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The real reason Jon Snow will return to Game of Thrones

What's Jon Snow hiding?
What's Jon Snow hiding?
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Will Jon Snow return to Game of Thrones? I have argued that he will, and now Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson has rounded up various tidbits from recent interviews and news stories that point toward Jon's reappearance, including actor Kit Harington's still-long hair. Yet the best evidence, to me, lies in this comment from showrunner D. B. Weiss:

When asked point-blank if Snow is firmly gone—as in, is actor Kit Harington released from his Thrones contract?—showrunner Dan Weiss told [Entertainment Weekly], "Dead is dead. ... We would hope that after seeing the scene and the way it's shot that the answer to that will be unambiguous in the minds of the people watching it," Weiss explained. "It should be pretty clear what happens in by the time you're done seeing that scene. It's not an,Oh what just happened scene?'"

However, a week and a half after the season five finale, Jon's apparent death clearly is an "Oh what just happened?" scene. So if, as Weiss claims, he wants what happened to be unambiguous, he could pretty easily clear it up with a simple statement. And Weiss's statement that "dead is dead" and Benioff's reference to "the death of Jon Snow" don't qualify, since this is a show where characters can come back from the dead. If either had said, "Sorry, fans, Jon Snow is unequivocally dead and isn't coming back, ever," that would've been pretty conclusive — but Weiss and his co-showrunner, David Benioff, distinctly aren't going that far.

Meanwhile, George R. R. Martin won't even say whether Jon is dead in the first place! "I'm not going to address whether he's dead or not," he said in 2011. When an interviewer asked him again this year, he pointed out that in his books, "death is not necessarily permanent."

Game of Thrones' showrunners appear to be trying to preserve the mystery of where things are going without deliberately lying. Yet Kit Harington has gone further. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said, "I've been told I'm dead," before strengthening it to "I'm dead," and then adding, "I'm not coming back next season." Some have pointed out that this leaves the open the possibility for a season seven comeback, but I don't think we'll be waiting that long. Instead, the way Harington's comments depart from the party line suggests to me that he got a bit over his skis in an attempt to keep things mysterious.

The larger point is that if Jon is in fact truly dead and not returning to Game of Thrones, there's no dramatic value in keeping this fact ambiguous. In that case, the "reveal" that he has indeed perished wouldn't be a reveal at all — it would be an anticlimax. The only reason it makes sense for Martin, Benioff, and Weiss to all remain so vague on the subject is if there's a further twist coming down the road. So I suspect it won't be long until we see Jon again.