LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - HBO's medieval saga Game of Thrones is known for serving up graphic deaths of its lead characters, but when fan favourite Jon Snow was killed off, avid followers speculated every theory and sighting that would bring back their heroic soldier.
It looks like they prevailed. Game of Thrones tweeted a teaser poster on Monday with a partial shot of Jon Snow's rugged, bloodstained face and trademark hair, with the simple caption "APRIL. #GoTSeason6".
The sixth season will air on HBO in April 2016.
It is the first time the TV series has officially acknowledged the future of the character, played by British actor Kit Harington, and the poster sent fans on social media into overdrive. The Game of Thrones tweet was shared more than 35,000 times in three hours on Monday and "Jon Snow" became the top Twitter trend.
Emmy-winning Game of Thrones, based on George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Firebooks, is a sweeping fantasy epic of the battle across seven kingdoms for the Iron Throne. It is HBO's most-watched series, averaging 20 million viewers per episode this year.
Fan speculation on Jon Snow's fate has ranged from sightings of Harington on set in Ireland to the actor's decision not to cut his shoulder-length brown locks, which have become a trademark of his character.
Little slips from fellow cast members in interviews have also fuelled the fire, but HBO and the show's creators have enjoyed toying with fans, always avoiding the question and keeping Harington out of fan-events.
Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark (who was beheaded in season one) and Commander of the Night's Watch, made it through five seasons of Game of Thrones before being betrayed by his subjects and stabbed to a seeming death in the penultimate episode that aired in June.
Whether Jon Snow is actually alive or dead is still not known in a series that is woven through with dark magic, sorcery and the mysterious White Walkers, an army of the undead.
His tragic demise was lamented, but readers of Martin's books immediately suggested the character could be returning, albeit through otherworldly means.