Characters: Game Of Thrones Nights Watch
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The Night's Watch
"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."
An order of volunteers, convicted criminals, and fugitives that defends the northern frontier of the Seven Kingdoms. This is marked by the Wall, the biggest man-made structure in the world. Any man joining the Night's Watch is given amnesty for all his previous crimes and is beyond the reach of the Kings of Westeros.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: Specially in the latest decades, in which only few nobles join the Night's Watch on their own choice. Most of the Watch members are criminals such as rapists, murderers, or thieves, or knights who fought on the side of the Mad King during Robert's Rebellion and were exiled to the Wall to keep their heads.
- Ancient Tradition: They are by far the oldest institution of Westeros.
- Arch-Enemy: The Night's Watch and the Wildlings have been locking horns for generations. Not only that, but the White Walkers are also regarded as the ancient enemies of the Night's Watch.
- Badass Decay: In-universe; they used to be a highly regarded order, attractive to the Westerosi elite and capable of operating nineteen border fortifications and castles during their heyday. In the present day they can hardly man three outposts and noble, quality volunteers are a rarity. Despite this, however, they manage to repel the first wave of Wildlings who attack the Wall.
- Celibate Hero: What they are supposed to be as they are sworn to take no wife and father no child. It is, however, an Open Secret within the order that some higher ranking members visit whorehouses when they are out on errands.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All Nightswatchmen are required to wear black clothing and armor.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Even though their uniform is all-black, they are sworn to protect the northern border of the realm from the danger and horrors that lie beyond. In a more traditional fantasy story this would usually make them the Big Bad's minions, but George R. R. Martin deliberately wanted to turn the trope on its head.
- The Dead Have Names: Maester Aemon's funeral elegy after the Battle at Castle Black:
"They came to us from White Harbor and Barrowton, from Fairmarket and King's Landing. From north and south, from east and west. They died protecting men, women, and children who will never know their names. It is for us to remember our brothers. We shall never see their like again."
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Defenders of the realm for generations, but their importance is dismissed even by reasonable Southerners.
Tyrion: ...ah, yes yes, against grumpkins and snarks, and all the other monsters your wet nurse warned you about.
- Due to the Dead: A fallen comrade deserves a proper ceremony even if the unit is knee-deep in hostile territory in the far end of the world.
"And now his watch is ended."
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Word of God is that the Wall is based on Hadrian's Wall and the Night's Watch was inspired by the author wondering how the life of a Roman legionary deployed there would be like. However, the Night's Watch self-rule, imposed celibacy and penitence shtick likens it more to a crusader order, especially when the Medieval European Fantasy setting of the show is considered.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: Toyed with. Criminals may choose the Wall to keep from being executed, castrated, or mutilated.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: The Watch calls for help in the season 3 finale. Only Stannis Baratheon answered.
- A House Divided: Internal struggle arises in the middle of the most crucial events the order has faced in centuries.
- Ignored Expert: Their alarming concerns are dismissed as antiquated fairy tales at first and diluted by the Westerosi civil war later. Eventually Gondor Calls for Aid, and Stannis answers.
- In-Series Nickname: The crows, used derogatorily by the Wildlings because of their black uniforms.
- Loophole Abuse: They regularly visit the brothel in the nearest town despite their vow of celibacy, but in "The Watchers on the Wall", Sam notes that "take no wife and father no child" doesn't say anything about having sex.
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: Even many of the members who don't have a criminal past are fleeing from a life wherein they were considered unsuitable by their own kin.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: How most people in Westeros view joining the Night's Watch.
- That Man Is Dead: The plus side of joining the Night's Watch is that all crimes, no matter how heinous, are washed away. Any man can rise high in the Watch, regardless of origin.
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
"You want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow."
"A man of the Night's Watch lives his life for the realm."
997th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Killed by one of his own men during a coup.
- Badass: You don't become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch by being a wimp. Mormont is a legendary badass and everybody knows it. Karl and Rast, a pair of ruthless cutthroats, are terrified of him.
- Badass Beard: He has one.
- Badass Grandpa: He's one of the oldest members of the Night's Watch, and his wealth of experience has made him into the Lord Commander.
- Blood from the Mouth: As a result of Rast stabbing him multiple times.
- Character Death: Karl, Rast, and other members of the Night's Watch mutiny against him at Craster's keep. While he's distracted by a face-off with Karl, Rast sneaks up and stabs him in the back.
- Colonel Badass: Has a reputation as a great warrior, which he backs up by personally leading a massive force of the Night's Watch beyond the Wall at the end of Season 1.
- Due to the Dead: Averted. The Night's Watch traditionally burn their dead on a pyre, and Mormont would have earned a great and respectful speech. Instead Karl turned his skull into a cup, which he drinks from while mocking his commander's memory. from the books
- Dying Moment of Awesome/Defiant to the End: Even after he's stabbed in the back, he tries to choke Rast to death. One-handed. Unfortunately, Reality Ensues as Mormont succumbs to his wounds before he can finish off Rast.
- A Father to His Men: As much as one can be when the men in question are an Army of Thieves and Whores. Jon even describes him as a father to the brothers of the Night's Watch, and gets half a dozen volunteers on a dangerous mission partly intended to avenge Mormont's death.
Mormont: Tarly, I forbid you to die.
- Frontline General: He personally leads the great ranging beyond the Wall.
- Godzilla Threshold: As of Series 3, with the massive army of White Walkers marching on the unprepared and undermanned Wall, he definitely believes that it's been reached.
Mormont: We need to get back to the Wall. It's a long march, we know what's out there. But we have to make it! We have to warn them! Or before Winter's end, everyone you've ever known will be dead!
- I Have No Son: Effectively disowned his son, Ser Jorah, for selling slaves and fleeing the King's justice.
- In the Back: Rast stabs him in the back during the mutiny at Craster's Keep. It's pretty much the only way a Dirty Coward like Rast could best him.
- Like a Son to Me: He doesn't say the words, but gives Jon his family's sword (which was previously given to Jorah) and he's apparently grooming him to be his successor.
- The Mentor: For Jon Snow, who he'd been grooming to become the next Lord Commander.
- Moral Event Horizon: In-universe, Jon presents the fact that Mormont knows that Craster kills his sons (and implies that he also knows that it is an offering to the White Walkers) when he is brought before Mance Rayder to pass himself as an oathbreaker and gain Rayder's trust.
- Old Soldier: Mormont has been a soldier almost his entire life.
- Passing the Torch: Gives Jon Snow the Mormont ancestral sword, Longclaw, in thanks for saving his life and partly because he could not pass it on to his dishonored son.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Takes his position as Lord Commander very seriously (see the above quote) and wants the Night's Watch to be better prepared for the future. He also takes the opportunity to send Thorne away on business to ease tensions at the Wall.
- Taking You with Me: He attempts this on Rast and nearly succeeds, but Reality Ensues and he succumbs to his severe wounds before he can finish the job.
Ser Alliser Thorne
"You don't know cold. Neither of you do."
"When you're out there, beyond the Wall with the sun going down, do you want a man at your back? Or a sniveling boy?"
The Master-at-Arms of Castle Black, tasked with the training of the new recruits. Also formally Acting Lord Commander in Mormont's absence and after his death, but he really shares power with Maester Aemon. Leads the defense of Castle Black against Mance Rayder's Wildling horde.
Maester Aemon Targaryen
"Love is the death of duty."
"I am the Maester of the Citadel, bound in service to Castle Black and the Nights' Watch. I will not tell you to stay or go. You must make that choice yourself, and live with it for the rest of your days — As I have."
Maester serving as a member of the Night's Watch. Extremely old, blind, and awesome. Serves as Acting Lord Commander in Mormont's absence and, later, after Mormont's death and before the election of the 998th Lord Commander, alongside Alliser Thorne. Before completing his Maester's chain, he was Prince Aemon Targaryen, the son of King Maekar. When the succession passed to him, he stepped aside for his younger brother and completed his very long life in the Citadel and then the Wall.
- Conflicting Loyalty: He knows far better than Jon Snow the problems of conflicting loyalties. He also shares this later to Sam, noting that while he knows fully well that "Love is the death of duty", as a young man he had known love himself and was seriously tempted to accept his birthright.
- Cool Old Guy: The oldest man in Westeros, in fact. Definitely a good man, he vouches for Jon when he comes back from the Wildlings. He also bonds with Samwell Tarly regarding his transparent fondness for Gilly.
- Deadpan Snarker: Can't resist a tiny bit of snark at the end of Season 3 when Sam brings a woman and a baby to Castle Black.
- Foil: To the extremely corrupt Maester Pycelle, Aemon represents the true dedication and commitment to his vows, offers genuine and useful advice and is beloved and respected by his charges.
- For Want of a Nail: He mentions that he refused his birthright to become King, so the crown passed to his younger brother instead. Who then passed it to his son, who became the Mad King and inspired Robert's Rebellion. It boggles the mind how differently everything might have turned out if Aemon had taken the job.
- Hidden Depths: This blind old Maester is the last Targaryen living in Westeros. People tend to forget this as he reminds Sam:
"You can imagine all sorts of horrors that may have befallen that girl and her baby, but you can't imagine that an old man was once, more or less, like you?"
- Honor Before Reason: Informs Jon that an oath is simple to keep in easy times but the true test comes when a person has every good reason to break it. Overlaps with a bit of What You Are in the Dark.
Aemon: We all do our duty when there's no cost to it. Honor comes easy then. But sooner or later, in every man's life, there comes a day when it is not easy. A day when he must choose.
- I Was Quite a Looker: He used to be a real ladykiller. Sam finds this hard to believe, and he scolds him for assuming that he always looked the way he does now. Sam then apologizes.
- Living Lie Detector: Why he believes Jon's story after he returns from his mission with the Wildlings. After all, he grew up in King's Landing.
- Long Lived: He seems to be the oldest man in Westeros.
- Nice Guy: Acts with kindness and patience towards pretty much everyone he meets and interacts with including Tyrion, gives an especially Angsty Jon Snow some important life lessons in Season 1, and in Season 3, he happily welcomes Gilly and her baby to stay at Castle Black.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Subverted when he talks to Jon about the murder of Elia Martell's children, it's clear if he had been a younger man at the time with his eyesight remaining nobody would have stopped him from seeking revenge.
- Not So Different: Tells Jon that he knows what it's like to have Conflicting Loyalty to the Night's Watch and the desire to save your family. The Targaryen's were entirely slaughtered, even the children, while he was powerless to stop them, being too old and blind by then to desert his post and fight at their side.
- Offered the Crown: He's the Mad King's uncle and turned down the crown in favor of his younger brother.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: In the series, Aemon identifies Mad King Aerys II as his nephew, while in the books, he is his great-nephew, thereby cutting one generation from the Targaryen family tree and making him Daenerys' great-uncle. While the timeline does make sense in the books (Aemon is 100 years old at that point — exceptional, but not unrealistic), this was probably changed to avoid viewers being puzzled on how it is possible that Daenerys' (who also got an Age Lift) great-great-uncle is still alive.
- Prophet Eyes: Of the 'just blind, not psychic' variety. As far as we know.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Takes heed to Sam and quickly sends word of the white walker situation to every corner of the kingdoms.
- During a period of interregnum, he's the fair, balanced voice that tries to moderate the rash or punitive tendencies of Thorne and Slynt.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: He willingly chose this, feeling he was not cut out for the game of thrones and stepped aside for his younger brother Aegon V "Egg".
- The Reveal: He has been serving at the Wall so long, his lineage has been largely forgotten by most of Westeros.
Jon: Who are you?
Aemon: My father was Maekar, first of his name. My brother Aegon, reigned after him, when I had refused the throne. And he was followed by his son, Aerys... who they called "the Mad King"
Jon: You're Aemon Targaryen?!
"Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it."
"The Wildlings are no different from us. A little rougher, maybe. But they're made of meat and bone. I know how to track 'em and I know how to kill 'em. It's not the Wildlings giving me sleepless nights."
Eddard Stark's younger brother and First Ranger of the Night's Watch.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Benjen had to earn the position of First Ranger at the Night's Watch.
- Badass: By default, being a member of the Night's Watch. Being First Ranger isn't a job for the average man, either.
- Badass Beard: Thinner than his brothers, but present all the same.
- Brutal Honesty: Tells Jon in no uncertain terms that he is no better than anyone at the Wall; they are all brothers now.
- Cool Uncle: Jon simply adores him. Benjen perhaps sees something of himself in the family outcast.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Benjen has been rarely mentioned since his disappearance; the ranging party never talks about him and even when Jon infiltrates the Wildlings he never stops to ask, 'by the way did any of you kill my uncle?'.
- Never Found the Body: His horse returned riderless and two of his comrades corpses are found — reanimated by White Walkers. While he is officially only missing in action, his comrades-in-arms are not optimistic. For the moment, his status is 'presumed dead'.
- Ranger: First ranger, in fact.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It's the question many are asking; where the hell is Benjen Stark?
"I want to fight on the side that fights for the living."
Jon: "I never met my mother. My father wouldn't even tell me her name. I don't know if she's living or dead. I don't know if she's a noblewoman or a fisherman's wife... or a whore. So I sat there in the brothel as Ros took off her clothes. But I couldn't do it. Because all I could think was what if I got her pregnant and she had a child, another bastard named Snow? It's not a good life for a child."
The bastard son of Eddard Stark, he decides to join the Night's Watch and protect the realm from whatever lives on the other side of the Wall.
- The Ace: To the Night's Watch, among the younger recruits and young Samwell in particular. Moreso after the Battle of Castle Black where he was one of the main defenders alongside Ser Alliser, Pyp, Grenn and Dolorous Edd.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: He is never described as being handsome in the books, but is played by Kit Harington in the series.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Has black hair and brown eyes in the series, but his book counterpart has the brown hair and grey eyes of the Starks.
- Angst Dissonance: In-universe. He thinks that being a bastard is terrible, his life sucks, and people treat him unfairly. He often needs to be reminded that even if he is a bastard, he still has a family that (with the sole exception of Catelyn) loves him — plus, he grew up in a castle, making him one of the most privileged Sworn Brothers of the Night's Watch. Which essentially boils down to stating that his complaints are usually totally bollocks. Part of his problem is that he's well into the top 10% of Westerosi society, but he was raised in a family where everyone else was in the top 1-2%, so he has difficulty keeping this in perspective until he meets some of the other 90% when he goes to the Wall.
- The Apprentice: According to Sam, he's being groomed to become the next Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: During the Battle of Castle Black, he's left in charge, and takes a small force down to ground level. He jumps out of the elevator, and proceeds to kill three Wildlings before the elevator even hits the floor.
- Badass: Despite his youth, Jon's training at Winterfell and experiences beyond the Wall have made him one of the most dangerous fighters in the series.
- Badass Longcoat: The tabard Jon wears is evocative of this trope.
- Band of Brothers: With Sam, Pyp, Grenn, and Edd.
- Battle Butler: He's appointed a steward instead of a ranger, which doesn't sit well with him. Gets his fair share of asskicking anyway.
- Becoming the Mask: He's edging towards this with the Wildlings, becoming very torn about what he truly wants. At the very least, he's come to genuinely love Ygritte. Ygritte, however, notices that he is still at heart loyal to the Night's Watch, and although she tells him she is willing to ignore that, things soon comes to a head between the two...
- After returning to the Night's Watch, the panel at his hearing aren't impressed when they notice him unintentionally refer to their enemy as "The Free Folk", rather than the Wildlings, and accuse him of Going Native.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Ygritte, which is made worse due to his adherence to his vows.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's probably one of the nicest people in this entire screwed up world.
- Big Brother Instinct: Jon towards Samwell, as well as his actual younger siblings, especially Arya who treasures Needle which he gave to her.
- This is the reason Bran is convinced not to see Jon, despite being so close, because he knows that Jon would do everything to protect him and keep him from going further north, even though he desperately needs to go.
- Jon also pretty much immediately takes on this role for Olly.
- Break the Haughty: So far, his time at the Wall seems to be one long object lesson in not taking himself too seriously and even moreso when his time among the Wildlings.
- Bully Hunter: He insists on fighting back against the Night's Watch recruits who harass Samwell.
- Bullying a Dragon: He is a kind-hearted man, but you do NOT want to piss him off.
- Celibate Hero: Ygritte gets him out of this.
- Character Development: The brash, hotheaded, and naive Jon Snow from the first season is all but gone by Season 4, where he is seasoned, somber, and serious.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: He is a Stark, after all.
- Combat Pragmatist: Though starting out quite idealistic, by Season 4, he's able to make the hard call to not respond to a group of Wildlings slaughtering nearby villages, especially since he knows full well it's a distraction for an attack on the Wall itself. He also had no problem shoving a sword through the back of Karl's skull when the opportunity presented itself. Even his overall fighting style is becoming more and more like this, as during the Wildlings' attack on the Wall, Jon uses a mixture of kicks and the environment around him, as well as typical swordplay, to kill several wildlings.
- Compassionate Critic: Has a superior martial training and doesn't shy away from pointing out the flaws of his companions, because he cares for them and incidentally for himself too, as he will be in the same boat should trouble arise.
- Conflicting Loyalty: He wants to go and help his brother but he also doesn't want to leave the Watch after swearing to serve.
- Also between the Watch and Ygritte, and his understanding of the needs of the Watch versus the depravity of Craster. Also between the Watch's purpose and protecting the soft and unreliable Sam. Jon's very conflicted.
- Cool Big Bro: The younger Starks adore him, and Arya gets Needle, her first sword, as a gift from Jon.
- Cool Pet: His albino direwolf, Ghost.
- Cool Sword: Longclaw. A gift from the Lord Commander, Jeor Mormont, who felt the sword's name suited a wolf as much as a bear. Its functional coolness comes from the fact that it's Valyrian steel, able to hold an incredibly keen edge.
- Stealth Pun: Longclaw is a hand-and-a-half sword, sometimes called a bastard sword. From the books...
- Deadpan Snarker: Not at first, but his time with the Wildlings brings it out.
- Death Seeker: Implied in "The Watchers on the Wall." After Ygritte dies, Jon decides to go on a suicide mission to assassinate Mance Rayder. However, even though he still grieves over Ygritte's death, he manages to shake out of his suicidal tendencies soon afterwards.
- Fake Defector: As of the Season 2 finale, he has managed to convince the Wildlings that he's a bona fide defector. Killing Quorin Halfhand, along with his admission that he was unhappy with Mormont's decision to ally with Craster, went some ways to convincing them of his sincerity.
- A Father to His Men: While he's not an authority figure, many of the low-ranking Night's Watch men do look up to him.
- The Fettered: A Stark in all but name, he won't hurt an innocent in cold blood. This blows his cover when the Wildlings force Jon to kill an old man to test his allegiance.
- Genre Savvy: Unlike his companions, he has received an advanced military education. Like all children in the North, he grew up hearing the names, dates and locations of previous failed Wildling invasions. It remains to be seen if his review on the Wildlings holds true for the seventh invasion:
I know your people are brave, no one denies that. Six times in the last thousand years, a King-beyond-the-Wall has attacked the kingdoms. Six times they failed. You don't have the discipline. You don't have the training. Your army is no army. You don't know how to fight together.
- Going Native: Jon's time among the Wildlings and his relationship with Ygritte, has led his Night's Watch superiors to accuse Jon of this. He's unquestionably loyal to the Night's Watch but with his frequent references to the Wildlings as "Free Folk", its more than a little obvious that his time among them has had an effect. Tormund Lampshades the same:
"You spent too much time with us, Jon Snow. You can never be a kneeler again."
- Good Is Not Nice: Jon can be somewhat self-absorbed and brooding, despite his strong moral compass.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Goodish ones, which he receives toward the end of Season 3. Notably, he gets them from a somewhat anti-heroic moment wherein he literally and figuratively twists the knife when killing the Wilding Warg Orrell, whose eagle proceeds to claw and peck Jon's face and attempts (but fails) to take an eye).
- Heartbroken Badass: After Ygritte is killed during the Wildings' attack on the Wall.
- The Hero: Of the Night's Watch storyline, starting in Season 4 with his efforts in leading the Raid on Craster's Keep and the Battle of Castle Black.
- Heroes Want Redheads: He has been attracted to both Ros and Ygritte.
- Heroic Bastard: Tyrion lampshades this trope in The Kingsroad:
Tyrion: A bastard boy with nothing to inherit, off to join the ancient order of the Night's Watch, alongside his valiant brothers-in-arms.
Jon: The Night's Watch protects the realm from—
Tyrion: Ah yes, yes! Against grumpkins and snarks and all the other monsters your wetnurse warned you about. You're a smart boy. You don't believe that nonsense.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Sam.
- Honor Before Reason: With regard to his refusal to kill anyone who isn't directly attacking him at that very moment in time. Seems to be his Fatal Flaw just as much as it is for the rest of his family, as his refusal to kill an old man who was going to be killed one way or the other blows his cover, turns his lover against him, gets him shot full of arrows and renders Qhorin Halfhand's sacrifice all but meaningless.
- Jumped at the Call: Jon is overly eager to join the Night's Watch, despite his uncle Benjen's advice to wait a while. Later, he volunteers himself to join Qhorin Halfhand's ranging party. Mance Rayder picks up on this trait very quickly, saying that he believes that the thing Jon wants, most of all, is to be a hero.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted. Even though he is provided with a local prostitute Ros, he is unmanned by the thought of inflicting some poor kid with the problems his own bastardy has brought him. He eventually loses his virginity to Ygritte, because he has to convince her he has forsaken his vows to the Night's Watch.
- Manly Tears: Walking away from Ygritte's funeral pyre, we see Jon breaking down.
- Missing Mom: Jon knows nothing about his mother. During Robert's rebellion, Lord Stark had an affair with a woman called Wylla and Ned promises Jon they will talk about his mother some day when they reunite, but they never see each other again.
- Na´ve Newcomer: To the North side of the Wall, where he knows nothing.
- Nice Guy: One of the nicest and most moral guys on the Crapsack World that is Westeros.
- Not So Stoic: The normally reserved Jon Snow breaks down after burning Ygritte's body in the forest.
- The Oath-Breaker: Subverted. Jon's brothers in the Night's Watch convince him to return to the Wall after he leaves to avenge the death of his father. It's played straight with the celibacy part of the oath, although circumstances may have called for it. Wonderful circumstances.
- Odd Friendship: With Tyrion Lannister, albeit only for a few episodes.
- Phrase Catcher: "You must be Ned Stark's bastard". Uttered by nearly every single person who meets him for the first time.
- "You know nothing, Jon Snow", courtesy of Ygritte.
- Pretty Boy: Craster snarks that Jon is prettier than half his daughters. Orell claims his looks are the only reason Ygritte likes him.
- Pride: Seems to be his major character flaw. His confidence in the superiority of his abilities often causes him to lose sight of the bigger picture and complain about the unfairness of his life. Good thing he has Sam and friends to put things in perspective for him.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Joined the Night's Watch of his own volition, rather than to escape death like many other recruits.
- Shoot Your Mate: Kills Qhorin Halfhand to convince the Wildlings he's defecting to their side.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Ygritte. Jon is a man of the Night's Watch and Ygritte a Wildling, meaning that they can't be together no matter how much they love one another.
- The Unfavorite: Played straight regarding Catelyn as he's a constant reminder of the one time Ned's honor faltered; as far as she's concerned, his joining the Night's Watch is a much-needed Reassignment To Antarctica. Subverted, in that his father, siblings and uncle all clearly love him.
- Also the only brother Theon doesn't give a toss about, probably because they're both not real Starks, but Ned actually acknowledges Jon.
- Took a Level in Badass: His term serving under Mormont and spent among the Wildlings has shaped him into a better leader and fighter.
- Wicked Stepmother: Lady Stark is unable to hide her contempt for Ned's bastard. She eventually reveals that she blames herself for the misfortunes of her family, rationalizing that it's all a punishment from the gods because she was unable to fulfill a promise about raising Jon Snow like her own son, a bargain made when he was very ill as a baby.
- Wild Mass Guessing: The subject of a disproportionately huge amount of this, both in-universe and out. Ned refuses to discuss his mother with anyone, and the topic of just what woman could induce the honorable Ned Stark to forget his vows draws a lot of attention. From the books...
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Jon's steadfast refusal to kill an old man for the Wildlings is what blows his cover.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Not kill one, at least. That's quite much by the standards of the show. It's a combination of this and "Wouldn't kill a prisoner", perhaps with a touch of "Wow, that Chick's Hot".
- Written-In Infirmity: Harrington broke his ankle shortly before Season 3 began filming, which required quite a bit of creativity in the filming of his scenes. Watch carefully and you'll see that you hardly ever see Jon's face during any physical activity.
- You Are in Command Now: In "The Watchers on the Wall", Jon is forced to take command of the Wall's defenders after Slynt freaks out.
Samwell "Sam" Tarly
Gilly: "You're like...a wizard."
A new trainee at the Wall, and the rejected scion of the noble Tarly family. He is assigned to the Stewards after completing training.
- Abusive Parents: Hoo boy. His own father was willing to personally murder him.
- Adorkable: Particularly towards Gilly.
- Badass: Believe it or not. Killing a White Walker definitely makes you a badass.
- Band of Brothers: With Jon, Pyp, Grenn, and Edd.
- Big Fun: Albeit in a lower key kind of way.
- Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 2's finale ends with Sam surrounded by an army of wights led by the White Walkers.
- Unexplained Recovery: He survives, luckily, but we are cheated out of a scene showing how in the process.
- Bookworm: Wanted to be a wizard, and freely admits he much prefers being a steward to being a ranger. "I read it in a book" is his fitting answer to many questions about his knowledge.
- Butt Monkey: He is one to the other trainees and to Alliser Thorne, until Jon puts a stop to it.
- The Champion: To Gilly.
- Cowardly Lion: When he has to defend Gilly, he gets fierce. During the Battle for Castle Black, he's clearly scared shitless the entire time, but he stands his ground.
- Crazy-Prepared: "Mhysa" reveals that he collected all the dragonglass daggers and arrowheads from the Fist of the First Men, because of their historical significance and because he thought they might prove useful. And boy, was he right!
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Owns a dragonglass dagger which he uses to slay a White Walker.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Accidentally oneshotting a White Walker counts as this.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: No one at Castle Black believes he killed a White Walker, thanks to the only witness being a Wildling.
- Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Sam's reason for wanting to help Gilly, one of Craster's daughters. He points out to Jon that the Night's Watch is supposed to be protecting people and aiding those in need of help, which Gilly clearly is. From the books...
- Expy: For Samwise Gamgee. GRR Martin admits there was some influence, plus John Bradley's portrayal is clearly based on the film version of Samwise.
- Fat Best Friend
- Fluffy Tamer: In "The Night Lands", Sam appears to be the only person besides Jon that Ghost will listen to.
- Friendless Background: Until he met Jon.
- The Funny Guy
- Genre Savvy: The time he spent reading a book about the White Walkers and their ways does pay off. To general surprise, he's knowledgeable on the subject.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jon.
- Hunting Accident: What would have happened to him if he hadn't taken the black.
- Irony: The wayward son of a famously martial family, derided for being a weak, cowardly Bookworm, ends up being the first person in thousands of years to kill a White Walker.
- Kirk Summation: Gives Maester Aemon a reminder of their cause when he's accused of forgetting his oath by choosing to help Gilly.
Sam: "Night gathers and my watch begins. I am the shield that protects the realms of men". The realms of men; that means her, as well as us! We didn't build five hundred miles of ice wall, seven hundred feet high to keep out men! The Night is gathering, Maester Aemon, I've seen it. It's coming for all of us!
- Loophole Abuse: Upon falling in love with Gilly, he takes a second look at the Night's Watch oath and notices it never actually specifically forbids them to have sex, as long as they don't get married or have children.
- Lovable Coward: Scared of absolutely everything. Subverted completely in "The Watchers on the Wall" where he voluntarily joins in the defense and keeps a cool head before and during the battle.
- Lyrical Dissonance: In a manner of speaking. While the nursery rhyme he sings about the Seven Gods to Gilly's baby is incredibly sweet, the dissonance comes when one considers the first verse describes the goodness of the Father to his children, compared to Gilly and Sam's relationship with their own respective fathers.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: His pep-talk to a terrified Olly inspires him to take up a bow and help fight...then he kills Jon's Love Interest. Ouch.
- Non-Action Guy: He's a self-admitted coward. Subverted in "The Watchers on the Wall," where he keeps his cool in the battle and manages to get a headshot on a Thenn.
- Papa Wolf: When defending Gilly and her baby from a White Walker.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Probably the best fit for this among any of the characters.
- Precision F-Strike: Sam is a pretty polite speaker, which makes his telling Pip to "open the fucking gate" all the more shocking.
- Protectorate: Jon Snow seems to have adopted him as this within seconds of meeting. He beats up anyone who tries to lay a finger on the new recruit, convinces all the other boys to leave him alone, and when one refuses to go along with it, sneaks into his room in the middle of the night and threatens him with his pet direwolf. Basically, hurting him is currently the quickest and most dangerous way to piss Jon off.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Lord Commander Mormont is attacked by Rast, and all hell breaks loose, he runs to take Gilly away, forgetting about Edd and Grenn.
- In all fairness, they did the same thing to him when that horn sounded a third time...
- Shrinking Violet: Which is why his father made him join the Night's Watch.
- The Smart Guy: Makes some astute observations in "The Pointy End" when bodies are brought back from the other side of the Wall.
Commander Mormont: You may be a coward, Tarly, but you're not stupid.
- Took a Level in Badass: First introduced as a completely hopeless fighter and a coward. By Season 3, he's able to lead Gilly and her baby all the way back to the Wall on his own, killing a White Walker along the way. Graduated to full on Badass as of "The Watchers on the Wall". He chooses to fight in the battle instead of hiding with Gilly, is able to keep calm and collected during the fight, and manages to kill a charging Thenn with a crossbow headshot.
Sam: I'm not nothing anymore.
- Undying Loyalty: To Jon. It's notable that despite being a self-admitted coward, he still chooses to go with Jon beyond the Wall in order to take his vows, despite the fact that he wasn't even raised to believe in the Old Gods.
- The Unfavorite: He's at the Wall because his father threatened to murder him if he didn't "voluntarily" remove himself from the line of inheritance. Ouch. From the books...
- You Shall Not Pass: Invokes this towards the White Walker who tried to take Gilly's baby.
Eddison "Dolorous Edd" Tollett
"If the Gods wanted us to have dignity, they wouldn't make us fart when we died."
Part of the group Commander Mormont leads beyond the Wall, who has a cynical wisecrack for any situation.
Pypar a.k.a. Pyp
"I don't think I can kill a hundred wildlings."
Played By: Josef Altin
A recruit at the Wall; one of Jon's friends. He is assigned to the Stewards after completing training.
- Band of Brothers: With Jon, Sam, Grenn, and Edd.
- Character Death: Ygritte shoots him in the neck, killing him.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's more prevalent in the earlier seasons, though.
- Death by Adaptation: Ygritte shoots him in the neck. Pyp's still alive in the books.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Sam holds Pyp as he bleeds out with his neck wound, all the while promising Maester Aemon will fix him up to try and ease his passing.
- Fragile Speedster: According to Jon, he'd fight better if he didn't move so much.
- Ironic Echo: See his quote above. He doesn't manage to kill a hundred wildlings during the battle of Castle Black, but he does kill at least one; thus playing his small part in the vital Nights Watch's defence, before he himself dies.
- Justified Criminal: Subverted. He claimed that he was caught stealing cheese for his starving sister, but the real reason for being sent to the Wall involved a noble grabbing his cock, which he was too embarrassed to confess to strangers.
- Non-Action Guy: Pyp's not a fighter and he knows it. He confesses to Sam that he's never used a bow or held a sword that didn't have a blunted edge.
- Put on a Bus: Though a more apt metaphor would be that he's the only one who didn't get on the bus. Pypar isn't among the party Mormont leads north of the Wall at the end of Season 1, so he's offscreen for nearly all of the next two seasons.
- The Bus Came Back: But, when Jon returns to Castle Black near the very end of Season 3, Pyp's there to meet him along with Sam.
- Those Two Guys: With Grenn.
"The Gods aren't down here. It's the six of us, you hear me?"
Played By: Mark Stanley
A recruit at the Wall and also in Jon's friend group. He is assigned to the Rangers after completing training.
- Bad Bad Acting: His reaction after getting Sam to hit him during training.
- Badass: He survived the battle against the Wights, and aside from that he's a highly competent fighter.
- Badass Beard: In Season 2 and onwards.
- Band of Brothers: With Jon, Sam, Pyp, and Edd.
- Badass Boast: He uses the Night's Watch oath as a sort of hybrid between this and a Rousing Speech in his battle against the Giant.
- The Big Guy: Of Jon's friends, he's the most physically intimidating and strongest.
- Character Death: He's killed fighting Mag the Mighty, although he takes down Mag with him.
- Character Development: He starts his run in the show as The Bully to Sam and a rather arrogant jerkass, but as Jon Snow proves himself and wins him over, Grenn becomes a loyal friend and trusted comrade.
- Composite Character: Takes Donal Noye's place in sacrificing himself to hold the tunnel gate against the king of the giants.
- Death by Adaptation: Grenn's still alive in the books, but the series's version of Grenn died holding the Wall's gates against Mag the Mighty.
- Dumb Is Good: Grenn is sometimes made fun of for being "slow-witted." But while he's not the brightest bulb at the Wall, he's definitely one of the bravest and as loyal a friend and comrade as you could hope for.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Though offscreen, taking out the King of the Giants is still a badass way to go out.
- Famous Last Words: On-screen, at least: "I give my life to the Night's Watch, from this night, to all nights to come!"
- Hero of Another Story: Along with Edd, Grenn had an interesting time off-screen following the mutiny at Craster's Keep. He fights the mutineers, is defeated, imprisoned and tortured, is witness to Karl's rise to leadership and his subsequent atrocities, escapes and travels through Wildling-infected harsh environment to return to Castle Black.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Grenn and a few of the Night's Watch brothers die to keep the Wall's gates from being breached.
- The Lancer: He acts as this for Jon Snow from time to time.
- Last Stand: At the Internal Gate, against the Giant.
- Mighty Glacier: According to Jon, he'd fight a lot better if he moved more.
- Mutual Kill: Implied to have happened between him and the giant, as Grenn and his five brothers' corpses are later found alongside the now dead giant.
- Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: He and five other Nightswatchmen successfully hold off and kill a giant trying to breach the Wall's gates. After the initial Wildling siege is repulsed, Jon and Sam find his and the five others' corpses next to that of the now dead giant's.
- Parental Abandonment: His father abandoned him in a farmhouse when he was just three years old.
- The Only One I Trust: Kit Harington suggested in an interview that Jon sends Grenn down to hold the gate against Mag the Mighty, despite knowing he was probably sending one of his closest buddies to his death, because Grenn was the only one he trusted could do it. He was probably right.
- Those Two Guys: Alternately with Pyp in Season 1 and Edd during the Great Ranging.
- Undying Loyalty: He's the first man to volunteer for Jon's mission to Craster's Keep, both to aid his friend and avenge Mormont.
- Worthy Opponent: Mance Rayder drinks a toast to both him and Mag the Mighty upon learning a humble farmer managed to kill the last King of the Giants.
- You Shall Not Pass: Jon orders him to hold the Wall's gates with only five men. They manage to kill Mag the Mighty and stop anyone else from coming through the gate, albeit at the cost of each of their lives.
"If we want to live, we'll have to look after ourselves."
"Run fast, Piggy! And sleep well! I'll be cutting your throat one of these nights."
Another recruit at the Wall. Unlike Pyp and Grenn, he's not one of Jon's friends. He is assigned to the Rangers after completing training.
- Adaptational Villainy: While he's a jerkass rapist in the books, in the show he betrays and murders the Lord Commander. And in Season 4 he'll do just like Craster and keep sacrificing babies to the White Walkers, albeit reluctantly.
- Ascended Extra: In Season 3, he is revealed to have been part of the ranging party Beyond the Wall all this time, despite not appearing even once in Season 2. In the books he remains at Castle Black instead and quickly becomes a footnote.
- Beard of Evil: Rast is a self-serving rapist with a thick beard.
- The Bully: Against Samwell. It takes Jon's threats (as well as Ghost's intervention) to get him to lay off Sam. When Jon is with the Wildlings, he's back on bully mode. It takes Mormont's threat to get him to lay off again.
- Butt Monkey: Rast earns it by being a jerk and a bully, but he's treated with disdain by much of the Night's Watch and Jeor Mormont dislikes him greatly. Even after Craster's death, he's relegated to a Butt Monkey role, clearly not having the strength to stand up to the likes of Karl who belittles him.
- Composite Character: Shares some traits with Chett in Season 3. Takes the place of Ollo Lophand killing Lord Commander Mormont.
- Demoted to Dragon: Eventually he becomes a reluctant toady to Karl.
- Dirty Coward: Has no problem bullying Sam, but gets put in his place when others step in, especially Jon and Mormont. He also has no problem stabbing Mormont in the back, but practically shits himself when Mormont turns around to start choking him. He's also terrified of Karl and falls over in fright when a caged Ghost barks at him. When the Night's Watch raids Craster's Keep, he turns tail instead of participating in the fighting.
- Early-Bird Cameo: He is among the rapists taken by Benjen to the Wall when Jon joins.
- Even Evil Has Standards: We finally see him reach his own personal moral line when he's clearly uncomfortable sacrificing a baby to the White Walkers. He still does it, however.
- Evil Is Petty: After killing Mormont, he walks out of Craster's Keep and swears to hunt Sam down and kill him... who had just run away. While Craster's jerkassery contributed a lot, Rast's decission to betray the Watch and kill Mormont apparently grew out of his hatred of Sam and being told to lay it off by others.
- Ignored Epiphany: When sacrificing Craster's baby, Rast appears extremely uncomfortable and for a fleeting moment it looks like he might not go through with it... but then he just covers up the child's face so he won't have to look at him before going on his way.
- Jerkass: Particularly to Sam, who he bullies relentlessly.
- Just Desserts: He meets his end eaten by a recently freed Ghost.
- Karmic Death: Mauled and bitten to death by Ghost after taunting him in the previous episode.
- Kick the Dog: He continues stabbing Mormont's corpse even after he's already dead. Later, his cruel torment of Hodor is this.
- Knife Nut: Rast's weapon of choice seems to be a knife, which is perfect for a back-stabber.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Rast goes from a bully to a victim of a bully, and his murder of Mormont ultimately makes things worse for him, particularly when Karl Tanner takes over. Karl turns Rast into his resident Butt Monkey, delegating the worst of duties to him and humiliating him at every turn. And when Jon and his volunteers attack the mutineers at Crasters Keep, he tries to flee, only to be devoured by Ghost. Bet he wishes he hadn't killed Mormont now.
- Oh Crap: Has one when he sees Ghost is missing from his now open cage. All by himself, in the middle of nowhere, in the snowy night, he hears growling.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: One of many rapists that chose the Wall before castration.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- His motivation to mutiny.
- He doesn't stay to fight the Watch's punishment party against the mutineers, either.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Rast was in the battle against the Wights, and seems rather affected by it.
- Would Hurt a Child: He sacrifices Craster's last son to the White Walkers.
"We had a good thing here. We were free men. You'll never be free. You'll never know what that's like."
A brother of the Night's Watch who led a mutiny which claimed the life of Lord Commander Mormont. Karl has since taken over Craster's Keep.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books, there is a "Clubfoot Karl" in the Night's Watch. Here, he is just "Karl".
- Adaptational Villainy: Karl was just one of many mutineers in the books. In the show, he's a hardcore rapist and psychopath who drinks from a cup made out of Mormont's skull, has a past as a Psycho for Hire, and is willing to sacrifice infants to the White Walkers.
- All There in the Manual: In Season 3, his name was not stated onscreen. Since he is an amalgam of several minor NW members (and lacks Book Karl's club foot), early reviewers used different names for him, like Dirk.
- Arc Villain: For the plotlines north of the Wall in the first half of Season 4.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: He's the leader of the mutineers because the others are terrified that he'll kill them if they disobey.
- Badass: He's more than a match for Jon Snow in combat. He also managed to quickly take out Craster before the latter could even swing his axe, and after the mutiny becomes the leader of the mutineers.
- Badass Boast: He's prone to making them.
I could piss in any gutter and soak five of you. You know how much they paid me to kill a man at King's Landing? Seven silvers. They told me a man's name and that man never saw daylight again. None of them cocksuckers got away from me. I haven't lost a fight since I was nine. Maybe it's time? What do you think? EH? Maybe [Rast is] the man. EH? CUNTS? [...] I was a fucking LEGEND in Gin Alley. The. Fucking. LEGEND! I would take any knight, ANY knight, any time. Fucking cunts in steel plate. Fucking cowards.
- Blood from the Mouth: A given, considering Jon kills him by ramming Longclaw through his head.
- The Bully: Towards Rast, his very own Butt Monkey, of all people.
- The Caligula: His reign as the Lord of Craster's Keep involves a great deal of rape, murder, and partying.
- Combat Pragmatist: He kicks and spits as so to gain the upper hand in combat.
- And in an irony that would probably make him chew his arm off in frustration, Jon is able to win his fight with Styr thanks to remembering how effective this was against himself.
- Composite Character: Takes over the place of some of the Garths (insisting in calling Craster a bastard) and Dirk (killing Craster and being a ranger instead of a steward), with the name of Clubfoot Karl. His background, however, is original.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: He drunkenly does this with Jeor Mormont's skull. Apparently Mormont wants the mutineers to "fuck 'em (Craster's daughter-wives) 'til they're dead".
- Creepy Souvenir: He makes a wine cup out of Commander Mormont's skull.
- Deadpan Snarker: Karl is deeply sarcastic and snarky; bullying Rast with jibes, pretending to speak to Mormont's skull and taking a mock bow when Jon faces off with him.
- Dual Wielding: He uses two large knives in combat.
- Evil Is Petty: Mormont was already dead! You didn't have to desecrate his body and make a cup out of his skull!
- Evil Sounds Raspy: His scratchy tone is perfect for delivering threats.
- Glory Days: Apparently working as an assassin in Gin Alley, at Flea Bottom.
- Guttural Growler: He has a raspy, throaty voice.
- It's All About Me: Karl is so self-involved that he could not overstate his own importance if he tried.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jon drives Longclaw through the back of his skull, after a daughter of Craster whom Karl had taken as his personal punching bag stabs him in the back just prior.
- Jerkass: We don't see much of his personality aside from his mutinous side, but when we revisit him in Season 4, it's clear just how much of a jerk he is.
- Karmic Death: He gets knifed in the back by one of Craster's wives, giving Jon an opening to kill him in the exact same way that Karl killed Craster: by stabbing him in the head. The sword was also Longclaw, Commander Jeor Mormont's sword, the same man whose death he was gloating about. Even better, the wife that stabbed him was the same one whom he had made as his personal "pet".
- Kick the Dog: His time as the new "Lord" of Caster's Keep is basically an endless exercise in this trope. Beating and raping Caster's daughters, drinking from Mormont's skull, and then threatening to sexually assault Meera.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Karl's murder of daughter-raping, child-sacrificing professional Jerkass Craster doesn't exactly come across as an unforgivable sin. Though, as hinted at in "Breaker of Chains" and fully shown in "Oathkeeper", he's just as bad, if not worse than Craster. His bullying treatment of Rast also counts, since Rast honestly deserves everything he gets.
- Knife Nut: Karl seems to use knives for most of his duties, and he proves himself highly adept with them in combat.
- Large Ham: Particularly when drunk. He rants and boasts about his past as a Psycho for Hire while practically challenging Rast to a fight.
- Lean and Mean: He's rather thin and a little gaunt, not to mention a treacherous killer.
- The Mutiny: Instigates one amongst members of the Night's Watch by killing Craster, which in turn leads to Lord Commander Mormont's own death minutes later.
Karl: There are no laws beyond the Wall!
- Not So Different: Like Craster, he's a psychotic, loathsome piece of work who greatly enjoys lording his power over others and boasting about how great he is. Also like Craster, he's a proud sociopath and rapist who sees no problem in killing/sacrificing children for his own safety. To top it all off, he also appears to have some incestuous, fetishistic tendencies like Craster, though they're of a different vein; as he mentions Meera sharing qualities with his mother (her curly hair), whilst he's sizing her up with the clear intent to molest/rape her.
- Psycho for Hire: Before becoming a member of the Night's Watch, he was a psychopath who murdered people for money; and he seems to have fond memories of that time, if his boasting about it is any indication.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When we see him in Season 4, he's turned Craster's Keep into an all-you-can-rape buffet. He even keeps some poor girl, injured and traumatized, by Craster's makeshift throne for easy access. He is about to rape Meera as well, right before Rast shows up to warn him that the Night's Watch has come for them.
- Rebel Leader: He is the first of the Night's Watch brothers to mutiny against Jeor Mormont at Craster's Keep, and consequently becomes the undisputed leader of the mutineers. See Asskicking Equals Authority above for more.
- Remember the New Guy: He is first seen when the Night's Watch returns to Craster's Keep from the Fist of the First Men.
- The Resenter: Karl seems to hold a special hatred for knights and nobles. Screenwriter Bryan Cogman also thinks Karl has a class issue.
Bryan Cogman: ...This man feels he had a raw deal his entire life, and now he has real contempt for upper classes and society.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Pulls one on Craster, before killing him.
- Slouch of Villainy: Karl seems to be spending much of his time working on destroying his posture by slouching lazily in Craster's chair.
- Small Name, Big Ego: As he says, his prowess as an assassin made him legendary... in Gin Alley. Even after taking over Craster's Keep, he thinks he's special despite being nothing but the "lord" of a bunch of thugs and traumatised girls. This being said, he gives Jon Snow one hell of a fight even before he starts using dirty tactics.
- The Sociopath: One of the few characters introduced who clearly cares for no one but himself.
- Spear Carrier: Burn Gorman is a rather known actor because of his work on film and TV, making him a strange choice to play such a small part in the show. It is a critical small role, however since it leads to Mormont's death and nearly destroys the Night's Watch. Subverted once he plays a larger role in Season 4 ruling over Craster's Keep, and the mutineers' story intersects with Bran's as well as Jon's.
- Spell My Name with an S: Some, such as reviewer and blogger Sean T. Collins of "All Leather Must Be Boiled", spell his name as Qarl, which is an actual nayme found in the books. Although the Karl spelling seems a bit too normal, as noted above, there actually is a Karl among the mutineers in the books.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Karl constantly bullies Rast, his fellow mutineer.
- Too Dumb to Live: Karl totally had Jon at his mercy after battling him, but after getting stabbed in the back by one of Craster's daughters, he then pays full attention to her and clearly intends to kill her; but he doesn't even think that maybe Jon would use this to his advantage when he was distracted, and thus is rewarded with a sword to the back of his head.
- Ungrateful Bastard: His gleeful torment of Rast seems to indicate that he's forgotten about that time when Rast practically saved his life by stabbing Mormont in the back. As good a fighter as Karl is, he likely would have been no match for the legendary Jeor Mormont (armed with a greatsword, while Karl was armed with a knife).
- Would Hurt a Child: He was perfectly willing to kill a newborn infant son of Craster. At the behest of one of Craster's wives, he instead sends Rast to leave the baby out for the White Walkers. He also tortures Bran and later tries to rape Meera.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: After killing Craster, he takes possession of the man's land, food and daughters.
Lord Janos Slynt
"I commanded the City Watch of King's Landing, boy."
Slynt: "Are you drunk? I won't have my honor questioned by an imp!"
Tyrion: "I'm not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I'm denying its existence."
The former commander of the City Watch in King's Landing. He was named Lord of Harrenhal and became the founder of House Slynt for his service to King Joffrey Baratheon and the betrayal and arrest of Ned Stark. He was exiled to the Night's Watch by the acting Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister, for his part in the massacre of King Robert Baratheon's bastard children.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the books it's not him who kills baby Barra but a subordinate. He was, however, fully complicit in the atrocity so he was still very much a villain. His love for his children is also Adapted Out.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: When he's on the Wall, about to fight giants and seeing two of them from his position, he still refuses to believe such a creature could exist. The unspoken reactions of everyone present says it all.
- Bald of Evil: Slynt is one shiny-headed piece of filth.
- Beard of Evil: He has a pretty thick white beard, possibly to prevent his head from looking too much like an egg.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: To Ned Stark.
- The Brute: To King Joffrey's Big Bad.
- Call It Karma: In "The Night Lands", Tyrion, acting as Hand of the King, considers the way he killed a baby without question the last straw, and has him replaced, arrested and sent to the Wall.
- Closet Shuffle: Does this during the Battle of Castle Black in "The Watchers on the Wall". He freaks out when it's his time to fight, and then runs away to end up hiding in the closet instead.
- The Corrupter: To Alliser Thorne. Slynt urges Thorne to consider himself a candidate for the Lordship Commander, but it clearly hadn't occurred to him before that, and he doesn't seem to keen on the idea. Slynt also gives him the idea to send Jon to Craster's Keep to kill the mutineers with too few men so they'll get rid of him.
- Dirty Goldcloak: One of the reasons Tyrion gets rid of him, since he can't be trusted to be loyal when his loyalty is easily bought.
- Dirty Coward: When it comes time for him to fight on the frontlines in "The Watchers on the Wall", he panics and runs to a closet. Considering it's an episode where each member of the Night's Watch gets their own personal Crowning Moment Of Awesome including a pre-pubescent boy, Slynt ends up looking pathetic.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Slynt is filled with indignant fury when people don't respect him. He's outraged when Tyrion accuses him of lacking honor and again when Jon Snow tells him he must not have been good at his previous job as Commander of the City Watch. The trouble is, Slynt expects respect without doing a single thing to earn it.
- Faux Affably Evil: Janos is quite fun to have a drink with, as seen in his scene with Tyrion. It isn't enough to make anyone forget what a horrible monster he is.
- General Failure: See his behavior in "Watchers on the Wall" for a glaring example of his inability to lead.
- Humiliation Conga: Stripped of lands and titles, of command over the City Watch, and sent to the Wall.
- Hypocrite: He tries to justify his actions by saying Ned tried to bribe him to betray the king. Tyrion quickly points out the real reason was that Littlefinger had already paid him to betray Ned.
- Just Following Orders: His reason for carrying out the purge of Robert's bastards.
- A Man Of Wealth And Taste: Fancies himself one after his elevation to Lord.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: So he'd have us believe, but really he's Only in It for the Money.
- Nouveau Riche: Created Lord of Harrenhal and leading House Slynt for betraying Ned Stark and helping Joffrey secure the throne.
- Only in It for the Money: According to Littlefinger, Slynt and the Goldcloaks will serve whoever pays them.
- Put on a Bus: Thanks to being sent to the Wall at the same time that the Night's Watch story has left it, it's two years before we see him again.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Tyrion exiles him to Castle Black at the Wall, partly for crossing the line when he murdered a baby, and partly because he can't trust Janos not to betray him in turn after he already betrayed Eddard Stark, the previous Hand of the King.
- Sent to the Wall: Tyrion has him sent to the Night's Watch both as punishment and to get rid of him.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Invokes this in "The Night Lands". He's wrong.
- Smug Smiler: Look at his expression when Littlefinger ridicules Ser Barristan.
- Uriah Gambit: He suggests to Alliser Thorne that they pull this on Jon Snow, sending him to deal with the mutineers at Craster's Keep in the hopes that he'll be killed, to prevent him from becoming a popular contender for Lord Commander. Unfortunately for them, Jon's success in leading the foray is very likely going to boost his support extensively.
- Villainous Breakdown: He completely falls apart upon being given command of the Wall's defenders, even denying the existence of the giants right before his eyes, until an excuse can be manufactured to send him away.
- Villainous Friendship: With Alliser Thorne, who he's pretty chummy with. He even gives him advice on dealing with Jon Snow.
- Wicked Cultured: Slynt knows his wine.
- Would Hurt a Child: After one of his men refuses to kill a baby bastard daughter of Robert Baratheon, he steps up and does it himself right in front of the screaming mother.
- You Are in Command Now: He gets placed in charge of the Wall's defenders when Alliser has to leave to defend Castle Black. He fails miserably.
"I know I broke my oath. I know I'm a deserter. I should have gone back to the Wall and warned them, but I saw what I saw. I saw the White Walkers."
A ranger who sees the White Walkers while on a ranging party. Later executed by Eddard Stark for desertion.
- The Cassandra: He tries to warn Ned about the return of the White Walkers, but Ned dismisses this as the ramblings of a deserter.
- Decoy Protagonist: Of a sort. He, along with Waymar Royce and Gared, are the first people seen in the show. However, all of this is ended when his head is lopped off not 10 minutes into the pilot. From the books...
- Face Death with Dignity: Even though he's completely wrecked when he's captured, he still composes himself before the end.
- The Oathbreaker: He deserts the Night's Watch, albeit while he's incredibly scared at the time. Regardless, Benjen still recalls him fondly, even if he did break his oath.
- Off with His Head!: He's decapitated by Ned for desertion.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Very, very briefly. In the books, he takes the place of Gared being the second killed by the Walkers. However, like Gared in the book, he's executed not long after being introduced.
Ser Waymar Royce
"If you want to run away south, run away. Of course, they'll behead you as a deserter, if I don't catch you first."
A young ranger, and third son of House Royce of Runestone. He leads Will's ranging party beyond the Wall, and is one of the first victims of the White Walkers.
- Adapted Out: In the book, he actually fights the Walkers in a Let's Get Dangerous moment, even if he's killed in the end. However, here he's killed before he even knows what's going on.
- Decoy Protagonist: Arguably the first one in the series. He's one of the first three people seen in the pilot, but he doesn't last long. Perhaps to emphasize this, in the pilot he was originally played by Jamie Campbell Bower, too well known of an actor simply to cast in a throwaway role.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: His disappearance is noted by the Watch but he's little missed compared to Benjen Stark whose disappearance was the first sign that something weird was going on. Years later, he's remembered by, of all people, Sansa Stark who reminds Lord Yohn Royce of meeting them when he escorted Waymar to the Wall.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Surprisingly, and definitiely not setting the tone for the rest of the series (especially when his comrade is gorily beheaded a moment later), the scene cuts away when Waymar turns around and is slain.
- Jerkass: He's pretty abrasive towards both Will and Gared, despite him being both younger and more junior than either of them.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: More or less, along with him being a knight, how he was able to command a ranging party. His father, Lord Yohn Royce, is a High Lord of the Vale. As fully stated in the books, Mormont was initially reluctant to give Waymar such an important task, but given who he was related to, he thus gave him the chance.
"Our orders were to track the wildlings. We tracked them. They won't bother us no more."
A senior ranger, and the third member of Will's wildling party. Killed by the White Walkers in the forest.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books, Gared is described as old, scrawny, and lacking not only a finger and several toes, but both of his ears as well. In the show, Gared simply looks like a weathered, not quite middle-aged man.
- Death by Adaptation: Type 2. Like Will, very briefly. In the books, Gared is the one who makes it past the Wall and is executed by Ned, while here, he's decapitated by a White Walker in the forest. Will takes over the rest of his brief story.
- Off with His Head!: He's beheaded by a Walker while trying to run.
"I've been called a lot of things, but that's probably my first 'Lord Qhorin'."
"We are at war. We've always been at war. It's never going to end 'cause we're not fighting an enemy. We're fighting the North and it's not going anywhere."
A legendary ranger of the Night's Watch, based at the Shadow Tower.
Played By: N/A
A ranger under Qhorin Halfhand's command.
- Bus Crash: A victim of one, along with the rest of Qhorin's rangers. They leave Jon alone to kill Ygritte; when Jon meets again Qhorin, he politely informs Jon and the audience that Stonesnake and the rest were killed in the meantime.
- Demoted to Extra: He has a bigger role in the books - with actual lines - and even a Heroic Sacrifice moment.
- The Ghost
Played By: Brennock O'Connor
A young boy who is the lone survivor of a small village in the Gift razed by Wildlings.
- Archer Archetype
- Canon Foreigner
- Chekhov's Archer: He's mostly a talking extra and the Tagalong Kid for the Night's Watch, but then during the defence of Castle Black he kills Ygritte.
- Children Forced To Kill: Scores his first kill during the Battle of Castle Black.
- Child Soldier: By necessity. With his village slaughtered, the Night's Watch was the only place left that he could go.
- Doomed Hometown: His hometown was decimated by Wildlings and only he was left alive.
- Forced to Watch: His father is killed before his eyes. Styr then forces him to look at his parents bodies a second time, telling him that he is going to eat them, before sending him to Castle Black as lure.
- Informed Ability: Boasts to be the best archer in his hamlet. True either way, since everyone else in his hamlet is dead now, and his hamlet is small enough that it doesn't even have a name. Nevertheless he proves he is a competent archer when he lands a fatal shot on Ygritte in "The Watchers on the Wall".
- Morality Pet: Jon seems to take an instant liking of him and often has a hand over his shoulder. Grenn also takes a shine to him, promising to go hunting with him.
- Revenge: Olly manages to gain some measure of justice when he kills Ygritte with an arrow from behind, in much the same way that she killed his father.
- Sole Survivor: Of his hometown, when it's attacked by Wildlings.
- Tagalong Kid: Becomes one for the Night's Watch once he joins them, after his hometown is attacked by Wildlings.
"Come on, you sorry sons of whores! It's a thousand leagues to the Wall, and winter is coming!" Played By:
Tyrion Lannister: "So... you roam the Seven Kingdoms collaring pickpockets and horse thieves and bring them here as eager recruits."
Yoren: "Aye. Well, it's not all of 'em's done bad things. Some of 'em's just poor lads looking for steady feed. Some of 'em's highborn lads looking for glory."
Tyrion Lannister: "Better chance of finding feed than glory."
A sworn brother of the Night's Watch, in which he serves as a recruiter.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Described in the books as having a twisted shoulder as well as a beard both greasy and full of lice.
- The Alcoholic: It's not overt, but Yoren implies one of the advantages of being a Recruiter for the Night's Watch, is the excuse to visit every tavern between King's Landing and the Wall.
- Annoying Arrows: When a Lannister crossbowman shoots him, all it does is knock him to his knees for a couple of seconds, before getting up and cutting down the shooter.
I never liked crossbows. Take too long to load!
- Badass: Possibly one of the biggest badasses in the series. He rescues Arya from King's Landing, controls a group of killers by himself, barely reacts to having a bow lodged in his shoulder and proceeds to take down three experienced Lannister soldiers single-handed, a feat rivaled only by Eddard Stark in universe.
- Badass Beard: He has one.
- Badass Boast: He's good at making them, but special mention goes to his handling of a Goldcloak.
"It's a funny thing; people worry so much about their throats that they forget about what's down low. Now, I sharpened this blade before breakfast. I could shave a spider's arse if I wanted to, or I could nick this artery in your leg. And once it's nicked, there's no one around here who knows how to unnick it."
- Beware the Nice Ones: In most of his conversations, he comes off as amiable, pleasant, and prone to jokes... and then he calmly tells a Goldcloak how he could accidentally knick the artery in his leg and let him bleed to death, unless they turn around and tell Joffrey they didn't find anything. Then, he takes the Goldcloak's sword, mostly because it's funny. Also possibly subverted in that if he had been less nice (and simply killed both of them) he and the recruits would likely have been able to escape (or at least cross the Stark lines).
- Character Death: Yoren is killed by Lannister men, with the final blow delivered by Amory Lorch.
- Characterization Marches On: A cosmetic one: in the first season, he has curly hair. In the second season, his hair suddenly becomes straight.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Travels to King's Landing to find new recruits for the Night's Watch. Some episodes later, he's still at King's Landing. Just in time to be told by Ned to protect Arya and keep her from watching his execution. [[labelnote:From the books...]]In the books, it's explained that Yoren was there to take Ned to the Wall, as it was Cersei's plan before Joffrey screwed it up.
- Deadpan Snarker: His snarky attitude is most prevalent in his scenes with Tyrion and Arya.
- Died Standing Up: Despite having more than a few mortal wounds, Yoren stays standing until Lorch slides a sword down the back of his neck.
- Guile Hero: Pulls a knife on a Goldcloak, makes him turn around and even takes his sword for his troubles.
Yoren: Nice sword! *Takes it* We could use good steel like that on the Wall.
- Honour Before Reason: Why he doesn't turn Gendry over to the Goldcloaks, noting that he belongs to the Night's Watch now and thus the King has no jurisdiction over him anymore.
- Large Ham: "Get up you sons of whores! There's men outside who want to FUCK YOUR CORPSES!"
- Made of Iron: An arrow to the chest, as if that's going to stop him from killing half your men and telling you why. And then he gets stuck in the back with a spear, and it takes being stabbed in the back of the neck to finally kill him. They might as well have dropped an anvil on him for good measure!
- Masochist's Meal: In a discussion with Tyrion, he recalls the strangest thing he's ever eaten — a bear's testicles, brains, guts, lungs, and heart, all fried in the same bear's fat — and describes the results as "a bit chewy."
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Just like with anyone who becomes a mentor or Parental Substitute to Arya, time catches up with him eventually.
- Odd Friendship: Considering how the other Night's Watch members view Tyrion, it's a little surprising that he and Yoren become fast friends who greatly enjoy each other's company.
- Parental Substitute: Briefly, to Arya.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "I never liked crossbows. Take too long to load!" Sure he's quipping about his own death, but it still counts.
- Recruiters Always Lie: Subverted. He's pretty much straightforward, to the point of being in the direction of Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die in terms of his speech-making. This is justified since for many recruits, the Watch is just an alternative to the death penalty.
- Spiteful Spit: His reaction when ordered to throw his sword in the name of King Joffrey.
- You Killed My Brother: Relates to Arya a story of how a man named Willem killed his brother, and how he nursed a desire for vengeance for so long that he'd recite the man's name every night before going to bed. When he finally killed Willem, he ended up burying an axe into his skull so deeply that it was unable to be removed.
Jon's direwolf, the litter's runt. He is albino and is found last, having separated from its mother's corpse and siblings.
- Badass in Distress: At some point after Jon left him behind for the fake defection, Ghost was captured by Karl and Rast.
- Big Damn Heroes: Ghost saves Sam from an ax-wielding Wight just as he's about to land a blow over poor Sam.
- The Bus Came Back: Appears for the first time in a long time in "Oathkeeper", as the prisoner of the Night's Watch mutineers.
- Canine Companion: For Jon Snow.
- Cool Pet: Like the other Direwolves, he's one for Jon Snow.
- The Dog Bites Back: No pun intended. Ghost kills Rast during the Night's Watch's assault on the mutineers. Rast had spent the previous episode abusing Ghost.
- Dog Walks You: In the show's continuity, Ghost abandons Jon shortly after he departs for a mission with Qhorin Halfhand and goes back to the Night's Watch to take part in the Battle of the Fist.
- Evil Detecting Wolf: The first to notice the presence of a re-animated corpse in the compound of the Watch.
- Godzilla Threshold: He seems to be the Godzilla for the Night's Watch, given how Jon sends Sam to let him out of his kennel when the siege on Castle Black starts going sour.
- Heroic Albino: He's stark white.
- Heroes Love Wolves: Justified, because the family sigil is a direwolf.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: In the novels, Ghost doesn't make any sound at all, which is the main reason for his name. Obviously, stopping a dog from making sounds in real life is impossible.
- Put on a Bus: He gave the crew some trouble during Seasons 2 and 3, where it's often unclear where he is. He finally returns in "Oathkeeper" during Season 4, where it's revealed he's been trapped by the Night's Watch mutineers.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: It comes with being albino, it seems.
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: Jon uses Ghost to threaten Rast in order to protect Sam.
- Uncatty Resemblance: Not physical, but behavioral. Like Jon Snow, Ghost is the unnoticed runt of the litter but he's strong and loyal.
- Undying Loyalty: Though by early Season 3, it seems to be shifting from Jon to Sam. Ghost abandoning Jon also serves to prevent having Orell trying to warg him.