'Game of Thrones' Season 6 Just Hinted at 'Cleganebowl,' One of its Best Fan Theories

Inside the Hound's return and the most oddly endearing 'Game of Thrones' fan theory. 

Game of Thrones fan theories are a dime a dozen. Some are so probable, they’re known by even the most casual fans and essentially regarded as cannon (R+L= J), while others are so unlikely, they’re only known by niche corners of the fandom (Hodor is evil). The writers know their fan theories, and season 6 has been dangling them in front of us like like a crown of winter roses. But “Oathbreaker” slyly tipped its hat to one of the weirder theories: Cleganebowl.

Cleganebowl posits that the Clegane brothers, also known as The Mountain (now a terrifying re-animated corpse and Cersei Lannister’s personal guard dog) and The Hound (a certainly still-alive warrior who will return soon) will fight to the death in a trial by combat. Because the internet is the internet, it naturally has its own subreddit and its own slogan (GET HYPE, always written in caps to convey the magnitude of said hype), and its own fan fiction.

As far as Game of Thrones theories go, it’s oddity isn’t so much the theory itself, but rather its simplicity. It doesn’t involve deep plot analysis or the confluence of unlikely events. You don’t need a PhD in Westeros studies to ponder it. You really just need a nine-year-old’s uncomplicated joy at seeing things go smash. Here is a fan-made poster for it:


The the most recent episode might be putting this theory on track to coming true. At the very least, it’s fueling the fan fires. In “Oathbreaker”, Jaime Lannister encounters Ser Gregor, also known as The Franken-Mountain, for the first time. Though Jaime’s been on good behavior of late, some of his Seasons 2 and 3 snark returns. Peering up at the alarming elephant in the room, Jaime says what everyone else is thinking:

What did you do to him exactly? I haven’t been able to get a clear answer. Can he understand what we’re saying? To the extend he understood complete sentences in the first place…

He later muses, “That’s one trial by combat I wouldn’t mind seeing.”

There’s no way this isn’t a reference to Cleganebowl, and Cleganebowl truthers know it. Some fans are musing that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is himself a Cleganebowl truther and purposefully broke the fourth wall with that line.

Enterprising fans have also helpfully supplied the cause with trailers, because of course they have.

Even if you’re not on board with this theory, it’s impossible not to smile in the face of its enthusiasm. And with Jaime Lannister’s sly reference and The Hound on board to make a comeback in “Book of The Stranger”, stranger things have certainly happened on Game of Thrones. Season 6 is on the way to making R+L= J cannon — who is to say Cleganebowl isn’t next?

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