He said “It’s over, I’m not coming back.” He said, “It’s final. He’s dead.” He even cut his hair. Either Kit Harrington is not returning to “Game of Thrones” and Jon Snow is really, most sincerely dead, or everyone involveD, from actors to showrunners to GRRM himself, IS going to great lengths to set up a major twist. Given that the show has raised at least two people from the dead — and the books more than that — what are the chances that a resurrection is in store for Jon Snow?
There are two major avenues of approach: a close reading of the text, and one involving some TV industry tea leaf-reading. One is that Melisandre, the Red Woman who ditched Stannis Baratheon in his hour of need and conveniently arrived at Castle Black just before Jon’s mass shivving, will raise him from the dead, believing him to be the messiah called Azor Ashai. The other theory involves the reports, now dismissed as erroneous by Harrington et al., that he was among the cast members signing contract extensions through Season 7, although that merely gives the show the right to call on his services, not a guarantee he will be used. (There’s also another theory involving Jon’s spirit passing into the body of his direwolf, Ghost, but that’s such a bad idea — especially as it would play out in a visual medium like TV — that we’re pretending it doesn’t exist.) So, what’s the evidence? Allow some of the web’s Game of Thrones experts to take it from here.
Andrew Prokop, Vox
Jon’s murder seemed, at first, to be the next shocking killing of an apparent protagonist from the author famous for Ned Stark’s execution and the Red Wedding. And Kit Harington, the actor who plays Jon, is insisting in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that things are just as they seem: “I’ve been told I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m not coming back next season. So that’s all I can tell you, really.” But this wouldn’t be the first time an actor had misled the press to keep a future plot twist mysterious.
Indeed, when “A Dance With Dragons” came out, readers quickly began to wonder whether this twist was, in one way or another, a fake-out. Just days after the book was published, Martin was asked, “Why did you kill Jon Snow?” He responded, “Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?” He then added, “I’m not going to address whether he’s dead or not.” So he certainly intended to make things ambiguous. When asked again more recently, he said, “If there’s one thing we know in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ is that death is not necessarily permanent.”
Then there’s the question of Jon’s importance to the overall story. The mystery of who Jon’s mother is has long been teased, and most fans think they’ve figured it out, and that his parents are Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Martin has promised the answer will be revealed eventually. What would the answer matter if Jon was already dead?
Chris Taylor, Mashable
There are strands of hope that book readers have been holding onto for many years, too. The first thing they will say to you on that front is: Notice that Melisandre is back.
In the books, it’s clear that the Red Lady begins to believe — based on an image in her flames — that Jon is the real Azor Ahai. Who is Azor Ahai? A messiah figure for whom followers of the Red God have been waiting for many, many years. A messiah who, it is said, will return to challenge the power of the Others, a.k.a. the White Walkers….You may remember that Melisandre once considered Stannis to be the messiah Azor Ahai — and just recently left his camp for some reason that isn’t apparent yet. You may wonder whether a Red God priestess, especially one who has just burned her way through a fair amount of King’s blood for the use of blood magic, might be able to resurrect a certain someone.
There are other strands in Jon’s book death that give readers hope. His belly wound is described as “smoking,” which seems an odd choice of words, especially given the prophecy. His last word is “Ghost,” the name of his direwolf — which he may, like Bran, have some sort of magical ability to connect to at key moments….
George R.R. Martin has set us up for more Jon Snow in a number of ways. First, there’s that whole long-winded mystery about Snow’s real parentage. That whole R+L=J theory isn’t going away any time soon; it’s the book readers who are keeping it alive, because by and large they still expect to see Jon again in some form.
Secondly, there are a lot of characters who don’t die when we expect them to. We can’t go too far here without venturing into possible show-spoiling territory, but we have already met one character resurrected in the Red God’s name: Beric Dondarion of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
Also, you may be correct in thinking you’ve seen that new member of the Kingsguard, Ser Robert Strong, somewhere before under a more rugged name. On “Game of Thrones,” death — especially death without mutilation, like Jon’s — is quite often not the end.
Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair
What Hints Have There Been that Jon is Azor Ahai? This gets a little complicated so bear with me. One of the biggest efforts the show has made to indicate Jon’s Chosen One status was that business he did with his sword at Hardhome. Like King Arthur or Godric Gryffindor, Azor Ahai has a legendary sword called Lightbringer. In the books, Samwell Tarly says, “I found one account of the Long Night that spoke of the Last Hero [a.k.a. Azor Ahai] slaying Others with a blade of dragonsteel. Supposedly they could not stand against it.” Melisandre spoke of the legend of Lightbringer back in Season 2, saying, “In the ancient books it is written that a warrior will draw a burning sword from the fire.” In the books (though not the show), when he saved Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’s life from a wight attack at Castle Black, Jon Snow set a fire that damaged Longclaw’s hilt, melting silver on the bear’s head pommel and burning the crossguard and grip. Mormont gave the sword to Jon, so the blade he used on that White Walker, Longclaw, was technically pulled from a fire.
The sword and Melisandre’s fascination with Jon Snow have been the show’s biggest indications that he’s someone special. In the books there are other signs. Melisandre says, ”I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only snow.“ Apparently, R’hllor has a sense of humor. In the books, Jon dreams of being armored all in ice clutching a burning sword which he uses to kill his wildling girlfriend, Ygritte. In the legend, Azor Ahai forged his legendary sword by plunging it into the heart of his beloved wife, Nissa Nissa. Finally, Azor Ahai is supposed to be descended from Aerys (the Mad King) and Rhaella Targaryen. If rumors about Jon’s parentage are true, Aerys and Rhaella could be his grandparents. So there you have it, Jon Snow, the poor Bastard of Winterfell, could very well be the Prince That Was Promised.
Jacob Hall, Esquire
Martin has yet to finish the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, so we can only grasp at straws and cook up potential outcomes. If you want some real “right here, right now” evidence that Kit Harington isn’t going anywhere, one can look to the Hollywood trades.Jon Snow ended the finale bleeding out in the snow, but it’s no secret that Harington was among those actors who signed on for both seasons five and six. And what are we to make of the more recent salary negotiations which saw Harington join co-stars Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Emilia Clarke in getting significant pay raises for a still-not-greenlit season seven? The implication here is that the cliffhanger is just a cliffhanger and that Jon Snow will find a way to eventually return from the dead. In the age of the internet, where casting news and set photos and spoilers run amuck, even the cruelest cliffhanger can lose its bite.Still, buried at the bottom of that Hollywood Reporter article is the suggestion that Game of Thrones cast members can be killed off even if they’ve signed on for additional seasons. In fact, it’s suggested that a contract for future seasons means nothing if their character no longer draws breath. That would mean that Jon Snow’s death is just total nihilism, a terrible act of violence perpetuated against the guy everyone thought was the untouchable hero. All of our theorizing, and Harington’s renegotiated paycheck, would go up in smoke.That would be cold. That would be cruel. That would be brutal. That would be soo “Game of Thrones.”