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House Stark
"Winter Is Coming."

"You Starks are hard to kill."
Jon Snow

One of the oldest Great Houses of Westeros, very big on honor and tradition. Once, the Starks were Kings in the North and the Kings of Winter, but after Aegon's conquest and the reformation of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the Starks' rank was reduced to Wardens of the North. The old titles are revived following the execution of Ned Stark and his son's acclamation as King. In the aftermath of the Red Wedding, House Stark was believed to be extinguished with Robb Stark and his family being murdered (though some of his siblings still survive), with their lands, titles and seat of power handed over to House Bolton. After the Second Battle of Winterfell, House Bolton is destroyed and the Starks are restored to power with Jon Snow as the new King in the North.

For tropes related to the younger generation of the Starks, see House Stark Children.

For the tropes related to the Starks' household see House Stark Household

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    In General 

  • Accidental Misnaming: "Winterfell" is called several times "Winterhell" by some characters, seemingly by mistake, not out of gratuitous malice. But after everything that has happened, it wouldn't be a mistake either.
  • Adaptation Deviation: Their sigil in the books is grey running wolf on a white field, but the show changes it to a grey wolf's head on a white and green field.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • The relationship between the Starks and their Northern vassals is vastly different in the show. In the books, most (though not all) Northern houses have Undying Loyalty to the Starks and only bend the knee to the Boltons because they think all the Starks are dead/missing and their loved ones are being held hostage. In the show, most of the Northern lords are portrayed more as Fair Weather Friends, as most of them stay out of the conflict between House Stark and House Bolton.
    • In the books, most of the Northern lords loved Ned and Robb Stark personally, not just as their lord or king, and still thought fondly of them after their deaths. Ned was A Father to His Men and even taught his sons that they shouldn't expect their bannermen to die for a stranger. In the show Ned and Robb's friendships with the other Northern nobles are largely pushed aside (especially since many of those nobles were Demoted to Extra or Adapted Out) and in later seasons they're disparaged as fools who died because their own mistakes.
  • Aerith and Bob: Or Eddard and Robb if you will, but Stark men tend to have names that are less fantastic (Brandon, Robb, Ned, Jon, Ben) than the girls (Lyanna, Sansa, Arya).
  • Age Lift: Robb and Jon are 17-18 in the beginning of the series as opposed to 14 in the books, and their siblings are aged up accordingly. More time also passes within the show's timeframe than the books, so they age about twice as fast, too (then again, this applies to everyone in the narrative).
  • Ancestral Weapon: Ice has been this, gifted to the Starks by Aegon the Conqueror after Torrhen, the last Stark King of Winter, bent his knee. After Ned is executed in the capital, Tywin Lannister has it melted down and uses it to make two new swords. One of those swords is in Brienne's hands.
  • Animal Motifs: The sigil of House Stark is the direwolf, a wolf the size of a small horse. That said, up until the events of the series, they have never really maintained/taken care of these creatures up until the litter of direwolf puppies Ned and his brood found. Their subsequent adoption of these animals put them on equal footing with the only other House known to have done this—House Targaryen with their dragons.
  • Arch-Enemy: As a long-running feudal family, House Stark made a number of enemies in its time:
    • Historically, House Bolton were this to the Starks, rivals for hegemony over the North. They even rebelled against the North once (a la the "Reynes of Castamere") but the Starks pardoned them after they bent the knee. Since then, the Boltons have been forced into Teeth-Clenched Teamwork for the most part, with the Starks forcing them to outlaw their "traditions" of flaying people and Roose Bolton fighting for Ned Stark during Robert's Rebellion and supporting Robb during the War of the Five Kings. Until Roose found an opportunity, courtesy Tywin Lannister, to become The Starscream, and he along with the Freys betrayed the Starks during the Red Wedding with Roose personally killing his Liege Lord Robb Stark and becoming Warden of the North and claiming Winterfell as a reward. The rivalry between the Boltons and the Starks comes to an end when Ramsay, the last living Bolton, is defeated and killed by Sansa and Jon. House Bolton is extinct and Winterfell restored to House Stark.
    • House Targaryen likewise inflicted the worst humiliations and suffering on the Stark before the start of the series. It was believed by most of Westeros that Prince Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark and held her hostage and raped her but it is revealed in Season 7 that Lyanna and Rheagar were in love and she willingly married him. Lyanna's brother Brandon and her father Rickard were sadistically murdered by the Mad King Aerys II, and Eddard Stark was more or less declared Outlaw by the same king, provoking House Stark to join Robert's Rebellion. The bad blood between the two houses hasn't dissipated in light of their other grudges, and Sansa hasn't forgotten what happened to her grandfather and her aunt, and publicly scolds her brother Jon for parlaying with the daughter of the Mad King. Daenerys for her part has a grudge on Ned Stark because she believes, wrongly albeit due to ignorance, that the latter was a sidekick to King Robert and more or less enabled him to make repeated assassination attempts on her. The tragic irony of course is that Jon Snow, the current King in the North is unknowingly the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and as Daenerys notes, between Torrhen Stark bending the knee to Aegon I and her father, House Stark loyally served House Targaryen for nearly 300 years and had a strong relationship.From the books... 
    • To House Lannister. At the beginning of the series, the two houses can barely stand to be in the same room together without being drunk and Joffrey quickly manages to turn the Starks into mortal enemies of the Lannisters. Though, initially their differences were ideological rather than personal, and driven by Ned feeling bitter about the Lannisters souring Robert's Rebellion with their craven power-grab and his bias against Jaime Lannister's Bodyguard Betrayal of Aerys, it gets sour immediately and reaches a point of no return when Joffrey decides to execute Ned. An action which the Lannisters did not want to do, with even Cersei wanting Ned to be sent to the Night's Watch. About the only Lannister the Starks like is, Tyrion Lannister, a fugitive who murdered Lord Tywin Lannister, who orchestrated the Red Wedding that killed Robb and Catelyn Stark, and likewise installed Roose and Ramsay Bolton as wardens in charge of the North.
  • Back from the Brink: Four seasons after the capture of Winterfell and three seasons after their downfall at the Red Wedding, House Stark is officially back in the Game after destroying the Boltons and recapturing Winterfell. As Jon Snow remarked to Robb in Episode 2:
    Jon Snow: You Starks are hard to kill.
  • Badass Boast: Subverted. The Starks' motto is meant as a warning and also indicates a great concern for their subjects. However, Robb (and later, Arya) still manages to find a way to use it as a boast.
    Robb Stark: Tell Lord Tywin winter is coming for him. 20,000 Northerners marching south to find out if he really does shit gold.
    Arya Stark: When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.
  • Badass Family: This House is full of legendary heroes, warriors and wargs.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: As a result of Adaptational Attractiveness note , every member of the Stark family is quite attractive and unambiguously good (though none are without their flaws).
  • Being Good Sucks: In Westeros, the decent way rarely is the efficient or happy way. Doing the right thing has its tolls. Deconstructed in Season 4. Even after their downfall the Starks are still beloved by many of their former vassals and allies, all of whom would not hesitate a second to help any of the surviving Stark children, and when Stannis demands the capitulation of the northern noble Houses early in Season 5, their answer is exemplified by a ten year old girl's answer: "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark." Then Season 6 comes around and this trope once again shows the price of good intentions, as most of the Northern houses turn their backs on the Starks.
  • BFS: Ice, the ancestral Stark Valyrian steel greatsword. So big that Tywin Lannister describes it as "absurdly large" and is able to reforge two one-handed arming Valyrian swords from it, Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper. Oathkeeper ironically returned in service to House Stark when Jaime gave the sword to Brienne, who finally officially entered service to the Stark Household, while Widow's Wail, Joffrey's sword was used by Jaime Lannister.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Winterfell is this for House Stark, having a large interior, a noticeable skyline of large towers, and being highly defensible, especially during winter. It falls twice in the series. The first time is when Winterfell is taken by Theon Greyjoy who, as a hostage/ward to House Stark, knows enough about it to subvert and take the castle in short order. After the Bolton occupation, Jon and Sansa take the castle back, and it needs a Giant, Wun-Wun, to tear through the large gates to truly shorten what would have been a terrible siege.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: A notable aversion, as House Stark is one of the few great houses whose members unquestioningly love each other unconditionally. They nonetheless have the most bizarre, tragic, horrific and twisted fates of any other in the series. Four of them die over the course of seven seasons, two of them come back from the dead (Benjen and Jon Snow), another was held hostage, married multiple times, and suffered sexual assault (Sansa), a third has become an Assassin (Arya Stark) and the fourth (Bran) has more or less become a prophet and wizard of some sort.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nothing ever goes well for the Starks at all (except during the times of Robert's Rebellion — and even then, Ned and his younger brother Benjen were the only surviving Starks of their generation — and in the early part of the War of the Five Kings, when the Starks and Tullys were militarily unstoppable). By Season 4, they've lost almost everything, both in human and social (i.e. titles) terms, including Winterfell, the Lordship Paramount of the North, and the Wardenship of the North, with the only remaining Starks in no position to reclaim their previous rank. Until Season 6, where despite all that, they do, re-establishing their Kingship in the North.
  • Color Motif: Mostly Grey and white, but also brown, to symbolize the no-nonsense and grim attitude of the North. It contrasts strongly with the Lannisters' red and gold.From the books... 
  • Dark Horse Victory: In the series finale, they end up winning the titular Game of Thrones on every level: they get an independent North with a Stark Queen (Sansa), and a Stark King (Bran) now rules the remaining kingdoms. With the heavy implication that Jon has joined the Free Folk, potentially succeeding Mance Rayder as the new King-Beyond-the-Wall, the Starks effectively rule all of Westeros. They did it not by dishing out the most hurt, but by enduring it all.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: House Stark characters typically dress themselves in black, navy blue, and grey, and have a savage wolf as their sigil, but they are nowhere near evil. In contrast to House Lannister who dress in gold and red and have a noble lion as their sigil. But are not good people.
  • Decadent Court: Strongly inverted, and in very significant fashion. The Starks run one of the most informal and utilitarian courts in the series, which plays into their popularity, since such practicality plays into the unity the North needs to survive winter. As for deadly, almost everyone can count on the Starks' honorable nature ensuring their safety, unlike in other courts... unless, like Littlefinger, you try and act like you're in the usual Decadent Court and spend your time trying to turn people on each other only to find your throat being slit in the main hall.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: House Stark's fate, for most of the series, has been a by-word regarding how a family of honorable fantasy heroes, good politics and Westeros don't mix. At the beginning of the War of Five Kings, House Stark (similar to the Greyjoy-led Ironborn) had the smallest army and fewest allies. After the Red Wedding, their ranks and leadership were virtually annihilated — the house itself functionally extinct. Their only remaining clanspeople (Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon and Jon) were either tossed around like bargaining chips or hunted like fugitives. And yet, by Season 6, they have a) retaken their ancestral seat and destroyed their centuries-long rivals, b) regained the support of the North and re-established their independent Kingdom, and c) pieced together a standing army through assimilating the Free Folk and allying with the knights of the Vale and d) killed off the men responsible for the murder of their family and supporters. By contrast, the three-way alliance that brought them on their knees — Boltons, Freys and Lannisters — are respectively literally extinct, functionally extinct, and currently on the verge of collapse. By the end of the series, House Stark rules all of Westeros (including the Free Folk, as Jon Snow's fate implies), while the sole remaining Lannister, Tyrion, now serves a Stark king (Bran).
  • Demoted to Dragon: The Starks were Kings in the North and the Kings of Winter, but after Aegon's conquest and the reformation of the Seven Kingdoms the Starks' rank was reduced to Wardens of the North. After Robert's Rebellion, Ned served as Warden for the post-Targaryen dynasty, but Joffrey's execution of the Lord Paramount and Hand of the King made many in the North feel that they don't have to submit to the Iron Throne since it was the dragons they knelt to. Of course by Season 7, the dragons have come back and Queen Daenerys is rather fond of the Good Old Ways, before her father's time of course, when the North were loyal vassals of the Iron Throne and she wants King in the North, Jon Snow, to bend the knee.
  • Dragon Ascendant: The Starks were vassals of the Barrow Kings but they took on a more active leadership position during the Long Night. They eventually supplanted the Barrow Kings after a thousand years of war.
  • Dwindling Party: Their members drop like flies. By the end of Season 6, only Sansa, Arya, Bran, Jon, and Benjen are alive, Jon because of the resurrection spell, and Benjen is technically undead.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After collectively enduring the most suffering, trauma, pain, and humiliation of any of the major houses in the series, the Starks end the series not only in a much better position than they started, they essentially become the ultimate winners in the Game of Thrones: they achieve Northern independence with Sansa becoming Queen in the North, Bran sits on the throne in King's Landing, and it's implied that Jon may become King-Beyond-the-Wall.
  • Elective Monarchy: The North chooses a Stark king after rebelling against the Iron Throne at the end of Season 1. Robb Stark doesn't declare himself King in the North but is chosen by acclamation by the Northern bannermen and other allies. This also happens with his successor Jon Snow, and presumably with his successor, Sansa Stark.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of the House of York, at least in name and its individual members' characterization. When you take into account political position, war glories and subsequent vulnerability, however, they borrow more from the reputation of the House of Lancaster (a junior branch of The House of Plantagenet) — who were deposed by the ruthless and (sometimes) quite dishonorable methods of the Yorkist faction. This mixing with Lancastrian and Yorkist tropes also characterize their rivals, House Lannister.
    • This becomes more explicit come Season 6, where Jon Snow's ascension as King in the North (the same time it became clear he's not an illegitimate son of the main line, he's a Stark in the matrilineal line) after deposing the tyrannical rule of the Boltons harkens the propaganda of Henry VII's rise — a matrilineal relative of the Lancasters who established The House of Tudor.
  • Fatal Flaw: The Starks' reoccurring flaw is that they often assume that others share their morals and principles. This naivety often leads to the Starks being manipulated and contributes to several of their deaths.
  • The Fettered: In contrast to the Lannisters.
  • Former Regime Personnel: House Stark's household, retainers, allies, and clients, includes individuals who have served other Kings and governments, some of whom were opponents to House Stark:
    • Lady Brienne of Tarth, originally in service to King Renly Baratheon, Ser Davos Seaworth, formerly in service to King Stannis Baratheon, Podrick Payne, nephew of Ser Ilyn Payne who beheaded Ned Stark (currently squire to Brienne but formerly to Tyrion Lannister).
    • In addition there is Tormund Giantsbane, second-in-command to Mance Rayder, King-Beyond-the-Wall, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, former Master of Coin in service to King Joffrey Baratheon, and Maester Wolkan who was formerly the Maester of the Dreadfort and House Bolton.
  • Good Is Dumb: When it comes to playing the game of thrones. When it comes to winning battles and ruling the North, it's a different matter.From the books... 
  • Good Is Not Soft:
    • They are heroic and nice. However, those who bring them harm should expect from them the same mercy that they dish to House Stark. In fact, by the end of Season 6, they've killed most of the perpetrators of the infamous Red Wedding, with Arya killing Walder Frey, and Jon and Sansa wiping out House Bolton, who are largely responsible for their suffering and deaths in their family.
    • There is another way to view the Stark tradition of personally beheading condemned criminals; honorable yes, but if you know that your liege lord will personally lop someone's head off and write it off as one of the day's will know that they are not a person to cross. Also consider Robb Stark's hanging the Karstark watchman last "so he can watch the others die". [1] indeed.
  • Good Old Ways: They still keep to the traditions of the First Men: honor, bravery, belief in the old gods, and "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword". They are the last great house to do so.
  • Grim Up North: By reputation. They live in the largest region, with harsh climate and subsequently harsh people. They are also the last great house of First Men's line and one of the last who worships the Old Gods and keeps the Good Old Ways, which is a bit looked down by the opulent South.
  • The Hero: The Starks are the most classical in terms of heroes, honor-bound warriors devoted to each other.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Stark's reputation has suffered over the years, but this is mostly averted by Season 6.
    • Lord Eddard is ridiculed as a greedy simpleton who was executed for trying to steal the throne.
    • King Robb and Talisa's love affair is blamed for the loss of the war.
    • Jon is seen as a Night's Watch deserter who let Wildlings into the realm while Sansa is seen as a glorified Southerner owing to her time in King's Landing and marriage to Tyrion and few powerful northern families support them because neither of them are legally Starks.
  • Honor Before Reason: By tradition, specially under the rule of Ned Stark, who lives and breathes by this trope. To their detractors they frequently cross the line to being Lawful Stupid.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: It's almost a family trait for Starks to place their trust in people who REALLY should not be trusted, with Arya, Jon, and possibly Bran being the only three who managed to avoid it thus far. And Sansa has also managed to grow out of this.
  • Iconic Outfit: The Stark army tend to wear a common outfit of a brown leather-fronted coat of plates over a green gambeson Note  and somtimes a chainmail shirt when in the field. It's far more modest and showy than other armour seen elsewhere and the fact that it's worn by soldiers and commanders, regardless of rank, suggests the Frontline General ethos espoused and followed by Ned and imbibed by his kids
  • Leitmotif: "Winterfell" is the most recurring Stark theme. A slow, somber and melancholic yet powerful piece that evokes past and better times when the family was together.
  • Looks Like Jesus: The Stark men have a tendency to wear their dark hair long and an affinity for sporting Manly Facial Hair.
  • Made of Iron: This House is ridiculously hard to take down. Not only is it thousands of years old (indeed, it is the oldest Great House in Westeros), but they always seems to bounce back from horrible adversity and loss.
  • Meaningful Name: 'Stark' has several meanings, including "rigidly conforming," "desolate" and "strong." All of these meanings can apply to the Stark family or to the North.
  • Mind Control: The family had wargs in both the past and present. In the present, only Bran has this ability, eventually becoming a greenseer and then finally the Three-Eyed Raven.
  • Modest Royalty: Compared to other great houses. It says something about their house that for the most part, Sansa was the only one who wears Southern-inspired flashy outfits (in Season 1, due to being an Alpha Bitch and from Season 2 onwards, due to being a hostage in King's Landing). In Season 6, Sansa chooses a more muted style of fashion when she is reunited with the first of her paternal family members Jon — she is wearing a Brunswick green layered dress with the Stark insignia embossed in gold. It's quite flashy for Northern wear but definitely muted compared to the South.From the books... 
  • Monument of Humiliation and Defeat: King Joffrey installs a statue of himself wielding a crossbow with his foot standing on a direwolf.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Those who have died did so with only a few of their family present.
    • Lord Rickard and Brandon were executed in King's Landing while Ned was at the Eyrie, Benjen at Winterfell, and Lyanna captive in Dorne.
    • Only Ned was present at Lyanna's deathbed in Dorne, though it is later revealed that Lyanna's newborn son — Jon Snow — was also present as Lyanna had just given birth to him and passed him into Ned's care.
    • Ned is executed with only his daughters present. The others are either at Winterfell (Bran and Rickon), at the Wall (Jon), or beyond (Benjen), or marching towards King's Landing (Robb and Catelyn). And of course, Ned died before fulfilling his final promise to Jon to tell him about his mother when they meet again.
    • The Red Wedding happens with Jon, Bran, and Rickon somewhere near the Wall, Sansa at King's Landing, Benjen missing beyond the Wall, and Arya just outside the venue while the event is taking place.
    • Jon is murdered at the Wall, obviously without any of his family. Interestingly, he gets reunited with Sansa two episodes after his resurrection.
    • Only Jon is present when Rickon is killed by Ramsay. By the time Sansa arrives, she only sees Rickon's corpse.
  • Nice Guy: All of the Stark children share this as a common trait, along with Ned Stark himself.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A trait common to all Starks is that many of their actions tend to backfire on them and aid their enemies. Namely, their dislike for Lannisters leads them to buy Littlefinger's lies about them killing Jon Arryn and later his phony accusation against Tyrion, actions which helped spark the War of the Five Kings.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lord Eddard, Lady Catelyn, and Prince Brandon are mostly referred to as Ned, Cat, and Bran respectively.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Whatever else may be said about House Stark, they are not believers in turning the other cheek, with the only exception being King Jon Snow who tends to be more forgiving than his family members, and even he will execute individuals when the situation calls for it (Janos Slynt, the mutineers) and give a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Ramsay Bolton. Robb Stark fully intends to make House Lannister pay for their transgressions; Catelyn Stark carries out her threat to execute Walder Frey's wife whom she takes hostage during the Red Wedding; Bran Stark wargs into Hodor's mind, having Hodor brutally snap the neck of Locke who tried to kidnap and kill him and Rickon; Arya Stark conducts multiple assassinations and institutes a purge on House Frey for the Red Wedding; and Sansa Stark summarily executes Ramsay Snow and Littlefinger. Ned Stark likewise fully intended to execute Ser Jorah Mormont for his crime of slavery. From the books... 
  • The Protagonist: As in the books, the Starks are given a significant amount of screen time and character development throughout the story from Ned's execution to the house's children.
  • Quality over Quantity: House Stark and their Tully allies can muster only about 30,000 men (due to early Tully defeats and reversals, they are not able to muster the full strength of the densely populated and prosperous Riverlands), but face upwards of 60,000 Lannister forces (many, many more when the Tyrells join the Lannister side). And despite almost always being badly outnumbered in individual battles, they have never once been defeated (except for that 2,000-men decoy force sent to confront Tywin in Season 1). Ultimately though, the strategic imbalance between Stark/Tully and Lannister/Tyrell means that the Starks can't win a protracted war outside of the North.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: As of Season 6, with their leadership consisting of one of the last Starks (Sansa), a former Lord Commander of the Night's Watch (Jon Snow), a knight from a noble house in the Stormlands (Davos), a Red Priestess (Melisandre), and a Wildling chieftain (Tormund). The bulk of their army consists of two thousand Wildlings and several hundred bannermen from the few Northern houses still loyal to them. Suffice to say, the resurgent forces of House Stark are a diverse bunch. As of the finale, this is taken further with the addition of the surviving Northern Lords, Littlefinger and the Vale Lords as their bannermen.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: The Starks are known for their fair skin and dark brown hair.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: The crypts beneath Winterfell are filled with statues of deceased Kings in the North, and the Lord Paramount of the past. Ned Stark even built a statue in the crypt for his sister Lyanna, and years after his death, when Winterfell is reclaimed by Jon and Sansa, they commission a statue for him, albeit one made by a mason who apparently didn't know Ned well enough to carve a proper likeness.
  • Succession Crisis: Notable in its aversion. The Starks have been reduced to an (ostensibly) bastard-born older brother without the Stark name, two young women, and a paralyzed young man. For any other house, this would spell the end of the family in a traditional sense, because the Stark name wouldnít be passed down, and likely also result in in-fighting between the older bastard and his true-born half-siblings. But because the Starks love each other and are liked by their vassals, no fuss has been raised after they came Back from the Brink, and even Littlefinger found himself fatally mistaken in trying to play their rivalries against each other.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: They finally reclaim their ancestral seat of Winterfell from the Boltons at the end of "The Battle of the Bastards" in Season 6, after it had been torched earlier in Season 2 and with the entire family scattered.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Heavily mixed with Had to Be Sharp, all of the remaining Starks as a whole came back greater individually than the beginning of the War of the Five Kings.
    • Jon, due to his status as a bastard son raised in a castle, was a societal outsider. By the end of Season 6, he becomes a charismatic leader the whole North and the Wildlings are ready to follow.
    • Sansa went from a NaÔve Newcomer and Butt-Monkey in King's Landing to a Silk Hiding Steel type of woman who develops political acumen great enough to impress Littlefinger himself.
    • Bran discovered his Warg then Greensight abilities and develops them. By the end of Season 6, Bran replaces the Three-Eyed Raven.
    • Arya underwent Training from Hell in Braavos and acquires the skills of the Faceless Men, the deadliest assassins in the world.
    • Benjen Stark simply Came Back Strong.
    • In general, by the end of Season 6: the Starks' popularity finally pays off. They manage to gather many new allies, most notably Brienne, Davos, Littlefinger (for now), and the Wildlings while still having the support of their vassals. With their support, Sansa and Jon manage to defeat the Boltons for good and retake Winterfell, reclaiming the North and becoming one of the most united and powerful factions of the setting just behind Daenerys Targaryen's army.
  • Tragic Hero: No matter how much they may try to do the right thing, the Seven Kingdoms will repeatedly show them that honor is nigh-worthless to the rest of Westeros. Rickard, Brandon, Ned and Robb all pay the ultimate price for their heroism and the family nearly reaches total extinction at the Red Wedding. The surviving children are all forced to Take a Level in Badass and learn to play the game to eventually bring the house Back from the Brink and retake their home.
  • True Companions: With House Baratheon.
    • Specifically Ned-Robert in the previous generation. Robert attempts to enforce this in the first episode by not only naming Ned Hand of the King but also offering an Arranged Marriage beteween Joffrey and Sansa. This obviously goes disastrously wrong on several different levels, mostly because Joffrey is all-Lannister, no Baratheon, in both spirit and blood and a psycho to boot, but the thought was still there. Also,Arya-Gendry in the current set (with bonus points for managing it without even knowing he's Baratheon). Catelyn also invokes the Stark-Baratheon bond when brokering an alliance with Renly.
    Catelyn: [to Renly] Our houses have always been close.
    • When the two meet each other in Season 7, Gendry and Jon quickly strike up a bond with Gendry in particular taking their excursion over the Wall to capture a Wight as a grand adventure and clearly hoping to emulate their fathers' adventures, much to Davos' annoyance.
  • Two Girls to a Team:
    • Sansa and Arya are the only daughters of Ned and Catelyn.
    • Catelyn and Talisa were the only prominent women in Robb's forces.
    • During Rickard Stark's reign, his wife and daughter Lyanna were the only prominent female Starks.
  • Undignified Death: Life has not been very kind to them that they leave it harshly. Their deaths were so brutal that it came to a point where it disgusted even some of their enemies.
    • Lord Rickard and Brandon's infamous Cruel and Unusual Deaths (see their respective entries) which still disgusts several characters long after it happened.
      Robert Baratheon: (To Ned) What her [Daenerys] father did to your family, that was unspeakable!
      Jaime Lannister: (To Ned) Nobody deserves to die like that.
      Barristan Selmy: (To Ned) He was a fine man, your father. What the Mad King did to him was a terrible crime.
    • Lyanna was said to be found in her own blood before she succumbed. Little did the world know is that she fataly bled a lot because she was going through Death by Childbirth.
    • Ned's execution has him give up his honor under false charges, with his head being mounted on a spike immediately after. And Sansa is Forced to Watch by the kid responsible for his execution.
    • Robb, Catelyn, and Talisa's are as infamous as Lord Rickard and Brandon above, if not more. To specify, Robb gets stabbed in the chest by a sworn bannerman, his corpse is beheaded and has his direwolf's head sewn on it. Catelynís throat gets deeply cut from behind, her corpse is stripped naked and thrown in a river, denied of her family's tradition of Viking Funeral. Talisa was repeatedly stabbed in the womb, while pregnant.
    • Jon bleeds to death (if he's not dead already because of the stabbings) after he is unceremoniously executed by a few of his brothers at the Night's Watch. He got better, though.
    • Rickon is fatally shot by an arrow to the heart, with his corpse being hit by a few more arrows immediately after.
  • Universally Beloved Leader: The Starks are highly popular with their vassals. Especially Ned Stark whose name even compels respect from the likes of Robett Glover, embittered by Robb Stark's Shocking Defeat Legacy. They are also very well liked by the smallfolk. This is almost certainly why Stannis tries to win Ned Starkís bastard son, Jon Snow, to his campaign to win the North. In exchange for Jon leaving the Night's Watch and bending the knee to him, Stannis makes Jon an offer of legitimization and lordship of Winterfell but Jon declines out of his Stark sense of duty.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Their entire conflict with the Lannisters was instigated by Littlefinger, who used the values of both houses to move them against each other. The Starks' Honor Before Reason and the Lannister's Might Makes Right ethos.

    Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark 

Lord Eddard Stark
Click here to see the Rebellion-era Ned Stark. 

Played By: Sean Bean, Sebastian Croft (Child), Robert Aramayo (Young Adult)

Voiced By: Humberto Vťlez (Latin American Spanish), Luis Navarro (Latin American Spanish/Young), Hideaki Tezuka (Japanese), Yūichi Nakamura (Japanese/Young)

"I grew up with soldiers. I learned how to die a long time ago."

Eddard "Ned" Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, becomes the Hand of the King after Lord Jon Arryn's death. He is known for his sense of honor and justice. He took part in Robert's Rebellion after his sister Lyanna was kidnapped by Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. When Ned's father and brother went south to reclaim her, the "Mad King" Aerys Targaryen burned both of them alive. Ned and Robert Baratheon led the rebellion to unseat him from the throne. As the show opens, Ned has been content to remain in the north, but after the death of Lord Jon Arryn, he is convinced that it is his duty to accept the position of Hand of the King. Ned is not interested in politics, and prefers to rule with honor and follow the law.

  • Action Dad: Being the father of six children hasn't slowed his sword swing or dampened his willingness to use his sword when needed. As his own father Rickard told Little Ned, he doesn't seek to fight anyone but if a fight happens, he wants to win.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Eddard Stark is described in the books as being long-faced and plain, in contrast to his late brother Brandon, who was more dashing. On the show, he's played by Sean Bean, and described as "an even more impressive specimen" than his late brother.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • To an extent. In the books, he is a great general and capable warrior, but his skill with a sword is never mentioned as being exceptional. In the series, Barristan notes his fearsome reputation as a fighter. When Ned engages Memetic Badass Jaime Lannister, he proves his equal in skill until a Lannister guard puts a spear through Ned's leg from behind. From the books... 
    • Also gets one in a non-fighting way. In the book, Yoren simply finds Arya on his own and Ned is completely powerless as he dies a tragic, pointless death. In the show, Ned sees Arya at the statue and tells Yoren where to find her. This gives him more initiative in the scene, making him go out satisfied that he's saved his daughter and also stopping her from pointlessly getting killed or captured in a vain attempt to save him.
  • Agent Scully: Shown to be skeptical of Will's claims about White Walkers.
  • Always Someone Better: Ser Arthur Dayne is this, as even Bran admits on seeing the Tower of Joy vision, Ned fought hard against him, despite the former using two swords and was inches from dying before Howland Reed saved his life. In the History and Lore video of the young Ned ruminating on House Dayne's history, he even admits "as a boy, even [he] dreamed to be a Dayne of Starfall".
  • Anyone Can Die: If there is a character that can illustrate this trope, it's Ned. He's set up to be the main protagonist of the show, only to be killed off in the first season of the show.
  • Badass Boast: "I don't fight in tournaments, because when I fight a man for real, I don't want him to know what I can do".
  • Badass Bureaucrat: After becoming Hand.
  • Badass Family: Fathered one.
  • Bash Brothers: With Robert during the war against the Targaryens. And later the Greyjoy Rebellion, where he and Robert fought side by side when they laid siege on the castle of Pyke.
  • Berserk Button: Ned is calm, cool, and composed. Until you compare his wife to a whore. Then he'll slam you against a wall and choke you.
  • Best Friend: To Robert. However Ned is a sense a Deconstruction because while Ned might be Robert's best friend, he isn't necessary a good friend. Ned is not afraid to speak honestly to Robert, but he watched Robert fall into a drunken despair over Lyanna, let himself go and more-or-less pass the buck of ruling the kingdom to his advisors while spending his time indulging in hedonistic pleasures, and did nothing to save Robert from himself. It isn't until Ned arrives at King's Landing that he realizes simply how unfit Robert is to be king, but by now it's too late.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He is ready to go through Kingsguards, one being known as the best swordsman of his time, to save his sister Lyanna. He would even drop the Honor Before Reason and have his men gang up on his opponent though he is a bit shocked by Reed stabbing Dayne in the back but he gets over it quickly. Eventually, out of love for his sister, he lies to the whole world that he fathered a bastard child solely to protect his nephew Jon, and honour her dying wish.
  • Big Good: To the North as a whole. Indeed, he's somehow referenced in almost every episode since his death.
  • Book Ends: His death mirrors the same way he decapitated a deserter from the Night's Watch; somewhat inverted in that he sticks to his own mantra of the one speaking justice doing the executing, while Joffrey uses the Royal Executioner. He's even killed with his own ancestral sword, Ice, the same one he used to kill the deserter.
  • Boring, but Practical: When it comes to combat, Ned used common swords instead of the impractically large and unwieldly ice.
  • Broken Pedestal: Bran is disappointed to learn that his defeat of Ser Arthur Dayne was much less honourable then he expected. He is even more stunned to learn that his father lied to his own wife and children about Jon Snow's parentage.
  • Character Death: He's beheaded on Joffrey's orders after confessing to a false charge of treason in an attempt to save his daughters.
  • Cincinnatus: When Jon Arryn dies, Robert seeks out Ned and asks him to be his new Hand of the King, thinking he is best suited to rule Westeros, despite Ned having no wish to take the job.
    • Also, this was Ned's role during the rebellion. He basically won the rebellion for Robert, but never took advantage of this in any form and as soon as Robert sat on the throne, he missed the early stages of Robert's reign and went straight to Winterfell bringing his sister's remains and his infant nephew Jon Snow, whom he passes off as his own child. He never left the North since that, save for the Greyjoy rebellion. Arguably, his hurry of coming back to the North and reluctance to leave it may have something to do with hiding and raising Jon.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Usually not, but he made an exception for his sister Lyanna. His plan to save her consisted of bringing a group of men to overwhelm her two guards instead of challenging them to duels. Although he was momentarily surprised by Howland stabbing Arthur Dayne in the back, he still took the chance to cut him down when he was reeling from his wounds.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: At the end of Robert's Rebellion, Ned returns home with an infant boy. He confesses to his wife that he has broken his wedding vows and fathered a bastard son. This dishonorable act causes considerable strain upon his marriage. In truth, the stain on his honor was a lie designed to hide the fact Jon was not his child, but his nephew via Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. In protecting Jon from Robert Baratheon, accomplished by hiding him in plain sight as his illegitimate son, Ned's true crime was actually treason against the Iron Throne.
  • Cool Big Bro: To little Benjen and Lyanna as Season 6's flashback reveals.
  • Cool Sword: Ice was made of Valyrian Steel, which made it impossibly sharp. Ned used it for execution and ceremonial purposes, and in general battle, used normal swords.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Ned's opinion of Robert was permanently soured by Robert's satisfaction at the deaths of Rhaegar Targaryen's wife and children. It's probably one of the reasons, aside from his promise to Lyanna, why he hid Jon Snow's identity.
  • Dark Secret: Ned goes to the grave with one that is perhaps the irony of the century. His bastard son Jon Snow is really the trueborn son of Ned's sister Lyanna and Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, making Jon the true heir to House Targaryen and their claim to The Iron Throne.
  • Dead Star Walking: Sean Bean gets top billing and is used for promotion. His character dies in the Season 1 penultimate.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He's usually straight laced but has his moments of sarcastic wit when exasperated.
    Ned: War is easier than daughters.
    • On the news of Danaerys' wedding to Khal Drogo.
    Ned: Do we send her a wedding gift?
    • When Varys asks him what madness possessed him to tell Cersei her secret, he has this to say.
    Ned: The madness of mercy.
  • Death by Irony: Twice, he has a chance to come out on top of the Gambit Pileup but doesn't make the obvious move, because he doesn't want to see the history repeat itself — he hates the idea of killing children. In the end, he is killed by one of the very children he spared.
  • Decapitation Presentation: His severed head was put on a spike by Joffrey.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Like several honorable classic heroes, he refuses to make moral compromises and tries to save everybody. This ends up backfiring, chiefly by warning Cersei to save her children. Not only does this lead to his own death, but leads to the crowning of a deranged psychopath, the very child he was trying to save.
  • Decoy Protagonist: For the first season as he's not only played by the biggest name in the cast, he's the character the audience spends the most time with and the story follows his journey to discover the secrets hidden by the Lannisters. Until he's executed.
  • The Everyman: He might be a Lord, but he's a hard-working man who is unfamiliar with the twisted inner workings of King's Landing.
  • Exact Words: He tells Jon Snow, "You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood," when Jon asks about his mother. That's because he's not Jon's biological father, but his uncle. Lyanna Stark, Ned's deceased sister, is Jon's mother. So Ned's blood does run through Jon's veins, just not in the way he would expect.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Once he sees that Arya's out of sight, the look in his eyes shows him accepting his fate peacefully.
  • Famed in Story: Lord Eddard Stark is renowned across Westeros as one of the leaders of Robert's Rebellion who deposed a psychotic king.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: He passed himself off as Jon Snow's father but is his uncle, with Jon being his late sister's son. A wise move, since Jon's biological family on his father's side was mostly slaughtered or exiled.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: While he loves his daughter Arya, and even appoints a tutor to teach her basic swordsmanship, Ned never sees it as more than a hobby and doesn't quite understand why Arya takes it as seriously as she does. He still expects that when she grows up she would become a Lady, have an Arranged Marriage and mother children for her husband. Arya bluntly tells him, "That's not me!" and it's the only point on which she disagrees with her father.
  • Fatal Flaw: His unbending pride and honour leads to all kinds of problems, and eventually his death. That said, he is aware of this. And refuses to change anyway.
  • A Father to His Men: Don't fuck with his bannermen; when confronted by Jaime at the end of "The Wolf and the Lion", Ned tries to talk his way out of the situation. It was only when his guards were killed did he bring out his sword.
    Robb: He once told me that being a lord is like being a father, except you have thousands of children and you worry about all of them. The farmers plowing the fields are yours to protect. The charwomen scrubbing the floors, yours to protect. The soldiers you order into battle. note 
  • Fish out of Water: He is out of his element in the cutthroat, dishonourable and slimy environment of King's Landing.
  • Four-Star Badass: He was a commander during Robert's Rebellion.
  • A Friend in Need: Despite the opposition of his wife, Ned accepts the petition of his old friend Robert to be Hand of the King and goes South, especially after reading a letter sent by Lysa Arryn that accuses the Lannisters of killing Jon Arryn and plotting to kill Robert Baratheon. This letter was sent to him by Lysa, on Littlefinger's behest, to specifically invoke this trope.
  • Genius Bruiser: Crosses over with him being an adaptational badass. Ned is not only a tactical genius, he's also skilled enough with a sword to go toe-to-toe with Jaime Lannister, the best swordsman in Westeros.
  • The Good Chancellor: We don't see many instances of him performing the duties of the Hand of the King, but when we do he's trying to reduce the kingdom's debt, dissuade Robert from putting himself in unnecessary danger, and actually attempt to give justice to the commoners, by taking down a band of psychotic marauding knights led by Ser Gregor Clegane who are in service to the richest, most powerful House in the kingdoms.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Ned Stark's advice is often dismissed as just being Honor Before Reason, but there are often very good reasons for his choices and ultimately, in the long run, it proves to have more positive consequences:
    • He doesn't back Renly's bid for the throne, but Renly's a diplomat with no combat experience in a situation that WILL require winning a war. Sure enough, Renly does nothing but divide the forces against the Lannisters. He also does not have a right to be king at the time, and you can't kick Joffrey off the throne because he's not the rightful king and replace him with someone else who isn't the rightful king.
    • He tries to broker a compromise with Cersei Lannister: she needs to go into exile before he tells Robert that she's been cheating on him with her brother and none of the children are Robert's. But as the daughter of the richest, most powerful man in the realm and the sister/lover of an infamous warrior who already killed one king, letting Robert bludgeon her to death in a fit of rage really isn't a wise move either. Cersei chooses to spit on Ned's mercy and never fails to mock him for giving him this "head start". As it turns out, accepting Ned's offer to go into exile would have been the best thing Cersei could have done - by the end of the series, Cersei, Jaime, and all their children are dead as a result of her staying in King's Landing and backing Joffrey's claim to the throne, with their last avenue for escape being a boat to Pentos arranged by Tyrion and Davos, the very offer that Ned had given to her in Season 1, but this time lost forever by a cave-in, inches away from safety.
    • Ned Stark in his rage at Ser Gregor Clegane's rampage in the Riverlands, appoints Lord Beric Dondarrion to put together a band of lords and soldiers to bring him to justice. Littlefinger mocks Ned for pissing off Tywin Lannister and taking a stand against him. This command by Ned, leads Beric to form the Brotherhood Without Banners and they play a far more important role in saving Westeros from the Long Night, defending the North in particular, and saving Ned's daughter Arya as well. Ultimately their final recruit, Sandor, kills Gregor Clegane, bringing him to justice which is what Ned commanded them to do to start with. In short the Brotherhood end up outlasting the legacies of Littlefinger, Tywin Lannister, and indeed most of King's Landing.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Ned's probably one of — if not — the most just and righteous characters in the entire world of Westeros, particularly amongst the nobility. He also happens to be hard, stoic and difficult to connect with for outsiders, who subsequently view him as cold and (at times) terrifying. However, he clearly does love his wife, children, family, and bannermen, and as noted above refuses to be involved in plots that would endanger the lives of children (up to and including Daenerys Targaryen, who's in her mid teens). While all the while being one of the fiercest warriors in Westeros.
  • The Good King: Ned excels at two things: battle and administration. He is so loved by his bannermen and the smallfolk that his death at the hands of Southern rulers motivates them to never again submit to the Iron Throne and wage a civil war to avenge him.
  • Good Parents: If there's anyone who can illustrate this trope, it's Ned. In fact, he's probably the only father in this setting along with Davos Seaworth and Oberyn Martell (and maybe Mace Tyrell who is more Bumbling Dad than anything), who is not either aloof or a complete asshole.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Straight and honest Ned Stark kept the greatest secret in Westeros: Jon is actually the secret son of the deceased Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Ned died convincing the whole world that he fathered a bastard son, Jon, and had broken his vows when, in actuality, this was a cover story Ned told to save his nephew, the only child of his beloved sister, from the wrath of the Baratheon regime. Ned spent the rest of his life protecting Jon, raising him as his own son and as part of his family — all out of love. Ned's wife Catelyn, and most everyone else, never knew the truth behind Nedís actions and died believing Nedís cover story that he had broken his marital vows. Now that his son Bran has seen this in a vision, Bran has the ability to reveal the true story.
  • Grim Up North: Despite being from there he's still the only unambiguously good guy in the setting. Played straight however in that he's still hard, cold and stoic.
  • Happily Married: To Catelyn, from a Perfectly Arranged Marriage, even. He never broke his vows to her and was faithful to her all along.
  • The Hero: For Season 1, indisputably. He casts a long shadow after his death, with nary an episode gone by that his memory isn't invoked or referred to.
  • The Hero Dies: As above, the main character of Season 1, only to be killed off an episode before the first Season Finale.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: He sports Ice a lot in his promos.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Seemed to be this with Robert Baratheon during their younger days.
  • History Repeats: Ned promising to take care of the dying Robert's children. He did the same for his sister Lyanna.
  • Honest Advisor: To Robert. "You're too fat for your armour" isn't a comment the king would accept from many people and least of all laugh about. This is also the reason why Robert asks him to join up as Hand of the King.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • There is his desire to ensure that Stannis becomes the King as Robert's rightful heir and at the same time ensure that Cersei and her children are spared which is incredibly naive to say the least. The dark side of this honor comes when Littlefinger advises him to Take a Third Option (blackmail Cersei and make Joffrey a Puppet King and rule as Regent) which Ned refuses to consider citing the Lannister's treatment of his children. Littlefinger points out that this would lead to open war between the Starks and the Lannisters and bring the Seven Kingdoms into war again which Ned fully accepts as a consequence of pursuing his current course.
    • Another point made by Jaime Lannister and Jorah Mormont is that he tends to be highly judgmental and self-righteous, condemning people who made dubious actions without listening to their side of the story. Jaime Lannister tells Brienne that when Ned Stark saw him standing over Aerys' body he didn't try to explain his side because he felt that Ned would never listen to him. Even when Jaime expresses genuine commiseration on the deaths of his father and brother, Ned refuses to accept it because to him Jaime is a selfish Lannister who stabbed his King and stood by while his father sacked the city and murdered the Princess and her children. Jorah Mormont also tells Daenerys when she gets her bout of self-righteousness that Ned Stark had the same attitude and if he had his way, he would be dead and denied his opportunity to redeem his honor in her service. What makes this tragic is that Ned admits to Cersei that he made mistakes in his past and is known across the realm to have fathered a bastard child.
    • In retrospect, one wonders whether Ned's Honor Before Reason is a personal trapping, his simple human decency manifesting itself, or something that was also developed/intensified by his being a ward of Jon Arryn, whose house's penchant for honor (bordering on Head-in-the-Sand Management, according to Littlefinger) is well-known. Considering both he and Robert continue to revere Jon Arryn even into their last days, it must have made a serious mark on both of them (even if, indeed, Robert never lived up to it).
  • Horrible Judge of Character: "Of course I'll trust the man who hates me for marrying his childhood crush note  and has told me repeatedly that I shouldn't trust him. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" Though, to be fair, he doesn't trust Littlefinger at first, but Catelyn tells him that he can trust Littlefinger so part of the blame also goes to his wife as well.
  • I Gave My Word: He kept his promise of protecting his sister's son until his death.
  • Ignored Expert: A flashback in Season 6 shows that he actually saw a potential for Hodor (then known as Wylis) to become a warrior due to his size and allows him to train with Benjen. Old Nan, who was Wylis' guardian, politely brushes off her then little Lord's suggestion, citing social status.
  • Inspirational Martyr: His life, example and the manner of his death, a good man undone by corrupt schemers simply because he sought justice, has made him this across Westeros for the likes of his family, but also for Stannis Baratheon (who despite his irritation with his son Robb for seceding from the Iron Throne) who wants to bring the Lannisters to justice, Varys, Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion.
  • Irony:
    • He absolutely wouldn't let a child be killed and that's the reason he tells Cersei of his plan to expose Joffrey's parentage, so she would leave with her children before he does. He ends up with his head chopped off by the very child he was trying to save.
    • He fought a war with Robert to get his sister back, avenge his father and brother, and help overturn the Targaryen reign. However, by the time Ned found his sister Lyanna, she was dying after recently giving birth, but before her death, Lyanna begs Ned to save her child (Jon Snow)note  — Nedís nephew — who also happens to be the last son of the crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen, making Nedís own nephew the heir to the dynasty Ned helped abolish. Ned honors his sisterís Dying Wish and protects his nephew, who he raises and loves as his own, guarding one of the greatest kept secrets in Westeros by presenting him as his own illegitimate son to protect him from Robertís wrath, the man he originally fought alongside.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword". A completely honorable version of the trope, it's meant as a safeguard against tyranny because a ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is. For Jorah Mormont, its more literal, since Ned Stark outright wanted to execute him for selling poachers into slavery forcing to him flee to Essos.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: It's not an audible sentence, mind you, but he's clearly in the middle of the some sort of prayer when Ser Ilyn beheads him and is unable to finish it before the stroke falls.
  • Kingmaker Scenario: He's placed into one, but doesn't take advantage of it like he probably should have. This was also not the first time, since Cersei pointed out that he could have taken the throne for himself at the end of Robert's Rebellion, which she states is his "biggest" mistake. Ned disagrees:
  • Master Swordsman: He can match Jaime Lannister blow for blow. Also, Barristan is impressed by his skill. In Bran's vision of the Tower of Joy, Ned personally killed Ser Gerold Hightower, Lord Commander of Aerys II's Kingsguard, and fights a long duel with Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning.
  • Modest Royalty: Definitely one of the most humble noblemen in all of Westeros. Case in point: when the servant who receives Ned in King's Landing asks if he'd like to change into something more appropriate for the King's Council meeting, Ned just takes his riding gloves off and goes as he is.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Ned's sense of duty and honour means he will not refuse a direct order from his King. When Cersei demands the execution of Lady in lieu of the direwolf that bit Joffrey, Ned looks about ready to tell her where she and the other Lannisters can shove it. He only eventually acquiesces when Robert gives him a "get it done" look before storming out. However, as shown by his initial refusal to partake in the conspiracy to assassinate Daenerys Targaryen, his loyalty to Robert does have it's limits.
  • NaÔve Newcomer: To the Court. Poor Ned never fully grasps the subtle intricacies of King's Landing.
  • Nerves of Steel: Seems awfully calm when surrounded by Lannister soldiers, with Jaime Lannister in front of him.
  • Nephewism: Raised his sister's son as his own.
  • Nice Guy: Although distant, Ned is amiable enough, A Father to His Men and loves his family unconditionally, especially so when compared to the likes of other lords such as Roose Bolton or Tywin Lannister. He was so kindhearted that he even tried to protect Cersei's children, despite them being incest born and their family being enemies to the Starks. Ned is easily one of the most honorable characters in the series.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Warning Cersei? Really? Varys calls him out on this the following episode telling him that his mercy towards Cersei's illegitimate children led to Robert's death, the very reason he became Hand in the first place. This ends up having serious repercussions. Not only does it lead to his own death, but the death of several of his family members and the destruction of his entire House. To top it all off, this action leads to Joffrey being crowned king and we all know how that went.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: His warning of Cersei to save her children and his refusal to take Joffrey hostage get him arrested and later executed on Joffreyís command.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
    • To Richard, 3rd Duke of York, who as regent to Plantagenet King Henry VI tried to seize the throne away from Margaret d'Anjou (for whom Cersei serves as an inspiration), only to fall in battle driving his sons to seek revenge.
    • He's also one for Richard III, the son of the Duke of York, named Lord Protector by the dying King Edward IV (Robert Baratheon), and who in the early part of his reign was loved by the people of Northern England for his fair sense of justice and being a man of high honor.
    • Ned's political trajectory has been compared to Baron William Hastings, an ally of Edward IV (Robert Baratheon's basis) who was much-entrusted with running the realm and who was executed in the process of royal succession. His death was notably portrayed this way in William Shakespeare's Richard III.
  • Not So Stoic: That said, when he's around friends and family, he's a lot more relaxed and cheerful.
  • Number Two: To King Robert as Hand of the King.
  • Odd Friendship: The two are best friends, despite Ned being the exact opposite of Robert in nearly every way.
  • Odd Name Out: He's the only one of his siblings whose name starts with a vowel (barring nicknames aside of course).
  • Off with His Head!: Poor Ned's ultimate fate, when Joffrey instructs Ilyn Payne to 'bring me his head'.
  • Old Friend: To King Robert, stemming from the two of them growing up as foster brothers.
  • Oop North: Sean Bean supplies his Sheffield accent to the character.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: The generally accepted story at the beginning of the series is that Jon Snow is the son of Ned Stark and an unknown woman he knocked up during Robert's Rebellion. However, Stannis, referencing Ned's honor, remarks on this story, "Perhaps, but that wasnít Ned Starkís way," which casts doubt on Jon's true parentage. Season 6 reveals that Jon is actually the son of Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Ned promised Lyanna on her deathbed that he would take care of Jon and not reveal his true parentage to anyone, including Robert Baratheon, who would have probably killed him. Ned keeps his word and raises Jon as his own.
  • Papa Wolf: Not only a pun.
    • A clear example is his anger when his daughter isn't brought before him first after Joffrey ends up mauled. It even makes him forget he's speaking to his King. Not that the King minds.
    • He's also willing to tarnish his honourable reputation by proclaiming Joffrey as the true heir and be banished to the Night's Watch if it will save Sansa. Unfortunately, Joffrey had him killed, anyways.
  • The Paragon: Ned Stark's memory serves as this to many characters even after his death, lasting well into Season 4. All his children in various ways try to live up to his teachings and example, while the North thoroughly adores him. Even the Lords of the Vale, who knew him as a young man when he fostered with Jon Arryn, know him well. Even Jaime Lannister, who did not get along with him at all, resolves to try and redeem his honor by tasking Brienne with safeguarding Ned Stark's daughter Sansa with "Oathkeeper", a sword Tywin re-purposed from "Ice":
    Jaime: You'll be protecting Ned Stark's daughter with his own sword.
  • Parental Substitute: He is Jon Snow's uncle.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: His marriage to Catelyn was political, but they're mostly very compatible (but not without a major setback, that Ned wasn't even guilty of).
  • Phrase Catcher: Ned is told by several characters about his late father's Cruel and Unusual Death throughout Season 1.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Jon Arryn's death may have set the process in motion, but it's Ned's execution that ultimately plunges Westeros into all-out, bloody war.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: If the observations of Jaime, Tywin, and Varys are to be believed, the Northmen seem to have a shade of this. And Ned's one of them.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: A Lord Paramount who evenly matches the much younger Jaime Lannister (in his youth, Ned defeated Gerold Hightower who was Jaime's superior as a warrior), a renowned master swordsman. Ser Barristan calls Lord Stark a fearsome fighter. Ned being the awesome guy he is, chooses to be modest about it.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Ned is a devout follower of the Gods of the First Men and Children of the Forest though he is religiously tolerant. His wife Catelyn is a devotee of the Faith of the Seven, and their children were raised in both faiths, with Robb marrying Talisa before a Septon despite being King in the North, and Sansa being, initially, strong in the Faith of the Seven.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Robert's reason for wanting Ned as Hand of the King. In fact, if he had it his way, he'd let Ned rule the Seven Kingdoms with him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Robert.
    Ned: I followed you into war, twice. Without doubts, without second thoughts. But I will not follow you now. The Robert I grew up with didn't tremble at the shadow of an unborn child.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The grim, quiet, peace-loving Blue to Robert's boisterous, hedonistic Red.
    • He was also the patient, soft-spoken Blue to his brother Brandon's reckless, Hot-Blooded Red.
  • Replacement Goldfish: He himself is one. After his older brother, Brandon, was executed it fell to Ned to become Lord of Winterfell and marry Catelyn Tully.
  • Retired Badass: Ned's had enough of fighting in war and clearly intends to spend his remaining years governing the North with his family. That is, until Robert showed up out of the blue, hellbent on making him the next Hand of the King.
  • Resign in Protest: He intended to do this when he was unable to talk Robert out of assassinating a teenage Daenerys, complete with tossing the symbol of the Hand onto the council table. Being wounded by Lannister men prevented him from leaving the city shortly afterwards, however, and Robert reappointed him.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Conclusive proof that decency, honesty and Westeros don't mix very well.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • How he feels upon learning of the illegitimacy of the Royal Children. He can be loyal to his friend Robert, tell him the truth, and drive him into an insane fury that would most likely cause him to kill not only Cersei and Jaime, but also Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella, who, upon being declared as abominations, will be murdered as well, or he can listen to Cersei and ignore the issue altogether and allow the Lannisters to install their inbred corrupt dynasty. In the end, he gets killed by the very boy-king, Joffrey, whose life he hoped to spare.
    • When he finds Lyanna on her deathbed with her newborn child (Jon), Ned has the following choices. He can allow the world to know his sister had a child with Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, the man King Robert hated more than anyone, which would put his sisterís son in fatal danger from Robert, or Ned can protect his nephew, honor his sisterís Dying Wish, and put himself in the line of fire out of love for Lyanna and Jon. Ned brings his nephew home with him to Winterfell and claims Jon as his bastard son to protect Jon from their familyís enemies. Ned loves Jon and raises him as his own alongside his trueborn children but Ned's lie tarnishes his reputation, strains his marriage, and Jon experiences a series of issues related to his bastard status and never knowing about his mother because it is too dangerous for Ned to reveal the truth.
  • Second Love: Catelyn really loved (and was originally betrothed to) his eldest brother.
  • Secret-Keeper: Took the secret of Jon Snow's parentage to the grave.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In stark contrast to Robert, who misses war and his glory days. Best shown in "Lord Snow", where Ned watches Arya practicing fencing with Syrio Forel, only to have his amused expression slowly turns grim as he's gradually reminded of the hell of war, apparently hearing the distant sound of swords clashing and men dying.
  • Shoot the Dog: His killing of Sansa's direwolf Lady because, in his words: "The wolf is of the North. She deserves better than a butcher." It's worth noting that Ned refuses to ask or even let someone else take responsibility for Shooting The Dog, as shown with both Will the deserter and Lady. He even looks them in the eyes (and hears out their last words, in Will's case).
  • Taking the Heat: He falsely claims he ordered Tyrion's arrest to protect Catelyn from the Lannisters.
  • The Skeptic: He's openly dismissive of Will's claims the White Walkers killed the rest of his party from the Night's Watch, also telling Bran they've been gone for centuries and blaming wildlings as the likely culprits of the attack to Benjen.
  • The Stoic: Grim, cold, and distant, unless around his family.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Politically speaking, Ned Stark was an absolute powerhouse. He's head of one of the most respected houses in Westeros, and controls the North which, as we learn later, is actually very difficult to subjugate. And as best friend/Hand of the King, he really doesn't have to say much to Robert to get anything done. The Lannisters coming into power explicitly involves removing Ned from the board. Add to that, the revelations he's sitting on concerning the true parentage of his "bastard" Jon Snow and you have a character whose existence would make most of the events of the story null and void.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Littlefinger, who hates Ned, calls him "an even more impressive specimen" than his brother Brandon, who was already noted to be a Hunk in-universe.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: As Hand of the King, due to a disagreement with Robert.
  • Token Good Teammate: To the Decadent Court of King's Landing.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Robert, who Catelyn even lampshades in the first episode, has a tendency to lead Ned into trouble. If only she knew.
  • Tragic Hero:
    • Ned is a straight example in that his very values and character and identity lead him to his death; if he had done otherwise he would not be the same person. He absolutely will not commit or condone the heinous action of killing a child regardless of the political benefit. In the end, he gets killed by the cruel whims of the same child that he had intended to spare from Robert's wrath.
    • Out of love for Lyanna and his nephew Jon, Ned lies to everyone that Jon Snow is his bastard son to protect him from his enemies. This action causes strain in his own marriage, leading to Jon Snow being raised under somewhat difficult circumstances, since Catelyn resented his presence and there was nearly nothing he could do about it.
  • Tranquil Fury: Indulges in this when Jaime kills Jory. And it nearly carried him to victory.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Ned is arrested, stripped of his lands and titles, forced to falsely confess treason and conspiracy to take the Iron Throne for himself, sentenced to death after being promised he would be spared if he confessed and finally beheaded with his own sword — the same he used himself to kill criminals, no less — in front of the mob and his own daughters, with his head put and left to rot on a pike.
  • Turn in Your Badge: He turns in his badge as Hand of the King after a disagreement with Robert. Within hours he finds that this leaves him and his household unprotected against reprisals from the Lannisters.
  • Universally Beloved Leader: The North loved his lordship so much that they're willing to throw their lots in with his children to avenge him when Ned is unfairly murdered in King's Landing.
  • Warrior Prince: Ned is one of the greatest fighters in Westeros, and also wields a great deal of authority. It's right there in his own creed: He who passes the sentence, should swing the sword.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Had Ned not suffered from a severe leg injury prior to Robert's death, he would have fought valiantly when Littlefinger and the Gold Cloaks turned on him when contesting Joffrey's coronation.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child:
    • After seeing what happened to the Targaryen children during Robert's Rebellion, Ned does not want to see history repeat itself. While warning Cersei to take the children and run might have been the noble thing to do, it wasn't the smartest thing to do. Ironically, this action alone did not result in his death. Cersei never intended to kill him, merely sent to the Night's Watch. He was finally killed on the whim of a boy-king, the very person he had intended to spare.
    • The reason for Ned holding to this belief is his fear for Jon Snow's safety, who is in actuality Ned's blood nephew and the son of Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and Rheagar Targaryen. Robert Baratheon wanted to kill all of Rhaegar's offspring which, if the truth were revealed, would include Jon as well. Ned internalized this to protect Jon and tried to protect other children in danger from the crown as well, including Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei's children.

    Lady Catelyn "Cat" Stark, née Tully 

Lady Catelyn "Cat" Stark
"...all this horror that's come to my family... it's all because I couldn't love a motherless child."

Played By: Michelle Fairley

Voiced By: Magda Giner (Latin American Spanish), Mika Doi (Japanese)

"You have inherited your father's responsibilities. I am afraid they come at a cost."

Catelyn Stark, Lady of Winterfell, is the wife of Lord Eddard Stark. Born to the Lord and Lady of the Riverlands, she is the elder sister of Lysa Arryn, Lady of the Vale and Mistress of the Eyrie. Murdered at her brother Edmure's Red Wedding to Roslin Frey at the Twins by the Boltons and Freys.

  • Adaptational Dumbass: Due to Robb's Age Lift and the show and his now given the opportunity to be a POV character in his own right, the nature of Catelyn's relationship with him gets tweaked.
    • In the book, Catelyn was something of the Cassandra Truth, trying to advise her Hot-Blooded son on how to properly lead his army, with her often valid advice getting ignored. In the show, Robb is both older and more mature so this aspect of his character gets phased out, leading to Catelyn releasing Jaime in a moment of weakness comes off as a really gross and dumb undermining of Robb's leadership.
    • Even her Voice of Reason status gets downplayed as Catelyn actually agrees with Robb's "kill them all!" proclamation while they mourn Ned's death, while in the book Catelyn's only desire was always to reunite with all of her family.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Catelyn is unpleasant to Jon in the show but doesn't go so far as to declare You Should Have Died Instead or refuse to let him stay at Winterfell after Ned leaves. She even laments her treatment of Jon as a failing in the show, rather than adamantly opposing Robb's trust in Jon throughout, as in the books.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Despite looking down on Walder Frey (or "The Late Walder Frey") throughout most of the series, she still tearfully pleads with him to spare Robb's life, even offering herself in his place. It doesn't work.
  • Always Save the Girl: A family variant. Catelyn will do just about anything she sees as necessary to protect her children, even if it severely screws up everyone else's plans. This tends to backfire, a particularly noticeable case being her attempt to free and exchange Jaime Lannister for her daughters.
  • Apron Matron: Not visually, but she's defined by her role in her family.
  • Authority Sounds Deep: Cat's voice is deep, fitting for the highest female authority in the North.
  • The Cassandra: Zig-zagged. Her safety concerns about Bran's climbing turn out to be more than justified. Her firstborn Robb consistently ignores her well-reasoned advice of being wary of the Greyjoys, Karstarks, and Freys, with disastrous results. On the other hand, she also tells her husband to trust Littlefinger, which is hands down the dumbest thing you can do in Westeros. And while she does warn Robb to be wary of the Freys, she also vouches for them, saying Walder Frey would never do anything to harm her.
  • Character Death: After despairing over Robb's death in "The Rains of Castamere", her throat is slit by a Frey.
  • Crusading Widow: After Ned dies at the Lannisters' hands, she vows to get revenge on them: "We will kill them all."
  • Death by Adaptation: Played With. She dies the same way as her original book counterpart, but unlike her she does not get resurrected.
  • Death Glare: While she is usually too Hot-Blooded to not simply explode in someone's face should they piss her off, the glare she fixes on Jon Snow while he is saying goodbye to the comatose Bran rivals the worst of Tywin's patented glares and at her father's funeral, she is able to keep Robb from breaking down in laughter at Edmure's Epic Fail of lighting the raft by shooting Robb one of these.
  • Death Wail: She screams when Robb dies in front of her, and you can tell in her final moments that that scream was her soul leaving her body before said body follows Robb to the grave.
  • Decomposite Character: Jon Snow essentially takes her place as the resurrected Stark in the books (assuming The Winds of Winter doesn't bring him back as well upon its release). The role of Avenger for the Red Wedding is given mainly to Arya who eventually kills Walder Frey and then extinguishes most if not all of his male descendants in one fell swoop.
  • Demoted to Extra: Robb becomes an Ascended Extra at the expense of Catelyn. She is a major POV character in the books (Robb's storyline is seen entirely from her point of view) but doesn't get as much screentime or lines as Robb himself. Continues post-Season 3: in the books, Catelyn is brought back by Beric Dondarrion as the vengeful Lady Stoneheart and becomes the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, but that entire subplot has been Adapted Out, since Beric Dondarrion is still leading the Brotherhood in Season 6.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After Robb is killed, she seems to lose the will to live as she doesn't even try to resist when the Freys proceed to slit her throat.
  • Did Not Think This Through: While she doesn't trust anyone but Brienne to exchange Jaime for the girls, considering that prisoner exchanges usually have a lot of backup to secure against any possible betrayals, how did she expect Brienne to actually pull this off? Additionally, she arrests Tyrion in Season 1, believing that he tried to have her son murdered since she was told that the assassin was using his dagger. When Tyrion asks the obvious question of why someone would be dumb enough to arm an assassin with their own blade, she is unable to answer.
  • Didn't See That Coming: She knew fully well that Walder Frey was a "dangerous man to cross" but it's quite clear that she never expected Frey would stoop to the level of violating Sacred Hospitality, wherein he kills their guests after offering them bread and salt and while celebrating a wedding.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Unlike in the books, Cat becomes aware of Petyr's involvement in Ned's death and wishes she had let Brandon kill him years ago.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her love for her children drives her to do incredibly irrational things (such as kidnapping Tyrion and releasing Jaime). Her release of Jaime, in particular, is one of the major factors that leads to the death of herself and Robb.
  • Fiery Redhead: Often times she can be very opinionated.
  • Genre Blind: Doesn't even consider that Tyrion was obviously being framed. As he himself noted, only an extreme imbecile would arm an assassin with their own weapon.
  • Going Native: She's become quite comfortable with her Northern home after being married off to Ned. Lysa Arryn later tells Sansa that her mother in her youth was quite a big eater and far less austere than when she was Lady of Winterfell, pointing out that she assimilated into Ned's world very easily.
    Catelyn Stark: Take him to the stockade and bind him with every chain you can find!
    Jaime Lannister: You've become a real she-wolf in your later years. (dragged off) There's not much fish left in you!
  • Happily Married: To Ned, with whom she has five children.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Played straight with Ned. Inverted with the Faux Affably Evil Littlefinger.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has a pretty serious one after Robb reveals to her, at the same time, that her father has died, and that Winterfell was burned, the inhabitants slaughtered, and that Bran and Rickon are missing. And when Robb dies before her eyes she loses it completely. In one of the History and Lore features for Season 2, Catelyn recalls responding to the news of Brandonís death by locking herself in a room and refusing to eat for days.
  • Hidden Depths: Not that Catelyn was ever shallow in the slightest, but in the second episode of Season 3, she reveals whole new depths to her character to Talisa about her relationship with the baby Jon Snow: she initially wished him to die, and, when he did get seriously ill and she was riddled with guilt over wishing death on an innocent baby and apparently getting that wish, promised to love him as if he was her own child if the gods let him recover. She blames her failure to keep said promise for all the horror her family has endured.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: She's actually quite astute, warning Robb about crossing the Greyjoys and the Freys. But she makes several terrible errors of judgment with dangerous consequences (usually, in her defense, not without some good reasons).
    • Even though she doesn't fully trust Walder Frey, she has absolute faith that Walder Frey would never let any harm come to her, unlike her book counterpart who is fully aware of his sneakiness. As stated above, however, breaking Sacred Hospitality is practically unheard of in Westeros.
    • She has absolute trust in Unlucky Childhood Friend Littlefinger, who is behind pretty much everything bad that happens in the series, vouching for him before her skeptical husband who would never have given him the time of day otherwise. Leading directly to Ned's capture and execution.
    • She also believes that Tyrion is just as bad or worse than the rest of the Lannisters.
    • Also of her sister. Catelyn seemed to trust in her absolutely when she blamed the Lannisters for Jon Arryn's death and believed that Tyrion would receive a fair trial if brought to her. In her defense, she hadn't seen her in quite some time. It's not until they meet again does she realize how crazy her sister has become.
  • Hot-Blooded: Some of her more questionable decisions have been the result of her following her Mama Bear instincts instead of her sense of reason, such as her impromptu capture of Tyrion and her later release of Jaime, against both the interests of Ned and Robb respectively.
  • Hypocrite: She reams out Robb for sending Theon to bargain with Balon, telling him, "I told you never to trust a Greyjoy!" yet she expects Ned to trust Littlefinger on the basis that she's known him since she was a girl, while Robb and Theon are pretty much Childhood Friends and she also is confident Walder Frey wouldn't hurt her because he's her father's bannerman.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: Robb ignores her advice not to recklessly break his vow to marry Walder Frey's daughter, saying that she has no right to criticize him after she went behind his back and freed Jaime Lannister. She might have been hypocritical, at least in Robb's eyes, but she ended up being right.
  • Ignored Expert: As written in The Cassandra above, Robb ignored her well-reasoned advice regarding the Greyjoys, Karstarks, and Freys, which resulted in the fall of the Northern army and House Stark.
  • It's All My Fault: Blames herself for the misfortunes of the family because she failed to keep her word in a Bargain with Heaven regarding the raising of Jon Snow as her own son. It's revealed in Season 6 that he's not Ned's illegitimate son by another woman, but their nephew.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Her not treating Jon Snow like a son despite his love of her could be seen as this, though she does feel very bad about it. And then Season 6 reveals that Jon is actually Ned's nephew, not his bastard son. It makes the whole situation between Catelyn and Jon even more sorrowful and tragic.
    • Killing Walder Frey's wife, even after it's clear he doesn't give a shit about her and the poor girl did nothing to deserve it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Believes herself to be on the receiving end of this from the Gods, due to wishing Jon Snow dead in a moment of anger. Made even more poignant since she dies believing that Jon is the only son of Winterfell to survive.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Ned never told her that Jon was his nephew and Catelyn never learned it. When they got married he didn't know her very well, so he stayed silent, but after many years of marriage and love he still kept the secret, most likely because the mere knowledge of this secret was dangerous. From the books... 
  • Mama Bear: Try to murder her son in front of her! And the moment she tells Robb that after saving Arya and Sansa, they will kill all their enemies. From the DVD commentary track discussing that moment:
    David: This is an interesting scene, because up until this point, Catelyn has really been the voice of reason.
    Dan: Eh. After everything her family has been through, "kill them all" kind of IS the voice of reason.
  • Marriage Before Romance: At the end of Season 2, she tells Robb that she didn't love Ned at first, but they built their romance over time for the sake of their family.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Catelyn admits that she regrets having refused to love Jon Snow and treat him like a son, and believes that the misfortunes of her family are the gods' way of punishing her.
  • My Greatest Failure: Saving Littlefinger from Brandon Stark.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Her capture of Tyrion really pisses off Tywin Lannister, and helps spark off a civil war between their families. Her only evidence was Littlefinger's testimony and even then, Ned insisted on a measured approach while she arrested Tyrion on the spur of the moment and then kidnapped him by taking him to the Eyrie.
    • Letting Jaime go is a huge mistake, considering that he is their only bargaining chip. Also, there was absolutely no guarantee that the Lannisters would agree to release Sansa and Arya, even if they got Jaime back. On top of that, it also undermines Robb's position with his vassels, not to mention making him look weak and unable to control his own people.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
    • As the wife of Ned and mother of the King in the North, she is the closest analogue to Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, who became the most senior power-broker of the Yorkist side apart from her own son, the future king Edward IV (i.e. Robb's counterpart). Much like Cecily, she definitely played preference among the children at her care (George, Duke of Clarence for Cecily, and Catelyn's own brood over Jon and Theon). However, she is definitely seen as more honorable, level-headed and less-entitled, compared to the real-life woman who got the unflattering epithet "Proud Cis," both for her haughtiness and temper.
    • Ironically, Catelyn also took on the attributes of Cecily's much-unwanted daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, as the mother of two young sons endangered by the wars (Bran and Rickon)— proverbially becoming akin to Woodville's tragic Princes in the Tower.
  • Non-Action Guy: She's a typical noblewoman and thus mostly defenseless. But this doesn't stop her when Bran is in danger. Nor when Robb's in danger during the Red Wedding.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: To Talisa, initially. In "The Rains of Castamere", she finally seems to warm up to her after overhearing Talisa say that she's going to name her and Robb's child "Eddard" if it's a boy.
  • Oh, Crap!: She obviously realizes something is up when "The Rains of Castamere" starts playing and they bolt the doors during the Red Wedding. And then she finds chain mail hidden on Roose Bolton...
  • Only Sane Woman: Definitely the smartest and most down-to-earth of the Tully siblings.
    • After the Season 2 finale, she might also count as the one sane person in Robb's camp, although this depends on how justified you think she is in releasing Jaime or whether it was a truly boneheaded decision. A point in her favour, at least, is that Robb's bannermen actively plot to murder Jaime, so she isn't wrong in thinking that they'd lost their only bargaining chip either way.
    • Once again in the middle of the conflict between Renly and Stannis.
    • And in "The Rains of Castamere", when Lothar Frey closes the doors and "The Rains" start playing, she is the only member of the Stark retinue that suspects something bad is coming. Well, her and Grey Wind, but he's stuck outside and can't warn anyone.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Dies after Robb (and her unborn grandchild) and she also believes Bran and Rickon are dead.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: She makes it plain she doesn't approve of Robb marrying Talisa, especially as he breaks his betrothal to Walder Frey's daughter to do so. However, she gradually warms up to Talisa...just in time for the Red Wedding.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: According to the History and Lore videos, she believed she would have this with Brandon, who she was initially betrothed to. She ended up having this with his younger brother when Brandon was murdered. Despite the rough patch when Ned brought home another woman's child, their marriage has been pretty smooth sailing.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: She had to persuade Brandon to not kill Littlefinger.
  • Prisoner Exchange: Tries to pull one off with the Lannisters — Jaime in exchange for the return of her daughters — but it doesn't go over too well. Still, due to Brienne's Undying Loyalty, she's still trying to retrieve Sansa and Arya.
  • Proper Lady: While she was a Tully, although she's gone native with the Starks. Still, she retains an air of refinement and mild strictness.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Gives a very mild, but very pointed one to Renly in Season 2.
      Catelyn: (reviewing Renly's troops) I pity them.
      Renly: Why?
      Catelyn: Because it won't last. Because they are the knights of summer, and winter is coming.
    • She tries to give one to Jaime about being a Kingslayer, but he retorts with quite an effective Shut Up, Kirk!.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: She's the red to her husband's blue and the blue to her son Robb's red.
  • Redhead In Green: Cat is a Fiery Redhead and majority of her outfits are darker shades of green.
  • The Resenter: She resented Jon Snow for being Ned's illegitimate son with another woman.
  • Settle for Sibling: Enforced. After Brandon Stark's death, she married his younger brother Eddard.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Catelyn displays visible disapproval of her son Robb's budding romantic relationship with field nurse Talisa Maegyr. This is because Robb is already betrothed to a Frey daughter as part of a pact with House Frey. And hell, she's right.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Don't let her highborn lady-like demeanor fool you: she'll cut your damned throat if you think to touch her children with anything less than a hug.
  • Slashed Throat: At the hands of Black Walder Frey.
  • Sweet Tooth: As said by Lysa, "Cat always went for the sweetest thing." This may be where Sansa gets it from.
  • Tragic Hero: Despite her efforts to see her children safe, Catelyn spends her final days knowing Sansa is a captive of the enemy, Arya is missing, and believing Bran and Rickon are apparently dead. When her firstborn son is murdered right in front of her, she gives up all hope.
  • Tranquil Fury: In the first season finale, Catelyn, mourning her husband, very nearly bashes in the Kingslayer's head with a convenient rock. Also apparent when she calmly but fiercely calls upon her father's bannermen to stage a citizen's arrest of Tyrion Lannister, who she blames for the attempt on Bran's life.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Baelish's manipulations hit her the hardest, as her impulsive reactions to an assassination attempt against Bran with a dagger that belonged to Tyrion and her credulity to an engineered letter sent by her sister Lysa Arryn are two of the major reasons why her house sparks the war with the Lannisters.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Gets one from Robb and Lord Karstark when she goes behind their backs and releases Jaime Lannister in the hope of getting Sansa and Arya back.
    • She gets him right back by pointing out how monumentally stupid breaking his deal with House Frey, just to marry a field nurse, is.
  • Wicked Stepmother:
    • While not abusive, she makes pretty clear to Jon Snow that she doesn't want him around. Catelyn dislikes Jon because Jon is Ned's son by another woman. While she and Ned were married, Ned claims to have conceived a son with this mysterious woman while at war and brings the baby boy home to Winterfell to raise himself, prompting Catelyn's resentment of the situation and her dislike of the kid.From the books...  She comes to regret her dislike of Jon, an innocent child, after all the tragedy that befalls her and believes it was karmic retribution for betraying the promise she made to love him.
    • In the Season 6 finale, it's revealed that Catelyn wasn't so much Jon's wicked stepmother as his wicked aunt. Lyanna Stark is Jon's mother and Ned is Jon's uncle. After Lyanna dies following childbirth, Ned adopts his nephew Jon, raises him as his own, and passes Jon off as his own illegitimate child to protect Jon from Robert Baratheon's wrath. Catelyn may have acted very different if she'd known Jon was her nephew instead of the child her husband conceived with another woman as a result of infidelity.
  • Wistful Smile: She is seen with a small, sad smile as she watches her son Robb kissing his wife Talisa, who had just announced she planned to name their unborn child after Robb's late father if it's a boy. Catelyn is happy for her son and daughter-in-law, though she's clearly thinking about and missing her husband too.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite suffering a Kangaroo Court because of her Mama Bear tendencies, Tyrion has great admiration for her:
    Tyrion: I admired her. She wanted to have me executed but I admired her. She was a strong woman and she was fierce when it came to protecting her children.

    Benjen Stark 

Benjen Stark
"The dead don't rest."

Played By: Joseph Mawle

Voiced By: Rafael Pacheco (Latin American Spanish), Masafumi Kimura (Japanese)

"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. He is uncle to Robb, Jon, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon. Benjen went missing on a ranging north of the Wall, prompting an expedition to investigate his fate. It is later discovered he engaged the White Walkers and was saved by the Children of the Forest, who transformed him into a pseudo-wight being. In this form, Benjen aids Bran and Meera Reed in their travels in the north.

  • Adaptational Species Change: As a result of being a Composite Character (see below), this version of Benjen becomes a wight.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's never clarified if he knew that Jon was Lyanna's son and not Ned's. On one hand, Ned would be paranoid enough to keep the secret to himself and Howland Reed considering that he didn't even tell his wife Catelyn, but on the other hand, if anyone had the right to know Lyanna's true fate, it would be Benjen, her other remaining brother. And that's not even accounting for the possibility that Benjen could have figured out the truth himself. Alas, Benjen's minimal screen time meant that they never touched on the topic.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Benjen had to earn the position of First Ranger at the Night's Watch.
  • Back for the Dead: He's a Chekhov M.I.A. for nearly six seasons before his reappearance midway through Season 6. After that he's gone for most of Season 7 until he returns halfway through only to perform a Heroic Sacrifice for Jon.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Saves Bran and Meera from wights in Season 6. And Jon, also from wights, in Season 7.
  • Brutal Honesty: When Jon arrives with a pretty entitled attitude due to his rather privileged upbringing in a castle, Benjen sets his nephew straight and tells Jon in no uncertain terms that he is no better than anyone at the Wall: A man gets what he earns when he earns it. It works.
  • But Now I Must Go: He leaves Bran and Meera at the end of Season 6 as the Wall has magic spells carved into it which prevent the undead, and by extension him, from passing.
  • Came Back Strong: His watch was ended by the White Walkers, but The Children of the Forest kept him from turning into a wight and gifted him with some sort of augmented or awakened power in the process, as he's able to ignite a weapon, he can foresee the future and is even aware of the actual contents of Bran's visions.
  • Came Back Wrong: Poor Benjen stays in a limbo, neither Wight nor human, close to an Empty Shell but full of infinite sadness.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Benjen sorta disappears in the first season and throughout the following seasons, his status was kept a mystery. Then come Season 5, the traitorous members of the Night's Watch claim Benjen has returned in order to lure his nephew Jon Snow outside so they can murder him in a mutiny. However, come Season 6, Benjen returns with a fiery vengeance, albeit someone who is/might be deceased.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: To Bran when he rescues him and Meera.
  • Composite Character: With Coldhands, as the former Night's Watch member who was turned into a wight and comes to Bran's rescue in the north.From the books... invoked
  • Cool Uncle: Jon simply adores his uncle, wants to emulate Benjen in the Nightís Watch, and looks up to his uncle as much as he idolizes his father, Ned. The rest of the Stark kids adore their uncle well.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: He and his ranging party went north to find White Walkers. They encountered the obvious problem — they found them.
  • Death by Adaptation: His book counterpart is still a Chekhov M.I.A. as of the last book. Here, he's confirmed to have died but Came Back Strong. And then he dies again in a Last Stand.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Goes out delivering fiery death upon a few Wights.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: A typical Stark trait, but this is more pronounced in Benjen's case after he became a wight.
  • Epic Flail: Wields a flaming flail against the wights when he rescues Bran and Meera.
    • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Rather than having a handle like a normal flail (as wielded by Westerosi knights) it has a long chain attached to a short scythe on the other end. This bizarrely makes it basically a dead ringer for a Japanese kusari-gama.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Stays behind to fight Wights so Jon can escape.
  • Kill It with Fire: He knows this is the best way to kill wights and comes prepared.
  • Last Stand: Benjen sends off Jon on his horse while facing off against a horde of wights. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Looks Like Jesus: Shares the Stark penchant of wearing his dark hair long with Manly Facial Hair. Amusingly, Joseph Mawle, who played Benjen, played Jesus in the TV serial The Passion.
  • 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 and he is 'presumed dead'. He returns in Season 6, alive and kicking, so to speak.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Or more precisely, a noble-born Night's Watch First Ranger who is also essentially a zombie with his mind, personality, morals, and memories still intact.
  • Papa Wolf: Pun aside, Benjen arrives just in time to rescue Bran and Meera from a horde of wights in Season 6. He then sacrifices himself to protect Jon from another horde of wights in Season 7.
  • Ranger: He is the First Ranger of the Night's Watch.
  • Walking Spoiler: His return in Season 6.
  • Was Once a Man: Benjen relates that the White Walkers attempted to turn him into a wight, but he was saved by the Children of the Forest, who restored his mind. However, his appearance and the way their magic works makes it clear he isn't strictly human anymore either way.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's the question that spurs the Watch to go look for him: what happened to him? We find out what in Season 6.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Due to Benjen's acquired undead nature, the magic of the Wall prevents him from ever returning south. He is still himself and not a wight, but just dead enough to be barred by the Wallís magic.
  • Zombie Infectee: Being mortally wounded by a White Walker and subsequently saved by the Children has left Benjen in a limbo between human and wight.

Extended Family

    Talisa Maegyr 

Queen Talisa Stark

Played By: Oona Chaplin

Voiced By: Irene Jimenez (Latin American Spanish), Mie Sonozaki (Japanese)

"May I speak my mind, your Grace? [...] I think you lost this war the day you married her."
Rickard Karstark

A noblewoman from the Free City of Volantis in Essos. Fed up with slave culture and pointless upper-class ritual, she came to Westeros and found herself working as a medic in the Westerlands, treating Stark, Tully, and Lannister wounded. In the aftermath of the Starks' greatest victory at Oxcross, she met Robb Stark, and they eventually fell in love and married, breaking Robb's vow to marry one of Walder Frey's granddaughters. She replaced the original character Jeyne Westerling from the books.

  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Talisa's page-bound alter-ego Jeyne Westerling doesn't get much characterization in the books (see the entry for "Canon Foreigner" for details). Replacing her called for a character who could legitimately be around Robb for the entire season, so the showrunners abandoned the more realistic prospect of a lesser lord's daughter in favour of a more active field nurse.
    • An inversion on the books, which is in turn an expansion compared to the show: Jeyne survives Robb because she is left at Riverrun for her own safety (and to lessen tensions with Walder Frey).
  • Adaptation Name Change: The name of Robb's wife in the books is Jeyne Westerling.
  • Adaptational Job Change: A notable inversion as her job as a battlefield nurse is the only thing she shares with Robb's canonical Love Interest, Jeyne Westerling.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Robb's Love Interest went from Westerosi in the books to an Essosi in the show.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: When she and Robb first meet, she's not impressed by him.
  • The Artifact: Back when she was still going to be Jeyne Westerling, she was made a battlefield nurse so she could tend to Robb after he was wounded, like their story in the books. Then the writers decided to scrap that and make it a simpler love story, but were far enough along in production that she was still stuck being a nurse, despite it no longer serving any story purpose and not making much sense why a Volantene noble would be doing it after they decided to completely change the character.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Robb when they first met, she's not impressed with his short-termist plans to stop the war.
  • Big Sister Instinct: She reveals that when she was twelve, she saw her little brother was drowning and pulled him out of the water herself, then began shaking him and screaming his name in a desperate attempt to revive him.
  • Blue Blood: Despite initially appearing as a commoner, she's actually of noble birth from Volantis.
  • Brainy Brunette: Beneath that brunette hair pulses the brain of a highly competent nurse who can engage Robb Stark in a debate about how to end the war.
  • Canon Foreigner: She replaces the character of Jeyne Westerling from the novels. From the books... 
  • Character Death: She's stabbed in the womb by a Frey and bleeds to death in "The Rains of Castamere".
  • Dead Guy Junior: She invoked this with Robb, wishing that if their unborn child turns out to be a boy, she would like to name him after Robbís late father, Eddard. Unfortunately, the Red Wedding slaughter happens soon after, and the Freys really wanted her to suffer via stabbing her womb.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Upon first meeting Robb, she is quite blunt and sassy with him. "That'll help his foot grow back", is her sarcastic response to Robb declaring he has no hatred for the amputated lad.
  • Death by Adaptation: Jeyne Westerling of the books misses the Red Wedding, and is still alive. This change has actually gotten some fans wondering if it's a spoiler that Jeyne won't have any more importance.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She defrosts Robb, and he defrosts her. It's a mutual defrosting.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Subverted — she's already dead by the time Robb cradles her.
  • Dies Wide Open: Her eyes remain wide open and staring as she lies lifeless on the Frey's floor.
  • Didn't Think This Through: She agrees to marry Robb, knowing the consequences from Walder Frey. The surviving Northmen never let up about it when talking to Sansa.
  • Foreign Fan Service: She's from Volantis, one of the Free Cities. Catelyn even suggests that Robb mostly wants Talisa because she's "exotic", which he doesn't take well.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: The surviving Starks and their supporters are quite apathetic about her gruesome death, only wanting to avenge the deaths of Robb, Catelyn, and the other Northern Lords killed at the Red Wedding. The one time a Northern Lord mentions her posthumously, she's referred to as a "foreign whore". Justified by the surviving Starks, though, as they don't even know who she is. Averted in Season 7, as Arya included her as a member of her family when she mentions the Freys' list of crimes during the Red Wedding, even though she and Talisa actually never meet.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: She, along with Catelyn and Edmure, insists that Lord Karstark should be imprisoned for the duration of the war as insurance against the Karstarks' loyalty. This is despite having just seen the recently murdered corpses of the Lannister boys she tended to.
  • Happily Married: To Robb, as of Season 2's "Valar Morghulis".
  • Head-Turning Beauty: When presented to Walder Frey, he understands why Robb romped with her. That didn't make him any less angry, however.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: To an extent. Talisa is a kind and intelligent woman, a skilled medic and a loving wife to Robb, but she's generally seen and remembered by people as a "foreign whore" who seduced their king and lost them the war. Although Robb and Talisa's marriage was a pretty terrible idea in hindsight and definitely contributed to Robb's downfall, Talisa unfairly gets the brunt of the Northmen's vitriol, more than she deserves.
  • The High Queen: After marrying Robb, she becomes The High Queen in the North. She is a Nice Girl who makes efforts to support and advise Robb during his campaign; however, she apparently isn't very popular with her people, especially the Glovers after the Red Wedding.
  • Hospital Hottie: A medieval version (she uses a rusty saw onscreen, and mentions turpentine, fennel root, and willow bark). Robb is clearly impressed by her and seems instantly attracted.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: She did not appear in the series until Season 2, but is quite well-known as a member of House Stark, even getting Promoted to Opening Titles.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Multiple times and not cleanly. The Freys really want to make sure Robb and Talisa's unborn child is dead.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: She attends the Red Wedding while pregnant. It does not end well for her.
  • Innocent Bigot: In her backstory. She never questioned living as a member of the nobility in a slave culture until a slave committed a hanging offence in order to save her brother.
  • Irony: Despite being the Queen in the North, she points out to Robb in "Kissed by Fire", that she doesn't know where Winterfell is. She in fact never gets to see Winterfell before her untimely death.
  • Latin Lover: Robb's Love Interest from Essos, specifically Volantis. Bonus points for her actress being half-Spanish.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Her hair is often tied back in a ponytail when she's nursing, but it's shown down in a scene where she flirts with Robb and then at their wedding.
  • Love Interest: Robb's.
  • The Medic: She's a nurse who tends to wounded Stark men during the war.
  • Misblamed: invoked Judging from some of the Northern Lords' dialogues in Season 6, they blame her for Robb's defeat. Downplayed in whilst she could have put up more of a fight reminding Robb about the Frey bridge, she doesn't deserve the sheer amount of post-mortem vitriol from the Glovers.
  • Modest Royalty: Even after becoming Queen in the North, she usually wears rather plain and simple gowns. Compare her manner of dressing to that of Margaery.
  • Ms. Fanservice: While mostly dresssed conservatively, Talisa ends up naked when making love with Robb in "The Prince of Winterfell" and "The Bear and The Maiden Fair", complete with an emphasis on her ass.
  • My Own Private "I Do": She and Robb get married in a small ceremony, with only a Septon in attendance to officiate the wedding. He publicly announces he's married her after the wedding takes place; the only person who knew he was thinking of marrying her was Catelyn.
  • Mythology Gag: In one scene she jokes to Robb about being a spy. In the books Jeyne Westerling was a spy of sorts — and their Shotgun Wedding was partly set up by her mother.
  • Never Found the Body: We never find out what the Freys did to her body after the Red Wedding (though given what they did to Robb and Catelyn, it probably wasn't pleasant).
  • Nice Girl: An all-around pleasant, if snarky, person who has a very low opinion of warfare, because of how it causes nothing but misery as she points out to Robb during their first meeting. Her altruistic need to help others is one of the reasons why Robb falls for her.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: The role she (and her book counterpart Jeyne Westerling) serves as "the unwanted queen of the king's household" was lifted from Edward IV's own queen, Lady Elizabeth Woodville — minus the nepotism anglenote  and surviving the entire war.
  • Not Like Other Girls: When Talisa explains to Robb why she left Volantis to become a field nurse, she tells him that a slave saved her brother's life (even though he would be put to death for doing so), which inspired her to go do something with her life, not like "all the other highborn maidens who only cared about dancing at balls". Unfortunately, her viewpoint is anachronistic and misunderstanding of their society
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: In Season 3.
  • Race Lift: In the books, Jeyne Westerling is a white woman with chestnut curls, a heart-shaped face and brown eyes. Talisa has a darker shade of skin color, with sleek black-brown hair and dark-colored eyes to denote her foreign origin. Though no less beautiful in her description, Talisa is physically a different character from the original Jeyne.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Without all the Red Wedding blood and gore that is.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: She has a very dim view of slavery, particularly because when she was twelve, she witnessed a slave performing life-saving CPR on her younger brother, even though he could be executed for touching a noble without permission. As a result, she swore that she would never again live in a place where slavery is legal, prompting her to move to Westeros when she came of age.
  • The Smart Girl: She is an adept healer who can debate Robb very well. See also Good Is Not Dumb.
  • So Happy Together: With Robb during Edmure's wedding at the Twins.
  • Spirited Young Lady: She's a noblewoman from Volantis who moved to Westeros due to opposing slavery, and would rather be trooping across battlefields helping out wounded soldiers than attending parties. She's also not afraid to give the King in the North himself a piece of her mind.
  • True Blue Femininity: Majority of Talisa's outfits, including her nurse uniform, are blue.
  • Unkempt Beauty: She's often shown with messy hair, covered with grime, mud or blood but not enough to detract from her beauty.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: She and Robb's mutual infatuation results in the Freys, Karstarks and Boltons breaking with House Stark, leading to the extermination of the Starks and their loyal bannermen at the Red Wedding, until Season 6.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Not particularly vicious or biting, but she makes it clear to Robb Stark as to exactly what the costs will be to him pushing on with his war with the Lannisters, exemplified in the Lannister soldier that he witnesses her amputate.
  • Yoko Oh No: Her marriage with Robb was already widely frowned upon while they were still alive. Years after the Red Wedding, even previously loyal Stark bannermen don't remember her as their late queen, but instead as a "foreign whore" (— Robett Glover) who brought the bane of House Stark and the whole Northern cause.

Prior Generations of House Stark

For the House of the Dragon era Starks, see here.

    Lord Rickard Stark 

Lord Rickard Stark

Played By: Wayne Foskett

Voiced By: Masafumi Kimura (Japanese)

"Remember that you are a Stark. Comport yourself with dignity at the Vale and try to stay out of fights. But if you have to fight, win."

Father of Brandon, Eddard, Lyanna and Benjen Stark, Rickard was the Lord of Winterfell, the Warden of the North and head of House Stark until he was killed by the Mad King.

    Lyanna Stark 

Lyanna Stark
"Promise me, Ned. Promise me."
Click here  to see Lyanna as a child.

Played By: Aisling Franciosi (Young Adult), Cordelia Hill (Child)

Voiced By: Monserrat Aguilar (Latin American Spanish), Lynn (Japanese)

"You want to know the horrible truth? I can't even remember what she (Lyanna) looked like. I only know she was the one thing I ever wanted. Someone took her away from me, and seven kingdoms couldn't fill the hole she left behind."
Robert Baratheon

Eddard Stark's sister and Robert's betrothed. She was supposedly kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen, which ignited Robert's Rebellion but no one really knows if she was actually kidnapped or if she was in love with Rhaegar and ran away with him. She died seventeen years prior to the start of the series. (See the character sheets on the original books for more details.) It turns out that she is the mother of Jon Snow, whom she had with Rhaegar Targaryen, her husband.

  • Action Girl: She was a skilled archer and capable enough with a sword to chase away some unruly squires who were bullying Howland Reed.
  • Big Little Sister: She's notably taller than her older brother Ned back when they were kids. Many actually thought she was the older sibling in this version because of that, but she calls Ned "big brother" in the next flashback.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Events surrounding her abduction and her eventual death remain a mystery to this very day. Details about her death are revealed when Bran learns something very big in 6x10.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Her son grows up believing his mother gave him up to his father after they had an affair. He doesn't know anything about her as Ned never speaks of her; he doesn't know if she cares about him or if she's even still alive. Ned promises that the next time they see each other, he'll tell him about his mother...but this doesn't pan out due to Ned's untimely death. It's revealed much later in the series why Jon's mother's gave him up and it's a very good reason: his real biological father is Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who eloped with Lyanna rather than kidnapping her as most people believed. After the Targaryens were overthrown during Robert's Rebellion, Lyanna begged Ned to protect Jon as she feared Robert Baratheon and his supporters would kill him, shortly before she died of childbirth complications.

  • Damsel in Distress: Lyanna was kidnapped by Rhaegar. At least that's the accepted story. It was totally consensual and she eloped with him. By the time anyone found out the truth, however, Robert's Rebellion was in full swing.
  • Death by Childbirth: Dies minutes after giving birth to Jon. It's unclear what went wrong with the birth, but she'd apparently lost a lot of blood and there were no maesters to attend her. The grief and stress of losing her brother, father and husband, and of knowing the danger her unborn child was in, probably didn't help either.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Her fling with Rhaegar was consensual. But she somehow believed that running away with an already married man, the crown prince no less, who had two kids, when she was already betrothed to another powerful lord could possibly end happily. Instead her former fiancé concluded she was kidnapped, her inquiring father and eldest brother were tyrannically killed by the king, father of her new lover, and it all led to a bloody civil war.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: She dies in Ned's arms.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: As an adult. Oberyn Martell even describes her in the Blu-ray lore as a "pale northern girl with ice running in her veins like all her people".
  • False Soulmate: She was this to Robert. They were set to marry until she was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen and later died. Robert mourns her for the rest of his life and openly states she was "the one thing I ever wanted". No one, not his numerous lovers and not his wife Cersei, could ever replace Lyanna in his affections (which doesn't help his marriage any) and he's convinced he would've been truly happy with her. However, it's implied that Robert over-idealized Lyanna and she didn't love him the same way. It's eventually revealed that Lyanna was actually in love with Rhaegar and she wasn't kidnapped; she willingly eloped with him and bore his child, dying of childbirth complications.
  • Flowers of Romance: Invoked by Rhaegar Targaryen, who showed his attraction to her by giving her a crown of blue winter roses at the Tourney of Harrenhal. This was quite scandalous at the time since Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar was married to Princess Elia Martell, not to mention the fact that he had two children, Rhaenys and Aegon.
  • Generation Xerox: Several.
    • Ned comments that Arya takes after her in both appearance and personality. The flashbacks of Lyanna, which show her as a spirited tomboy wearing boy's clothing, befriending small folk, and literally riding circles around her brothers backs this up.
    • Practically invoked by Robert proposing an Arranged Marriage to Sansa and Robert's "son" Joffrey, who sees it as a second chance to fulfill the marital alliance between House Stark and House Baratheon. It fails big time since Joffrey proves a Lannister bastard (in many literal and figurative ways) and Robert's idea to merge their houses ends up creating the Civil War anyway.
    • Her eldest nephew Robb unknowingly followed her footsteps by not honoring a planned Arranged Marriage to marry someone else out of love. Both marriages ended in tragedy, albeit Lyanna did give birth to her child, whereas Talisa was stabbed in her womb.
    • Her son Jon also winds up looking more like she did than like Rhaegar. Like Lyanna, Jon also winds up falling in love with a Targaryen royal.
  • Girl in the Tower: The last stages of Robert's Rebellion had Ned having to rescue her as she's being kept in a tower (dubbed Tower of Joy) at Dorne.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Ned chose to keep Lyanna's honor intact by never revealing the truth about Jon to the world, instead taking a blow to his own honor by lying and claiming that his nephew was his bastard son. Raising his nephew as a bastard son also protected Jon from Robert Baratheon's wrath if he had ever learned of the truth, thus allowing him to carry out his last promise to his sister.
  • Good Parents: On her deathbed, she fears her infant son (Jon) will be killed by Robert Baratheon if Robert ever discovers he is her child with Rhaegar Targaryen. She passes her son into her brother's protection, who raises his sister's child as his own and claims he is his illegitimate child to save him from Robert, as Robert wanted to kill anyone — child or adult — with Targaryen blood.
  • Horseback Heroism: Makes her debut galloping on horseback around the Winterfell grounds.
  • Ignored Expert: A flashback in Season 6 shows that she actually saw a potential for Hodor (then known as Wylis) to become a warrior due to his size, and suggested for him to be Benjen's training partner after Ned departs to be Jon Arryn's squire. Old Nan, who was Wylis's guardian, politely brushes off her and the little lords' suggestions, citing social status.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Characters constantly refer to Lyanna as beautiful, though they are pretty biased, particularly Robert.
  • Jerkass: Of the selfish, short sighted variety, along with Rhaegar. She undoubtedly knew Rhaegar was a married man to Elia Martell with children and didn't seem to care in the slightest, still going along with wedding him in secret in Dorne, Elia's own homeland, after having their marriage annulled. To say nothing of not thinking any of it through, putting her entire family at risk and losing her father and elder brother in the process, helping spark a bloody civil war thousands died in for her own selfish desires and not even bothering to tell anyone what she was doing and why.
  • The Load: A fatal liability for the family — she was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, a close friend of the Starks, but she went off-script in the worst way possible by eloping with Rhaegar Targaryen and giving the impression that she was kidnapped, leading to the deaths of her father and older brother when they went to King's Landing to demand satisfaction. On top of that, her son with Rhaegar was born into fatal danger from her former betrothed who now hated Targaryens and is King of the Seven Kingdoms. In the wake of Lyanna's death, Ned must protect his sisterís infant son or else his sister's son will be slaughtered, so Ned passes his nephew off as his own illegitimate son, concealing Jon's parentage to save Jonís life, sacrificing his honor, straining his marriage, and keeping this secret to protect Jon and now the rest of his family, since he has risked treason by lying to and betraying his best friend King Robert Baratheon.
  • The Lost Lenore: To Robert. He has mourned her death for nearly two decades, even after forgetting what she actually looked like. The Season 6 finale implies that this was not really reciprocated since Lyanna was convinced that Robert would murder her son and she feared his wrath. The Season 7 finale confirms she never loved him but loved Rhaegar.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Her blinding love for Rhaegar led her to overlook a great deal of the disastrous consequences that were likely to, and did, occur from suddenly eloping with him.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: Her love for Rhaegar caused a lot of problems which resulted to deaths of her father, oldest brother, the true heirs to the Iron Throne, and a civil war.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: It's revealed in Season 6 that she is actually the mother of Jon Snow, not his aunt as most people believed, though only a few characters are aware of this.
  • Mama Bear: While she is dying from bleeding out after giving birth, her last thoughts are about ensuring her newborn son's safety from Robert's wrath.
  • Marry for Love: It's revealed in Season 7 that Lyanna secretly eloped with Rhaegar after falling in love with him, rather than go through with her Arranged Marriage to Robert Baratheon.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother is nowhere to be seen in the flashbacks. She is also this for Jon because she died shortly after he was born.
  • My Own Private "I Do": She absconded to Dorne with her lover Rhaegar Targaryen and married him in a private ceremony before their son Jon's birth and prior to Rhaegar leaving to fight Robert Baratheon at the Trident. Rhaegar was granted an annulment of his first marriage to Elia Martell by the High Septon before he and Lyanna were wed to make it legal.
  • Nice to the Waiter: In a flashback, she is shown to be kinder to Hodor (then known as Wyllis) than Ned was at the time, giving the boy some tips on how to spar with Benjen.
  • One of the Boys: From what we see and hear of her, she liked hanging out with her brothers and taking part in the same activities as them; see also Tomboy Princess.
  • The One That Got Away: Robert sees her as this.
  • Outdoorsy Gal: Our first glimpse of Lyanna in a flashback is a young girl who returns to Winterfell's yard on horseback and shows off her riding skills to her brother Ned.
  • Peerless Love Interest: It's strongly indicated she was this to Robert Baratheon. He never got over her death and states she was "the one thing I ever wanted" and that "seven kingdoms couldn't fill the hole she left behind". Not even his wife Cersei Lannister, who at the time of their marriage was said to be the World's Most Beautiful Woman, could compare as far as Robert was concerned; none of the numerous other women he sleeps with can hold a candle to Lyanna, either. It's implied (outright stated in the books) that Robert had an overly idealistic view of Lyanna and didn't truly know the real her Ė such as when he complains to Ned that she should've been buried somewhere she could see the sky instead of the crypt at Winterfell, only for Ned to remark that she's a Stark and belongs there with her family. It's eventually revealed that Lyanna never returned Robert's affections and eloped with Rhaegar Targaryen instead; she was even convinced Robert would've murdered her newborn son simply because of who his father was.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A lot of lives could have been spared if she had made it clear that Rhaegar did not kidnap and rape her, but that she went with him willingly.
  • Posthumous Character: She dies prior to the series, during Robert's Rebellion and Ned mourns her in his spare time. She finally appears in a Pensieve Flashback in Season 6, where Bran glimpses events from Winterfell's past.
  • Rape as Drama: It believed by several characters (in particular Robert Baratheon) that she was kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar Targaryen, though the exact details are very sketchy. As it turns out, she wasn't raped; she was in love with Rhaegar and willingly went away with him.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Described and depicted as an attractive girl with fair skin and dark hair. See also Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette.
  • The Reveal: She is Jon's real mother. And she was legally married to Rhaegar, making Jon a contender for the Iron Throne.
  • Runaway Fiancťe: She's revealed to have been this in Season 7. Her father betrothed her to Robert, but Lyanna didn't love him and instead eloped with Prince Rhaegar. It's deconstructed, as everyone assumes Lyanna was kidnapped and before this could be corrected, Rhaegar's father killed Lyanna's father and eldest brother when they demanded her return, which set off a civil war that got Lyanna's husband killed at the hands of her former betrothed, and Lyanna herself died in childbirth.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Played with. While she's been mentioned several times in the show, she only physically appears via flashback during the second episode of Season 6.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Events surrounding her abduction remain a mystery to this very day.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: The dress she wears during her wedding to Rhaegar is simple with only minor adornments, but still quite fine-looking.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: She had one of the largest influences in the plot: her kidnapping led to the death of Ned's father and brother and Robert's Rebellion, her death turned Robert Baratheon into a depressed man whose disdain for ruling caused no short end of problems and casts a constant shadow on his marriage to Cersei. And most of all, she is mother to Jon Snow, an incredibly important character.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Like her brothers Ned and Benjen, Lyanna has the classic Stark look of dark hair and eyes, and general austere features:
    • When we see Lyanna's childhood in flashback in episode 6.2, she's introduced wearing a boy's clothing and skillfully riding a horse around the courtyard. She's a tomboy just like her niece Arya will be (though Arya was born years after she died). In the books themselves, Ned outright states that Arya greatly resembles Lyanna at her age.
    • It is also clear from Bran's flashback in the Season 6 finale, that Jon Snow got most of his looks from her, especially his dark hair and eyes, which certainly made it easier for Ned to pass him off as his illegitimate son. The actress (Aisling Franciosi) also looks a fair bit like Maisie Williams (Arya), who in the books is said to be Lyanna's spitting image.
  • Take Care of the Kids: Her Last Request to Ned. The kid being Jon Snow.
  • Tomboy Princess: She was the daughter of one of the most powerful lords of Westeros, she loved horseback riding and she's shown to be savvy enough to give Hodor advices about how to spar with Benjen. Definitely she was this.
  • True Blue Femininity: In one of Bran's visions, she's wearing a pale blue gown (the colours of her house) which is her wedding dress.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Everyone believed she was kidnapped by Rhaegar. Turns out Lyanna and Rhaegar were in love and eloped. The belief that she was kidnapped led to her father and one of her brothers being killed by the Mad King and subsequently to Robert's Rebellion.
  • Walking Spoiler: Her Death by Origin Story, which actually involves her Death by Childbirth to Jon and asking her brother Ned to take care of him.
  • White Shirt of Death: She's wearing a white negligee in her last moments, complete with blood as she has just given birth to Jon.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: A particularly severe and tragic example. Young Lyanna (in the books she was stated to be around sixteen) ran off with Rhaegar Targaryen, the handsome prince she'd fallen in love with, rather than marry her betrothed Robert and without telling anyone what she was up to. Subsequently, everyone thinks she's been kidnapped, which culminates in a bloody civil war that ends with both Rhaegar, Lyanna and several members of their families dying. It can be assumed she didn't consider how disastrously things could end before she decided to elope with Rhaegar.

    Brandon Stark 

Brandon Stark

Played By: N/A

"I was her (Catelyn's) little confidante. Her plaything. She could tell me anything, anything at all. She told me about all the horses that she liked, the castle that she wanted to live in, the man she wanted to marry. A Northerner, with a jaw like an anvil. So I challenged him to a duel. I mean, why not? I'd read all the stories. The little hero always beats the big villain in all the stories. In the end, she wouldn't even let him kill me. 'He's just a boy,' she said, 'please don't hurt him.' So, he gave me a nice little scar to remember him by and off they went."
Petyr Baelish

Ned, Benjen, and Lyanna's eldest brother and former heir to Winterfell. Killed himself trying to save his father from roasting in a ludicrous mockery of a trial by combat.

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe. According to some characters (specifically, Littlefinger and Lysa Arryn), he was a straight-up Jerk Jock. To the rest (including characters who have a neutral opinion of him), he was not a perfect man but still a likable fellow not unlike Robert Baratheon.
  • Big Brother Instinct: When he learned of Lyanna's abduction by Rhaegar Targaryen, he immediately rode to King's Landing to try to recover her from Rhaegar.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: When Lord Rickard demanded a trial by combat on the charges against him and his son, naming himself as champion, the Mad King chose fire as the Targaryen champion, Brandon was put in a noose with a sword just out of reach. Brandon strangled himself trying to reach the sword to free his father.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: On the giving end, when he fought Littlefinger for Catelyn's hand. According to Lysa, he nearly killed him and left him with a lifelong scar across his chest.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Much more reckless than Ned or Benjen, despite having been groomed to succeed his father, Lord Rickard. Indeed Baelish states that in the end, Ned was the more impressive specimen of the two.
  • The Ghost: He is only mentioned in the show and only seen in the Blu-Ray lore.
  • Hot-Blooded: To the point where he was known, in the books, as the Wild Wolf.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: A heroic character with a jaw like an anvil.
  • Posthumous Character: He and his father's death is what kickstarted Robert's Rebellion.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Described by Littlefinger as a tall and hulking Jerk Jock.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Charging to King's Landing and insulting the Prince in earshot of the Pyromaniac Mad King after Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark was probably not a good idea. The highly biased opinion of Petyr Baelish in the History and Lore videos of his unfortunate rival:
    Baelish: Who's the greater fool? The Mad King or the man who reasons with him?
  • Would Hurt a Child: He nearly killed Littlefinger, slashing him about a dozen times and would have killed him if Catelyn hadn't intervened.