- "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
Alliser Thorne is a recurring character in the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth 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.
After the Battle of Castle Black, Thorne lost the election to become the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, narrowly beaten by Jon Snow. The new Lord Commander named him the First Ranger, as a result of his experience and to appease his followers in the Watch.
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. He fought on House Targaryen's side during Robert's Rebellion, which ended in their defeat. Like many other Targaryen loyalists, the victorious rebels subsequently gave him a choice between execution or joining the Night's Watch.
During the last winter, Thorne and his ranger companions were trapped in a massive winter storm and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Through seventeen years of able service, Thorne rose through the ranks of the officers in the Night's Watch to become the master-of-arms at Castle Black, responsible for training new recruits - a task he takes no joy in, as most recruits in recent generations tend to be petty criminals sent to the Wall as punishment.
Thorne 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 Thorne, who despises Eddard Stark for the part he played in Robert's Rebellion, 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.
Later, Thorne is disgusted by the obesity and softness of new recruit Samwell Tarly, nicknaming him "Lord Piggy". He has Rast beat Sam when he will not fight back. Jon convinces the others to refuse to hurt Sam, but when they do, Thorne sees through the ruse and berates Jon. Thorne later confronts Jon and Sam, revealing that he once had to cannibalize the frozen remains of his comrades to avoid starvation during a ranging beyond the Wall in a particularly cold winter. He berates Jon and Sam for their softness, and warns Jon that his "protection" of Sam from the harsh training that he needs will eventually get him killed.
Thorne is pleased when Jon is made a steward after he takes the oath of loyalty, since Jon had hoped to become a ranger like his uncle Benjen Stark. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont takes Jon as his personal steward. Jon believes that Thorne played a hand in him becoming a steward as revenge for defying him, but Sam 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.
After Eddard is (falsely) arrested as a traitor, Thorne taunts Jon and calls him "not only a bastard, but a traitor's bastard". Jon draws a knife and attempts to strike Thorne but is restrained and punished by being restricted to his quarters. Later, the Lord Commander sends Thorne to King's Landing with the frozen hand of one of the wights to warn King Joffrey Baratheon and the royal court of the return of the White Walkers. He notes that part of his decision was to keep Jon and Thorne separated for a time.
Upon his return to the Wall, Thorne has been declared the Acting Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He is one of the five black brothers to "judge" Jon for his actions during his time with the wildlings. Jon hides nothing of his actions, neither his murder of Qhorin nor his affair with Ygritte. Thorne disbelieves Jon's claim that the Halfhand wanted to die, but Jon counters that if Thorne 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. Thorne 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. Thorne 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.
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 Jon and Thorne know better: 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. Upon learning that the mutineers are still at Craster's Keep, Jon claims that they must be captured or killed. Thorne initially refuses, but Jon claims that it is to stop the mutineers from revealing the truth of the Night's Watch's defenses to Mance Rayder's army if they are attacked, since Jon has previously exaggerated to Mance. Thorne has also given Sam a new derogatory nickname: "Sam the Slayer", disbelieving his claim that he killed a White Walker with a dragonglass dagger.
Thorne later berates Jon when he sees him helping Grenn train recruits because he is a steward, and not a ranger. Janos Slynt warns Thorne that since Jon 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's expedition to Craster's Keep so the mutineers may kill Jon, although Thorne merely walks off after Slynt's suggestion. Later on, Thorne sanctions Jon's mission to Craster's Keep, but tells him that he can only take volunteers with him. However, after an impassioned speech by Jon, a number of black brothers volunteer to go and deal with the mutineers.
Jon survives the mission and returns to Castle Black unharmed, to Thorne and Slynt's disappointment. When Thorne 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, Thorne rubbishes the claim and asks the First Builder, Othell Yarwyck, for his opinion. Yarwyck agrees with Thorne, though he has obviously been intimidated by Thorne's tone of voice. He also sends Jon and Sam to keep a watch in the night to look out for Mance's army.
When the wildling army arrives, Thorne watches from atop the Wall with Jon, 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. In a moment of compassion, Thorne goes on to explain the pressures and responsibilities of leadership to Jon, but promises him that if they fight as hard as they can, they will survive the night.
After ordering the first volley of arrow attacks against the main wildling army, Thorne is called to bring reinforcements below to Castle Black, where the smaller wildling force south of the Wall is attacking the lightly-defended fortress. Thorne leaves command atop the Wall to the inexperienced Slynt (who is promptly tricked into going below as well, leaving command on the Wall to Jon) and returns to the castle. As the wildlings begin to breach Castle Black's walls, Thorne 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. Thorne 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 Thorne, who escapes by rolling off the catwalk and falling onto a hay-bale below. The wounded Thorne is then carried to safety by two members of the Night's Watch, while screaming at the remaining men fighting to hold the gate at any cost.
Alliser Thorne has recovered from the wounds he sustained during the Battle of Castle Black and continues to observe the new recruits. As Thorne walks through the courtyard, he gives Gilly a look of contempt due to his hatred of the wildlings. Later, Thorne is present when Mance Rayder is executed by Stannis Baratheon for refusing to bend the knee.
With the choosing of a new official Lord Commander impending, Alliser seems to be the favorite to succeed Jeor Mormont due to his efforts during the Battle at Castle Black. Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth attempt to use this to sway Jon to their side, implying that Alliser will make Jon's life in the Watch miserable solely to undermine him. During the choosing, Alliser runs against Denys Mallister and Jon. While Thorne acknowledges Jon's accomplishments, he also reminds the black brothers of Jon's sympathy towards the wildlings. However, Thorne loses by a single vote - that of Maester Aemon - and Jon is chosen as the new Lord Commander.
Stannis later advises Jon to send Alliser away to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, but Jon prefers to keep him around in order to learn if he is plotting against him. At a meeting, Jon prepares to assign a black brother to oversee the digging of a new latrine pit. Alliser believes that Jon will use this as an opportunity to humiliate him, but is surprised and somewhat elated when Jon acknowledges his skills and names him First Ranger. When Janos Slynt subsequently defies Jon's order of reassignment to Greyguard tower, Ser Alliser initially blocks the black brothers coming to seize Janos, but ultimately steps aside out of his newfound respect for Jon. He watches with the rest of the Watch as Janos is beheaded by Jon for refusing to follow orders.
As First Ranger, Thorne becomes a part of Jon's inner council. When Jon proposes that they allow the remaining wildlings to pass through the Wall in order to escape the coming White Walkers, Thorne is against the plan, reminding Jon that they have been enemies for thousands of years and caused the deaths of numerous sworn brothers.
Thorne is later present when Jon departs Castle Black with Tormund for Hardhome to persuade the remaining wildlings to surrender, denouncing the mission as reckless and an insult to all the black brothers who were killed by the wildlings. He also quips to Sam that he is losing his friends, and by extension, his protection. It is possible that Thorne was in fact warning Sam about potential attacks on him and Gilly in his own, gruff way.
When Jon returns with the wildlings he managed to rescue from Hardhome, Thorne is visibly angered by the presence of wildlings outside the Wall, but gives the order to let them inside after Jon shows himself. As the wildlings are allowed through Castle Black, Thorne coldly quips to Jon that while he may have a good heart, it will get them all killed.
A while later, on Thorne's orders, Olly lures Jon into the courtyard, where Thorne claims they have captured a wildling who may know where Benjen Stark is. Thorne, however, leads Jon to a post with a sign marked "Traitor" as a group of mutineers surround him, and he is the first to stab Jon and say "For the Watch". Jon manages to push Thorne away, only for Othell Yarwyck, Bowen Marsh, two more officers and Olly to each take turns in stabbing Jon. He and the mutineers walk away and leave Jon for dead. 
Thorne does not hide his role in the mutiny and manages to win over the majority of the Watch by reasoning that Jon was willing to risk the Watch's future through his allegiance with the wildlings. Effectively acting Lord Commander of the Night's Watch once again, Thorne speaks with Davos Seaworth and offers him safe passage to the South with a horse and supplies, but Davos's mocking request for mutton convinces Thorne that they have no intention of backing down, but will fight to the death. Thorne promises Davos that if he and Jon's friends do not surrender, they will die.
After the wildlings breach the wall with the help of the giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, Thorne attempts to rally the Night's Watch to fight the wildlings however they are severly outnumbered and the rest of Thorne's brothers surrender; only a handful resist, two of whom are killed. Thorne and the other brothers who helped in Jon Snow's execution are subsequently taken as prisoners.
|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|
|Season Five appearances|
|The Wars to Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother’s Mercy|
|Season Six appearances|
|The Red Woman||Home||Oathbreaker||Book of the Stranger||The Door|
|Season 6, Episode 6||Season 6, Episode 7||Season 6, Episode 8||Season 6, Episode 9||Season 6, Episode 10|
Though Alliser Thorne is depicted as a stern, unsympathetic and sometimes cruel man, he is not inherently malicious or evil. His behavior and animosity towards Jon Snow and the other recruits of the Night's Watch appear to be due to his noble background and his distaste at how the Watch has become nothing more than a glorified penal colony. His resentment towards Jon stems from his dislike for Ned Stark, one of the rebels who brought down the Targaryen dynasty, which led to Tywin Lannister having him exiled to the Wall. Thorne has become a hardened and bitter person as a result, and does not tolerate weakness or cowardice, demonstrated when, for entertainment, humiliates Samwell Tarly in the courtyard, and shows anger at Jon protecting him, telling him that being soft will not help Sam and will only get him killed.
Despite his flaws, however, Thorne appears to be a fundamentally decent man, and most of his actions are dedicated towards protecting the Wall and the Seven Kingdoms against any threat from the lands beyond, no matter how unethical they may seem. He holds Maester Aemon and Qhorin Halfhand in high regard, outright admitting to Jon that he saw Qhorin as a brother, and valiantly leads the Night's Watch into battle against the wildlings and duels Tormund Giantsbane alone. Prior to the battle, he shares a moment with Jon and explains the difficulties of leadership to him as a father would to a son, and does his best to encourage Jon to not lose heart, though this is possibly because he believed they were both about to die soon. Following Maester Aemon's funeral, he warns Sam that he is losing his friends, which could be his own gruff way of warning Sam of what is coming. His dedication to his goal and his distrust for Jon are also what lead him to spark a mutiny against Jon: in his eyes, by letting the wildlings pass through the Wall into the Seven Kingdoms to avoid the coming White Walkers, Thorne believes that Jon has committed the ultimate betrayal towards the Night's Watch, since keeping the wildlings beyond the wall was the very cause that most of their sworn brothers bled and died for, which appears to depict him as somewhat shortsighted, given his hatred for the wildlings blinds him to the true danger approaching Westeros. Thus, he does not stab Jon out of spite or jealousy, but out of anger and grief for his slain comrades, hence his words, "For the Watch".
- "Well, Lord Snow, it appears you're the least useless person here."
- ―Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow
- "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
- "Now there's a rare sight. Not only a bastard, but a traitor's bastard. Blood will always tell. You'll hang for this, bastard."
- ―Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow on Ned Stark's arrest for alleged treason.
- "There's a difference between sneaking off to the Mole's Town brothel and sleeping with the enemy."
- ―Alliser Thorne to Maester Aemon.
- Alliser Thorne: "Lord Snow, what do you think you're doing?"
- Jon Snow: "Grenn and I were helping them."
- Alliser Thorne: "Grenn's a ranger, you're a steward. Maybe you forgot that while you were away with your wildling bitch, but I didn't."
- Jon Snow: "Someone has to train them."
- Alliser Thorne: "And that someone isn't you. Go find a chamber pot to empty. (Jon approaches him menacingly) Go on, do it, you traitor's bastard. Give me an excuse. Mormont's not here to protect you now."
- — Alliser Thorne and Jon Snow[src]
- Janos Slynt: "The bastard's well-liked, you're not."
- Alliser Thorne: "What, you think I care whether they like me? We're at war."
- Janos Slynt: "For now, but you can't be acting Lord Commander forever. There'll be a choosing. The old maester will insist. You might want to reconsider his decision to march on Craster's. Let the mutineers take care of Snow, or you might find yourself taking orders from him the rest of your life."
- — Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne.[src]
- "Brothers! A hundred generations have defended this castle! She's never fallen before, she will not fall tonight! Those are Thenns at our walls! They eat the flesh of the men they kill! Do you want to fill the belly of a Thenn tonight!? 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
- "Hold that fucking gate!! HOLD IT!!"
- ―Alliser Thorne's last words during the Battle for Castle Black
- "These men need a firm hand. They always have. They're poachers and thieves, not soldiers."
- ―Alliser Thorne on the new recruits.
- "Crowded. You'd think they were serving venison stew."
- ―Alliser Thorne
- "Who does Jon Snow want to command? The Night's Watch or the wildlings? Everyone knows he loved a wildling girl. He spoke with Mance Rayder many times. What would have happened in that tent between those two old friends if Stannis's army hadn't come along? We all saw him put the King-Beyond-the-Wall out of his misery. Do you want to choose a man who's been fighting the wildlings all his life? Or a man who makes love to them?"
- ―Alliser Thorne attempts to dissuade the others from electing Jon Snow as the new Lord Commander.
- "You're losing all your friends, Tarly."
- ―Alliser Thorne to Samwell Tarly.
- "We've committed treason, all of us. Jon Snow was my Lord Commander. I had no love for him, that was no secret, but I never once disobeyed an order. Loyalty is the foundation on which the Night's Watch is built, and the Watch means everything to me. I've given my life, we've all given our lives to the Night's Watch. Jon Snow was going to destroy the Night's Watch. He led the wildlings through our gates as no Lord Commander has ever done before. He gave them the very land on which they reaved and raped and murdered. Lord Commander Snow did what he thought was right, I've no doubt about that, and what he thought was right would have been the end of us. He thrust a terrible choice upon us, and we made it."
- ―Alliser Thorne defends his treason.
- Alliser Thorne: "You fucking traitor!"
- Eddison Tollett: "The only traitors here are the ones who shoved their knives into their Lord Commander's heart."
- — Eddison Tollett confronts Alliser Thorne[src]
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Alliser Thorne is depicted as far more malicious than his television counterpart. He is a respected knight 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 along the likes of Ser Jaremy Rykker. After the city fell to the rebellion, he joined the Night's Watch, being given the choice of taking the black or being executed by Tywin Lannister; 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. When Slynt taunts Jon by claiming that Eddard Stark died a traitor, upon 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. Unable to simply kill Jon out of hand (as Aemon has rallied the brothers of the Night's Watch to support Jon's innocence) 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. Later, Ser Alliser is not a close contender to the post of Lord Commander, as many brothers resent his treatment as master-at-arms. Instead he withdraws his candidacy to support Janos Slynt. After Jon is elected Lord Commander, he doesn't name Ser Alliser as First Ranger.
Like it happens in the show, Alliser doesn't interfere when Jon sentences Janos Slynt to die, much to Jon's disappointment. Jon dispatches Thorne, along with several other rangers to scout beyond the Wall. Thorne believes Jon is sending him to his death, but reluctantly agrees, since he knows Jon would like nothing more than an excuse to kill him the same way as Slynt. Before departing, he ominously warns Jon that he will return to Castle Black, one way or another. Subsequently, he is not present in the mutiny that results in Jon's apparent death, although his role in the mutiny in the television series suggests that he will return to Castle Black in a later novel.
- Alliser Thorne on A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
- Donal Noye on A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
- ↑ "Lord Snow"
- ↑ "You Win or You Die"
- ↑ "The Pointy End"
- ↑ "Baelor"
- ↑ "Two Swords"
- ↑ "Breaker of Chains"
- ↑ "Oathkeeper"
- ↑ "Mockingbird"
- ↑ "The Watchers on the Wall"
- ↑ "The Wars to Come"
- ↑ "The House of Black and White"
- ↑ "High Sparrow (episode)"
- ↑ "Kill the Boy"
- ↑ "The Gift (episode)"
- ↑ "The Dance of Dragons"
- ↑ "Mother's Mercy"
- ↑ "The Red Woman"
- ↑ Home
|Former Lords Commander:|
|Castles of the Watch:|