Well, that was a wild ride, wasn't it? Game of Thrones is officially over, the winner's been quite literally crowned, and the television phenomenon that has lorded over the past decade is, finally, concluded. It probably won't be the last we see of Westeros, as there are spin off series already in the works - but for now, we can enjoy the catharsis of finality and look back over the past ten years that led us here.
Unfortunately, this also means that for now, we'll have to surrender our habitual between-the-episode predictions. The rumor mill will begin to grind production down to a trickle, and the hot takes will eventually grow cold. This may or may not truly leave me sad. No, I'm not crying. You're crying.
On the other hand, we get to pick through Game of Thrones' extraordinary catalog of fan theories and see just how many of them actually came to fruition! Honestly, it's pretty wild how some of the weirder, oddball theories actually ended up paying off. While we're at it, we'd may as well shoot down some of the popular ones that have been totally dispelled now that the series has wrapped up. Spoilers ahead, obviously. Don't read further if you're allergic. Anyway, let's dive in.
Well, the whole Azor Ahai thing definitely didn't go down the way we thought it would, did it? It's not like Melisandre had the greatest track record for prophecy interpretation going for her, anyway.
The legitimacy of the prophecy itself is still being pretty hotly discussed and reinterpreted, with a lot of fans growing fond of the idea that the Night King wasn't the "darkness" that Azor Ahai was supposed to defeat in the first place. But what's for absolute certain is that Jon Snow wasn't the one who ultimately defeated the Night King.
Despite some controversy over what some found to be an incredibly heavy-handed turn of character, Daenerys actually wound up following in her father's footsteps and becoming a sort of villain after the events of the final season's penultimate episode.
There are quite a few fans that are borderline outraged by how all this went down. However, this theory has definitely attracted a following over the years. Its proponents often cited her growing callousness in dealing with her adversaries, her increasingly tunneled focus on the Iron Throne, and naturally, the generational madness that is the Targaryen legacy.
Well, I mean he definitely became some sort of king, so there's that. But what Bran the Broken definitely didn't do was become a bipedal zombie factory with a penchant for creating modern art installations utilizing severed limbs.
One particular sticking point for fans of this theory hinged on Bran's close encounter with the ice man while he was, you know, practicing astral projection with cave-dwelling hippies, and stuff. It's noted that most things the Night King touches in such a way end up becoming white walkers, and that the same would end up happening to Bran. No dice here, though. Bran is instead the Ruler of the Six Kingdoms.
The infamous R+L=J theory is probably the Thrones fan theory that managed to achieve the biggest following and with good reason. Its existence precedes the birth of the HBO series itself by roughly two entire decades, so it's safe to say that it had a little time to develop and circulate before being proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
The theory has actually been around since at least 1997, spawned by speculation over the first book of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire. It was posted and discussed on a Usenet group, just to put that into context. Yeah. Allow that to sink in for a moment. That makes it older than some of the series' fans.
As season eight began to ramp itself up for the showdown in King's Landing, fans were hard at work puzzling out who would be the one to actually take out the big, bad queen of Westeros.
Arya was the clear favorite for several reasons. Her training with the Faceless Men of Braavos gave her the perfect skill set to pull it off, and Cersei's name had been on her list for the greater majority of the show's length. Of course, things didn't turn out that way, but this theory definitely had a lot of perfectly sound reasoning behind it.
Game of Thrones isn't short on family feuds by any stretch of the imagination, but people had been clamoring for this rematch between two of Westeros' most titanic of fighting men for practically the entirety of the series' run. I'm fairly certain there would've been widespread civil unrest if the showrunners had opted not to give it to us.
While reception of the much-hyped event was mixed, there's no denying that Sandor finally got to even the score with his sadistic elder brother. But for a lot of people, it still just wasn't enough.
Personally, I never bought into this. But looking back, I can sort of see where this theory was coming from in terms of logic. It's definitely there. I'm just not too sure where it would've gone or what the point could have possibly been, outside of fulfilling the "three-headed dragon" bit.
It would contribute to explaining Tywin Lannister's extraordinary disdain for his son, but unfortunately, it turns out that he really does hate him for nothing more than his dwarfism and the unfortunate circumstances of his birth.
I don't think that anyone actually bought Jon Snow being bumped off so unceremoniously after several of his Night's Watch brothers turned on him for being a little too friendly with the wildlings. But it's okay to admit it if you were a little worried. I mean, we all thought Ned Stark would be the main character, after all.
Season five ended with Jon's betrayal, leaving us to agonize over it until season six rolled around, and then they had the audacity to make us wait through almost two more entire episodes after that. But fans rejoiced to see the Lord Commander's eyes suddenly open as he finally drew a long-awaited breath towards the end of the sixth season's second episode.
There was quite a bit supporting this one. The decline of their relationship, the Valonqar prophecy (as told in the books, at least), and virtually the entirety of Jaime's redemptive character arc all pointed towards him being the man that would put an end to Cersei. I know I was holding my breath when he made the decision to leave Brienne and ride to King's Landing behind the combined host of Jon and Daenerys.
But alas, it turned out he was totally serious about wanting to meet his end in the arms of the woman he loved. And that woman was, unfortunately, Cersei. I mean, I was team Brienne the entire time, so I have no idea what the dude was thinking. What is certain is that season eight's hotly debated fifth episode put this theory into the dirt.
The idea that two more people would ride the dragons beside Daenerys was always a popular bit of speculation, but it really started to take shape after Jon's identity was confirmed, and we saw that he might have an actual affinity with them towards the end of season seven.
He seems to be a natural at it. Although he's definitely a bit uncertain when he first climbs atop Rhaegal during the playful chase scene with Daenerys, he's obviously competent enough to ride him into battle when the Night King finally arrives at Winterfell.
While the Battle of Ice and Fire at Winterfell was truly epic, a lot of fans weren't content with the idea that one of the series' most intriguing and deeply rooted plot points was soundly laid to rest. After all, we'd seen a lot of build-up to the white walkers marching south.
The logic going into it is a little iffy, as the Night King has never had an opportunity to "turn him" like he has all the others. But there is something oddly poetic about the idea of little Sam, who was originally intended for sacrifice to the white walkers by Craster, actually turning and carrying on the Night King's mission.
This theory has been framed a few different ways, such as essentially accounting for the "Nissa Nissa" portion of Jon fulfilling the Azor Ahai prophecy. While that may not necessarily have played out according to some interpretations of the prophecy, the core of it still wound up true. Jon couldn't stomach her sacking King's Landing and snuffing out so many innocents in the process, so he ended up doing her in.
If you thought you'd seen Jon brood before, just imagine how much brooding ensued after he had to take down his auntie girlfriend. We're talking peak brooding, people. Peak.
Although they provided a decidedly underwhelming performance on the battlefield, the Golden Company remained entirely true to their contract in the show. I mean, up to the point where the greater majority of them became kindling, anyway.
The idea that they would turn against Cersei came in a few different flavors, ranging from Sansa or Tyrion finding a method to sway their allegiance to their historical loyalty to House Targaryen. It doesn't feel like whoever might've wound up commanding them in that instance really missed out on much, though, as the Golden Company probably set a world record for least amount of time actually spent on the battlefield before being vaporized.
I had to put a lot of thought into this one, and ended up deciding that it gets by on a technicality. Sansa may not have become the queen, but she did manage to secure a throne all to herself. I can imagine Yara Greyjoy's feeling a bit cheated right now.
The conclusion of the series finale threw out plenty of curveballs, not least among which was King Bran's agreement to allow the north to split off as its own independent kingdom. Naturally, being the only Stark left in Winterfell at this point, Sansa ascends to become its queen.
While it's easy to wave this off as one of the most far fetched theories the fandom's ever produced (and that's saying quite a bit), the set of coincidences it managed to string together in support of it is actually pretty impressive.
Originally intended for the books, but easily transitioning to the show, the story goes that Varys managed to have Eddard Stark swapped out by the Faceless Men while he was in the Red Keep's dungeon. Needless to say, this didn't happen. Ned's been gone for a long time.
It might be hard to believe that anyone was actually prepared for his hard left turn in the series finale, but it's absolutely true. There were, indeed, people out there that believed Bran would end up sitting on the Iron Throne. Er, wheelchair. The Presumably Wooden Wheelchair. Just doesn't have the same ring, does it?
The most interesting factoid to take away from this is that Bran was actually statistically likely to be crowned king, according to the sports betting specialists at Odds Shark. There were certainly theories preceding this prediction, but still. How wild is that?
Sometimes it's alright to overtly hope for maximum fan service, okay? I know I was definitely behind this one. After all, virtually all of their scenes together over the past season have had us hoping the two of them might actually reconcile their formerly uncomfortable union.
The theory common splits into two different paths from there, with the newly formed Westerosi power couple either ruling the seven kingdoms or retiring to rule over the north. Alas, this one simply wasn't meant to be.
This was another one that I had trouble with, as the theory usually goes that none other than Samwell Tarly is actually writing the events of the series as we're watching them, and that we'd end the finale on that note. It turns out that we actually ended up with half of this one intact.
Towards the tail end of the finale, Samwell presents Tyrion with a copy of A Song of Ice and Fire, though it turns out he isn't writing the book so much as he's providing some assistance. He did, at the very least, help out a little bit with the title. But hey, credit where it's due! The book canonically exists within the lore of Game of Thrones.
Folks weren't quite prepared to believe that Jaime was done for after he and Cersei were buried within the collapsing tunnels beneath the Red Keep, and so began desperately clawing for reasons to believe he'd be appearing in the finale.
Studious fans were quick to point out that actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau hadn't exactly said his goodbyes on social media, nor received any, as opposed to the rest of the characters that had suffered their apparent on-screen demise. However, this theory is put to rest at the beginning of the episode, as Tyrion discovers his fallen siblings intertwined within the rubble.
Isn't it obvious, looking back? We know that Daenerys is going to come into conflict with the Night King eventually after she arrives in Westeros. And we know that he has an awfully easy time raising wights, as we see during Hardhome. Perhaps most importantly, the wight bear that attacks the expedition north of the Wall reminds us that practically any creature is susceptible to being turned.
The specifics of the theory usually end up revolving around the Night King being a Targaryen, or the dragon actually being an ice dragon. While both of these are either debatable, unclear or unlikely, the fact remains that he did get his dragon.