Spoilers for A Dance with Dragons part 2 / Game of Thrones season 5 !

The last time we saw Jon Snow, either in the books or the TV series,

he was apparently dying from multiple stab wounds, in a very Julius Caesar-esque scene in which he was betrayed by men of the Night's Watch.

Now the internet is awash with speculation on whether he's:

  • dead and going to stay dead
  • dead and going to be revived (either as a wight [yuk] or in the Beric Dondarrion way)
  • not dead at all

Obviously there won't be a clear canon answer - at least until the next book is published or the next season comes out - but I've seen tons of canon evidence supporting each of these hypotheses - just not on any particularly reliable sites. Let's make SFF.SE the go-to site for finding answers to this question!

I'm not looking for opinions but for well-referenced answers presenting the evidence for and against each possibility, as of A Dance with Dragons (ADWD) and season 5 of Game of Thrones.

Also, please make clear whether each piece of evidence is relevant to the books or the TV series (or both): they're diverging more and more as time goes on, so it's just possible the answer may be different in the different media.


1 Answer 1



As it turns out, Jon Snow did die at the end of Season 5, but Melissandre resurrects him at the second episode of the sixth season

Pre-Season 6 Speculation:

Let's look at these theories.

  • Jon Snow is dead is dead. He suffered many stab wounds; if he died, it would be totally normal. No surprises there. GRRM is notoriously known for killing off main characters. This one survived five books. It was high time he died. (Julius Ceasar died similarly and we know GRRM has some inspirations from real historical event).
  • Jon Snow is dead, but will be revived.

    1. He is at the Wall, where north of which ice zombies are. He have seen many a dead ones rise up and become zombies. Jon might turn to UnJon.
    2. Melissandre resurrects him. Τhe Lord of Light, R'hllor has shown us that his priests can resurrect people. We have seen this with Lady Stoneheart (books), and Beric (books and show), both being resurrected by Thoros. Since the Red Priests have that kind of power, Melissandre might resurrect Jon.
    3. He is in some kind of coma and he comes round in the future. We've already seen Bran that survived that fatal crash in aGoT; he was in a coma for a long time, but now he is (mostly) fine. If I'm not mistaken it was during the coma that Bran learned to control his abilities. Also, Arya became blind for her training. Maybe this stabbing is what Jon needs in order to develop.

Aemon said to Jon (Jon II):

Kill the boy and let the man be born." The old man felt Jon's face.

Maybe a hint of resurrection?

  • Jon Snow isn't dead.

    1. Jon didn't die immediately (highly unlikely in the real world, but this is fantasy one; but to be frank, how many assassination attacks did Rasputin survive?) and some kind of doctor or maester saved him somehow. He was wearing a lot of clothes, since it is cold at the Wall, so some of the wounds might be that deep. There is no maester at that point at the Wall, so the only one that can save him might be some kind of wildling doctor or Melissandre.
    2. In the books, we see that some of Jon's chapters start with him having dreams of being Ghost, his direwolf. The same way was used in Bran's first chapters in aGoT, and we later found out that he was a warg. This might mean that Jon have that ability as well, but he doesn't know. Moreover, in the books, Ghost was near him, so, he might survive by warging into his direwolf. Something like this happens in the Prologue of aDwD, where Varamyr Sixskins is dying and before he dies, he tries to warg into another person's body. Maybe the Prologue was a foreshadowing of what a warg can do to avoid death.

Another passage from Jon I (aDwD) could be foreshadowing:

He wondered if some part of his dead brothers lived on inside their wolves

Another thing to consider is the way Jon's last chapter ends:

He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold

which is similar to a passage in the Prologue, with the aforementioned event with Varamyr:

True death came suddenly; he felt a shock of cold, as if he had been plunged into the icy waters of a frozen lake.

and also, one of Varamyr's last thoughts was:

His wolves would save him, he told himself.

One more reason to support that Jon died, but will be resurrected in some way, will be useful for the plot. He will have been free of his vows of the Night's Watch, since a Brother is only released if he dies.

And now his watch is ended.

The theories that he is not dead have one problem. Since it was his Brothers that killed him, if he didn't die, he would have to have someone take him from there and heal him. That would be difficult, since so many people wanted him dead * .

And also, Martin himself in an interview in EW in 2011, when asked about that matter, he said:

"Why did you kill Jon Snow?", author Martin responded "Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?"

*I found a good answer to this on the Forum of Ice and Fire

Bowen Marsh and his conspirators (from what we see, only stewards like Wick) appear to have taken advantage of the chaos from Wun Wun killing Ser Patrek to attempt to assassinate Jon. This suggests their conspiracy has no support outside these stewards, and that they have to try and act before anyone can intervene.

Elsewise, why have stewards like Bowen Marsh and Wick Wittlestick do the deed? They're not fighters, and they very nearly botch the attempt. Why not get a single Ranger in on the fun? Likely because they can't, because Bowen Marsh doesn't have any pull outside the Stewards.

So it may be that even with the chaos, someone in the busy yard may notice Jon's being attacked, and intervene. It's still very unclear how hurt Jon is from this attack, and whether or not he's died or passed out. You make the point this would be consistent with Martin's writing style for this to be the end of Jon, but I disagree. Martin loves the end of chapter death fakeout. Some examples include:

  • Davos' last chapter in ACoK, where he witnesses from closeby the Blackwater being consumed by fire.
  • Arya being hit in the head with an axe at the Red Wedding.
  • Ned being attacked by Jaime Lannister in AGoT.
  • Brienne being "hung" in AFFC.
  • Asha being beneath "the blow that would finish her" in ADWD at Deepwood Motte. Etc.

It could go either way with Jon honestly, but I'd hardly be surprised live or die.

Also, it might be unlikely that Jon is dead, because if he is, we won't have a POV chapter on the Wall. Samwell has left; he might return, but it will take time. I really believe we need a PoV from the Wall, since the Others are advancing towards it. Bran is north of the Wall, but really North. He could be a PoV on the Wall, but still, it would take time for him to arrive there.

Whichever of these theories is true, I believe that this event is to help the plot to develop. It is possible that there will be a dispute between the Brothers, pro-Jon and anti-Jon and the Night's Watch might fall and/or diminish in power.

GRRM used this death-at-the-end-of-the-chapter with Tyrion as well on aDwD. The way that chapter ended left us thinking Tyrion had drowned. But, later we see he didn't. GRRM might pull this trick again.

Now, besides all that, Kit Harigton (the actor who plays Jon Snow) was spotted in Belfast, where they are shooting scenes for Game of Thrones Season 6. So, that might say something about his future.

Twit by Watchers on the Wall

Kit spotted AGAIN; and filming for Season 6 begins at Garron Point

link includes image

Another twit by the same page

Kit Harington and Nathalie Emmanuel spotted in Belfast

link includes image

HBO just released the first teaser art for Season 6, which shows a blooded Jon. This might be a hint that he isn't dead.

enter image description here

A teaser trailer was released today, which starts off by showing Jon Snow (and then pretty much every possible spoiler so far):

Funnily, it says

They have no idea what is going to happen.

I think that the fact that they show Jon there has some meaning.

A teaser for season 6:

shows the faces/heads of dead people (like Eddard, Cat and Joffrey) at the House of Black and Whiteand then the face of Jon. This might imply that he is dead like the rest of them, but afterwards it shows the face of Tyrion, who is still alive. So, this might imply that Snow will live after all.

  • 1
    About him being a warg; I think he actually learned it when he was with the Wildings, but remained in denial since (not really sure though, I will try to find the corresponding chapter). Nice complete answer overall.
    – Reyssor
    Aug 7, 2015 at 13:10
  • “if he is, we won't have a POV chapter on the Wall”. I haven’t read the books, so: could a character at the Wall who hasn’t had a POV chapter before get one? Aug 7, 2015 at 13:23
  • @PaulD.Waite yes, of course. Before the fourth (or fifth? I don't remember) book, Samwell didn't have PoV chapter, but now he does Aug 7, 2015 at 13:24
  • 1
    After a short search, he first has a discussion about that eventuality with Qhorin and Ebben after a wolf dream (ACoK 53). Once he joined the Wildings, he is repeatedly called a warg, but thinks that "if so he was a poor one" (ACoK 68, ASoS 7, 26, 73). Back to Castle Black, he is even asked about it by Stannis (ACok 76), but dodges the question and some other members of the Night's Watch seem to know too (ACoK 79).
    – Reyssor
    Aug 7, 2015 at 14:09
  • 4
    The Melisandre POV (ADwD 31) has a few interesting things about Jon (notably her vision: "Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again.", looks like a hint that he will spend some time in Ghost's body to me). PS: little mistakes in my previous comments, I meant chapters 76 and 79 of ASoS, not ACoK.
    – Reyssor
    Aug 7, 2015 at 19:25

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