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This theory comes from one of the older posts on ASOIAF wiki forums and states that when Ned Stark & Jaqen H’ghar were held prisoners in the Red Keep at the same time, this is where they planned Ned’s escape. Arya first met Jaqen in season 1 when he was being escorted out of Red Keep. The theorist suggests that Syrio Forel, Arya’s trainer in the first season, was a faceless man who was also being held prisoner in the Red Keep at the same time. With the help of Jaqen, he then switched faces with Ned before the beheading:

“So, Varys happens upon a severely wounded Syrio in the Red Keep after he helps Arya escape. Varys knows that Ned could help him in the long run, and asks Syrio if he could take Ned’s place, because A. Varys knows Joffrey will kill Ned, or B. Syrio would be sent to the Wall and either die en route or when he arrives. Syrio knows he is going to die and agrees to help Varys. Varys then swaps the Neds under the Red Keep, using the same passage that he uses to get Tyrion out. He sends Ned to the Free Cities, OR and this is my prediction, Ned is somewhere in Westeros that know one, and I mean no one, goes to or even thinks about. Greywater Watch. Howland Reed is an old friend of Ned’s and would absolutely consent to hiding Ned and nursing him back to health.”

He also notes the following clues in the books which support the theory:

“First off, when Ned ‘dies,’ it’s from Arya’s POV, and she claims that Ned is so beat up that he barely looks alive even before his death. He was clearly injured, but (in the books) a broken leg, even if left untreated, doesn’t fuck up your face too much. Second, Sansa claims that his head above Maegor’s Holdfast looks weirdly unlike her Father, and she believes it’s due to the tarring process, and well, decapitation. Thirdly, Lady Catelyn says that Ned’s bones look as if to be from a smaller man than Ned, and most people (myself included) took this as her grief showing her that everyone looks smaller as a pile of bones, but what if she was being literal.”

So what do you think? Is this another far fetched theory or could Ned Stark really be alive? Do let us know in comments.

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21 comments

  1. This theory is silly. The Faceless Men can only wear the faces of dead people. Since Ned would have to be dead for Syrio to take his face, this theory disproves itself.

      1. The books stopped being anything but inspiration for the TV series pretty early on.

    1. Then how come a man who came to house of black and white wears Arya’s face on himself. When Jacqen hgar was trying to teach Arya that she hasn’t become no one yet.

    2. Actually, from the books, the King Beyond the Wall was not executed. He switched places with someone else in the same fashion, but with the help of magic (the magic that makes Melissandre look young). Dead-poeple’s faces is not the only option to switch them. And then, GRRM or the producers of the show can do whatever they want. Yet, I’d hate it for Ned to be alive. It will ruin the show for me.

    3. Not true. Arya sees her own face on a faceless man before going blind in the House of Black and White….

    4. Not really. Doesn’t Jaqen H’ghar just swipe his hand over his face to change faces? I’m thinking at some point, they might not have to actually “have” a dead person’s face in order to change their face. Not that I believe Ned is still alive, though. This is, to me, just another crackpot theory!

  2. Actually I think it’ll suck if he is alive. Great character, but part of the charm of the story is his death. It srpouts feelings that torque the gears of the story, like the scale model on the oppening.

  3. syrio forel wasnt locked up and was killed by meryn trant so don’t know how he would have been able to switch places ?

  4. We’d all like to think this. But, if Ned was really alive, he wouldnt “wait it out” at Greywater Watch. He would heal. He would find allies. Then he would rally and try to save his children and the remnants of his house. He’s just THAT honorable guy.

    And the North would rise for him. No shot. Guy’s dead.

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