Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles R+L=J is a fan theory regarding George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, the basis of HBO's Game of Thrones. It's one of the best-supported and most widely believed fan theories. The idea is that Jon Snow is not the bastard son of Eddard Stark and an unknown woman, as Jon and most of Westeros believes, but is actually the son of Ned's sister, Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen. So, for a bit of context, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was the son of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, who was overthrown in Robert Baratheon's Rebellion, the war that made Robert king. Lyanna is kind of the Helen of Troy of Westeros because Robert's Rebellion started when Lyanna, who at the time was betrothed to Robert, was abducted by or more likely ran away with Prince Rhaegar, who was already married to Elia Martell. Rhaegar spent the start of the war in the Tower of Joy, in Dorne, with Lyanna, before going off to battle, and to his doom, in the form of Robert's hammer. So after the war was over, Ned and six others headed to the Tower to find Lyanna, where they were confronted by three of the dead King's guard. When the fight was over, the two survivors, Ned and his friend Howland Reed, went up the tower to find Lyanna Stark "in a bed of blood". There, Lyanna got Ned to make her a promise before she died. So R+L=J suggests that Lyanna's "bed of blood" is one of childbirth, the baby is Rhaegar and Lyanna's, and that Ned's promise to Lyanna is to pretend that the child is his in order to protect the child from Robert, who would see the son of the Targaryen prince as a threat and likely have him killed, just as he had Rhaegar's wife and other children killed. In any case, Ned then comes back from the war with a baby, Jon, who until his death he raises as his own son in Winterfell. So that's the theory. What's the evidence that makes it more plausible than the alternative, that Jon really is Ned's bastard? Firstly, it seems very out-of-character for Ned Stark, a painfully honourable person, to have fathered a bastard. In Ned's own words, to have fathered Jon was to "dishonor ... [himself] and ... dishonor ... Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men". Ned isn't like Robert, who would "swear undying love and forget them before evenfall", Ned "[keeps] his vows". So right away it seems unlikely that Ned would break his wedding vows to Catelyn by fathering Jon. At one point Ned refers to Jon as his "blood", but he never calls him his son. At one point, he internally lists his children, naming "Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon". The very next line he mentions Jon, but not part of the list of his children. Speaking of Arya – Jon is said to look like her, and Arya is said to look like Lyanna. Anyway, so during a conversation with Robert about the Rebellion, Ned thinks that "He [has] lived his lies for fourteen years". What "lies" are Ned be referring to? Here's a hint – Jon is, at the start of the first book, fourteen years old. So what all these hints amount to is that Jon is Ned's lie, a lie that "[haunts] him at night", but which he persists with, because "Some secrets are safer kept hidden. Some secrets are too dangerous to share, even with those you love and trust" It hurts Ned to lie like this, but he does it to keep his promise to his sister, to protect his sister's son. One more thing about Ned – on multiple occassions, Ned opposes the killing of Targaryen children. When Robert orders the assassination of Daenerys and her unborn child, Ned refuses, hurting his friendship with Robert and endangering his honour and life by disobeying the king. The other example is his opposition to the killing of Rhaegar's wife and children at the Sack of King's Landing. This refusal to kill children for the sake of their Targaryen blood is mirrored by Ned's protection of Jon. To return briefly to the Tower of Joy, it seems very odd for three members of the Kingsguard to be there with Lyanna Stark. Shouldn't they be protecting the siblings of the now-dead Prince? A very good explanation for their presence is that they were guarding the heir apparent, the son of the prince, Jon. So now to Essos, for a Biggie in terms of textual evidence. While in House of the Undying, in Qarth, Daenerys has a vision of "A blue flower [growing] from a chink in a wall of ice, and [filling] the air with sweetness". Blue flowers, specifically blue winter roses, are consistently associated with Lyanna Stark. At the Tourney of Harrenhal, Rhaegar selected Lyanna as the “Queen of Love and Beauty” – over his wife – and presented her with a crown of blue winter roses. A storm of blue rose petals feature in Ned's dream about Lyanna, and the statue of Lyanna in Winterfell Crypt has a garland of blue winter roses. What this strongly suggests is that something to do with Lyanna is at a "wall of ice". That something is very probably Jon on the Wall. So given all these hints, it seems very likely that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. But what are the implications of R+L=J? It's been suggested that being both a Stark and a Targaryen makes Jon the Song of Ice and Fire personified. What this actually means, exactly, is unclear but it does seem to suggest that Jon is very important, perhaps he's the Prince that was Promised, or Azor Ahai, or one of the three heads of the dragon, or any of the other various prophecised figures. In any case, Stark blood is associated with powers like warging, and Targaryen blood is associated with an affinity with dragons and fire. Jon having both would possibly make him capable of some pretty impressive stuff. A more concrete implication is that, if Jon is the son of Prince Rhaegar, he has a claim on the Iron Throne – more so than Dany, actually. That's assuming, though, that Rhaegar and Lyanna were secretly wedded, which could have happened despite Rhaegar's existing marriage to Elia – polygamy is a bit of a thing with Targaryens – but if they weren't married, Jon would still be considered a bastard, and an illegitimate contender for the throne, though he could possibly be legitimised. Jon's vows with the Night's Watch are another complication. He's sworn an oath to "hold no lands", to "wear no crown" – so surely he can't be king. But even if he could overcome that barrier, would anyone believe his claim to the throne? How could he prove his parentage? And besides, it seems doubtful that Jon would even want the Throne. Powers and thrones aside, finding out his true parentage would be very significant for Jon personally. He's always struggled with rejection from Cat, alienation from being a bastard, and the difficulty of not knowing his mother. Finding out his true parentage would undoubtedly be a big deal for him, if not for all of Westeros. So that's R+L=J – the main evidence, and some of the possible implications. Let me know in the comments what you think of the theory, and whether you'd like to see more videos on A Song of Ice and Fire fan theories – some of which are pretty crazy and awesome. If you're interested in A Song of Ice and Fire fan theories and discussion, you might like to check out westeros.org, the wiki, and the subreddit. That's all from me. Thanks for watching this video.