Ever since season five of Game of Thrones ended in June everyone has wanted to know the fate of Jon Snow. The media surrounding Game of Thrones has become all Jon Snow news all the time that it came to a shock when other news about season six was reported when Ian McShane was cast.
Any news that could be found was reported including photos of him on set, information on his contract, photos of him in Belfast, and overanalyzing his lack of a haircut.
Why, though? This is a top tier show for spoilers being punishable by execution along with The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad when the latter was still on the air. If the fates of any others character in previous seasons such as Eddard Stark, Robert Baratheon, Robb Stark, or Joffrey Baratheon were reported similarly to Jon Snow people would have gone apeshit. Ned and Robert lucked out being in the first season where news coverage of the show wasn’t as heavy but the Red Wedding, while often reported on, was shadowed under a veil of secrecy.
The reason for Jon Snow’s fate receiving a pass to spoil it comes with mitigating circumstances.
First of all, since the release of 2011’s A Dance with Dragons book readers have been close reading and putting on their tinfoil hats to find evidence that Jon Snow did not die. That’s over four years on theorizing how he could survive his betrayal bythe Night’s Watch to the point where readers have built an entire Iron Throne out of tinfoil. With no Winds of Winter to satiate ou- ahem, readers theories season six is the only way to confirm whether fan theories are true or not.
Second, Jon Snow has become the last bastion of hope for both the North and the Stark family, even if he is a bastard. Arya is on her way to becoming a Faceless Men which requires her giving up her identity as a Stark, Bran has some fate much larger involving the Three-Eyed Crow and the Children of the Forest, and Rickon has been pretty much useless the entire show.
And Sansa? Well, there was hope for Sansa back when season four ended that she was being setup as the last hope for the Starks. It was heavily implied she’d be learning the ways of the game of thrones from Littlefinger. All that was dropped when Littlefinger traded Sansa away to be wed to Ramsey Bolton thus making her a victim at the hands of another sadistic tyrant. Hopefully, with her and Theon leaping off the curtain walls of Winterfell her story will move toward her regaining control over her fate in season six. During season five, however, it was Jon Snow we looked to fend off the White Walkers and rebuild the Night’s Watch as Lord Commander.
Thirdly, let’s say Jon Snow is, in fact, dead. Unlike Eddard, Robb, and Catelyn’s deaths which had rippling effects across Westeros and the overarching story of A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones Jon’s story affects one particular storyline: The Night’s Watch defense against the White Walkers. Samwell has gone off to become a Maester taking Gilly and her child with him. Aemon Targaryen, Janos Slynt, Grenn, Pypar, and Lord Commander Mormont are all dead. With Stannis presumed dead along with his wife and child, there’s no reason for Melissandre or Davos Seaworth to stick around. Everyone hates Olly and Allister Thorne. Who knows what really happened to Benjen Stark? So who is left? Ed?
Face it, if Jon Snow remains dead the story of the Night’s Watch is a notch above being a waste of time. Their whole war with Mance Rayder and the wildlings is now meaningless. They’ll kick the wildlings back north above the Wall and continue their conflict until the White Walkers come and destroy them both. They’ll become plot fodder for the White Walkers to invade Westeros which will leave viewers wondering why they should have cared about the Night Watch’s story at all.
With that in mind, I can understand why fans would cling to any news that Jon Snow is still alive. Readers want confirmation of their close readings if they can’t get it yet from The Winds of Winter. Those who watch the show put all their Stark bread into one Jon Snow basket and don’t want their time to have been wasted becoming emotionally invested in the story of the Night’s Watch.