Even with the final episodes of Game of Thrones coming in 2019, there are still several unsolved mysteries swirling around the show, and now one of them has been solved. Way back in Season 1, the show pulled off the first of what would be many shocking twists, by killing off Ned Stark (Sean Bean), believed to be one of the show's lead characters, in the penultimate ninth episode of the season, with new king Joffrey sentencing him to death by beheading. Just before the massive sword comes down on Ned's head, he whispers something which has never been revealed, until now.
While many fans complained that the majority of the first season was rather slow, the ninth episode, Baelor, provided the first of many shocking twists. While King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) was on his deathbed, he named Ned Stark the Protector of the Realm, to watch over the new king, Joffrey (Jack Gleason) until he comes of age. Ned transcribes the letter, but Cersei (Lena Headey) later tears it up, with Joffrey stating that he has no right to the throne, and has him incarcerated. Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) manages to persuade Ned to confess to treason, since he was trying to expose the fact that Joffrey actually has no right to the throne either, and be exiled to the Night's Watch.
While Joffrey initially agrees, he changes his mind and has Ned Stark beheaded in public. But just before the sword comes down on his head, Ned is seen whispering something which some thought could be "valar morghulis" (all men must die), while others concocted a number of theories as to what Ned's final words may be. In a new interview, Sean Bean finally revealed the truth, that Ned Stark was simply, "saying a prayer."
"It appears that way, doesn't it? I couldn't be too specific, because I don't know if religion (like that) was around in those days, whatever they were. I just thought, 'What would you do if this were really gonna happen?' You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you'd keep it quiet. You'd keep it to yourself. It's quite subtle in that many people wouldn't pick it up. It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There's not much you can do really, you've got your head on a block. That's about the only thing you can do is murmur."
The show has often brought characters back from the dead through flashbacks or other means, like Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) appearing in Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) in Season 2, long after he died. The show has also brought back long-missing characters like Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) in Season 7, and there have been rumors that Khal Drogo and even Ned Stark may return for this final season. While it remains to be seen if Khal Drogo will return, Sean Bean made it clear that there will be no return of Ned Stark in Season 8. Here's what he had to say, when asked if HBO had contacted him to come back for the final season.
""No, they've never said that. And yeah, I've heard rumors, but not from very good sources that I might be back. But I think I've done my time there, and I created a good character. It'd be rather strange to see him resurrected."
Ned Stark's surprise beheading started a tradition of sorts in Game of Thrones, which frequently used the ninth episode of every season, instead of the 10th and final episode of each season, to present a rather shocking twist. In subsequent seasons, memorable moments like the siege of Blackwater Bay (Season 2), the Red Wedding (Season 3), the epic battle between the Night's Watch and the Wildlings (Season 4), the assassination attempt on Daenerys Targaryen (Season 5) and The Battle of the Bastards (Season 6) all happened in the ninth episode of each season. You can head on over to The Huffington Post for their full interview with Sean Bean for his new show The Oath.