Game of Thrones Theory: Evidence Jon Snow Rides A Dragon In Season 8
Season 8 of Game of Thrones is almost here, and with one of Daenerys' dragons still without a rider, there's plenty of reason to believe Jon Snow will mount Rhaegal - the dragon named after his father. There's never been a question that Dany herself would climb onto a dragon and learn how to fly with it, and this happened in season 5, when Drogon rescued his 'mother' from the fighting pit. However, the "three heads of the dragon" prophecy suggested that there would be two more riders for Viserion and Rhaegal.
In season 7, Viserion's rider was revealed, and it came as quite a shock - it's none other than the Night King himself who is flying on the undead Viserion's back for season 8. However, that still leaves one dragon riderless, and now it looks like there has been the first hint that it could be Jon Snow who mounts Rhaegal in the final season.
Vanity Fair first suggested that a single scene in a new promo for Game of Thrones' final season could point to this outcome - so what's the evidence that Jon (sorry, Aegon) is going to fly before the finale?
- This Page: Jon Snow and the Three Heads of the Dragon
- Page 2: How Game of Thrones' Trailers Point to Jon Riding a Dragon
First of all, it's important to take a step back and look at why there needs to be another dragonrider at all - which comes down to the Three Heads of the Dragon. The three heads of the dragon is one of the things that is assumed to be true for the series, despite only being mentioned the books (much like the valonqar prophecy). It refers to a vision that Daenerys has while in the House of the Undying, where the magic of the place causes her to see prophetic visions. In the show, she sees several things that come to pass (or may still come to pass) including a hint at the Red Wedding, and the Throne Room covered in snow. In the book, however, her visions are different. They include a vision of Rhaegar naming his baby son, Aegon. In this vision, Rhaegar says "He has a song. He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire. There must be one more. The dragon has three heads." This echoes an old Targaryen prophecy that says the same thing.
This isn't the only reference to three dragons/Targaryens in the books or the show, either. The original conquest of Westeros by the Targaryens was by Aegon the conqueror, riding a dragon, with his two sisters/wives beside him on dragons of their own. The Targaryen coat of arms is a three-headed dragon. And, of course, there are three dragons on Game of Thrones. The true meaning of this vision/prophecy is hotly debated in the fandom, with some arguing that it means that there are three Targaryens who will ride the three dragons, and others arguing that it simply means there are three living Targaryens, whether they ride the dragons or not. Whether or not it means anything at all has also been debated, as Game of Thrones is chock full of prophecies, and that doesn't mean that they are all going to come true. However, the majority believe that there are three heads, and that means three dragonriders.
At this point, it's theoretically possible that anyone could be the third dragonrider - but Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen is definitely a frontrunner. There are plenty of theories, of course, that other characters are Targaryens too; everyone from Meera Reed to Tyrion Lannister have been theorized to be secret Targaryens. In addition, dragonriders don't actually have to be Targaryen. Although the Targaryens are the house famous for taming and riding dragons, in Fire And Blood it's revealed that others have been known to tame dragons as well. However, all signs point to Jon as the third head at this point.
For one thing, while other characters could still turn out to be secret Targaryens, Jon/Aegon is the only other confirmed Targaryen in the show. He's also one of only a couple of people who has been able to get up close with the dragons without being barbecued. Tyrion was also able to manage this, when he released them from their chains in Meereen, but Jon was able to actually walk up and pet Drogon's nose - something that clearly shows he has some dragon-taming talents. He's also now both romantically involved with Daenerys and pledged to her as Queen, and he's the child that Rhaegar spoke about in Daenerys' vision. The latest promo also points to Jon being a dragonrider - if that promo has been digitally altered, that is!
The promos in question are two that premiered on TV in March, but weren't released online - both of which showed the same scene: Tyrion, Davos, and Varys gazing up with shocked looks on their faces at something overhead. The promos also show two dragons flying together, and an immediate cut to Jon and Dany standing by a fire, as well as showing a shot of Jon and Dany standing together, framed by the two dragons.
While many other trailers have shown different characters reacting with wonder to the dragons, those have all been characters seeing them for the first time. Tyrion, Davos, and Varys have all seen the dragons many times before - so what could make them stop and stare at the sight like that? It's possible that they are staring at Viserion, but their surprise doesn't seem to be panicked, and seeing the Night King on an undead dragon would make anyone panic. Instead, it's likely that they are looking so surprised because Rhaegal is being ridden - by Jon Snow.
There's no sign of a rider on the dragons in the trailer, of course - but this wouldn't be the first time that a major franchise has done some digital editing in order to avoid spoilers. Ahead of Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, some trailers were altered to change the color of the Infinity Stones on Thanos' gauntlet, and Avengers: Endgame's trailers have been similarly edited. It's more than possible that HBO has altered these promos to remove the riders on the dragons' backs, thereby avoiding spoilers. It wouldn't be particularly difficult to do this, and if Jon and Dany are riding together, that would explain the reactions of a few people upon seeing them.
In addition to the more direct evidence that points to Jon Snow becoming a dragonrider in the final season, there's a solid storytelling reason to have it happen too. Having Jon become a dragonrider is the perfect way to complete his arc - embracing his Targaryen side, and becoming a hero of legend. From the promos, it looks like Jon may even mount his dragon before the Battle of Winterfell, which would mean that fans would see all three dragons in an aerial battle. It would be an homage to the Dance of Dragons, a battle for the Throne in the earlier days of the Targaryen rule - which parallels the battle for the Iron Throne that is still coming at the end of the season.
Riding Rhaegal would also highlight Jon's connection to his father, since the riderless dragon is named after Rhaegar Targaryen, and would be an important moment of Jon embracing his power and status. He's already come a long way from the Stark bastard who scooped up the runt of a litter of direwolves
However, if Jon does become a dragonrider and learns of his Targaryen heritage, where does that leave the lovely Daenerys? Jon is arguably the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and if he accepts that, he would be usurping Dany's own claim. However, if the trailers are altered to edit out riders on the dragons' backs, it would seem that Jon and Dany are happily riding together - will this mean that they will combine their claims, in the classic Targaryen fashion? Could the third head of the dragon actually refer to their child, not another rider? Only the final season will tell.