Possible Hidden Meanings Behind the ‘Game of Thrones’ Tragic Season Finale

‘Game of Thrones’ concludes its fifth season with an epic season finale drenched in blood and destruction. If you thought the scene in which the female wildling ends up being eaten by Wight children is brutal, you’re in for a shocker.


Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10

Many upsetting things happened in this season ender. For starters, Stannis’s world crumbled before his eyes: half of his army deserted, his wife hanged herself, and Melisandre abandoned him. In the end, he also falls (presumably) at the hands of Brienne of Tarth. In the meanwhile, Reek (former Theon) and Sansa jump over the walls of Winterfell to escape the cruel Ramsay Bolton, but we know not whether they made it to safety or not. Myrcella Baratheon is poisoned (and dies), and Aria claims another life that was not hers to take (that of Meryn Trant).

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10

These scenes were cruel, indeed, but one of the highlights of the episode was undoubtedly Cersei’s walk of shame. I honestly don’t like the woman, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her as her dignity and pride were torn from her. And no, this wasn’t even the worst part. The ‘Game of Thrones’ fandom (the non-reading kind, at least) went into an uproar in the final minutes, in which Jon Snow is brutally stabbed in the name of the watch.

But is Jon Snow truly dead?

To answer this question, we have to think about all the characters in Game of Thrones that actually died (for good). Of course, there was Ned Stark, whose head was chopped off clean, but what about Jaqen H’ghar, who presumably dies in this very episode? Aria starts crying one moment, and next thing you know, Jaqen is standing behind her. What about “The Mountain” Clegane. He died too, or at least partly, but he returns now as the strongest addition to the king’s guard.

Other examples come to mind, mere cliff-hangers in which the author chooses not to unravel a character’s fate: we were led to believe that Tyrion drowned in the water where the stone-men lived, but he was saved. And so on and so forth.

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10

The idea is that many important characters weren’t killed off for good, and Jon’s death might be just another stunt pulled by Martin to excite his fans. Or at least that’s what we hope. Because we’re at the end of the book, and the season, all we can do is speculate. The good news is that the books (and certain episodes) hold deep meaning and might hint towards a possible resurrection of Jon Snow. 

We already know that animated corpses are a possibility, and there was also another priest in the Seven Kingdoms, besides Melisandre, who can perform resurrections (Thoros of Myr). If you are a book reader, the mystery behind Jon Snow’s death is probably something that boggled your mind for a very long time. Since his untimely demise was revealed several years before the episode, there has been plenty of time for fans to build up theories. Let’s take a look at some of the most plausible ones :

The Lord of Light, Resurrections and the Prophesied Hero

I have to admit, this is the theory that I find most plausible, mostly because it is also supported by Melisandre’s arrival to Castle Black at the end of the episode. The Shadowbinder’s mission is to find the one true hero, Azor Ahai, who will be reborn to ‘fight the coming darkness’. Melisandre believes that Stannis is that hero, or at least she thought he was until she decided to abandon him, but there are strong hints in the book that make Jon Snow a better candidate for the role.


There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.

First of all, after the “Hardhome” episode he’s established himself as the strongest antagonist to the White Walkers. It wouldn’t really make sense to kill him now.  Secondly, Melisandre mentions the connection between Jon Snow and the Azor Ahai several times:

“I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow.” 


“Now he was a man, now a wolf,  now a man again.” (we will explain this later on).

Maybe Melisandre finally realized that Jon Snow is the real Azor Ahai, predicted that he will be betrayed by his comrades, and rushed to the Wall resurrect him. Another fact that supports this theory is the description of Azor Ahai’s arrival to the world: amidst salt and smoke. In the book, Snow’s wounds are described as “smoking”, and the salt can be none other than Olly’s remorseful tears as he delivers the final blow.

Warging and the Direwolfs of the Stark House

As you may already know, each Stark child has a direwolf, even the bastard Jon Snow. You may also recall that Bran, the crippled son of the Stark house, awakens the powers of warging. Another character who mainly survives due to his warking abilities is a wildling (Orell in the series, Varamyr in the books) who mentions Jon Snow’s infinite potential for ‘changing skins’.

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10

(Varamyr) had known what Snow was the moment he saw that great white direwolf stalking silent at his side. One skinchanger can always sense another. The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it.

This warging theory believes that Jon Snow must have awakened his abilities in the midst of the trauma, because during his ‘final moments’ he thinks about Ghost, and he no longer feels the pain. Could it be possible that his soul entered Ghost’s body? Another hint of this would be the way that the scene ended. “He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold…” This suggests that Jon simply slipped into unconsciousness.

Beyond this, there are no episodes which might imply that Jon is actually dead. Once again, Martin ends the chapter with a nail-biting cliff-hanger that leaves fans with nothing but hope.


Will Jon Become a White Walker?

Another theory says that Jon might be resurrected by the White Walker King, who took a keen interest in him after his fancy little stunt (shattering one of his commanders with Valyrian steel). This, extremely detailed theory, presumes that Jon will join forces with the White Walkers and maybe resurrect the ice or stone dragons to fight against fire (hence, a Song of Ice and Fire).

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10

R.R. Martin Hints Towards his Survival

When asked in an interview why he killed Jon Snow, Martin simply replies “So, you think he’s dead?”. Although not entirely clear, it seems that the author might have more things in store for the protagonist on the wall.

Kit Harington Isn’t Coming Back for the Next Season

Regardless of whether Jon survives or not, one thing is certain: Kit isn’t coming back for the following season. In an Interview with Ew, Jon revealed that he will not be joining the cast in season 6 of Game of Thrones:

This is my understanding of it. I had a sit-down with Dan and David, we did the Tony Soprano walk [letting an actor know they’re being whacked]. And they said, “Look, you’re gone, it’s done.” And as far as the salary thing goes, that angered me when that story came out. I don’t know where it came from, but it was inaccurate in many ways. It’s going to put questions into your head and into fans’ heads that things are not what they are. Quite honestly, I have never been told the future of things in this show, but this is the one time I have. They sat me down and said, “This is how it is.” If anything in the future isnot like that, then I don’t know about it – it’s only in David and Dan and George’s heads. But 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.

So there you have it. All the facts brought together. 

In all fairness, it seems that the newly appointed Lord and Commander received quite a lot of attention just to die pathetically (as did Stannis, with whom’s death I am not completely satisfied either). He is one of the few characters in Game of Thrones who has a good heart, and the only one with the power to fight back the walkers.

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10

Although these theories give us hope, there is also the possibility that the author simply killed off the character, in yet another display of cruelty.

What is your theory about Jon Snow’s death? We’d love to hear your opinions.

Image Sources: 1, 2, HBO episode screenshots

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