For eight seasons, the Red Witch Melisandre has been talking about the Prince That Was Promised (aka Azor Ahai), a prophesied hero who would return to defeat the White Walkers with a flaming sword. Anyone who’s already watched Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3 knows that’s not exactly what happened, so what does the Great Battle of Winterfell’s thrilling conclusion actually mean for the legend of Azor Ahai? Is it still relevant at all? Is Arya Stark somehow involved? Let’s dive in.
Warning: Dragon-sized spoilers for Game of thrones Season 8 below.
Still here? Cool. So Arya Killed the Night King, but does that make her Azor Ahai? As with any character and this loosely interpreted prophecy, you can make the argument either way, but in the end, it may not matter at all. Regardless, let’s breakdown the pros and cons of this theory.
Arya Is Azor Ahai/The Prince That Was Promised
Aside from killing the Night King, which is the whole purpose of this prophecy, according to Melisandre, there’s a few other clues that Arya might be Azor Ahai.
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For one thing, the Valyrian steel dagger she used to do the deed might not be a literal flaming sword like the one in the prophecy, but it’s still embued with a lot of significance. The dagger, which originally belonged to Littlefinger, was given to a would-be assassin who tried to kill Bran Stark in Season 1. Arya later used it to execute Littlefinger in Season 7.
The dagger’s origins before the show began are unknown. It could be an ancient weapon passed down by early Targryans; it might even be connected to the original Azor Ahai’s flaming sword. Samwell Tarly actually finds a drawing of what looks like the same dagger in an old book, though it’s never confirmed if that’s actually the same weapon or just a coincidence.
Additionally, in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3, Melisandre gives Arya some cryptic advice. We may not hear the words “Prince That Was Promised,” but the Red Witch essentially gives Arya the motivation she needs to kill the Night King. So that’s gotta count for something, right?
Arya Is Not Azor Ahai/The Prince That Was Promised
If you actually consider any of the “official” criteria, Arya doesn’t seem to make the cut. She wasn’t born amidst “salt and smoke” (whatever that means), and she wasn’t born “under a bleeding star.”
Her story also doesn’t exactly match up with the legend of Azor Ahai forging the flaming sword, Lightbringer, which involves breaking early versions of the mythical weapon in water and then in the heart of a lion before plunging the final sword into the heart of his beloved. Arya’s killed a lot of people, but never anyone she loved.
So if we’re going by the rules then Arya probably isn’t Azor Ahai. In that case, how did she kill the Night King?
Azor Ahai Doesn’t Matter Anymore in Game of Thrones
If there’s one thing “The Long Night” proved, it’s that Melisandre is kind of useless. Sure, she may have brought Jon Snow back to life, but besides that, her plans usually fail.
That holds true in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3. First, she gives the Dothraki flaming swords, but they still die almost instantly. Then, she lights the moat around Winterfell on fire, but the wights get into the castle anyway. See what I mean? Useless. (Don’t even get me started on her whole Stannis Baratheon obsession. Renly put it best in Season 2: “Born amidst salt and smoke? Is he a ham?”)
Considering the Red Witch’s track record, it’s not unreasonable to think that perhaps the entire Prince That Was Promised prophecy was always a huge misdirection. Maybe the real Azor Ahai was the friends we made along the way.
Regardless, now that the Night King is dead, the whole prophecy is pretty much meaningless anyway. Maybe Jon, or Dany, or Jaime, or even Gendry really was supposed to be Azor Ahai. But leave it to Arya to jump the queue and take care of business. Prophecies be damned.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.