It's hard to summarize the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones as anything other than spectacular, but we do have a few words that may do the trick: George R.R. Martin, your watch has ended. With "The Winds of Winter," David Benioff and D.B. Weiss managed to do in 69 minutes what GRRM's books have yet to accomplish in five installments and nearly two million words: move the story forward. And that means some of A Song of Ice and Fire's long-standing theories can finally be put to bed, like the true nature of Jon Snow's parentage.
Now, if you don't want to know what was revealed in the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones, look away now before Qyburn's little birds come after you.
In its sixth season closer, the HBO series finally gave book readers something they’ve been waiting nearly two decades to see: a definite answer to the popular fan theory R+L=J. Yes, Jon Snow is indeed the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. But first, some context.
The episode saw Bran Stark find a weirwood and journey back into the past to witness what happened after Ned's fabled fight with legendary knight Ser Arthur Dayne at the Tower of Joy in the Red Mountains. In Bran's vision, after Ned stormed the tower, he approached his sister Lyanna Stark's blood-soaked bed, where she made him promise to protect her newborn son from harm. This is the baby that Ned brought back with him to Winterfell after Robert's Rebellion. Jon Snow wasn't his bastard; he was his nephew.
Earlier this season, Game of Thrones introduced Lyanna Stark, a character who had been referenced quite a bit over the past six seasons. From what we knew, Ned's younger sister Lyanna was kidnapped by Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and died not long after. (Although some believe Rhaegar didn't actually kidnap Lyanna but that they were in love.) Lyanna's abduction triggered Robert's Rebellion, a yearlong war led by her betrothed Robert Baratheon to get her back — and to make the Targaryens pay for what they did.
The war had significant ramifications for Westeros. The bloodshed left House Targaryen all but decimated (or so they thought), and Robert of House Baratheon claimed the Iron Throne for himself, taking Cersei Lannister as his new bride. We know how it all ended, but one piece of the puzzle has always been missing.
We knew Lyanna Stark made her dear brother Ned promise her something on her deathbed because it was referenced multiple times in GRRM's A Game of Thrones: "Promise me, Ned." The contents of Lyanna's message even haunted Ned until his dying day, and being the dutiful Stark that he was, the Lord of Winterfell took it to his grave.
But why did Ned hide Jon's true identity from him all this time? At that time in Westerosi history, being a Targaryen put a target on your back. Remember, Rhaegar Targaryen's wife, Elia Martell, and their two small children, Aegon and Rhaenys, were brutally murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane during the Rebellion. And back in Season 1, Robert Baratheon wanted to assassinate Daenerys in Essos because he saw any surviving Targaryen as a mortal threat to his regime. His hatred of Targaryens even outweighed his love for Ned, his childhood friend and close political ally.
Ned and Lyanna both knew that Robert would never allow Rhaegar's son to survive, so Ned sacrificed his honor to keep his promise to his sister — and in doing so, he claimed Jon as his own bastard.
So what does this all mean for Jon Snow, the newly crowned King in the North? Well, the obvious implication is that Sansa Stark, by law, is the true heir to the North. She is Ned's own blood, and since we now know that Jon isn't Ned's bastard, that completely negates his questionable claim to Winterfell. (Sorry, Lady Mormont.) Also, as Rhaegar's surviving son, Jon now has even more claim to the Iron Throne than his aunt Daenerys. (Aside: why do people keep putting Jon in positions of power for which he is not qualified?)
But to be completely honest, the even bigger implication of Jon's lineage is that he's officially a dragon-taming Targaryen — the son of the dragon prince and the winter rose. Not only does he have the wildness of the wolf's blood running through his veins, but he also has Targaryen blood, which has been prone to madness and extreme heat immunity. Not to mention, he can even ride one of Daenerys's dragons.
After six long seasons, Jon "I Know Nothing" Snow is currently at the center of the ice and fire Venn diagram, where he belongs. Winter may be here, but he's about to make it rain fire and blood.