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How Game Of Thrones Will End

For fans of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, the end is in sight. With only 13 episodes left to air in the last two seasons, we're hurtling towards the final chapter in this epic fantasy drama. At this point, the series has caught up (and passed) the novels of George R.R. Martin, making it extremely likely that the show will conclude the tale long before Martin does in his novels. It should also be noted that the show has diverged occasionally from the plot of the books, which means the end we see onscreen may not exactly match the books.

That being said, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have confirmed that Martin revealed the planned end of the epic A Song of Ice and Fire series to them, which means HBO isn't just taking a shot in the dark for wrapping up the show. Whatever happens on the show will likely mirror the books relatively closely, for better or for worse. So how will it all end? Here's my take.


First of all, let's take a look at what the man behind the story has to say about the end. Martin is notably secretive about what will happen next in his book series, but he did give some journalism students at Northwestern University a few clues. While many fans may wish for things to end happily ever after for their favorite characters, Martin warns that life doesn't work that way. "We all yearn for happy endings in a sense. Myself, I'm attracted to the bittersweet ending. People ask me how Game of Thrones is gonna end, and I'm not gonna tell them ... but I always say to expect something bittersweet in the end, like [J.R.R. Tolkien]. You can't just fulfill a quest and then pretend life is perfect."

What does this tell us? In Tolkien's tale, the enemy was defeated but the heroes were forever changed by their ordeal. Some went on to leave their friends and family behind forever. We've already seen some of that take place in Game of Thrones. In particular, the Stark children and Daenerys have all had to face some harsh realities—realities that have made them very different people than they were at the start of the show. So even if they all manage to survive the rising winds of winter, the characters of Game of Thrones may not go on to lead particularly happy lives.

The Others are not the good guys

I've seen this theory tossed around a few times over the years: the White Walkers are actually a force for good, and by purging the world of humans and their corruption, the Others make it safe again for the magical peoples/creatures that used to exist in great numbers. One big problem with this theory: as far as we know, the Others only exist in Westeros. There are no tales of White Walkers ravaging the lands of Essos, and they certainly don't have a Wall to keep them out over there. The legend of the Long Night is mentioned in myths from Rhoyne and even far-east Yi-Ti, but the Others are never spoken of in those tales.

The legend of Azor Ahai seems to have begun in Asshai, but that doesn't mean that Essos has or ever had a White Walker problem. In fact, if what we've seen in the show can be considered canon, the White Walkers are a construct of the Children of the Forest, and are present only in Westeros. If they were good guys meant to wipe out the humans, wouldn't they be everywhere?

Jon vs. Dany

Leaks and spoilers from the filming of season seven have revealed that Jon and Daenerys may forge an alliance soon. While many fans have yearned for Jon and Dany to become "the couple that was promised," I think a Jon/Dany coupling can only end badly. Their personalities are just too different, and they'll clash over how to handle their mutual enemies. When Jon had Ramsay Bolton at his mercy, he nearly beat him to a pulp, yet he managed to restrain himself in the end. Would Daenerys have been able to do the same? She wanted to burn the cities of the slavers to ash after their attack on Meereen, and only Tyrion's urging convinced her to do otherwise. If the rumors are true about season seven, she may become even more aggressive once she starts using her dragons in battle. I don't think Jon Snow will be able to countenance that sort of disregard for life, unless it's against the White Walkers.

Nissa Nissa

'I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow.' – Melisandre

Much like my theory about Jaime Lannister killing Cersei, I think Jon Snow is going to have to end up killing Daenerys. He probably will fall in love with her, but will be forced to kill her. Her "Mad Queen" tendencies could get out of control, or it may simply be a necessary sacrifice in order to defeat the White Walkers. After all, a King's (or Queen's) blood can do amazing things. This ties into the theory that Jon is Azor Ahai, the prophesied hero of R'hllor who will return to save the world from darkness.

According to prophecy, Azor Ahai was chosen to save the world from the encroaching darkness. He forged a sword, and first tried to temper it in water. The sword shattered, and he had to start over. The second time, he reforged the sword and tempered it in the heart of a lion. The sword broke yet again. Finally, he spent 100 days forging the sword a third time. This time, he knew what he had to do. He called for his beloved wife, Nissa Nissa, to come to him and bare her breast. He plunged the sword through her heart, and as she died, her soul became bound to the weapon, and it sprang to life with fire, light, and heat. Her cry of anguish and ecstasy as she dies leaves a crack upon the face of the moon.

But isn't Daenerys the Prince that was Promised?

There's a lot going for the theory that Daenerys is Azor Ahai. She was "born" amidst salt (on Dragonstone) and smoke (in Drogo's pyre), under a bleeding star (the comet), and she woke dragons from stone. However, the showrunners—who know from Martin who Azor Ahai truly is—have also left similar clues that point to Jon. He was also born amidst salt (the tears of his mother and uncle at the Tower of Joy), and smoke (his burning hair during Melisandre's resurrection ritual), and under a bleeding star (the Dayne ancestral sword of Dawn, which rested against the foot of Lyanna's bed.) Additionally, Jon died. He was brought back by R'hllor—the god who chose the last Azor Ahai.

Child of three

In the books, when Daenerys goes to the House of the Undying, she receives visions and a prophecy. Here are the most relevant parts of the prophecy:

...mother of dragons...child of three...three heads has the dragon...mother of dragons...child of storm...three fires must you light...one for life and one for death and one to love...three mounts must you ride...one to bed and one to dread and one to love...three treasons will you know...once for blood and once for gold and once for love...

Additionally, Daenerys receives these visions (among others): Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. Mother of dragons, slayer of lies. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness...mother of dragons, bride of fire.

Three fires

I'm going to break these down in terms of show canon, since the possibilities of interpretation within the book's canon are much more vast. The three fires that Daenerys has/will light include the pyre for Khal Drogo (life for her dragons), and the fire she sets at Vaes Dothrak (death for the Khals who opposed her). Dragons are fire made flesh, and Daenerys is the blood of the dragon, not to mention the fact that she survived the two previous fires. If she becomes Jon Snow's "Nissa Nissa," then she could light the third fire—the fire of Lightbringer—with her own death.

Three mounts

In my opinion, the three mounts are Khal Drogo (one to bed), Drogon (one to dread), and Jon Snow (one to love.) Some book fans suggest Victarion Greyjoy as the "one to dread," but Victarion doesn't exist in the show's canon, and Drogon fits—especially given Daenerys' obvious dread and reluctance to even go near her dragons after they became uncontrollable. If Jon snow is the third mount, then it points to the two falling in love.

Three treasons

Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. – A Dance With Dragons

The first treason was by Mirri Maz Duur (for blood), the second was by Jorah Mormont (for gold), and the third will be by Jon Snow (for love). The visions she receives point directly towards this. She sees a vision of Stannis, the false Azor Ahai and his fake Lightbringer. She then sees a wall of ice, with a blue flower growing from it. This clearly represents Jon Snow, as the blue winter roses were his mother Lyanna's favorite flower. Jon will love her, but the only way for Daenerys to fulfill her prophecy is to die at Jon's hand—becoming a "bride of fire," forging Lightbringer with her death, and revealing Jon as the true Azor Ahai.

To save the world

Ten thousand slaves lifted bloodstained hands as she raced by on her silver, riding like the wind. "Mother!" they cried. "Mother, mother!" They were reaching for her, touching her, tugging at her cloak, the hem of her skirt, her food, her leg, her breast. They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them.

At a casual glance, this prophecy appears to have been already fulfilled when Dany liberated the slaves in Slaver's Bay. But upon a closer reading, I couldn't help but notice how the phrasing reminded me of the Lightbringer prophecy. The world needs Daenerys to die in order to save them all.

How will it happen?

The actress who plays Melisandre has been spotted on the set during filming for season seven, so if this priestess of the Red God has any influence left with Jon, she may be able to convince him that this is what needs to be done. Alternatively, it may happen without Jon even realizing he's fulfilling an ancient prophecy. A situation may arise which requires Jon to kill Dany—perhaps her bloodlust takes control and he has to kill her in order to stop her. Or she might be captured and turned by the White Walkers. Daenerys and her dragons fighting on the side of the Others would be very bad tidings for the chances of Westeros' survival.

What is Lightbringer?

Jon's dreams of holding a burning red sword seem to point to Lightbringer being an actual sword, possibly Longclaw, after he uses it to kill Daenerys. Other fans suggest that Jon will take control of Dany's dragons after she dies, and they are Lightbringer. I've even seen a theory that Jon will get Dany pregnant, and she'll die in childbirth, and Lightbringer is a metaphor for their child.

Of all these, I lean towards Lightbringer being Longclaw. Jon's sword failed him at the Wall (which is made of frozen water) when he was killed by his Night's Watch brothers—the first "forging." It failed him again at the Battle of the Bastards, in which he fell into the trap of Ramsay Bolton and his brother Rickon was killed, before Bolton was eventually trapped (as a Lannister ally, Ramsay was a captured "lion.") This was the second "forging." Or I could be completely wrong on those interpretations, and the first two forgings are still to come—perhaps in an incident with the wights and another with Cersei. Finally, Jon will be forced to kill Daenerys, thereby completing the third and final forging.

Dragons from stone

My tinfoil pet theory is that Jon will wake dragons of his own with Daenerys' death. Nissa Nissa's death cry leaves a "crack" on the face of the moon, and the Dothraki have a myth that once there were two moons, but one strayed too close to the sun and "cracked open," spilling out thousands of dragons. In The World of Ice and Fire guidebook, the fool Mushroom claims there's a clutch of dragon eggs hidden in the crypts of Winterfell. Targaryen children were often given a dragon egg to keep in their cradle as they grew. Could this have been the case with Jon, and Ned brought it back to Winterfell with him secretly?

Other people suggest a dragon is bound beneath the castle with magical spells, which cause the natural hot springs that keep Winterfell warm. In the books, Bran (while warged into Summer) sees what he thinks is a dragon flying away from the ruins of Winterfell. There are also other theories which suggest a dragon is bound into the Wall itself. Perhaps the forging of Lightbringer will break those spells, setting the dragons free and putting them under Jon's control.

Azor Ahai's companions

So what about the rest of the characters on the show? I can't guarantee anyone's survival, but I think the two most likely to make it to the end are Tyrion and Arya. Arya is George R.R. Martin's wife's favorite character, and she told him that if he killed her off, there'd be Hell to pay. According to the books, Azor Ahai didn't fight alone. They don't name specific numbers or people, but the similar Westerosi story about the Last Hero can give you some ideas. He had a dozen companions, all of whom died before he finally defeated the enemy.

This ties into the many companions I think will fight alongside Jon. These characters represent various aspects of the Faith of the Seven, and most of them probably won't survive. This is a nice symmetry, as Jon himself would represent both the Red God as Azor Ahai, and the Old Gods as a Stark of the North, with his companions representing the Faith.

The Father, representing judgement and justice: Davos Seaworth, Tyrion Lannister

The Mother, representing mercy: Daenerys

The Warrior, representing strength in battle: Jaime Lannister, Sandor Clegane

The Maiden, representing innocence and virtue: Brienne, Sansa

The Smith, representing crafts and labor: Gendry

The Crone, representing wisdom: Melisandre, Samwell Tarly, Bran

The Stranger, representing death and the unknown: Arya, Benjen

How will it end?

So how will it all end? To be honest, your guess is as good as mine. But given that the last book is titled A Dream of Spring, I believe we're not going to see the "final" conclusion, and Martin will leave much to the reader's imagination after the last page of the final installment. Epilogues aren't really his style. I believe Jon will eventually defeat the Others, and may die in the process. Those who survive will be left behind to pick up the pieces of a war-torn Westeros, as the snows start to melt and spring comes again.