Bran Stark needs to die in Game of Thrones.
It’s not because the new Three-Eyed Raven has done anything wrong (other than time-break Hodor’s mind) or that he is unimportant to the story — in fact, he’s probably one of the most important characters going into Season 7.
The thing is, if Bran were to reveal that Jon Snow is a secret Targaryen and rightful heir to the Iron Throne — a secret Bran learned in a flashback to the Tower of Joy in the Season 6 finale — that information could stand to undermine Jon’s journey from lowly bastard to kingly hero. He could go from admirable underdog to entitled heir to the throne in an instant, and that’s not something anybody wants to see.
If the world — Jon himself included — learned about his true heritage, it would pretty much pretty much spoil everything that makes Jon the coolest character on Game of Thrones. And with Bran due to reach Castle Black and the Night’s Watch sooner rather than later, the secret could potentially be out in the very first episode of Season 7.
Sure, it was satisfying for fans to finally have the R + L = J theory validated as canon, but it’s even more satisfying if Jon continues to prove himself worthy and still winds up the king — or at least given the option — without anybody knowing that he’s actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. What if Bran were to just die north of the Wall, taking this secret with him?
Since the very beginning, it’s been Jon’s humility and commitment to duty that has made him a strong leader worthy of any and all thrones. That’s why fans love him, and it’s why their hearts were broken when he died in the final moments of Season 5. His resurrection part-way through Season 6 was the singular turning point when an otherwise bleak series full of moments like the Red Wedding started to swell towards something more satisfying and “Good.”
Jon started out the series as a lowly bastard shunned by the only mother he ever knew. Sure, his father and siblings loved him — Arya especially — but he was more or less forced to join the Night’s Watch out of disgrace. While there, Jon found himself in a terrible position, chastised by his peers and oftentimes surrounded by enemies.
But especially in the Battle of Castle Black, Jon assumed leadership of the Night’s Watch not because he wanted to, but because he needed to. He stood and fought, inspiring others to do the same, because that’s what good people do. He proved himself noble through his deeds without having to rely on the nobility of his birth. Despite getting killed for doing the right thing — just like his “father” Ned Stark — Jon rose from the dead and instantly assumed yet another position of command that he never really wanted to begin with: leading the Free Folk south.
It’s a wonderful stroke of dramatic irony when, moments after the viewer learns that Jon is, in fact, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen (unbeknownst to Jon himself), he’s unanimously elected by all the Northern Houses as the new King in the North:
Jon’s Stark blood may have qualified him as a candidate to be the new King in the North, but it was his valor during the Battle of the Bastards that led to his unanimous election. Jon’s reputation as a (half) Stark has always influenced his experiences, but not nearly as much as his actions. He was chastised for being a Stark early on in the series when Ned was branded a traitor and again when Robb Stark started his own rebellion.
But ultimately, nobody really cares that Jon is supposedly the bastard son of Ned Stark. Jon’s deeds elevate him in his peers’ eyes. Jon’s aunt Daenerys, on the other hand, has boldly sought leadership from the very beginning of the series because she felt entitled to it. It’s a striking difference reminiscent of the Shakespeare line: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
If the world, especially Jon himself, learned that he was a legitimate Targaryen male heir, that could only serve to over-complicate the battle for the Iron Throne.
Most competitors in the titular “Game of Thrones” have been mad, power-hungry egoists like the Mad King Aerys, Joffrey, and Cersei. When it comes to the Throne right now, Cersei has it, Dany wants it, and now even Euron Greyjoy wants a piece of the action — all despite the fact that a seemingly immortal zombie ice magician is coming for them all with an army of zombies and, supposedly, an ice dragon. Robert Baratheon was too sad, drunk, and horny to care much about being a good king, and his “son” Tommen wasn’t quite strong enough for the burden of leadership. Daenerys demands the throne with perhaps the strongest claim and the armies to back it up.
And then there’s Jon Snow, who could care less about power and glory and passing judgment from a chair made of swords; the last time he held an official title, his subordinates killed him. His leadership in the Battle of the Bastards was out of necessity to save his brother, and his election as King in the North was entirely out of his control (much like his assignment to leader of the Night’s Watch).
Even if Jon were to learn who and what he truly was, would he even care? Would anything even change for him or the rest of Westeros? Something tells me he’d be more than happy to step aside and let his aunt assume the Iron Throne (unless they hook up and rule together). Besides, Jon is much too concerned with the impending Winter and the Night’s King to bother himself with political ambition.
Jon’s kingly qualities are irrefutable, but he gets more of our respect when he acts nobly and heroically despite believing himself to be so much less.
What’s going to happen when Bran slides up to Castle Black in Season 7 and proclaims that his former brother is actually his cousin and the one true heir to the Iron Throne? It doesn’t really matter that nobody is going to believe Bran, because Jon’s already a king without trying. But how might Jon himself react when the inevitable Stark family reunion happens at Winterfell and Bran drops the news?
“Who cares?” Jon might say. “Winter is here, and there are wars to fight.”