game of thrones baelor ned stark execution

Game of Thrones has killed off a lot of characters over the six seasons so far, and many of them quite definitively. One of the biggest deaths of the series actually came relatively early on, as Ned Stark was beheaded in the ninth episode of the first season. Given that Ned had his head chopped off and then stuck on a spike, it seemed like he was about as dead as dead could be. According to one wild theory of a fan who is well-versed in show and book lore, however, Ned might still be around.

Now, if you're anything like me, you assumed that there was no way anybody could have come up with a way for Ned to have not had his head removed from his body back in Season 1. The theory put forth by the Fire And Blood YouTube channel makes a surprising amount of sense, all things considered. Let's break it down. For the first stage of the theory, we have to accept that the man who was beheaded in King's Landing was not actually Ned Stark.

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Instead, the Faceless Man known as Jaqen H'ghar was hired to take Ned's place on the chopping block. Varys footed the bill because he didn't want Ned to die but couldn't take the risk of freeing Ned himself. He paid enough that Jaqen was willing to give his life (and his head).

Of course, that raises the issue that the man who was killed was obviously played by Sean Bean. According to the theory, Jaqen constructed a face that looked very similar to Ned's by using the faces of others who had already been dead. The A Song of Ice and Fire books do support the fact that Ned looked somewhat altered when he was dragged to be tried for treason.

Anyway, Jaqen wore his Ned-esque face and was executed on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor, but there was still a problem. Ned was still stuck in the dungeons. To fix this, the theory proposes that none other than Syrio Forel stepped in to help. Assuming that Syrio managed to defeat Ser Meryn Trant despite having his wooden sword destroyed, Syrio would then take on the face of Jaqen H'ghar -- which had been discarded so that Jaqen could impersonate Ned -- to free Ned and then go on to ultimately help Arya train over in Essos.

The big question then is what happened to Ned since the end of Season 1 to the end of Season 6, if he's still alive. The theory proposes that Ned either took off for the Free City of Pentos to hang out with Varys' pal Illyrio or retreated to Greywater Watch to be harbored by his friend Howland Reed.

All things considered, the theory doesn't make the most logical sense, but then we are talking about a show with ice zombies and dragons and magic. Are there holes in the theory? Absolutely. The show absolutely played Ned's death as being the actual death of Ned Stark, and the man who was executed was obviously played by Sean Bean. It's also worth noting that Ned wasn't actually supposed to die that day; Joffrey went off-script and ordered his execution, despite the advice of pretty much everybody. Whether you subscribe to it or not, this theory is at least proof that Game of Thrones fans can get pretty creative during hiatuses. Kudos to the person who came up with it.

Luckily, we don't have to baselessly theorize for too much longer. Game of Thrones will return to HBO for Season 7 on Sunday, July 16 at 9 p.m. ET. Check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 7 for a peek ahead, and don't forget to swing by our summer TV premiere guide as well.

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