jon snow

With over 150 major characters making appearances in GAME OF THRONES, it can be very easy to forget what the heck is going on with our core cast. Add in that it’s been over a year since the last season and it’s really a miracle that we’re all still as engaged as we are. To get us prepped for the new season, whenever HBO decides to drop it, we’ll be diving back into the lore and legends of our favorite characters too what we want to happen in the final season, what probably will happen, and what twists may be on the horizon. First up: Jon Snow.

Let’s Go Way Back

The bastard Jon Snow. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that name. Way back in season one, Jon Snow was little more than Ned Stark’s bastard, desperate to prove himself. The machinations of season one feel rather quaint compared to the seasons to come. But for Jon, the important conflicts for his character were set up early on. Since he could never be a full-fledged member of the Stark family, Jon joins the Night’s Watch, where even a bastard can find glory and heads to the Wall to defend the realm from wights and wildlings.

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The real question I need answered: What’s Ghost up to these days? Courtesy of HBO.

Jon’s storyline in season one is a pretty straightforward “young man joins the army because he wants to fight, learns that there’s more to fighting than battle, is forced to grow up and rises in the ranks once he becomes a Man” story. But we also begin to see Jon’s most important character traits: He is kind and protective of his loved ones. His pride is his weakness, though it is born of insecurity. His sense of duty to what he believes is right guides him in all things, with little room for debate. Season one also brings us Jon’s best friend Samwell Tarly. He’s just as idealistic and kind as Jon but has a different attitude on how to solve problems. 

Call of the Wildlings

For much of the next two seasons, Jon Snow is north of the Wall. He gets separated from his platoon after chasing Ygritte, in several senses of the word. His compatriots died looking for him, and that loss sits heavy with Jon. The Free Folk, as they call themselves, leave an indelible impact on Jon. They do not have a system of nobility or class (even though they have a king, but whatever) and no one kneels to anyone.

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Not gonna lie, I really miss Ygritte. Courtesy of HBO.

Even though is not truly joining the wildlings, Jon says that he is frustrated with the corruption in the Night’s Watch and its inability — or unwillingness — to stop the White Walkers. Like any good war-based movie or show, Jon’s internal struggles progress into some classic moral quandaries: Should you sacrifice one life for the lives of many? Is it ok to doom an innocent for the good of the cause? Jon falls distinctly on the “no” side of these arguments, but they will only become more muddled as the stakes get higher and higher.

Trouble at Home

When he returns to Castle Black in season four, Jon’s tensions with the Night’s Watch start to bubble up. He is nearly executed since the Lord Commander doesn’t believe that he remained loyal to the Watch. With the impending wildling attack, Jon’s idealism and desire to defend every person start to wither, replaced by strategy and utilitarianism. Jon’s leadership among the men of the Night’s Watch is undeniable, which is a sore point for Lord Commander Thorne, but ultimately saves them against the wildling army. Ever the martyr, Jon decides he has to kill Mance Rayder to disband the army. This would have ended poorly for Jon had Stannis Baratheon’s army not shown up.

The Birth (and Death) of a Leader

Stannis’s grand plan is for Jon to retake the North from the Boltons since many of the Northern families will only honor a Stark as Lord of Winterfell. Stannis would legitimize Jon Snow as Jon Stark, the one thing that season one-Jon wanted more than just about anything. But this is season five and Jon now recognizes that there are more important things than his name. He decides to stay with the Watch and Sam valiantly nominates him to be Lord Commander. Jon narrowly beats out Thorne, but Janos Slynt, one of Thorne’s men, refuses his command. Jon follows Ned’s words that the man who passes the sentence must swing the sword, and executes Slynt himself — a major milestone in Jon’s long coming-of-age narrative.

Stannis implies that Ned is not actually Jon’s father since it was not in his nature to act with such dishonor (hint number one). Melisandre also senses some kind of power in Jon’s blood (hint number two). He makes a controversial decision in letting the wildlings settle south of the Wall to keep them from the White Walkers’ clutches. It proves to be a fatal decision, in fact, as a group of mutineers stabs him, “for the watch.”

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Remember when all anyone could talk about was whether or not Jon Snow was dead? Courtesy of HBO.

Surprise! He’s Not Dead

Melisandre manages to resurrect Jon at the beginning of season six, ending out long cultural nightmare. Jon is rightfully over the whole situation and hangs up his black cloak. He sets his sighs back on Winterfell after reuniting with Sansa and Ramsey threatening his whole family. He rallies most of the Northern houses to his cause, though Sansa’s strategizing is their ticket to success. Jon’s unwillingness to trust her becomes a sticking point in his growth as a leader. The Nothern houses name Jon King in the North, because a Stark will always hold that title. Again, Sansa is perturbed as she is the true eldest Stark and is responsible for their win on the battlefield. Oh yeah, and we find out via Bran that Jon’s real parents are Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

Where We Left Off

Season seven feels like ages ago, but the densely-packed season effectively made Jon Snow the main protagonist of the series (along with Daenerys). Jon assembles his army of men and women in the North to fight the Night King. Though Sansa argues that the houses that backed the Boltons should be punished, Jon offers forgiveness. He says that the children should not suffer for the sins of their fathers. The siblings clash over who is really in charge. Sansa warns Jon that he must be wiser than Ned and Robb, who they both idolized. Jon ultimately leaves Sansa in charge of the North when he accepts an invitation to Dragonstone. He seeks an ally in Danyeras and the rumored dragonglass her land contains.

Daenerys, though, does not accept his title as King because a Stark bent the knee to a Targaryen many years ago and such oaths last in perpetuity. But she hardly has a leg to stand on, since her father murdered Rickard and Brandon Stark, and she concedes that a father’s crimes are not the child’s. Jon, however, thinks that the game of thrones is mere bickering. The Army of the Dead is where they should all be concerned. Dany lets him mine for dragonglass but remains unsure of the White Walker threat. She says that Jon’s pride is prohibitive to his cause, just as her ambition may doom her come, Winter.

The Ice and the Fire Finally Meet

On a mission to bring back a wight as proof of the threat, Jon and his group nearly lose it all until Dany and her dragons save the day. Also, Uncle Benjen shows up, even though I forget who he is every single time he comes up. Dany agrees to support Jon’s cause after seeing the Army of the Dead for herself. Jon finally bends the knee and claims that the Northern lords will agree with him in time once they see the good person that she is.

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This never seemed like a great idea. Courtesy of HBO.

In a meeting with Cersei, Jon reveals that he is Team Daenerys and bungles the negotiation for her support. Dany and Tyrion tell him that he needs to learn to lie, but Jon argues that it only hurts everyone in the end. Cersei eventually comes around to supporting the fight against the White Walkers, except she doesn’t because she is lying. On the way back to Dragonstone, Jon and Dany release their building sexual tension, not knowing that they are, in fact, related.

Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, Sam and Bran piece together the backstory of Jon’s parentage. Turns out Rhaegar Targaryan secretly married Lyanna Stark and they bore a son. Aegon Targaryen, aka Jon Snow, aka the legitimate and rightful heir to the throne.

What’s To Come

So what does all this mean for the final season? Reports indicate that season eight will focus heavily on the relationship between Dany and Jon. Odds are pretty good that the two will find out about Jon’s lineage and conflict will ensue. Personal conflict, of course, because of incest, and politically because Jon is a threat to Dany’s claim to the throne.

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Good luck, you crazy kids. Courtesy of HBO.

At the same time, we know that Jon doesn’t want the Iron Throne. He hasn’t truly wanted any of the power thrust upon him. Hopefully, season eight will address this in tying up loose ends. How can we find closure for Jon Snow outside of the game of the thrones? His idealism and stubbornness seem constantly at odds with the positions of power he holds. His personal growth as an outsider finding his place in the world, trying to defend it when it refuses his services, is far more important to his overall arc than which kind of chair he finds himself in at the end of the series.

Personally, I’d like to see the Stark family dynamic get some attention. Though he may be a Targaryen by blood, Jon’s character is a result of his childhood in the Stark home. All of his insecurities come from being illegitimate. All of his idealism comes from his adoptive father. And he, Sansa, Arya, and Bran are all each other have left to rely on. How have their lives changed after all this ends, and how has Jon progressed from Ned Stark’s bastard to a person of his own?

What Say the Fans

Whether they pan out or not, GAME OF THRONES fan theories are some of the only redeeming parts of these long hiatuses. Jon Snow is front in center in most of them, so let’s see what we might see in season eight if the fans are right.

The Child

Many fans seem to think that Jon and Dany’s consummation will defy the witch’s “curse” and result in a child. This could lead down any number of paths. Some seem to think that Jon would want to marry Dany since a big reason he joined the Night’s Watch was to be sure he never fathered a bastard like himself. They could rule as the ultimate power couple in King’s Landing or divide and conquer with Jon in the North and Dany in the South. Alternatively, and somewhat preferably to me, Jon could take the child in with him at Winterfell (since Dany would probably be a little busy) and raise a bastard son of his own, one who never knew his mother or his Targaryen ancestry. The poetry there would soothe my soul after this long winter.

The Twin

Apparently, some fans think that Jon has a secret twin since there hasn’t been enough family drama yet. One theory is based on the fact that Meera Reed just happens to look like Jon Snow, so they must be twins. Another says that the other baby had distinctive Targaryen features, which would make it impossible for Ned Stark to pass it off as his own, so it had to be sent elsewhere. And also maybe it’s Daenerys, because why not?

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I mean I guess? Courtesy of HBO. Composite from Mashable.

The Maester

If we accept that Jon is likely to become King of the Seven Kingdoms and that he likely doesn’t want that title, then there must be some way out of it, right? There is, and it was last utilized by none other than Jon’s great-great uncle, Maester Aemon Targaryen. Jon could rejoin the Night’s Watch and abdicate his duties as king. With the right group of men, Jon could be just the leader they need after such trying times. And it removes him completely from the machinations of kings and lords and regents and whatnot. It would be a fitting ending for Jon, though probably too simple and bloodless for GAME OF THRONES.

Jon Snow Still Knows Nothing, and Neither Do We

Jon Snow may very well be fulcrum carefully balancing all of GAME OF THRONES. He is something of a moral backbone and the center of most ethical quandaries. We, the audience, are on his side at all times, and yet he never feels boring or predictable. It takes careful craftsmanship to develop a character like Jon Snow, so I have high hopes for season eight.

What do you want to see from Jon Snow in season eight? Do any fan theories stick out for you? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!

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