Since the pilot of Game of Thrones, the Starks have been a family full of upstanding and honorable characters; since then, however, they have gone on to be tortured and betrayed by just about every other less upstanding character running around Westeros. Every time a Stark tried to do the right thing, they got beaten down, and every time they tried to get revenge, it only got worse. They've all been separated for a long time on the show with not a lot of hope to go on, but one theory spawned from the books has the Starks taking their rightful place in the North back. This theory, called the Grand Northern Conspiracy, might just come into play in Season 6 of the TV series. What is the Grand Northern Conspiracy theory, you ask?
There are plenty of incredibly researched sources that dive deeply into every detail of the theory, but for the sake of brevity let's cut it down to the big points. The Grand Northern conspiracy supposes that the remaining lords of the Northern Houses are still loyal to the Starks and are secretly resistant to the rule of the Boltons. They want to see a Stark as King in the North, but the problem is that most of the Starks are dead or presumed dead. The only one definitely left alive is Jon Snow, who is not legitimate and therefore cannot take over Winterfell. This is where the "conspiracy" part really kicks in. Before his death, Robb Stark considered legitimizing Jon and naming him as an heir should anything happen to Robb. This theory speculates that a letter Robb sent out before the Red Wedding was a will that explained his plan to free Jon of his Night's Watch vows, make him a legitimate Stark, and name him as an heir.
But has there been any evidence on the show? Surprisingly, yes.
When Sansa returned to Winterfell as Ramsay's bride (ugh), an older woman at the castle offered her aid with the promise, "The North remembers." That same woman ended up flayed alive thanks to good old Ramsay. But it's an important hint at a possible rebellion growing in the North; many of the people there remember and are loyal to the Starks.
Stannis also once offered to legitimize Jon to gain Northern support for his kingly cause; Jon refused. In the course of the conversation Stannis gave Jon a note he had received that said, "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark." Bear Island is the traditional home of House Mormont, and the note pretty much confirms they're still loyal to the Starks. It begins to add up to a fair amount of evidence that the Starks still have a lot of supporters who could very well rise to the occasion if need be.
Fans even thought Lord Umber delivering Rickon Stark to Ramsay was perhaps a ploy to trick Ramsay somehow, because the Umbers have been famously loyal to the Starks so far. Hints that Lord Umber might be double-crossing Ramsay involve the fact that he refused to swear fealty, he brought up the Boltons' many misdeeds, and the severed head of Rickon's direwolf looked a little too small to be real. It would be an interesting twist on the "Ramsay tortures a beloved character" route the show has taken before for Lord Umber to be secretly plotting to overthrow Westeros' current leading psychopath.
Robb has been mentioned on the show a lot lately, from his face popping up in the previouslies to Lord Umber mentioning the betrayal of the Red Wedding to Arya listing her lost siblings to the waif during training. Season 6 is definitely going out of its way to keep the connections between the Starks fresh in the audience's minds, like Bran delving into family memories, and even Bran and Rickon's reemergence after being gone for so long. With the added focus on the Northern lords Umber and Karstark dealing with current Winterfell tenant Ramsay, it definitely feels like Game of Thrones is building towards some major action in the North. That might just be a rebellion against the Boltons – and odds are good that Jon Snow will be involved in some way.
As of "Oathbreaker," Jon has freed himself of his vow to the Night's Watch, so it seems his storyline is likely to take a big turn soon. With rumors about Jon's parents and a battle against Ramsay flying around the internet, the Grand Northern Conspiracy starts to feel pretty real. Even if it doesn't play out the same exact way on the show as it does in the theory, it still seems probable that Jon is going to take some major steps to defend his home.
Winter is coming, Ramsay Bolton.