The mystery of Jon Snow’s parentage over the years became more of a waiting game for Game of Thrones fans, one with an answer that famously greenlit the HBO series in the first place. We haven’t heard author George R.R. Martin weighing on any of Game of Thrones Season 6's big reveals, but it seems the author had covertly tipped his hand to Jon Snow’s father at least as early as 2002.

You’re warned of full Game of Thrones Season 6 spoilers (as well what some insist wasn’t entirely confirmed), but even before “The Winds of Winter” confirmed that Ned Stark wasn’t Jon Snow’s actual father, the series had very often cast doubt on Ned besmirching his honor for another woman. Martin too even hinted as much in a 2002 Q&A that recently resurfaced on Reddit, seemingly referring to Ned as something other than a father:

Since all of their mothers died, who gave Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister their names?

Mothers can name a child before birth, or during, or after, even while they are dying. Dany was most like named by her mother, Tyrion by his father, Jon by Ned.

Notice how Martin mentioned Tyrion being named by his father (for simplicity’s sake, let’s hold off on any non-Tywin theories), but immediately thereafter made separate distinctions for Jon and Ned? Hearing the answer out loud might be another matter, but that sounds an awful lot like someone who hadn’t thought of Ned Stark as Jon’s father in a long time.

There’s every chance we might actually meet Jon’s father next season, given that only Bran holds the knowledge of Jon’s birth for now, and the narrative could stand to make clearer why Lyanna Stark made Ned swore to protect Jon. Of course, Game of Thrones Season 7 has even longer to sort out any big reveals than usual, given word that wintery production requirements would push filming (and potentially a 2017 premiere) later than in previous years.

If nothing else, we at least know what directors have signed on for the seventh season, as well as a fan-favorite costumer.

It remains to be seen if George R.R. Martin’s books will present Jon’s origin in the same way, but what other clues might the Game of Thrones author have dropped over the years?

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