Is Ned Stark actually alive? We weigh up the evidence

As we near the end of Game of Thrones, we take a look back on one of the show's most popular theories

Words – C. Molly Smith

From the editors of HelloGiggles

We all remember when Ned Stark was beheaded back in the first season of Game of Thrones (RIP).

But what if he didn’t actually die? Or what if he did die, but came back to life? There are a number of fan theories that suggest our beloved Ned is still alive.

And with Game of Thrones season 8 coming in the next two years (the next series will be the last), now would be a great time for him to come back – if that’s ever going to happen.

So let’s revisit a theory by AleksandrSnow, who posted ‘Ned Stark is Alive?’ to the A Song of Ice and Fire fan forum in 2013. Although he focuses on the books, there is of course a lot of overlap with the show.

AleksandrSnow posts that Varys is a master orchestrator who roped Tyrion and Jon Connington (and possibly Ser Barristan, Illyrio and Littlefinger) into his plans – and perhaps Ned, too.

Stay with us – if Ned’s ‘bastard’ son Jon Snow can come back to life, then this really isn’t the craziest theory in the world.

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AleksandrSnow reminds us that when Ned (may or may not have) died, it happened through Arya’s point of view. And when she saw it, ‘Ned is so beat up that he barely looks alive even before his death,’ he writes.

Then, ‘Sansa caims that his head above Maegor’s Holdfast looks weirdly unlike her father.’ But he points out she attributes that to the tarring process and decapitation.

Firstly, he notes that Catelyn claims her husband’s bones appear like those of a smaller man. ‘Most people (myself included) took this as her grief showing her that everyone looks smaller as a pile of bones, but what if she was being literal,’ AleksandrSnow theorised.

Which brings us to the possibility of Ned being alive.

AleksandrSnow supports his theory by claiming he thought Braavos swordsman/Arya’s water dancing teacher, Syrio Forel, to be a Faceless Man – which he has believed to be the case since Arya met Jaqen H’ghar, who is also from Braavos.

Then, he says: ‘I think Varys has a special relationship with the Faceless Men from his time in the Free Cities.’

Interesting… It all comes back to the Spider now, doesn’t it?

Here’s where it gets really juicy because, according to AleksandrSnow, Varys made a very interesting deal with Syrio.

‘Varys happens upon a severly wounded Syrio in the Red Keep after he helps Arya escape. Varys knows that Ned could help him in the long run, and asks Syrio if he could take Ned’s place, because A) Varys knows Joffrey will kill Ned, or B) Syrio would be sent to the Wall and either die en route or when he arrives. Syrio knows he is going to die and agrees to help Varys.’

So, what happened to the real Ned from there?!

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‘Varys then swaps the Neds under the Red Keep, using the same passage that he uses to get Tyrion out. He sends Ned to the Free Cities, OR and this is my prediction, Ned is somewhere in Westeros that no one, and I mean no one, goes to or even thinks about. Greywater Watch. Howland Reed is an old friend of Ned’s and would absolutely consent to hiding Ned and nursing him back to health.’

If Ned went to the Free Cities, Aleksandr Snow believes he could have travelled around as a page/coin maester/advisor/envoy to Illyrio – all while concealing his true identity and seeking the help of others in Varys and Ilyrio’s plans.

If he went to Greywater Watch, he could have hidden out with Howland, whose son is Jojen (who, of course, had ties to Bran Stark).

AlexandrSnow explains the latter: ‘When Jojen has a green dream pertaining to Bran, he has no clue what to make of it, but when he describes Winterfell, a place he has probably never seen before, and Bran, someone he has never met, Howland takes him to Ned, and Ned tells him everything he must do.

‘Take Bran to the Wall, where he will meet Coldhands, and he even tells him how to get to Winterfell, how to stay in Winterfell, how to get Bran to trust him, where to take Bran in case of emergency, and anything else he might need to know.’

If that last part is true, things could get very interesting for Bran/The Three Eyed Raven…

In any case, this is all pretty out there. If any of this is what’s ahead, here’s hoping we find out sooner rather than later.

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