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.

The Psychology Behind Kids' L.O.L. Surprise! Doll Obsession

Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Jack Taylor, Getty Images

Isaac Larian, the founder and CEO of toymaker MGA Entertainment, is an insomniac. Fortunately for him, that inability to sleep forced him to get up out of bed one night—a move that ended up being worth $4 billion.

Larian’s company is the architect of L.O.L. Surprise!, a line of dolls with a clever conceit. The product, which retails for about $10 to $20, is encased in a ball-shaped plastic shell and buried under layers of packaging, forcing children to tear through a gauntlet of wrapping before they’re able to see it. The inspiration came on that highly profitable sleepless night, which Larian spent watching unboxing videos on YouTube. It resulted in the first toy made for a generation wired for delayed gratification.

The dolls first went on sale in test markets at select Target stores in late 2016. MGA shipped out 500,000 of them, all of which sold out within two months. A Cabbage Patch Kid-esque frenzy came the following year. By late 2018, L.O.L. Surprise! (the acronym stands for the fancifully redundant Little Outrageous Little) had moved 800 million units, accounted for seven of the top 10 toys sold in the U.S., and was named Toy of the Year by the Toy Association. Videos of kids and adults unboxing them garner millions of views on YouTube, which is precisely where Larian knew his marketing would be most effective.

A woman holds a L.O.L. Surprise doll and packaging in her hand
Cindy Ord, Getty Images for MGA Entertainment

The dolls themselves are nothing revolutionary. Once freed from their plastic prisons, they stare at their owner with doe-eyed expressions. Some “tinkle,” while others change color in water. They can be dressed in accessories found in the balls or paired with tiny pets (which also must be "unboxed"). Larger bundles, like last year’s $89.99 L.O.L. Bigger Surprise! capsule, feature a plethora of items, each individually wrapped. It took a writer from The New York Times 59 minutes to uncover everything inside.

This methodical excavation is what makes L.O.L. Surprise! so appealing to its pint-sized target audience. Though MGA was advised that kids wouldn’t want to buy something they couldn’t see, Larian and his executives had an instinctual understanding of what child development experts already knew: Kids like looking forward to things.

Dr. Rachel Barr, director of Georgetown University’s Early Learning Project, told The Atlantic that unboxing videos tickle the part of a child’s brain that enjoys anticipation. By age 4 or 5, they have a concept of “the future,” or events that will unfold somewhere other than the present. However, Barr said, they’re also wary of being scared by an unforeseen outcome. In an unboxing video, they know the payoff will be positive and not, say, a live tarantula.

L.O.L. Surprise! is engineered to prolong that anticipatory joy, with kids peeling away wrapping like an onion for up to 20 minutes at a time. The effect is not entirely novel—baseball card collectors have been buying and unwrapping card packs without knowing exactly what’s inside for decades—but paired with social media, MGA was able to strike oil. The dolls now have 350 licensees making everything from bed sheets to apparel. Collectors—or their parents—can buy a $199.99 doll house. So-called “boy toys” are now lurking inside the wrappers, with one, the mohawk-sporting Punk Boi, causing a mild stir for being what MGA calls “anatomically correct.” His tiny plastic genital area facilitates a peeing function.

Whether L.O.L. Surprise! bucks conventional toy trends and continues its popularity beyond a handful of holiday seasons remains to be seen. Already, MGA is pushing alternative products like Poopsie Slime Surprise, a unicorn that can be fed glitter and poops a viscous green slime. An official unboxing video has been viewed 4.2 million times and counting.

The 8 Most Anticipated Horror Movies of 2019

Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Michele K. Short, Universal Pictures

Between Hereditary, A Quiet Place, and Halloween, 2018 was a killer year for horror moviesand 2019 is shaping up to be just as impressive. While remakes seem to be dominating the schedule in the coming months, there are plenty of sequels, adaptations, and even a few promising original titles coming out as well. Here are some of the scary movies we're most looking forward to seeing this year.

1. Us

In 2017, Jordan Peele revolutionized the horror genre with Get Out. The Academy Award-winning filmmaker plans to do the same again with Us, which features a predominantly black cast—a rarity for a horror movie. "I dedicated a lot of myself to creating a new horror mythology and a new monster," Peele said of the film. "I think that monsters and stories about monsters are our best ways of getting at deeper truths and facing our fears as a society ... It’s also important to note that this movie, unlike Get Out, is not about race. It is instead about something I feel has become an undeniable truth. That is the simple fact that we are our own worst enemies." Us, which stars Elisabeth Moss and Lupita Nyong'o, arrives in theaters on March 22, 2019.

2. IT: Chapter 2

Stephen King fans were thrilled with 2017's IT, the second adaptation of the horror master's beloved 1986 novel. Andy Muschietti is sitting in the director's chair again for the second chapter, which will follow the Losers Club as they return to Derry, Maine in their adult years. While Bill Skarsgård will reprise his role as Pennywise, impressive new additions to the cast include Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, and James McAvoy. The film debuts on September 6, 2019.

3. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

If you’ve been a horror fiend since childhood, you’ll no doubt remember Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series. The books included memorable illustrations by Stephen Gammell, some of which no doubt haunted many children’s nightmares. The film adaptation will be released on August 9, 2019.

4. Zombieland 2

Venom director Ruben Fleischer's feature debut, 2009's Zombieland, was an instant hit with both horror and comedy fans. And they've been waiting 10 years for a sequel. Finally, we’ll be getting a second film this year with Fleischer directing and Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and even Bill Murray all confirmed to return. Zombieland 2 is set to hit theaters on October 11, 2019.

5. Happy Death Day 2U

The hilariously bad-but-fun Happy Death Day (2017) surprised audiences with how flat-out entertaining it was, so much so that fans were thrilled to hear there were plans for a sequel. Much like the original movie, the second film will follow protagonist Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) as she’s killed every single day. But this time, the killer is coming for her friends, too. Happy Death Day 2U premieres on February 14, 2019.

6. Pet Sematary

Though Mary Lambert's original Pet Sematary (1989) was not met with much critical acclaim, fans of the Stephen King novel were pleased with the adaptation, and are excited to see the story come to life again. The remake, which is directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and stars John Lithgow and Jason Clarke, debuts on April 5, 2019.

7. Child’s Play

When rumors began swirling that there was going to be another Chucky movie, and that it would be a remake of the original Child’s Play at that, people—including the original series creator Don Mancini—didn't initially seem too excited.

But as more details—including a cast list that includes Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry—were made public, interest in the project seemed to grow. Child’s Play hits theaters June 21, 2019.

8. The Prodigy

Creepy kids will never fail to make terrifying horror movie villains. In The Prodigy, Taylor Schilling’s character discovers something supernatural might be happening to her son when he starts acting as if he’s possessed. (Spoiler alert: He probably is). The film will be released on February 8, 2019.

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