Jon Snow death denial is in full storm all over the Internet. Fans have analyzed everything from his blood in the snow (it’s totally in the shape of a dragon — foreshadowing!) to the color of his eyes (they change color if you pause it at exactly the right moment and hold a magnifying glass up to the screen!). Or they’ve made truly admirable Photoshop mockups, like the above White Walker Jon.
Why is the world — or at least, the Thrones junkies, so, pretty much the world — losing its collective shit over this particular death, in a story known for its body count? And not just fans in tinfoil hats, but major publications?
The relationships we forge with fictional characters is strange and often inexplicable. Freud would probably say getting attached to a fictional character relates to some sort of latent psychosexual complex or the way your mother treated you as a kid. Also, something about his penis. I’ll leave the psychoanalysis behind the phenomenon to real psychologists, but for the purpose of clarity, I’ll coin it Fictional Character Connection.
Your Fictional Character Connection can manifest in several ways that are varying levels of “maybe you should consider picking up a hobby or sport.” Extreme examples include cosplaying at Comic Con and camping out for the chance to see the actor from 700 feet away. Less extreme examples include following their Twitter (though tweeting at them and imploring them to follow you may bump you back up to extreme levels). Or you might watch them in other roles, in hopes of glimpsing the character you love behind their new one and getting a kick out of seeing them in a situation they would never be in — even if you are a grown adult who knows that no, the actor is not their character, and no, Jon Snow is not moonlighting as a gladiator. Not that I saw Pompeii, or anything. And also, Kit Harrington, if you want me to continue to illogically look for Jon Snow in your other performances, please pick better scripts.
But in the reactions to his death, Jon Snow seems to be provoking a stronger sense of Fictional Character Connection than the average character. Is it because of his noble soul? His kind eyes and fantasy hero hair? As much as I love Jon, I must admit, he isn’t the most charismatic guy in the world. He’s indeed prettier than half of Tormund’s daughters, but not everyone is into the perpetual My Dog Ate My Homework expression. So why the almost universal inability to accept his death, when we accepted Ned’s, Robb’s, Oberyn’s, and countless other noble and/or charismatic people on GoT’s hit list? Is it because even the uber-grim characters in season 2 of True Detective would smile looking at this image?
Maybe not Taylor Kitsch and his Sad Blowjob face. (Seriously, even Jon would crack a smile, Taylor. Tone down the angst). But anyone else in the world would smile.
With all due respect to our favorite mopey bastard of Winterfell, it isn’t really about our relationship with him, but with the world. Fans of the show have been invested in this universe for five years now. Fans of the books have been invested for 20-plus years. Either way, that’s a long-ass time to spend with something. Even if you’re just a casual viewer, think back to five years ago when you first saw season one. What were you doing in your life? Chances are, it was different than what you’re doing now. But our brooding, too noble for his own good hero has remained a constant in our lives. Our favorite possibly-not bastard who was so divorced from the main narrative and so cloaked in mystery about his parentage that it seemed a given he would remain someone to root for to the end.
For those reasons and others, his death makes no narrative sense aside from shock value. And though perhaps we should know better, we remain eternally hopeful that the writers have a grand plan; that we’re not investing so much time into a story that has written itself into a corner and collapsed into a puddle of nihilism. Everyone is losing their shit because if this death is permanent, it makes us feel like we’re being played for fools. And even people who obsess over fictional characters have integrity.
Countless viewers lost it in the wake of GoT’s conclusion. I haven’t ordered this shirt yet, but after reading this interview in which Kit Harrington said he was 100 percent super duper deader than dead and not returning, I fell down a Google rabbit hole, along with many others. “Can he be lying?” a friend asked. “Is he allowed to? Could he even be paid to? I don’t know anything about entertainment law.” Thus began a journey that was more shameful than watching the man-sploitation (I’m making that a word) that was Kit’s Abs Plus A Half-Assed Plot, otherwise known as Pompeii: researching entertainment law.
We found that yes, he could be lying, yes they could, in fact, be paying him to lie, and frantic reports have already surfaced of seeing him near the Belfast set… but then again, we’re grown people who should know better: we don’t actually know Kit Harrington, maybe he’s an honest guy who’s just visiting his buddies in Belfast.
Regardless, Jon, by forcing us down this rabbit hole, you have made us into fools. And that’s really why your death cannot stand, because we need to feel connected to people who don’t exist, like the non-foolish, logical adults we are. Don’t leave.