Watching the season 6 finale of Game of Thrones and then reading several blogs online, I've seen many reference a character's lineage as hard fact now that it's been revealed in the show - however, I'm not sure that I picked up on all of the details, because I only see that they've revealed one parent.

My brief summary, please correct me if I'm wrong:

We see the "end" of Bran's vision, where he has gone into the past to witness the "origin story" of Jon Snow. Previously, we had thought that Jon was the son of Eddard Stark and an unknown woman, therefore making him a bastard, but a descendant of the Starks nonetheless. Instead, we now see Lyanna stark, Ned's sister, making Ned promise to take care of her son, which tells us that Jon is not Ned's son, he is Lyanna's.

But here's the part that I don't get. I've read several blogs that claim the

L+R=J theory (Lyanna Stark + Rhaegar Targaryen are the parents of Jon Snow)

is now completely validated fact. However, I only see half of that -

How do we know who Jon's father is? We only see his mother, having just given birth to him.

Granted, we know several things about the past which makes it a strong contender for being true, including

the fact that Lyanna had been kidnapped by the Targaryens, making Rhaegar a likely father. But technically, couldn't anyone be the father? Did I miss a scene or a detail which pointed categorically to Rhaegar being Jon's father?

  • 7
    If it wasn't of the Targaryen bloodline, then there would be no need to hide his lineage and for Ned to besmirch his honor and hurt his wife in such a way. So, Rhaegar, or, possibly, the Mad King, himself. Jun 28, 2016 at 16:15
  • Consider also that no other father would bear the narrative weight the mystery of his parentage has. We know the mystery is important: so much time has been devoted to the fact Jon is a bastard, who longs to be a "real" Stark. We also have no direct link between Jon and Daenerys, but if the story wrapped with connecting those two characters it would feel strange. This fits and ties together the separate struggles they're fighting. Any other connection is apt to feel arbitrary. Jun 28, 2016 at 16:42
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    Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/133161/16272
    – Ajedi32
    Jun 28, 2016 at 18:41
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    Did anyone else read that second spoiler tag as "Leeroy Jenkins"? I've been on the internet too long...
    – Ben
    Jun 29, 2016 at 3:04
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    @Ben Funny you should say that, there is a theory that Jon Snow = Leeroy Jenkins (scroll down to the image), so it goes full circle. I've clearly not been on the internet long enough since I had to google who Leeroy Jenkins is Jun 29, 2016 at 17:53

7 Answers 7


Just based on the show, Lyanna says "If Robert find out, he'll kill him. You know he will."

This proves that he is a threat to Robert. Since they were at the end of the rebellion, we know he might be someone with a claim on the throne, i.e., a Targaryen. The show only mentions Aemon, Viserys, Rhaegar, Daenerys and the Mad King as Targaryen. Among them, only Rhaegar can be the father of Jon.

Moreover, at the beginning of the series, Robert mentions of Rhaegar kidnapping Lyanna. I think it is pretty obvious that Jon is the son of Rhaegar, even in the show.

  • 4
    Yeah, I'm not doubting it inherently, it's just strange to me that people are accepting it as true in a show like this where everything is a twist (I mean, his lineage was a twist for 6 seasons...) Here's my thought, though - Robert Baratheon would kill anyone who fathered a child with his soon-to-be wife, no? Wouldn't he kill even a commoner if he found out that the commoner fathered a child with his future wife? I agree that we know plenty about the kidnapping that points to it - but literally anyone in the Targaryen kingdom could have fathered a child with the kidnappee
    – Jake
    Jun 28, 2016 at 13:44
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    I hardly think he would kill the nephew of his greatest ally if the child has no immediate threat to him :)
    – user65648
    Jun 28, 2016 at 13:46
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    At the beginning of the Tower of Joy scene in episode 6.3, Ned Stark tells the Kingsguard, "Rhaegar lies beneath the ground." He is already dead :)
    – user65648
    Jun 28, 2016 at 13:49
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    Very, very interesting. Ok, so it's really, really likely that it's Rhaegar - nobody's actually said it out loud yet, but it's 99.9% likely because there are few alternatives. Thank you!
    – Jake
    Jun 28, 2016 at 14:02
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    @Brad you are right, but Ned rides to the ToJ long after Trident. Between those events, sack of King's Landing and lifting the siege at Storm's end occur.
    – user65648
    Jun 28, 2016 at 18:37

Around a year before Robert's rebellion, there was a Tourney at Harrenhal in which Prince Rhaegar Targaryen won the joust, and declared Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and Beauty. A year later he 'kidnapped' her, which then led to the rebellion, and the rest is history. (I know this wasn't shown in the show, but it is part of the show canon).

In addition, she was protected by three Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy. Only members of the royal family can give orders to the Kingsguard, which means someone of the royal family told them to protect Lyanna whilst she gave birth.

Lyanna tells Ned that "If Robert find out, he'll kill him. You know he will." Whilst it is possible that he would kill any child that his betrothed and love of his life gave birth to (that wasn't his own), the only evidence of child murder we have seen him endorse is that of the Targaryen children during the Sack of King's Landing.

Considering how sure she is that Robert would murder the child ("You know he will"), it is more than likely that the child is in fact a Targaryen.

This leads to heavy speculation that it was Rhaegar who fathered the child with her.

You are correct in the fact that there is no concrete evidence yet, however it is unlikely that there is an alternative person who could be the father.

  • Interesting - didn't pick up on the Kingsguard part of it. Although I will say it's possible that Lyanna got knocked up by someone else, and Rhaegar was concerned for any number of political reasons because she herself was royalty, so he wanted her protected. At that point I'm just trying to come up with possibilities, though. As I said in another comment, I don't actually doubt it myself, but since everyone seems to have accepted it as fact I was wondering if I missed the detail that proved it. The Kingsguard detail is certainly one that I missed!
    – Jake
    Jun 28, 2016 at 13:50
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    @Jake it's a very good question, I had never considered the fact that it's never definitively shown who the father is, and only clues have been given so far. Jun 28, 2016 at 13:58
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    @Jake "Am I forgetting something? I know Lyanna was noble, but don't recall her being royal.
    – Jelsema
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:02
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    Fair, I just misspoke - the real point being that the fact that the Kingsguard are there proves that Rhaegar (or another member of the royalty) sent them - it doesn't prove that he's the father. He could have sent them because she's nobility (agreed, not royalty), or because he felt like it. It doesn't DIRECTLY mean that he's the father. And one more time - I'm not trying to be combative, just trying to see if the show ACTUALLY said "Rhaegar is the father", or showed it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I'm 99.9% convinced he's the father after reading all the answers here.
    – Jake
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:53
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    @Jake there are only 7 kingsguard. The fact that 3 of the 7 are in the middle of nowhere guarding a 'random' child is telling. Ned specifically asks them about this, when he asks why they aren't guarding the crown prince.
    – kuhl
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:35

HBO has released this image clearing showing Rhaegar Targaryen as Jon Snows father leaving no doubt who his father is.

enter image description here


  • Hah, that's quite interesting. Great find, thank you!
    – Jake
    Jun 29, 2016 at 19:22
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    Damn I just came here to post this as an answer. +1
    – Aegon
    Jun 29, 2016 at 20:02
  • "Clearly showing"? It is the most confusing graphic I have ever seen. It has lots of overlapping lines, with no attempt to minimize the crossings or lay down the circles in meaningful locations; and the arrowheads are almost impossible to see. Jul 1, 2016 at 18:48

Heavy spoiler ahead!

When Lyanna Stark make Ned promise that he will protect Jon Snow she also say something we can hear.

She say that if Robert, in this case Robert Baratheon, learn what she just had said he will kill the child. Robert Baratheon was known to hate the targaryen, we can see that when he order the assassination of Daenerys in season 1. In the book when he saw the mutilated corpse of the child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Ellia Martell his only reaction was

"I see no babes, only dragonspawn" A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12.

The fact that Robert would kill the child, of the love of his life, if he learn a secret about him heavily imply that the father must be Targaryen.

Of course it is only implied and there is no hard proof but as the theory was implied before this is seen as a comfirmation.

  • +1. I was waiting for the dragonspawn comment. This answer does a good job of explaining Roberts hatred for Targaryens and why he would kill an infant.
    – kuhl
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:37
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    It is said that Tyrion only survived because Tywin Lannister wouldn't kill the son of the only person he ever loved. I doubt Tywin was a better man than Robert. Jun 28, 2016 at 20:35

It is like a game of connect the dots (not in any particular order)...

  1. Lyanna is being protected by the Kingsguard, only a member of the royal family would able to station them there.
  2. Littlefinger mentions to Sansa that Rhaegar "chose" Lyanna over his wife.
  3. Lyanna says the Robert will kill the baby Jon if he found out, hence the "promise me, Ned" line.
  • 1. Doesn't help - Rhaegar kidnapped her. 2.+3. Good points.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 28, 2016 at 21:17
  • @einpoklum It's not entirely clear whether he really kidnapped her. In fact, there's quite a few clues that suggest that she wasn't kidnapped at all - rather, that she was "rescued", coming voluntarily. Life is quite complex in the ASoIaF universe :)
    – Luaan
    Jun 29, 2016 at 14:14
  • @Luaan: Still, the point is the kingsguard were just stationed by him, that doesn't say anything about the baby's identity.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 29, 2016 at 14:56

According to the show, we still have no SOLID evidence of the father. However, Lyanna can be heard saying "Robert would kill him if he found out". Based upon this line, we can safely assume that she means that Rhaegar is the father of Jon. Here's a link that has some screenshots with captions from the show.


We have the Kingsguard guarding Lyanna at the Tower of Joy. And not just anyone, we have Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, Ser Arthur Dayne, and Ser Oswell Whent guarding it. This seems straightforward as they only guard the Royal Family so there must be someone present from the Royal Family. So it makes more sense for them to be guarding the son of Rhaegar rather than anyone else.

  • KG guard the entire royal family, not just the Queen and King. King may choose to bestow one or more KG to members of Royal family as personal shield. Rhaegar was not the king at the moment, he was a Prince and heir apparent. Rhaegar already had a heir, Prince Aegon who was at KL.
    – Aegon
    Jun 29, 2016 at 12:01
  • Thanks for pointing those out. I have made the edits. I have only watched the show so I did not know about Prince Aegon. But since the Mad King was dead, the Kingsguard must come under the command of Rhaegar right?
    – lvpx
    Jun 29, 2016 at 13:36
  • Rhaegar died before Mad King at battle of trident. Aerys and his grandson Aegon died together in Fall of Kingslanding. They did not know about Jon so thats why Rhaegar's younger brother Viserys was apparent king. But +1 anyways. Welcome to SF&F.
    – Aegon
    Jun 29, 2016 at 13:44
  • Oh, there is so much I need to know. Now I am going to read all the books as well. Thanks @Aegon.
    – lvpx
    Jun 29, 2016 at 14:27

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