Warning: This post contains spoilers for the sixth season of Game of Thrones.
Following the revelation that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard — but rather the son of his sister Lyanna — in Sunday’s season six finale of Game of Thrones, viewers were left wondering about the identity of the former Lord Commander’s father. However, they didn’t have to wait too long to find out the answer, as HBO released an infographic Tuesday that seemed to confirm the popular R+L=J theory — i.e., that Rhaegar Targaryen is actually Jon’s dear old dad.
This is a twist that many fans — particularly book readers — have been waiting to see validated for quite some time. And in the world of Thrones — where so much is dependent upon family name — it will undoubtedly shake things up. Having just been declared the King in the North on the basis that Ned’s blood runs through his veins, Jon may find his life in upheaval if — or more realistically, when — his Targaryen roots are discovered. But before we start speculating about what this news will mean for Jon going forward, let’s take a look at how it affects his familial situation.
With Lyanna and Rhaegar as parents, Jon is (seemingly) the only half Stark, half Targaryen alive. This parentage makes Ned his uncle rather than his father and the remaining Stark children — Sansa, Arya and Bran — his cousins rather than his siblings. It also means that while he may have a somewhat legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, his hold in the North is greatly weakened. By all rights, Bran — and in his absence, Sansa — should be the one to rule Winterfell. And judging by Sansa’s shared glance with Littlefinger following Jon’s “coronation” in the finale, this conflict will almost certainly come back into play.
As far as his Targaryen side goes, Daenerys — who is Jon’s aunt — seems to be his only surviving relative, as Dany’s two brothers, Rhaegar and Viserys, along with her mother, Rhaella, and father, Aerys II (the Mad King), are all dead. To clarify, Rhaegar and Rhaella have not yet been seen on the show, while the Mad King has made an appearance in Bran Stark’s visions and Viserys was around for the first six episodes of the series before having a bucket of molten gold poured on his head by Khal Drogo.
Now, here’s where things get tricky. At this point in time, Jon’s feelings for the Targaryens remain unclear. While he presumably believes that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna — a story long perpetuated by Robert Baratheon — and knows the Mad King burned Rickard Stark (his grandfather) and Brandon Stark (his uncle) alive, he greatly respected Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch, who was revealed to be Daenerys’s great uncle before he died of old age in the seventh episode of season five.
With Dany finally en route to Westeros, she and Jon seem destined to come face to face, a meeting that many believe will reveal the meaning behind the title of George R.R. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire. However, whether or not Jon will be ready to accept — or even be aware of — his true ancestry upon her arrival remains to be seen.
Is it time for season seven yet?