'Game of Thrones': Will Jon Snow Return?

Fans are having trouble letting go of Jon, but they might not have to.
Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones season five gave the HBO show its most hotly debated plot point yet: Is Jon Snow (Kit Harington) really dead?

When the sword fell on Jon's father Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), people were shocked, but they accepted it. Jon's death has been different, and the idea that he isn't permanently dead has only grown in intensity in the weeks since the season five finale, which saw Jon murdered by his Brothers in the Night's Watch.

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While everyone from the showrunners to Harington have said Jon is not returning, there are plenty of reasons to suggest this might not be the case — and the clues are in George R.R. Martin's books, which made Jon's death more ambiguous, and in the groundwork the show itself has laid.

What about Melisandre, Bran or Beric?

Here's a quote that electrified the Internet this week:

"If I had to bet, I would say it's a 50/50 chance," Emilia Clarke recently told MTV of the odds of Jon coming back. "There are some helpful people there who could bring Jon back to life."

The show has established people can come back from the dead, with Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) doing it in season three after a duel with The Hound (Rory McCann). Melisandre (Carice van Houten) witnessed the revival … and very conveniently showed up at The Wall shortly before Jon's death. She spent the first part of the season having a semi-creepy fascination with Jon, and is an obvious candidate for helping revive him. And why did we spend so much time with Beric unless his constant revivals from the dead would play into the larger storyline?

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Jon's brother Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) hasn't been seen since the season four finale, and he's presumably been spending his time learning the secrets of the universe while training with the three-eyed crow.  Bran is an established Warg — someone who can control animals by inhabiting their bodies for a short amount of time. In the books, Jon too has this power, which leads many to believe he warged into his direwolf Ghost. If so, perhaps Melisandre could somehow revive Jon's body, while Bran can use his warging expertise to retrieve his brother's consciousness from Ghost.

What about R+L=J?

The most popular book theory in existence puts forward the idea that Jon Snow is actually the son of Eddard's sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen (son to the mad king Aerys). According to the official story, Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna, who was bethrothed to Robert Baratheon. R+L=J posits that Lyanna became pregnant with Rhaegar's child (either by rape or as a willing participant), and on her death bed begged her brother Eddard to claim the child was his bastard. Why? Being a Targaryen, Jon would have been killed, like nearly all of Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) kin.

It's inevitable Jon's true parentage will be revealed in the books, as the showrunners have often told a story about how when they first met Martin, he asked them who Jon Snow's mother was, and they jokingly credit that their answer helped convince Martin he should let them adapt his series.

During season five, the HBO show seeded hints that Rhaegar was not the kidnapping rapist he'd been painted as, with Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) telling a story that suggested Rhaegar and Lyanna were perhaps lovers. More importantly, Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) told Daenerys  a story about how her brother Rhaegar preferred music to war, and had a gentle spirit. Why lay that groundwork of a sympathetic Rhaegar unless it would pay off down the road? 

Casting rumors suggest Game of Thrones could potentially flashback to a scene revealing Jon's parentage, and Sean Bean has said he believes at some point he will return to the show in flashback form to show for that scene. How unfulfilling would that parental reveal be if Jon isn't around to learn the truth? If he is really dead, why would even matter who his parents really were?

What about Azor Ahai?

According to a prophesy that is more than 5,000 years old, a great hero named Azor Ahai will be reborn, sent by R'hllor (AKA the Lord of Light). In the books, it is implied that Jon could be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai. Some book readers believe Azor defeated the Others (aka the White Walkers) during a previous long winter, and that Jon is destined to repeat his victories. Azor used a legendary, flaming sword called Lightbringer in his exploits.

Melisandre spent years believing Stannis (Stephen Dillane) was Azor Ahai, but in the season five finale she abandoned her former lord when it became clear he was doomed and she realized he was not the man she thought he was. Traveling to The Wall may have been her way of investigating if perhaps Jon was actually Azor. In the books, there have been strong hints that Jon is Azor. Before he was stabbed to death, he had a dream he was swinging a flaming sword while fighting White Walkers. (Sounds a lot like Azor Ahai).

Book speculation aside, it's also worth noting Harington was among the castmembers who renegotiated their contracts last year to include a pay bump and an option through season seven (should their characters live that long).

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