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Sean Bean Finally Reveals Ned Stark's Last Words

This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.

Even after eight seasons of pain and bloodshed, the death of Eddard Stark on Game of Thrones still stings. And it's about to hurt even worse when you learn what the fallen Lord Stark said before he was executed. 

Played by Sean Bean, Ned Stark was originally positioned as the closest thing the expansive fantasy series had to a main character, making it extra devastating and effective when he met his maker at the end of the first season. For those who don't exactly remember what happened with dear ol' Ned, he falsely confessed to treason after Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) died in a hunting accident calculated by Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), and after Cersei and her bastard son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) took the Iron Throne. Ned questioned Joffrey's claim to the Throne, then Cersei had him locked up and demanded he own up to "betraying" the Throne. Though Ned's daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Cersei both asked Joffrey to reconsider, the little tyrant ordered Ned to death via beheading anyhow. 

Just before the blade came down, the Stark patriarch could be seen whispering a few words. With none of his last words being audible and the books providing no illumination, viewers have been left to formulate their own guesses as to what the former head of House Stark may have said as he shuffled off this mortal coil — from the obvious possibility of the series' favorite aphorism valar morghulis ("all men must die") to more bonkers, plot-specific suggestions. A popular idea was that Ned was secretly stating that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) wasn't his bastard son but the child of his sister and Rhaegar Targaryen — and that was our guess theory too... until recently. 

Speaking in an interview with Huffington Post, actor Sean Bean finally revealed Ned's last words. 

They weren't an important message with grand implications for the series' plot, or a popular phrase that fans of Game of Thrones have tattooed across their bodies. In actuality, Ned said a simple, quiet prayer just before dying. 

"It appears that way, doesn't it?" Bean said, referring to the footage of Ned's death appearing to show him praying in the final seconds before his head went flying, which is still one of the most shocking and downright depressing moments in the whole show. 

The actor continued, explaining that he wanted to make Ned's death seem as realistic as possible — you know, in a series that features dragons and men coming back to life and shadow babies and a frosty villain who can turn corpses into reanimated soldiers. As Bean put it, "I couldn't be too specific, because I don't know if religion [like that] was around in those days, whatever they were. I just thought, 'What would you do if this were really gonna happen?' You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you'd keep it quiet. You'd keep it to yourself."

According to Bean, he didn't set out to give fans something to speculate on, saying he only spoke during the scene because it felt right for the character.

"It's quite subtle in that many people wouldn't pick it up," he said. "It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There's not much you can do really, you've got your head on a block. That's about the only thing you can do is murmur."

Amusingly, the interview also confirmed that Bean has indeed seen all of the online talk regarding his many onscreen demises, including a rundown from Nerdist that puts the actor's onscreen death count just behind the oft-murdered Kenny from South Park. According to the actor, he's pleased people are amused at the unusual niche he's carved out.

"Oh, I'll have to get some jobs. Some dying jobs," Bean said. "Yeah, I'm quite pleased with that. I don't mind being slightly behind a cartoon character."

On the sort-of-bright side, Ned Stark was far from the last person to face an untimely — and arguably unjustified — death throughout Game of Thrones' run. Battle after battle after battle saw dozens of major characters bite the bullet and meet their makers, with the currently running final season including some of the most shocking, impactful deaths of the entire series. Heck, another much-beloved hero was killed in the exact same manner as Ned: a swift sword chop to the neck ordered by a member of House Lannister. While that character had but one final word to say before dying, Ned had a small list to speak out. With the way things are going on season 8 of Game of Thrones, we just hope Ned's prayer included a wish for everything to turn out fine in Westeros.