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Alliser Thorne
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Season(s)
1, 4, 5
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9 episodes (see below)
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"Do you know what leadership means, Lord Snow? It means that the person in charge gets second guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. But if he starts second guessing himself, that’s the end. For him, for the clever little twats, for everyone. This is not the end. Not for us. Not if you lot do your duty for however long it takes to beat them back. And then you get to go on hating me, and I get to go on wishing your wildling whore had finished the job."
―Ser Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow[src]

Alliser Thorne is a recurring character in the first, fourth, and fifth seasons. He is played by guest star Owen Teale and debuts in "Lord Snow." He was originally announced as being played by Derek Halligan, but Halligan withdrew from the role before production began. Ser Alliser Thorne is the Master-at-Arms at Castle Black and is responsible for training new recruits to the Night's Watch.

BiographyEdit

BackgroundEdit

Ser Alliser Thorne is a member of the Night's Watch. He is from House Thorne, a noble house of the Crownlands sworn to the Iron Throne. During the time of the rebellion he protected and fought for House Targaryen but was eventually defeated. Tywin Lannister gave him the choice between death or the Night's Watch. Having no choice over the matter, Ser Alliser joined the Night's Watch leaving everything he had behind. After joining the Watch, he became a ranger. During the last winter, Thorne and his ranger companions were trapped in a massive winter storm and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.[1] Later, Thorne became the master-of-arms at Castle Black and responsible for training the new recruits.

Season 1Edit

Ser Alliser sets Jon Snow against his fellow recruits Rast, Pypar and Grenn, and mockingly refers to Jon as 'Lord Snow'. Jon beats the other recruits easily, due to his previous training at Winterfell, but is unaware that Alliser is making him unpopular by emphasizing his superiority. Tyrion Lannister advises Jon to take into account the less privileged upbringing of the other recruits and suggests that Jon could befriend them by sharing his skills.[2]

Alliser is disgusted by the obesity and softness of new recruit Samwell Tarly, nicknaming him 'Lord Piggy'. Alliser has Rast beat Sam when he will not fight back. Jon convinces the others to refuse to hurt Sam. Alliser angrily confronts Jon and Sam, revealing that he once had to cannibalize the frozen remains of his comrades to avoid starvation during a ranging. He tells them they are soft and that Jon's 'protection' of Sam from the hard training he needs will get him killed.[3]

Alliser is pleased when Jon is made a steward after he takes the oath of loyalty; Jon had hoped to become a ranger. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont takes Jon as his personal steward. Samwell convinces Jon that this means that Jon will be privy to the inner workings of the Night's Watch command structure, and that the Lord Commander may actually want to groom Jon for a high position within the Watch.[4]

Alliser taunts Jon when news arrives that Jon's father Eddard Stark has been arrested as a traitor. Jon draws a knife and is punished by being restricted to his quarters. Jon redeems himself by saving Jeor Mormont's life when two dead rangers, who have been found beyond the Wall, are revived as wights.[5] Later, the Lord Commander sends Alliser to King's Landing with the frozen hand of one of the wights to warn the court of the return of the White Walkers. He notes that part of his decision was to keep Jon and Alliser separated for a time.[6]

Season 4Edit

Upon his return to the Wall, Thorne was declared the Acting Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He is one of the five black brothers to "judge" Jon Snow for his actions during his time with the wildlings. Jon hides nothing of his actions, neither his murder of Qhorin Halfhand nor his affair with Ygritte. Ser Alliser disbelieves Jon's claim that the Halfhand wanted to die, but Jon counters that if Alliser was as close to Qhorin as he claims, he would know the fallen brother would have done anything to protect the Wall. Maester Aemon defends Jon on the other charge, pointing out that he isn't the first to have broken his vow of celibacy. Ser Alliser points out that Jon hasn't simply visited the whorehouse in Mole's Town: he has quite literally slept with the enemy. Jon counters with all the information that he had learned while among the Wildlings, such as Mance Rayder's strategy of attacking the Wall from the North and the South, and demands that they either kill him or let him go. Aemon tells him that they have no intention of executing him and Jon leaves. Alliser reprimands Aemon for having overruled him but Aemon wryly replies that he can tell who is lying to him, since he grew up in King's Landing.[7]

Thorne is present when a young boy, Olly, tells the Night's Watch how a Wildling raiding party massacred his village. Most black brothers want to seek revenge and send the wildlings a message, but Thorne knows better. He knows that is exactly what the wildlings want; to draw them out of Castle Black and fight them in the open. The black brothers are interrupted by two rangers returning, Grenn and Eddison Tollett, who have escaped the mutineers holed up at Craster's Keep.[8]

​Samwell Tarly killing a White Walker with an obsidian dagger has become public knowledge among the Night's Watch. However, there are those who doubt Sam's claim, such as Thorne. Sam has earned a new demeaning nickname from Thorne: 'Sam the Slayer'.[8]

Alliser Thorne berates Jon Snow when he sees him helping Grenn train recruits because he is a steward, and not a ranger. Janos Slynt warns Alliser that since Snow is popular amongst the Night's Watch, this will give him an edge over him when a new Lord Commander is elected. Slynt suggests sanctioning Jon Snow's expedition to Craster's Keep so the mutineers may kill Jon. The expedition to Craster's Keep is sanctioned, but Alliser tells Jon that he will not order anyone to go with him; Jon may only take volunteers. However, after an impassioned speech by Jon, a number of black brothers volunteer to go and deal with the mutineers.[9]

Having dealt with all the mutineers at Craster's Keep, Jon and his fellow black brothers return to Castle Black. Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt are disappointed to see Jon has survived. When Alliser catches sight of Jon's direwolf, Ghost, he orders Jon to lock up his 'wild beast' or Ghost will become food for the Watch. Later at the meeting, Jon warns the Night's Watch about the impending attack of Mance's army and suggests the tunnel to be sealed to prevent giants from bringing it down and exposing the wall. However Alliser rubbishes the claim and is seen to threaten the First Builder to disagree to the idea of sealing the tunnel. He also sends Jon and Sam to keep a watch in the night to look out for Mance's army.[10]

When the wildling army arrives, Thorne watches from atop the Wall with Jon Snow, noting "the biggest fire the North has ever seen" and the presence of giants and mammoths. He ruefully admits they should have sealed the tunnel as Jon advised. Alliser explains that leadership means being second-guessed by everyone below you, but if you start second-guessing yourself, it is over for everyone. Alliser assures Jon they will hold out against the assault, and jokes that he and Jon can go back to hating one another when it is over.

After ordering the first volley of arrow attacks against the main wildling army, Alliser is called to bring reinforcements below to Castle Black, where the smaller wildling force south of the Wall is attacking the lightly-defended fortress. Alliser leaves command atop the Wall to the inexperienced Janos Slynt (who is promptly tricked into going below as well, leaving command on the Wall to Jon Snow) and returns to the castle. As the wildlings begin to breach Castle Black's walls, Alliser gives an inspiring speech, promising that Castle Black and the Night's Watch will still stand at daybreak, and rallies his men, personally leading the counter-charge. Alliser manages to kill several wildlings before he confronts Tormund Giantsbane on the catwalks. They duel evenly for a time, but Tormund finally manages to wound Alliser, who escapes by rolling off the catwalk and falling onto a hay-bale below. The injured Alliser is then carried to safety by two members of the Night's Watch, while screaming at the remaining men fighting to 'Hold that fucking gate!'.[11]

AppearancesEdit

Season One appearances
Winter is Coming The Kingsroad Lord Snow Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things The Wolf and the Lion
A Golden Crown You Win or You Die The Pointy End Baelor Fire and Blood
Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children

QuotesEdit

"Well, Lord Snow, it appears you're the least useless person here."
Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow[src]
"Soon we'll have new recruits, and you lot will be passed along to the Lord Commander for assignment. They will call you "men of the Night's Watch," but you'd be fools to believe it. You're boys, still. And come the winter, you will die...like flies."
Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly[src]
"Do you know what leadership means Lord Snow? It means that the person in charge gets second-guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. But if he starts second-guessing himself, that's the end. For him, for the clever little twats, for everyone."
Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow[src]
"Tonight we fight! And when the sun rises, I promise you, Castle Black will stand! The Night's Watch will stand!"
Alliser Thorne during the Battle for Castle Black[src]

Image galleryEdit

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Alliser Thorne is respected for his service to House Targaryen. During the Sack of King's Landing he fought on the walls of the city against the Lannister forces. After being defeated, he took the black and joined the Night's Watch, being given the choice of this or death; this is most likely the cause of Ser Alliser's animosity towards Jon Snow, as Jon's father Lord Eddard was a prominent leader in Robert's Rebellion which forced Thorne into exile at the Wall. In a notable change, in the TV series Thorne is an experienced ranger who has been beyond the Wall on several occasions while in the books he rarely leaves Castle Black. He's described as having eyes as black as onyx and black hair ridged with white.

It is Donal Noye the Blacksmith that tells Jon not to use his superior fighting skills to embarrass his fellow recruits. Jeor Mormont sends Ser Alliser to King's Landing with the severed hand of the animated corpse (it was still jumping and twitching), and he was ordered to lay it at Joffrey's feet. He thought that as a knight with old political allies in King's Landing Ser Alliser Thorne would be more respected and listened to, and they would see the danger the Night Watch was in and send aid. However, when he arrived and asked for an audience it was Tyrion Lannister who was in charge. Tyrion asked if the one waiting was Yoren, who had become his friend. Remembering Ser Alliser, he told them to give him a room where the rushes hadn't been changed in a while. It was weeks before he got an audience and by then the hand had rotted away. After his fruitless return, he is sent to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea rather than back to Castle Black.

Thorne, with Janos Slynt, returns to Castle Black much later than in the show, during the Battle of Castle Black. Their presence proves to be a hindrance rather than assistance: they seize command on the castle and interrogate Jon roughly. They accuse him of oathbreaking, cowardice, and desertion. Maester Aemon assures them that Jon has already explained his deeds to him and Donal Noye, but they either don't believe or don't care. Jon repeats what he told before, that he was acting at Qhorin's orders, but his explanations are rejected. Thorne, who always loathed Jon, accuses him of murdering Qhorin, suggesting that he is in league with those who murdered Mormont, and that Benjen Stark may have a hand in all of that. Slynt teases Jon by claiming that Eddard Stark died a traitor. Hearing the lies about his father, Jon's patience runs out. When Thorne grabs his arm, he yanks free and grabs Thorne by the throat with such ferocity that he lifts him off the floor. The Eastwatch men pulls Jon off Thorne and he is locked in an ice cell. Four days later, he is released. Thorne and Slynt order Jon to go to the Wildling camp to parley with Mance Rayder, but actually his mission is to kill Mance. Jon knows well that the Wildlings will probably kill him on the spot, but he has no other choice but to do as is told, knowing that a refusal will confirm the false accusations against him and give Thorne and Slynt an excuse to kill him.

After the battle is over, Thorne continues naming Jon a turncloak. He claims that Jon failed to kill Mance Rayder because he was in league with him, but few believe that.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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