The Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Conspiracy Theories

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It’s no True Detective, but HBO’s other prestige genre show has enough insane twists and byzantine plots to fuel many an Internet K-hole. Add to that the thousands of pages’ worth of books with quintuple the red herrings, and there’s fodder for as many insane fan theories as there are fans. We’ve compiled the best Game of Thrones conspiracy theories, honed over years of frantic hype. Since there’s more material to work with, A Song of Ice and Fire theories count too, though we’ve only included the books that the series has already covered (halfway through A Storm of Swords, as if you nerds didn’t know that already).

Eddard Stark Isn’t Really Jon’s Father

One of the better-supported theories out there, first and foremost for character reasons. Ned’s so honor-bound he decided to tell Cersei he was planning on outing her incestuous love affair, thereby guaranteeing his head would end up on a spike. His son inherited the same brand of well-intentioned stupidity, marrying a field medic instead of having a passionate flame like a normal person. Does Eddard really seem like the cheating type? As for Jon’s true parentage, book evidence points to Lyanna Stark, who made her older brother promise something as she lay dying towards the end of Robert’s Rebellion. Could it be she died in childbirth…with Rhaegar Targaryen’s baby? It conveniently explains both her passing and Rhaegar’s unfortunate decision to start a war. And makes Jon nephew to a certain Mother of Dragons.

Syrio Forel Is Alive, and Possibly Jaqen H’ghar

Arya’s sword/”dancing” teacher doesn’t die onscreen, nor does he explicitly lose his confrontation with Lannister henchmen in the books, either. That’s a curious choice for a series that didn’t shy away from brutally axing fan favorites like Eddard and Catelyn before our very eyes. Then there’s Jaqen, the assassin Arya meets at Harrenhal. Not only does he hail from the same city-state as Syrio; he’s also curiously buddy-buddy with a ten-year-old girl he’s never met before, and has the ability to change his face at will. Could they be the same person? Later developments in the books give the theory some additional heft, but we’ll leave that out.

Melisandre Is Wrong About Stannis

This isn’t quite a theory since it’s almost definitely true, but the question remains: if Stannis isn’t the messiah Melisandre believes will save the world from eternal darkness, who is? The Internet’s money is split between Daenerys, whose dragons seem like a pretty nifty darkness deterrent if there ever was one, and Jon Snow, whose Northern stomping grounds Stannis sees in the flames. (The book version amps up Melisandre’s messiah theory a bunch — his name is Azor Ahai, The Prince That Was Promised, and he has something to do with dragons. Melisandre gets led down the wrong path by Stannis’ dragon-festooned castle, but that just makes the evidence for confirmed-Targaryen Dany and possible-Targaryen Jon all the stronger.)

Tyrion Is the Mad King’s Bastard Son

Why else would Tywin hate him so much? We know he blames Tyrion for his beloved wife’s death, but maybe it’d take more than that and a physical deformity to turn such a coldly practical man against his highly capable son. Plus, Tywin makes a point of saying, multiple times, that Tyrion’s no son of his. Could that be literal? As for the theory that Tyrion’s biological father might be Aerys, that’s all based on the books. There’s a line in there about the Mad King’s attraction to Joanna Lannister, who would’ve been in King’s Landing while Tywin served as Hand. And while Peter Dinklage doesn’t wear colored contacts on the show, in A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion has two different colored eyes. Symbolism?

Joffrey Is the Yellow King

The trolliest of all True Detective fan theories. Of course, the Yellow King turned out to be a weird sacrificial altar made out of branches, skulls, and yellow cloth, thereby underwhelming pretty much everyone, not just the crazies who thought Marty Hart was the mastermind behind the ritual murders. Joke’s on you, Christopher Orr!