I read this recently, and the third theory for Jon's parents suggest that he's the son of Rhaegar Targarean and Lyanna Stark. It has more credence than the other two theories and I am also partial. Assuming it is true, how to explain these two facts?

  1. Jon Snow's hand is badly burned when he fights the wight to save commander Mormont. Dany is near invincible to fire. And she says of Viserys "He was no dragon" when he dies of the burning golden crown. Assuming that fire immunity passes from parents, how to explain the fact that Jon gets burned? (Come to think of it, The burned hand is reminded persistently after that)

  2. Jon Snow is a warg. It is never mentioned that Ned Stark is a warg. But seems like all his (real?) children are. Is it a coincidence that Jon is a warg? Can this ability pass from mother's side to a child?

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    There's a fun theory that the Stark kids got their warg powers from being breast-fed by the probably-part-child-of-forest Old Nan. I think Sansa was the only one not weaned by Old Nan... which fits (could be wrong). Hereditary powers being passed partly in breast milk could also be a neat explanation of the Targaryens' slowly losing their dragon-related abilities as they adapted to Westerosi customs like having wetnurses for nobles and royals... a luxury the exiled Dany didn't have. But that's getting very speculative... Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 1:40
  • Rhaegar has 50% First Men ancestors and so must have a lot of recessive genes; Lyanna is almost 100% "pure" First Men woman. But still there is a problem with height: Jon Snow is too short, and really if GRRM world had been working with our world's rules, he would be taller than Ned and Robb.
    – user68407
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 14:16

5 Answers 5


The first contradiction is actually based on a misconception. Targeryons are not immune to fire, as showcased by Viserys and the Tragedy at Summerhall.

The second one is trickier, as the genetics of warging is never entirely explained. There are zero examples of a warg passing their abilities on to their child. But if R + L = J, the Starks and Jon are still cousins, making it well within the realm of possibility they'd inherit similar traits. After all, if Ned could recessively pass the trait down to at least three kids married to a Riverlander, why couldn't Lyanna with a Targaryen?

One thing that DOES seem to be common to all wargs is that they hold to the old gods and are raised in the North. So for all we know, someone with no bloodline from the North could end up with warging abilities based on some unknown Northern magic.

  • 1
    There is some "evidence" in The World Of Ice And Fire where the Starks got their warging powers from: the Warg King of Sea Dragon Point.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 10:41
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    Brynden Rivers is a skinchanger (can Warg) and he's a Targaryen.
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 20:39
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    @Mooz- His mother was a Blackwood, a Riverlands family that kept to the old gods and are descended from the First Men. So they're basically Northerners in the South. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 1:43
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    @TenthJustice I think that's exactly what Mooz was trying to convey. That you could use Bloodraven to explain the passing down of warg genes from Mother to son. If Bloodraven has a Firstmen mother, A Targaryen father, is a warg, same can be said about Jon.
    – Aegon
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 7:17
  1. Targaryens are not immune to fire. Dany's survival on Drogo's pyre was something exceptional. Several Targaryens have died from burning -- besides Viserys, there's Aerion Brightflame, Aegon V and Duncan the Small. See this previous answer.

  2. We have absolutely no information on how the warging ability may or may not be inherited (we can make some deductions, based on the facts available to us, but those can change any time the observed facts get updated), so we can draw no conclusions at all about anyone's descent based on their warging. (Also, there's not much evidence that Rickon or Sansa Stark have any warging ability, so it's not all of Ned's children.)


1) Targaryens are not immune to fire; it is known. GRRM has stated that Dany's fun on the funeral pyre was a ONE TIME exception to the fact that people burn.

To explain the situation with Viserys, I believe that Dany's comment was a shell-shocked realization that her brother was in fact, only human. Actual Dragons, like her 3 babies, are immune to fire, but Viserys in his madness believed himself (and taught Dany likewise) that he was an actual dragon. He's not the only Targaryen to believe something to this effect. Aerion Brightflame was a Targaryen Prince who believed that drinking wildfire would physically transform him into a dragon. He had similar results to any other human who comes in contact with wildfire.

On a non-believing oneself to be an actual dragon there are plenty of examples of Targyens being burnt. Summerhall is the big one here. A large portion of the Targaryen family died when that particular palace caught fire. Dany herself has also been burnt. In A Dance With Dragons, she receives multiple burns from various sources during her time as a feral dragon rider in training. She gets sunburnt and burns her hands and feet on the hot stones of "dragonstone" that Drogon makes his layer.

2) Warg are something we know little and less of.

Most of our information about how warging works comes from Varamyr Six-skins. We know what ethics wargs are supposed to hold themselves to (Varamyr fails on this front) and we know that its pretty bad for a warg to be in the skin of something when it dies. And we know that a Warg can "Live on" in a former familiar. As for the reproduction of Wargs, we only know that Varamyr has sired many children but none of them are wargs.

We also don't know how Valyrians controlled their dragons. Dany just knows that they used spells of one kind or another. It could very well have been something almost identical to warging (if not warging itself).

In fact the Targaryens have produced at least 1 warg/greenseer for certain in the form of Bloodraven/3-eyed crow.

Likewise the presence of Balerion the Cat may indicate that Rhaegar's daughter, Rhaenys had the gift of skin-changing and has been living on in her kitten, now a mean old Tom cat that knows way more than any cat should. It led Arya to the tunnel out of the castle and has been sabotaging Lannisters for years.

I've also been mulling over a theory that many of the Noble houses that use an animal sigil had a warg ancester with the creature in question as a familiar, hence the tendency of Nobles to refer to themselves as actually being that creature. Starks are Direwolves, Lannisters are Lions, Tullys are Fish, Arryns are Falcons, Targaryens are Dragons and Cleganes are Hounds.

  • Great answer, although we do know how Valyrians control their dragons awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Dragon_horn Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 12:04
  • @MikeyMouse I said that it's not clear exactly how they controlled the dragons as the dragon horn is only one example in which we a)don't know if it was the only way b)if it wasn't the only way was it the primary way and c)have barely any understanding on how it will do so Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 4:57
  • Love how you worked two GoT phrases into your answers :) Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 12:14
  • Your theory isn't true for the House of Clegane as it was only founded by Sandor and Gregor's grandfather. He was the Master of Hounds who saved the king from a lion. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 16:16

Jon's hand and immunity to fire

Targaryens aren't fire proof or fire-made-flesh. That is a wrong assumption on part of a few fans who are making too much of Daenerys' ability to avoid serious burns.

We do know that Targaryens are not fireproof, the one-time immunity is something that appears to be unique to Daenerys. Historically,

  1. Viserys III Targaryen died of being burnt by molten gold.
  2. Rhaenys Targaryen was burnt to death by Vhagar and Sunfyre. (We can't be sure though that if it was the fire that killed her or the fall. But we do know her corpse was so badly burnt that it could not be recognised and that she was indeed dead).
  3. Rhaenyra Targaryen was burnt by Sunfyre.
  4. Aegon II was paralyzed due to injuries given by fire of Rhaenys Targaryen's dragon Meleys the Red Queen.
  5. Aegon V was burnt with Prince Duncan Targaryen at Tragedy of Summerhall. That left House Targaryen family tree limited to one lonely branch of Jaehaerys II.
  6. Aerion Brightflame died after drinking Wildfire. I suppose we can call it internal chemical burning.

So it is established that Targaryens can burn and die. So it should not come as a surprise if Jon burnt his hand. Only Targaryen who shows immunity (relatively) to fire is Daenerys Targaryen. And her immunity is described by the author as a one-time magical event.

George_RR_Martin: Granny, thanks for asking that. It gives me a chance to clear up a common misconception. TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE! The birth of Dany's dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn't immune to that molten gold.

Jon being a Warg

Let's see the case of another half Targaryen, Brynden Rivers aka Bloodraven. His father was a Targaryen, King Aegon IV and his mother was descended from a House of First-Men Stock, Lady Melissa Blackwood.

He became a Greenseer, He is the Three Eyed Crow who is training Bran. As only people with blood of the First Men have shown the talent of Skin-Changing, We can assume that Brynden inherited the gift from his Mother. So evidently, the gift can pass from mothers therefore Lyanna was just as capable as Ned of passing the gift to her children.


The thing is Jon has no Targeryan features. All Targeryans have at least one Targeryan feature, heat resistance, dragon dreams and silver/gold hair and or purple eyes. Jon has none of these things, the dreams he has have nothing to do with fire and dragons but everything to do with Starks (Bran also has visions of crypts in winterfell). Aemon Targeryan said that all his brothers and himself had the dragon dreams, he said that they drove them to their graves. Its a Targeryan thing. He does not look a thing like a Targeryan in fact it is said he looks way too much like his Ned Stark. In the series Joffrey's parentage was discovered by Ned because of his silver hair. Finally he has no resistance to fire evidenced by his burned hand in A Game Of Thrones. Each of the above traits alone doesn't mean anything but the lack of all of them completely is just too much. George RR Martin may reveal the dragon dreams in future books but if he doesn't and he expects us to believe that the son of the last dragon has zero Targeryan features, then that's just poor storytelling. Even Rhaego had Targeryan features in the womb, he was already identifying with an unhatched dragon, plus in dany's vision he had the silver hair and purple eyes of a true targeryan.

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    Targaryens are NOT immune to fire!
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 4:10
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    Also, not all Targeryans have the features, Robert was part Targeryan, but the platinum fled before the black. Dominant genes and all. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 12:06
  • Robert was not directly descended from a Targeryan, his grandmother was a Targeryan and even then, the Targeryan blood she had was "tainted" by the blackwoods and by the time it got to Robert it was most impure. Jon Snow on the other hand is supposedly descended from the last dragon. Rhaegar, of pure Targeryan blood. how come he has zero features, I mean for all we know Rhaenys his supposed half sister had fire resistence or dragon dreams but she died too young for us to be sure, so that doesn't count. but Jon is mature and we have been following his story for a while and still nothing???
    – sheena
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 3:33
  • There's a POV where someone [I forget] observing Jon Snow notes that whoever his mother was she left little of her features in him as he is so strongly Stark-looking. Of course this is just an ironic twist since it's his mother who was the Stark but the point is that he just takes very strongly after one parent. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 16:22
  • @sheena Well then most Targaryens would themselves be impure. Viserys I married one Arryn and one Hightower. All subsequent monarchs are descended from those two women. Neither was a Valyrian. His heir Aegon II was born of the Hightower woman and Rhaenyra was born of Arryn one. Rhaenyra's son Viserys II married a Lyseni who gave birth to Aegon IV. His son Daeron II married a Dornish princess who gave birth to Aerys I and Maekar I, Maekar married a Dayne who gave birth to Aegon V, Aegon V married a Blackwood who gave birth to Jaehaerys II. So as you can see, pureness doesn't exist
    – Aegon
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 11:07

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