One of the most speculated-on events in Game of Thrones is which character will end up sitting on the Iron Throne and ruling Westeros when the epic series concludes this year. In the past, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow have been frontrunners. But recently, Bran Stark has emerged as a genuine contender. It seems strange to think that the cripple boy with the ability to see into the past could be king, but there are a number of theories that suggest the Three-eyed Raven’s apprentice could be the key to the whole storyline.

The end of the seventh season of HBO’s hugely popular fantasy left viewers eagerly anticipating the final string of episodes. Unfortunately, though, they’ve had to wait almost two years to witness the culmination of the series. Luckily, the wait is almost over and the network has confirmed that season 8 will hit screens at the end of April this year. The finale of the penultimate season saw the Night King finally breach the Wall with his army, and showrunners D. B. Weiss and David Benioff have teased that there will be a huge battle at Winterfell in the early stages of the new season.

The general consensus among speculators is that the war against the army of the dead will happen in the first few episodes, and then the fight for the Iron Throne will follow on from that. Now that Jon Snow’s true parentage has been revealed and he is the rightful heir to the throne, it would make sense if the former Night’s Watchman became king. However, betting sites are now offering the shortest odds on Bran to be the eventual monarch. The boy who was pushed from a window by Jaime Lannister in the first ever episode is now at odds of 1.83 with moplay.co.uk to be the ruler of Westeros when the series ends.

The reason for this could be down to the fact that fans now believe that Bran’s forays into the past could be affecting what happens in the future. In season six, the explanation of how Hodor got his name showed that Bran could cause seismic ruptures in the space-time continuum. Many theories now suggest that Bran tries to go back and stop the White Walkers before they are created, but inadvertently enters the body of the Night King in the process. This would mean that the two characters are interlinked, and if the White Walkers prevail in the battle at Winterfell then Bran could have more of a part to play in stopping them thereafter.

Despite the theory seeming completely farfetched and actor Isaac Hempstead Wright pouring cold water over it, bookies seem convinced that Bran ruling Westeros is a real possibility. The series based on George RR. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books certainly has a habit of throwing up unexpected outcomes and twists, so there may be some truth to the speculation. Viewers will find out soon enough when the series makes its long-awaited return in a few months’ time.