Questions, questions, questions. If there was ever one to part a drooling mouth, then it’d be this: how are Jon Snow and Daenerys related, and what will it mean for HBO’s brilliant TV series? Okay technically that’s two questions, but who’s counting?
Unless you’ve been living under a boulder these past few months, you’ll be well aware that Game of Thrones has made the biggest reveal in the show’s history, and the excitement couldn’t be higher than a rising plume of Wildfire smoke.
Ever since the show’s beginning, we’ve been titillated (yes I said tit) by appetizing teasers offering minuscule plot details, showcasing the likes of Jon Snow, Daenerys and Cersei, each venturing along darkly lit corridors to seat themselves upon their respective thrones. Now, it’s time to delve into that all-important question – How are Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen related?
Let’s dissect the Stark and Targaryen family trees like a corpse on a slab, one that probably suffered the wrath of George R.R. Martin’s mighty pen stroke. Grab a scalpel, things are about to get messy…
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Where to begin? Well, for starters season six’s finale officially revealed that Jon Snow is in fact son of Lyanna Stark…
But who is Lyanna Stark?
As explained in our Stark family tree, Lyanna was Eddard (Ned) Stark’s sister, formally betrothed to Robert Baratheon. Lyanna was abducted by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen who hid her away in Dorne and allegedly raped her. Because of this, Robert launched a rebellion and eventually killed Rhaegar in what was a key moment in Westeros history. Lyanna was later said to have died of “unknown causes” in the Tower of Joy.
Of course, now we know that she had died at childbirth, as seen in the season six finale.
Remember the flashback, where a younger Ned reunites with said sister, and she whispers into his ear her dying wish – “Promise me.” Frustratingly, we never heard what the promise was, but according to the rumor-mill, sparked by die-hard fans alike, the most popular theory is that Lyanna made Ned promise never to tell anyone about her secret child’s true parentage – AKA – the identity of Jon’s father.
Turns out he’s this guy: Rhaegar Targaryen.
Yep, I’m as clueless as you are, because (A) I haven’t read all the books and (B) he has yet to surface in the TV series, because he’s, erm… dead.
Interestingly, shortly after the episode aired HBO confirmed the rumor by putting up a helpful graphic on their website detailing the entire family tree of all various houses. And there, for the world to see, was the nugget of information that would finally silence the extensive fan theory…
R + L = J!
So who is Rhaegar Targaryen?
Before we attempt to join the dots and ascertain how they actually connect Jon to Daenerys, just who is Rhaegar Targaryen? Well, he was a devilishly handsome prince who died long before events of GoT even took place, perishing in battle under Robert Baratheon’s sword, who would go on to become king of Westeros.
Keeping up? Good. Grab a drink, kick back and relax because now it’s time to join those dots.
Rhaegar belonged to a trio of siblings, both of which we’ve come to love and loathe. Lets face it; we love Daenerys, ‘The Mother of Dragons’, but not so much Viserys, her spiteful brother who met an unforgettable and gruesome end by receiving a golden crown in season one. These three siblings were the offspring of the Mad King, Areys II. Being the eldest, Rhaegar would have been first in line to the Throne, but with yours truly and Viserys dead in the dirt (as well as Rhaegar’s other two children deceased), this left Daenerys to take the seat.
In the words of a corny infomercial: Wait! There’s more!
If Rhaegar was elder brother to Daenerys and Jon was son to Rhaegar, this would make Daenerys aunt to Jon Snow. Bingo! Jackpot! Ding-dong! Connection made.
Eddard may have raised Jon as his own bastard son, but the R + L = J theory also clarifies that Ned is in fact Jon’s uncle and Arya, Sansa, Bran and Rickon are his cousins.
Yes, Jon Snow’s entire life has been a lie – he’s known absolutely nothing.
Here’s where things get extra interesting. A question once loomed whether Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark ever married. According to Robert Baratheon – who was betrothed to the former – Rhaegar had allegedly kidnapped and raped her, but the series suggest otherwise.
Gilly even discovered in Eastwatch that Rhaegar had remarried another woman in a secret ceremony in Dorne and in the season 7 finale, Bran confirmed that the “other woman” was indeed, Lyanna Stark.
If they got married, what would it mean?
Jon Snow has the best claim to the Throne
It would position Jon Snow as Rhaegar’s legitimate son and not the ‘bastard’ he’s so despicably referred to. In fact, this makes Jon’s claim to the Iron Throne prove stronger than that of his aunt Daenerys’.
Daenerys once thought she was the only Targaryen left standing – and let’s just say she wasn’t pleased when she found out the truth in the final season. It’s probably one of the factors that led to her madness, actually!
We thought that maybe she’d kill Jon in order to claim the Throne for herself, or perhaps they’d marry so they can both share the Throne. That would have preserved the Targaryen bloodline after all. This entire plot may be different in the novels but hot damn, what a conundrum that would have been for the television series!
So there you have it. Hopefully you’ve made it this far without needing some Milk of the Poppy to soothe that headache!
Want to be wowed by more? Check out these Game of Thrones hidden secrets that only eagle-eyed fans would notice!