“The Great War is here,” Jon Snow says ominously at the end of the latest Game of Thrones trailer, reminding us that despite the all-out war that will consume Westeros an even bigger threat still looms—as well as the hero might save everyone. But that person might not be who you think it is.
That person is Azor Ahai, a legendary hero who lived over 5,000 years ago and wielded a flaming sword called Lightbringer (although it’s unclear if that hero is the same hero who stopped the original Night’s King’s reign of terror thousands of years ago). A prophecy located in ancient books of Asshai and touted by followers of R’hllor (the Lord of Light) claimed that Azor Ahai will come again to fight the darkness. Followers of R’hllor like the Red Priestess Melisandre believe the time for Azor Ahai’s return has arrived, and she initially believed it’s Stannis Baratheon—who wielded a flaming sword as his subjects burned statues of the Seven. But Melisandre was wrong—and Stannis died— so the question of who Azor Ahai remains open.
In season 6, both Jon Snow, who Melisandre resurrected after asking R’hllor for that power, and Daenerys Targaryen, who stepped into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and emerged unharmed with three newly hatched dragons, have emerged as prime candidates. After he returned, Melisandre became convinced Jon was the Prince That Was Promised, which is often used interchangeably with Azor Ahai but could also refer to another prophecy. After talking with Tyrion in Meereen, the Red Priestess Kinvara took to Volantis to proclaim that Daenerys was the Prince That Was Promised. (In High Valyrian, the word for “prince” is gender neutral so it could refer to Daenerys too.)
But revealing Jon or Daenerys as Azor Ahai, while satisfying, probably isn’t the most surprising thing to happen on Game of Thrones; after all, there’s plenty of breadcrumbs to lead you that way. What could be an even bigger reveal is if it’s been someone we would’ve never expected. Someone like the Onion Knight himself.
The theory that Ser Davos Seaworth, who served Stannis as Hand of the King and now advises Jon Snow, could be Azor Ahai has been circulating online for at least three years. It regained steam last week on Reddit as one redditor put together a case based mostly on the show on why Davos might end up saving everyone.
Even before looking into the circumstantial evidence, Davos is more logical and pragmatic than most of the characters around him—he urged Stannis to aid the Night’s Watch after receiving a letter on the threat of the White Walkers—and still reminds us of the true threat of Westeros, so that definitely puts him a leg up. But the evidence offers a compelling argument too.
The theory points to Davos lifting Lightbringer shortly after Stannis did and his unlikely return after the Battle of Blackwater. Everyone had assumed he died after being blasted off his ship from King’s Landing’s wildfire, but he found himself on an island instead, which could refer to a rebirth “amidst salt and smoke” The theory even argues that it wasn’t Melisandre but Davos—the last one to leave Jon’s body apart from Jon’s loyal direwolf Ghost—who brought Jon back to life. And Melisandre had a crisis of faith before Davos, who adamantly doesn’t believe in R’hllor, gave her some encouragement.
Another curious tidbit is from a 2016 interview Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos, did with Conan O’Brien. It gained attention for how Cunningham dealt with the Jon Snow question, but he also revealed that George R.R. Martin told him a secret about the books the first time they met, which is now leading some to believe that Davos becoming Azor Ahai is the secret Cunningham learned from Martin.
If we take book evidence into consideration, the argument for Davos being Azor Ahai becomes a little shakier, although there’s still plenty of evidence to support it. We have yet to see Jon’s resurrection (if that were to happen), but he isn’t the one to pick up Lightbringer after the display of flames. It’s Davos’ son Devan, a squire for Stannis who doesn’t appear in the show, along with Bryen Farring in A Clash of Kings, who roll up Lightbringer after the statues burn on Dragonstone.
But whether Davos actually is Azor Ahai reborn, it’s a great demonstration of just how important Davos will be in these final episodes. He’s got Jon’s ear and is fully aware of the White Walker threat, and having spent time with Stannis, he could offer insight and could convince someone like Daenerys to help him. Chances are we might end up seeing Jon or Daenerys take up the mantle of Azor Ahai, but as one of the few characters in Game of Thrones prominently featured who doesn’t come from one of Westeros’ ruling families, Davos becoming the hero Westeros needs could subvert the trope that the only person who will save everyone is a king or a queen.