Prophecy plays a major role in Game of Thrones - and that won't change in season 8. However headstrong the rulers of Westeros may be, they all bend the knee to fate and destiny. While Game of Thrones contains just a fraction of the prophecies and visions introduced in A Song of Ice and Fire, many of the core elements remain. Whether by the hand of the Old Gods or the Lord of Light, there are deeper truths etched into the history of the Seven Kingdoms.
Author George R. R. Martin has been frank about his thoughts on prophecy. While he sees them as a “staple” of the fantasy genre, he pays them less respect than his predecessors. Martin cites prophecies in Macbeth and English history as templates for how he toys with expectations:
During the War of the Roses, one of the lords was prophesied that he would die at a certain castle. So, he always took pains to avoid that castle. But then, in the First Battle of St. Albans, he was wounded and died outside a pub that had a castle on its pub sign.
Martin looks for the “weasel-wording” in prophecy to find loopholes that upend audience anticipation. What, then, will happen with the three biggest prophecies left standing for season 8 of Game of Thrones?
The Prince That Was Promised
Season 7 went out of its way to reintroduce the Prince That Was Promised. By first having Missandei clarify the mistranslation and assert that the foretelling calls for a prince or princess that was promised, Game of Thrones reminded audiences that the call for Azor Ahai is still very much on the table.
Daenerys, entitled as ever, was quite pleased to hear that princesses weren’t out of the running. Jon Snow, however, who has long been theorized to be the Prince That Was Promised, doesn’t even know he was born of legal birth. Unlike his aunt, he has no expectations. It’s the perfect dichotomy of rulers and relatives – one expects to be crowned, while the other is just glad to be alive.
According to the Red Priestess Melisandre, these are the requirements for the hero’s second coming: he (or she) will be born “when the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt.” That same hero must have the blood of a dragon, have awakened dragons from stone, and brandish some form of Lightbringer, the sword that beat back the White Walkers during The Long Night many moons ago. As the legend tells it, Azor Ahai forged his magical sword by plunging it into the heart of his beloved wife, Nissa Nissa.
Those choice words have echoed a thousand theories of characters who meet the same requirements. Everyone from Jorah Mormont and Theon Greyjoy to Hot Pie has been in the running for Azor Ahai. While Game of Thrones may well deliver a twist ending on the matter (the “bittersweet” one GRRM promised), it seems likely that the true prince or princess will be either Daenerys or Jon Snow, AKA, Aegon Targaryen.
The Dragon Has Three Heads
The allure of this prophecy extends back to Jon Snow’s real father, Rhaegar Targaryen. A musical man who loved to sing and play his harp, he earned an unjustly violent reputation for his alleged abduction of Lyanna Stark. Long before he eloped with her, however, Rhaegar was driven to fulfill the prophecies that captured his attention during his youth.
As a boy, he learned about The Prince That Was Promised and was eager to fulfill the prophecy himself. While he eventually realized that he was not Azor Ahai reborn, he made it his mission to produce a family line that would guarantee such victory. Children were the answer, so he and his first wife, Elia Martell, set about bringing Rhaeneys and Aegon (yes, he also named Jon Snow Aegon) into the world. Rhaegar had the first two heads of his dragons secured.
In the second season of Game of Thrones, we saw Daenerys Targaryen encounter many temptations in the House of the Undying on Qarth. While the show only hinted at both past and future events, the books unleashed an onslaught of visions at Dany, including one where she saw her elder brother, Rhaegar, name his newborn son Aegon, for his “was the song of ice and fire.” The Targaryen prince then seemed to lock eyes with Dany (in the vision) and tell her, “There must be one more…the dragon has three heads.”
The children Rhaegar and Elia produced were later slaughtered by The Mountain, leaving Jon Snow (Aegon VI Targaryen) as the only direct descendant of Rhaegar’s line. Between Jon and Daenerys, the two heads of the dragon remain strong.
Who will be the third head? It depends on how literally we take the language of the prophecy. George R. R. Martin has even hinted that the three heads of the dragon do not have to be Targaryens. Many theorists have also speculated that the prophecy is referring to the actual riders of dragons, asserting that Tyrion Lannister could be one of them (and possibly a “secret Targaryen” to boot). If this is true, the prophecy leaves room for the Night King, who just brought undead Viserion into Westeros.
There’s a stronger and less literal (read: more show friendly) take on the prophecy left to be explored. Given all of the conversation about Daenerys’ infertility and her newfound relationship with Jon Snow, it seems Game of Thrones is setting the table for a Targaryen lovechild.
Should the aunt and her nephew pull it off, they will create the third head of the dragon themselves.