As the joke goes, Sean Bean is really good at dying. But he’s never died better than in his performance as Ned Stark. (Let’s just say heads literally rolled.)
But a question has plagued the Game of Thrones fandom ever since that fateful scene in Season 1, Episode 9. What was Ned muttering under his breath right as the sword came down? The theories were plentiful for those who wanted to cling to their final moment with the Stark patriarch.
Some believed he whispered the show’s mantra: “valar morghulis,” a silent acceptance that all men must die. Or, before Jon’s parentage was confirmed in the latest season, some even believed Ned was, for some reason, quietly revealing the biggest secret of the series to no one in particular. Perhaps most devastatingly (and convincingly), many theorized he was assuring his beloved dead sister Lyanna that he’d kept his promise to not reveal Jon’s true Targaryen lineage.
But in a recent interview with Bean, Huffington Post finally learned the true nature of Ned Stark’s last murmured words. And it’s a lot less complicated than all that, yet equally as devastating.
It appears that Ned was actually “just saying a prayer,” Bean said. “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.”
We’re not sure what Northerners say to the Old Gods before they die. But we hoped they kept Ned company during his sad, lonely departure from the world — and that he’s with Lyanna now.
“There’s not much you can do really, you’ve got your head on a block,” Bean concluded. “That’s about the only thing you can do is murmur.”
At least Ned can rest in peace knowing that the North not only remembers, but also, that the pack survives even after the lone wolf dies.