Season 6 of Game of Thrones turned the most famous and enduring fan theory into canon. The season finale “The Winds of Winter” revealed, at long last, that Jon Snow’s true parents were Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark and Daenerys’s brother Rhaegar Targaryen. Not only was confirmation of R+L= J a vindication to eagle-eyed fans who followed the story for years — but it also changed the game for how the show is approaching fan theories.
Whether they’re world-changing or minor, the path is now cleared for more fan theories becoming canon in the wars to come. Here are the most pertinent to know about for Season 7, ranked in order of “this will definitely happen” to “no fucking way, sorry.”
1. The Grand Northern Conspiracy
The Grand Northern Conspiracy is a theory positing that the houses of the North all had — you guessed it — a conspiracy involving reinstating Stark power. Because the show’s timeline has moved past the Bolton’s reign of terror by Season 7 and the Starks do have power once more, it would seem that this theory is no longer relevant.
But believe it or not, it’s the most likely fan theory to be explored in Season 7. See, another major aspect of the phrase “The North Remembers” involves remembering that the Starks were kings in the North before Aegon the Conqueror came to be the first Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. Because the Great Northern Conspiracy is about loyalty to the Starks, once the information comes out that Jon Snow is really a Targaryen, the conspiracy will be made canon if the North does not accept a Targaryen king. Further, it’s possible that the show will reveal that Jon’s real first name is Aegon. Sharing a name with the very first conquering Targaryen is no way to remain a King in the North. While it’s unlikely the show will Julius-Caesar Jon twice, it’s quite possible Arya or Sansa will be the only thing preventing that.
Conspiracy status: Extremely likely, just in a slightly different form on the show.
2. Howland Reed has secretly been watching Sansa the whole time
Howland Reed is the father of Bran Stark’s traveling companion Meera Reed. He was also with Ned Stark in the Season 6 flashbacks to the Tower of Joy and helped Ned kill Arthur Dayne in a dishonorable manner. He definitely knows the truth about Jon Snow’s real parents, and he’s got a fascinating mythology of his own, as he played a role in the story about the Knight of the Laughing Tree. He was there when Jon’s parents met, he was there when Jon was born, and his daughter is as loyal to Bran as her father was to Ned. Curiously, though, for as important Howland Reed has been to the fabric of the story, he has yet to appear onscreen in the present day.
One fan theory posits that he’s been hiding in plain sight as Ser Shadrich, a book character who fought for Stannis in the Battle of Blackwater and later encounters Brienne.
Although he hasn’t featured in the show, the sentiment remains that Howland Reed could be keeping a low profile as someone who has already encountered Brienne and Sansa. Because Reed might be able to tell Jon about his real parents, he’ll probably make his debut in Season 7.
Conspiracy theory status: Decently likely.
3. Tyrion is a Targaryen
The theory that Tyrion is secretly a Targaryen is almost as long-running and widely known as R+L=J. It posits that the true reason that Tywin Lannister hated Tyrion was not just his dwarfism but also because he wasn’t really his son. In the books, it’s said several times that the Mad King was infatuated with Tywin’s wife Joanna. When Daenerys visits the House of the Undying, she show skipped this part in favor of focusing on Khal Drogo. But in the books, she also has a vision of her brother Rhaegar saying, “the dragon has three heads.” Many interpret this to mean there will be three dragon riders in the end: Daenerys, the newly revealed Targaryen Jon Snow, and Tyrion.
Fans used the Season 6 scene when Tyrion seems to break through to Dany’s dragons as a nod to this theory, if not evidence for it. However, part of the theory also hinges on Tyrion’s hair color, which is more silvery blonde in the books than it is onscreen. The Season 6 dragon scene is more of a tip of the hat to its existence than a confirmation of its validity.
Conspiracy theory status: Very unlikely, at least in the show’s universe.
4. The Valonqar
One of the most intriguing theories is that Cersei is destined to die at Jaime’s hands. When Cersei visited the psychic in the flashback in Season 5, she foretold the deaths of her children. In the books, she also foretells Cersei’s death at the hands of “the Valonqar,” which means little brother in High Valyrian. Tyrion is the obvious choice, but Jaime is also her younger brother, as Cersei was born first. It would be a perfect poetic tragedy.
However, considering the fact that Nikolaj-Coster Waldau himself shot it down, it’s not happening. Plus, Game of Thrones won’t get rid of Lena Headey until its final season.
Conspiracy theory status: No fucking way. At least, not in Season 7.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on July 16, 2017 on HBO.Photos via HBO