I know, I know, the word “optimistic” and Game of Thrones don’t exactly go hand in hand, in fact a good rule of thumb with GoT is that if something looks like it’s about to reach a feel-good moment, prepare yourself for the worst (think the Red Wedding, the Red Viper and the Mountain’s trial by combat, the apparent discovery of Uncle Benjen, to name but a few).

The internet is still reeling from the events of the finale where so much big shit went down (as we predicted), but the centre stage event was, undoubtedly, the death of Jon Snow. And man, was it gut-wrenching. Literally. It even left legions of the moody bastard’s fans swearing that they won’t be returning to the show after being royally fucked over by the finale’s climax.

Fans of the series are all familiar with the author George RR Martin’s tendency to kill off literally anyone you hold dear, but there was always a feeling – nay, a certainty – that Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Dany, were all safe from his bloodlust. At least until near the end of the series. But the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch’s death has proved yet again that no protagonist is safe from the Many-Faced God. And yet… perhaps not.

Now, we’re finally at a point where all the smug book readers are as much in the dark as the TV show audience, so reading ahead is no longer an option to find out if Jon makes it. But remember folks, there is always hope (not exactly the show’s tagline, but an important theme in one of the GoT‘s greatest inspirations: The Lord of the Rings). This is an alternate reality that has shown us plenty of ways that certain individuals can escape death. Now, I don’t mean to over-analyse (stop sniggering), but here are the various ways in which Jon Snow must’ve avoided death.

1. He isn’t dead yet

Remember, no one’s given a time of death just yet, he might have just lost consciousness. This is the simplest route to bringing Jon back in the next series, maybe too simple and it feels a bit like a cheat. Plus, he got stabbed a lot. On the other hand, both actor Kit Harrington and director David Nutter have explicitly said that Jon Snow is dead and he won’t be back next season. Then again, they would have to say that to keep us off the scent and perhaps it’s just a half-truth… we’ll come back to this.

2. He’ll become a wight

Apparently there’s a precedent in the novels for the existence of wights that somehow retain their sense of self, not just another one of the mindless, evil undead. This theory might be supported by the fact that Snow’s complexion seems to turn extremely pale in the final moments and even his eyes lighten slightly, reminiscent of the wight’s preternatural blue. Of course, this may have been planted to misdirect audiences, besides the idea of Snow becoming a wight seems unlikely since he’d have real trouble winning over the Night’s Watch if he himself becomes a glowy-eyed zombie with a face like a frozen sphincter. (Editor’s note: This section needs a “wight as Snow” line).

3. He’s a warg

Remember, his brother Bran is a confirmed warg, that is, a person who can transfer his consciousness into an animal, namely his pet direwolf. And it is suggested that this is a trait that runs in the Stark family. In Season 4, we met a Wildling warg whose human body was killed, but he was able to live on in a hawk, the hawk that ended up scarring Jon’s face. Also, the Red Lady had a vision early in Season 5 that she did not understand where she saw Jon as a man, then a wolf, then a man again. Not convinced? Oh, come on people, he’s freaking direwolf is even named Ghost. However, our hero Jon Snow spending the rest of the show’s run in wolf form doesn’t seem all that likely, so maybe…

4. He’ll be resurrected

This is my personal favourite theory, and the one that feels most likely. Cast your mind back to Season 4, where we met a character called Beric Dondarrion who died many times but was resurrected each time by Thorros of Myr, a Red Priest like Melisandre. Now, remember that the Red Lady herself just arrived at Castle Black shortly before Jon’s demise. There is also that pesky prophecy about The Prince That Was Promised who is supposed to save the world from the White Walkers, who Melisandre was convinced was Stannis (who isn’t much of a contender these days sans head), whereas Jon Snow might also be the subject of the prophecy. And let’s be honest people, any fantasy series that includes a resurrection plot device isn’t just going to waste it on secondary characters. Shit, even the Mountain got to be brought back to life and that guy’s a dick.

As gleefully as George RR Martin kills off his characters, it just makes no sense to kill Jon Snow. He’s such an integral part of the story that killing him now would just be bad storytelling, leaving so many threads untied. We still haven’t conclusively found out who Jon Snow’s parents are, there’s no character left at the Wall that we can root for, and let’s not forget the whole Prince That Was Promised thing. Don’t break your promise, GRRM!

Of course, we still come up against the problem that the actor Kit Harrington stated definitively that Jon Snow is now dead and that he won’t return in Season 6. Maybe he isn’t outright lying, maybe Jon Snow will be physically dead for the majority of the next series, with his ghost will remain in the body of Ghost (geddit?), only to be resurrected in episode 9 or the final moments of the finale. But perhaps he doesn’t return as the Jon Snow that we’ve come to know, but rather reborn as the messianic Prince That Was Promised who will save the world from the White Walkers – which is probably about the only thing that would get the Night’s Watch to join forces with the Wildlings at this point.

With a series that’s become so dependent on shock deaths, it would make sense that they would change it up by having a shock resurrection as next season’s big WTF moment. And if I’m right, sorry, because I’ve just spoiled the big surprise for you already.

So fans of curly-headed crow can rest easy, there are literally oodles of reasons to think he’ll return to the series. You can quit those Jon Snow vigils now.