- "Jon Arryn is dead."
- ―Catelyn Stark
Jon Arryn is a minor character in the first season. He is played by guest star Sir John Standing and only appears in the series premiere. The character is deceased when the series begins. He was the Lord of the Eyrie, Warden of the East, Defender of the Vale, and Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon.
Jon Arryn was the Lord of the Eyrie and the head of House Arryn, one of the Great Houses of Westeros. Jon was the Warden of the East and Defender of the Vale. He was a respected nobleman and both Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon were fostered by him during their adolescence. The Mad King condoned the kidnap of Eddard's sister and Robert's betrothed Lyanna Stark. The Mad King had Eddard's father and brother killed for protesting against the kidnapping. When he then demanded that Eddard be turned over to the King's justice, Lord Arryn rebelled, calling his banners to war. House Stark and House Baratheon followed suit. The rebels forged an alliance with House Tully through marriage, with Eddard married to Catelyn Tully and the then-elderly Jon to the young Lysa Tully.After the rebel victory in the war, Robert became King and appointed Jon as his Hand. Jon served the realm well for many years as Hand of the King. Indeed, Jon Arryn was essentially the man really holding the realm together for the next seventeen years, while Robert drank and ate and held expensive tournaments.
Jon Arryn died in King's Landing immediately prior to the events of the series, sparking King Robert's search for a replacement. Jon is survived by his wife Lysa and their six-year-old son, Robin Arryn. Jon was investigating the legitimacy of the children of Queen Cersei Lannister, and just before he died discovered that they were secretly not the biological children of Robert Baratheon.
His dying words were to Robert Baratheon, "The seed is strong."
Jon Arryn's body is laid out in state in the throne room of the Red Keep in King's Landing. Ser Jaime Lannister and Queen Cersei discuss Jon's attempts to learn the truth about their incestuous relationship and his failure to do so. Later, news of Jon's death reaches Eddard Stark at Winterfell, who is shocked and upset as he considered Jon to be a second father to him.
When Eddard Stark attends his first Small Council meeting in King's Landing, he is shocked to learn that the realm is six million Gold Dragons in debt, and refuses to believe that Jon Arryn would let this happen. Grand Maester Pycelle and Renly Baratheon explain to Lord Stark that while Jon gave wise and prudent advice, King Robert did not always follow it.
Arryn had asked Pycelle for The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, a book detailing genealogies of the nobility, which notes the heredity preponderance for black hair in House Baratheon.
Eddard Stark is told that Arryn visited with an armorer, Tobho Mott, several times before his death and also talked with his apprentice Gendry, inquiring about his mother. Stark immediately realizes upon meeting with Gendry that he is King Robert's bastard son. On the day he died, Arryn met with Mhaegen, a prostitute at Lord Petyr Baelish's brothel. She showed him her infant daughter, Barra, who was fathered by King Robert Baratheon.
Under forceful interrogation by Tyrion Lannister, Grand Maester Pycelle confesses that he knew that Jon Arryn had unearthed the truth upon seeing Robert's bastard children that Queen Cersei's three children were not conceived by Robert, but through incestuous adultery with her twin brother Jaime Lannister. Pycelle states that Jon Arryn intended to act and reveal his discovery to King Robert. When Tyrion accuses Pycelle of having Jon poisoned to keep the truth from getting out, he angrily denies that he killed him. Tyrion then points out that Pycelle must have realized that someone had poisoned Arryn (and he wasn't simply sick), but he let him succumb anyway, so he has Pycelle thrown into the Black Cells.
|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|
- Eddard Stark: "Jon was a man of peace. He was Hand for 17 years – 17 good years. Why kill him?"
- Varys: "He started asking questions."
- — Eddard discovering there was more to Jon Arryn's death.[src]
Behind the scenes
Originally it was intended that Jon Arryn's death in King's Landing would open the series, following the depiction of the book's prologue, and the event would be discussed by Grand Maester Pycelle and Queen Cersei Lannister in a new scene not in the books. In the end this scene was not filmed for the pilot episode in favor of maintaining the opening from the novel. Jon Arryn was played in these scenes by John Standing, though it is unknown if the actor will be retained for flashbacks later in the series, or even if Jon Arryn will ever actually appear in flashback scenes.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Jon Arryn is a great lord, wise counselor, and canny tactician. He is loved as a second father by both Eddard and Robert, and commanded great respect in the Vale of Arryn. His nephew and heir Elbert Arryn was among Brandon Stark's companions who were imprisoned and killed by the Mad King, sparking Jon Arryn's decision to join the rebellion.
In the books, Eddard Stark discovered that Arryn and Stannis Baratheon inquired together about Cersei's children and Robert's bastards. In fact it was Stannis who initiated the investigation, while in the TV series he is not mentioned at all in respect of Arryn's actions prior to his death.
When Tyrion confronts Pycelle with his guards, he admits that Jon Arryn was being treated by another maester who was going to give him purges to get the poison out, but because Pycelle knew that Arryn knew the secret of Cersei's incest, he sent the man away and just gave Lord Arryn painkillers to ease his passing. In the TV series the emphasis is slightly different: Pycelle presents it as that he simply didn't intervene when he realized Lord Arryn was poisoned, though Tyrion points out that even his inaction when he could have saved Lord Arryn makes him an aid to the murder. In the TV series, Tyrion just vaguely asserts that Pycelle must have "made sure he succumbed", but in the book version he goes slightly beyond inaction, actively dismissing a maester who would have cured him.
Even in the books, Pycelle didn't know who actually poisoned Jon Arryn, but it was convenient for Pycelle that someone else poisoned him before he had to deal with it.
|Lord:||Robin Arryn||Heir:||Harrold Hardying|
|Seat:||The Eyrie||Lands:||The Vale of Arryn|
|Title(s):||Lord of the Eyrie · Lord Paramount of the Vale · Warden of the East|
|Ancestors:||Artys Arryn · Sharra Arryn · Ronnel Arryn|
|Current members:||Lysa Arryn|
|Deceased members:||Jasper Arryn · Jon Arryn · Alys Arryn · Ronnel Arryn|
|Household:||Ser Vardis Egen · Ser Hugh of the Vale · Mord|
|Overlord:||House Baratheon of King's Landing|
|Hand of the King||
|Lord Commander of the Kingsguard|
|Master of Coin||
|Master of Whisperers|
|Master of Laws||
|Master of Ships||