Denial: Is Jon Snow Dead? [Poll & Season 6 spoilers]


This article includes some mild Season 6 spoilers.

The Season 6 poster teases us with a picture of Jon Snow’s face. Yet HBO has said adamantly and repeatedly that Jon Snow is dead. Everyone from the showrunners to the executives have avowed his death.


Natalie Dormer… just as cagey as Margaery. © HBO.

Just yesterday, Natalie Dormer told Channel 5 news that “If you get stabbed that many times, you’re dead, you know. There are some basic medical rules that even apply in Westeros.”

But, she continued to say, “So Jon Snow is dead right now.”

When pushed on the “right now” point, she emphasized the point by repeating “right now.”

Some fans argue that HBO refuses to bring the fallen back to life. My friend Phil says that bringing back the dead is much easier in novels whereas you run into suspension of disbelief problems on TV. That is, will people be scared the next time you kill a character off if you brought a character back to life? 

Case in point: After Catelyn died, there was no Lady Stoneheart. And, Lady Stoneheart probably isn’t making an appearance in Season 6. As recently as September 2015, Michelle Fairley “curtly” told Gulf News, “I am not under contract to Game of Thrones.”

Plus, for book fans, look what happened with Mance Rayder and Rattleshirt. TV Mance appears to be absopositively dead. HBO dissolved all doubt at Hardhome when they showed Tormund beating Rattleshirt to death.


Rattleshirt lies dead on the ground after Tormund beats him to death at Hardhome. © HBO.

All throughout Season 5, I hoped that somehow TV Mance would come back to life. But, no pun intended, Hardhome really drove it home for me: Mance wasn’t coming back. When Jon shot TV Mance with an arrow on the funeral pyre, he was really dead. Worse, because of this, I now suspect that Book Mance is dead.


Until I read Martin’s blog post (see below), I was hoping Myrcella was still alive. <Sob.>


After being kissed by Ellaria’s poisonous lips, and accepting Jaime as her father, the kind-hearted Myrcella dies in her father’s arms. © HBO.

Worse, I was still having a moment of denial, until I went to Wikia looking for images — and saw this:


My bathing in that River-In-Egypt couldn’t be sustained after seeing this Season 6 image of Myrcella lying in state at the Great Sept. <Sigh.> Image: © HBO.

I am hoping against hope that Jon Snow is still alive, both in the books and on the show. And, I’m not alone. Amanda Peet — D.B. Weiss’ wife — even jokingly threatened to divorce the showrunner if Jon wasn’t alive and breathing when the credits roll this April.

Still, between George RR Martin and HBO, there have been some mixed signals — or maybe I just want to think they are mixed. Journalists have been doing a “close reading” of anything Martin says about Jon since Season 5 ended, such as when Martin referred to Jon’s arc in the present tense.  Some sharp eyes even caught David Benioff shaking his head no — Jon is not aliveduring this gag at the Emmys.

The books and the show have now gone on two separate paths. The health status of  a character in the Book World does not necessarily mean that his or her heart beats on TV. In Martin’s own words (from his blog):

“Mago, Irri, Rakharo, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyat Pree, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan Selmy, Queen Selyse, Princess Shireen, Princess Myrcella, Mance Rayder, and King Stannis are all dead in the show, alive in the books. Some of them will die in the books as well, yes… but not all of them, and some may die at different times in different ways.”

So, all of this brings me round to the question, do you think Jon is still Dead? Alive? There are, of course, other options, so please assume there will be spoilers in the comments below.

Is Jon Snow Alive in the Show?

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Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."


  • Reply February 21, 2016

    G Hiatt

    The TV show is (obviously) a stripped down version of the books. They have (obviously) merged characters.
    Book spoilers below!!!!!!
    In the books, Mance doesn’t actually die, he is rescued by Melisandre, who uses a glamour to switch Mance’s appearance.
    This is what will happen in the TV show to Jon; Melisandre is now convinced that Jon is ‘the chosen one’ and has used her trickery to convinced the Nights Watch conspirators that they are killing the real Jon Snow – but they aren’t.
    I think it’s interesting that the first thing we see in Season 5 is Mance dying and the last thing we see is Jon dying.

    • Reply February 27, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      This is a very clever theory. I agree about merging characters — and the symmetry is an excellent point. I had thought that maybe Melisandre might bring him back to life, but I didn’t think that they might borrow the plot from Mance. It would make sense.

    • Reply March 7, 2016

      Annette Smith

      The theory that most people seem to be going with is that Jon is dead and will be resurrected by Melissandre, but I quite like this idea that a patsy has been glamoured and murdered so that he can escape. Another idea going around is that Jon’s spirit has entered Ghost while re-animation of his corpse goes on. It does seem to me that all of that “Kill the boy so the man may live” and “You know nothing, Jon Snow” foreshadowing means that there is a destiny past death for him, just weather it will be a fire god destiny or one with The Others I don’t know. A lot of people want him to be The Prince who was Promised but I personally think that Daenerys fits that prophesy much better.

      • Reply March 7, 2016

        G Hiatt

        Book spoilers below….
        Yeah, in the book, Melisandre has seen “daggers in the dark” for Jon and has warned him to be wary of his men because they smile to his face but sharpen their daggers behind his back.
        In the TV show, it’s interesting that Melisandre immediately left for Castle Black when she realized Stannis was doomed; I think she knows that she needs to protect Jon.

        Melisandre’s prophecies are actually very accurate, she just (sometimes) misinterprets them.
        She saw Hardhome crumbling after being hit with a “dark tide of eyeless faces rising from the depths”
        She was the one who convinced Stannis that the real danger to the 7 kingdoms was north of the Wall.
        She’s seen – winged shadows through a curtain of fire.
        She’s seen – skulls floating in a mist that will put out all the fire south of the wall.
        etc etc
        Btw…there’s a good chance that she doesn’t look like herself, that she has “glamoured” herself to get what she wants…she is probably very old and maybe even immortal because she doesn’t need food, she only pretends to eat.

        Recommended viewing/listening…if you have 70 minutes to kill.

  • Reply February 21, 2016

    Starfall Fan

    I chose “No – he isn’t alive in the show” because the poll didn’t specify whether he would not be dead anymore later on. 😉

  • Reply February 23, 2016


    He has died and returns as a zombie, or one of the Other, like the Night King. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

    • Reply February 26, 2016

      Watcher on the Couch

      Will you be watching this year, Jun? I confess that having been born in nineteen hundred and frozen to death as they say I will be watching the TV show (and this isn’t bashing the books or the author) but if I have to wait 20 years for another book – well heck I don’t know if I’ll still be alive in 20 years!!!! I feel at least the show will give me an ending to the story. BTW, a few months I clicked through to your website and tried to enter a comment but I failed the test to prove I wasn’t a robot so couldn’t post ultimately.

      • Reply February 29, 2016


        Thanks for visiting my Web site. It has a glitch that does not allow comments to be posted on a very old post, I think. You can leave comments after newer posts (I guess within the past month or something).

        Regarding this season, I think I’m going to wait until all the episodes are released before deciding on whether I want to watch them. I am as sick as you are of waiting for the books to come out. If the TV series seem to be presenting future developments in the story, then I’ll probably watch it. If Season 6 only rehash known plot — the Tower of Joy, False Spring, Iron Island election, etc. — then I’m not terribly interested. Also please no more rape scenes. But I have to admit that I’m rather eager to see the Bran storyline in Season 6.

    • Reply February 27, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      Ha. I love it.

  • Reply March 15, 2016

    Chas D.

    I’ve been reading more of GRRM’s works outside of ASOIAF, and a common theme I’ve found in them is of deceased bodies being mind-controlled like puppets by powerful telepaths.

    Because of this, part of me wonders if in the books Jon’s consciousness goes right into Ghost for a while, and meanwhile someone else uses his body… with Jon eventually having to reclaim his body back at some point before he goes full wolf (it would make sense why we get the prologue chapter in ADWD outside of Bran’s plot.

    And then another thought hit me: What if this is what Bloodraven has been training and bringing Bran North to do? It would fit with the theme of the old 1993 letter which mentioned that Jon and Bran would end up against one another.

    In the show–they’d likely skip such a plot and simply have Melisandre revive Jon (because anything involving the direwolves costs too much money to CGI in, so keeping that to a minimum would likely be priority).

    In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if a whole body snatching plot were to appear in ADWD, given GRRM’s inclinations as an author, and how we’ve been set up that Bran’s going to be controlling some kind of human body via how easily he controls Hodor and nearly jumped into Meera without trying.

    As for the show–they’re likely going to cut it to save money.

  • Reply April 15, 2016

    Boo Leigh

    Melissandra, the fire witch, has went back to Castle black, where Jon snow is. We know from previous episodes that those who worship the fire god can resurrect those that would have died. I believe Jon snow will be resurrected very soon.

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