How 7 Wild Game of Thrones Fan Theories Panned Out in Season 7

HBO
HBO

Warning: This post contains spoilers about “The Dragon and the Wolf,” Game of Thrones’s seventh season finale. If you’re not caught up, stop reading now.

“The Dragon and the Wolf,” the season finale of Game of Thrones's seventh season, tied up a few loose ends in particularly satisfying fashion (bye bye, Littlefinger) but left just as many unanswered questions. Game of Thrones fans, however, have been notoriously quick to try to answer those questions for themselves, with varying degrees of success. As the snow settles on the icy rubble that used to be the Wall, we’re analyzing the status of seven Game of Thrones fan theories—predicting everything from Jon Snow becoming the Night King to Ned Stark being alive and well—as the show takes a break before its final season.

1. THE THREE-HEADED DRAGON

The Theory: Some of the most hotly contested Game of Thrones speculation has centered around the so-called "Three-Headed Dragon" prophecy: a vision Daenerys had in the House of the Undying of her brother Rhaegar saying, “the dragon has three heads.” (This happens in the books, although the show omitted this tidbit from Daenerys’s vision in season two.) Fans interpreted this to mean that there would be a rider for each of the show’s three dragons and tried to guess their identities. Daenerys, of course, rode Drogon, named for her late husband Drogo. Fans have long speculated that Jon Snow, revealed to be a true Targaryen, would ride Rhaegal, the dragon named after his father. They’ve offered many predictions for the third rider, including Tyrion Lannister, Bran Stark and Jorah Mormont.

The Verdict: Uncertain. “The Dragon and the Wolf” confirmed that the Night King is Viserion’s rider. The identity of the third rider remains unknown, but Jon Snow is still the clear favorite.

2. ARYA’S GAME OF FACES


HBO

The Theory: Arya’s story arc seemed to take a 180 in “Stormborn,” when she abruptly dropped her plans to travel to King's Landing to assassinate Cersei and instead journeyed to Winterfell to spend the rest of the season bickering with Sansa. Fans everywhere let out a collective groan when Arya, a master of stealth and deception, allowed Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish to trick her so easily into a pointless feud with her sister. But some began to think that Arya may actually have been the one leading Littlefinger on all along. Arya, they claimed, was playing a version of the Game of Faces during her fight with Sansa in “Beyond the Wall”—pretending to threaten Sansa to lull Littlefinger into a false sense of security.

The Verdict: Confirmed. The finale kept us guessing until moments before Littlefinger’s doom, but the open-mouthed gape of genuine surprise that came across Baelish’s face when his schemes finally failed him was oh-so-worth it.

3. BRAN STARK THE TIME TRAVELER (AND THE NIGHT KING?)

The Theory: Bran Stark will hone his greenseer and warging abilities to try to change the past and defeat the Night King. With very little training, Bran was able to short-circuit Hodor’s brain and call out to young Ned Stark. With a little practice, some fans predict, he will go back in time and become his legendary ancestor Bran the Builder, who built the Wall to keep out the White Walkers. Take the theory a step further and Bran could have driven Aerys Targaryen mad trying to warn him about the undead. And take a massive leap forward and Bran Stark is the Night King, warging into his icy body in an act of self-sacrifice to lead the dead away from Westeros for millennia, before finally losing himself inside the zombie’s mind and turning on the living.

The Verdict: Still plausible. We didn’t see much of Bran this season, but surely there must be a bigger payoff for his character than facilitating Littlefinger’s demise (although for us, that would be enough).

4. JON SNOW IS THE PRINCE WHO WAS PROMISED (AND THE NIGHT KING?)


HBO

The Theory: Jon Snow will fulfill the Prince Who Was Promised theory in the cruelest possible way. According to one Redditor’s theory, there must always be a Night King in the universe of Game of Thrones. During the last Long Night, the theory goes, Azor Ahai defeated the Night King and pulled the dragon glass out of his chest. But with their king dead, the remaining Wights and White Walkers roamed freely, threatening all of Westeros. So Azor Ahai stabbed himself in the chest with the dragon glass and became the Night King to control the army of the dead and lead them away from the living. Over many years, he forgot his purpose and turned against men. Now Jon Snow, the Prince Who Was Promised and the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, must take his turn as the Night King to save Westeros.

The Verdict: Who knows? The theory is far-fetched, but nothing we’ve seen through seven seasons disproves it. Fans would be heartbroken, but it’s not like Jon Snow could get any mopier about it.

5. JAIME WILL KILL CERSEI

The Theory: There’s a prophecy hanging over Cersei’s head that she will be killed by “the Valonqar,” Valyrian for “little brother.” Cersei hears this from Maggy the Frog, a fortune teller who gives a younger version of the Queen a series of very accurate predictions about her future (including her marriage to Robert Baratheon, her feud with Margaery Tyrell, and the death of her three children). The obvious choice for Cersei’s “Valonqar” killer would be Tyrion, who has pledged his loyalty to her rival for the Iron Throne. But some fans predict that Jaime—her lover, twin brother, and younger sibling by a few minutes—will be the one to do her in.

The Verdict: Looking more likely every episode. Jaime openly defied his sister in the finale after Cersei revealed her plan to back-stab Daenerys in her fight against the Night King, and Cersei threatened to kill him for it. The rift between the two has never been wider.

6. NED STARK IS STILL ALIVE


Nick Briggs/HBO

The Theory: Ned Stark wasn’t the man who got beheaded on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor. Varys hired the Faceless Man known as Jaqen H’ghar to wear Ned’s face—or one similar to his—and be executed in his stead. The theory holds that master swordsman Syrio Forel didn’t die either, but helped Ned escape King’s Landing and then took Jaqen H’ghar’s face and trained Arya when she went to Essos. For the past six seasons, Ned has been hiding out with his friend Howland Reed at Greywater Watch.

The Verdict: Keep dreaming. Although the showrunners seemed hesitant to kill off beloved characters for much of the seventh season, they aren’t likely to reanimate long-dead fan favorites, either (or at least, not in any form we’d like to see them in).

7. JON AND DAENERYS FALL IN LOVE 

The Theory: This is less a theory than a case of much of the Internet “shipping” the aunt-and-nephew pair. From the moment Jon and Daenerys met there was tension in the air. They, of course, don’t know they’re related, and anyway the incest thing isn’t uncommon within the world of Game of Thrones. But we know. And it’s at least a little weird.

The Verdict: Aggressively confirmed. Interspersing Bran and Sam’s extended conversation about how the pair are very much related with graphic shots of Jon and Dany having sex, the finale pulled no punches in gleefully confirming this fan prediction.

'143,' Fred Rogers's Code for "I Love You," Gets Its Own Holiday in Pennsylvania

Family Communications Inc./Getty Images
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

"It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three."

That quote from Fred Rogers has become a symbol of the children's entertainer's legacy. The number 143, his special code for "I love you," is used by a charity inspired by Rogers, and it was spotlighted in the recent documentary movie Won't You Be My Neighbor? Now, Mister Rogers's favorite number has its own holiday in Pennsylvania.

As Philly Voice reports, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born in Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh and he spent his whole life in the area. By honoring the famous Pennsylvanian with his own holiday, the organizers behind the statewide 143 Day campaign hope to inspire residents to be kind to their neighbors on May 23 and every day of the year.

The initiative encourages schools, businesses, and citizens to share their acts of kindness on social media with the hashtag #143DayinPA. A "kindness tracker" on the campaign's website keeps how many time the hashtag has been used, and so far, over a 6000 acts of kindness have been shared online. And if someone has trouble thinking of ways to honor the spirit of Mister Rogers, the campaign's "kindness generator" can come up with a suggestion for them.

One hundred and forty-three was more than just a fun saying for Fred Rogers: It was a lucky number he made part of his lifestyle. The television personality even went so far as to go swimming every day to maintain his weight at the number.

[h/t Philly Voice]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That Are Stranger Than Fiction

A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
Top Knot Films

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 10 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.  

1. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming on Netflix earlier this year.

2. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile. Hulu subscribers can watch it now.

3. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere. It’s currently on Hulu.

4. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous. HBO subscribers can see the film, and it’s also available as a $3.99 rental on Amazon Prime.

5. Billboard Boys (2018)

In 1982, an Allentown, Pennsylvania radio station sponsored a contest in which three men agreed to live underneath a billboard. The last man remaining would win a brand-new motor home, a considerable incentive in the economically-struggling area. Three contestants went up, but things didn't go as planned. It's available for free to Amazon Prime members.

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it. The film can be hard to find, but you can watch the first nine minutes on YouTube for free (above) and then catch the rest for $9.99 on iTunes.

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid. You can rent the film for $3.99 on Amazon.

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime. It’s available to HBO viewers or as a rental on Amazon for $3.99.

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003. See them on HBO or watch the original and both follow-ups for free on Amazon Prime.

10. Tabloid (2010)

Filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War) details the unusual love affair between beauty queen Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson, who alleged McKinney kidnapped and assaulted him after believing he had been brainwashed by the Mormon church. That’s only the beginning of this twisty—and twisted—story, which illustrates how people can perceive the same event in completely different ways. It’s currently streaming on Hulu.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER