Filming for season 7 of Game of Thrones is just beginning now, and the HBO show won't resume airing until summer 2017. That hasn't stopped people from trying to figure out just what exactly the next season will bring. Here are ten ideas that actually make a lot of sense.
This list is full of spoilers. Duh.
1. Jon and Daenerys will team up. And possibly do it.
It's what most people expect will happen: that Daenerys, needing a politically convenient marriage, turns to the new ruler of the North, Jon Snow. Of course, there's the whole tricky matter that Jon is secretly her nephew, but it wouldn't be the first time incest has gone down on Game of Thrones, and in this universe an aunt-nephew marriage might even be socially acceptable.
It makes sense that Daenerys would want to ally herself with Jon—it would help bring the newly independent North back into the Seven Kingdoms and help stabilize her land after she takes the Iron Throne from Cersei (presumably—see theory #3). Jon would probably be warier—the North seems to really want its independence—except for one thing: Dany has dragons. And they might be the only thing that can defeat the White Walkers.
A possible inroad: Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys's hand, is Sansa's husband (or was, if her subsequent marriage to Ramsay Bolton annulled that). Though Sansa and Tyrion didn't love each other, they did become friends, and Tyrion might use that to his advantage.
2. Or, the alternate theory: Daenerys goes f*cking batsh*t insane.
The theory goes like this: the Dothraki priestesses predicted that Daenerys's son would be the Stallion Who Mounts The World, a ruler who would ruthlessly conquer the known world on behalf of the Dothraki. Of course, Daenerys's son died in childbirth—but she has three metaphorical sons in her dragons. Maybe they are so destructive as weapons that they turn the Seven Kingdoms into rubble, leaving Daenerys to rule over ashes.
Would Daenerys even care? She is one of the show's most moral characters—but she also can be ruthless and quick to anger. And the frequently incestuous Targaryens often have a genetic propensity to go insane, like Daenerys's dad, the Mad King Aerys.
Even if Daenerys doesn't go insane, there's no real guarantee that she will end up on the same side as Jon Snow. After all, she blames the Starks in part for the Targaryens' exile from Westeros. It would be heartbreaking for George R. R. Martin to make Daenerys break bad, but in many ways it's even more brutal and typical of the author to make two of his kindest characters, Jon and Daenerys, fight against each other.
3. Cersei and Euron will team up—and possibly steal a dragon or three.
Daenerys has the largest army in the world and three dragons. She is comically unstoppable, particularly against Cersei, the ally-free Queen and current ruler of Westeros. That is, of course, unless she is able to use Daenerys's dragons against her.
This is basically impossible—as Daenerys memorably put it, "a dragon is not a slave," and her dragons are loyal to her alone.
But there might be another way. In the books, Euron wins the Kingsmoot on the Iron Islands in part because he says he has a magical horn, Dragonbinder, that can make dragons do his bidding. If this horn enters the TV show, it could give Euron a surprisingly large say in who sits on the Iron Throne. And since his political rival Yara is already allied with Dany, he might just decide to ally himself with Cersei.
4. The Wall comes down.
Speaking of magical horns, remember that magical horn that the Wildlings were looking for that had the ability to bring down The Wall? Oh, you don't because it hasn't been mentioned for several seasons? Well, it's out there (in the books, it's possibly in Sam's possession), and it's something of a Checkov's gun. Those White Walkers have to get past the wall to terrorize the Northerners somehow!
There's another theory for how the Wall could fall: when the Night King touched Bran, he somehow imprinted him with something that undermines the Wall's magic, and when Bran gets past the Wall, the White Walkers will follow him. This is a more out-there theory and I am not sure I buy it, but you don't have to look far to find people who are convinced by it.
5. Sam and Gilly's plot is way more important than we realize.
Were you bored by Sam and Gilly's plot last season, in which they basically just traveled to a library and found a big sword? Well don't be surprised if in the next season, Sam the Slayer starts, you know, slaying.
Sam's plot is one of the only instances where the show hasn't quite caught up to the books. In A Feast for Crows, he tells one of the maesters about Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, and the maester—who is something of an eccentric mystic—tells him that maesters were the people who made dragons extinct before Daenerys brought them back. He, however, is evidentially a fan of dragons, and plans to bring Sam with him to meet up with Daenerys and advise her. So don't be surprised if it's Sam who ends up bringing Daenerys and Jon together to fight the White Walkers—because Sam might end up learning more about dragons than even Daenerys knows.
6. One (or both) of the Stark sisters dies.
Maisie Williams, who plays Arya, and Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa, recently got matching tattoos marking the date when they found out they had been cast on Game of Thrones—and many people are speculating it's because one or both of them are getting killed off next season. This is obviously a completely devastating idea, so let's move on to the next, more cheerful subject of speculation.
7. Gendry returns.
Actor Joe Dempsie has been spotted in Northern Ireland, where Game of Thrones is filming. It's unclear how he will reenter the plot—perhaps he'll seek out his friend Arya or his betrayers in the newly reemerged Brotherhood Without Banners—but his return would certainly be welcome.
8. The Starks finally all reunite…
Sansa and Jon finally teamed up last season, and Bran and Arya announced their plans to return home to Winterfell, so there's a chance the surviving Starks might band together in a single plot line for the first time since season one.
8. …but a Sansa/Jon/Bran power struggle commences.
Sansa and Littlefinger appeared uneasy in their last scene of season six, in which Jon Snow was anointed King in the North. By all rights, as far as they know, Sansa is the rightful heir to the North—she is a natural born Stark, whereas Jon is a bastard (she also married Ramsay on the explicit promise that it would make her Wardeness of the North, so she's really worked for this thing).
Meanwhile, if Bran comes back to Winterfell, he'll have an even better claim to the crown than Sansa does. Even though Sansa is older, Bran is a boy, and Winterfell practices male-preference primogeniture. And what happens when all the Northerners eventually discover that Jon isn't even Ned Stark's son, but his sister Lyanna's?
9. Jaime kills Cersei.
In the books, part of Cersei's prophecy about her children dying and a "younger, more beautiful queen" arriving to replace her also includes her own death at the hands of a person who is referred to as the "valonqar," which is High Valyrian for "little brother" (though the Valyrian language is gender non-specific, so it could also be "little sister"). She assumes that this refers to Tyrion, but it could also easily mean her twin Jaime, who was born second and was last seen looking incredibly disappointed with his lover Cersei.
And that would probably be the last time we hear of Jaime, since there's no way Daenerys is going to want the guy who killed two rulers (including her dad) anywhere near her.
10. Tyrion is also a Targaryen.
Here's another theory that relies on some book nerdiness: there are lots of people who think that Tyrion Lannister is also a secret Targaryen, just like Jon Snow. While there being two secret Targs might be a bit much, there is some textual evidence for it—Tyrion frequently dreams of dragons, just like all the Targaryens do, and Daenerys once heard a prophecy telling her that "the dragon has three heads," which she took to mean that she needed two other people to ride her three dragons. One of those people is probably her nephew Jon Snow. The other could possibly be Tyrion Lannister, who fans speculate is Dany's half-brother. They theorize that Daenerys's awful father actually raped Tyrion's mother.
Tyrion was also able to calm down the dragons last season, which is definitely an interesting piece of evidence toward this theory, if not a conclusive one.