Game of Thrones was known for its dragon action over its eight-season run, but there might have been one we didn't see as it was under the Stark home of Winterfell, as this theory claims. The HBO show was directly based on the book series by George R.R. Martin, and based iterations spawned a wealth of different fan theories across the years.
Some of these proved to be true, including the iconic R+L=J, while others were either quashed or left unresolved by Game of Thrones, such as the notion of Tyrion secretly being a Targaryen. Indeed, many popular theories revolved around Jon Snow and Targaryens, with dragons often playing a key part in them, and the idea of this theory fits in nicely with that theme.
The notion of a dragon under Winterfell has been around for quite some time but so far, there's no reason to completely discount the theory just because it didn't happen in Game of Thrones. If anything, there is still enough evidence to believe that something was hiding in those crypts. Martin will hopefully answer the question regarding the dragon in his upcoming novels. For now, here's all the evidence supporting the Winterfell dragon theory.
Winterfell Is Heated By Hot Springs, Which May Be A Dragon
Winterfell, the home of House Stark, was intentionally built atop hot springs. These geothermal springs kept the castle warm through the worst of winter. The scalding hot waters were said to run through the castle walls like "blood through a man’s body" and drove out the chill of the stone walls. The springs were a necessity for the Starks' survival in the North. The only two other places known in the Game of Thrones universe to have hot springs were the Fourteen Flames of Valyria and Dragonstone. Both of those locations had notable connections to dragons.
The Fourteen Flames, or the Fourteen Fires according to the novels, were a chain of volcanoes in the Valyrian Peninsula in Essos. The region was swallowed up by the ocean and created the Smoking Sea but it was known to be the first area where dragons were discovered. The island of Dragontone also resided in a volcanic region and served as the home of House Targaryen before they invaded Westeros. Targaryens were known for their connection to dragons. This would lead one to believe that a dragon would inhabit the grounds under Winterfell due to their history living among hot springs. In fact, these "furnaces of the world" could be heated by the fire-breathing creatures. Many of the townsfolk have subsequently spread the legend that Winterfell was only inhabitable because a dragon was keeping the springs warm.
There Are Rumors Of Dragon Eggs Under Winterfell
A dragon using its breath to warm the spings wasn't the only rumor spread throughout the continent. There were talks that Vermax, one of the Targaryen's dragon, had left eggs somewhere within the Winterfell crypts. Vermax was the mount of Jacaerys Velaryon, the son of Rhaenyra Targaryen. Around the outset of The Dance of the Dragons, Jacaerys and Vermax traveled to Winterfell and met with Lady Jeyne Arryn, Lord Manderly, and Lord Cregan Stark in Winterfell. It was then that the jester, Mushroom, claimed Vermax left eggs in the crypt near the hot springs.
Mushroom's testimony was not taken seriously due to the fact that he was a dubious source. Vermax was also a male dragon so that threw off the possibility of leaving eggs behind. There was a chance however that the Targaryens purposely planted dragons under Winterfell for other reasons. When the relationship between the two Houses turned South, the Targaryens would have dragons under the enemies stronghold. If dragons emerged from beneath Winterfell, House Stark would have had no power to control the creature, at least until Jon Snow came of age during Game of Thrones.
Winterfell's Gargoyles May Be To Bind Dragons
The Starks may not have been able to control dragons but an element of their castle could have been intended to bind the creatures. The crypts were located under the First Keep and it was specified in the books that the tower was lined with weather-worn gargoyle statues. It was rumored that gargoyles were used to secure dragons to one particular area. Other than Winterfell, the only other place in Westeros that had gargoyles was Dragontone.
Bran had a notable connection to the First Keep in both the books and TV series. He fell from the tower at the start of Game of Thrones which left him crippled. Later on, Ramsay Bolton burned down much of the castle after his siege of Winterfell. In A Clash of Kings, Bran warged into his direwolf, Summer, and witnessed the destruction of the First Keep and the fallen gargoyles. Through the smoke and ash, Bran witnessed "a greatwinged snake whose roar was a river of flame" which could have only been used to describe a dragon. With the gargoyles gone, there was nothing binding the dragon under Winterfell so it could have escaped.
Was There A Literal Ice Dragon Under Winterfell?
Throughout the books, there have been a handful of mentions to an ice dragon. This was intended to be a counter to the Targaryen's "fire dragons." The notion of an ice dragon was often used in connection with Jon Snow. He constantly had dreams about the Winterfell crypts, which was where he memorably learned his true heritage as a Targaryen in Game of Thrones. This ice dragon speak was metaphorical since Jon was in many ways an "ice dragon" since he was a Targaryen who grew up in the North.
But could the clues to the ice dragon have been literal too? If a dragon remained dormant under Winterfell to warm the hot springs, it would have been considered an ice dragon having inhabited the northern region of Westeros. This could have been why Brandon the Builder decided to construct Winterfell so far to the North. He may have had insight into a dragon connected to the region.
What Happened To Winterfell's Dragon?
Unfortunately, there was no substantial evidence in the Game of Thrones TV series that suggested that a living dragon lived under Winterfell. Book readers could still have some hope considering there is still plenty of the story left to be told from the mind of Martin. Hypothetically, if there were a dragon under the castle, it probably would have been killed either during the burning of the castle or the destruction caused by the Battle of Winterfell. If one existed and survived, the series would have revealed that kind of twist. There's always a possibility that the rumored eggs were safely hidden enough to remain untouched. If there is ever to be more Game of Thrones spinoff series, maybe we will finally see Winterfell's own dragon see the light of day.