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WARNING: The following video contains some minor spoilers from the books of A Song of Ice And Fire, concerning the possible parentage of the bastard Jon Snow.
Whether you're strictly a show-watcher or a dedicated book-reader of Game of Thrones, you don't know for certain the identity of Jon Snow's mother. Author George R.R. Martin has been teasing out this mystery over five novels now, and with two (or possibly three) more to come, we may not have the answers anytime soon. However, one very dedicated fan of A Song of Ice And Fire has gone full on True Detective on the books in search of evidence to the identity of Jon's mom. While you may be familiar with this theory, you've never before seen it laid out so clearly.
Buzzfeed tipped us off to the video "R+L=J: Who Are Jon Snow's parents?" Youtuber Alt Shift X alludes to the popular fan theory that it's not just Jon Snow's mother who is a mystery, but also his father. Of course, the late Ned Stark would have you believe that he is the dour young man's dad. But whenever pushed for the identity of Jon's mother, Ned was always painfully tight-lipped.
Of course Ned lost his head before he could tell Jon the truth about his mother. So fans have been sniffing about for the answer and come up with R+L=J, which means Rhaegar Targaryen + Lyanna Stark = Jon Snow. Remember all those names? As outlined in the video up top, Rhaegar Targaryen was the older brother of the late Viserys and Daenerys. He was married to Oberyn Martell's beloved sister Elia, but he lusted for Lyanna and kidnapped her away from her intended Robert Baratheon, which spurred Robert's Rebellion. While Robert won the war and the crown, he lost Lyanna. She died…but not before birthing a child of Rhaegar's?
Whatever their relationship, it's possible--even likely--that Lyanna would not want her only son to be murdered for his Targaryen blood. So--it's proposed--she made her brother Ned promise to protect baby Jon. To do so, Ned sullied his own honor--and we know how he feels about honor--claiming Jon was his bastard son. It made Jon and outcast at Winterfell, and earned the boy the deep hate of his adopted mother Catelyn Stark. But it did keep him alive.
It's a good theory that plays well into what we know about Ned--family before honor, always--and explains Ned being so secretive about Jon's mom. But Alt Shift X adds loads of other evidence by digging deep into the books, pulling out moments like when Ned mentally lists his children, and doesn't include Jon. Ned has referred to Jon as "my blood" in lieu of "my son," perhaps implying he's his nephew, not his child. Ned has also regularly rejected the idea of killing Targaryen kids. And even Dany--who would be Jon's aunt in this scenario--has a vision about a blue flower growing from an ice wall. The significance of the ice wall is clearly The Wall, and the blue flower is said to be associated with none other than Lyanna Stark.
But what does all this mean for the show and books? Well, this theorist suggests that A Song of Ice and Fire is ultimately a title that will refer to Jon Snow himself, being a child of the Starks (Winter is coming!) and the Targaryens, who control fire-breathing dragons. Could this mean the saga's final conflict will be between him and his aunt/fellow contender for the Iron Throne Dany? Alt Shift X seems to think this is unlikely. Though Jon has a claim to the throne, he doesn't have any ambition to rule--and perhaps more importantly, his vow to the Night's Watch demands he take no crown. Maybe instead, these two Targaryens will join forces and save Westeros not only from those damned Lannisters, but also the White Walkers threatening North of the Wall!
So that's the gist of it. Does this theory hold water to you? Sound off in comments.