In the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale, one huge disclosure appeared to take place: Jon Snow’s true parentage. Or was it?
Since the beginning of Game of Thrones, questions have swirled around Jon Snow’s parental origins. In the Season 6 finale, after years and years of speculation, it seemed that fans had finally gotten an answer.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is the biological son of Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi) and Rhaegar Targaryen. Or is he?
Everything lined up with the exception of one curious omission. What exactly did a dying Lyanna whisper to her dear brother, Ned (Robert Aramayo) and if there is no mystery left, why didn’t the audience get to hear it?
The fact we did not actually hear her say those oh-so-important words begs a few questions.
What if Lyanna did not say baby Jon Snow was her son? What if she said that he was baby Aegon Targaryen, the son of Elia Martell and Rhaegar Targaryen? What if she asked Ned to smuggle him to safety?
What if Jon is a Targaryen by way of House Martell? It would certainly explain Ned’s lack of enthusiasm over his sister’s request. Why else would he seemingly resist taking custody of the baby?
While there are a myriad of clues in the books about Aegon surviving, including a young man who claims to be him. We are going to principally stick with the TV show’s mythology to present this theory and explore two possible ways Jon could be a Martell/Targaryen.
The first being that aspects of Aegon’s story have been melded with Jon’s and the second being that Jon is a secret Martell/Targaryen as the third child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell.
First, Some Backstory…
Aegon Targaryen was the youngest child and only son of Rhaegar and Elia. The infant was supposedly murdered during the Sack of King’s Landing by Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain, along with his sister Rhaenys and their mother.
Remember, Oberyn Martell? In Season 4, he fights as Tyrion’s champion in order to get revenge on The Mountain for the atrocity. Based on the book, the timeline is a bit of a stretch. However, the TV show has not explicitly stated the age of Aegon when he was supposedly killed. This would mean he could have been a small baby when Ned found Lyanna.
Since the series has completely omitted the Aegon storyline from the books, they might have folded it into Jon’s. Game of Thrones did a similar thing when they gave Jeyne Poole’s story to Sansa (Sophie Turner) in Season 5.
Casting on Game of Thrones can tell us a lot, and no one is ever cast in any series by accident. It can oftentimes be a subtle hint of family ties to come. As cast, Jon Snow has features that more closely resemble that of a Martell than a Stark. While Jon physically favors his brothers/cousins, he is the only Stark to possess curly hair, and curly hair is a well-known Martell trait.
Most telling is the Game of Thrones Season 6 promo poster. In it, notable characters from the past and present are shown exhibited in the Faceless God’s display case. In one of them, Jon is displayed in the upper left-hand corner. Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) is in the same column in the third/bottom row. The resemblance in this particular poster is uncanny. See for yourself.
While Jon’s nobility has been attributed to his Stark bloodlines, it could also be explained by the Martell’s. Jon’s temperament is heavily reminiscent of Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), Elia and Oberyn’s older brother. Doran was a noble man and leader, who wanted to avoid war at all cost. Sound familiar?
How do you explain Jon’s swordsmanship? His Uncle Ned was not an outstanding swordsman, and neither was his biological father, Rhaegar. In Season 6, Game of Thrones goes out of its way to declare what an exceptional swordsman Jon is.
In “Battle of the Bastards,” Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) rejects a deal to duel with Jon, saying the people of the North talk about Jon as if he is “the greatest swordsman who ever walked.” That is quite a reputation.
As we saw in his face off with The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), Oberyn Martell was a highly skilled swordsman. Could Jon have inherited his skills from him?
Why were we not privy to everything Lyanna said to Ned?
As exciting a moment as it was to have confirmation that Jon was not the illegitimate son of Ned Stark. We never received verbal confirmation Lyanna was actually Jon’s mother. We saw a dying Lyanna, a swaddled baby, and Lyanna whispering something to Ned before she asked him to “promise” her.
If everything meant what we took it to mean, why weren’t we allowed to hear what she whispered? Would Jon’s birth name be that big of a secret? Or was there another reason we were left out of the loop?
Where Ned finds Lyanna is very important. The Tower of Joy is in Dornish territory. Why Lyanna was in Dorne when she had likely run off with Elia Martell’s husband of her own free will is a huge mystery. Why would Rhaegar hide his lover in his wife’s homeland, especially if said lover was having his child?
Why would Lyanna want Ned to protect Rhaegar’s son if he were not hers?
Now the question you are probably wondering at this point is why Lyanna would want her brother to go to such great lengths to protect her lover’s baby son? The possible answer: because she loved Rhaegar and therefore his children.
She might have blamed herself for Robert’s Rebellion and seen it as her responsibility to protect Rhaegar’s son. So she wanted Ned to keep Rhaegar’s heir safe, even though he was not related to her.
Jon could be a Martell/Targaryen, just not Aegon
It is entirely possible that Elia Martell had a third child. Given the tumultuousness of the times, she could have kept her new son a secret to protect him and had him spirited away to another location with Lyanna.
What D&D actually Guessed
It has been widely reported that Game of Thrones showrunners’ D.B. Weiss and David Benioff had to correctly identify Jon Snow’s real mother to get Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin’s seal of approval to adapt his book series. They clearly guessed correctly.
Why would Martin find it deal-making that Weiss and Benioff supplied the answer countless fans had been speculating for years? Answering Lyanna Stark would not have necessarily set them apart.
What difference would Jon being a Martell make?
The main thing it would change is Jon’s biological proximity to the Starks, which is not especially game changing unless that persistent fan theory about Sansa turns into something more than a theory. Given the fact they were raised believing they were siblings, it would not make that theory any less disturbing.
If Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Elia, he is a legitimate child and heir to the Iron Throne, no questions asked. If he is Lyanna and Rhaegar’s that is iffier.
The Case Against It
HBO has officially listed Jon’s heritage as R + L = J. However, they could be telling fans, what they are supposed to believe. Not necessarily the truth. Before Game of Thrones’ Season 6 finale (“The Winds of Winter”) they had Jon listed as Ned’s son by an unknown woman, and that was clearly not the case.
Also, many fans believe the title of the book series “A Song of Fire and Ice” is an exclusive reference to Jon. That he is the literal “song of fire and ice.” If Jon is a Stark/Targaryen, he is the embodiment of two elementally diverse Houses; fire (House Targaryen) and ice (House Stark).
If he were a Martell/Targaryen that theory (and it is a great one) would not apply, at least not on a biological level. As an adoptee, Jon was born in fire and raised in ice, so the title would still count.
While it is a wild Jon Snow theory, there is some evidence to support it. We will all find out if it adds up to anything when Game of Thrones continues with Season 7 next summer on HBO.
[Featured Image by HBO]