Why Jon Snow Isn’t Dead: The Definitive Argument
Yes, Jon Snow Will be Back:
Game of Thrones season 5 brought television watchers up to speed with book readers on one of the most intriguing and hotly debated story lines of the series: the “death” of Jon Snow. If you’re reading this, then by this point you’ve likely read countless other articles telling you why Jon Snow is definitely dead, or why he’s definitely not, why he’ll come back, or why he won’t.
Here though, you’ll find the definitive guide telling you why Jon Snow isn’t dead, and no, I’m not basing that on anything the show’s producers are saying or sightings of Kit Harrington and/or his hair walking around set. No, this comes down to the cold, hard truth.
Two key points before we get started:
- Maybe Jon does indeed technically “die”. I’m not disputing that. But if that’s the case, it’s not final. He’ll be revived or resurrected or whatever else, and his character will very much be around.
- As a warning a few potential spoilers still lurk below for non-book readers.
Why Jon Snow Isn’t Dead Part I: R+L=J
Knowing who Jon Snow actually is helps clears things up pretty quickly. While R+L=J isn’t proven, it’s so widely believed it’s taken to be a foregone conclusion. A few other folks have already explained this far better than I could, so feel free to either watch this video:
or if you’d prefer, read this article. Either way you’ll get up to speed pretty quickly.
But, let’s say that R+L=J isn’t true, or that, even if it is, it doesn’t change his fate but only serves to reflect on the future actions of other characters. In this case, we’re moving onto…
Why Jon Snow Isn’t Dead Part II: His Death Scene Company
Both the book and the show have set up some convenient help for Jon Snow to ensure his survival. In the book, Jon whispers “Ghost” with his last breath. The subtext is that he wargs into his direwolf, Ghost, his soul and mind finding safe haven and emerging intact even if his body is, for the time being, dead.
In the show, Melisandre conveniently returns to Castle Black. This is after she previously, and also rather conveniently, found Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. From them, she learns of Beric’s repeated resurrections via the Lord of Light, through Thoros.
This little meeting is absent from the books, and in hindsight serves only to afford the opportunity for Melisandre to be aware of the potential success of such methods. Surely, reviving Jon will add a new wrinkle to her ever-increasing infatuation with the bastard of Winterfell.
Why Jon Snow Isn’t Dead Part III: GRRMPOVCECDT
Part I and II should have sealed this up already. But just in case, I’m pulling out the big guns here.
What is GRRMPOVCECDT you ask? It’s the George R.R. Martin Point of View Character End of Chapter Death Trick (trademark pending).
More simply, the A Song of Ice and Fire series in print is told via numerous point of view characters and their personal perspectives. Beyond the epilogues and prologues of each book, GRRM does not kill main point of view characters as the conclusion of his or her own chapter.
To be clear, he pretends to do this all the time, but it’s always a fake out.
Take a look at a few key examples:
It all begins in Chapter 8 of A Game of Thrones, the moment that latched this viewer onto the whole series in the show’s very first episode. Jamie Lannister utters his infamous “the things I do for love” quote as he pushes Bran Stark out a tall tower window, leaving him falling to his presumed death. Damn that Kingslayer:
The man looked over at the woman. “The things I do for love,” he said with loathing. He gave Bran a shove.
Screaming, Bran went backward out the window into the empty air. There was nothing to grab on to. The courtyard rushed up to meet him.
Somewhere off in the distance, a wolf was howling. Crows circled the broken tower, waiting for corn.
*END OF CHAPTER*
As we know, Bran emerges from the fall, crippled but alive, and begins his own slowly developing journey over the books and seasons to come.
Faithful Stannis servant Davos appeared to be killed at the Battle of the Blackwater in Chapter 58 of A Clash of Kings. His ship explodes, he’s in the water, and his fate is set:
And then the current turned him about again, and Davos saw what awaited him downstream.
The chain. Gods save us, they’ve raised the chain.
Where the river broadened out into Blackwater Bay, the boom stretched taut, a bare two or three feet above the water. Already a dozen galleys had crashed into it, and the current was pushing others against them. Almost all were aflame, and the rest soon would be. Davos could make out the striped hulls of Salladhor Saan’s ships beyond, but he knew he would never reach them. A wall of red-hot steel, blazing wood, and swirling green flame stretched before him. The mouth of the Blackwater Rush had turned into the mouth of hell.
*END OF CHAPTER*
Of course, Davos doesn’t die. He’s found, starving and stranded, in the next book.
Catelyn is killed at the Red Wedding along with her son Robb and her men. As Robb is never a point of view character in the story, the Red Wedding is seen from Catelyn’s vantage, and her death marks its conclusion:
It hurts so much, she thought. Our children, Ned, all our sweet babes. Rickon, Bran, Arya, Sansa, Robb … Robb … please, Ned, please, make it stop, make it stop hurting … The white tears and the red ones ran together until her face was torn and tattered, the face that Ned had loved. Catelyn Stark raised her hands and watched the blood run down her long fingers, over her wrists, beneath the sleeves of her gown. Slow red worms crawled along her arms and under her clothes. It tickles. That made her laugh until she screamed. “Mad,” someone said, “she’s lost her wits,” and some one else said, “Make an end,” and a hand grabbed her scalp just as she’d done with Jinglebell, and she thought, No, don’t, don’t cut my hair, Ned loves my hair. Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold.
*END OF CHAPTER*
Yet, she’s not gone for good. In the book, she’s found by the Brotherhood Without Banners, and is resurrected by Thoros of Myr. Her vocal cords permanently severed from her murder, and her body disfigured and waterlogged from its meandering trip down a river, she’s now known as Lady Stoneheart, hellbent on bloody vengeance against the Freys and Lannisters.
Certainly, like Beric Dondarrion, she had been killed. But she’s not gone, she’s brought back to life.
Now, anyone pondering the rebuttal of “Well gee zombie Jon Snow isn’t really Jon Snow” must recall that her ghoulish state is only due to the wounds suffered during her death and the way her body was disposed, two problems Jon won’t have.
In A Storm of Swords Chapter 52, Arya shows up to the Twins just in time for the Red Wedding. The readers, reeling from the death of Robb Stark and his mother Catelyn literally just pages prior, are led to believe that Arya has met a similar fate.
In the chaos outside of the castle, we read of The Hound chasing Arya down:
Arya spun away from him and darted for the gate. The portcullis was coming down, but slowly. I have to run faster. The mud slowed her, though, and then the water. Run fast as a wolf. The drawbridge had begun to lift, the water running off it in a sheet, the mud falling in heavy clots. Faster. She heard loud splashing and looked back to see Stranger pounding after her, sending up gouts of water with every stride. She saw the longaxe too, still wet with blood and brains. And Arya ran. Not for her brother now, not even for her mother, but for herself. She ran faster than she had ever run before, her head down and her feet churning up the river, she ran from him as Mycah must have run.
His axe took her in the back of the head.
*END OF CHAPTER*
We later learn it was the dull side of The Hound’s axe, who knocks her out, scoops her up, and escapes. Phew.
That’s 4 GRRMPOVCECDT’s for ya, including 3 for Starks alone.
Quentyn Martell also appears dead via dragon fire at the end of his POV chapter in A Dance with Dragons, however, it’s revealed later that he survived the attack only to three die days afterwards. The incident ultimately is his cause of death, but he is verified as having literally survived the moment, and his death is revealed in another character’s chapter. Attack of the GRRMPOVCECDT again, with some technicalities aside in this case.
Elsewhere, POV characters are slain in other character’s chapters. Most famously, that includes Ned Stark, who’s beheaded not in one of his chapters, but in Arya’s, who witnesses the incident from the crowd.
It’s also the case for Arys Oakheart, a featured member of the Kingsguard in the books, who’s killed in combat in Arianne’s chapter.
So how is Jon Snow’s death written in the books? Guess what, it closes out his POV chapter:
Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where had had buried it.
Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold…
*END OF CHAPTER*
GRRMPOVCECDT, folks. Case closed.
An endless stream of quotes and denials from television executives be damned. Jon Snow ain’t dead.
And I don’t want to hear any legalese about how he did die but warged his way out or was revived or blah, blah, blah. Save it. As I said at the top, maybe he does indeed die. I don’t care about the fine print or technicalities. The point is, he’s not gone. If he’s “dead”, he returns.
He may not be back in episode I of season 6, or who knows, they may hold off until the end of the season to tease his return. But rest assured, everybody’s favorite bastard will be sticking around.