Warning: Spoilers ahead for the “Game of Thrones” season seven finale.
The epic seventh season of “Game of Thrones” came to a close with a hugely significant penultimate scene. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen made love for the first time while Bran took viewers into important flashbacks of Jon’s parents.
Tucked among the wedding between Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark was a surprising reveal: Jon Snow’s real name is Aegon Targaryen.
But this is confusing for some fans. Rhaegar already had two children at the time of Jon’s conception, and he had named one of them Aegon already.
Did Rhaegar name both of his sons Aegon?
This reveal means, at least for the show’s canon, that Prince Rhaegar named his two sons both Aegon.
Before marrying Lyanna and getting her pregnant with baby Jon, Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell. They had two children, a girl named Rhaenys and a baby boy named Aegon. But, as Gilly and Sam learned earlier on season seven, Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia annulled and wed Lyanna instead.
Rhaegar and Lyanna’s elopement triggered Robert’s Rebellion, a war which ended with Rhaegar’s and the Mad King Aerys’ death. After Rhaegar was killed in battle, Elia, Rhaenys, and Aegon were all murdered with Tywin Lannister sacked King’s Landing.
Worth noting is that George R.R. Martin introduced a character in the last book published, “A Dance with Dragons,” who claimed to be Aegon Targaryen — Rhaegar’s first son. Many people doubt that this character is really the same baby allegedly murdered by Tywin’s men (more specifically, by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane). But that’s a story for another time.
This means the two most popular fan theories were wrong
After the season six finale, fans began heavily speculating over Jon’s real name. Lyanna Stark clearly whispered a name to Ned, but the audio completely cut out. Between lip reading and context clues, fans believed they had the answer: Jaehaerys. Redditor sparkedavisjr had a particularly convincing write up on this theory back in 2016.
Jaehaerys was the name of two other Targaryen Kings, and people drew comparisons between Jon and these ancestors. But now we know it’s definitely not Jaehaerys.
The other popular guess was Aemon — the name of the maester and Jon’s advisor at Castle Black.
This would have made sense for two reasons. One, Prince Rhaegar spoke directly with Maester Aemon about the Prince That Was Promised prophecy, and clearly trusted in him. It would make sense for Rhaegar to name his son after Aemon.
Then there is an important piece of possible foreshadowing in the books. George R.R. Martin writes that Jon and Robb used to play with swords and pretend to be knights, and Jon would choose the name of Aemon the Dragonknight. Since Martin loves throwing clever clues about future plotlines, people thought this might be a hint at Jon’s real name.
But after all the speculating, the show revealed Jon’s name was truly Aegon. In terms of Targaryen lineage, this name is also fitting. The first Aegon Targaryen conquered Westeros and brought the Seven Kingdoms under his rule. There were many King Aegons after him.
Why Jon’s real name doesn’t even matter
Technically we don’t know if Rhaegar specifically chose the name Aegon. It’s possible Lyanna picked it herself. After all, Rhaegar died before the first Aegon was killed, and Lyanna outlived them all.
But more importantly than where the name came from is the question of where it will take Jon.
An enormous part of Jon identity has always been rooted in the notion that he was a bastard. A Snow, not a Stark. We can’t see Jon taking on any name other than Jon Snow. His name and the baggage he learned to deal with as a result of it is too important to his identity and character.
Ser Davos had a possibly telling line about this earlier in season seven on “Spoils of War.” When Missandei calls Jon “Lord Snow,” Davos tries to correct her.
“King Snow, isn’t it?” he said. “No that doesn’t sound right. King Jon?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Jon replied.
This is true — it doesn’t really matter. Jon Snow will always be Jon Snow to fans, book readers, and all the in-universe characters. He’s built his reputation as a leader and trustworthy ruler under the name Jon Snow. He’s been Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and now King in the North, all despite his false bastard identity.
The power Jon commands comes not from his Targaryen lineage but from his honour, compassion, and sense of self — all qualities instilled in him by Ned Stark. Rhaegar may be his true father, and Aegon may be his true name, but Jon Snow is a son of the north. Nothing Bran sees in his weirwood visions can change that.
For more on Prince Rhaegar and the possibly prophetic motivations behind marrying Lyanna, read our in-depth look at his early years and life.
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