Warning: This article is dark and full of Game of Thrones season eight spoilers.
We can’t even believe we have to ask this, but did Game of Thrones confirm the existence of Azor Ahai without actually confirming it? On Sunday night’s latest episode, “The Long Night,” fans watched as Arya killed the Night King at the Battle of Winterfell. Defeating the undead villain was major for the survival of the humans of Westeros but it also felt a little off because we were expecting to see Azor Ahai, or The Prince/Princess Who Was Promised, return with their flaming sword to vanquish the Night King once more — which didn’t seem to be the case with Arya. So, what’s really going on here?
In the GoT books, Azor Ahai was a warrior who ended the first Long Night all the way back in the early days of Westeros. Based on what the characters in the books believe, including Melisandre, Azor Ahai is supposed to be reborn, destined to defeat the Night King and prevent the second Long Night from ever happening. While the show has never mentioned Azor Ahai by that name, Melisandre did mention The Prince Who Was Promised, first believing it was Stannis Baratheon before moving on to Jon Snow. Up until season eight, episode three, GoT had still not even given us so much as a hint as to who might be Azor Ahai reborn or whether Azor Ahai would return at all.
And then Arya killed the Night King in the last five minutes of “The Long Night.”
Admittedly, we could have vaguely imagined Arya would kill the Night King because she is arguably the most skilled killer in the Winterfell army ranks aside from Brienne of Tarth or Jon Snow. But Arya has almost none of the traits that Azor Ahai would allegedly have. According to the prophecy, the second Azor Ahai would be born amidst salt and smoke; would wake dragons out of stone; would draw Azor Ahai’s sword, Lightbringer, from the heart of the person they love most; and would likely be born after a long summer. Arya might fit that final clue, but none of the others are remotely applicable to her life or backstory. Given what is required to be Azor Ahai reborn, the primary candidates have always been Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. We even saw Daenerys attempt to kill the Night King midway through the episode, nearly fulfilling the prophecy before it was revealed the Night King is somehow immune to dragon fire.
So, with GoT reticent to blatantly confirm who is Azor Ahai and Arya seemingly not the Prince/Princess (we thought) Was Promised, it’s entirely possible the show is rewriting key lore from the books. This would make sense since the show is providing us with original material not adapted from the books for the first time (George R.R. Martin is still writing The Winds of Winter, which will reportedly touch on or follow along with some of the events seen in season six and seven) and so there is total freedom to ignore prophecies than don’t serve what the show is trying to achieve. That said, it’s wild to think Azor Ahai might never happen because it has been such a foundation prophecy.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if maybe the whole “Arya kills the Night King” moment was a red herring and GoT does, in fact, plan on addressing Azor Ahai.