Is Jon Snow Dead? (Game of Thrones Spoiler Alert!)
Chances are that you wouldn’t have searched for something so specific as “Is Jon Snow dead?” if you haven’t already reached the end of A Dance With Dragons.
Nevertheless, if you haven’t reached the end of the most recent book in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, you should not read this article, as it discusses Jon Snow’s death and several theories at length and may well spoil the enjoyment you would otherwise glean from this fine series.
Is Jon Snow Dead?
Among the many fans of this series are a very vocal segment of readers/viewers who are keen to speculate on any number of its vital plot points, asking questions like, Who is Jon Snow's mother? Is Tyrion Lannister a good guy? Who is Coldhands? And what happens to Jaqen H'Ghar? At the end of the fifth novel in the series is a cliffhanger that is epic, even by GRRM’s standards, and has set the Internet ablaze with speculation about one of Ice and Fire’s favourite characters.
For many, Jon Snow is the hero of the piece, one of only a few characters who is consistently morally good (Arya and Tyrion join him here— I welcome suggestions of others). He wins the readers' sympathy by heroic deed and consistently owning the moral high ground rather than drifting in and out of our sympathies. So when we are shown what appears to be his death scene at the close of A Dance with Dragons, the reader is shocked and alarmed— and dismayed, no doubt. Can it be true? Will we really have to wait to find out?
There are a great many theories out there. GRRM is nothing if not mischievous. We’ve seen characters disappear before, only to reappear a book or two later.
- Catelyn Stark is one example; is she dead? Yes she’s “dead,” but since she’s still walking around, exhibiting her own independent agency, she’s not dead in the traditional sense.
- We’ve seen Brienne left hanging (if you’ll pardon the pun), and Cersei and Jaime have also both been the figurative Schrödinger's cat in GRRM’s closed box, stranded between life and death for several hundred pages.
- Crucially, Rickon and Brandon Stark have also been portrayed as dead only to reappear a few hundred pages later.
It’s easy to believe that Jon Snow’s death is simply another ruse by this master of the plot twist. GRRM may make us think that he is dead only to dust him off and have him pop up smiling in the middle of the next book. Think about it: Did we see a body? Yes, he was stabbed four times, but were we actually told he was dead? There are any number of ways in which GRRM could be pulling the wool here, using his famed misdirection to force us to wonder, and as ever, the fan community is abuzz as a result.
Jon Snow's Death Scene
The death scene is a nasty shock to the viewer/reader. We are aware that his policies with regards the wildlings beyond the wall have been extremely unpopular with his brothers from the Night’s Watch, and we know too that the Lannisters have planted an element among the Watch to discredit or harm him on account of his Stark roots. But the idea that such a central and well-liked character could be killed off still comes as a massive shock.
But is he dead? Is his death scene exactly what it appears to be? Or are we merely told that he is stabbed and loses consciousness?
In this scene, we’re told that he never even felt the fourth knife, only the cold. This could mean anything from death to just being quite cold, by way of slipping into consciousness, and it's this deliberate vagueness that has given rise to yet more Jon Snow theories.
Does he die? If so, will he perhaps come back from the dead? Is he going to be in the Winds of Winter?
- It’s possible that his death scene merely describes him being attacked and knocked unconscious, and he’ll return in The Winds of Winter alive, if not well. Perhaps he’ll come to in shackles in a cell beneath the wall and some of the plot of The Winds of Winter will see him recovering and trying to escape his brother-captors before the trickle of wights becomes a flood.
- Or perhaps he is actually dead. This wouldn't be the first time that GRRM has killed off a main, much-loved character. But can wargs really die? With his last breath, perhaps he inhabits another person nearby, or perhaps he lives on The Winds of Winter in the guise of his Direwolf, Ghost.
- But is this theory up to scratch? Would Jon Snow living as a direwolf really satisfy the reader? Surely even the most ardent fan would rather see him die heroically than live on as a direwolf?
- If he is dead, whose narrative focus will allow us to see the events at the wall?
What do you think? Is he dead? If he is, will he come back from the dead? Are we even supposed to think he is dead, or merely that he's injured?
What's your Jon Snow theory? Let me know below.