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

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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


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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?)


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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


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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.

Disney's Most Magical Destinations Have Been Reimagined as Vintage Travel Posters

UpgradedPoints.com
UpgradedPoints.com

Many of the iconic settings of animated Disney movies were modeled after real places around the world. Ussé Castle in France’s Loire Valley, for example, is widely rumored to have been the inspiration behind the original Sleeping Beauty story. (Although the castle in the movie more closely resembles Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle.) Likewise, the fictional island in Moana was made to look like Samoa, and the Sultan’s palace in Aladdin shares some similarities with India's Taj Mahal.

If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring Agrabah or Neverland, then you’ll probably enjoy getting lost in these Disney-inspired travel posters from the designers at UpgradedPoints.com, an online resource that helps individuals maximize their credit card travel rewards. Only one of the posters features a real destination ("Beautiful France"), but these illustrations let you get one step closer to scaling Pride Rock or plumbing the depths of Atlantica.

All of the images are rendered in a vintage style with enticing slogans attached—much like the exotic travel posters that were prevalent in the 1930s.

“A few of our designers wanted to capture that longing to experience the true locations of these fantastic films, and the inner child in all of us couldn’t resist seeing how they interpreted the locations of their favorite films,” UpgradedPoints.com writes. “The results are breathtaking and make us wish we could fall into our favorite Disney movies.”

Keep scrolling to see the posters, and for more travel inspiration, read up on eight real-life locations that inspired Disney places (plus one that didn't).

A Disney-inspired poster of France
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An Atlantica travel poster
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A Disney-inspired poster
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A Disney-inspired poster
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A Lion King travel poster
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A Neverland travel poster
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11 Memorable Facts About Cats the Musical

Mike Clarke/Getty Images
Mike Clarke/Getty Images

“It was better than Cats!” Decades after Andrew Lloyd Webber's famed musical opened on Broadway on October 7, 1982, this tongue-in-cheek idiom remains a part of our lexicon (thanks to Saturday Night Live). Although the feline extravaganza divided the critics, it won over audiences of all ages and became an industry juggernaut—one that single-handedly generated more than $3 billion for New York City's economy—and that was before it made a return to the Great White Way in 2016. In honor of Andrew Lloyd Webber's birthday on March 22, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

1. The work that Cats the musical is based on was originally going to include dogs.

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, published in 1939, is a collection of feline-themed poems written by the great T. S. Eliot. A whimsical, lighthearted effort, the volume has been delighting cat fanciers for generations—and it could have become just as big of a hit with dog lovers, too. At first, Eliot envisioned the book as an assemblage of canine- and tabby-related poems. However, he came to believe that “dogs don’t seem to lend themselves to verse quite so well, collectively, as cats.” (Spoken like a true ailurophile.) According to his publisher, Eliot decided that “it would be improper to wrap [felines] up with dogs” and barely even mentioned them in the finished product.

For his part, Andrew Lloyd Webber has described his attitude towards cats as “quite neutral.” Still, the composer felt that Eliot’s rhymes could form the basis of a daring, West End-worthy soundtrack. It seemed like an irresistible challenge. “I wanted to set that exciting verse to music,” he explained. “When I [had] written with lyricists in the past … the lyrics have been written to the music. So I was intrigued to see whether I could write a complete piece the other way ‘round.”

2. "Memory" was inspired by a poem that T.S. Eliot never finished.

In 1980, Webber approached T.S. Eliot’s widow, Valerie, to ask for her blessing on the project. She not only said “yes,” but provided the songwriter with some helpful notes and letters that her husband had written about Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats—including a half-finished, eight-line poem called “Grizabella, the Glamour Cat.” Feeling that it was too melancholy for children, Eliot decided to omit the piece from Practical Cats. But the dramatic power of the poem made it irresistible for Webber and Trevor Nunn, the show’s original director. By combining lines from “Grizabella, the Glamour Cat” with those of another Eliot poem, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night,” they laid the foundation for what became the powerful ballad “Memory.” A smash hit within a smash hit, this showstopper has been covered by such icons as Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow.

3. Dame Judi Dench left the cast of Cats when her Achilles tendon snapped.

One of Britain’s most esteemed actresses, Dench was brought in to play Grizabella for Cats’s original run on the West End. Then, about three weeks into rehearsals, she was going through a scene with co-star Wayne Sleep (Mr. Mistoffelees) when disaster struck. “She went, ‘You kicked me!’” Sleep recalls in the above video. “And I said, ‘I didn’t, actually, are you alright?’” She wasn’t. Somehow, Dench had managed to tear her Achilles tendon. As a last-minute replacement, Elaine Paige of Evita fame was brought aboard. In an eerie coincidence, Paige had heard a recorded version of “Memory” on a local radio station less than 24 hours before she was asked to play Grizabella. Also, an actual black cat had crossed her path that day. Spooky.

4. To finance the show, Andrew Lloyd Webber ended up mortgaging his house.

Although Andrew Lloyd Webber had previously won great acclaim as one of the creative minds behind Jesus Christ Superstar and other hit shows, Cats had a hard time finding investors. According to choreographer Gillian Lynne, “[it] was very, very difficult to finance because everyone said ‘A show about cats? You must be raving mad.’” In fact, the musical fell so far short of its fundraising goals that Webber ended up taking out a second mortgage on his home to help get Cats the musical off the ground.

5. When Cats the musical came to Broadway, its venue got a huge makeover.

Cats made its West End debut on May 11, 1981. Seventeen months later, a Broadway production of the musical launched what was to become an 18-year run at the Winter Garden Theatre. But before the show could open, some major adjustments had to be made to the venue. Cats came with an enormous, sprawling set which was far too large for the theatre’s available performing space. To make some more room, the stage had to be expanded. Consequently, several rows of orchestra seats were removed, along with the Winter Garden’s proscenium arch. And that was just the beginning. For Grizabella’s climactic ascent into the Heaviside Layer on a giant, levitating tire, the crew installed a hydraulic lift in the orchestra pit and carved a massive hole through the auditorium ceiling. Finally, the theater’s walls were painted black to set the proper mood. After Cats closed in 2000, the original look of the Winter Garden was painstakingly restored—at a cost of $8 million.

6. Cats the musical set longevity records on both sides of the Atlantic.

The original London production took its final bow on May 11, 2002, exactly 21 years after the show had opened—which, at the time, made Cats the longest-running musical in the West End’s history. (It would lose that title to Les Miserables in 2006.) Across the pond, the show was performed at the Winter Garden for the 6138th time on June 19, 1997, putting Cats ahead of A Chorus Line as the longest-running show on Broadway. To celebrate, a massive outdoor celebration was held between 50th and 51st streets, complete with a laser light show and an exclusive after-party for Cats alums.

7. One theatergoer sued the show for $6 million.

Like Hair, Cats involves a lot of performer-audience interaction. See it live, and you might just spot a leotard-clad actor licking himself near your seat before the curtain goes up. In some productions, the character Rum Tum Tugger even rushes out into the crowd and finds an unsuspecting patron to dance with. At a Broadway performance on January 30, 1996, Tugger was played by stage veteran David Hibbard. That night, he singled out one Evelyn Amato as his would-be dance partner. Mildly put, she did not appreciate his antics. Alleging that Hibbard had gyrated his pelvis in her face, Amato sued the musical and its creative team for $6 million.

8. Thanks to Cats the musical, T.S. Eliot received a posthumous Tony.

Because most of the songs in Cats are almost verbatim recitations of Eliot’s poems, he’s regarded as its primary lyricist—even though he died in 1965, long before the show was conceived. Still, Eliot’s contributions earned him a 1983 Tony for Best Book of a Musical. A visibly moved Valerie Eliot took the stage to accept this prize on her late spouse’s behalf. “Tonight’s honor would have given my husband particular pleasure because he loved the theatre,” she told the crowd. Eliot also shared the Best Original Score Tony with Andrew Lloyd Webber.

9. The original Broadway production used more than 3000 pounds of yak hair.

Major productions of Cats use meticulously crafted yak hair wigs, which currently cost around $2300 apiece and can take 40 hours or more to produce. Adding to the expense is the fact that costumers can’t just recycle an old wig after some performer gets recast. “Each wig is made specifically for the actor,” explains wigmaker Hannah McGregor in the above video. Since people tend to have differently shaped heads, precise measurements are taken of every cast member’s skull before he or she is fitted with a new head of hair. “[Their wigs] have to fit them perfectly,” McGregor adds, “because of the amount of jumping and skipping they do as cats.” Perhaps it should come as no surprise that, over its 18-year run, the first Broadway production used 3247 pounds of yak hair. (In comparison, the heaviest actual yaks only weigh around 2200 pounds.)

10. A recent revival included hip hop.

In December 2014, Cats returned to the West End with an all-new cast and music. “The Rum Tum Tugger,” a popular Act I song, was reimagined as a hip hop number. “I’ve come to the conclusion, having read [Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats] again, that maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap,” Webber told the press.

11. Another revival featured an internet-famous feline for one night only.

On September 30, Grumpy Cat made her Broadway debut in Cats, briefly taking the stage with the cast. Despite being named Honorary Jellicle Cat, she hated every minute of it.

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