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Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch

Lord Snow, Lord Crow, The Bastard of Winterfell

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Night falls, and now my war begins.
"A bastard can have honor, too."
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Eddard (Ned) Stark's illegitimate son with an unknown mother. Jon is brought to Winterfell as an infant by his father Ned when Ned returns from Robert's Rebellion and Ned raises Jon alongside his lawful children. Jon is fourteen years old at the beginning of the series and is solemn and introspective with an inclination for brooding and a compassion for others — especially those who don't fit in. He shares his father's beliefs in honor, duty, and doing the right thing. Jon is close with his father, half-siblings, and uncle but has felt like an outsider among his family when he learned what it meant to be an illegitimate child and why he was thus Catelyn's Unfavorite. Jon develops observant traits as a result and his illegitimacy leaves him with the desire to prove himself. When his father leaves to King's Landing, he chooses a life of hard duty in the Night's Watch to earn his own honor.

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His direwolf is Ghost, an albino who, like Jon, is simultaneously a part of his family and an outsider.

At age 16, he becomes the 998th Lord Commander at the end of A Storm of Swords.

For the House Stark character page, see here.


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    A-F 
  • Accidental Proposal: Wildling custom is that a man wishing to 'marry' a spearwife has to kidnap or capture her while heavily risking injury, or even death, from the spearwife herself, who has been brought up to fight. If the man lives and proves himself worthy to her, he and the spearwife form a union. However, Jon doesn't know this custom and doesn't even know Ygritte is a woman when he and Qhorin Halfhand capture her and her fellow wildlings during a ranging — and he didn't intend for this at all — but it is still taken by Ygritte to be a gesture of attraction and affection, especially when Jon saves her life shortly after this. Ygritte spends about half of the story trying to seduce Jon as a result, much to Jon's chagrin and embarrassment.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • When Stannis summons him to talk, he argues that he is the only person who answered the Night's Watch call for help. Jon answers in the line of ...Well, it was about damn time someone did! Stannis cannot help but smile at Jon's Stark boldness.
    • Jon's reaction at Stannis's reading of Lyanna Mormont's message to him.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: He becomes the 998th Commander of the Night's Watch after Mormont's death, despite being only sixteen to seventeen years old (although, by Westerosi standards, that already makes him an adult). He is hardly the youngest Lord Commander though.
  • Action Survivor: Although he has notable skills in combat, he has never had a proper fight before going to the Wall and becomes a true warrior out of necessity.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: He affectionately calls Arya "little sister" while mussing her hair.
  • 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 Boast: Makes a pretty classy one after reading the Pink Letter in the Castle Black Shieldhall and deciding how to deal with Ramsay.
    "This creature who makes cloaks from the skins of women has sworn to cut my heart out, and I mean to make him answer for those words..."
  • Bastard Angst: Jon grew up as a bit of an outsider among his legitimate family, especially by sort-of stepmom Catelyn. Partly because of his bitterness about this, for lack of better career options, and to follow his dream of becoming a First Ranger, he joins the Night's Watch in order to make a name for himself and earn his own honor. On the other side, Jon has had a far better upbringing than most in Westeros, not to mention other bastard-born children (see Gendry, Falia Flowers, or Mya Stone): his father openly acknowledges and raises Jon himself in a castle alongside his trueborn offspring; gives Jon a proper highborn education; mentors him with Robb in leadership; and Jon grows up loved by his father, siblings and uncle, and Jon loves them. Therefore, there are those who look at Jon's angst as a Wangst, which Jon eventually acknowledges himself. Part of Jon's character arc is recognizing his privileged upbringing. Later, he turns down legitimization and the chance to inherit Winterfell, claiming it belongs to his sister, Sansa.
  • Battle Butler: He's appointed a steward instead of a ranger like his uncle, which is what he's always dreamed of being, which doesn't sit well with him until he's told that it's because the Lord Commander is grooming him to be his successor. Gets his fair share of ass-kicking anyway.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Ygritte, who likes teasing him to no end (much to his annoyance) before and after having hooked up.
  • Berserk Button: There aren't many things that unreasonably trigger him, but before he sleeps with Ygritte, he dislikes the suggestion that he might father a bastard himself.
  • Best Friend: With his brother Robb and little sister Arya while growing up at Winterfell and with Samwell Tarly, who Jon meets in the Night's Watch. Jon shares very close relationships with them and misses them greatly when they are parted.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Jon is one of the most compassionate and good-hearted people in Westeros but, with that being said, do not harm, threaten, kill, or even insult anyone in his family, his friends, or innocent people.
    • Insulting Ned Stark, the father Jon loves, can quickly get you on Jon's bad side. This has serious consequences in the first book when Alliser Thorne taunts him over Ned's arrest for treason. Without saying a single word, Jon attacks his superior officer in front of everyone present (which is a hanging offense at worst) for insulting his father's honor and he's only stopped by his friends Sam, Grenn, Pyp and Toad who pull him away.
    • Jon doesn't like it when people bully Sam, either, and resorts to threats if necessary to make them stop.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Jon is this for his beloved brothers and sisters, as well as to his best friend Sam, who he is likewise very protective of. In A Dance With Dragons, Jon's Big Brother Instinct gets him into some trouble when he sets out to rescue his sister Arya from Ramsay.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • To Arya. They are the only Stark children in the current generation to inherit the traditional Stark look and, though they are loved by their family, do not feel like they fully fit in.
    • To Maester Aemon Targaryen. Both had their vows tested when their respective families became heavily invested in a Civil War and were helpless to prevent the death and destruction of their respective familial Houses from the resulting war.
    • 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.
  • Blessed with Suck: As the offspring of Lord Stark, Jon's pretty much the most important bastard child in the North; this earns him very little favors as he's too highborn for many at the Wall and too lowborn for the echelons. Tyrion's advice to him is to embrace his bastardy as a whole so that it's not used against him.
  • Break the Haughty: He has grown up resentful of being a high lord's bastard and thus always being in the shadow of the trueborn children, so he's not used to thinking of himself as privileged, and he is initially arrogant about his skill at arms compared to the other recruits. Part of Jon’s character development in the Night’s Watch is realizing how much better he had it than most of them due to his privileged upbringing and education in his father's castle. Though Jon initially looks down on the lowborn recruits, he befriends them shortly after and helps them once he realizes the reason for their relative incompetence is because most of them had never held a real weapon before while Jon has been trained under a master-at-arms in a castle since he was old enough to hold a sword.
  • Broken Ace: He's a talented swordsman, one of the smartest recruits, honorable and dutiful but he's also conflicted, with insecurity issues and carries burdens he's probably too young for.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Jon heard great stories of King Robert Baratheon's skills. Naturally, he's disappointed when he sees the king is now a drunk, hedonistic Adipose Rex.
    • 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 cannot help but hear a "small voice" that whispers to him that his father did actually father a bastard out of wedlock. Also, after aspiring to join the Night's Watch but seeing what it is actually like, Jon is disappointed — partially because of his feeling that he believes his father allowed him to join and thinks he must have known what the Night's Watch is like, though it is seen as a noble calling in the North. note 
    • The Order of the Night's Watch itself comes as a considerable disappointment to Jon, after years of aspiring to become a ranger like Benjen, just to join and discover that the Watch itself is now mostly a glorified penal colony. 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 Castle Black. When Samwell Tarly arrives at Castle Black and finds himself being beaten bloody in training and made fun of, Jon defends Sam. Jon convinces Pyp, Grenn, and Halder to join him in defending Sam and they agree, protecting Sam from his bullies and making them back down.
  • Celibate Hero:
    • When he joins 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 not to sleep with any woman, among other things, but it doesn't work.
    • Jon is not a virgin for lack of trying, but because any out-of-wedlock child he might bring into the world would be another bastard lacking a stable position within the society in which he lives. 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.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: "Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see."
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Jon experiences this trope throughout the series, particularly between his love for his family and his duty to the Night's Watch. Later, it's between romantic love vs. duty to the Night's Watch when he falls in love with Ygritte, but remains loyal to the Watch. Then, Jon faces the love for family vs. duty to Night's Watch conflict again in A Dance With Dragons, in which Jon is also caught between the Watch's neutrality and Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! He ultimately decides on Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! over the Watch's political neutrality, and also gives into his love for his family despite the Watch's requirement to put blood kin aside — trying to save his little sister Arya from Sadist Ramsay Bolton, who is forcing Arya (really Jeyne Poole posing as Arya) to marry him. This all ends in disaster when Jon receives a threatening letter from Ramsay Bolton and he announces his intention to march south and confront Ramsay — which results in Jon being stabbed by his dissenters in The Mutiny.
    (Maester Aemon to Jon, on having to choose between family and the Night's Watch) The old man laid a withered, spotted hand on his shoulder. "It hurts, boy," he said softly. "Oh, yes. Choosing... it has always hurt. And always will. I know."
  • The Consigliere: To Stannis Baratheon, under layers of Plausible Deniability for the Night's Watch. But his advice is crucial to charting out Stannis's 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. Especially Arya, with whom he shares a very special relationship that has been highlighted throughout the series. They continuously think of each other and have fond memories; apart by distance, but never in heart. Jon even gives Arya her first sword, Needle. Sansa is the sibling he's definitely least close to, but even she thinks it would be so good to see him again when she's in the Eyrie.
  • Cool Sword: Out of thanks for saving his life, Lord Commander Mormont bequeaths him Longclaw, House Mormont's ancestral Valyrian steel blade. He has it refitted with a direwolf pommel to reflect Jon's Stark heritage. Fittingly, it's a bastard swordnote .
  • Cool Pet: Like the other Stark kids, he has a direwolf, but Ghost is a cool Heroic Albino who grows to be the biggest and the most dangerous of the pack.
  • 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 Jon because they don't want Janos Slynt to win — but can't stand each other either.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Despite keeping a stoic facade most of the time, he actually has some of the snarkiest lines of the saga, as is shown in his dealings with Stannis and Selyse. But, he also knows when to keep his barbed lines to himself.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Initially joins the Night's Watch to escape the shadow of only being viewed as "the Stark Bastard" and to earn his own honour.
  • Deuteragonist: In the five published novels with more than a thousand named characters and more than thirty POV characters, Jon, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark are the closest thing to main protagonists in the books, having the most POV of any other characters (47 for Tyrion, 41 for Jon, 33 for Arya, 31 for Daenerys). Jon is without question The Protagonist of the entire Night's Watch Story Arc.
  • Enemy Mine: Jon and the wildlings build an alliance, in which Jon brings the wildlings south of the Wall to help them escape the Others in the effort to protect living people from the undead threat, and the wildlings help Jon and the Night's Watch defend the Wall against the Others. Working together, this alliance helps save everyone — the Watch, wildlings, and people of the Seven Kingdoms — from the Zombie Apocalypse and prevents more wildlings from dying north of the Wall wherein they would become wights themselves. Jon garrisons castles along the Wall with both Watch members and wildling warriors and, though joining the Watch is not required, some wildlings voluntarily decide to take the black. Other officers are willing to live with wildlings among their ranks, but they take every opportunity to express their disapproval.
    Bowen Marsh: "Thousands of enemies [will perish]. Thousands of wildlings."
    Jon Snow: Thousands of people, Jon thought. Men, women, children. Anger rose inside him, but when he spoke his voice was quiet and cold. "Are you so blind, or is it that you do not wish to see? What do you think will happen when all these enemies are dead?"
    Above the door the raven muttered, "Dead, dead, dead."
    "Let me tell you what will happen," Jon said. "The dead will rise again, in their hundreds and their thousands. They will rise as wights, with black hands and pale blue eyes, and they will come for us."
  • Eye Scream: Gets one by Orell's eagle. Luckily for him, it missed his eye, giving him cool scars instead near the eye.
  • Fake Defector: Under his superior officer Qhorin 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. Like his father, Jon is empathetic and possesses a drive to protect those in need of help, but his lone-wolf attitude causes him to disobey orders and put aside tradition in pursuit of doing the right thing and, at times, putting his friends at a distance when he should be counting on their aid. Due to his reserved nature, Jon generally does a poor job of earning the trust and respect of those who misread his introversion as arrogance. This does little to help when he becomes the leader of a deeply traditional system, the Night's Watch, after which Jon sends his closest friends and supporters away to perform other tasks in an effort to take Maester Aemon's advice to heart: "kill the boy and let the man be born.” Sending away his closest friends and supporters eventually leads to him being surrounded by dissenters influential in the Watch and getting himself a case of knife in gut.
    • While also one of his character strengths, it is Jon’s need to rescue and protect people (such as individuals needing help and humanitarian reasons for saving the wildlings, who Jon points out are men, women, and children too, which contrast with the views of many in the Night's Watch), as well as his love for his family, that can get him into trouble — particularly with other members of the Night's Watch.
  • First-Person Smartass: Jon Snow almost 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 usually vocalize his best zingers.
  • 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.
  • Foil: There are sooooo many.
    • To Theon Greyjoy. Both are outsiders raised at Winterfell who are suffering from identity issues that have left them with the desire to prove themselves. Both love their families and are close with their sibling(s). While Jon Snow is scorned by society for being a bastard child who does not even know the identity of his mother, he is loved by his father, raised with his siblings, and is part of the family as a Stark by blood. He decides to join the Night's Watch for the sake of honor and duty, has risen to Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and might possibly be the heir to the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Theon is the Greyjoy heir to the Iron Islands but was sent away as a hostage at age 10 to be raised by another family, is a Greyjoy but has conflicting desires in his wanting to be part of the Stark family, and failed at keeping Winterfell after he captured it in an effort to gain affection from a father who treats him poorly, and was later tortured into thinking he was a servant named Reek.
    • Ramsay Bolton is his Evil Counterpart and Shadow Archetype, and perhaps his greatest foil:
      • Both are bastard sons of powerful northern houses. Jon, however, was raised in a loving household by his father at his father's home castle, while Ramsay was left to his peasant mother and ignored for the most part. And while they both disliked their illegitimate status, Jon was able to acknowledge he wasn't a legal Stark (see the discovery of the direwolves) and eventually accepted it; Ramsay's primary berserk button is being reminded of it. Jon is honorable, heroic and strives to do the right thing while Ramsay is pretty much the direct opposite of that. 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.
      • Their relationships with their families are also direct contrasts to each other. Jon loves and is loved by his father, Ned, who raises Jon alongside his trueborn siblings as his son and part of the family. Ramsay's father, Roose, treats Ramsay very poorly, disinherits him, and only acknowledges Ramsay once he realizes he has no other choice for an heir. Jon loves his half-brothers and sisters and even turns down becoming a Stark partly in consideration of their rights while Ramsay very likely poisoned his half-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 Sansa, who is currently living as a highborn bastard under the identity of Alayne Stone. In the same book, Jon becomes a Lord (Commander) and begins to lead.
    • A Dance with Dragons sets up Jon and Daenerys to foil each other. Both are very young leaders suffering from The Chains of Commanding who resort to wear a cold mask of authority, both are driven by their care for others and have an urge to save people, and both have members of House Mormont (a father and son, no less) that play an important role in their respective character arcs. Let's not even start speaking about their possible kinship and being the most likely candidates for the role of The Chosen One. Also, they fill the title "A Song of Ice and Fire" with Daenerys being the first Dragon Rider after centuries and a Targaryen (fire), while Jon fights in the far north a Zombie Apocalypse of frozen beings and also has Stark blood (ice).
    • To Gendry, since they are both bastard sons, they both look like their fathers (who are best friends), Jon doesn't have a clue about who his mother may be, just as Gendry doesn't about his father. They also have 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 for the sake of honour and duty, Gendry joined the Brotherhood without banners for the sake of honour and duty. However, Jon is an acknowledged illegitimate son of a lord who grows up in privileged circumstances, raised by his father in a castle, while Gendry is an unacknowledged illegitimate son of a king who grows up working as a blacksmith’s apprentice after his mother dies.
    • To Robb Stark. Robb was the heir to Winterfell, Jon was the illegitimate child. Robb had the Tully look while Jon had the Stark look. Both are raised together, mentored together, are very close as brothers, and both share their father’s sense of duty, honor, morality, compassion, and love for family. However, where Robb is strong and fast, Jon is quick and graceful. Robb is more gregarious and outgoing while Jon is more reserved and quiet. 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, and both did this 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 more prestigious, but both 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 Lord Commanders of brotherhoods, which they joined at a young age for the sake of honour and duty as the Wide-Eyed Idealist, and both came from highborn upbringings. During their respective journeys, they are left disappointed when they find out that the once-noble brotherhood they joined was no longer as great as they expected and both face adversity for being "oathbreakers" (Jaime is regarded as a "kingslayer" by the whole of Westeros for having to kill the Mad King. Jon is viewed as an "oathbreaker" by some members of the Night's Watch when he was forced kill Qhorin Halfhand and because of his time with and sympathy for the wildlings), when they both did it for the sake of staying true to their vows, doing the right thing, and protecting people.
    • 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, is a single child to a father who couldn't raise him thanks to workplace pressure, is stunted for his age and is spoiled to a fault; Jon is a highborn bastard son who never knew his mother and was shunned by his step-mother, is a child from a large number of siblings, was raised by a doting father who made a point of giving him a hands-on noble education, is quick and graceful for his age, and is honorable to a fault.
  • Friendly Enemy: With the wildlings (particularly with Mance Rayder and Tormund Giantsbane) after having lived with them, wherein he comes to understand and somewhat admire some of their ways — particularly the loyalty and care many display toward one another, their bravery, and the values of strength they foster in women alongside men. Jon has compassion for ordinary wildling people, seeing them as men, women, and children who want to find safety. But this will all bite him in the ass when he's suspected of actively working with them, due to his sympathies for them and the time he spent with them under the orders of his superior officer, Qhorin Halfhand.

    G-M 
  • 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 (like the glass gardens he remembers in Winterfell growing up), 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 puts 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.
  • 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 — just like Ned taught him.
  • The Hero: Of the Night's Watch storyline. More generally, out of the many main characters in the Deconstructor Fleet that is ASOIAF, Jon is probably the closest thing there is to a conventional fantasy hero, as confirmed by GRRM himself.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: He finds his lover Ygritte's nest of red curls to be her most attractive feature.
  • Heroic Bastard: Bastard children 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 from society because of that — however, as a Stark in all but name, he has inherited his father's persona.
  • Hyper-Awareness: It's noted since his very first description that he can read people and situations easily.
  • Ideal Hero: Played with. GRRM describes Jon as a “classic hero” in a 2014 ABC News interview and he is one of the characters most fitting this role in this series' world but, 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.
  • Implied Answer: In A Game of Thrones, Ned refers to Jon as my blood. However, there are a few instances where he refers to Jon as his son — he calls Jon and Robb "[his] sons" in Bran's first chapter of A Game of Thrones, openly acknowledges Jon as his illegitimate child, and Catelyn notes that Ned calls Jon "son" in front of everyone. Still, this phrasing of "my blood" by Ned is what opened the tinfoil floodgates.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: After Ygritte's death, the wildling girl Jon loved and who is often in his thoughts thereafter.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten:
    • When Jon fakes his defection to the wildlings, they make him execute the Colonel Badass, Qhorin Halfhand, 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. However, the ranger he killed told Jon to do whatever it takes to make the wildlings think he's joined them.
  • Irony:
    • Out of all of Ned's kids, it's Ned's bastard son 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, except for Robb). This might also be impacted by Catelyn having no part in his raising, unlike his true-born siblings, who Catelyn raises to also have Tully influences from her side of the family in addition to their Northern influences, and thus, they were raised under both the Faith of the Seven and the Old Gods. Meanwhile, Ned is Jon's only parent and raises Jon himself — as a result, Jon has a purely Northern upbringing and follows his father's faith, the Old Gods.
    • Alliser Thorne mocks Jon by calling him "Lord Snow" because he's a bastard child with a lord's upbringing. Later on, Jon actually does become "Lord Snow" as the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: He is a good swordsman, fast and resilient for a boy of seventeen, as well as extremely strong, but he's not the most-so of characters in the series. The people he has lost to in a fight were the two best Watchmen of their generation, which is hardly a source of shame, and as his fight against Mance Rayder shows, Jon still has lots of room to improve.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: He thought joining the Night's Watch would be somewhat more heroic than it turned out to be. As it turned out, it still was; just, not from an angle any could foresee, or would be quick to appreciate.
  • Jerk Jock: How he was seen when he first came to the Wall. A bastard indeed, but a very highborn 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 some fellow Watch members (due to his time with the wildlings and sympathies for them, which conflict with traditional views of the Night's Watch) but he nonetheless believes in upholding his vows and keeping the realm safe. He strives to do the right thing, protect those who need help, and wants to save everyone in a world full of dangers.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Jon's thoughts on having sex with Ygritte for the first time, considering himself playing a part to convince the wildlings his defection is genuine. However, Ygritte works hard to undermine his resolve not to enjoy himself quite thoroughly.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Everyone notes how Jon's similar to his father Ned.
    • In addition, Jon thinks of what his father would do, reflects on his father's lessons to him and his siblings, and strives to follow his father’s examples of duty and honor, taking after his father's efforts to do the morally right thing.
      Melisandre (of Jon): The only gods he worshipped were honor and duty.
    • On the other hand, Jon is more practical and flexible than Ned, or Robb, which explains why he's lasted longer than either of them.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Since his mother is nowhere to be found and he is raised by his father, a powerful northern lord. It is noted that there is more of the North in Jon than any of his half-brothers, despite being his father's illegitimate child — from his looks and personality, in which he takes after Ned in many ways, to his very northern education and upbringing.
  • 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 "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, Jo(h)n Snow is also the name of the British doctor now credited as the father of modern epidemiology. Who better to battle a Zombie Apocalypse?
    • Jon is a shortened form of Jonathan, which can mean 'favor of God'. Suitable for someone who is believed by many to be "The Prince that is Promised".
  • Missing Mom: Obviously, since he has never met her and doesn't even know her name.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Exposition: Jon is well-learned via his highborn education, with his POV chapters showing his in-depth knowledge of House Stark's history, the North, various noble Houses, legends, and other subject areas throughout the series. Later, he is the main source of Stannis's information about the customs of Northerners and mountain clans. Jon is also the first to introduce the history of the Young Dragon (his childhood hero) to the reader.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The identity of Jon's mother is a huge point of contention in the series. Various characters have stated they believe it to be Wylla the wetnurse, Lady Ashara Dayne, or the daughter of a fisherman who smuggled Ned to safety.
  • Mysterious Parent: Again, the identity of his mother raises all sort of possibilities about Jon's identity and heritage, both In-Universe and out.
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    N-Z 
  • Nepotism:
    • While Jon is a very qualified candidate for the position of Lord Commander, he is still young, inexperienced and, much like his ancestor Lord Commander Osric Stark, Jon being Ned Stark’s blood and the nephew of the First Ranger played a big part in his being elected Lord Commander — alongside his experiences of being Lord Commander Mormont’s personal steward. Along with other arguments made for Jon’s qualifications, Sam uses Jon's highborn upbringing, education and lineage to convince Ser Denys Mallister that Jon is a better candidate.
    • This is an aspect that earned him not so many favors at first, as the last time the Night's Watch allowed nepotism to take place, a lordling named Waymar Royce mysteriously disappeared on his first ranging as an officer, having been made an officer by Lord Commander Mormont because he did not want to offend Waymar's father, "Bronze" Yohn Royce, who had personally brought his son to Castle Black from the Vale. As such, Jon did not receive the kinds of advantages from his superior skills, Stark lineage, or from his uncle that he had initially anticipated when he first arrives in the Night's Watch: he was forced to recognize the advantages his highborn upbringing had afforded him and received humbling lectures on this and his need to mature before he can fulfill his aspiration of becoming a ranger — which changed Jon's perspective and he was made the better for it.
  • 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 R. R. 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.
    • Jon and Sansa are surprisingly similar in many aspects, as they share many traits they inherited from Ned.
      • One of these shared traits is Jon and Sansa's initial idealism. Because of their rather sheltered upbringing by protective parent(s), Jon and Sansa both have idealized notions of their respective aspirations — Jon's dream of becoming a member of the Night's Watch and Sansa's dream of going to the royal court and being betrothed to a prince. Both learn the reality of things rather quickly when they get to fulfill said aspirations.
  • 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 his brother Robb fight the War of Five Kings when their father is killed by the Lannisters.
    • 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 goes to).
    • 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, after Jon receives a threatening letter from Ramsay Bolton, he admits in his own mind that he is forswearing his vows of neutrality when he intends to ride south to Winterfell and confront Ramsay with an army of wildlings who volunteer to go with him. Two pages later, he's being stabbed. Lord Commander Can't Get Away with Nuthin'!
  • Odd Friendship: After spending a bit of time together with Tyrion, the two become friends and Jon takes Tyrion's advices to heart. This happened before Joffrey branded Ned Stark a traitor, executed him, held Jon's sister hostage and the Lannisters caused the deaths of Robb and Lady Catelyn at the Red Wedding, though.
  • Offered the Crown: Stannis seeks the support of the North via Jon, a son of a Stark, and offers to legitimize him as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, which is something Jon has always dreamed of but never dared to openly acknowledge, feeling ashamed of these dreams. Jon turns down these offers out of loyalty to his father's gods and for the sake of his sister Sansa's claim on Winterfell.
  • 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 Night's Watch and Queen Selyse and her court to think that leaving a large number of men, women, and children to freeze to death beyond the Wall to become a part of an already growing undead army is a really bad idea.
    • It's hard to keep track of how many times he has to remind his southron guests that Free Folk don't follow the conventions of the south, that the sister of a wildling king's wife is not a princess nor his son the heir, and making an alliance through marriage with her won't mean a thing to the rest of the Free Folk.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: All the Stark children have the ability to warg with their wolves but Jon, Bran, and Arya develop and demonstrate this ability on-page. Bran is the most powerful warg of them all, while Jon has a strong connection to his wolf and is able to identify other wargs. However, 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 with Ghost.
  • Pen-Pushing President: As Lord Commander. Though he trains in the yard and makes the rounds every day to talk with his men, much of Jon's job is paperwork — reading letters, writing letters, signing letters, going over stacks of books, taking notes, research... Some passages begin with Jon waking up in the morning at his desk surrounded by towers of books and paperwork.
  • 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
  • Phrase Catcher: "You know nothing, Jon Snow." First said to him repeatedly by Ygritte, and later said by Melisandre.
  • Princely Young Man: Other than his status as a lord's illegitimate child, Jon is the portrait of all princely virtues: wise, polite, educated, honourable, and a skilled swordsman. These excellent qualities actually contribute to make him a Fish out of Water at the Wall.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Along with his power as a skin changer, it also comes with a predisposition for psychic dreams (aka the "wolf dreams”). Also, he has always had a recurring dream about going to the crypts of Winterfell against his will to look for something which may foreshadow his dubious parentage.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As Lord Commander, in so far as he's the only person who seems to understand that the alliance among the Watch, Stannis, and the wildlings is in everyone's interests. Unfortunately, he doesn't always look this way to others.
  • Recurring Dreams: Other than the already mentioned psychic dreams, his recurring nightmare since childhood is going to the Winterfell crypts to search for something against his will, calling for his father, brothers, and uncle, and the stone statues in the crypts telling him he does not belong. This fuels his insecurities and Bastard Angst and may be one of the main hints, according to fan theory, that he's not exactly who Eddard Stark claimed him to be, though he'd still come from Stark lineage.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Though Jon and his half-brother, Robb, share a very close relationship, their very first description serves to put Jon in stark contrast with Robb:
    He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where [Robb] was strong and fast.
  • Relative Button: When it comes to any threat or harm befalling Jon's beloved half-siblings, father, or insult to his father's honour. His thoughts of fury are ignited by Theon Greyjoy, who (as far as Jon knows) murdered his two younger brothers; by the Lannisters and Boltons, for their parts in the deaths of his father and Robb; and by Ramsay Bolton, for the danger he poses to his sister — his love for his family, alongside his instinct to protect those needing help, conflict with his Night's Watch vow for neutrality. In AGOT, Jon can’t help but constantly worry about his father, Sansa, and Arya in King's Landing after hearing about their father’s arrest, culminating in his nearly leaving to avenge Ned’s death alongside his brother Robb. Later, in ADWD, Jon follows his Big Brother Instinct to rescue Arya from Ramsay Bolton when he is told she is in danger and, in his final POV chapter of ADWD, Jon's thoughts are with all of his siblings while he decides what to do after reading the taunting letter sent by Ramsay.
  • Renaissance Man: Jon Snow is already a skilled archer and swordsman when he joins the Night's Watch as he has been trained by Winterfell's master-at-arms alongside Robb since they were both old enough to hold a sword, but he's also very well-read and has an in-depth knowledge of history and a reasonable grasp on politics thanks to his education under Winterfell's maester. Because of this, unlike most of the recruits, he's positioned to be trained in a variety of other skills rather than constantly learning how to survive a fight, and the Lord Commander himself was grooming him as his successor.
  • Rousing Speech: When Mance attacks the Wall with a huge army in full force against the Watch's dwindling forces, most of Jon's Watch brothers are about to panic. Jon, despite his own misgivings, responds with this speech:
    "The Wall will stop them," Jon heard himself say. He turned and said it again, louder. "The Wall will stop them. The Wall defends itself." Hollow words, but he needed to say them, almost as much as his brothers needed to hear them. "Mance wants to unman us with his numbers. Does he think we're stupid?" He was shouting now, his leg forgotten, and every man was listening. "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?" He laughed, and Pyp and Owen and half a dozen more laughed with him. "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?"
    "NO," Grenn shouted.
    "They're down there and we're up here," Jon said, "and so long as we hold the gate they cannot pass. They cannot pass!" They were all shouting then, roaring his own words back at him, waving swords and longbows in the air as their cheeks flushed red.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Particularly in Dance, in which Jon sets aside the Watch's traditions for moral, humanitarian, and pragmatic reasons. He builds a formal alliance between the wildlings and the Night's Watch and brings the wildlings south of the Wall to save them from the Others, and tries to rescue stranded wildlings at Hardhome. When several of his officers argue that Jon should leave the wildlings to die, Jon counters that wildlings are also people and part of the realms of men they protect from the threats beyond the Wall — the Others. Though Jon reminds himself that he must be neutral, he chooses to do what is morally right over neutrality by supporting Stannis's cause against The Dreaded Roose and Ramsay Bolton, trying to save his little sister from the sadist Ramsay Bolton, and helping Alys Karstark escape a forced marriage to her Evil Uncle. Alys agrees to a marital alliance set up by Jon to protect Alys and help her retake her home from her treacherous uncles — forming a new house, House Thenn. These actions taken by Jon to do what's morally right interfere in the politics of the realm and go against the Watch's political neutrality. As described in The Meereenese Blot essays, Jon's hero instinct, urge to right wrongs, and need to rescue innocents are his Achille's heel as a leader of a traditional and neutral system — which eventually results in his downfall. When Jon receives a threatening letter from Ramsay Bolton and Jon announces his intention to march south and confront him, effectively compromising the Watch's neutrality, Jon's opposers in the Watch mutiny against him and assassinate him.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: Toward the end of A Dance with Dragons, Ramsay Bolton sends Jon a taunting letter, in which he demands that Jon send his younger sister, Arya (Ramsay's "bride" — Ramsay actually unknowingly married Jeyne Poole, who impersonated Arya) to him, along with Stannis's wife, the Princess Shireen, the Red Witch, and Val, and threatens Jon he will attack if Jon does not comply. Jon knows Bolton will attack regardless 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.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • With Robb. Of all Stark siblings, Jon has the closest relationships with Robb and Arya. Where Robb is broad, strong, and fast, Jon is lean, quick, and graceful. Where Robb is gregarious and outgoing, Jon is more solemn and introverted. Robb is the trueborn heir to Winterfell while Jon is a lord's illegitimate son. Nonetheless, these contrasts do not stop Robb and Jon from being very close as brothers.
    • With Sansa. Of all Stark siblings, Jon has the most distant relationship with her. Sansa is very "Southern"-cultured, has the Tully look and is a trueborn daughter, while Jon is very "Northern"-cultured, has the Stark look and is an illegitimate son. Later on in the story, Sansa assumes the role of a bastard and Jon becomes a lord. They actually have a lot more in common than it first appears, such as their initial Wide-Eyed Idealist views and sheltered upbringings within Winterfell's walls before the Stark family is separated.
  • Standardized Leader: He's basically a classic fantasy protagonist in a decidedly non-classic fantasy world.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Ygritte falls in love with Jon. Jon falls in love with Ygritte — but they're doomed to be apart as they come from two worlds. Jon initially rejects Ygritte's sexual advances in order to stay true to his vows and he also does not want to dishonour her or hurt her feelings because he'll have to return to the Night's Watch one day, but they end up in love and develop a deep affection and respect for one another.
  • The Stoic: A trait inherited from Ned. Jon is very introverted and quiet, but he is a friendly and caring boy. Once he becomes Lord Commander, he plays his stoicism up even more than usual, remembering his father's lessons to him and Robb in leadership, and feels 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 of his generation who inherited the family look. Arya also resembles him and it is said she resembles Lyanna, the sister of Ned Stark and Jon's possible mother, if what's true in the show is also true in the books.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Classically distant exterior, really soft, gooey interior. Just ask anybody he opens up to. Jon sometimes gets snarky and can come off as pretty unapproachable In-Universe — especially to those who don't know him — but he's one of the most caring, just and moral characters put on page next to Ned Stark.
  • Super Strength: It's not given that much focus, but Jon mysteriously shows it as something of an extra gear that he taps into every now and then. Though his reaction to his strength is much more conservative when he easily wrenches an 8-feet long spear with a severed head impaled at the top from frozen ground like nothing (while four grown men struggle to remove the remaining two spears); or when he single-handedly wrestles his all-muscle direwolf (who's currently the size of the largest pony) into the armory. In a fit of rage after Alliser Throne and Janos Slynt mock and insult Jon's father for too long, Jon lifts a grown-ass man like Alliser by the throat clean off his feet and nearly throttles him in the process — all while Jon is recovering from being shot in the leg with an arrow and is sleep deprived after commanding the defense of the Wall. Keep in mind that his right hand is severely burned.
  • 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 Father: Invoked. Jon Snow does not know the identity of his mother and, for reasons yet to be revealed, Ned never told 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 out.
  • Unexpected Successor: In A Storm of Swords, Robb legitimized Jon and made him his successor as King in the North should Robb die childless (which Robb has), but the whereabouts of this document, or whatever came of it, are currently unknown. Remains to be seen if he will ever become king. Of course, Robb made Jon heir thinking that Bran and Rickon were dead, when they are very much alive. The legitimization would still stand even if he didn't become king or even leave the Night's Watch, however.
  • 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's mother, it isn't clear whether Jon is younger or older than Robb (both are fourteen at the beginning of the series). This is directly tied to the question of his parentage. Jon was supposedly conceived while Ned was away at war, which would make him a few months younger than Robb (who was conceived on Ned and Catelyn's wedding night, right before Ned went on campaign), but when theories of his parentage are taken into account, it becomes less clear.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Like Robb, Jon 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 rights to Winterfell. He suffers a lot of guilt over that last part though, given his status and his love for his siblings. While Ned did love and respect Jon and wanted to tell him so, Joffrey's interference meant Ned would never get the chance. Made more complex by hints that may indicate Ned might not actually be Jon's biological father, but rather his uncle.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: At first. Once he joins the Night's Watch, he quickly wises up however.
  • 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. For Jon, he adopts this trope to follow his father's lessons in leadership to him and in his efforts to more effectively fulfill his duty.
  • You Are in Command Now: Has to take charge of the defense of Castle Black when all the Night's Watchmen who outrank him are dead or somewhere else, and he is later elected as Lord Commander at age 16.
  • You Remind Me of X: Maester Aemon gives him the same speech he gave to his brother King Aegon V when he was unexpectedly crowned king, as he senses that Jon has to carry a burden even more cruel than his brother's, despite Jon's young age.

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