Warning: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
Now that Game of Thrones has officially surpassed George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books in plot, what's to come in the show's upcoming seventh season is anyone's guess. So it only makes sense that fans have spent the year-long hiatus since the season six finale speculating over potential storylines for almost every major character.
Ranging from the identity of Arya's next target to the whereabouts of Gendry to the consequences of future romances, here are 11 of the most interesting theories about Thrones' season seven storylines.
As Tyrion prepared to release Rhaegal and Viserion — the two remaining dragons in Meereen — from the dungeon Daenerys locked them in back in season four, he forced himself to believe they would know he was trying to help them...Luckily for the youngest Lannister sibling, they did seem to understand his intentions. This scene — which took place in the second episode of Game of Thrones' sixth season — was the first time viewers have seen anyone other than Dany get up close and personal with the grown dragons and live to tell the tale. For some, this moment gives credence to the popular fan theory that Tyrion could be one of the prophesied figures known as the three heads of the dragon, i.e., he will eventually be one of the three people who rides Daenerys’ three dragons.
Gendry's whereabouts in the show have been unknown since he fled from Dragonstone in a rowboat. However, in A Song of Ice and Fire, he is still alive and working as a blacksmith at the Inn at the Crossroads in the Riverlands. Thrones is known for moving the story along quicker than Martin does, meaning that if Gendry does appear in season seven, his plotline may have jumped to beyond where it has reached in the books. This has led some to theorize that he will next be seen in Oldtown, where Sam has just arrived to begin his maester training at the Citadel...If Gendry does indeed possess the skills to rework Valyrian steel, teaming up with Sam may be the key to taking his knowledge to the next level and giving him the ability to forge weapons that can be used to defeat the white walkers.
This confirmation of the fan-favorite R+L=J theory almost certainly sets the stage for Daenerys and Jon to come face to face in season seven, a meeting many believe will reveal the meaning behind the title A Song of Ice and Fire and potentially lead to a marriage between the two.
While some think Jon will become romantically involved with Daenerys Targaryen when the Mother of Dragons finally arrives in Westeros, others suspect the new King in the North is already in the company of his future wife. In a video from prolific Game of Thrones vlogger Alt Shift X, the YouTube user theorizes that — based on evidence from George R.R. Martin's books — Jon and Sansa are destined to marry.
HBO confirmed to TIME that Jim Broadbent would be joining Game of Thrones in a "significant" role, marking the first major cast addition for season seven. Beyond that description, nothing else was revealed about the 67-year-old Oscar winner's role on the HBO drama. But that didn't stop the people of the Internet from rising to the task of speculating and narrowing down the list of Westerosi residents he might play, with some Reddit users guessing that the most likely candidate is Marwyn the Mage.
While it's unclear as of now where Arya will go after leaving the Twins, she does seem destined to collide with one character in particular: Melisandre. And conveniently, the Red Woman is also one of the few remaining people on her list.
Based on a hidden detail from a recent behind-the-scenes costume design featurette, it seems as though fans may finally get the Stark family reunion they've been eagerly awaiting. In the video, Arya is shown riding a horse with her trusty sword Needle — given to her by her half brother-turned cousin Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in the series premiere — strapped to her hip. On its own, this would be nothing out of the ordinary. However, there is also a shot of her sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) standing in what appears to be the Winterfell crypts with a crew member behind her holding a very similar-looking sword.
She may only have a handful of scenes in the Game of Thrones' TV show, but in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, Old Nan — House Stark's oldest servant — may have long ago foreshadowed a major key to the series' end. When Bran is paralyzed from the waist down after being pushed out of a Winterfell tower by Jaime Lannister, he spends quite a bit of time in bed listening to Old Nan's stories. But while he mostly takes her anecdotes with a grain of salt, there seem to be clues about both the past and future — and his connection to them — in much of what she says.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, co-executive producer Bryan Cogman teased the long-awaited clash between the show's two most powerful forces: the Night King's White Walkers and Daenerys Targaryen's dragons...Some fans speculate this storyline will even involve the introduction of an ice dragon — a legendary creature in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (the books on which Thrones is based) that breathes cold rather than fire.
Following a well-calculated wildfire explosion and the subsequent suicide of King Tommen in the season six finale of Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister did something that would have seemed nearly impossible when the series began — ascended the Iron Throne uncontested...But while the former Queen Mother has finally gained (tentative) control of the realm, she will soon be facing a threat to her power. With Daenerys Targaryen, three dragons and a massive army headed straight for King's Landing, Cersei will need more than a crown if she hopes to defend herself. Could this mean wedding bells are in the air?
The season six finale of Game of Thrones saw Samwell Tarly, Gilly and Little Sam finally arrive at the Citadel in Oldtown after a long and arduous journey from Castle Black. Once inside the maesters' headquarters, Sam entered the library, where he was greeted with the sight of chandeliers that closely resembled the gyroscope from the show's opening credits. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, John Bradley — who plays Sam — revealed that he believes the similarity may hint at how the series will end.
Daenerys finally set sail for Westeros in the closing moments of Game of Thrones' season six finale, which means the long-awaited clash between Targaryen and Lannister forces could happen soon. But despite the advantages that come with possessing three full-grown dragons — along with an army of Unsullied and Dothraki soldiers — the battle is sure to be difficult. Luckily, Dany has at least one secret weapon that's sure to give her a leg up: Tyrion Lannister. The newly appointed Hand of the Queen not only knows the minds of Cersei and Jaime — his estranged siblings — but the layout of several of the Seven Kingdoms' strongholds.
In the closing moments of the new trailer for Game of Thrones' seventh season, Sansa delivers a voiceover that seems to hint at some serious Stark family drama...But while the voiceover accompanies what appears to be a shot of a solitary Jon riding a horse through the North, some fans believe it hints at a reunion between Sansa and her sister Arya.
The season six finale of Game of Thrones seemed to confirm the fan-favorite R+L=J theory — i.e., that Jon is not the illegitimate child of Ned Stark but rather the son of his sister Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen — during a flashback scene in which a time-traveling Bran Stark witnessed Jon's birth at the Tower of Joy. However, while Bran is (possibly) the only person alive who knows this piece of history, there may be another way for Jon to discover his true parentage.
As a refresher, Arya chased Nymeria away to prevent the Lannisters from killing her for attacking Joffrey after he threatened to "gut" Arya. Cersei then demanded that Ned execute Sansa's direwolf Lady in her place. Nymeria hasn't been mentioned on the show since, but in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, there have been clues that she is roaming the Riverlands as the leader of a massive pack of feral wolves.
Although Littlefinger failed to convince Sansa to claim the Kingdom of the North as the true born daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones' season six finale, Westeros' master manipulator still has a few tricks up his sleeve...However, Lord Baelish's past may come back to haunt him, as there's still one living Stark sympathizer who knows about his betrayal of Ned in season one: Sandor "The Hound" Clegane.
In a flashback sequence in the season five premiere, we saw a young Cersei having her future told by a witch named Maggy the Frog...However, while it seems as though Cersei assumed [this] prophecy was predestined, some have posited that it may actually be self-fulfilling — i.e., the predictions have only come true because Cersei's expectation that everything would happen caused her to act in ways that (directly or indirectly) made them a reality.