LOS ANGELES - Could Jon Snow be alive after all? A teaser for "Game of Thrones" gave hope to legions of fans Monday by suggesting the fantasy epic's youthful hero may be back in season six.
Played by the 28-year-old British actor Kit Harington, Snow was stabbed to death by mutinous followers at the end of season five, which closed on an image of the young warrior falling bloodied into a ditch.
But fans of the Emmy-winning television show - who include President Barack Obama - were not willing to let go of their hero quite so easily.
Many have been speculating Snow would somehow resuscitate - perhaps aided by magic or witchcraft - with wilder theories suggesting he could be reincarnated as a wolf.
A poster released by HBO on Twitter seemed to answer their hopes: it pictures Snow, the lord commander of the Night's Watch, albeit with his eyes downcast and blood spattering his face.
Carrying a single word - "April" - the teaser set social media abuzz, cue for a nail-biting countdown until the show returns to US television screens.
Reports that Harington was spotted on the set of season six had fueled speculation of Snow's return - while the show's creators played along.
Back in July, director David Nutter told Entertainment Weekly that Obama himself asked him about Snow's fate when they met recently.
"He turned to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, 'You didn't kill Jon Snow, did you?'""I said, 'Jon Snow is deader than dead,'" said the director of the show, based on the fantasy novels of George R. R. Martin.