Why Jon Snow will need to kill Daenerys in Game of Thrones
For years now Game of Thrones fans have been theorizing about the “bittersweet” ending that George R. R. Martin promised them. But one fan theory predicts the most perfectly sorrowful — yet satisfying — conclusion to the story, with Jon and Daenerys’ tragic romance at the center of it all.
A recent Reddit essay makes a convincing argument for an interpretation of the the Prince That Was Promised prophecy that could change everything. In line with Game of Thrones‘ history of plot twists, it proposes a finale where Jon and Daenerys don’t actually save the day with a gallant military victory over the White Walkers like we expect.
Rather, a close re-reading of one of Thrones’ key prophecies suggests that Jon is going to plunge a sword into the heart of his beloved to save the world. Which is bad news for our favorite silver-haired dragon queen.
The theory is pretty in-depth (and well worth a read) but here are the main takeaways, via the Reddit essay:
1. Martin’s vision for the story took shape in the early 90’s. The journey may have meandered, but its destination is unchanged.
2. It is an unfortunate truth that a story told to millions over three decades cannot conceal its own ending – the surprising ultimately becomes the predictable.
3. Jon, Dany, and Tyrion are the story’s heroes and Jon and Dany will join in marriage, as is foreshadowed in the House of the Undying.
4. The first Long Night ended through diplomacy. The Wall was created by the Others. A pact was sealed and sacrifices were given at the Nightfort.
5. Azor Ahai engineered this peace by thrusting his dragonsteel blade Lightbringer into the chest of his wife, Nissa Nissa, transforming her into an Other and ruling as the book!Night’s King who famously took a corpse bride.
6. Jon Snow will end the upcoming War for the Dawn by doing the same to his wife, Daenerys.
7. The two rule Westeros together as man and white walker – our promised bittersweet ending.
So how in seven hells do we get there?
War is not the solution
Martin has said that, at their core, his novels aim to question the “glory of war” trope that usually plagues the fantasy genre. So concluding them with a triumphant battle seems pretty out of the question.
Instead, fans believe Jon Snow will need to once again broker an alliance between two warring factions separated by the Wall. Only rather than Wildlings, this time he’ll negotiate a treaty with the Night King.
Now, we know the finale made it look like the Night King had a sure path to victory. But actually, the White Walkers have as much to lose as the humans in this war.
Because, sure, their supply for reanimated corpse soldiers seems endless. But evidence suggests that there’s a dwindling number of White Walkers themselves. And the Night King already lost three of his top men before the war even began.
As several scenes throughout the series have suggested, White Walkers need live human sacrifices in order to reproduce. And they’ve run out of Craster sons. In terms of the survival of their species, going to war with men and losing more of their kind is not the smartest move.
But negotiating a more stable method of reproduction in exchange for a life (unlife?) of peace sounds much more appealing.
Why Jon and Dany are doomed
Before you cry tinfoil at the theory, there’s a crazy amount of book evidence, prophecies, visions, show hints, and metaphorical logic to back this up. And it all comes back to Jon and Dany.
In an interview with Mashable, director Jeremy Podeswa said he saw the finale’s sex scene as being fueled by a strong cosmic, yet ominous force. “There’s an instant chemistry between Jon and Dany, a sense of destiny bringing these two characters together that neither of them fully understands.”
During their, ahem, dance of ice and fire, the two share a look of hesitation where, “They’re both thinking ‘What are we doing, should we be doing this?'” But in the end, “There are just larger forces at work that they can’t even control,” said Podeswa.
This sense of destiny aligns with Melisandre’s prophetic vision, when she tells Dany that “I believe you have a role to play … As does another: the King in the North, Jon Snow.”
Jon and Daenerys are both prime candidates to be The Prince(ss) That Was Promised. But this theory hinges on Jon Snow taking the hero’s role, which would make Dany the analog for Azor Ahai’s wife, Nissa Nissa.
Things didn’t end well for her.
How Azor Ahai really defeated the White Walkers
The Azor Ahai legend states that, during the first Long Night, a hero forged a sword made of flames named Lightbringer. Supposedly, it saved all of humanity from the Others (although the books conveniently never say how). But forging such a powerful weapon came with a high price.
Azor Ahai had to “thrust the smoking sword through [his own wife’s] living heart,” so, “her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel.”
Thoros (RIP) also once explained that this meant that the reborn Azor Ahai will also need to pierce Lightbringer through “a loving wife’s heart,” because “great power requires great sacrifice.”
And the Red God’s pretty clear about what kind of sacrifice he needs: death, and magical blood.
Yet Martin constantly warns fans to not take these ancient legends too literally in Game of Thrones. Lots of details are lost to time, and half truths become facts through centuries of misinformation.
Many fans believe that Azor Ahai didn’t actually kill his beloved wife to create the “weapon” that brought back the dawn. Rather, when her “blood and soul and strength” entered the sword, the process turned her into a White Walker. (So, you know, she’s only mostly dead.)
There’s no doubt that Lightbringer, as a sword that was able to kill White Walkers, was made of Valyrian steel. Many fans suspect that Valyrian steel is forged with dragonglass, since both materials are capable of destroying these mythical Others.
And as we learned in one of Bran’s flashbacks in Season 4, dragonglass (at least when wielded by the Children of the Forest) also transforms warm, living humans into ice-cold Walkers — so, with a bit of magic, it’s possible a Valyrian sword could do the same.
But why would Azor Ahai do such a thing to his wife? It’s hard to believe that a single man defeated the entire Army of the Dead with one (admittedly rad) flaming sword. But it’s more plausible that Azor Ahai chose diplomacy and peace to “defeat” the Others, rather than brute force.
For centuries, the great houses always secured their political alliances with marriage (exhibit A: the Lannisters and Baratheons). So there’s a strong possibility that he would have offered his own wife as corpse bride, providing the Others with the female they needed to keep their species alive.
There’s a lot of foreshadowing for this end-game
That sounds like a lot of “ifs.” But there’s precedent for every single aspect of the theory in A Song of Ice and Fire.
For one, Craster negotiated a deal with the White Walkers back in Season 3. As long as he provided a steady supply of sons, they agreed to leave him and his daughter-wives alone.
Then there’s the suspicious lack of female White Walkers — other than a single one mentioned in the books in a famous Northern legend known as the “Night’s King.” It’s important to note that this character is not the same as the White Walker leader, the Night King, on the show.
But there are a lot of similarities.
It’s said that the Night’s King began as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Eventually he went beyond the Wall, fell in love with a “corpse queen,” and entered an “unholy union” with her. The legend describes how he gave his seed and soul to her, before declaring them Night’s King and Queen.
The Reddit theory even suggests that the Night’s King and Azor Ahai could be one and the same (if we believe that ancient scholars fudged the timelines a bit). This would make Nissa Nissa the same corpse bride that seduced the Night’s King, rather than just a random White Walker.
If these popular fan theories about the White Walkers’ motivations prove true, then it’s likely that they’re revolting now because they’re afraid of becoming extinct.
And because mankind stopped keeping their end of the bargain, the White Walkers are now out for justice.
Dany’s transformation into the Night’s Queen
That brings us back to Dany. Believe it or not, there’s actually a lot of evidence to suggest she’ll turn into a White Walker, in both the books and the show.
Dany’s received lots of prophecies that have yet to come to fruition — but we’ve only got six more episodes in Season 8 left to see them happen.
In the books, the Warlocks in the House of the Undying call her “mother of dragons, daughter of death,” as well as, “mother of dragons, slayer of lies,” and finally, “mother of dragons, bride of fire.” That all sounds an awful lot like Nissa Nissa and the Night King’s corpse bride, if you ask us.
In the show’s visit to the House of the Undying, these prophecies were condensed: Dany enters the Throne Room in a vision — but evidently winter has already come and destroyed King’s Landing. When she walks over to the Iron Throne coated in snow, she almost sits on it.
But then the cries of her dragons distract her, and she chooses to walk away. Abandoning the throne, Dany instead walks out into a howling storm raging beyond the Wall.
Finally, she comes to a hut where her beloved Drogo and unborn child are waiting inside. Drogo calls her the moon of his life — a nickname eerily close to the Night King’s corpse queen, who is described as having “skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars.”
“Maybe I am dead, and I just don’t know it yet,” she says to her Khal. He does not disagree.
Another prophecy that consumes Dany in the books proves even more telling, stating that, “To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”
In the story of Azor Ahai and Nissa Nissa, it’s implied that this supposed hero of the dawn totally up and stabbed her without even her giving fair warning of his plan. But something tells us Jon and Dany will be a different kind of Couple That Was Promised.
Considering both their personalities, it’s much more likely that this time around, the Long Night will end with both Jon and Daenerys choosing to make the ultimate sacrifice together for the greater good.
Dany can finally make good on her promise as the breaker of chains, by freeing the entire world of the White Walkers. Instead of living up to everyone’s expectations that she’ll follow in her father’s footsteps and go mad, our khaleesi could have the ultimate redemptive arc by recognizing that the best rulers lead by example, giving up her life to protect the people she claims to love.
Even if a peace treaty isn’t the ultimate endgame, it seems clear that Dany needs to leave the board before the snow settles. For one, Jon has a better claim to the throne, even if he doesn’t want it.
Then there’s the whole issue of succession that Tyrion pointed out to her — if the Mother of Dragons truly can’t birth human children, she’ll never be able to have a legitimate heir, potentially throwing Westeros back into chaos and civil war when she dies. Or, perhaps all her political rivals will be proven right and Dany will go full Mad Queen, as the writers tried to imply throughout Season 7, meaning that Jon will be forced to kill her to save the world.
Either way, these two have tragedy written all over them: To fulfill Martin’s ominous prophecy, they can’t end up living happily ever after. If Jon is Azor Ahai, and Dany truly is the love of his life, they’ll need to sacrifice their love.
Not to mention, Dany’s transformation in a White Walker would make their marriage the ultimate balance of fire and ice: with Jon being half Targaryen and Stark, and Dany going from Mother of Dragons to Undead White Walker Queen.
This theory would provide a bittersweet full circle indeed.
Because in the end, the two would rule over Westeros and bring lasting peace to realm as the King and Queen Who Were Promised. Only they’ll rule separately, worlds apart from one another, with a 700 ft Wall forever between them.