Game of Thrones: Why Jon Snow's fate was sealed from the start

Jon Snow's fate was sealed from the start of Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen in the Game of Thrones series finale. Photo credit: HBO

HBO's hit fantasy series Game of Thrones has ended and fans finally know the fate of all of the major characters.

Some of those fates were shocking and unexpected - but Jon Snow's was inevitable.

Spoilers: Major spoilers for the entire Game of Thrones series follow.

In S08E06 'The Iron Throne', Jon Snow - real name Aegon Targaryen - murders his aunt and lover, Daenerys Targaryen.

He does it despite swearing an oath to serve her and being in love to her, because he'd just witnessed her slaughter untold thousands of innocent civilians and knew she'd go on slaughtering untold thousands more.

But while it might have been for the greater good, the betrayal and cold-blooded murder goes directly against a lot of what Jon stood for.

Yet for people who watched the show closely or understood the clues given by author George RR Martin, Jon was always going to do what he did.

There are three season 1 scenes that spell out how Jon's story will end up - and even more clues in the Song of Ice and Fire books the TV show is based on.

"Jon's fate was foretold," writes Joana Robinson for Vanity Fair.

"Prophecies, dreams and more all-but-guarantee Jon [had to perform the] grisly task in Martin's tale."

Fans have predicted for years that Jon would be Azor Ahai reborn, aka the Prince that was Promised. That became muddled after Arya Stark killed the Night King, but Time has a compelling article explaining how the TV show's conclusion can still be read as Jon ultimately being Azor Ahai reborn.

Robinson, however, writes that Martin's hints that Jon may be the Prince that was Promised should be read in connection with violent dreams he suffered in the books, which showed he was "haunted by the notion of having to kill the ones he loves the most".

With those two indicators laid out, a conversation Jon had in season 1 also greatly contributed to his destiny.

"Love is the death of duty," Jon told Tyrion in the series finale.

"Sometimes, duty is the death of love," Tyrion replied.

Jon was quoting Maester Aemon, who is later revealed to be his great-great uncle.

Jon Snow's destiny in Game of Thrones of killing Daenerys Targaryen was set from the start.
Photo credit: HBO

"Jon, did you ever wonder why the men of the Night's Watch take no wives and father no children? So they will not love, for love is the bane of honour, the death of duty," Aemon told Jon in S01E09.

"What is honour compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms, or the memory of a brother's smile?"

In the book he continues: "We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy."

The other two season 1 scenes that foretold his fate are a conversation he had with Jaime Lannister - whose actions as Kingslayer Jon would emulate as a Queenslayer - and Ned Stark beheading a Night's Watch soldier for abandoning his duty.

Martin has spoken of the importance of the Northern belief Ned taught his sons: "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword".

After that S01E01 scene, we've seen many leaders fail to follow that mantra when having executions carried out - Joffrey, Daenerys, Theon, Cersei,  Stannis. They all since died.

Jon's brother Robb is perhaps the only other character who followed Ned's example of decapitating a man to personally carry out noble justice.

But Robb allowed love to be the bane of his honour and the death of his duty.

When Jon killed Daenerys - he'd finally come to understand Aemon's lesson. He sacrificed love for duty and ultimately saved the people of Westeros.

Now the Game of Thrones TV show has ended - but a prequel spin-off series is in the works from HBO.