Come back. Please. We miss you. Everything's gone wrong.
If you’ve never watched Game of Thrones, turn back now as there be spoilers here. To this day, Sean Bean’s Ned Stark is still one of the HBO series’ best characters and unfortunately one of its shortest-lived. His execution is still an iconic Game of Thrones moment and Sean Bean recently revealed one of the scene’s biggest mysteries: namely, what his final words were.
If you somehow manage to cast your mind way back to season one, Ned is dragged out into a square in King’s Landing to be publicly beheaded after falsely confessing to treason. As he kneels before his executioner and the camera zooms in on his face, you can see Ned murmuring something – though we never get to hear what he’s saying. Then, cue one of Game of Thrones’ saddest deaths as the blade comes down on his neck. It set the entire tone for the series and reinforced one of the show’s most terrifying principles: none of your favourite characters are safe.
Naturally, the theories have spiralled out of control since then. A popular one is that he was repeating the show’s catch phrase, ‘Valar Morghulis’, which means all men must die. Another is that he was telling his late sister Lyanna Stark ‘I kept my promise’, a reference to the circumstances surrounding Jon Snow’s complex parentage. And the wildest is that maybe Ned was casting a spell to switch bodies before his death, which could mean our least problematic Stark is still alive. (Not holding our breath on that one.)
However, Sean Bean put us all out of our misery in a recent interview with Huffington Post where he explained he was ‘just saying a prayer’. Given the show’s varied tapestry of religions, he was careful to be as neutral as possible.
Sean said, ‘I couldn’t be too specific, because I don’t know if religion [like that] was around in those days, whatever they were. I just thought, ‘What would you do if this were really gonna happen?’ You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you’d keep it quiet. You’d keep it to yourself.’
To be honest, we didn’t notice the murmuring the first time we watched the episode. We were too busy screaming at the screen and for somebody to bust through and save Regal Daddy™. However, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment was meant to be that way as Sean explained.
‘It’s quite subtle in that many people wouldn’t pick it up. It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There’s not much you can do really, you’ve got your head on a block. That’s about the only thing you can do is murmur,’ he said.
As to whether or not Ned would actually be returning to the show? Yeah, you can count those hopes dashed.
Sean said, ‘I’ve heard rumours, but not from very good sources that I might be back. But I think I’ve done my time there, and I created a good character. It’d be rather strange to see him resurrected.’
To be honest, stranger things have happened on the show. A girl shape shifts, a man has dragon skin, a woman’s magic necklace keeps her looking like a supermodel. (Gotta get us one of those.) It wouldn’t be totally unheard of if Ned showed up again…