'Game of Thrones' Theory Says Ned Stark Didn't Really Die

Sunday is the beginning of the end for Game of Thrones. The HBO epic will premiere its final season, setting the stage for six episodes that are meant to wrap up the story of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and the rest of George R.R. Martin's creations.

The hype for the season is already at historic proportions, partially thanks to the aspects of the production that fans are dying to see play out. There is also the ongoing theorizing over who will live and who will die in the final battle with the White Walkers and their army of the dead. But given those circumstances, maybe some of us should be asking who will return from the dead before the series end.

Possible spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8 ahead.

This fan theory comes from a dual pair of sources. Half comes from user XstarshooterX over at Reddit and the other comes from AleksandrSnow at A Forum of Ice And Fire, but both seem to revolve around the same concept: Ned Stark is alive.

The last time we saw Ned Stark was at the end of season one with his head on a pike. He had been executed in the penultimate episode of the opening season, giving the series its first real surprise. It was also a death that set the tone for the rest of the season.

But would they undo it somehow? Would they undermine it? According to our theories, they already did a while back.

According to the theory from Reddit, Ned Stark is actually one of the Faceless assassins that helped to train his daughter, Arya Stark, in the middle of the series. In fact, the theory says that Stark avoided his real execution by swapping with another and leaving as Jaqen H'ghar, the very man who trained Arya.

"Seeing his daughter stirs old feelings in Ned, and it all begins to come back to him. Jaquen takes a liking to Arya, as Ned would, and talks with her, hoping he can rely on her. When he is saved from the fire, Jaquen does what a grateful [Faceless Man] would do and gives Arya her three deaths," the theory states. "By this time, though, Ned was starting to come back, and Jaquen and Ned constantly struggled against each other mentally. This culminates when he asks Arya to join him, and she refuses. Had she said yes, I think Ned Stark would have come to terms with his own identity and things would be different."

It's an out there theory and fun, like most fan theories are supposed to be, but it is also not the only theory that seems to follow the same logic. As pointed out by Barstool, the second theory from the Game of Thrones forum supports its counterpart at Reddit.

It relies on the books a bit more than the series, pointing out that the initial death in the series was from Arya's point of view in the audience at the execution and noted that her father "barely looked alive" from his injuries, while Sansa later notes that the head on the pike didn't look like her father.

Also, Catelyn Stark notes that Ned's bones "look to be from a smaller man than Ned," giving some weight to the idea that he switched bodies.

The body switching hinges on another character living through their unseen death. Syrio Forei, a swordsman hired by Eddard to train Arya and a minor character from the first book and season of the story, possibly didn't die and ends up trading bodies with Ned with help from the slippery Varys.

"Syrio knows he is going to die and agrees to help Varys. Varys then swaps the Ned's under the Red Keep, using the same passage that he uses to get Tyrion out. He sends Ned to the Free Cities," the theory from AleksandrSnow puts out.

Is it possible that Ned Stark is still alive? Sure. Anything is possible until we see otherwise on the screen. Look at Benjen Stark or Gendry's rowing trip. They were missing from the show for quite a while before returning in the concluding seasons in major ways. So yeah, the theories are always possible.

But typically the dead stay dead too. The only time they haven't stayed dead on the series involves two methods: the use of magic and the use of the powers belonging to the Night King.

Seeing how the White Walkers are bound for Winterfell for a massive battle, and the presence of a crypt under the castle housing many fallen Starks from over the years, a new route for Ned's final season return presents itself.

Could the Night King bring Ned and other members of the Stark family back to join his army? It is just as plausible as some trickery involving the faceless men.


We'll just have to tune in and see. There shouldn't be much of a delay in seeing major events this season, with only six episodes to close out the epic tale.

Game of Thrones will premiere on Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.