Just as with the Kennedy Assassination, every Game of Thrones fanatic remembers where they were when they learned that King Joffrey beheaded Eddard “Ned” Stark, the last honest man in Westeros.
Stark’s demise had huge repercussions in both George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones book series and its HBO adaptation, signaling to viewer and character alike just how high the survival stakes had become. A hot new fan theory, however, has declared that the one-time Lord of Winterfell may not be dead after all.
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As the theory goes, the man who fell to Joffrey’s ax was not Ned Stark but Syrio Forel, Arya’s beloved fencing teacher. Syrio, it turns out, was a faceless man with the ability to shape shift, much like Arya’s sometime-ally Jaqen H’ghar. Dying from wounds sustained helping Arya escape, Syrio agrees to take Ned’s face and his place after Varys (the scheming bald eunuch) convinces him to do so. Ned, meanwhile, is spirited away to some hidden corner of Westeros to recover from his ordeal.
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Textual support for this theory comes from several character observations. Ned’s daughter Sansa, for example, gazing upon her Dad’s staked head, notes that it doesn’t look like him. Meanwhile, his wife Catelyn observes that Ned’s bones resemble those of a smaller man. Thought provoking.
While it seems highly unlikely that Ned would keep away from his family as they are tortured and killed off one by one—let alone survive Joffrey to begin with—Thrones has surprised us before with miraculous resurrections of characters like The Hound and Jon Snow. Hey, maybe Ned Stark is just what Westeros needs to get through the rough winter (and TV season) ahead!
Featured image courtesy of Splendid Beast.