The finale to Game of Thrones season six was an emotional rollercoaster full of high-profile deaths, the confirmation of at least one fan theory about Jon Snow, the welcome return of the bad Cersei Lannister and vengeful Arya Stark and the advance of Daenerys Targaryen’s fleet towards King’s Landing.
As shell-shocked fans recover from the slew of dramatic events in The Winds of Winter, theories have already started to emerge about what will happen in season seven. Here are some of the best and oddest:
Cersei will become the Mad Queen
Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, told Entertainment Weekly that her character would be very unlikely to have a long, happy reign. “Not a chance in hell,” she said. “It’s a moment of punctuation in the madness.”
Series creators David Benioff and DB Weiss say there is more reason than ever to fear Cersei now her children are dead. “While [she] has certainly done a lot of horrible things in her life and she could be a very cruel person, the one thing that was redemptive about her was she genuinely loved her children,” says Weiss. “Now they’re all gone… Who is she without her children? The answer is something you’ll find out next season.” Will Cersei take King Aerys’s crown as the next mad monarch?
Jaime will kill Cersei
As George RR Martin’s new book is yet to be published, it all remains speculation, but fans are pointing to clues gleaned from previous episodes to support this theory. With the untimely departure of Tommen, the prophecy that Cersei’s children would all die has now come true. But Maggy the Frog also predicted that Cersei will be killed by a “little brother”. Does this mean Cersei’s own sibling or any old one? Other popular theories suggest Tyrion Lannister or Arya Stark will kill Cersei, but many believe there would be something poetic about Jaime seeing off his own twin and lover.
Arya will become Lady Stoneheart
In the books, Catelyn Stark is resurrected by a Red Priest after the Red Wedding, but unlike Jon’s more successful comeback, Catelyn’s sees her transformed into an eerie vengeful creature who joins the Band of Brothers with the sole mission of destroying the Freys. Creepy Catelyn did not make her mooted appearance in season six of the television show, which has led some to believe Arya will take on the Stoneheart role in season seven.
Bran will bring the White Walkers to Westeros
Bran Stark’s flashbacks were at the centre of season six’s key reveals, explaining the heart-breaking truth about Hodor and hinting at the real parentage of Jon Snow. Hopefully there will be more to come in season seven. Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran, doesn’t know what’s in store but predicts there will be a Stark reunion where he tells Jon about his true family.
“I don’t know how Bran’s going to break it to Jon,” he told Hollywood Reporter. “He hasn’t seen him in years. ‘Hey, yeah, by the way, I’m a tree wizard now and dad’s not your father.’ I think Jon will go, ‘You’ve been spending way too much time in the cave, mate.'”
A Stark reunion on the south side of the Wall might not be such a joyful occasion as it sounds. During one vision in season six, Bran was grabbed on the arm by the Night’s King, an act that allowed the fearsome leader to bypass the magic of the Three-Eyed Raven’s weirwood tree. Now Bran has been marked by the White Walkers, could they also bypass the magic of the Wall and follow him into Westeros?
Sansa will marry Littlefinger after all
Ever since the late Ramsay Bolton told Sansa she would never be free of him, fans have speculated that Sansa might be pregnant with his child, which would undermine her brother Jon and the Starks. The theory goes that she will try to conceal the truth by marrying Littlefinger and pass the baby off as his. Whether or not this angle comes to pass, it’s also true that Sansa’s connection with Littlefinger saved the day in the Battle of the Bastards. So far, however, she has rejected his proposal.
Melisandre will be back, in some form
It seems a little ungrateful of Jon to send the Red Priestess away after she resurrected him. But she seems unlikely to seek revenge, given that she believes he is the prophesied saviour Azor Ahai (the Lord of Light’s chosen one). Still, her magic could have come in handy for the new embattled King of the North.
Her departure has also left many wondering who Melisandre really is. We know she’s a lot older than she appears, so if she can make herself look young, maybe she can transform herself in other ways. In the books, Melisandre reveals to Jon that she’s used a type of magic called “glamouring” in order to disguise a man as a different person. Will we see her come back in some other form – and will she be a force for good or bad?
Varys is a merman
Certainly one of the strangest Game of Thrones theories doing the rounds is that Varys is a merman. Such creatures do exist in the Song of Ice and Fire universe and are known as “merlings”. In the books, Varys’s smile is described as peculiar and “slimey”, and when Tyrion threatens to throw Varys in the sea, he replies: “You might be disappointed in the result.” Some viewers were also surprised at the speed with which Varys travelled the long distance from Meereen to Dorne in season six. Might he have swam with the help of a hidden fishtail?
A key part of the theory is that he is helping Dany so her dragons will fight the White Walkers with fire in the north, melting the ice so that the merlings can flourish – with only Littlefinger and the Eyrie left above water. “That’s right,” says Dan Casey, senior editor at Nerdist. “The entire saga of Game of Thrones could be an elaborate ‘mer-scheme’ to expand their territory.”
Greyscale will be used as a biological weapon
In season six, Daenerys Targaryen sent Jorah Mormont off to find the cure for greyscale, a disease that deadens the skin and eventually turns sufferers into “stone men”. Jorah caught it when he was attacked by a horde of stone men while sailing through the ruins of Old Valyria with Tyrion Lannister.
Donna Dickens at Hitflix suggests the disease might ultimately be used as a “biological weapon of mass destruction”. She likens the stone men to the wights, the reanimated corpses created by the White Walkers north of the wall. Might there be a war of the zombies to come, with Jorah unleashing his new brotherhood upon the wights to save Daenerys and Westeros?
Despite Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss mercilessly cutting much of George RR Martin’s written material to fit the television show, surely there would not have been such a focus on greyscale if it didn’t have an “unexpectedly large role to play in the endgame”, says Jefferson Grubbs at Bustle.
But Jorah might be saved by a familiar face
Jorah’s greyscale fate may well be sealed, but a savvy viewer on Reddit has come up with a way the old love-struck puppy could still prevent the onset of Westeros’s most troublesome ailment.
“There is only ONE person in the entire series who has mentioned/hinted/showed they know about ANYTHING regarding the treatment/provention of Greyscale. This person is actually treating someone who is about to travel past Old Valyria where Stone Men and Greyscale thrive. This person is speaking with Jorah during this scene. And that person is Quaithe,” wrote user HouseHeisenb3rg.
Viewers may not remember the name Quaithe, but they will almost certainly remember the face. Sporting a rather fetching balaclava made of coins, the character made a couple of appearances during season two, where she “predicted the future and told Jorah that yes, she knew he loved Daenerys, and she knew where her dragons were”, reports the Daily Telegraph.
TV Guide adds: “Since Quaithe’s face is almost completely covered by her mask, it’s even possible she has Greyscale herself.”
But the significance of the balaclava may be that its hexagonal pattern is nearly identical to the necklaces worn by Red Priestesses. In the books, Quaithe even implies that she is capable of shadow magic, so could she prevent Jorah’s greyscale?
Anagrams hint at what’s to come
The internet is home to many a Game of Thrones anagram quiz, but could the letters of the show’s places and characters hint at the future of Westeros? The words “incest” can be drawn from Cersei Lannister, who is in love with her brother; “boar” from Robert Baratheon, who was fatally wounded by a wild boar, and “latrine” from Tywin Lannister, who was killed on the toilet. Meera Reed can be scrambled into “a redeemer”, Oberyn Martell into “manly rebel” and Ramsay Bolton into “abnormal toys”.
Meanwhile, the word “northern” can be taken from the letters of Iron Throne and “Mag the Frog” from Game of Thrones. Might a Stark end up on the throne after Maggie the Frog’s prediction comes true and Queen Cersei is killed by her brother?
It should be noted, however, that there are thousands of other possible anagrams from the GoT universe that prove difficult to link to the plot – unless Daenerys Targaryen turns out to be a “Dreary Granny Tease”.
Sam Tarly holds key to the ending
In a finale filled with gruesome murder, a wildfire massacre and dragons descending on Westeros – a scene in which Sam Tarly was overawed by the Citadel’s library seemed remarkably tame. Sam wants to train as a maester to help Jon Snow defeat the White Walkers, but could it be that the library scene held more clues than viewers first thought.
Some fans have pointed out that a chandelier-like orb in the library bears a striking resemblance to that in the opening credits. It is said to be an astrolabe, which is used in real-life by astronomers, navigators and astrologers to solve problems relating to time and the position of the sun and stars in the sky.
This has prompted many theories, one being that Sam will be able to predict when “winter”, in the form of the White Walkers, is coming to help Jon defeat them. Another ambitious theory is that the entire history of Game of Thrones will be rewound using the astrolabe to repeat itself. Others suggest it will be Sam himself who writes A Song of Wind and Fire for future generations to learn about that period of history.
HBO hasn’t yet confirmed the season seven air date, but it looks likely to be in the spring of 2017.
Game of Thrones odds: The surprising Iron Throne contenders
It’s taking part, not the winning, that counts – or so they say. That’s certainly not true in Game of Thrones, where few characters are willing to finish in second place.
Despite the myriad storylines, the entire show is essentially about who will conquer the Iron Throne. With just two short seasons left to go, here are some of the most and least likely contenders to rule the Seven Kingdoms in the end – according to the bookmakers.
Daenerys Targaryen (7/4): Dany has long been the obvious candidate and was set up to win from day one. However, George RR Martin’s commitment to killing off beloved characters and misdirecting fans is perhaps enough to suggest she won’t make it. Her power to overawe an entire people by walking through fire is certainly handy, although her practice run as ruler of Meereen had its fair share of hiccups. Despite her desire to be a good and just queen, there was much unrest and violence among those she tried to lead.
Jon Snow (5/2): Fans are convinced Snow has Targaryen blood, meaning he has a legitimate claim to rule Westeros. If Red Priestess Melisandre is to be believed, he is also Azor Ahai, a legendary figure in the faith of R’hllor, reborn to defeat the darkness of the Great Other. If Snow leads the fight against the White Walkers and saves Westeros, he might be deemed their rightful leader.
Bran Stark (8/1): As the only living legitimate son of Eddard Stark, Bran could rightfully become Lord of Winterfell. If the north then decided to take on Cersei Lannister, who has little support in King’s Landing, might Bran one day become king? He is certainly becoming one of the most powerful characters in Westeros, with the ability to see into the past and future, and even influence events in other periods of history.
Less likely contenders
Prince Aegon Targaryen (100/1): Readers of George RR Martin’s A Dance with Dragons will be familiar with a character called Young Griff, who is said to be Prince Aegon Targaryen in disguise. Aegon – the son of Daenerys’s brother, Rhaegar, and Oberyn Martell’s sister, Elia – was apparently swapped at birth and smuggled to safety during Robert’s Rebellion, so he could one day return as king. However, the character is yet to show up in the HBO series and a released chapter from Martin’s upcoming book, The Winds of Winter, suggests Young Griff might be a fraud.
Brienne of Tarth (100/1): She is the most loyal person in the Seven Kingdoms, strong enough to beat The Hound within an inch of his life and capable of biting off a man’s ear. But Brienne of Tarth looks set to be a follower rather than a leader. Nevertheless, her reign would certainly be one of justice and honour should she ever take the Iron Throne.
Hot Pie (500/1): Remember him? He escaped Harrenhal with Arya Stark and Gendry in season two and was last seen serving up kidney pies at a local inn. He has no claim to the throne and few skills required of a king. One of the most cowardly characters in the show, Hot Pie has hidden in bushes to avoid a fight and wet himself in fear of execution – but he can bake a mean wolf-shaped loaf of bread.
Game of Thrones: Will Gendry finally return in season seven?
Gendry, the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon, has not been seen since season three of Game of Thrones, when he escaped Dragonstone on a rowing boat.
After discovering his parentage, red priestess Melisandre wanted to burn Gendry alive as a gift to the Lord of Light to help Robert’s brother, Stannis, become king.
However, Davos Seaworth helped him escape, instructing him to row to King’s Landing – and that was the end of it. Despite much anticipation ahead of the past three seasons, viewers are still yet to find out if he made it to land alive.
But might that all change in season seven next year?
Some fans still hope Gendry will return with a claim to the throne, although they concede he would have to be legitimised first.
He is the only known man in Westeros with Baratheon blood, after Cersei Lannister had her husband’s other bastard children slaughtered and the other Baratheon heirs died.
One theory suggests Gendry could be legitimised by Jon Snow, whose sister, Arya, or new advisor, Davos, could vouch for his lineage.
It would bring the story full circle, as the show kicked off with Ned Stark discovering Gendry and questioning the legitimacy of King Joffrey.
However, he would first have to contend with the new Queen Cersei and Daenerys Targaryen, who is heading to King’s Landing with an army of ships and dragons.