Why the Jon Snow twist means more than we realized

HBO's Game of Thrones closed out its sixth season with arguably one of the greatest season finales in television history. "The Winds of Winter" included plenty of shocking deaths, but one of the episode's most important developments was revealed in Bran's final greenseeing flashback sequence, during which—major spoilers ahead—a widely-believed theory about Jon Snow was finally confirmed. As many viewers have long suspected, Jon isn't the bastard son of Ned Stark; instead, he's the child of Ned's sister, Lyanna. There are all kinds of potential ramifications if Bran ever manages to share the truth of Jon's lineage, so let's break down why it's all so important. The King in the North has been crowned, and his name isn't really Snow—it's Stark!

Ned Stark dishonored his name just to protect him

First, think about the lengths Ned Stark had to go in order to protect Jon's identity. Ned had to lie and say he sired him out of wedlock, bringing dishonor to his name and making Catelyn think that he cheated on her, to prevent Robert from discovering the infant threat to his hold on the throne. Ned also forced himself to keep Jon at a distance to maintain his bastard status, despite him being the only thing that remained of his beloved sister. Don't forget Ned's last words to Jon before he set off for the Night's Watch: "The Starks have manned the Wall for thousands of years, and you are a Stark. You may not have my name, but you have my blood."

He's not a bastard

We can now all safely assume that Rhaegar Targaryen is Jon's father, the product of his extra-marital affair with Lyanna, despite being married to Dornish princess Elia Martell at the time. Nevertheless, Jon is the son of heirs from two noble houses, which means he doesn't technically fall under the bastard status. Jon rallied the northern houses and became the King in the North under his own merit with no inheritance to his name. If Bran lets him know his lineage, that'd just be the cherry on top for the recently-resurrected King Stark.

He's probably half Targaryen

We didn't get to fully hear what Lyanna whispered to Ned just before dying, but we assume that she let her brother know that her baby is the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Want some proof? King Aerys II Targaryen's Kingsguard members Ser Arthur Dayne and Gerold Hightower guarded the Tower of Joy while Lyanna gave birth to Jon. They were there to defend the newborn heir to the Targaryen dynasty. Of course, being the last surviving male heir of Aerys' bloodline comes with other perks.

He has a claim to the Iron Throne

We all know the newly-crowned Queen Cersei is one of the worst villains of the series. And now that she has no more children left to appoint as horrible rulers, the likely candidates to usurp Cersei are Daenerys, Jon, or Petyr Baelish—but only if he can convince Sansa Stark to marry him. Nevertheless, Jon unknowingly has a legitimate claim to the crown, and if he somehow decides to exercise it, he could march his forces southward, ascend the Iron Throne, and stop the invading White Walkers—or just make an alliance with Daenerys once/if she takes it over.

He probably won't marry Aunt Daenerys

Being the son of Rhaegar Targaryen makes Jon Snow Daenerys' nephew. Sorry to everyone hoping for the King in the North 2.0 to marry the Mother of Dragons in the end, but that's his auntie. Yes, incest is still kind of acceptable for the Targaryens, but if Jaime and Cersei Lannister's twincest has led to this many problems throughout the Seven Kingdoms, we don't imagine a happily ever after love story ending in a shallow gene pool.

Unless...

Here's one heck of a curve ball we want to throw for the final play, even if it probably isn't true. What if Rhaegar Targaryen isn't the father of Jon Snow? Book fans have been screaming about the R+L=J theory for years, so we all knew about the big reveal before Ned ever saw Lyanna on her deathbed. Perhaps George R. R. Martin and HBO will decide to take a less obvious route, however. What if Robert Baratheon, in his drunken debauchery, tried to consummate his betrothal to Lyanna before their marriage, only for her to run off with Rhaegar while unknowingly pregnant? Either way, Jon would have a claim to the Iron Throne, but this means he'd be a Baratheon, and would able to marry Daenerys after all.