Warning: This post contains spoilers for the sixth season of Game of Thrones.
Although the fan-favorite R+L=J theory — that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard but rather the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen — wasn’t officially confirmed until the season six finale, Jon Snow’s true parentage has long been one of the most speculated mysteries in the Game of Thrones universe.
However, it turns out George R.R. Martin — who wrote the A Song of Ice and Fire series on which the show is based — gave fans a huge hint more than a decade ago. During a 2002 Q&A, the author was asked about who named Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister since their mothers all died giving birth. “Mothers can name a child before birth, or during, or after, even while they are dying,” Martin replied. “Dany was most like[ly] named by her mother, Tyrion by his father, Jon by Ned.”
While this may not seem like an outright confirmation, as Reddit user BeARdBARIAN points out, it’s definitely a nod to the truth. “If anyone doesn’t get it, ‘Dany was most likely named by her mother, Tyrion by his Father, Jon by Ned.’ Rather than saying Tyrion and Jon by their fathers, Ned was named as if he wasn’t the father. Slightly subtle,” the Redditor writes.
And Martin isn’t the only G.o.T. player to have preemptively alluded to the big reveal. When asked in 2014 if he would ever reprise the role of Ned in the HBO drama, Sean Bean matter-of-factly told Vulture that Jon was not his character’s son. “I’ve definitely got some unfinished business that needs to be resolved there,” he said. “I’m obviously not Jon Snow’s dad. And you need that to be revealed at some point, don’t you?”
Not to mention that the show did plenty of teasing of its own.