There’s always a LOT going on in the world of Game of Thrones, so it’s understandable that most fans have never questioned why Benjen Stark ever joined the Night’s Watch in the first place. Think about it. Everyone knows that the Starks have more honor than just about everyone in Westeros (except arguably Brienne of Tarth)…so why would the younger brother of our favorite patriarch, Ned Stark, decide to live out the rest of his days amongst rapists, murderers, and bastards?
It seems entirely un-Stark-like, if you ask us.
Usually, when fans discuss Benjen Stark, it’s done with regard to his inexplicable disappearance — the First Ranger never returned from an outing beyond the Wall in season one, even though his horse did. His disappearance has been mentioned repeatedly throughout the series, most notably when Jon Snow’s brothers falsely claimed Benjen had returned in an attempt to lure him to his death.
While it’s obvious that Benjen Stark is a key player in the series — fans know well enough that a character’s disappearance does not necessarily mean he’s dead, and also that the more a character is mentioned, the greater the likelihood of their playing a role in the things to come.
So, what exactly will Benjen Stark’s role be in the events to come?
According to reddit user Jen_Snow, Benjen has actually already played his part — it just hasn’t been revealed to us yet. Her theory posits that before escaping Winterfell (perhaps with Benjen’s help), Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark secretly married each other with Benjen as their witness. Therefore he would have known that she wasn’t truly kidnapped, but he kept the secret from his entire family, resulting in the deaths of his father, his brother, and Lyanna herself (plus countless others) during Robert’s Rebellion.
Overwhelmed by guilt, he joined the Night’s Watch as some sort of penance for indirectly ruining the lives of everyone he loves.
There’s a very common theory amongst Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice And Fire fans that suggests Jon Snow is not actually the son of Ned Stark… he’s his nephew. The theory, commonly referred to as R + L = J, suggests that Rhaegar’s love affair with Lyanna led to the birth of their secret love child, Jon Snow at the Tower of Joy. If this theory proves to be true, it looks like Benjen Stark might be the only person in the realm besides Howland Reed who knows the truth — and we might just find out when/if Benjen returns (or through another one of Bran’s greendreams).
It’s widely believed that Howland Reed is the only person who knows what happened at the Tower of Joy, but there have been clues that someone else was there with him — could it be Benjen?
What do you think? Could Benjen Stark be the key to proving (once and for all) that R + L = J? Sound off in the comments below!
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