Game of Thrones fans collectively felt that all-too-familiar gut-punch when Rickon Stark, Osha, and the head of his direwolf Shaggydog were dramatically presented to Lord Ramsay Bolton, Warden of the North, at the end of the Season 6 episode "Oathbreaker." Of course, we now know that the oath in question was the fealty House Umber swore to House Stark as their bannermen, because it was Smalljon Umber who gifted Ramsay Rickon and pals in lieu of swearing loyalty to Ramsay. Even though it looks grim, some fans may still desperately be wondering: will Rickon kill Ramsay on Game of Thrones?
Ramsay is, of course, thirsting for Stark blood in order to preserve his position as Lord of Winterfell. He swiftly murdered Roose Bolton, Walda Frey, and his new baby brother all in one episode just to secure his position as HBIC (Head Bolton In Charge). He does need some Starks around, just to maintain his street cred with the people of Winterfell, who are staunchly loyal to House Stark — hence his obsession with tracking Sansa down and getting a baby in her posthaste. But Rickon and indeed, any male Stark sons are a huge threat. So most fans, understandably, see this as a likely and torturous end for Rickon Stark. But there are a few fan theories that hold out hope (against hope).
First of all, Ramsay could make the classic villain mistake of waiting too long to kill Rickon. He might use Rickon as bait to lure either Jon Snow or Sansa Stark back to Winterfell so he can kill them all (except Sansa, because wombs). The chance for two dead Starks (even though Jon Snow is technically a bastard), and his wife back in his clutches will be too tempting a gamble for Ramsay to ignore. And, as we've seen in storytelling countless times before, when the villain indulges in his presumptive victory and waits too long to make his move, he buys our hero time to get out of his bind. Jon Snow could come to Winterfell with an army of Wildlings and a giant ready to crush Ramsay's tiny skull. Rickon could manage a lethal blow in a moment of distraction, or Osha could, or Jon Snow might do the deed himself.
The second option is the possibility that Smalljon Umber is acting as a double agent. Notice how unwilling he was to swear loyalty to Ramsay, opting instead to offer him a gift that was extremely useful. The Umber bannermen are relentlessly loyal to the Starks. You may remember that, back in Season 1, Smalljon's father Greatjon Umber pulled a sword on Robb Stark during an argument in the middle of a feast. Robb's direwolf promptly bit off two of Greatjon's fingers, and Greatjon still put his sword down and pledged loyalty to House Stark.
In fact, one major departure from the text which has fans outraged is that, in the books, Smalljon dies at the Red Wedding protecting Robb. His father Greatjon survives but is taken prisoner. This is why Bran tells Rickon and Osha to go to the Last Hearth when he goes North of the Wall. "The Umbers are our bannermen," he insists. "They'll protect you."
So the fact that the TV series has Smalljon not only alive, but seemingly executing a deadly betrayal of the Starks is a huge character inconsistency that has fans suspicious. Some hope that Smalljon will be just as loyal as in the books, and that he is actually handing Rickon over to bait Ramsay. The idea is that Ramsay's "gift" will lower his defenses around Smalljon, who can then execute a plan to kill him — involving Rickon directly or not.
Either way, hope may not be as utterly lost for Rickon as his return in "Oathbreaker" would have us believe. Game of Thrones showrunners have been skewered for their departures from the text before, and this major one, if we are to believe it at face value, is too unrealistic to be taken seriously.