Characters: A Song Of Ice And Fire The Nights Watch
This is a listing of Night's Watch characters that appear in the Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Visit here for the main character index.
- "We never knew! But we must have known once. The Night's Watch has forgotten its true purpose, Tarly. You don't build a wall seven hundred feet high to keep savages in skin from stealing women. The Wall was made to guard the realms of men... and not against other men, which is all the wildlings are when you come right down to it. Too many years, Tarly, too many hundreds and thousands of years. We have lost sight of the true enemy. And now he's here, but we don't know how to fight him."—Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
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Tropes In General
- A Storm Is Coming: The reason why this group was founded.
- Ancient Tradition: The Night's Watch dates back at least several thousand years, being founded after the Long Night to prevent a disaster like that from happening again according to legend.
- Animal Motif: Men of the Watch are compared to crows. Master Aemon notes that crows are smart but willing do scary things like eating carrion so they are hated.
- Anti-Hero: Many stories of the Night's Watch, as well as their actions in-story, show that while sworn to defend the realm of men, they're not necessarily good people. For one, the fact that most of their members are criminals and rapists who preferred to serve than being jailed or killed. Second, the fact that while they're sworn to protect humanity from the Others, they consider Wildlings beneath that protection(Granted, Wildlings tried attacking Westeros, but that's mainly because their ancestors were on the wrong side of the Wall when it was built, and it's hinted that they don't allow ANYONE crossing into Westeros, even if they're not enemies, basically condeming an entire people to eternal winter and possible death). Third, their commitment to their oaths reaches Knight Templar level sometimes; The tales of the Night's King, Rat Cook, 79 Sentinels and Brave Danny Flint also show that the Night's Watch can be as savage as they believe the Wildlings to be.
- Anti-Mutiny: In A Dance With Dragons, some members of the Night's Watch, mostly builders and stewards, resist Jon's plans for allying with the wildlings against the Others, and for sending a ranging party to rescue the ships originally sent to rescue wildlings at Hardhome. They also don't like involving the Night's Watch with Stannis, thus making it a prime target of retribution at the hands of Lord Bolton. When Jon decides to go south to deal with Ramsay Bolton, which amounts to breaking his vows and getting involved in the wars of the realm, some members of the Watch finally turn on him.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: Literally. Several of its members ended up on the Wall because they were thieves, and Satin is a former (male) prostitute. There used to be enough honest volunteers to keep the really nasty ones in check, but now there are only a handful of those left and fewer as the story continues.
- Badass Bookworm: Averted with Samwell Tarly, a bookworm and self-professed coward. Played a bit straighter after he becomes the first character in eight thousand years to kill an Other and becomes known as Sam the Slayer (See The So-Called Coward below.)
- Badass Creed:"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."
- It gets a cool echo in the traditional final words in the eulogy usually given at a dead Night's Watch man's funeral: "His name was _______________, and now his watch is ended."
- Boxed Crook: Far too many of the men of the Watch are criminals who joined up as an alternative to harsh punishment.
- The Cassandra: The Watch's warnings that bad stuff is going down beyond The Wall and that they need help is routinely ignored.
- Chaste Hero: Supposedly, although most of them still get around whenever they have the opportunity. This is tolerated by the superiors because trying to enforce the oath of chastity would do more harm than good, (and it has been pointed out that the oath prohibits marriage and fathering children, not sex per se).
- Mole's Town, the nearest settlement, apparently has several brothels that do quite good business with brothers that have snuck away for an evening.
- The Chosen Many: Deconstructed, big time.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: Through the first 3 books, and only Stannis Baratheon answered.
- Interservice Rivalry: A bit between the rangers vs. the stewards and builders. The rangers tend to support more aggressive tactics and scouting beyond the Wall, while the stewards and builders would prefer to simply fortify the Wall and seal all the entrances to the other side. This divide only intensifies after Jon Snow becomes Lord Commander, as the rangers tend to have his back on allowing the wildlings to come through the Wall and help defend it against the Others. The stewards and builders, few of whom have seen or fought the Others and have little experience with wildlings outside of their attacks on the Wall, would prefer to let them die. There are some exceptions to this.
- Ironic Nickname: Many members have these, such as "Small Paul" and "Giant".
- Mentor Archetype: Jeor Mormont, Qhorin Halfhand and Maester Aemon.
- Mildly Military: As a combination of a military order, a monastic order, and a gulag, the Night's Watch naturally doesn't run quite the same as a normal army.
- The Oathbreaker: Has had its share, but The Night's King was its most infamous example.
- Old Master: The senior members often are this. Special mention goes to Maester Aemon and Jeor "Old Bear" Mormont.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: By the time of A Game Of Thrones, they're composed mostly of criminals, bastards, disgraced nobles, enemies of politically powerful people, and the like. It doesn't stop them from being an effective fighting force.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: One of the reasons people are sent to the Wall; Janos Slynt, for example, and Cersei Lannister's original plan for Eddard Stark.
- Schizo Tech: Castle Black is the only place in the world that has a working elevator.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With the Kingsguard. See above.
- Taking the Veil: Or taking the black, which used to mean something.
- The Wall Around the World: At the northern end of it, at least.
- We ARE Struggling Together: They get hit with this hard. The simple truth is that most of the Night's Watch is made of murderers and rapists and a large number of them launch a mass desertion while retreating back to the Wall from the Great Ranging. Most of them, and several loyal men, die and are turned into wights. Ideological differences also create problems for Lord Commander Jon Snow as other senior members oppose his actions and insist on continuing to view the wildlings as enemies rather than the Others. Outside the Watch itself, personal dislikes hamper their efforts. Tyrion's scorn for Allister Thorne has him leave the man waiting to see the king, during which time his proof of the Other's wights rots away. Catelyn's hate for Jon Snow gets passed to her family, and Brynden Tully suspects Jon's rise in authority on the Wall is a plot by Tywin Lannister as a result.
- We Have Become Complacent: See the above quote.
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
Jeor Mormont, the 997th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
The Old Bear
- "When dead men come hunting in the night, do you think it matters who sits the Iron Throne?"
- Agent Mulder: He is convinced that the Others are returning, and that dark times are approaching for Westeros. A pity his warnings are ignored by King's Landing. Jeor also comes to believe that Jon Snow and his direwolf were destined to come to the Wall for a purpose. However, he does not believe the stories about giant bears beyond the Wall, which is pretty funny considering his House's sigil.
- Badass: He may be starting to get on a bit, but he's still a Mormont and you don't want to make him bring on the hurt. To kill him, several deserters had to try jumping him at once to have a chance — otherwise, they would have failed. As it was, he didn't go down easily.
- Bald of Awesome: You don't need the hair up-top when you're growing a thicket on your chin.
- Big Good: For the Night's Watch storyline, until his death at the hands of the mutineers at Craster's Keep.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Jeor and Ser Alliser Thorne.
- Character Death: He is stabbed by Ollo Lophand when several members of the Night's Watch mutiny at Craster's Keep when the remnant of the Great Ranging flee back to the Wall. He bleeds to death in Samwell Tarly's arms.
- Commanding Coolness: A Lord Commander, even. Talk about doubling-up...
- Cool Old Guy: Very much. There is nothing frail, decrepit or boring about Commander Mormont. He is also among the few characters in the series who recognizes the value and cunning of Tyrion Lannister, commenting that he wished he would join the Night's Watch.
- Deadpan Snarker: Often about the idiocy surrounding him at the Wall.
- Despair Speech: Gives one to Tyrion Lannister after having drunk a little too much:Jeor: In two years I will be seventy. Too old and too weary for the burden I bear, yet if I set it down, who will pick it up? Alliser Thorne? Bowen Marsh? I would have to be as blind as Maester Aemon not to see what they are. The Night's Watch has become an army of sullen boys and tired old men. Apart from the men at my table tonight, I have perhaps twenty who can read, and even fewer who can think, plan, or lead. Once the Watch spent its summers building, and each Lord Commander raised the Wall higher than he found it. Now it is all we can do to stay alive.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Possibly: he tells Tyrion that he has seen dark shapes in his dreams, and believes it may signal the return of the Others.
- Frontline General: Personally leads the Great Ranging and fights alongside his men.
- Hypocrite: Bemoans the fact that King's Landing doesn't keep the Night's Watch well-informed about the goings-on of the realm, while at the same time hiding from Jon Snow the fact that his half-brother Rob has marched south with his army to fight the Lannisters.
- In-Series Nickname: "The Old Bear", due to his age and the bear being the sigil of his house.
- I Owe You My Life: Owes Jon Snow his life for saving him from the wight of Othor. He pays him back by giving the Cool Sword Longclaw in thanks.Jeor: A sword's small payment for a life. Take it, I'll hear no more of it, is that understood?
- Knight in Sour Armor: He is fully aware of the decaying state of the Night's Watch, and his utter inability to do anything about it. Doesn't mean he won't stop trying to make it better or do everything in his power to defend the Wall.
- Last Request: Jeor tells Sam to send word to Jorah that he wishes for him to come home to Westeros and join the Night's Watch.
- Like a Son to Me: Never says this out loud, but he takes an interest in mentoring Jon, as Sam assumes when he makes Jon his steward because he wants him as a successor. He even gives him House Mormont's Ancestral Weapon Longclaw to him, which had previously bestowed upon his son Jorah before he fled Westeros.
- Mentor Archetype: To Jon Snow. To a lesser extent for Samwell Tarly.
- Old Master: Still one of the Aces on the Wall who's seen (almost) practically everything that can be thrown at it. One of the quickly-diminishing number, actually.
- Old Soldier: Goes with the above. He's also fought alongside and is friends with some of the other great Old Soldiers of the series, including Ser Barristan Selmy, who Jeor had hoped could convince the Small Council to reinforce the Night's Watch. He becomes extremely angry when he learns that Barristan has been dismissed from the Kingsguard and is wanted for treason.
- Pragmatic Hero: His only concern is defending the Wall from the Wildlings and the Others. Thus, while he is concerned about what is going in the rest of realm, he knows he can do nothing to help except do his job on the Wall. While beyond the Wall, he also shows some regret that he cannot help Craster's wives/daughters, or stop him from sacrificing his sons, since the Night's Watch needs all the allies it can get and he can't afford to piss off Craster.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Notes the worth of both Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly, who many of the other officers look down upon, and immediately believes Sam's story about killing a Other with dragonglass.
- Rousing Speech: To Jon at the end of A Game of Thrones:Jeor: I will not sit here meekly and wait for the snow and the ice winds. We must know what is happening. This time the Night's Watch will ride in force, against the King-beyond-the-Wall, the others, and anything else that may be out there. I mean to command them myself. By custom, the Lord Commander's steward is his squire as well... but I do not care to wake every dawn wondering if you've run off again. So I will have an answer from you, Lord Snow, and I will have it now. Are you a brother of the Night's Watch... or only a bastard boy who wants to play at war?
- Sergeant Rock: He is a quite gruff man who doesn't sugar-coat his words, but is shown to be a good leader who has all the qualities that a member of the Night's Watch is supposed to have.
- Supporting Leader: He may be the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but the story of the Wall is told from Jon and Sam's POV.
- Surrounded by Idiots: He isn't particularly happy with the quality of most of the officers under his command.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He is not happy at all about the Night's Watch having to cooperate with Craster, but does so because it is necessary.
- The Unreveal: It's still not clear why he joined the Night's Watch. The main hypothesis is that he stepped aside from the lordship of Bear Island he wanted to honor his son, who made a name for himself as a warrior during the first Greyjoy Rebellion and a jouster during the Tourney at Lannisport; he also might have joined because of his belief of the supernatural happenings beyond the Wall. Whatever his reasons were, he took them to the grave.
Lord Commander Jon Snow*
Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
Lord Snow, Lord Crow, The Bastard of Winterfell
- "A bastard can have honor, too."
- Accidental Proposal: Wildling custom is that a man wishing to 'marry' a spearwife has to kidnap or capture her. Not knowing this and not knowing that Ygritte is a woman when he and Qhorin ambush her and her fellows is taken on her part to be a gesture of attraction and affection when he lets her live. She spends about half of the story trying to seduce him as a result, much to his chagrin and embarrassment.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: He becomes the 998th Commander of the Night's Watch after Mormont's death, despite being only seventeen (although by Westerosi standards that already makes him an adult). He is hardly the youngest Lord Commander though.
- Action Survivor
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: He shows his affection to Arya by calling her "little sister" while mussing her hair.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: He is a virgin when he swears his oath to the Night's Watch, which Ygritte finds completely unbelievable (and sets out to rectify). He resists as long as he can, due to his vow and his desire to not father a bastard, but eventually gives in.
- Amazon Chaser: He's attracted to Action Girls like Ygritte and Val.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: As Lord Commander.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: During his time when he infiltrated the Free Folk for the Night's Watch, Jon, who represents the direwolf, is literally wearing a sheepskin cloak.
- Badass: Over the course of the series Jon displays prodigious sword skills, pragmatic strategic planning and a giant set of balls.
- Four-Star Badass: After being elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Sam and the younger Stark kids, especially Arya.
- Birds of a Feather: To Stannis Baratheon, as noted by Melisandre. Both put duty before self-interest and both live in the shadow of brothers who are popular heroes. She might have added that both break their vows with red-headed women.
- Berserk Button: Insulting Ned Stark, which has serious consequences when Thorne taunts him over Ned's arrest for treason. Jon assaults his superior, which is a hanging offense. Before he sleeps with Ygritte, any suggestion that he might father a bastard himself sets Jon off too.
- He doesn't like it when people bully Sam, either.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Not only is he one of the nicest person in the series, but him and Sam are probably the only ones you can considered nice in The Night Watch. With that being said, Do not threaten, insult or even kill his friends, family, innocent people, etc.
- Broken Pedestal: With King Robert then with the Watch itself.
- A bit with his father too. Although he loves Ned, thinks highly of him and defends him when someone puts his honor in doubt, sometimes he can not help but feel a "little evil voice" that whispers to him that his father did actually father a bastard out of wedlock. Also, after seeing what the Night's Watch was actually like, Jon expresses that he has the feeling that Ned sent him there with full awareness of what transpired in The Wall just to not have to deal with him and make nice with Catelyn note .
- The Order of the Night's Watch itself comes as a considerable disappointment to Jon. It takes him quite a while to adapt.
- Bully Hunter: Jon is particularly eager to show up some of the nastier recruits like Rast during his training at The Wall.
- Celibate Hero: When he's drafted into the Night's Watch, he has yet to ever sleep with a woman. He tries to remain celibate and true to the vows that require him to take no woman, among other things, but it doesn't work.
- To be precise, Jon is not a virgin for lack of trying, but because any son that he could bring into the world would be just another bastard and lacking in a position in the society that he lives in. Jon does not enjoy being a bastard and doesn't want to inflict that on anyone.
- The Chains of Commanding: After taking command of the Night's Watch. Among all the other things he has to cope with, he stops spending time with his friends because he remembers his father telling him he can't be friends with people he's supposed to command.
- The Consigliere: To Stannis Baratheon, under layers of Plausible Deniability for the Night's Watch. But his advice is crucial to charting out Stannis' northern strategy though Stannis for his part is a little irritated that Jon won't play a more active role.
- Cool Big Bro: All of his younger siblings love and miss him note . Arya is especially fond of him and looks up to him. Jon even gives Arya her first sword, Needle.
- Cool Sword: Longclaw, thanks to Lord Mormont. Fittingly, it's a bastard swordnote .
- Cool Pet: Ghost, and how.
- Dark Horse Victory: His election as Lord Commander. Two of the top candidates for the office, Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister, drop out and support him because they don't want Janos Slynt to win but can't stand each other either.
- Deuteragonist: In a series of novels with more than a thousand named characters and more than thirty POV characters, Jon, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister are the closest thing to main protagonists available in the books.
- Enemy Mine: Jon is actively recruiting wildlings to come south of the Wall and even man the castles of the Watch, because the Others trump everything. The other officers are willing to live with it, but they take every opportunity to express their disapproval.
- Eye Scream: Gets one by Orell's eagle. Luckily for him, it missed his eye, giving him instead cool scars near the eye.
- Fake Defector: Under the Halfhand's orders, he pretends to join the Wildlings to survive. When he returns to the Watch, it earns him plenty of accusations of being a turncloak.
- Fatal Flaw: His preference for going his own way and facing his problems alone. His lone-wolf attitude causes him to disobey orders and disregard traditions, keep his friends at a distance when he should be counting on their aid, and generally do a poor job of earning the trust and respect of people who misread his introversion as arrogance. Since he becomes the leader of a deeply traditional brotherhood while also sending his closest friends and supporters away to "kill the boy and let the man be born" this eventually leads to him completely alienating the other influential people in the Watch and getting himself a case of knife in gut.
- Fish out of Water: He is the very definition. First, a child born out of wedlock raised among siblings that look nothing like him (except Arya); later, he's an over-trained "lordling" caught between the highborn command and the baseborn ranks of the Night's Watch, debating over his loyalty to the order or to the Starks; even later, he is caught between the Night's Watch itself and the Wildlings. Turns out, the people around him eventually ran out of patience regarding this aspect of his.
- First-Person Smartass: Jon Snow could be a Lannister who mutated the ability to keep his mouth shut. Like many of the other polite or subdued POV characters, Jon doesn't vocalize his best zingers.
- Foil: There are sooooo many.
- To Theon Greyjoy. Both are outsiders raised at Winterfell who are suffering from identity issues that have left them bitter and with the desire to prove themselves. While Jon Snow has been scorned all his life for being a bastard who does not even know the identity of his mother, he has risen to Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and might possibly be the heir to the Iron Throne. Theon is the heir of the Iron Islands, failed at keeping Winterfell after he captured it in an effort to gain affection from his father, and was later tortured into thinking he was a commoner named Reek.
- Ramsay Bolton is his Evil Counterpart and Shadow Archetype, and perhaps his greatest foil:
- Both are bastards of powerful northern houses. Jon, however, was raised in a loving household by his father, while Ramsay was left to his peasant mother and ignored for the most part. And while they both disliked the fact, Jon was able to acknowledge he wasn't a Stark (see the discovery of the Direwolves) and eventually accepted it; Ramsay's primary berserk button is being reminded of it. Finally, while Jon turned down his chance at legitimization out of a sense of duty, Ramsay jumped at becoming a Bolton and likes to pretend he was never anything but that.
- While Jon loves his half-brothers and sisters, and even turns down becoming a Stark partly in consideration of their rights, Ramsay very likely poisoned his brother to lay claim to his, and Roose suspects he will do the same to any newborns Walda Bolton will bear as well.
- While Jon is described as an excellent swordsman, Ramsay was trained by someone who was not trained himself, and "wields a sword like a butcher's knife".
- Finally, Jon has Ghost the male albino Direwolf as his companion. Ramsay keeps a growing pack of female hounds named after women he has raped, killed, and skinned, which he claims he has specifically trained to kill Direwolves.
- To Daenerys, in A Dance with Dragons most of all. Both experimented The Chains of Commanding and became The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask. They also are possibly related and the major candidates for the role of The Chosen One. Both also have members of House Mormont that play an important role in their respective character arcs.
- To Gendry, since they are both bastards, they each look like their fathers (who are best friends), Jon doesn't have a clue about who may be his mother and Gendry about his father. They both also had a close brotherly relationship with Arya, who may have seen Gendry as a Replacement Goldfish for her half-brother Jon. Jon joined the Night's Watch out of glory, Gendry joined the Brotherhood for the same reason.
- To Robb Stark. Robb was the heir to Winterfell, Jon was the lesser-loved bastard. Robb had the Tully look, while Jon had the Stark look. Both encountered and spared a wildling woman (Osha and Ygritte) and both had pre-marital affairs, but while Jon leaves his love behind, Robb marries his, both for the sake of duty. Both were mentored by Ned and elevated to positions of power by the people under them, though Robb's position was much more prestigious, but were betrayed by the people they commanded - with blades.
- To Maester Aemon Targaryen, an elderly member of the Night's Watch. Both had their vows tested when their respective family members became heavily invested in a Civil War and were helpless to prevent the near death and destruction of their respective familial Houses from the resulting war.
- To Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard. Both are the Lord Commanders of the white and black brotherhood respectively and said their vows at the age of fifteen. Both were left disappointed when they found out that the brotherhood they joined wasn't as great as they expected and both are publicly unpopular for being oathbreakers/turncloaks, when they did it for the sake of staying true to their vows.
- He is also one to Robert "Sweetrobin" Arryn as opposite spectra within a family circle. Sweetrobin is a highborn mama's boy who is babied by his mother, a single child to a father that didn't raise him, stunted for his age and spoiled to a fault; Jon is a bastard who never knew his mother and was shunned by his step-mother, a child from a big number of siblings, raised mostly by a doting father, big and strong for his age and honorable to a fault.
- Genius Bruiser: Jon is quite forward thinking in his approach as Lord Commander. He wants to build "glass gardens" to farm food in the winter(much like in Winterfell), he contemplates raising money to buy glasses in Myr and training apprentices to serve under them. He's also one of the few who submits captured wights to a scientific method and put them under observation to see if there's anything to be learned. He also manages to broker a favorable loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos after haggling with the Braavosi in a manner that impresses the latter.
- Genre Savvy: He knows that every wildling man, woman, and child he leaves out beyond the Wall for the Others to kill will fill the ranks of the Zombie Apocalypse. Too bad he is the only one who fully understands it.
- Going Native: He pretends to do that joining the wildlings. He lied.
- Good Is Not Soft: After debating whether to have Janos Slynt be forcibly dragged to his post or thrown in the ice cells for a time due his continued insubordination Jon decided to have him hanged before eschewing that form of execution in favor of personally beheading Slynt himself.
- Gray Eyes: "Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see."
- Heroic Bastard: Bastards in Westeros are not well-regarded, as they are thought to be the consequences of lust and sin. Jon has to face more than a little enmity because of that, but he seems to have inherited his father's persona.
- Ideal Hero: Played with. Other than what's already stated in Fatal Flaw (see above), Jon is still very much plagued with doubt and has problems with self-esteem. Mainly due to Catelyn's efforts, Jon also has had lifelong doubts about his place in the Stark household and still sees his own existence as a marring aspect of the otherwise spotless honor record of Eddard Stark.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: After Ygritte's death.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: When Jon fakes his defection to the wildlings, they make him execute the Colonel Badass he's serving under. Unfortunately for the wildlings, the man figured this would happen and warned Jon beforehand, since the information Jon could gather was more important than the life of one ranger. Jon still feels guilty about killing him, though.
- Later, he has to further prove he's left the Watch behind by breaking their oath. In this case, If You're So Evil, Sleep With Ygritte.
- Irony: Out of all of Ned's kids, it's the bastard who happens to look the most like him and indeed embodies his values the most. Tyrion comments that Jon has more of the North in him than any of his siblings, yet Jon was born in the South (unlike all the other Stark kids minus Robb). Depending on the truth of certain fan theories, there might be an additional layer of irony, in that said looks might actually come from his mother instead. This might also be explained by the fact that Catelyn had no part in his raising, unlike his true-born siblings, who had great Tully influence from her and thus were also raised under the Faith of the Seven.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: He thought joining the Night's Watch would be somewhat more heroic than it turned out to be. It turned out that it was, but from an angle that he did not foresee.
- Jerk Jock: How he was seen when he first came to the Wall. A bastard indeed, but a very high-born bastard.
- Jumped at the Call: Didn't even bother fully checking the height of the leap out, first.
- Kid Hero: A bit of a deconstruction, even though played mostly straight much of the time. He's undoubtedly very heroic. But, still rather young, so that means a lot of self-inflicted problems experience would avoid.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Jon has been through his share of hardships and may be considered a turncloak by many, but he still believes in upholding his vows and keeping the realm safe.
- Like Father, Like Son: Everyone notes how he's similar to his father Ned, Somewhat subverted as Ned might not be his biological father.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Inverted. He knows who his father is but has no clue about his mother's identity, save that she is (to quote Tyrion Lannister) "Some woman. Most mothers are."
- Meaningful Name: In three different ways.
- Poetically, the surname 'Snow' has ominous connotations, possibly appropriate since Word of God states Jon will become a much grayer character in upcoming books.
- In-universe historically, the name Snow indicates an interesting similarity with House Stark, the Kings of Winter.
- Symbolically, the surname Snow in real life is an ancient House that held a family seat in England before the Norman Conquest, and was also the name of a legendary King of Denmark. A possible unintended metaphor for his heritage.
- In Real Life, Jon Snow is also the name of the British doctor now credited as the father of modern epidemiology. Who better to battle a Zombie Apocalypse?
- Modest Royalty: After becoming Lord Commander Jon continues to live in Donal Noye's old chambers even once more lordly quarters are made habitable again, and dislikes being trailed by guards. Not everyone considers this a good thing, though. Melisandre believes that the trappings of power are not empty, but an important part of the source of that power, and that Jon eschewing them is its own kind of pride.
- Nice Guy: Not only is he one of the nicest people in the series, but he and Sam are probably the only ones you can considered nice in The Night Watch. With that being said, Do not threaten, insult or even kill his friends, family, innocent people, etc.
- Not Quite Dead: At the end of A Dance with Dragons, he gets stabbed and it's unclear if he survives or not. However, George Martin hinted rather strongly at his survival.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: What ends up getting him in trouble with his brothers of the Night's Watch.
- Not So Different:
- Melisandre gives him this speech about similarities between him and Stannis. Both are The Dutiful Son, overshadowed by their popular brothers.
- To Sansa. Although they are very different at first glance (Sansa is the most "Southern-cultured" of his siblings and resembles Catelyn), both of them share their father's idealism and naive outlook on the world, and later grow to have sharp observant natures.
- The Oath-Breaker:
- He struggles with this in the first book, but he keeps his vows even though he'd rather break them and go riding off to help Robb fight the War of Five Kings.
- In the third, when he breaks his Celibate Hero vow. (Although the vow is technically against marrying or having children - the town nearest Castle Black contains a brothel the Watch often uses.)
- In the fifth book, he struggles with aiding Stannis, as Stannis is helping defend the Wall but is still at war to take over the kingdom, and the Night's Watch is supposed to take no part in the wars of the realm. Later Jon admits in his own mind that he is forswearing his vows when he tries to lead a wildling crusade to Winterfell and bring back Ramsay Bolton's head. Two pages later, he's being stabbed. Lord Commander Can't Get Away with Nuthin' !
- Only Sane Man: With regards to undertaking a mission to rescue wildlings amassing at Hardhome, he seems to be the only one among the ranking officers of the nights watch and queen Selyse and her court to think that leaving a bunch of men, women, and children to freeze beyond the wall to become a part of an already growing undead army is a really bad idea
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Arguably the second-best at Warging of the younger Starks, after Bran. Although, Arya pips him at managing more than one species. At distance, even. However, her bonds with the creatures she wargs into aren't as strong as what Jon manages to form.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: As a bastard, he doesn't have any claim to lands or titles... but it's not quite so simple; Jon's dubious parentage opened a great deal of possibilities regarding to what he is/isn't actually entitled to:
- If he is indeed Rhaegar and Lyanna's son, he might be entitled to at least part of the Targaryen legacy and might fulfill some of the prophecy that it entails;
- If he was indeed named official heir to Robb, he might be entitled to Winterfell and be Lord Stark;
- If he is the son of Ashara Dayne with Ned Stark, this entitles him to nothing; if he were the son of Ashara and Brandon Stark, he is and always has been the heir to Winterfell and Lord Stark.
- Phrase Catcher: "You know nothing, Jon Snow." First said to him repeatedly by Ygritte, and later said by Melisandre.
- Princely Young Man: Quite unusual for a bastard, he's really polite and gentlemanly, because of his education. Earlier this puts him in a negative light at the Wall.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: As Lord Commander, he tries to keep the balance between Stannis, the wildlings and his own men.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Robb's red.
- Rousing Speech: When Mance attacks the Wall in force, most of his brothers are about to panic. Jon just laughs at the wildling army.Jon Snow: The Wall will stop them. The Wall defends itself. Mance wants to unman us with his numbers. Does he think we're stupid? The chariots, the horsemen, all those fools on foot... what are they going to do to us up here? Any of you ever see a mammoth climb a wall? They're nothing, they're less use than our straw brothers here, they can't reach us, they can't hurt us and they don't frighten us, do they?Grenn: No!Jon Snow: They're down there and we're up here, and so long as we hold the gate they cannot pass. They cannot pass!
- Screw The Rules I'm Doing What's Right: Spends most of Dance trying to overturn the Watch's traditions for both pragmatic and humanitarian reasons by supporting Stannis' cause, letting the wildlings migrate to the Seven Kingdoms and making them formal allies of the Watch. However, it takes his declaring open war against Ramsay Bolton to cause the watch to mutiny and assassinate him.
- Scylla and Charybdis: Toward the end of A Dance with Dragons, Ramsay Bolton sends the Night's Watch a letter blaming Jon for kidnapping Arya and demanding her return, threatening to attack if she isn't sent back. Jon knows Bolton wouldn't believe the truth (that they don't have her) and will therefore attack anyway, so he's basically forced to prepare to attack Bolton first. Several other senior officers of the Watch, who have been increasingly reluctant to support Jon's actions, view this as the last straw and disagree by attempting to assassinate him.
- Standardized Leader: He's basically a classic fantasy protagonist in a decidedly non-classic fantasy world.
- The Stoic: A trait inherited from Ned. Jon is very introverted and quiet, but is ultimately a friendly and caring boy. Once he becomes Lord Commander, he plays his stoicism up even more than usual, feeling that it's how someone in his position should behave.
- The Strategist: In the beginning of A Dance with Dragons, he acts as an unofficial military adviser to Stannis, and his advice turns out to be very good.
- Strong Family Resemblance: He's the only male Stark who inherited the family look, even if he's a bastard.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Classically distant exterior; really gooey interior. Just ask anybody he opens up to.
- Surrounded by Idiots: How Jon comes to feel about most of the other officers of the Watch once he takes command, Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck foremost among them. They argue against him at every turn, and Marsh even goes so far as to declare that the Wildlings massing at Hardhome should be left to freeze. That this would mean they became an army of Wights doesn't seem to bother him.
- Tell Me About My Mother: Invoked. Jon Snow does not know the identity of his mother, and for reasons yet to be revealed Ned never bothered to tell him (or anyone else for that matter; when Catelyn asks about Jon's mother, Ned apparently responds in such a negative manner that he scared the shit out of her). Ned's refusal to discuss Jon's mother has caused several Epileptic Trees to form around Jon's parentage, both in-universe and amongst the fandom; these include:
- He is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark;
- He is the son of Ned and Ashara Dayne/Wylla/The Fisherman's Daughter;
- He is the son of Brandon Stark and any of the aforementioned three (specially Ashara)
- Unexpected Successor: Technically Robb has legitimized him so that he can become his successor as King of the North. Remains to be seen if he will ever become. If we consider the Epileptic Trees about his parents you could come out interesting things...
- The Unfavorite: To Catelyn, because he's not her son - but Eddard insists on raising him at home, in defiance of custom, and refuses to even discuss the matter of who his mother is.
- Vague Age: As Ned Stark staunchly refuses to talk about Jon, it isn't clear whether Jon is younger or older than Robb. This is directly tied to the question of his parentage.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Like Robb, he seems to greatly desire Eddard Stark's approval, to the point that he has a few dreams about being accepted as a true Stark and given the rights to Winterfell. He suffers a lot of guilt over that last part though, given his status. While Ned did love and respect him and wanted to tell him so, Joffrey's interference meant he would never get the chance. Made more complex by recent hints that Ned might not actually be Jon's father at all.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: At first. Once he joins the Night's Watch, he quickly wises up however.
- Your Are Lord Commander Now: Has to take charge of the defense of Castle Black when all the Night's Watch men who outrank him are dead or somewhere else, and later gets elected to the post.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Male example naturally. Once he becomes Lord Commander, he feels it's necessary to adopt a reserved personality and put the good of the Watch first. This doesn't go over well with all of his friends there, some of whom think it's a case of Acquired Situational Narcissism.
Commander Cotter Pyke
Commander Cotter Pyke
- "I fight best with a deck beneath me, not a horse, and Castle Black's too far from the sea."
- Badass Beard: Has a sparse, rough beard.
- Brutal Honesty: This is one of the traits that makes Ser Denys Mallister dislike Cotter, arguing that a commander of the Night's Watch needs to know how to properly deal with important guests and lords.
- The Captain: Of the warship Talon.
- Colonel Badass: During the Wildling attack on the Wall, he successfully defends the eastern portion of it and captures Rattleshirt at Long Barrow.
- Commanding Coolness: What he lacks in refinement and polish, he gains in just being that effective in the field.
- Covered with Scars: He had the pox at some point in his life which left his face covered in scars, which he grew a beard to try and hide.
- Heroic Bastard: He is now a loyal senior member of the Night's Watch, but it is implied that he used to be a Bastard Bastard before being sent to the Wall.
- Never Learned to Read: He cannot read or write, and depends entirely on Maester Harmune to read messages to him at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and write his responses.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: The Roguish Male to Ser Denys Mallister's Noble Male. The traits that each one argue make them more suited for command of the Night's Watch are the same ones the other argues make them a bad choice.
- The Rival/Foil: To Ser Denys Mallister, commander of The Shadow Tower.
- Seadog Beard: Well, he attempts it, at least. It's not as impressive as some, thanks to the pox. Still, "grizzled" describes him well.
- Villainous Widow's Peak: He is not villainous anymore, but he used to be.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: He is sent by Jon Snow on a dangerous mission to rescue Wildlings at the abandoned Hardhome settlement, the last raven sent by him mentions "dead things in the water". It is unknown if he is still alive and in what condition.
Commander Denys Mallister
Ser Denys Mallister
- "The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch is a lord, first and foremost. He must be able to treat with other lords... and with kings as well. He must be a man worthy of respect."
- Always Someone Better: Before Jon is elected Lord Commander, Mallister had twice been passed over for the position; he justified this to himself by saying that his time would come, eventually. After dropping out in favor of Jon, he returns to the Shadow Tower knowing that his time will never come. He takes it quite well, considering, but warns Jon not to make him regret backing his election.
- Bald of Awesome: As a coot, but that doesn't stop him being actually pretty good at what he does.
- Commanding Coolness: It's the Night's Watch. They don't believe in less.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Notably so: a very rare beast on the Wall.
- Nice Guy: He is insanely polite to everyone.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: The Noble Male to Cotter Pyke's Roguish Male. The traits that each one argue make them more suited for command of the Night's Watch are the same ones the other argues make them a bad choice.
- Old Soldier: He has served in the Night's Watch for at least thirty-three years, having had a career as a tournament knight before then.
- The Rival/Foil: To Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
GiantAn experienced ranger sent to the wall for poaching. Becomes commander of Icemark in A Dance with Dragons.
- Badass: Survived the Great Ranging, and many of the younger rangers look up to him.
- Commanding Coolness
- Cool Old Guy
- Deadpan Snarker
- Ironic Nickname: "Giant", due to being five feet tall.
- Never Learned to Read: Or write: he claims on a good day he could barely write his name.
- Rank Up: Gets placed in command of restoring and defending Icemark.
- The Sneaky Guy: Can move quickly and quietly, and is a great climber, so he was used as a scout and lookout on the Great Ranging.
Commander "Iron" Emmett
Commander "Iron" EmmettA ranger posted at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea before becoming the new master-at-arms for Castle Black. He is later given command of Long Barrow.
- Amazon Brigade: Given command of one at Long Barrow, which is where Jon Snow sends all the Wildling spearwives who have agreed to defend the Wall. Emmett is entrusted with the command since Jon knows he would never forsake his vows or mistreat the women.
- The Big Guy
- Blood Knight: Is said to love fighting. When Jon beats him bloody in a training session, Emmett just laughs it off and jokes about it.
- Commanding Coolness
- Deadpan Snarker
- Master Swordsman: He was regarded as the best swordsman at Eastwatch, and is one of the best in the Night's Watch as a whole.
- Nice Guy: He is extremely easygoing and loyal.
- Rank Up: First to master-at-arms for Castle Black, then given command of Long Barrow.
- Sergeant Rock: He is a much better master-at-arms for Castle Black than Ser Alliser Thorne ever was, being a natural teacher who loves fighting and knows how to pass on that love to his trainees without coddling or abusing them.
- Undying Loyalty: He becomes one of Jon's biggest supporters.
First Builder Othell Yarwyck
First Builder Othell YarwyckHailing from the Westerlands, Othell is in charge of the builders, who maintain the Wall and the forts of the Night's Watch.
- Commander Contrarian
- Commuting on a Bus: During A Dance With Dragons, he comes in an out of the story as he divides his time between Castle Black and overseeing the rebuilding of other castles along the Wall.
- Fantastic Racism: Towards giants, and he wrongly believes they eat human flesh when they are actually vegetarians.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: To Jon after he becomes Lord Commander.
- "It's the builders for me. What use would rangers be if the Wall fell down?"
- Demoted to Extra: Unlike some of Jon's other friends, Halder doesn't remain as prominent after the first book.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Him versus Samwell Tarly on Sam's first day of training, and Ser Alliser makes him continue it even after it is clear that Sam cannot stand up. Halder really did not want to do it though and is grateful that Jon's protests gave him reason to stop.
- In-Series Nickname: Ser Alliser mocks him as Stone Head during training.
- Nice Guy: He is friendly and affable, and supports Jon immediately alongside Pyp to convince the other recruits to not follow Ser Alliser's orders to abuse Sam.
- Put on a Bus: Near the start of A Dance With Dragons, Halder is sent with Toad to the Shadow Tower by Jon.
- True Companions: With Jon, Sam, Grenn, Pyp, and Todder.
- Unskilled, but Strong: He can put a lot of power behind his blows, but doesn't have very good technique and tires quickly. He gets a little better after some training from Jon, but is still assigned to the builders because his stonemason skills trump his strength and fighting skills.
HorseA stablehand from Moletown, Hareth fled to the Wall when Wildlings struck south of the Wall. He ended up joining the Night's Watch and was assigned to the Builders.
- In-Series Nickname: Horse, due to being big and having buck teeth.
- Jumped at the Call: After coming to the Wall, he was one of the handful of people from Moletown who stayed to defend it after it became safe to leave Castle Black and began expressing immediate interest in joining the Night's Watch.
- Undying Loyalty: To Jon Snow.
- "Been bringing men to the Wall for close on thirty years. All that time, I only lost three."
- Badass Beard: Albeit, one that has lice in it.
- Body Horror: A mild and fairly mundane version. Yet, it's rather hard to suppress the wish to scratch when you read about the small ecology of parasites he carries with him.
- Brutal Honesty: He is not a fan of mincing words, so when informing Robb, Bran, and Rickon of Benjen's disappearance, he tells them that their uncle is most likely dead.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He dress all in black, as befits a man of the Night's Watch, and has dark hair, an unkempt appearance, surly attitude, and genuinely appears fairly thuggish, but is one of the more honorable and noble men of the Night's Watch who cares for his recruits does whatever extra good he can.
- Due to the Dead: He is buried by some of his surviving recruits at Arya's insistence.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Takes down four Lannister soldiers before being cut down.
- Good Is Not Nice: While he may be willing to bend the rules of the Night's Watch to aid House Stark, Yoren is a cynical, abrasive, and blunt individual.
- Knight in Sour Armor: While he may bemoan the lack of respect the Night's Watch gets and the quality of the recruits he brings to the Wall, he is very dedicated to the order and its purpose.
- Old Soldier
- Recruiters Always Lie: It is implied he uses any tactics available to drum up recruits for the Watch, though as most of them are in prison to begin with they don't exactly have much to lose. Martin has jokingly commented that Yoren recruited Dolorous Edd to the Night's Watch by telling him it was a good place to meet girls.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The Night's Watch are supposed to be neutral in regards to the affairs of the realm, but Yoren ignores this to get Arya out of King's Landing and avoid seeing her father get beheaded.
- Undying Loyalty: To the Night's Watch, and by extension his brothers on the Wall. Thus he feels some loyalty to Benjen Stark, which is why he brings word to Eddard Stark about Catelyn Stark kidnapping Tyrion Lannister.
DareonA singer accused of raping a nobleman's daughter, although he insists that it had been consensual and that she only claimed rape after her father caught them. He becomes a steward at Eastwatch-By-The-Sea, but later gets assigned to become a recruiter, with the hope his singing ability will draw in recruits.
- The Casanova: He is on the more despicable side of this trope.
- Famous Last Words: The last thing he says before meeting his death in a dark alley is an unconsciously ironic, "Well it's too late now."
- Jerkass: Not obvious when first introduced, but becomes extremely clear when he treats Sam and Maester Aegon horribly on the voyage to Oldtown and he decides to desert the Night's Watch in Braavos.
- The Oathbreaker: Sleeps with prostitutes in Braavos before eventually deciding to desert completely.
- Slashed Throat: Arya executes him this way and dumps his body into a canal after learning he is a deserter from the Night's Watch.
- Wandering Minstrel: His life before being sent to the Wall. When he becomes a recruiter, he is to do this again, only singing songs about the Night's Watch to recruit people. He decides not to do this and settles down in Braavos, spending the money he makes singing on prostitutes.
RastA rapist sentenced to the Wall. He is part of Jon Snow's training group.
- The Bully: Towards Samwell Tarly in particular. While all the other recruits are convinced by Jon, Pyp, and Halder to go easy on Sam, Rast refuses and looks forward to beating him in training. A midnight visit from Jon, Pyp, Grenn, and Ghost put an end to that idea quickly though.
- Demoted to Extra: He never graduates from training and stays at the Wall during A Clash of Kings. He reappears briefly in A Storm of Swords to die during the wildling attack on Castle Black.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Killed by a Thenn wielding a spear. The Thenn is so strong he actually lifts Rast up into the air on it.
- In-Series Nickname: Ser Alliser calls him Rat.
- Jerkass: He has no redeeming qualities and is a vile sadistic rapist.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: None of the recruits like him due to his crimes and he has absolutely zero positive traits.
- Token Evil Teammate: Of the recruits in Jon's group, Rast is the only one who never makes friends with him or shows any kind of Hidden Depths. Not that this bothers Jon and the others, since they want nothing to do with Rast.
Night's Watch Animals
- "He's not like the others. He never makes a sound. That's why I named him Ghost. That, and because he's white. The others are all dark, grey or black."—Jon Snow to Benjen Stark
- Action Pet: Ghost is more of a scouter than a killer: but, don't think that makes him less action-orientated. He's helped Jon take down several enemies.
- Bond Creature: Even after learning the nature of wargs/skinchangers and their animal thralls, Jon recognizes the connection between him and his direwolf goes deeper than that. Ghost is a part of him.
- Chameleon Camouflage: White fur, white snow — and, one vanishing Ghost.
- The Dreaded: None of the Wildlings will touch Jon whenever Ghost is around, a fair few having seen what happened to Qhorin Halfhand, but mainly because wargs and their wolves are still generally remembered and dreaded. With just cause. Janos Slynt is likewise terrified of Ghost and uses his presence to accuse Jon of being an abomination.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Although he is silent, Ghost is a handy-dandy wight-and-Other detector, along with other types of danger. When Jon bothers to stop and listen, that is.
- Heroic Albino: Ghost.
- Heroic Mime: Unlike the other direwolves, Ghost doesn't vocalize at all. So, when he does let loose with a howl... you know it's big.
- Meaningful Name: Ghost is also well-named: he quietly turns up without warning quite a lot. Even Jon doesn't always know exactly where he is even when he knows he's somewhere close. And, he sometimes even fudges the "somewhere close" thing, too.
- Not Now, Kiddo: When Ghost becomes increasingly uncontrollable to the point of going berserk, Jon leaves him locked in his quarters and attributes it to his desire to fight a huge boar owned by a wildling warg. It's because his several of his Night's Watch brothers are about to betray him.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Ghost stops being silent the day Jon is betrayed by his brothers.
- Silent Snarker: Ghost manages, upon occasion, to give the impression of snarking a little at Jon in a friendly manner. His stealth appearances do have a tendency to be about when Jon has said he's not exactly sure where he is, for example. Some of his disappearances do the opposite, too.
Mormont's RavenLord Mormont's pet talking raven, which displays an unusual tendency to say apropos things. There are several fan theories that explain this with the bird being not what it seems. After Mormont's death, Jon Snow cares for the raven.
- Clever Crows: this particular corvid is not just clever, but very insightful for a bird.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Has a disturbing habit of repeating chilling words during tense conversations. It also asks for corn a lot.
- Put on a Bus: the raven vanishes after the mutiny during the Great Ranging...
- The Bus Came Back: only to reappear dramatically during the Lord Commander elections.
- Snarky Nonhuman Sidekick: to Jeor and later to Jon, some of its lines count as snarks.
- Trademark Favourite Food: corn.
Lord Commander Tristan Mudd
Tristan MuddA former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He is considered one of the worst commanders the Night's Watch ever had.
Lord Commander Runcel Hightower
Runcel HightowerA former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He nearly destroyed the Watch when attempting to inherit Castle Black and the Watch to his bastard son.
Lord Commander Rodrik Flint
Rodrik FlintA former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He nearly destroyed the Watch when he broke his oath and attempted to make himself King-Beyond-the-Wall.
- The Oathbreaker: Declared himself a king, which runs counter to the idea that "I shall wear no crowns and win no glory."
Lord Commander Osric Stark
Osric StarkA former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, from four hundred years before the War of Conquest. He was elected Lord Commander at the age of 10 but commanded the Watch for sixty years.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Led the Night's Watch for many years while just a child.
- Child Soldier: Why a Stark was sent to the Wall so young is unknown.
- Nepotism: It's a fairly safe bet he would not have been elected if his last name hadn't been Stark. He only appears as a historical footnote, so we don't know what kind of job he did. Though the length of his term suggests that at minimum, he did well enough that no one murdered him in his sleep.
Lord Commander Brynden Rivers
Lord Commander Brynden Rivers
Lord Bloodraven, The Last Greenseer, The Three-Eyed Crow
- "A Thousand Eyes, and One."
- 0% Approval Rating: He was thought to be an evil sorcerer and everyone blamed him for the realm's problems. Being an albino bastard certainly didn't help him with all the sinister connotations both conditions have, culturally. Or just having the one eye, either.
- Ambiguously Evil: So ambiguous, it's hard to say where he stands even now he's mostly a tree, even after the events in the current series he's triggered. Melisandre most certainly considers him evil, or at least a threat, but she's not exactly in a position to talk.
- Animal Eye Spy: It's implied that his amazing skills as a spymaster were/are attributable to his ability to skinchange into ravens.
- Annoying Arrows: His elite group of archers "The Raven's Teeth" were a deadly aversion of this to others. A fact House Blackfyre learned all too well.
- Archer Archetype: His weirwood longbow and archery unit weren't just conversation pieces. He also comes with strong suggestions of being a Cold Sniper with it... what with his propensity to carefully pick where, when and how to engage by throwing in an awful lot of field-prep and deliberate ignoring of social niceties into the mix. But, if you think any of this meant he had to be crap at close-combat... Dark Sister would probably change your mind.
- Balance of Power: Dear Lord, but he helped juggle factions within the Kingdom like a pro to keep it a single Kingdom under Targaryen rule. His reach even affected Essos and what the Blackfyres did over there to try to evade him, when they weren't being active pains in Westeros itself. Using Dunk and Egg as surprise, under-the-radar players when they turned up to upset expectations? Par for the course. Even now, long after he's become nothing more than a memory to the rest of Westeros, it's implied that he's still playing the game from Beyond the Wall as the Three-Eyed Crow, though to what end is still a mystery.
- Battle of Wits: While not exactly a stranger to the battlefield, he actually spent most of his time trying to hamstring the opposition using every dirty trick in the book before it actually got to that point. And, when it invariably did thanks to the nature of the hotheads on both sides, he made his level best to make absolutely sure any battle took place with the odds heavily stacked in his and his allies' favour.
- Big Brother Is Watching: He was notorious during his tenure as Hand for having a vast network of spies and informers and was remorseless to anyone who stated pro-Blackfyre sentiments publicly. In The Mystery Knight, several lords complain about how people were no longer free to express their sentiment out of fear of being spied. It's implied that his talents as a skinchanger contributed to this, hence his reputation as a sorcerer.
- Brother-Sister Incest: The love of his life was his half-sister, Shiera Seastar.
- Cain and Abel: He was enemies with his half-brother Aegor Rivers, known as "Bittersteel", who also loved Shiera Seastar. On top of that, Bloodraven's mother was a Blackwood and Bittersteel's mother was a Bracken. (As you might be able to tell, Aegon IV did the realm no favors when picking his mistresses.) On the battle of the Redgrass Field, he and his archers rained down arrows on Daemon Blackfyre and his twin sons, succeeding in killing all three. This action earned Bloodraven the tag of "kinslayer" (Daemon being another of his bastard half-brothers, and the twins therefore his nephews).
- Bloodraven was ruthless and unsentimental when it came to engagements. He told Aerys I to kill Bittersteel, his own half-brother, but the former refused. Years later, Bloodraven executed Daemon's son Aenys Blackfyre (his own nephew) and put his head upon a pike on the Red Keep.
- Combat Pragmatist: He was a formidable warrior but he preferred to fight from a distance.
- He could have fought Daemon Blackfyre up close and personal like Ser Gwayne Corbray famously did. Instead he just rained arrows on the bastard and his sons.
- He refused to fight Daemon II and just had him arrested.
- Cool Sword: One of the Targaryen warriors (including Prince Daemon Targaryen and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight) to wield Visenya's Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister.
- Court Mage: Due to his uncanny ability to sniff out even the most closely-concealed treasonous plots, people began spreading rumors that he was some kind of sorcerer who used dark magic to spy on them. They were right, in a sense — he's a powerful skinchanger and greenseer who also had some skill with glamours.
- Distinguishing Mark: A large, reddish birthmark on his neck that was somewhat bird-shaped, and the source of his nickname.
- Evil Albino / Heroic Albino: Hard to tell, although his reputation was as the former.
- Evil Sorcerer: By reputation. He definitely was a sorcerer, although the evil part is still up in the air.
- Evil Chancellor: His reputation was as one, but his appearance in The Mystery Knight suggests something more like a Loyal and Extremely Ruthless Chancellor. One thing to keep in mind: a major reason why Aegon V had a relatively peaceful, productive reign was because all of the major Blackfyre-related problems were out of his hair thanks to Bloodraven's hard work during the previous years. Even if nobody quite acknowledges that.
- Expy: He's one for Elric.
- The Extremist Was Right: Arguably a case of this. If he hadn't gone after the Blackfyre side as ruthlessly as he did while earning such a dismal reputation for himself, the problem could well have haunted Aegon's reign and beyond quite directly. As it is, he may have missed a couple: if the newer Aegon turns out to be a feint, that is. Still, that would prove the point: trouble brews if you leave it be.
- Eye Scream: He lost one of his eyes to Bittersteel during the Battle of Redgrass Field. He often traveled leaving the socket open which added to his sinister aura.
- As Hand of the King, to Otto Hightower. Compared to Hightower, Bloodraven was remarkably more selfless and incredibly loyal to the Targaryens in spite of not being particularly loved. Bloodraven never overplayed his hand in the sense that he just was as powerful as people thought he was, while Otto Hightower played with fire and got way too close for comfort, and acted purely for the sake of the advancement of his household.
- You can also compare him to Tyrion Lannister. The family outsider who serves as hand, remains loyal to the King and is willing to be ruthless to get his ends, and eventually finds his efforts backfire on him leading to a fall to grace. Likewise, Bloodraven is seen as deformed (Being an Albino) and has an evil reputation solely for his appearance alone.
- One can compare him to the two prominent bastards, Jon Snow and Ramsay Snow. Like Jon Snow, Bloodraven is steadfastly loyal to his family, is of First Men descent and possesses warging abilities, wields a Valyrian Steel blade and joins the Night's Watch and becomes Lord Commander. However, Bloodraven's underhanded tactics, his ruthlessness gave the Targaryen family a bad reputation much like Ramsay did for Roose, and he eventually became a liability to them.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: He was loyal to the Targaryen cause during the Blackfyre Rebellion, despite being a bastard himself. However, his unusual looks and sinister aura meant that even his own supporters did not like him very much.
- I Did What I Had to Do: His justification for killing Aenys Blackfyre, under a truce sign and parley, violating all codes of diplomacy. On becoming King, Egg arrested him and sent him to the Night's Watch.
- The Gods Must Be Lazy: A possible aversion; some of the apparently supernatural acts in ASOIAF might well have been caused by him.
- In-Series Nickname: Bloodraven Also, the Three-Eyed Crow and the Last Greenseer.
- The Man Behind the Man: He was widely held to be this for King Aerys I. The World of Ice & Fire also holds him responsible for sparking the First Blackfyre Rebellion when he gave intelligence to Daeron the Good that Daemon and Bittersteel were going to make their move. Historians state that it's almost impossible that Bloodraven could have obtained this information, but readers will know it can be attributed to his greenseer and skinchanger abilities.
- Never Found the Body: Disappeared when ranging beyond the Wall. He somehow ended up North of the Wall as a half-weirwood figure in a cave with the Children of the Forest
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Years of dedicated (and fanatical) service to House Targaryen and all he got was a one-way ticket to The Wall.
- Number Two/Dragon-in-Chief: As Hand of the King to Aerys I, Bloodraven essentially ruled the kingdom while Aerys spent most of his time studying scrolls and prophecies.
- Peek-a-Bangs: Wore these to cover his missing eye. They're still (mostly) there, even in the state he's currently in.
- Pet the Dog: In "The Mystery Knight", he seems to have a soft spot for his great-nephew Egg, as well as for Dunk even more so if he was indeed disguised as Maynard Plumm via a glamour, as Plumm saved Dunk's life.
- Pragmatic Hero /Pragmatic Villainy: Depending on which side you're on, of course:
- He is particularly vilified for killing Daemon Blackfyre in the most unceremonious way possible by raining arrows on him and his twin sons instead of facing him on the field of battle. While Bloodraven carried Dark Sister, it's uncertain if he would have stood up in swordsmanship to Blackfyre, who was said to be able to fight like the Warrior himself.
- When Daemon II Blackfyre challenged him to a duel at the beginning of the Second Blackfyre Rebellion, Bloodraven nipped the whole thing in the bud by immediately having him arrested instead...and then keeping him as a hostage rather than having him executed with the rest of the rebels, which prevented his younger brother from being named as heir.
- In another incident, when Aenys Blackfyre (another of Daemon's sons) pressed his claim to the throne following Maekar's death, Bloodraven called a great council to offer a peaceful resolution as a way of avoiding a civil war...and then, when Aenys arrived for these peaceful negotiations, Bloodraven immediately murdered him, in violation of all codes of diplomacy, in order to quash the threat of civil war for good.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Aegon V ("Egg") had him sent him to the Wall as part of a honor guard to accompany Maester Aemon (a fate which he chose to avoid execution for his murder of Aenys Blackfyre mentioned above). He eventually became Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
- Royalty Superpower: What can you get when you cross the blood of the First Men with that of Old Valyria in a time without dragons? A greenseer and skinchanger, that's what.
- Shoot the Dog: This seems to have practically been his life philosophy - coupled with prejudices against his appearance, that caused him to become very unpopular.
- Sinister Surveillance: The meaning of the song written about him, "A Thousand Eyes, and One". The "one eye" part is a reference to him having lost one eye in battle, and the "thousand eyes" part because he seemed to have spies everywhere. And he does. As a powerful skinchanger, he can control animals and see through their eyes.
- The Spymaster: Master of Whisperers...it was his job. His information network seems to have exceeded that of Varys.
- Two Aliases, One Character: It's implied in the Dunk and Egg novella The Mystery Knight that a hedge knight calling himself Maynard Plumm (who is revealed as one of Bloodraven's spies) was actually Bloodraven himself using a glamour.
- Unexpected Character: Became the Three Eyed Crow after being thought dead for a century.
- The Unreveal: While it's known why he had a rivalry with Bittersteel, it's not known why both Bloodraven and Shiera stayed so staunchly loyal to the Targaryens. There are no accounts of their relationship with King Daeron and Bloodraven's infamy has only added darkness to the already muddy waters. His appearance on the underground cave suggest that there might have been an element of magic even to this aspect of him.
- It's also not revealed what precisely did he have against the Blackfyres and why was it so damn important to keep them away from the Iron Throne. At first it seemed to be plain and simple loyalty, but his actions against Aenys Blackfyre border on the illogical and have touches of zealotry or even something more macabre.
- Weapon of Choice: While wielding Dark Sister, he was also a gifted archer, having commanded his own archery unit, "The Raven's Teeth", and wielding a longbow made of weirwood.
- White Sheep: Remained loyal to the family, unlike his half-brothers Bittersteel and Daemon Blackfyre. His personal coat of arms was an albino dragon on a black field.