If you ever read about Game of Thrones theories on the internet, you've probably seen the phrase "R+L=J" at least once. Many dedicated fans of the TV show and especially the A Song of Ice and Fire book series already know what that means, but if you've been scratching your head over it, this post is for you.
"R+L = J" stands for the popular fan theory that Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) parents are not Ned Stark and a mystery women, but in fact Ned's sister, Lyanna Stark, and Dany's brother, Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon, get it?
Huh? You may be asking. What's that about? Well, YouTube user Alt Shift X has an awesome rundown of this theory and all the evidence behind it, which you should totally check out below. But for those of you who want the quick version, here's the basic idea:
Rhaegar and Lyanna. As we know from the show, Rhaegar Targaryen ran off with Lyanna Stark, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon; that's what prompted Robert's Rebellion. If you ask Robert, Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, but there are a lot of hints in the book, and even a few on the show, that Lyanna actually went willingly. If so, it's easy to imagine that she eventually got pregnant with Rhaegar's child.
Ned's promise. In the books, there is a flashback scene to Ned, after the war, finding his sister in a place called the Tower of Joy, where she was lying in a bed of blood. She died there, but before she did, she asked Ned to promise to do something. We're never told what that promise is (neither in the show or the books published to date), but it was clearly important. Many fans think that she had just given birth and was dying because of it (that would explain the blood in her bed), and she wanted Ned to keep her son's identity a secret so he wouldn't be killed for having Targ blood.
This would make Jon special! Fans like this theory because it means that Jon could possibly have a claim to the throne, and/or could end up being able to ride a dragon because of his warg and Targ blood.
Want more info about all the other evidence supporting this theory in the books? Check out the video below.