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Ilyn Payne

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Sansa Stark: "Why won't he speak to me?"
Sandor Clegane: "He hasn't been very talkative these last 20 years. Since the Mad King had his tongue ripped out with hot pincers."
Joffrey Baratheon: "He speaks damn well with his sword though."
— Sansa Stark learns about Ilyn Payne[src]

Ilyn Payne is a recurring character in the first season. He is played by guest star Wilko Johnson and debuts in "The Kingsroad." Ser Ilyn Payne is a mute knight and the King's Justice, the royal executioner, to Robert Baratheon and his successor Joffrey Baratheon. He executed Eddard Stark for treason.



Ilyn Payne losing his tongue

The Mad King has Ilyn's tongue removed

Ser Ilyn Payne had his tongue removed on the order of the Mad King for suggesting that Tywin Lannister, then Hand of the King and whom Ser Ilyn served as Captain of the Guards, was the true ruler of Westeros rather than King Aerys II. He served Robert Baratheon as "the King's Justice" - the royal executioner.[1]

Season 1

Sansa Stark encounters Ilyn while out walking as they are traveling with the king's procession back to King's Landing, and is startled by his appearance. Sansa apologizes to Ilyn for possibly offending him, but receives no reply. Sandor Clegane informs her that Ilyn had his tongue removed years ago by the Mad King and now serves as the king's executioner.

Ned and Arya

Trial of Arya and her Direwolf

Ilyn is later ordered to kill Sansa's direwolf Lady by Queen Cersei as revenge for another wolf attacking Joffrey Baratheon. Eddard Stark insists on carrying out the sentence himself instead.[2] Following the death of King Robert I in a hunting accident Ilyn serves King Joffrey I.[3]

Ned's execution

Ser Ilyn Payne executes Eddard Stark.

Eddard is led before the people outside the Great Sept of Baelor and admits treason. Joffrey tells the crowd that both his Lady Sansa and his mother Cersei have asked that Ned be sent to Castle Black as a punishment. Joffrey claims that he does not have a soft heart like the women and believes that treason should be punished. He orders Ilyn to bring him Ned's head. Ilyn takes Ned's sword, Ice, and beheads Ned with one swift stroke.[4]

Marillion is brought before Joffrey because he wrote a song mocking King Robert and Queen Cersei. As a punishment, Joffrey orders Ser Ilyn Payne to cut out Marillion's tongue.[5]

Season 2

Ilyn Payne

Ilyn attends Queen Cersei Lannister in "Blackwater".

Ilyn Payne's unhesitating obedience in carrying out Joffrey's ridiculous order to execute Eddard Stark is not without repercussions. When Tyrion Lannister arrives in the capital city, sent by his father Tywin to rein in Joffrey's erratic behavior, he confronts his sister Cersei over her defense that she "tried to stop" Eddard's execution. Tyrion bluntly points out Joffrey wasn't the one holding the sword, yet both Cersei and Ser Ilyn robotically followed the psychotic boy-king's orders, when they could have easily just stopped what they were doing. Cersei has nothing else to say in her defense.[6]

Ilyn's execution of Ned Stark earns him a place on Arya's revenge list that she chants at each night.[7]

Ser Ilyn continues to serve King Joffrey as the War of the Five Kings ravages Westeros. During the Battle of the Blackwater, Ser Ilyn accompanies Queen Cersei to Maegor's Holdfast. Though the Queen claims Ser Ilyn is present to protect them and to deal with potential betrayers, she later admits to Sansa that Ilyn's true purpose is to execute her and Sansa, and possibly the rest of the ladies who have taken refuge in the holdfast should Stannis Baratheon take the city.[8]


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 Two appearances
The North Remembers The Night Lands What is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis

Image gallery

Behind the scenes

On January 9, 2013 actor Wilko Johnson announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He said he would not be seeking treatment and announced plans for a series of farewell gigs in the UK.[9]

Johnson's declining health has apparently led to him being gradually phased out of the TV series. He only appeared in one episode of Season 2 ("Blackwater"), and did not appear in Season 3 at all. Then again, Ser Ilyn did not prominently appear in the first half of the third novel either (which was adapted as Season 3). Given that Ser Ilyn cannot speak or convey his thoughts through writing, he does not have particularly major presence in the storyline, but he is usually seen hovering around in the background at Joffrey's royal court.

On the other hand, Ser Ilyn does get a bit more to do at the end of the third novel and in pieces of the fourth, which would both potentially be adapted into Season 4.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ilyn Payne served as Lord Tywin Lannister's captain of household guards when Tywin served Aerys II Targaryen as the Hand of the King. After being heard to joke that it was Tywin who truly ruled the Seven Kingdoms, King Aerys ordered Payne's tongue be removed with hot pincers. Even though he was high in Tywin Lannister's service, Tywin Lannister couldn't stop the Mad King, and this was another step in the increasing tensions between the two which eventually led to Tywin's resignation. King Robert Baratheon named Ser Ilyn as King's Justice as a present to Tywin Lannister to compensate Payne for the loss of his tongue while in service to the Lannisters.

In the book Ser Ilyn arrives at Robert's camp with Renly and Ser Barristan to provide escort back to King's Landing. When Gregor Clegane is terrorizing the Riverlands, Ser Ilyn's name is put forward to be sent to carry out the Hand's orders to arrest him, as King's Justice that's his job, but because of his ties to the Lannisters Lord Eddard sends Beric Dondarrion instead.

When Tyrion Lannister is leading the hill tribes in the army of Tywin Lannister in the Riverlands against the forces of Robb Stark, he is assigned a squire named Podrick Payne. Podrick is a distant relation of Ser Ilyn.

At the execution of Eddard Stark, Arya realizes to her dismay that the sword he uses to carry it out is the Valyrian great sword of House Stark, Ice. The sword was given to Ser Ilyn afterwards.

Ser Ilyn is a highly skilled executioner having never botched an execution and seldom requiring more than one blow. Ser Ilyn Payne is described as thin, bald, with clean-shaven but hollow and pockmarked cheeks, with colorless deep-set eyes. He wears iron-grey chainmail over boiled leather.

Ilyn is illiterate, thus after his tongue was removed he can no longer communicate complex messages to other people.

See also


v  d  e
Lord: King Tommen I Heir:
House-Baratheon-of-King's Landing-Main-Shield
Seat: Red Keep, King's Landing Lands: The Crownlands
Title(s): King of the Andals and the First Men · Lord of the Seven Kingdoms · Protector of the Realm
Current members:Queen Mother Cersei Lannister · Queen Margaery Tyrell
Deceased members:King Robert I · King Joffrey I · Princess Myrcella Baratheon
Household:Lord Mace Tyrell · Grand Maester Pycelle · Ser Jaime Lannister · Ser Gregor Clegane · Ser Preston Greenfield · Ser Arys Oakheart · Ser Boros Blount · Ser Balon Swann · Ser Osmund Kettleblack · Ser Ilyn Payne · Lord Gyles Rosby · Ser Aron Santagar · Qyburn · Septa Eglantine

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