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The Order of the Maesters

Service as a maester is a noble calling, one of vital importance to a prosperous realm. It is little wonder there are some who refer to the order as the "Knights of the Mind".
Maester Luwin, Histories and Lore

The sole institution of higher education in Westeros. The Order of the Maesters is a scholastic organization dedicated to teaching exclusively the nobility on the subjects of history, philosophy, science, and also serve as healers and political advisers. The Maesters are headquartered at the Citadel in Oldtown, located in the Reach on the southwestern coast of Westeros at the mouth of the Honeywine River.

The Order was originally created by, and it continues to depend on, the patronage of House Hightower. The Citadel has rankings that begin with novice and apprentice, move up to accredited Maester appointed to serve particular great Houses by the Citadel, overseen by the Archmaesters, and led finally by the Grand Maester, who in addition to serving as the nominal head of the Citadel also sits on the King's Small Council. Students craft new links for their Maester's chain, which they never take off. Both common and noble novices are accepted to the Citadel, and noble Maesters are expected to leave their House name behind and serve wherever they are sent.

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    In General 
  • Academy of Adventure: The Citadel of Oldtown has the appearance of one to Sam Tarly with its large libraries and forbidden books but the organization and institution as a whole is very much against encouraging curiosity.
  • Anti-Intellectualism:
    • Becoming a maester is more or less a dumping ground for rejects and the Aristocracy looks down on the Citadel and the Maesters, with Randyll Tarly preferring to send Sam Tarly to the Night's Watch rather than the Citadel which suited him better, since he liked the idea of Sam killing and/or dying fighting savages more than sullying the Tarly family name by reading books or worse, wearing chains as part of a Maester's garb.
    • Ironically, the Citadel itself is profoundly anti-intellectual internally, discouraging research into medical science, denying the existence of magic, and more or less pretending that so long as nobody disturbs their livelihood and status, society can function no matter how the rest suffer.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The Citadel doesn't encourage research into the higher mysteries, or magic. Even when one of the archmaester admits those things exist.
  • A Degree in Useless: As Maester Luwin tells Bran in Season 2, the link to study Valyrian steel is this for those who are too eager to learn about magic.
  • Body Motifs: The Citadel is associated with bowel movements and with excrement during Sam's time there, such as the endless bedpans and services he does, and then when Gilly notes that one of the records at the Citadel about High Septon Maynard has him making a daily record of his bowel movements. Mostly it's there to suggest as Sam finally notes that the Citadel and the Maesters are full of shit:
    Samwell: These Maesters...they set me to the task of transcribing that man's window-counting and annulments and bowel movements for all eternity, while the secret to defeating the Night King is probably sitting on some dusty shelf somewhere, completely ignored! But that's alright isn't it? We can all become slavering murderous imbeciles in thrall to evil incarnate as long as we can have full access to High Septon Maynard's 15,782 shits!
  • Brain Drain: On account of the social disfavour Westeros regards Maesters with, and its greater focus on martial accomplishments, the "best and brightest" i.e., the most driven, ambitious and intelligent minds of Westeros rarely go to the Citadel. After all if you are someone like Bronn or Littlefinger, both being incredibly smart and skilled but ambitious and seeking fortune and fame, why would you possibly devote yourself to an organization which decides, on your behalf, your calling, your station, and which forbids you from marrying and having children. Then you have the actual academic culture of the organization with its Tall Poppy Syndrome and the result is that genuinely intelligent and great scholars like Samwell Tarly and Qyburn decide to more or less say Screw This, I'm Outta Here while other maesters who are skilled and talented get nowhere.
  • Broken Pedestal: To Samwell Tarly, since he had always wanted to be a Maester (something that got him disowned by his father) and when he finally visits the Citadel, he is overcome with joy and wonder at first. However, he grows disillusioned with the order because of their skepticism towards his warnings and he is repeatedly tasked with doing menial tasks despite his own achievements. The final straw came when they dismissed a message from Brandon Stark from Winterfell telling them about the Night's King army marching on the North, making Sam leave the order.
  • Fantastic Racism: They more or less hate the North and consider the area South of the Neck "the true Westeros". Maesters in service to Northern houses are more or less dismissed or ignored (such as Maester Wolkan), letters and updates from the Night's Watch are unopened (since the Citadel bureaucrat claims that their records hadn't updated past Lord Commander Mormont's tenure, when the Small Council, as Tyrion confirms, knew about the Old Bear's passing), and claims about serious problems are dismissed on entirely racist grounds. Samwell Tarly (who it must be noted comes from the Reach, the location where Oldtown comes from) just goes into his Rage Breaking Point losing all respect for the Maesters as a vocation and the Citadel as an institution.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • The Citadel is one to the Library of Alexandria, located in a very old port city with a large signal lighthouse overlooking the school.
    • The Maesters themselves are meant to represent the medieval monasteries and the monks and priests who were in charge of education. Though Westeros explicitly divides those duties into a religious and secular arm, with the Faith of the Seven largely representing The Church.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: As Season 7 reveals, the Maesters basically do absolutely nothing to learn anymore, instead passing on all of their existing knowledge internally and assuming that everything will continue just fine without them needing to step out of their metaphorical ivory tower. To emphasize this, Archmaester Ebrose admits that he, and implicitly many other maesters, are aware that the Night King and his army of the dead is real, because there's too much corroborating evidence, but they feel no need to try and stir the population to defend against the White Walkers because there is no reason to suspect the Wall of the North might have finally failed after thousands of years of keeping them at bay.
  • Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction: They are supposed to be this in theory. A Maester is Loyal to the Position, and serves the realm but in actual practise they are blatantly in thrall to the Southern Kingdoms of Westeros (the Reach and Westerlands especially) over any one else. Grand Maester Pycelle was a Lannister apparatchik and the Maesters more or less don't consider the North "the real Westeros" and even Maesters who were appointed and dispatched there (such as Maester Wolkan and Maester Aemon) are dismissed outright for their wisdom.
  • Intellectually Supported Tyranny: The Maesters fully support the feudal order that keeps the aristocrats on top and everyone else below them. The former Grand Maester Pycelle was a fully bought and paid for propagandist in service of Tywin Lannister. Samwell Tarly quite bitterly admits that his father Randyll was right about the Maesters spending their lives recording and studying the "works of better men", i.e. men like Randyll.
  • Lawful Stupid: With a dash of Honor Before Reason; Maesters are sworn to serve the institutions they are bound to, not necessarily the family or organization that holds that institution. As such, if a truly awful person comes to rule the institution they are assigned to they must still serve them faithfully. On top of that, the Order as a whole holds a Status Quo Is God mentality, meaning that they quash creativity, research, and better scientific understanding for the sake of maintaining the current societal standards, even if said standards are proving wholly inadequate.
  • Loyal to the Position: Maesters are appointed to serve the Castle and the institution to which they are assigned, and are expected to remain in place no matter who is in charge. Maester Luwin for instance served the castle of Winterfell, and not House Stark, and when Winterfell was occupied by Theon Greyjoy, he was bound by duty to serve the new occupants. Maester Wolkan, the Maester of Dreadfort and later Winterfell, likewise served first the Boltons and then the Starks.
  • Magic Versus Science: They see themselves as representing science against superstition and magic. Which would be admirable if they weren't hostile to actual science (such as medical procedures that might treat deadly diseases) or if their world with its Bizarre Seasons, Magic Wall, and large dragons wasn't inherently magical.
  • Medieval Stasis: The Citadel are ironically the main reason for enforcing this trope even if they believe they are doing the opposite, i.e. correcting superstition and disabusing magic. They actively discourage inquiry, curiosity and research, look down on those who seek to unlock the higher mysteries and basically discourage any changes to the status-quo, be it intellectual or societal. Qyburn and Samwell Tarly both rebel against this albeit one is a villain and the other is a hero.
  • Propaganda Machine: The "histories" written by the maesters become this as noted in the History and Lore videos and by Sam Tarly and others.
  • Shed the Family Name: The Only One Name of the Maesters is meant to indicate that they have cast aside all family and social bonds and are devoted solely to serve the institutions. This doesn't always work, since some Maesters end up becoming clients of their feudal patrons as in the case of Pycelle and the Lannisters. The truly devoted such as Maester Aemon, Maester Luwin, Maester Wolkan are far away at the Wall or in the North, and it's probably not an accident they were sent there.from the books .
  • Vast Bureaucracy: Keeps the records of many orders, nobles, doctors and more. They even have Rhaegar's annulment and enough records of the Long Night to find a pattern lying in their library somewhere.
  • You Get What You Pay For: Why is the Citadel such an organization of incurious, incompetent, and ineffective morons who won't move a muscle to actually help the world? Well because that's precisely how Westerosi society and government envisioned their role and function:
    Qyburn: The Chain, as a whole, is supposed to signify the Realm: one cannot have only lords or only knights, one needs farmers, smiths, merchants, shepherds and the like. Like a chain of many different metals — an obvious and trivial point, disguised with pomposity... much like the maesters themselves! They study without learning and proudly pass down the same knowledge that was passed down to them, with no addition. Perhaps such is to be expected, when one considers the kinds of men who become maesters: the youngest sons of noble families, dutiful and timid, raised in the shadow of their older brothers; or bastards and peasant boys whose minds are easily satisfied by the knowledge of their next meal. Because bold men will not be chained. They dare to ask questions the maesters fear to answer: they will look at a living man, and ask "How?" And they will look at the dead, and ask "What if...?"

    Grand Maester Pycelle 

Grand Maester Pycelle
"Kings? I can tell you all there is to know about kings."

Played By: Julian Glover

"I urged [the Mad King] to surrender peacefully. But the king didn't listen to me; didn't listen to Varys, who tried to warn him. But he did listen to Grand Maester Pycelle, that grey, sunken cunt."
Jaime Lannister

The head of the Maester's order, resident Maester in the Red Keep, and a member of the Small Council. A sycophantic toady, he puts on a good show of serving the Iron Throne, but his only true loyalty is to Lord Tywin Lannister and actively undermined King Robert Baratheon.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: While Pycelle in the show is hardly a Silver Fox type, he's still far better looking and in better shape than his more decrepit book counterpart. When he drops the "feeble old man" act, he actually cuts an impressive figure and wouldn't look out of place as a royal.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Although book Pycelle is hardly a saint, he serves as an Only Sane Man in the Small Council with Undying Loyalty towards the Lannisters and, according to Varys, does a good job in running the Kingdom. Here, he is shown in a more negative light, as a cruel, self-serving and manipulative Corrupt Politician.
  • Angrish: Prone to descending into stammered gibberish when panicked, as his arrest and the deleted scene with Tywin demonstrates — though the latter case is a blatantly faked example.
  • Badass Boast: In the Histories and Lore video for Season 4, he's talking about dragons when the subject of Daenerys and her dragons come up. Pycelle's conclusion goes thus:note 
    Pycelle: If she were so foolish as to march on Westeros, she would not find, as her ancestor Aegon did, seven disparate kingdoms frightened by her strange beasts. She would find a continent united by Lord Tywin Lannister, who extinguished her own father's flame. And we have known dragons now. We have seen them die.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: First appears as a respectable man. It didn't take long for him to show his true colors.
  • Blatant Lies: Pycelle has the distinction of spewing out the biggest piece of bullshit ever uttered on the show, and maybe even beyond, calling Joffrey "the most noble child the gods ever put on this good earth." Everybody is uneasy about the line upon hearing this description during Tyrion's trial, and even people who harbor high animosity against Tyrion can't help but raise an eyebrow at that one.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Sprays blood out of his mouth after being stabbed repeatedly by Qyburn's little birds.
  • Boring, but Practical: They'll never write a song about Pycelle, but his method for staying alive works. Kings come and go, and he has weaseled his way through it for decades, keeping a privileged life in the process.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's extremely cunning and adept, having survived for decades in a cutthroat environment, and even Tywin is wary of his potential as a threat. But he seems content to just stay below the radar and enjoy the privileges of the court.
  • Butt-Monkey: Season 4 sees Pycelle slowly beginning to slide into this role; roughly half of his scenes in the season involve him getting interrupted or embarrassed in public, and an entire scene in the second episode alone features him getting cockblocked, threatened, and repurposed as an errand boy by Cersei. For good measure, the season finale features him getting booted out of his own laboratory in favour of Qyburn, who seems to have pretty much supplanted him in Cersei's eyes.
  • Covert Pervert: Despite being sworn to celibacy, Pycelle has no qualms about hiring prostitutes. At celebrations, he seems even bolder: at Tyrion's wedding, he can be seen having a rather intimate chat with two young women; and at Joffrey's wedding, he's interrupted while attempting to seduce a young handmaiden under the guise of offering a physical.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A few extremely brief scenes suggest the ‘frail old man’ persona is an act. In a cut scene between him and Tywin, he drops the act entirely, revealing a tall robust man with a confident, deep voice. He actually looks like he could hold his own in a fight. In "Winds of Winter," he's able to deliver a solid backhand to one of Qyburn's little birds, though it doesn't save him from the rest of them.
  • Defiant to the End: He drops the feeble old man act and goes out swinging, even landing a pretty solid blow to one of the children before being overwhelmed by the numbers.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Pycelle is incredibly good at surviving despite the fact that nobody likes him, but he never thought that Qyburn would ultimately be the one to assassinate him.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the books Pycelle's head is smashed in. In the show he is stabbed by Qyburn's little birds, paralleling Kevan's murder in the books.
  • Dirty Coward: All Pycelle wants is to survive, and he will do anything he has to in order to do it, which amounts to kissing up to whoever is in power and ducking his head when they turn his way. He's happy to leak secrets to Cersei, only to whimper and shift the blame onto Varys when Tyrion threatens to emasculate him. In a deleted scene, he explains to Tywin that most people are like flowers, seeking to grow ever higher. But, when a flower grows too tall, it risks getting clipped; Pycelle wants to remain low and in the shadows so no one ever tries to "clip" him.
  • Dirty Old Man: He likes to abuse his status as a physician to grope and harass young women.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Manages to accomplish this to two of the Lannister children, in a cowardly vindictive way. He bids his time and waits until his targets are powerless.
    • Tyrion tosses him into a cell in order to ensure he doesn't meddle with his rule as Hand of the King. After the Battle of Blackwater, Pycelle is released and is sure to rub Tyrion's injuries, not to mention his loss of power, in his face.
    • For the better part of a season, Cersei routinely kicks him, even dismissing him from his own laboratory while Qyburn works to save Ser Gregor Clegane. After Cersei is arrested by the Faith Militant, Pycelle summons her uncle, Ser Kevan Lannister, to serve as Hand of the King in order to provide some semblance of a working government, and to get back at Cersei for his mistreatment.
  • Dying Alone: Qyburn admits even Pycelle shouldn't die the way he is about to.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He appears genuinely shocked when he sees how Gregor Clegane tries to murder Loras Tyrell and then his own brother over pure pettiness.
    • He's not far off the mark when he argues that assasinating Danaerys may in the long run save thousands of innocents in the long run from a potential Dothraki invasion as Seasons 7 and 8 proved categorically.
    • He was also aghast when Joffrey orders Ser Ilyn to behead Ned Stark, right on the steps of the holy Sept of Baelor.
    • For all his Dirty Old Man tendencies, he's disgusted by Qyburn's human experimentation as he feels that human experimentation is a perversion of the healing arts. Case in point he has the decency to insist on a less unpleasant death for the Mountain.
    • He protests when Cersei orders him to give food meant for the poor to the dogs and only gives in because Cersei threatens to have him killed.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: While Varys, Mace, Olenna, Tyrion are all clearly unamused by Joffrey's twisted jokes at the wedding (and even Tywin is blatantly forcing himself to smile), Pycelle seems genuinely entertained by them. Then again, it might be part of his professional Yes Man act — this is a guy who managed to survive Aerys II Targaryen's royal court, so he's learned to laugh at an insane king's bad jokes to stay on his good side.
  • Evil Is Petty: Especially towards Tyrion, who he hates for arresting him (however briefly). Apart from the Ironic Echo at the end of the second season, he joins Cersei in mockingly applauding his appointment to Master of Coin, and later goes out of his way to "accidentally" drop a letter Tyrion was reaching for, forcing him to stoop out of his chair to pick it up.
  • Evil Old Folks: During his long life, he's betrayed many Hands of the King and even one king, and it's implied he'll do it again if it means staying alive just a little longer. Cersei promptly has him executed for the same reasons during her purge.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: He has Julian Glover's famous deep voice and is a two-faced coward.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He pretends to be polite and grandfatherly, but he's really a corrupt old lecher with no regard for anyone or anything except his own political (and literal) survival.
  • Foil:
    • A deleted scene with Tywin reveals him to be much like Varys and Littlefinger, lying and scheming to survive the Decadent Court he's in by any means necessary. However, while Varys and Littlefinger have higher ambitions they aim for, Pycelle is a coward who flies under the radar because he has no ambition but to live a bit longer and enjoy the perks his office affords him. Though this particular scene also would have been a particular deviation from the books. Pycelle felt nothing but admiration and respect for Tywin, and while it's unclear insofar these feelings were mutual, it would have been out of character for Tywin to behave towards a useful tool like Pycelle for no good reason, like he did in said scene.
    • Also, there is a certain amount of comparison and contrast to be made between him and Qyburn; both are Maesters that have ended up in the service of the Crown, both end up taking orders from Cersei, and both are well-known for behaviour inappropriate to their order, and both provide medical attention. However, Pycelle not only proves himself less ambitious and much less inquisitive than Qyburn, but also nowhere near as dedicated to healing. As amoral as Qyburn is, he genuinely wants to save lives — in sharp contrast to Pycelle, who not only withheld treatment for Jon Arryn but also loaned out his supply of poison for a murder-suicide. This is perhaps best exemplified by their scene together in "The Children": Pycelle is prodding Gregor Clegane's unconscious body with a stick, claiming that nothing can be done to save him; Qyburn is examining the wounds at close range and actually providing a treatment. However, your mileage may vary. On the other hand, Manticore venom is universally held to be incurable, and Pycelle oddly keeps a sense of medical ethics while Qyburn is a Mad Scientist. Yes Qyburn wants to heal people, but he treats it as a problem to be solved. Pycelle argues that the humane thing would be to stop prolonging Gregor's suffering — while Qyburn wants to perform horrific medical experimentation on him.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Pycelle might not have many enemies (due to his status as Yes-Man and his lack of ambition) but he doesn't have much in the way of friends either. He claims loyalty to the Lannisters, but none of them like him. Tyrion is a strong enemy, Jaime refers to him as a 'grey sunken cunt', Cersei is repulsed by him, and Tywin sees him solely as a tool.
  • Hate Sink: Unlike Littlefinger or Varys, Pycelle is nothing more than a two-faced and oppportunistic sycophant who backstabs and boot-licks just to save his own skin, traits that earn him the disgust and disdain of many viewers.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Indulges in this in "The Pointy End" as the bad cop when Cersei manipulates Sansa into writing to Winterfell. This is only an act in part; he's later shown being abusive to Sansa for real.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: One interpretation of his hatred for Qyburn, who Cersei trusts much more than she ever did Pycelle.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Subverted. Pycelle is an excellent judge of character and fakes being a poor one.
    • Of all of the Kings he's served, he identifies Joffrey as the one he respects the most and thinks of most positively. However, the circumstances in which he says this suggest that he is lying, knowing that whatever he says could reach Joffrey's ears.
    • During Robert's rebellion, he told Aerys II that the Lannisters could be trusted as friends. Once inside King's Landing, Tywin proceeded to sack the city, as Varys and Jaime had foreseen. But then again, when Tyrion comes to arrest him, Pycelle claims in his defense that he was already a servant of Tywin back then.
  • Humiliation Conga: Tyrion, Bronn, and Timett, son of Timett, come to arrest him while he is with a whore, cut off his beard, and threaten to cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats. From the books...  In Season 4, Pycelle goes a more subtle but well-deserved conga. He's increasingly delegated to menial tasks as Cersei's patience with him wears thin, and Pycelle finds himself essentially replaced by Qyburn. He no longer commands the respect he once had or his coveted position with the Lannisters.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: His session with the prostitute Daisy was interrupted by Tyrion, Bronn, and Timett.
  • Intellectually Supported Tyranny: He provides the intellectual justifications for Tywin Lannister and his regime, and serves as his propagandist and agent in all matters.
  • Ironic Echo: Once Tyrion loses his status and power and is bedridden, he delivers this line:
    Pycelle: [tossing a coin to Tyrion, with a smirk on his face] For your trouble.
  • It's All About Me: Pycelle's only concern is staying alive and keeping his life of luxury. He could't care less who he has to betray or kiss up to to do so.
  • Jerkass: His treatment of Sansa after Ned's arrest and his pettiness towards Tyrion whenever he has the chance.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While it's mostly jealousy he is right that Qyburn's experiments are an abomination. While Qyburn is better at medicine than him he is more attracted by dealing pain.
    • In a similar manner as Varys, he thinks that Daenerys should be killed for the good of the people of Westeros, as Daenerys burns down King's Landing in Season 8.
  • Karma Houdini: He has betrayed several Hands of the King (and at least one King) over the years in order to stay safe. Defied when Tyrion, being far more savvy, sets him up to reveal himself as The Mole and promptly has him arrested and tortured to some degree. However, Pycelle has managed to worm his way out of that due to his status as a Yes-Man to Cersei.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Expires in the Season 6 finale, as he is brutally assassinated as part of Cersei's plan against the High Sparrow. This time Pycelle chose the wrong side.
  • Master Poisoner: He's an expert on poisons, but to his credit, he apparently hasn't killed anybody with them, as he lacks a murderous nature.
  • The Needs of the Many: When Robert orders Daenerys' death in Season 1, Pycelle agrees with him and Varys, citing this trope.
    "I bear this girl no ill will, how many innocents will die? How many towns will burn? Is it not wiser, kinder even, that she should die now so that tens of thousands might live?"
  • No Kill like Overkill: Is stabbed to death multiple times by a gang of murderous child assassins during the Season 6 Finale.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity / Obfuscating Disability: Pretends to be an Absent-Minded Professor and physically frail in order to fly under the radar. It obviously has served him well, as he's managed to survive in the Decadent Court of King's Landing for sixty-seven years. A deleted scene from Season 3 makes this extremely explicit. His physical, intellectual and oratory abilities would make him more than a match for the mighty Tywin Lannister if he so chose to be. This was something Julian Glover contributed to the role. He's remarkably spry for his age and suggested that this be included. The producers agreed and so included the scene in "Fire and Blood" where he exercises.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has this reaction when Qyburn's little birds surround him.
    • Pycelle also has this reaction when he realises Gregor Clegane is standing behind him, having heard every word of a rant Pycelle's been giving about how thanks to Qyburn, the knight is now an abomination that should be destroyed at first opportunity, and is now giving Pycelle a look that indicates how much Gregor wants to smash his skull.
  • Out-Gambitted: Tyrion pulls this by telling him, Littlefinger and Varys three different stories about who he'll marry Myrcella off to, and when Cersei confronts him about Pycelle's version Tyrion knows he's The Mole and has him arrested. Pycelle never lets this go, it probably being one of the few times someone has actually caught him in spite of his attempts to stay under the radar, though Tyrion embarrassing him for good measure certainly helps.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: He might look like Dumbledore, but he's pretty much just a Lannister yes-man. He was also a Yes-Man to Robert and Aerys before him. It's how he's managed to survive King's Landing for so long. This is shown in the "Histories and Lore: Dragons" where according to him, as long as King's Landing has Tywin, Daenerys and her dragons are no threat.
  • Running Gag: By Season 4, other characters regularly interrupt Pycelle mid-speech.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The venerable Grand Maester is in the habit of incorporating rather magniloquent figures of speech in his meandering sentences.
  • Smug Snake: See the aforementioned scene between Pycelle and the injured Tyrion.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Discussed in a conversation with Tywin, even using the metaphor itself to describe his self-serving survivalist mentality.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: In the first season finale, he does a series of exercises that a frail old man shouldn't be able to do before changing back into his robes, adopting his usual stooped posture, and shuffling out the door. He completely drops the act in the beginning of "Valar Morghulis" to intimidate Tyrion. In a deleted scene with Tywin Lannister, he does this after Tywin points out that he can see right through it, only to resume it when their conversation is over. He ditches it for the final time in the Season 6 finale when he punches out the first little bird to attack him, demonstrating surprising speed. It does nothing to save him from the rest of them.
  • Undignified Death: Getting stabbed to death by a group of children isn't the most flattering way to go out; a fitting end for a cowardly scumbag like Pycelle.
  • Unknown Rival: He has some unexplained animosity towards Varys. Varys doesn't seem to know or care.
  • Wizard Beard: Despite the fact that Maesters are not magic users, Pycelle most certainly has one. Tyrion has Bronn cut most of it off when arresting him, mostly because he can.
  • Yes-Man: To House Lannister, specially to Tywin Lannister. Unlike Varys and Littlefinger (who know exactly when and how to disagree or manipulate), Pycelle essentially agrees with whatever the most powerful person is saying. In a single scene, he goes from supporting Joffrey completely to wordlessly obeying Tywin's order to send the boy king to bed (essentially by drugging him).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: He is killed by Qyburn's little birds in the Season 6 finale on Cersei's orders.

    Archmaester Ebrose 

Archmaester Ebrose
"Without us, men would be little better than dogs"

Played By: Jim Broadbent

Everyone in the Citadel doubts everything. It's their job

Archmaester Ebrose serves as the expert on healing who takes Samwell Tarly as novice and apprentice in Season 7.

  • Anti-Advice: So far whatever Ebrose has suggested Sam to do, Tarly has done the exact opposite and it has provided results.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ebrose charges him with transcribing some documents as part of his day-to-day work. They had no idea that these documents contained recorded evidence that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen annulled his marriage with Elia Martell and performed a wedded someone else in Dorne, which would later be revealed to be Lyanna Stark. As a result, the child of this union Aegon Targaryen (who is none other than Sam's best friend Jon Snow) is the true heir of the Iron Throne.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Ebrose voices eloquent reasons for why the White Walkers are not as big a threat they are and why the apocalypse won't be as bad as it could be, the problem is that he's wrong.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: His go to move when he hears a problem is ignore it and hope it solves itself which is a pretty stupid attitude for a Maester, even his dog petting moment is still him not having the heart to tell Sam his father and brother are dead while of noble sentiment still means he'll rather not report the news he judges bad even if they are true.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He knows the army of the dead exists based on the similarity of too many different witnesses to be fabricated and that there is a way to treat adult with advanced Greyscale. He is just dismissive of both. The former, while clearly an apocalyptic scenario, did not come to pass, and therefore he doesn't believe this time will be any different. The latter because the one who created the procedure died of the very Greyscale he tried to cure, and several maesters have attempted the procedure and all failed. He fails to understand that for the former, the world didn't end because people actually did something about it, and for the latter, perhaps using someone younger with steadier hands could have achieved the desired results.
  • The Needs of the Many: For all his faults, he genuinely believes he is doing what is best for the Citadel and the realm, even if Sam and the viewer knows he is going about it the wrong way.
    • When dealing with Greyscale, due to the repeated failures of the procedure, he ships the afflicted off to Valyria (if you can't cure it, get it away so that it doesn't infect others).
    • He has brought up the fact that the common folk always seem to believe the sky is falling with every tiny change to the status quo, and that the army of the dead from the Long Night is no different. However, with it being a very real threat now, he doesn't see it as any different as long as the Wall still stands, and thus believes it is in everyone's best interest that the Maesters keep going about their normal business.
  • The Obi-Wannabe: Ebrose often composes and eloquently voices long monologues and bon mots and seems to believe he is imparting philosophy and life's wisdom on Samwell Tarly, except Sam and the viewer knows that he is completely and utterly wrong on every single thing he says.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Allows Jorah one last day to commit suicide before the greyscale takes his mind, and later congratulates Sam for curing Jorah.
    • Despite dismissing Sam's warnings about the White Walkers as nonsense, its shown that he cares about him a great deal since he can't bring himself to tell him about his father and brother's deaths and tells the other Maesters that he is a good boy.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Yes, Sam cured Jorah Mormont of advanced Greyscale, something even many maesters have failed to do. However, yes, Sam endangered himself and the entire Citadel in doing so. That being said, Sam gets no reward, but no overt punishment.

    Citadel Bureaucrat 

Played By: Frank Hvam

This is most irregular.

The maester Sam reports at on his arrival to the Citadel

  • Locked Out of the Loop: He is really behind on his information, not even being aware of Ser Jeor Mormont's death which Tyrion Lannister knew since he sat on the Small Council, or the fact that a new Lord Commander, Jon Snow, had succeeded him. This is stuff that he should have known, which suggests that he, or someone else, hasn't opened letters from the Wall.
  • No Woman's Land: Informs Samwell that women and children are not allowed at the premises of the Citadel.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: What he does on seeing Sam's arrival at the Citadel.

Maesters in Training

    Samwell "Sam" Tarly 

Novice Samwell Tarly, Maester-In-Training for Castle Black

Played By: John Bradley

"If someone had asked me my name, right there, I wouldn't have known. I wasn't Samwell Tarly anymore. I wasn't the steward of the Night's Watch, or son of Randyll Tarly, or any of that. I was nothing at all. When you're nothing at all there's no more reason to be afraid."

The rejected scion of the noble, and highly martial, Tarly family. On account of the fact that his portly frame and intellectual curiosity did not fulfill the martial ideal of his family, Samwell was dispatched to the Night's Watch, where he was assigned to the Stewards after completing his training. He was then dispatched by Lord Commander Jon Snow to the Citadel to unearth additional research on the Long Night and the White Walkers, and to eventually complete his chain to succeed as Maester of Castle Black, after the death of Maester Aemon.

  • Abusive Parents: Hoo boy. His own father was willing to personally murder him.
  • Adaptational Badass
    • In the books, him killing a White Walker was purely an accident where as here he went actively attacked it, despite being thrown aside like a sack of potatoes. Further shows his badassery in Watchers on the Wall where as his book incarnation is still largely a coward who freezes up at imminent danger. In the TV series, Sam intently went back at the White Walker, dragonglass dagger in hand, and shanked the abomination in the back.
    • In the books, he's a complete Shrinking Violet who insists that "It was the dragonglass that slew it, not me." In the show he likes to brag up his accomplishments: "How many brothers can say they've killed a White Walker and a Thenn? I might be the first in history!"
  • Badass Boast: "How many brothers can say that they've killed a White Walker and a Thenn? I might be the first in history." Repeats it and modifies it later against two sworn brothers who're trying to rape Gilly and had just beaten the living hell out of him; "I killed a White Walker, and a Thenn. I'll take my chances with you."
  • Badass Bookworm: He spends most of his spare time in the library, doing research. This pays off when he establishes precedent for someone as young as Jon to become Lord Commander, and he hopes to find further information on how to combat the White Walkers — something that King Stannis approves of.
  • Band of Brothers: With Jon, Pyp, Grenn, and Edd.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Midway through season 7, he gets so sick of the maesters refusing to take the threat of the Army of the Dead seriously that he steals as many tomes and scrolls from the forbidden archives as he can and flees northward with what he's stolen, hoping that he can make it to Winterfell and recruit people to help him study the texts for possible anti-undead measures there.
  • Big Brother Instinct: After Ygritte put an arrow through Pyp's neck, Sam attempted and failed to save his life. He is also visibly distraught upon learning that his younger brother brother Dickon was executed by Daenerys.
  • Big Fun: Albeit in a lower key kind of way.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 2's finale ends with Sam surrounded by an army of wights led by the White Walkers.
  • Bookworm: Wanted to be a wizard, and freely admits he much prefers being a steward to being a ranger. "I read it in a book" is his fitting answer to many questions about his knowledge.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • He is one to the other trainees and to Alliser Thorne, until Jon puts a stop to it.
    • Even his life in the Citadel is very unpleasant where he had to do a lot of chores particularly getting the bedpans, tossing its contents into the drainage and scrubbing it.
  • The Champion: To Gilly.
  • Cool Ancestral Weapon: When he leaves Horn Hill, he also takes House Tarly's Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane.
  • Cowardly Lion: When he has to defend Gilly, he gets fierce. During the Battle for Castle Black, he's clearly scared shitless the entire time, but he stands his ground.
  • Crazy-Prepared: "Mhysa" reveals that he collected all the dragonglass daggers and arrowheads from the Fist of the First Men, because of their historical significance and because he thought they might prove useful. And boy, was he right!
  • Cultural Rebel: His family is martial and military, but Samwell is bookish and scholarly. He comes from the Reach and was raised in the Faith of the Seven, but upon joining the Night's Watch and befriending Jon Snow, he converts to the Old Gods (though whether he continues to practise it is not made clear). Likewise he falls in love with a Wildling girl despite being of the Night's Watch, and more Southern than the North.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sam gets the crap beaten out of him by two Brothers in The Gift when he tries to protect Gilly from them. Thank god for Ghost.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Owns a dragonglass dagger which he uses to slay a White Walker. And later steals the Tarly family heirloom longsword, Heartsbane, made of Valyrian Steel.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Accidentally oneshotting a White Walker counts as this.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: No one at Castle Black believes he killed a White Walker, thanks to the only witness being a Wildling.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Sam's reason for wanting to help Gilly, one of Craster's daughters. He points out to Jon that the Night's Watch is supposed to be protecting people and aiding those in need of help, which Gilly clearly is. From the books... 
  • Fat Best Friend: To Jon.
  • Fat Comic Relief: He gets a lot of humorous moments.
  • Fluffy Tamer: In "The Night Lands", Sam appears to be the only person besides Jon that Ghost will listen to.
  • Friendless Background: Until he met Jon.
  • Go Through Me: Takes this stance when a couple men try to rape Gilly.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jon.
  • Hunting "Accident": What would have happened to him if he hadn't taken the black.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Sam the slayer." Used derogatively, it still works as a reminder of his unlikely but remarkable deeds.
  • Irony: The wayward son of a famously martial family, derided for being a weak, cowardly Bookworm, ends up being the first person in thousands of years to kill a White Walker.
  • Kirk Summation: Gives Maester Aemon a reminder of their cause when he's accused of forgetting his oath by choosing to help Gilly.
    Sam: "Night gathers and my watch begins. I am the shield that protects the realms of men". The realms of men; that means her, as well as us! We didn't build five hundred miles of ice wall, seven hundred feet high to keep out men! The Night is gathering, Maester Aemon, I've seen it. It's coming for all of us!
  • Last of His Kind: With the deaths of his father and brother in "Eastwatch", he's the sole remaining male Tarly.
  • Loophole Abuse: Upon falling in love with Gilly, he takes a second look at the Night's Watch oath and notices it never actually specifically forbids them to have sex, as long as they don't get married or have children.
  • Lovable Coward: Scared of absolutely everything. Subverted completely in "The Watchers on the Wall" where he voluntarily joins in the defense and keeps a cool head before and during the battle.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: In a manner of speaking. While the nursery rhyme he sings about the Seven Gods to Gilly's baby is incredibly sweet, the dissonance comes when one considers the first verse describes the goodness of the Father to his children, compared to Gilly and Sam's relationship with their own respective fathers.
  • Manly Tears: He's visibly on the verge of tears upon learning that Daenerys executed his father and brother for refusing to bend the knee.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • His pep-talk to a terrified Olly inspires him to take up a bow and help fight...then he kills Jon's Love Interest. Ouch.
    • During "The Long Night", he decides to go to the front lines, leaving the women and children defenseless in the crypts from the wights the Night King raises, gets overwhelmed several times, and accidentally causes Edd's death because he stops to help Sam.
  • Nice Guy: Sam is very friendly and easy-going.
  • Non-Action Guy: He's a self-admitted coward. Subverted in "The Watchers on the Wall," where he keeps his cool in the battle and manages to get a headshot on a Thenn.
  • No Social Skills: Sam means nothing but well, but he seems to be pathalogically tonedeaf and prone to saying things that are obnoxious, dull or just plain ridiculous without realising it.
  • Number Two: Unofficially becomes this to Jon after the latter's election as Lord Commander. He becomes Jon's main confidant and, with Maester Aemon passing away and Thorne being Thorne, his only source of trusted advice. Jon outright states that he's reluctant to send Sam to become a Maester primarily because of this reason.
  • Out of Focus: In Season 6, where he only appears in three episodes and only has a major role in one of them.
  • Papa Wolf: When defending Gilly and her baby from a White Walker.
  • Parental Substitute: He's this to Gilly's baby to the point that in Season 6, Gilly flat out calls him the father of her son.
  • Persona Non Grata: Of his own house after his father finds out Gilly is a Wildling.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Probably the best fit for this among any of the characters.
  • Precision F-Strike: Sam is a pretty polite speaker, which makes his telling Pip to "open the fucking gate" all the more shocking/hilarious.
  • Protectorate: Jon Snow seems to have adopted him as this within seconds of meeting. He defends Sam to anyone who tries to lay a finger on the new recruit, convinces all the other boys to leave him alone, and when one refuses to go along with it, sneaks into his room in the middle of the night and threatens him with his pet direwolf. Basically, hurting him is one of the quickest ways to piss Jon off.
    • And Gilly and her baby are his. He killed a White Walker to protect them!

  • Shrinking Violet: Which is why his father made him join the Night's Watch.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Shames Janos Slynt when he makes a crude remark about Gilly by mentioning how he cowered in the pantry when everyone else fought bravely to defend Castle Black in Season 4.
  • The Smart Guy: Makes some astute observations in "The Pointy End" when bodies are brought back from the other side of the Wall.
    Commander Mormont: You may be a coward, Tarly, but you're not stupid.
  • Suppressed Rage: He acts as formal and polite as ever when bidding farewell to Daenerys, even though his voice makes it clear how he feels about what happened to his family.
  • Took a Level in Badass: First, Sam is introduced as a completely hopeless fighter and a coward. By Season 3, he's able to lead Gilly and her baby all the way back to the Wall on his own, killing a White Walker along the way. Graduated to full on Badass as of "The Watchers on the Wall". While he recognizes his true talents are book intelligence and he is a terrible fighter, Sam still chooses to fight in the battle instead of hiding with Gilly, making himself useful by reloading crossbows for the other men who are also defending the Wall and encourages those who are afraid. He is also able to keep calm and collected during the fight, even when his friend Pypar dies, running through arrow-fire for reinforcements after Ser Alliser falls. Samwell even manages to kill a charging Thenn with a crossbow headshot. By Season 5, Sam commands enough respect from his fellow brothers to make a case to elect Jon as Lord-Commander of the Night's Watch.
    Sam: I'm not nothing anymore.
    • Ultimately decides to join the front lines when the White Walkers assault Winterfell. Originally sitting out due to his lack of fighting prowess, he survives the battle despite at one point seen being overwhelmed by a swarm of Wights.
  • Tragic Dropout: He abandons the Citadel, disillusioned with the passivity of the Archmaesters about the upcoming war against the White Walkers. From the books! .
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Sam killed a White Walker and a Thenn; impressive accomplishments, but ultimately the product of luck. His actual fighting ability is demonstrated in The Gift, where he gets the living shit beaten out of him by a couple of sworn brothers attempting to rape Gilly. He still retains his badass status, though, because even beaten to a pulp, he gets back up.
    • Also, when faced with his abusive father he quickly reverts back to a crying mess. Subverted in that he is ultimately able to defy his father by escaping with Gilly and stealing his precious sword.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He later reasserts this stance to Maester Aemon, correcting him in case he's having similar sentiments to Lord Mormont's ones about it not being their place to help others.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After Lord Commander Mormont is attacked by Rast, and all hell breaks loose, he runs to take Gilly away, forgetting about Edd and Grenn. In all fairness, they did the same thing to him when that horn sounded a third time...
  • True Companions: With Jon, Pyp, Edd and Grenn.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Jon. It's notable that despite being a self-admitted coward, he still chooses to go with Jon beyond the Wall in order to take his vows, despite the fact that he wasn't even raised to believe in the Old Gods. In Season 5, after Jon tells Sam of his intent to turn down Stannis's offer of legitimacy out of loyalty to his vows, Sam in turn nominates and successfully makes a case for Jon as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, knowing that Jon is truly the best person for the job out of the three candidates.
    • In Season 7, he cements this in an understated moment of badass when, after all his attempts to get the Order of the Maesters to try and find a way to fight the Night King fail, he steals piles of books and scrolls and makes for Winterfell. This is pretty much guaranteed to have him thrown out of the order, when his dream is being a Maester. When he takes one last look at the tower library, you can see the heartbreak in his expression. Then he turns his back on everything he's ever wanted, saddles up, and rides off to the biggest war in history, because damnit, Jon needs him.
  • Unexplained Accent: Season 6 finally reveals Sam's ancestral home and immediate family, who all (particularly Dickon) speak with the moderate RP accent common to most of the aristocratic characters in the series (bar a few of the Northern houses). Sam's broad northern English accent therefore stands out as being slightly incongruent with his background.
  • Unexplained Recovery: He survives season 2's finale, luckily, but we are cheated out of a scene showing how in the process.
  • The Unfavorite: He's at the Wall because his father threatened to murder him if he didn't "voluntarily" remove himself from the line of inheritance. Ouch.From the books... 
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Invokes this towards the White Walker who tried to take Gilly's baby.



Played By: Anton Lesser

Former novice who was expelled from the Citadel before he completed his chain, later became a client of House Lannister, and currently Hand to Queen Cersei Lannister. See Royal Court.

Maesters in Service

    Maester Aemon Targaryen 

Maester Aemon, In Service to Castle Black
"Love is the death of duty."

Played By: Peter Vaughan

"I am the Maester of the Citadel, bound in service to Castle Black and the Nights' Watch. I will not tell you to stay or go. You must make that choice yourself, and live with it for the rest of your days — As I have."

The Maester serving as a member of the Night's Watch, in residence at Castle Black. Extremely old, blind, and awesome. When most of the Night's Watch's commanding officers get killed off in the expedition beyond the Wall, he steps up to help lead the remaining garrison, while supporting Alliser Thorne's position as Acting Lord Commander until a new election can be held (a maester can't be a Lord Commander). Before completing his maester's chain, he was Prince Aemon Targaryen, the son of King Maekar. When the succession passed to him, he stepped aside for his younger brother Aegon V and completed his very long life in the Citadel and then the Wall. Aegon V's son (in the TV continuity) was Aerys II, the Mad King — making Maester Aemon the great-uncle of Daenerys Targaryen and the great-great-uncle of Jon Snow.

He was The Mentor to Samwell Tarly, who is sent to the Citadel to eventually learn to take his place.

  • Affectionate Nickname: 'The Gift' reveals he used to call Aegon 'Egg', and calls Gilly 'Gillyflower' after the carnation.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's roundly a Nice Guy, when he talks to Jon about the murder of Elia Martell's children (his great-great-niblings), it's clear if he had been a younger man at the time with his eyesight remaining, nobody would have stopped him from seeking revenge.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Towards Egg/Aegon V. He remembered him when he was a baby and he willingly took the black so that he could be King instead of him. About the only thing Aemon likes about dying is that he can meet his brother again, who he had long outlived, and tell him that he dreamt that he had grown old.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: He understands the problems of conflicting loyalties that Jon is facing between his love for his family vs. Watch oaths, knowing what Jon is going through, as Maester Aemon reveals he is actually Aemon Targaryen, whose family was almost entirely killed off during Robert's Rebellion. He also shares his experiences with Conflicting Loyalty with Sam, noting that while he knows full well that "love is the death of duty," he had known love himself as a young man and was seriously tempted to accept his birthright.
  • Cool Old Guy: The oldest man in Westeros, in fact. Definitely a good man, he vouches for Jon when he comes back from the Wildlings. He also bonds with Samwell Tarly regarding his transparent fondness for Gilly. He also casts the tie-breaking vote that makes Jon the new Lord Commander.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Can't resist a tiny bit of snark at the end of Season 3 when Sam brings a woman and a baby to Castle Black.
  • Decided by One Vote: He casts the tie-breaking vote to make Jon the next Night's Watch Commander over Alliser.
  • Dramatic Irony: He's been talking to a Targaryen the entire series, and neither of them are aware of it.
  • Hidden Depths: This blind old Maester is the last Targaryen living in Westeros. People tend to forget this as he reminds Sam:
    Aemon: You can imagine all sorts of horrors that may have befallen that girl and her baby, but you can't imagine that an old man was once, more or less, like you?
  • Honor Before Reason: Informs Jon that an oath is simple to keep in easy times but the true test comes when a person has every good reason to break it. Overlaps with a bit of What You Are in the Dark.
    Aemon: We all do our duty when there's no cost to it. Honor comes easy then. But sooner or later, in every man's life, there comes a day when it is not easy. A day when he must choose.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: He used to be a real ladykiller. Sam finds this hard to believe, and he scolds him for assuming that he always looked the way he does now. Sam then apologizes.
  • Living Lie Detector: Why he believes Jon's story after he returns from his mission with the Wildlings. After all, he grew up in King's Landing.
  • Long-Lived: He seems to be the oldest man in Westeros.
  • Long-Lost Relative: To Daenerys and Jon.
  • Karmic Death: A positive example. The kindest and gentlest soul in Westeros, and he peacefully dies an old man in his bed.
  • The Mentor: He was one for Sam Tarly and Jon Snow, giving advice to both and encouraging the curiosity of the former and the rectitude of the latter. He also dies, but of old age rather than Mentor Occupational Hazard.
  • Nice Guy: Acts with kindness and patience towards pretty much everyone he meets and interacts with including Tyrion, gives an especially Angsty Jon Snow some important life lessons in Season 1, and in Season 3, he happily welcomes Gilly and her baby to stay at Castle Black. During his eulogy, Sam calls him with quite some justification the nicest person in Westeros.
  • Not So Above It All: During the Choosing for the 998th Lord Commander, he is visibly holding back laughter as Sam mocks Janos Slynt for the latter's cowardice at the Battle of Castle Black.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: He sympathizes with Jon's love for his family and tells Jon that he knows what it's like to have Conflicting Loyalty to the Night's Watch and the desire to save his family. Maester Aemon's family, the Targaryens, were entirely slaughtered, even the children, while he was powerless to stop them, being too old and blind by then to desert his post and fight at their side.
  • Offered the Crown: He's the Mad King's uncle and turned down the crown in favor of his younger brother. One has to wonder what Westeros would be like had he taken the Iron Throne rather than Aegon V, who sired the Mad King.
  • Parental Substitute: Slightly to Jon Snow, greatly to Samwell Tarly.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In the series, Aemon identifies Mad King Aerys II as his nephew, while in the books, he is his great-nephew, thereby cutting one generation from the Targaryen family tree and making him Daenerys' great-uncle. While the timeline does make sense in the books (Aemon is 100 years old at that point — exceptional, but not unrealistic), this was probably changed to avoid viewers being puzzled on how it is possible that Daenerys' (who also got an Age Lift) great-great-uncle is still alive.
  • Prophet Eyes: Of the 'just blind, not psychic' variety. As far as we know.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Takes heed to Sam and quickly sends word of the White Walker situation to every corner of the kingdoms. He also extends an invitation to Gilly and Little Sam to stay at Castle Black, as they certainly can't send them back beyond the Wall.
    • During a period of interregnum, he's the fair, balanced voice that tries to moderate the rash or punitive tendencies of Thorne and Slynt.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: He willingly chose this, feeling he was not cut out for the game of thrones and stepped aside for his younger brother Aegon V "Egg".
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: He was the great-uncle of Mad King Aerys and by extension, the great-great-uncle of Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys in the books. The show removes a generation and makes him into the Mad King's uncle, and by extension, Daenerys and her brothers' great-uncle.
  • The Reveal: He has been serving at the Wall so long, his lineage has been largely forgotten by most of Westeros.
    Jon: Who are you?
    Aemon: My father was Maekar, first of his name. My brother Aegon, reigned after him, when I had refused the throne. And he was followed by his son, Aerys... who they called "the Mad King"
    Jon: You're Aemon Targaryen?!
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Both Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow got this lesson from Maester Aemon, who stuck by their more rebellious actions and fully backed them, when nobody in Castle Black believed them.
  • Sole Survivor: Nearly all his family members were killed during Robert's Rebellion. The only survivors were his brother's grandchildren, Viserys and Daenerys, who were sent into exile across the Narrow Sea as young children. Viserys was later murdered by a Dothraki khal and Daenerys was left alone halfway around the world. And all the while, Aemon was completely powerless to do anything about it.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: He falls ill early in Season 5 and becomes convinced that he's dying. He finally passes away in "The Gift".

    Maester Luwin 

Maester Luwin, In Service to Winterfell
"Maybe magic once was a mighty force in the world, but not anymore. The dragons are gone. The giants are dead. And the Children of the Forest, forgotten."

Played By: Donald Sumpter

"When you were born I was the one who pulled you from your mother. I pulled you into the world, both of you."

A Maester in the employ of the Starks. He is an advisor and confidant to Ned and Catelyn Stark. Maester Luwin tutors the Stark boys — Robb, Jon Snow, Bran, and Rickon — while they are growing up at Winterfell, as well the Starks' ward Theon Greyjoy. Maester Luwin is shown to be one of Bran's primary mentors.

  • Agent Scully: He dismisses Bran's wolf dreams and Osha's accounts that magic is returning to the world (which the audience knows to be true). Luwin actually studied magic when younger and attempted to practice it unsuccessfully, and his attitude now is that either it was made up or at best, the world is one where magic once existed but went away (true until recently).
  • Big "NO!": In "A Man without Honor", upon seeing the bodies of (fake) Rickon and Bran.
  • The Conscience: To Theon. Theon wants to listen to Maester Luwin, but believes he's gone too far to turn back.
  • The Consigliere: One of his job descriptions, he's sworn to serve the Lord of Winterfell even if it is a usurper.
  • Cool Old Guy: Luwin is a mildly snarky Papa Wolf with a vast knowledge of the world around him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Especially where Theon Greyjoy is concerned.
    Bran: The Iron Islands. Lords... the Greyjoys.
    Theon: Known for their skills in archery, navigation and lovemaking.
    Maester Luwin: And failed rebellions.
  • Face Death with Dignity: He was very calm in his final hours.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Bonds with Osha — who was introduced threatening the life of Bran Stark — during the Sack of Winterfell while both are trying to keep Bran and Rickon alive.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Asks Osha for a Mercy Kill and she obliges.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Dagmer jabs him in the side with a spear out of pure malice.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Developed one with Osha.
  • Killed Offscreen: The scene cuts before Osha grants him his requested Mercy Kill.
  • The Mentor: To the sons of Lord Stark in general (Robb, Jon, Bran and Rickon), but is especially seen as this to Bran.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Mortally speared by Cleftjaw.
  • Mercy Kill: Asked Osha to give him a quick death after he received a fatal injury from Theon's traitor-of-a Mook Lieutenant.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: In his final moments, he calmly instructs Bran and Rickon to head for the Wall to their half-brother Jon, who will protect them and let their mother know they are safe.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The hat of the Maesters' order.
  • Papa Wolf: For Bran and Rickon.
  • Parental Substitute: For Bran and Rickon.
  • So Proud of You: He's filled with pride when Robb gives him the order to call the banners to rescue Ned Stark. Later, he demonstrates pride in Bran's administrative instincts as well as his and Rickon's composure during Theon's sack of Winterfell.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Despite Theon's betrayal and most of his interactions with Theon being rather negative He understands he had a hard time being forced into being the Starks prisoner and never getting any love from his father. He tells Theon he's not as monstrous as he's trying to be and attempts to insure his survival.
  • Save the Villain: He is killed when he tries to protect Theon from treacherous ironborn.
  • Undying Loyalty: Even though maesters are supposed to serve the realm and a particular family, it's clear Luwin is more loyal to the Starks. Even when advising Theon, he's attempting to protect Bran and Rickon.

    Maester Cressen 

Maester Cressen, In Service to Dragonstone
"Loyal service means telling hard truths."

Played By: Oliver Ford Davies

An old Maester serving Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone.

  • Blood from the Mouth: After drinking the poisoned wine.
  • Composite Character: Cressen's ineffectual defense of the Seven idols that are burned is reminiscent of the Lords Sunglass and Rambton from the books.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cressen attempts to take out Melisandre by toasting to the Lord of Light as the only true god, then drinking from a poisoned chalice and offering it to Melisandre so the two will die and everyone else in the room will take this as a sign to abandon the Lord of Light and return to the Faith of the Seven. However, Melisandre sees past Cressen's plans and drinks from the chalice knowing that her powers make her immune to the poison. The "heretic" Cressen dies, she "miraculously" survives, and everyone else will end seeing this as evidence of her god's power.
  • Old Retainer: To the Baratheon family, and Stannis in particular.
  • Only Sane Man: Either this or Commander Contrarian.
  • Parental Substitute: From the books...  In the show he is this to Shireen, being the one who taught her how to read and cured her Grayscale. Stannis having difficulty opening himself and Selyse being downright cold to her, Cressen and Davos were the ones giving her the most affection.
  • Perfect Poison: Cressen uses a rather painful poison against Melisandre; being a Maester, it's likely he knew exactly what would do the job. Unfortunately due to her magical abilities, it's a case of No-Sell.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: He's killed in his first episode to show the ruthlessness of Melisandre, the genuine nature of her power, and how Stannis has shifted his beliefs.
  • Self-Poisoning Gambit: He attempted this, drinking the poisoned wine first to "prove" that it was safe, then offering some to Melisandre. Unfortunately for him, she is protected by her magic and only he dies as a result.
  • Taking You with Me: His plan to poison Melisandre is to drink first from a cup of poisoned wine and then offer some to her. It doesn't work. Melisandre is immune to poisons thanks to her magical powers.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Dies in his introductory episode.

    Maester Wolkan 

Maester Wolkan, In Service to the Dreadfort

Played By: Richard Rycroft

The Maester of House Bolton at the Dreadfort. He later enters service at Winterfell when the Boltons take control of the Castle. After the defeat of the Boltons, he becomes the Maester of House Stark.

  • Adaptational Heroism: His book counterpart Maester Tybald was originally assigned to spy on Stannis Baratheon while pretending to be a servant to the Karstarks. Since that storyline was Adapted Out completely and due to Stannis' death, Wolkan never does such thing.
  • Adaptational Name Change: He is named Tybald in the books.
  • Ascended Extra: A minor background character in Season 5, he gets more screentime in Season 6 and Season 7.
  • Composite Character: Wolkan is a combination of Tybald, the Maester originally in service to the Boltons and three other ones that Roose brought to Winterfell. From the books 
  • Everyone Has Standards: He's visibly horrified when Ramsay drives a dagger into his father's heart, and then when he asks to send for Lady Walda and her son. Wolkan knows full well what's about to happen.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: He designs a wheelchair for Bran after he returns to Winterfell.
  • Going Native: After he sends the ravens across Westeros at Bran's command about the Night's King marching to the Wall, Archmaester Ebrose tries to make a case for Wolkan noting he was quite competent when he studied at the Citadel, but others say he's gone native in service at the North.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: As with Luwin, he's bound to serve Winterfell, regardless of the actions of House Bolton. Fortunately, he soon gets to serve the much more honorable Starks.
  • Time-Passage Beard: He's shaven to a stubble originally, not unlike Roose and Ramsay. Once the Starks retake Winterfell and he begins serving them, he grows a beard much like the adult Stark males.
  • Trapped in Villainy: He's sworn to dutifully serve the master of Winterfell, the Boltons, even if he is appalled by their actions. After the destruction of House Bolton, he is no longer trapped and serves the more honorable Starks, and loyally serves Bran when he tells him to send ravens across Westeros about the return of magic.

    Maester Caleotte 

Maester Caleotte, In Service to the Water Gardens

Played By: Colin Azzopardi

The Maester in service of House Martell.

  • In the Back: Tyene kills him by throwing the knife she just killed Aero Hotah with into his back as he tries to flee.
  • Shoot the Messenger: He delivers a message from Jaime Lannister informing Doran of Marcella's death and that the Sand Snakes were responsible. He is killed shortly afterwards.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: He only gets a single line before he is killed with the rest of House Martell.

House of the Dragon Era Maesters