal could also give Lady Stoneheart hopefuls reason to believe her character could still be introduced. The fact that Coldhands/Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) finally showed up long after his book counterpart could mean that Stoneheart is also just late instead of completely written out.

Alternate theory: Could the Blackfish be the show’s Lord Stoneheart? The biggest issue with the resurrection of Catelyn Stark at this point would be decomposition. In the books, she was dead for a few days before the Brotherhood found her, and even that was enough to dissuade Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) from bringing her back. So with as long as it’s been on the show, Catelyn would basically have to be a Walking Dead-style skeleton monster at this point.

But what if the show replaces Lady Stoneheart with Lord Stoneheart? Catelyn’s uncle Brynden Tully, better known as the Blackfish, was built up fairly significantly this season, only to die anticlimactically off screen. A freshly dead Tully could make for a better Stoneheart candidate, and the Blackfish’s experience with Brienne and her split loyalties to Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Jaime could potentially play into a major Stoneheart plot that’s still developing in the books.

Game of Thrones Jon Snow

Courtesy of HBO


The Theory: The Mother of Game of Thrones Theories relates to Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parentage. Simply put, the theory states that Jon (J) is not the bastard son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), but rather the child of Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark (L), and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (R), who may or may not have abducted her against her will.

The theory goes that Lyanna gave Jon to Ned before she died in the Tower of Joy, presumably due to complications during childbirth. To prevent a bloodthirsty Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) from killing Jon in an attempt destroy every Targaryen heir, Ned concealed Jon’s real mother and father.

This Season’s Evidence: The body of evidence for R+L=J has been mounting since Ned hinted that he’d tell Jon about his mother way back in the series pilot. Two major developments in Season 6 fanned the flames.

The first, Jon Snow’s resurrection at the hands of Melisandre (Carice van Houten), indicates not only that Jon is too important to the overall plot structure to lose, but that he, for whatever reason, has the favor of the Red God. The Lord of Light’s followers also seem to have taken a liking to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), so it’s possible that Jon is related to Dany, and that the Red God, like most of HBO’s target demographic, just has a thing for dragons and hot Targaryens (who may also be 2/3 of the Azor Ahai prophecy).

The second major scene from Season 6 related to this theory is Bran’s vision of the Tower of Joy, where Ned supposedly found Lyanna and Jon. The Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow), as concerned about spoilers as HBO’s publicity team, decides to pull Bran out of there before he can see what really happened, but there’s a chance we could see more in the finale, since Bran will definitely be returning.

Game of Thrones Daenerys

Courtesy of HBO

Mad Queen Daenerys

The Theory: Dany has made very little permanent progress since her quest to cross the Narrow Sea and retake Westeros began. Perhaps this is meant to be as maddening for her as it has been for the viewers. The Mad Queen theory postulates that Daenerys is actually the primary antagonist of the series, who will endanger all of the characters in Westeros with her overly Targaryen, burn-stuff-down style of leadership.

This Season’s Evidence: After murdering a bunch of violent tribal leaders by burning her clothes off again, Daenerys gave a speech about taking over the world that was strikingly similar to the one that the violent tribal leader she was sold to in Season 1 gave. Leading a horde to pillage an entire continent does sound like something an antagonist would do. Pair that with her plan to burn the cities of Slaver’s Bay to the ground regardless of the loss of innocent life, and as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) points out, she starts to sound uncomfortably like her father, Mad King Aerys.

King Aerys’s Wildfire

The Theory: King Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the Mad King, earned his nickname partly by ordering the creation of a stockpile of wildfire, a magical sort of napalm that can’t be extinguished once it starts to burn. Cersei (Lena Headey) is definitely plotting something with Qyburn, and theorists believe that she’ll use some of the Mad King’s leftover wildfire to raze a portion of King’s Landing to get out of her impending trial.

This Season’s Evidence: Whispers between Qyburn (Anton Lesser) and Cersei hint at some sort of devious plan now that the whole zombie Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) thing hasn’t panned out, but the best evidence for the wildfire theory comes from Bran Stark. In his visions of past and future(?) Bran sees the Mad King, a beaker of wildfire, and what appears to be a big green explosion in King’s Landing. There are things other than Cersei that could set off a big explosion in the capital city, but nothing Bran saw ruled out her involvement.

Game of Thrones Tyrion

Courtesy of HBO

Tyrion Targaryen

The Theory: Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) was not the most loving father to his twins Jaime and Cersei, but he always downright hated Tyrion. This could be because Tyrion’s mother died while giving birth to him, and Tywin could never forgive him for that, but it could also be because Tyrion isn’t really Tywin’s son. King Aerys Targaryen may have had an affair with Tywin’s wife Joanna, impregnating her and making Tyrion yet another secret Targaryen, if the R+L=J theory also turns out to be true.

This Season’s Evidence: This theory got a major boot this season when Tyrion proved that he could charm Daenerys’s dragons. To most, the dragons are hostile or unpredictable, but when Tyrion went under the great pyramid to unchain the beasts, he seemed to form something of a bond with them. This could simply mean that the dragons were smart enough to realize that Tyrion was there to help, or it could mean that they recognized their mother’s blood relation.

Game of Thrones Hound

Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO


The Theory: The Clegane brothers, Sandor (the Hound) and Gregor (the Mountain), do not like each other. When the Hound was just a pup, the Mountain shoved his face into a fire. In Season 1, the two brothers nearly battled it out on a tournament field, but King Robert stopped them before they could settle their differences. Now that the Hound has returned to the show and healed up from the near-fatal beating he took from Brienne, and the Mountain has been revived from his Viper bite by Qyburn, fans are hoping the two will cross paths and finish their duel.

This Season’s Evidence: Other than the fact that the Hound is actually alive when he was previously believed to be dead, this theory is looking pretty thin. Cersei Lannister’s trial by combat, the arena in which Cleganebowl proponents argued that the zombified Mountain could represent Cersei and the Hound could represent the Faith, has been called off by King Tommen in favor of a less violent, but probably equally as ridiculous form of judgement. It seems unlikely that anything else would bring the two to the same place any time soon.

Game of Thrones Daenerys Yara

courtesy of HBO

Bonus Theories!

  • Daenerys and Yara (Gemma Whelan) will get married and live happily ever after as joint queens of the Seven Kingdoms. The Stormborn-Targaryen-Greyjoys will peacefully grow old together, splitting their time between their summer beach house in the Iron Islands and their snowbird getaway in the burbs of King’s Landing.

  • Also, Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) will win Brienne of Tarth’s affections, and together they will have a litter of giant warrior babies.

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