Game of Thrones might not have ever happened if the showrunners answered this one question wrong. As the author of the Game of Thrones novels, it is only natural that George R R Martin would be protective over his creation. So, it makes sense that before giving David Benioff and D B Weiss permission to adapt his work, he wanted to make sure they knew their stuff.
One of the biggest mysteries in Game of Thrones is that of Jon Snow’s parentage. While the Game of Thrones character (played by Game of Thrones cast member Kit Harington in the show) was introduced as Ned Stark’s bastard son, it soon becomes apparent that his parentage is not all that it seems. In fact, he’s actually part of the Targaryen family tree, with Ned Stark concealing the fact that he’s the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
For Martin, being able to work this out about Jon Snow from the books is proof that you know enough about Game of Thrones in order to make a live-action adaptation work. So, after Benioff and Weiss were able to guess Snow’s parentage during a 2005 lunch with him, they won the rights to adapt his novels to the silver screen. And it’s a good thing they did, too, as it meant that Game of Thrones quickly became one of the best TV series of the decade.
Weiss recounted this fateful meeting during an interview with Variety, during which he also explained why he thinks Martin considered him and Benioff to be the right people for the job.
“I think with us, he understood that we didn’t have to fake anything,” he explained. “We had become instantly and genuinely obsessed with his books to the point where we knew lots and lots about the minutia of them — and then he asked us the question about Jon Snow’s parentage. Maybe if we had gotten it wrong, he would have let us do it anyway. It was still obvious that we love this, and that we wanted to do it more than anything in the world, and that we would respect it and honor.”
Although the fandom is adamant that the best fantasy series was ruined by its ending, we should probably remember that if Martin trusted them, perhaps they were the right people for the job in the end.