R + L = J: 'Game of Thrones' fan theories to chew on

Who are Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister's real parents, and what might that mean for the rest of the series? These plausible fan theories paint a fiery picture of Westeros' future. Caution: spoilers.

Anthony Domanico
CNET freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching Star Wars or "Doctor Who" for like the zillionth time. His other car is a Tardis.
Anthony Domanico
3 min read

Warning: This post contains spoilers from Seasons 1 through 4 of "Game of Thrones." Read at your own discretion.

If there's one thing "Game of Thrones" is really good at, it's plot twists. As soon as you start to root for the characters, they wind up either dead or in some strategic alliance with the character or house you despise most. George R.R. Martin, author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series the HBO adaptation is based on, is still hard at work on the last two books in heptalogy, and he's probably saving the best plot twists for last.

Kit Harrington
You know nothing, Jon Snow. Or should I say Jon Targaryen? James Martin/CNET

Several fans have read all the books, wikis and all sorts of other "Game of Thrones"-related material, and have come up with some theories of their own. And some of them have gotten it right, according to Martin, who recently stated that amid the "bullshit" (Martin's words, not mine), there are some accurate theories about where the books are headed.

R + L = J
One of the more prominent theories by far is called R + L = J, and it's all about who Jon Snow's parents really are. In the first season of the HBO show, it was widely believed that Jon Snow was the bastard son of Ned Stark. Careful readers of the books, however, have picked up on subtle clues that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark's son at all, but was instead born to Ned's sister, Lyanna.

But that's only one twist. This theory also argued that Robert Baratheon, who was betrothed to Lyanna Stark, was not the father of Jon Snow. Instead, the alleged father in this theory is Rhaegar Targaryen, who kidnapped Lyanna shortly after the tourney at Harrenhall.

If this theory is one of the true ones, then that would make Jon Snow part Stark and part Targaryen.

Tyrion Lannister
Another theory that's resurfacing on the Internet this week revolves around Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion was born to Tywin and Joanna Lannister, with his mother Joanna dying during childbirth. But while Joanna certainly was Tyrion's mother, this theory suggests that Tywin isn't actually the father.

The theory goes that while Tywin was serving as Hand of the King to the mad king Aerys Targaryen, Joanna was either seduced or raped by Aerys, and became pregnant with Tyrion. Tywin allegedly quickly learns of the deed and attempts to abort the child unsuccessfully with a drug, which ultimately leads to Tyrion's physical abnormalities and Joanna's death. Tywin seemingly confirms these suspicions along the way, often going out of his way to state that Tyrion is "no child of his" and refusing to name Tyrion as the heir to Casterly Rock.

Similarly, though Peter Dinklage has dark hair and two eyes of the same color in the HBO adaptation, the books describe Tyrion Lannister as having "one green eye and one black one peered out from under a lank fall of hair so blond it seemed white." Eyes of a different color and blond, almost white hair are both prominently found on those in House Targaryen. Tyrion also is said to have a "morbid fascination of dragons."

Watch this: Gameshow of Thrones: We put Theon Greyjoy to the test

The dragon has three heads
OK, so Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister might be Targaryens. So what? The puzzle starts to come together a bit with the prophecy overheard by Daenerys Targaryen in the House of the Undying, that "the dragon has three heads." Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen also all had mothers who died during childbirth, and a dragon must be born of blood.

Martin added some fuel to this fire recently when he admitted that he has been keeping several key characters alive because they played prominent roles in the final parts of the series. And while all bets are now off as the story and all of its subplots are starting to come together, Jon, Tyrion and Daenerys all clearly have a prominent role to play as the story nears its end.

So could Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen all prominently ride on the back of a dragon to finally take back King's Landing and the Iron Throne for the Targaryens?

Only Martin and a few others know for sure. I guess the rest of us will have to wait and see.