Game of Thrones theories you should know before season 8 premieres

There are only six episodes left before life in Westeros as we know it comes to an end forever. Game of Thrones season 8 doesn't have an official premiere date yet, but HBO programming director Casey Bloys revealed that the final installment of will air sometime in 2019. HBO is usually pretty tough on keeping Game of Thrones spoilers and rumors from reaching the public, but that hasn't stopped the most devout fans from coming up with a few theories of their own. 

While the Game of Thrones fans that long suspected Jon Snow to be the trueborn son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen were all left feeling incredibly satisfied after the season 7 finale, not all GoT theorists have been so lucky. We've seen a multitude of creative theories surface over the last seven years (remember when we thought Tyrion might get the chance to ride his very own dragon?). As the show progressed and more and more plot points were revealed, many of those fun and bizarre ideas haven't been able to survive the transition into the Long Winter. However, there are still plenty of clever plans that might still come to fruition by the time the final credits roll. 

With that in mind, we're taking a look at the best Game of Thrones fan theories that could still come to pass in season 8. Whether you're a casual fan or a hardcore Thrones nerd who's even more into reading than Samwell Tarly, these are the theories you'll want to keep on your radar as the show's eighth and final season unfolds.

The dragon has three heads

George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels inspired the series, but the show hasn't always been faithful to its source material. Daenerys' time in the House of Undying, which occurs in the second book, A Clash of Kings, played out a little differently on Game of Thrones. Rather than seeing Khal Drogo and her son, Rhaego, she sees her brother Rhaegar and his son, who he names Aegon. Rhaegar turns to Daenerys and offers her an obscure piece of prophecy: "There must be one more. The dragon has three heads." 

As cryptic as those words are, many GoT fans have interpreted them to mean that Daenerys' dragons will each have three riders. Sources like Thrillist and Romper tend to accept that Daenerys and Jon are the first two, which leaves a great deal of speculation as to who the third could be. After the Night King recruited Viserion into his menagerie of the dead, it seemed like that whole theory might as well have been shot with an enchanted javelin, too.

However, Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair suggests that maybe — just maybe — Viserion might not be totally out of the prophecy picture just yet. She suggests that Bran, who we've already seen warg around the Night King quite a bit, might warg his way into the undead Viserion and manage to ride alongside Jon and Dany that way, as the third head of the dragon. Ani Bundel of Elite Daily suggests that the Night King himself is meant to be the third head of the dragon, and she seems to suspect that he might even be a Stark… but more on that later.

Tyrion Targaryen

Tyrion never fit in with his family, and not just because he's a dwarf. He's kinder and cleverer than most of his relatives, and he never even managed to get any credit for that growing up. There is a long-standing GoT theory — Alt Shift X published one version in 2014 — that Tyrion actually isn't a Lannister at all. The theory suggests, based on evidence from both the books and show, that he's actually a Targaryen bastard.

As the theory goes, the books show that Aerys Targaryen, Dany's father, took a shine to the beautiful Joanna Lannister. It certainly doesn't seem impossible that he would have pressured her into sleeping with him, especially as he descended further into madness. And it's possible that Tyrion might have been the product of that union. If Tywin also suspected this but was unable to prove it, then that would be yet another reason for his constant disdain for his youngest "son."

This theory played nicely into the idea that Tyrion would wind up being the third head of the dragon, which is unfortunately all but totally impossible by now. However, that doesn't mean he's not still harboring some secret Targaryen blood. In the books, his hair is salt and peppered with brown and a shock-white blonde, rather than the golden Lannister blonde. That light color is the signature of the Targaryen line… It's hardly solid proof, but it's not totally entirely out of the question, either.

The Child of Ice and Fire

This is a theory that only started to take shape somewhat later in the game, when it became clear that Jon and Daenerys were destined to wind up together. In the final episode of season 7, Jon Snow tells Daenerys that the witch that killed her husband "might not have been the most reliable source of information," hinting that Dany might actually be able to have a baby after all.

By the final moments of the season, we watched the two get down to business in Dany's room on the boat. Will Jon and Daenerys have a child? And will that child become the savior of Westeros? Sam Ashurst of Digital Spy seems to think it's a definite possibility, with a myriad of painful consequences that could follow. Any child of these two prophecy-laden royals will no doubt be a special baby. Could he or she be the third head of the dragon? Or the future ruler of Westeros? Or could the little tyke wind up being sacrificed for the greater good? The options here are endless.

A pregnancy is the last thing Daenerys needs to worry about going into the War for the Dawn II, but it does kind of feel like that may be where the show is headed.

The Valonqar

The Valonqar fan theory first reached Game of Thrones' fans eyes during the premiere of season 5. In a flashback, a young Cersei visits the witch Maggy the Frog, who gives her a worrisome prophecy. "Oh yes, you'll be queen," says Maggy, "for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear." In the show, we watched Cersei bend over backwards trying to dispose of Margaery, only now she knows what we knew all along: the real threat to her power is actually Daenerys.

In the book, Maggy ends her prophecy with a sentence that the show decided to leave out. "And when your tears have drowned you," she says, "the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you." "Valonqar" means "little brother" in High Valyrian. Obviously, Cersei has spent her life hating her younger brother Tyrion, blaming him for murdering their mother and her son, and possibly worrying that he could be biding his time before killing her, too.

However, as the Valonqar theory goes, it isn't Tyrion that Cersei needs to worry about. Instead, her beloved twin Jaime might be the one to take Cersei's life in the end. As Jaime finally managed to leave her in the season 7 finale, it seems highly possible that he could be the one to take it upon himself to end her reign of terror by the end of season 8.

Arya's Wolfpack

Like most Game of Thrones theories, this theory about Arya and her direwolf Nymeria borrows quite a bit of context from the book series. In a video from 2015, Alt Shift X lays out a complicated theory for Arya's ultimate fate in Game of Thrones, mentioning that throughout the books, Arya actually has wolf dreams where she sees herself as Nymeria, running with her pack through the forest. These dreams suggest that Arya, like Bran, is actually a warg too. She's sort of always been searching for a pack of her own: with Gendry and Hot Pie, then with the Hound, then with the Faceless Men.

Speaking with Mashable, George R.R. Martin himself discussed Nymeria, saying, "You don't hang a giant wolfpack on the wall unless you intend to use it." Could it be that in the end, Arya will warg into Nymeria and run off to lead her own wolfpack forever?

Crazier things have happened. And with Nymeria's reappearance in season 7, it seems the show's creators are also trying to remind us about Arya and Nymeria's connection. We'll just have to wait and see if, when, and how the giant wolfpack factors into the final season.

Queen Sansa

Sansa Stark started out as a spoiling, sniveling princess in season 1, but has evolved into the confident, capable, strong leader we saw sentence Littlefinger to death at the end of season 7. Where will season 8 take the Lady of Winterfell? Some fans suggest it might take her all the way to the Iron Throne.

Lauren Sarner of Inverse laid out a plan for why Sansa is the best possible option to become the ultimate ruler of Westeros, pointing out how Daario Naharis told Daenerys she "wasn't meant to sit in a chair." She's a conquerer, as well as a foreign queen. Daenerys doesn't have one tenth the understanding of the Westerosi people that Sansa does.

Another Reddit theory actually suggests that Sansa could be the "younger, more beautiful" queen that is sent to cast Cersei down. There's some beautiful poetry in that, as it was Cersei that tried to ruin Sansa's life in the first place. 

Finally, Sophie Turner herself let a few tidbits slip about her character in an interview with Digital Spy, describing just how strong her character has become by the time we see her again in season 8. "She's a real, true leader of Winterfell now," Turner said. "And that's where we first see her – as a very protective, empowered lady in charge. It's the first time you ever see her like that, and it's so amazing to see her like that — kind of owning her destiny." Sounds like the makings of a great queen.

Bran the Night King

As more of Bran's greensight and warging abilities have been revealed, fans have wondered whether there might be more of Bran Stark at work in the main plot than we initially suspected. For instance, could Bran possibly be the Night King?

Michael Walsh of Nerdist breaks the theory of Bran as the Night King into three different points. First, everyone knows that the Mad King Aerys Targaryen died shouting to "Burn them all!" Is it possible that it was actually Bran, warging into Aerys's body in an attempt to stop the White Walkers, but losing control? Bran could have warged back in time to become Brandon Stark, the man that helped design the Wall to keep the White Walkers out in the first place, before finally warging even further back to become the first man that the Children of the Forest turned into the Night King himself.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright wasn't quite convinced. "I don't know," he said. "I think it's a little bit far-fetched. But the whole Hodor thing, if I had read that as a theory, I would have said, 'Nah, this is crazy.' So, who knows? Although I have to say, people are now comparing my face to the Night King and going, 'Yeah! It's him! It's over, there's no question about it!' And I'm like, 'I don't look that much like the Night King, do I?'"

Dany as Nissa Nissa

By now, most Game of Thrones watchers are aware of the story of Azor Ahai, the Prince Who Was Promised and the Last Hero that saved the world from the White Walkers, and tend to consider it the primary theory for how Game of Thrones will end. Varys believed that this legendary figure was actually Daenerys, while Melisandre was convinced it was Stannis… right up until he died and she switched to Team Jon Snow. Alt Shift X broke down the Azor Ahai theory perfectly, but the most heartbreaking part actually has to do with his true love.

According to Westerosi legend, Azor Ahai needed to sacrifice his beloved wife Nissa Nissa in order to save the world from the White Walkers. If it turns out that Jon Snow really is Azor Ahai reborn, then that could make Daenerys Nissa Nissa. Jess Joho of Mashable sketches out the theory that Jon Snow will ultimately need to kill Daenerys in order to forge Lightbringer, the mythical weapon that will save the world from the White Walkers. Joho and the original Reddit theory actually suggest that Daenerys will wind up becoming a White Walker herself. It's a little out there, but we don't have any reason to believe this couldn't be the "bittersweet ending" George R.R. Martin promised.

Winterfell as Lightbringer

So if Jon Snow is Azor Ahai, and Daenerys is Nissa Nissa, then who or what will be the legendary weapon known as Lightbringer? In the legend, it was a glowing sword, but it's possible that in season 8, it will turn out to be something entirely different. One Reddit user suggested that Lightbringer isn't a sword at all, but a place — Winterfell, to be exact. 

As the legend has it, Lightbringer was forged three times. First, Azor Ahai tried to temper the metal by plunging it into water, but the sword broke. Next, he tried by piercing the heart of a lion, but it broke again. Finally, he tempered the sword by stabbing his darling Nissa Nissa. According to the Reddit theory, Winterfell already broke once when it was captured by Theon, and then again by the Boltons. As this particular theory was published five years ago, there's no way the author could have predicted that Jon Snow would wind up officially bending the knee to Daenerys, as he did at the end of season 7. When the pair arrive at Winterfell, with Jon having made Daenerys his queen, then perhaps this will become the third forging of Winterfell, and it'll go on to become the instrumental tool that saves Westeros from the White Walkers.

Sam the Storyteller

Samwell Tarly might actually turn out to be the most important player of all. In fact, one theory — which could still be very much in play — suggests that he's actually the one writing the entire story. TV Guide suggests Samwell could be the one recording the great history we're watching (or reading), or perhaps it could be his adopted stepson Sam. (We don't know very much about the little guy yet, but it seems safe to assume Sam would pass his love of books on to his child.)

In an interview at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, George R.R. Martin drew a direct comparison between himself and Sam's character. "Tyrion might be who I want to be," he said, "but Sam is probably closer to who I actually am. The fat kid who likes to read books and doesn't like to go up a lot of stairs."

With that in mind, Kathryn Lindsay of Refinery29 pointed out a scene at the Citadel in season 7 when Sam converses with Maester Embrose about his new book. "If you want people to read your histories," Embrose says, "you need a bit of style. I'm not writing A Chronicle of the Wars of Following the Death of King Robert I so it can sit on a shelf unread."

Noticing the disapproving look on Sam's face, Embrose asks Samwell for a replacement title, and Samwell responds that the ideal choice might be "possibly something a bit more poetic." As Lindsay notes, Game of Thrones definitely has a nice ring to it.