Game of Thrones has wrapped up after eight seasons of speculation and debate - and few fans could have expected it to end the way it did. The final season was something of a disappointment, feeling rushed and underdeveloped, and one of the biggest problems was seeing scenes, ideas, and characters who had been built up for seasons seem suddenly... forgotten. Major plot twists seemed to come to nothing, with everything from Jon's heritage as Aegon Targaryen (and the true heir to the Iron Throne), to Arya's white horse after the Battle of the Bells not really meaning anything at all.
Along with everything else, the final season of Game of Thrones also seemed to forget about something that is an absolutely huge part of the book series: prophecies and visions. Since season one, Game of Thrones has referenced multiple prophecies and foretellings, but in the end, almost none of them actually impacted the plot. From the valonqar to the visions at the House of the Undying, prophecies either didn't come true, or didn't seem to matte.
With fans formulating complex theories and trying to figure out or work in every single prophecy since the show's beginning (or earlier, with the books), one of the most exciting parts of the show for many audience members was the speculation. Without many of the most popular prophesies seeming to have a proper payoff, all that excitement seems to have been for nothing - but maybe that was the point.
The Valonqar And Cersei's Children
When Cersei Lannister was a young girl, she wanted to learn her future - if she would marry Prince Rhaegar, which she wanted to, if she would be Queen and have his children. She sought out a famous fortune teller, Maggy the Frog, and asked her about her fate. The resulting prophecy is one that is given a lot of weight in the books, and that often informs Cersei's own behavior, as she tries to avoid the death it predicts. In the books, Maggy's prophecy starts with the reveal that Cersei will not marry the prince, but will 'wed the king', and that she will be Queen 'until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear'. The most important part of the prophecy, though, is the end: Maggy's words on her children and her death.
Six-and-ten for him, and three for you. Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds. And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.
For several seasons, this tracks; Cersei married King Robert, and he had sixteen bastards, while she had three children with Jaime (Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen). All were golden-haired, and there are plenty of literal golden crowns for these royal children, too. All three also died - to be wrapped in golden shrouds. It can also be argued that another 'younger and more beautiful Queen' came and took everything from her, as Daenerys burned King's Landing to the ground - although Cersei believed that this part of the prophecy actually referred to Margaery Tyrell. So for the most part, Maggy's prophecy actually came true in the series, it just wasn't particularly important, because Game of Thrones made the decision to leave the most interesting part of it out of the show: the valonqar who would kill her.
Meaning 'little brother' in High Valyrian (or 'little sibling', as the word has no gender), fans spent years speculating about which younger sibling might do her in. A fan-favorite theory was that Jaime, at the end of his redemption arc, would kill Cersei himself, or that perhaps Tyrion would be the one (which she definitely suspects in the novels). However, in the end, Game of Thrones dropped this part entirely and killed Cersei under a pile of bricks as King's Landing collapsed.
Azor Ahai Was... Arya Stark?
The other major prophecy in the series is that of Azor Ahai, The Prince That Was Promised. In the books, these may not be the same person, but in the series, it has been clearly stated that they are one. Azor Ahai is the reincarnation of a legendary figure, the one who first fought back The Long Night (assumed to be the first coming of the White Walkers). He is born of salt and smoke to wake dragons, and the original Azor Ahai had a flaming sword named Lightbringer. The story of Lightbringer involves the warrior having to finish forging his sword by sticking it through the heart of his true love, leading many fans to believe that this would happen again in the series, to create a new Azor Ahai that would defeat the Night King.
Melisandre has been searching for the true Azor Ahai since the beginning, and fan theories on who it would be covered everyone from Jon Snow (resurrected by Melisandre herself) to Daenerys (who certainly woke dragons from stone), to Sam Tarly (who would have to kill Gilly to forge his sword), to Hot Pie (which is not a serious theory, but a fan-favorite). In the end, though, this prophecy was almost entirely ignored. Melisandre did reappear before the Battle of Winterfell, still seeking her Prince that was Promised, but no one who clearly fit the propecy appeared.
Instead, Arya Stark leapt out of nowhere to stab the Night King, killing him with dragonglass. it was an epic moment, and one that cemented Arya's status as the most incredible assassin in Westeros, but it doesn't actually fit the prophecy, without doing some serious stretching in order to make it. Melisandre then strolled out of the castle gates and evaporated into dust, seemingly believing her work was done - even if a clear Azor Ahai never appeared.
The Dragon Has Three Heads
Another big phrase that kept coming up throughout the series is that 'the dragon has three heads'. This appears everywhere when talking about the Targaryens, and is a reference to Aegon's Conquest (with his sister-wives and three dragons) and is in the Targaryen banners (a red, three-headed dragon on a field of black), but is primarily repeated after Daenerys has a vision of her brother saying the phrase. This happens in the House of the Undying, though, and like the valonqar, this particular line was left out of the show.
Given that Daenerys had three dragons, and fans had figured out Jon Snow's true Targaryen heritage long ago, there seemed to be a fairly straightforward explanation for this one: three dragons, three riders, and probably three Targaryens in total. Once again, fan theories covered every possible 'three heads' combination, with Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister being fan favorites. Connections between various characters were hypothesized, but eventually, the dragon didn't actually have three heads. Instead, Daenerys continued riding Drogon, Jon Snow did eventually ride Rhaegar for a couple of scenes, but that third head? If anyone, it was the Night King, who managed to shoot down Viserion North of the Wall, resurrect him, and then ride him around breathing blue fire. Admittedly, three dragons did get three riders, but there was no real connection, and they didn't come together to create a satisfying reason for Daenerys to have the vision in the first place.
Basically Everything About The Night King
There were multiple other issues with prophecy around the Night King and the Wall - not just his appearance as the closest thing fans got to the Third Head of the Dragon. There weren't actually a huge number of explicit prophecies around the Night King, in the way they are surrounding Azor Ahai or the valonqar, but there were several elements that were discarded by the end. The biggest legend that was dropped is that of the Horn of Joramun, aka the Horn of Winter. This was a mythical horn originally made thousands of years ago, when King Beyond The Wall Joramun created it and 'woke giants from the earth'. According to wildling myth, the horn has the ability to bring down the Wall - which led many to speculate that this would be how the White Walkers managed to pass it.
In the tv series, a mysterious warhorn was found at the Fist of the First Men, along with dragonglass weapons. Because it was found with the dragonglass, and clearly connected to fighting the walkers, most assumed that this was the mythical Horn of Joramun, and that it would come into play later. After all, why make a big deal of finding it for no reason? However, the horn disappeared after that original discovery, and the Horn of Winter was never really mentioned again. Another legend that came to nothing... much like the mysterious spirals that were set up around multiple White Walker scenes, all the way into the season 8 premiere, but then never had any clear purpose when it was all said and done.
Daenerys, Prophecies, And Visions
Daenerys comes across more prophecies than just the three heads of the dragon - as well as her visions in the House of the Undying, she is also told she will carry the Stallion That Mounts The World, and then cursed by Mirri Maz Duur. The Stallion That Mounts The World is one of the earliest prophecies to be dashed in the series, all the way back in the first season. Initially, after Daenerys is sold to the Dothraki, she falls pregnant - and the dosh khaleen proclaim that her child will be this mythical figure, that he will unite all the khals of the Great Grass Sea and lead them as one. However, Daenerys loses the baby to blood magic, when trying to heal Drogo, who was ill from an infected wound. That blood magic was performed by Mirri Maz Duur, a healer and priestess who hated the Dothraki who attacked her home, and who left Daenerys without a child, and with a husband in a catatonic state.
She also left her with the words that Drogo would 'return to her' "When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before". Although this could be taken as simply a poetic way of saying 'never', in the world of Game of Thrones, fans wanted to believe that it meant something more. That perhaps Daenerys would become pregnant again (rather than her interpretation that she never would), that Jon Snow's death and resurrection was the sun 'rising in the west', that the Wall's collapse was a 'mountain blowing in the wind'. However, Daenerys never did become pregnant a second time, so it seems that this was just a curse, and that Mirri Maz Duurs' prophecy, as well as that of the Stallion That Mounts The World, simply don't matter in the show.
The One That Actually Came True
It may seem as though no prophecies came to fruition at all in Game of Thrones, but there were a couple of visions that actually had some kind of impact. As well as the part of Maggy's prophecy to Cersei that was included in the series, several of Bran's visions, as well as one scene from Daenerys' vision in the House of the Undying, did also come to pass. Visions of King's Landing destroyed, and of ash falling in the throne room were created almost shot for shot in the finale, and Bran's visions of Daenerys' dragons juxtaposed with the Mad King shouting 'Burn them all' definitely foretold Dany's snap and burning of innocents.
In Daenerys' vision, too, she sees herself walk up to the throne and touch it, but never sit on it - something that happened in her final scenes. However, while these visions came to pass, they didn't actually impact the series in any real way, other than to spark fan theories. Daenerys' plans didn't change thanks to her visions, and Bran seemed to keep his entirely to himself. They seemed to exist more for the viewer than the story.
Was This Actually Intentional?
While fans are, unsurprisingly, less than thrilled about how so many prophecies and legends were set up throughout the series, only to not have them be significant at the end, this could actually have been the point all along. This is a universe where prophecy is held up as an incredibly important thing, but putting too much stock in fortune tellers and changing behavior because of it can lead to some serious problems (just ask Oedipus). Much of the finale focused on 'breaking the wheel' - not the way that Daenerys originally intended, but by putting an end to a system of rule by inheritance, and creating a system based more on merit, and who would make a good King.
It's possible that by intentionally discarding the prophecies that seemed so important at the start (when parentage also seemed to hold far more weight), the series is making the point that prophecies don't matter. These aren't written in the stars as something that must be fulfilled, they are simply possibilities, visions, and dreams. Melisandre herself made a point of saying that her visions weren't always clear, and she's not the only one - vague wording, confusing visions, they are not the things that should be relied on, as plenty of the characters found out over eight seasons.
This would actually be a beautiful and subtle message for Game of Thrones to include - however, there is definitely fan debate over whether this was an intentional layer of meaning given to the theme of the finale... or if the writers simply ran out of source material and didn't know what to do with them all!