Game of Thrones Theory Predicts Samwell Tarly is 'The Prince That Was Promised'

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Spoiler alert: If you’re not caught up on HBO's Game of Thrones, we’re about to unleash a handful of spoilers. So you’ll want to stop reading now and come back when you’re all caught up.

In the seven years since Game of Thrones first made its small-screen debut on HBO, viewers and observers alike have been treated to a seemingly never-ending stream of fan theories that attempt to figure out where the show’s narrative is heading. While some of these predictions have been a bit of a stretch, we’ve watched as some others have come true. One question that continues to be asked, and the answer guessed at, is: Who is The Prince That Was Promised, a.k.a. Azor Ahai, a.k.a. the prophesized savior of the Game of Thrones universe? While this Prince (or Princess—the translation leaves open the option for both) has been guessed as being everyone from Jon Snow to Daenerys Targaryen, Redditor MrSilenceT—whose clever theories we have covered before—has another contender for the role: sweet, lovable Samwell Tarly.

In a series of meticulously detailed Reddit posts, MrSilenceT laid out the reasoning behind his belief that Samwell could ultimately be the one to save the day in Westeros. And it rests on one assumption: that Sam is not the son of that awful Randyll Tarly, whom we met briefly in season seven. No, MrSilenceT posits that Sam is actually the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and his first wife, Elia Martell. If true, this would make Sam the nephew of Daenerys, the half-brother of Jon Snow, and therefore a member of House Targaryen—and the possible third head of that oft-discussed three-headed dragon, which will ride into war and purportedly put a period on who is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

According to MrSilenceT’s theory:

"The third head is no one else than Aegon Targaryen, first son of Rhaegar & Elia Martell, that had truly been smuggled by Varys. After Robert's Rebellion, Varys could not afford to lose the little Prince. To protect him, Varys sent baby Aegon to be fostered by one of the strongest and most faithful supporters of the Targaryen reign, to the man that had inflicted Robert his only defeat at the Battle of Ashford, Lord Randyll Tarly."

He goes on to use A Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin’s own words to support this idea, even if it might be a bit of a stretch. During a Q&A for the Emmy Awards in 2013, the author was asked which character he would play on the show; he answered that he actually already does play all the characters when he writes them. “But if they actually had to film me, I guess the only one that I could play would be Samwell Tarly,” Martin said. (Though Hot Pie got an honorable mention.)

Though most people listening to Martin probably dismissed his words as little more than a lighthearted response to a lighthearted question, MrSilenceT believes this was a subtle allusion to a conversation Rhaegar and Elia had about their son, with Rhaegar stating that, “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” In other words, according to the Redditor:

"Therefore ladies and gentlemen, George is the true prince that was promised and his book is the song of Ice and Fire! Sam, a.k.a. George R.R. Martin, is destined to lead mankind in its war against darkness (ignorance) by wielding a sword known as Lightbringer (the book of A Song Of Ice And Fire) …

"Samwell had inherited his mother's Dornish looks and most of her character: kind and clever, with a gentle heart and a sweet wit, though with a delicate health; exactly like Ser Barristan Selmy had described Elia. From his father, Sam had inherited Rhaegar's love for books and songs instead of his ability for battle. Lord Randyll, being the Tarly that he is, tried his best to raise the young Prince as a fighter. But even after giving it his all, poor Sam could not do it. His training was proving a failure. And to cope with the stress and the pain, Sam hid behind food ..."

Could Samwell Tarly be the hero we’ve been waiting for all along? You can read the full theory here. And since you’ve got a good year to ponder that question until the series returns for its final season, maybe now’s the time to re-watch the entire thing and see if you can find any other hints that point to Sam’s possibly princely identity.

8 Provocative Facts About the X Film Rating

iStock/tolgart
iStock/tolgart

When the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) introduced the modern movie ratings system in 1968, they couldn’t have known that one of their classifications would become the calling card of pornography. The X rating, intended to denote films not suitable for anyone under the age of 17, went from being attached to Academy Award contenders to filling video store spaces located behind saloon doors. Fifty years after its debut, we’re taking a look at the most infamous letter in moviegoing history.

1. ACCEPTING THE RATING WAS VOLUNTARY (KIND OF).

In 1968, the MPAA and its president, Jack Valenti, introduced a four-tier system to classify films. G was suitable for all audiences; M was the equivalent of PG (which replaced M in 1970), indicating that juveniles should consult with a parent before attending; R was intended for adults, or children only with a guardian present; X marked films that shouldn’t be seen by adolescent eyes. But the MPAA never forced a film studio to submit to its decision. It could release a film with no rating at all. The problem? The MPAA’s arrangement with the National Association of Theater Owners meant that an unrated film would almost certainly have difficulty finding a theater to screen it.

2. A ROBERT DE NIRO MOVIE WAS THE FIRST TO GET SLAPPED WITH AN X.

Immediately after the introduction of the new MPAA system, the advisory board got its first bona fide sample of an X-rated submission: Director Brian De Palma’s Greetings, a 1968 film starring Robert De Niro as a New Yorker confronting the possibility of being drafted, garnered the rating due to its sexually explicit content, including nudity that would likely earn an R rating today. (De Palma would later run afoul of the MPAA multiple times; 1980's Dressed to Kill, 1981's Blow Out, and 1983's Scarface were all threatened with an X before being edited.)

3. FILMMAKERS COULD GIVE THEMSELVES THE RATING.

Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Though it was quickly going to become taboo, there was a time when an X rating for a mainstream film was a badge of honor and an effective marketing tool that signaled a film was being made for discerning moviegoers—not just viewers looking for titillation. Arthur Krim, the head of United Artists, willingly gave 1969’s Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight film Midnight Cowboy an X of his own volition even after he realized the MPAA would give the film an R designation. (The MPAA later applied an R to the movie in 1971.)

4. IT WAS WELCOME AT THE ACADEMY AWARDS.

The X rating was not an impediment to critical or commercial acclaim. In 1970, Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture at the Academy Awards; Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971, earned four Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture; Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972), starring Marlon Brando as a sex-obsessed American in France, got two nominations, including Brando for Best Actor.

5. THE XXX MARK MAY HAVE STEMMED FROM AN ALCOHOL DESIGNATION.

A neon XXX sign
iStock/07_av

In the hyperbole of film marketing, studios and advertisers didn’t believe one X was enough. Some films, like 1968’s Starlet!, were advertised as having an unofficial XXX designation to signify it was even more intense than other adult-oriented films. The label may have come from an old practice of denoting the strength of beer with a X, XX, or XXX label.

6. PORN TOOK OVER THE RATING DUE TO AN MPAA OVERSIGHT.

A rating of X in 1969 was no big deal. By the mid-1970s, it signaled to audiences that they were about to watch an anatomy lesson. That’s because the burgeoning adult film industry of the 1970s was screening films in theaters—VHS was not yet a household acronym—and blared advertisements with promises of “XXX” salaciousness. The MPAA never reviewed these films, and titles like 1972’s Deep Throat and 1978’s Debbie Does Dallas used the mark freely. The reason? The MPAA never bothered to copyright X as it applies to film ratings, allowing anyone to use it. In short order, the X rating became synonymous with pornography and grew into a scarlet letter for films. No reputable theaters would book such movies, and few newspapers would take ads for them.

7. PEOPLE COLLECT X-RATED FILMS.

The seedy, lurid films that applied their own X (or XXX) ratings in the 1970s and 1980s have developed a small but devout following of collectors who have a “strong desire to own, preserve, and reclaim erotic history,” according to one aficionado who spoke with The New York Times in 2014. These specialists focus mostly on the 16mm and 35mm films that were produced prior to the advent of VHS.

8. ONE STUDIO SUED OVER IT.

Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril in 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' (1989)
Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)
The Criterion Collection

When the MPAA gave an X rating to the 1989 Pedro Almodóvar drama Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Miramax decided to sue, claiming such a label would harm the film financially. The studio lost the suit, but it signaled the end of the war.

In 1990, a year that saw 10 movies get slapped with an X, the MPAA overhauled the ratings system. It dropped the X in favor of NC-17, which it hoped would distance films with artistic merit from pornographic material. And this time, the pornography industry couldn't co-opt it: Learning from its past mistake, the MPAA trademarked the designation.

Stranger Things's David Harbour Shared Some Season 3 Spoilers—With Absolutely No Context

Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

While Netflix likes to keep the details of Stranger Things a mystery, David Harbour, who plays Detective Hopper, likes to have fun with his fans.

Harbour posted a cryptic image to his Instagram which, while it clearly contains Stranger Things Season 3 spoilers in both the photo and the caption, does not give away any “context,” hence leaving us with very little real information.

Harbour did share that he has wrapped filming on season 3 of Stranger Things—and that we can kiss his mustache goodbye.

The mysterious post raises a number of questions. In the photo, Harbour rocks a hat that supports a local Hawkins business. The hat reads, "Gary's Plumbing & Heating, Warming Hawkins, IN since 1972."

We’re not sure if the hat is referencing the Gary already in the show, as he is the coroner, but we can’t wait to find out.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER