- "So I'll only ask you once, Lord Snow...are you a brother of the Night's Watch or a bastard boy who wants to play at war?"
- ―Jeor Mormont
Jon Snow is a major character in the first, second and third seasons. He is played by starring cast member Kit Harington, and debuts in the series premiere. Jon Snow is the bastard son of the late Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. Jon is a steward in the Night's Watch. Now serving on the Wall, Jon has found a place of acceptance where the circumstances of his birth are of little importance. Jon has a pet direwolf named Ghost. He wields the bastard sword, Longclaw, which was a gift from Lord Commander Jeor Mormont who sees Jon as a surrogate son.
BackgroundJon is the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. Eddard is the head of House Stark and Lord Paramount of the North. The North is one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and House Stark is one of the Great Houses of the realm. House Stark rule the region from their seat of Winterfell and Eddard also holds the title Lord of Winterfell. He is also the Warden of the North to King Robert Baratheon.
Jon was raised at Winterfell on an equal footing with Eddard's legitimate children. He has an older half-brother Robb, two younger half-sisters Sansa and Arya, and two younger half-brothers Bran and Rickon. Jon's presence at Winterfell is a source of friction between Eddard and his wife, Catelyn. Jon got on well with his half-siblings, particularly Robb and Arya.
Jon Snow and Robb instruct Bran in archery, when they learn about a captured deserter. Jon accompanies his father, Robb, Bran and Theon Greyjoy to the beheading of a deserter from the Night's Watch; it is Bran's first time watching his father carry out an execution. Jon praises Bran afterwards for keeping his composure. On their way back to Winterfell, they find a dead direwolf and six newborn pups. Jon talks Lord Eddard into allowing the young Starks to adopt them, pointing out that a direwolf is the sigil of House Stark: given that there are five direwolves and five trueborn Stark children, it must be a sign from the Old Gods that the Stark children are meant to have the pups. In order to make this point, Jon intentionally leaves himself out of the count of Stark children, and when Bran asks about this Jon responds that he is not a Stark. However, just as they are about to leave, they find the runt of the litter, an albino, which crawled away from its mother's corpse. As an outsider like himself, Jon takes this direwolf as his own, naming him Ghost. Treated coldly by his stepmother, Jon decides to approach his uncle Benjen and offer to join the Night's Watch. He meets Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who knows what it is like to be an outcast. Tyrion tells him to wear the name "bastard" as a badge of honor, so no one can hurt him with the word.
Jon has a run in with Jaime Lannister who sarcastically thanks him for protecting all of them from all of the terrible things that allegedly exist beyond the Wall, in order to taunt him. Before Jon departs for the Wall, he says goodbye to Bran, who has been injured in a fall. He gives Arya a sword named Needle that he had made especially for her, advising her to "stick them with the pointy end." At their parting, Eddard vows to tell Jon the truth about his mother the next time they meet. Jon is accompanied by his uncle Benjen and Tyrion Lannister, who has expressed a desire to see the Wall (and pee off of it) before he dies.
At Castle Black, Jon's expectations of the Night's Watch are confounded. Instead of a brotherhood of noble warriors sworn to defend the realm from wildlings and White Walkers, he realizes the Watch is a dumping ground for criminals and wastrels. He earns the enmity of Ser Alliser Thorne, the Master-at-Arms in charge of training new recruits. He humiliates his fellow recruits with his superior fighting skills, learned from Winterfell's Master-at-Arms over the course of many years. Benjen stands with Jon on his first watch and tells him that he is going ranging North of the Wall. Jon is keen to accompany him but Benjen insists that he complete his training. Tyrion helps Jon see that he is no better than the recruits but has been afforded more advantages than them. Jon offers to train some of his new brothers and Pypar and Grenn accept. He also befriends Samwell Tarly when he arrives at Castle Black and helps to protect him from the cruelty of Thorne. Thorne angrily tells Jon that going easy on Sam won't help him, and will risk getting him killed during the next winter.
After completing his training, Jon is inducted into the Night's Watch and swears his oath. He is assigned to the stewards rather than the rangers, and at first thinks it is due to his ongoing feud with Ser Alliser Thorne. However, Sam points out that Lord Commander Jeor Mormont has asked for Jon as his personal steward, and may be grooming him for command. Jon is concerned when his Uncle Benjen's horse returns to the Wall riderless. Later, Ghost finds the corpses of two rangers assigned to Benjen, Othor and Ser Jafer Flowers. Learning of Eddard's imprisonment in King's Landing, Thorne taunts Jon about being a traitor's bastard, causing Jon to draw a knife. He is restricted to quarters. Later, Othor's corpse becomes a wight and attacks Commander Mormont. Jon saves Mormont's life by burning the wight, earning a pardon for his earlier misdemeanour. Mormont also gives Jon his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw. Jon ponders abandoning the Watch to join Robb's army when it marches against the Lannisters, but Maester Aemon tells him that he chose to stay with the Watch when he was similarly tested, when Robert Baratheon's rebels slew his nephew the Mad King and his son and grandchildren.
News of Eddard's execution reaches Castle Black. Jon immediately leaves, meaning to join Robb and seek vengeance for his father's death. Samwell, Pypar and Grenn intercept him and convince him to stay. Mormont tells Jon their war against the White Walkers is more important than the game of thrones in King's Landing. He tells Jon that the Watch is marching beyond the Wall in force, to find Benjen and learn the truth about the threat. Jon swears to him not to attempt to desert again and accompanies the troops as they set out.
- Main: Jon Snow Season 2
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont prepares Jon for a command role as the Great Ranging travels North seeking Benjen Stark and an explanation for the wight attack. They pass through several abandoned wildling villages before arriving at the home of their unsavory ally Craster. Jon is perplexed when he learns that Craster marries his daughters but apparently has no sons. He takes an instant dislike to Craster when they meet with him. The feeling is mutual but Craster does reveal to Jeor that he has not seen Benjen and that the wildlings are gathering with their leader, King Beyond the Wall Mance Rayder. Jeor reprimands Jon for failing to follow his lead with Craster.
Samwell Tarly appeals to Jon to aid Craster's pregnant daughter wife Gilly. She is afraid of having a son but will not say why. Jon is frustrated and refuses to disobey Jeor's order to leave Craster's wives alone. Jon sees Craster carrying a newborn into the woods and follows him. He sees Craster leave the child for a White Walker but does not recognize the creature. Craster spots him and knocks him out. Craster disarms Jon and drags him back to his keep. He expels the rangers from his home. Jeor reveals that he knew that Craster was sacrificing his sons but chose to ignore it because of his usefulness as an ally.
The rangers reach the ancient fortified peak known as the Fist of the First Men and await Qhorin Halfhand and his party from The Shadow Tower. When Qhorin arrives he suggests altering their tactics and using small groups to overcome Mance's lookouts in the Skirling Pass. Jon asks to join Qhorin's raiders and Jeor lets him go.
Qhorin leads his men into the pass and they locate and ambush the wildling watchers. Jon realizes his opponent is a woman and hesitates to kill her. She introduces herself as Ygritte but does not give away details of Mance's plans. Qhorin leaves Jon alone to execute Ygritte. Jon is unable to do it and she escapes. He pursues and recaptures her but they become separated from Qhorin's group. Jon decides they cannot regroup with Qhorin due to the approaching night. Ygritte convinces Jon to sleep next to her to share body heat and keep warm, and then makes sexual advances towards him. Jon rejects the temptation to break his oath.
As he unties Ygritte’s legs to continue his search for the rest of the raiders, she tells him that she knows that he is a virgin. He uses some the rope that’s binding her as a leash. As they walk, Ygritte questions Jon as to why the men of the Night’s Watch hate the wildlings. She explains that they share the blood of the first men and just happened to be on the wrong side of the wall when it was built. She urges him to forget about his oath and live free. Another sexual advance from Ygritte prompts him to reach for his sword. She backs away and trips him with the rope when he’s caught off guard. He pursues her but is ambushed and taken captive. Ygritte tells him that he should’ve took her when he had the chance.
Ygritte brings Jon to the Lord of Bones and convinces him that Mance will want to question Jon. The Lord of Bones has a prisoner of his own; Qhorin. The Halfhand tells Jon that the rest of the men were killed while they searched for him. He urges Jon to make their deaths meaningful and become a spy within the wildling ranks. He then feigns anger with Jon until he is restrained after managing to knock Jon over.
As they make their way to Mance, Ygritte continues to playfully mock Jon by tapping him on the head with the flat of his sword. Qhorin uses the distraction to advance his plan to portray Jon as a traitor to the Night's Watch. He attacks Jon and the Lord of Bones allows them to fight. Jon is initially reluctant until Qhorin calls his father a traitor and his mother a whore. Jon slays Qhorin, stunning Ygritte and the rest of the band. Qhorin whispers a line from the Night's Watch oath to Jon with his dying breath. Jon's hands are freed, and Ygritte leads him to the crest of the mountain to look over the massive wildling encampment.
As Jon Snow is led by Ygritte and the Lord of Bones into the main wildling camp in the Frostfangs mountains, he discovers that almost all of wildling society is on the move to escape the White Walkers, including women and children. As they enter the camp, Jon is shocked to see a real-life giant walk past. Many of the wildlings are surprised to see Jon in his all-black Night's Watch clothing and shout "crow!" at his approach. Several young boys pelt Jon with ice and small stones but Ygritte shoos them away.
Jon is led into the tent of King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder, where the Lord of Bones explains that he is Ned Stark's bastard son to a large man with a heavy beard who is eating chicken by the fire. He says he doesn't care, but his interest is piqued on hearing that Jon killed Qhorin Halfhand. As they talk Jon kneels before the man, whom he assumes to be Mance Rayder, and calls him "your Grace". This causes all of the wildlings to burst out laughing. As it turns out this isn't Mance, but his lieutenant Tormund Giantsbane. The real Mance is an unassuming man sitting in a corner, who then introduces himself and tells Jon to stand, as no man kneels before another among the Free Folk, as they do not recognize a class of nobility in their culture.
Mance says he is glad that Jon killed Qhorin, as he had killed many of Mance's wildlings. Mance asks Jon why he wants to join them and he replies he wants to be free, but Mance doesn't believe this. Jon then explains that when the Night's Watch camped at Craster's Keep, he saw Craster leave his newborn son in the woods as an offering, and the inhuman creature that took it. Jon says that he wants to leave the Night's Watch because he is disgusted that Mormont already knew what Craster was doing but did nothing to stop it. Jon states that the First Men he is descended from defeated the White Walkers once during The Long Night, and that now he wants "to fight for the side who fights for the living". Mance is satisfied and advised Jon to get a new cloak. 
Jon Snow then marches South with the Free Folk army and Mance Rayder. Mance explains that his army is a diverse force, formed of about ninety different groups or clans of wildlings, who speak seven different languages, and have numerous internal rivalries. However, he managed to unite them all by telling them the truth: that they will all die if they remain north of the Wall. Mance brings Jon to one of his scouts, Orell. He is sitting silently with his eyes rolled back as an eagle circles above him. Mance says that he is a "warg". Jon doesn't know what that is, so Mance explains that a warg is a person who is capable of entering the mind of an animal, seeing what it sees and even controlling its actions. Orell controls his menagerie to scout miles ahead. Mance asks him what he has seen, and Orell says he saw the Fist of the First Men - and many dead "crows". 
As Jon Snow and the free folk arrive at the Fist of the First Men, they survey the bloody aftermath of assault on the Night's Watch by the White Walkers and their army of undead Wights. However they only find corpses of horses and no human remains. Jon says that there were three hundred men of the Night's Watch at the Fist, and asks Mance if Mormont could still be alive. Mance says that with Mormont, it's possible he was able to escape, but that even if he did he and his men took quite a beating and are trapped miles away from the Wall with the White Walkers in close pursuit. Mance warns Jon that all of the missing corpses from the Fist are no longer his friends and brothers from the Night's Watch, but have been resurrected as undead monsters who serve the White Walkers. Jon reluctantly agrees.
Mance orders Tormund to take a force of twenty men to scale The Wall to attack Castle Black from its exposed rear. Mance's plan is for Tormund's small band to distract Castle Black by attacking their exposed southern side, at which point Mance's main army will assault it from the north. Tormund will know that Mance is in position when his army makes a massive signal fire. Mance orders Tormund to take Jon with him, as Jon knows the layout of Castle Black, and it will prove a key test of his loyalty: if it turns out that he won't really betray the Night's Watch, Tormund can easily throw him off the Wall to his death. 
On their way to the Wall and Castle Black, Jon and Ygritte are gathering firewood, when the warg Orell asks him about the defenses of the Night's Watch. Orell has seen through the eyes of his eagle that there are patrols on top of the Wall and he wants to know how frequent they are. Jon says they usually sent out patrols in teams of four, two builders to inspect for structural damage and two rangers to protect them, but that the frequency of their patrols often changes. Orell says the wildlings know there are nineteen castles along the south side of the Wall, but he wants to know how many are currently manned. Jon finds this very unpleasant, but reluctantly says that only three are currently manned. Apart from Castle Black, there is also Eastwatch-by-the-Sea at the extreme eastern end, and The Shadow Tower at the western end. Jon is then asked how many men currently garrison Castle Black. Jon is very reluctant to answer, but after being threatened by Orell, he gives an exaggerated number, saying there are one thousand men (this is a lie, as Castle Black only had six hundred men before the Great Ranging, and the garrison now is closer to three hundred). Tormund tells Jon that he likes him, but if he's lying to them, he'll rip his guts out through his throat.
Jon and Ygritte then walk away, but she steals his sword Longclaw, making him chase her to get it back. She leads him into a nearby cave. Ygritte starts disrobing, and says that she wants to make sure Jon Snow has truly come over to the wildlings' side and broken his Night's Watch vows - by making him break his oath of celibacy with her. She quickly shucks off all of her clothes and walks up to him naked. Jon is very hesitant at first, but they soon end up having sex in the cave.
Afterwards Jon and Ygritte lay together in a naked embrace and Ygritte tells Jon she wishes they could stay in this cave forever. 
He joins a wildling party led by Tormund Giantsbane to climb the Wall. Beforehand, he is questioned by Ygritte about their relationship and his allegiance to the Night's Watch, saying that he must be loyal to her instead. During the climb, Ygritte causes part of the ice to break, leaving them hanging in the air by the rope. Orell, believing them to be lost, cuts it. Jon manages to save himself and Ygritte by climbing back to the ice. The two return to the climb and reach the top, where Ygritte gazes at the North and the South, before they kiss. 
After surviving the perilous climb of the Wall, Jon Snow, Ygritte and the wildlings led by Tormund Giantsbane make their way towards Castle Black to await Mance Rayder's signal to begin the attack on the Night's Watch. Afterwards Jon confronts Orell about cutting his and Ygritte's rope loose on The Wall, nearly killing the both of them in the process. Orell tells Jon that he doesn't see Ygritte complaining about what happened because she is a wildling and understood what needed to be done in a pressure situation, also telling Jon that this is the reason he will never be able to keep her. During the journey through the woods, a clearly jealous Orell confronts Ygritte and says that he would be a better man for her than Jon Snow, whilst continuing to express his distrust in Jon. Jon also tries to persuade Ygritte that the wildlings' cause is doomed to failure, but she refuses to listen and points out that Jon is technically one of them; if it fails, so does he. She renews her passion for him and tells him bluntly that if they die, they die, but before they die they will live.
Jon Snow and the wildling party prepare to raid an elderly horse breeder's home for his horses and gold; Jon insists that the old man is no threat to them, but Orell and Tormund Giantsbane intend to kill the man so as to stop him from alerting the Night's Watch to their presence. However, when the party attacks the farmstead, Jon surreptitiously hits a rock with his sword, alerting the old man who flees; Jon also distracts Ygritte when she tries to shoot the fleeing man with an arrow. While in the abandoned mill not far away from the wildlings, Bran and Jojen Reed discuss how they plan to cross the Wall, before Meera spots the old horse breeder riding nearby. After the old man is captured by the wildlings, Hodor — scared by the thunder — begins yelling, which threatens to give away their location to the wildlings. Bran uses his Warg abilities to enter Hodor's mind and cause him to pass out.
Outside, Tormund moves to kill the old man, but Orell tells him to have Jon do it instead to prove his loyalty. Jon is ultimately unable to kill the innocent man, and instead Ygritte kills the man with an arrow. Realising that Jon is still loyal to the Night's Watch, Tormund orders his men to kill Jon; Tormund restrains Ygritte to stop her trying to help Jon, and soon after Jon battles with Orell. At the urging of Jojen, Bran enters the mind of Summer, his direwolf, to aid Jon. Summer and Shaggydog kill two wildlings threatening Jon as he battles to the death with Orell and finally kills him. With the last of his strength Orell wargs into the mind of his pet eagle, which swoops down and attacks Jon, clawing him badly about the face before he fights the bird off. Jon then steals a horse and escapes, leaving Ygritte and heading back to the Wall.
|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|
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
(click icon at upper right corner to expand)
- "There's great honor serving in the Night's Watch. The Starks have manned the wall for thousands of years, and you are a Stark. You may not have my name, but you have my blood."
- ―Eddard Stark on Jon Snow
- "A bastard boy with nothing to inherit, off to join the ancient order of the Night's Watch. Alongside his valiant brothers in arms..."
- ―Tyrion Lannister on Jon Snow
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Jon is 14 years old when the story begins. Jon resembles his father with a lean build, long face, and gray eyes, more than any of his true-born children. He feels alienated from his family because of his bastard status and the coldness of Lady Catelyn, who sees him as a threat to her children. At the feast to welcome King Robert, Jon is forced to seat far from his father and brothers. This and having more than he is used to drink, coinciding with the visit by his uncle Benjen makes Jon realize that his future may lie outside Winterfell's walls. His uncle makes him mad by telling him to wait a few years before deciding, but when Eddard decides to go to King's Landing, Lady Catelyn refuses to have Jon close.
When Qhorin Halfhand's men attack the wildling lookouts, Jon kills one, but hesitates killing the other when he realizes Ygritte is a woman. Jon says they can question her, but they don't learn much. Jon is sent by Qhorin to kill her, instead he let's her go (unarmed and alone, but with at least a chance to find her own kind). Jon returns to the Night Watch and says he killed Ygritte. Later he confesses that he let her go, Qhorin isn't too worried and says it was a test to learn what Jon would do. The ranging goes badly they are pursued and tracked, losing horses and men until only Jon and Qhorin are left. He asks Jon first if his sword is sharp, then tells him that when they are caught, Jon is to defect to the wildlings. Do whatever they ask of you to prove yourself to them: take any oath, burn your cloak, curse your leaders, etc. When captured, Qhorin goes berserk when Jon asks to join the wildlings and attacks him. Ghost helps Jon to win by biting Qhorin. As he is falling Halfhand says that the sword was sharp, and Jon realizes that he had meant to die to get Jon accepted by the wildlings.
Jon severely burned his right hand when he killed the wight Othor to save Lord Commander Mormont's life. While he lost no function in it, as a result of the burns his right hand and some of his forearm were left covered in scar tissue, which would never heal back to normal. People tend not to notice, because in the cold temperatures at the Wall and beyond, Jon and other members of the Night's Watch usually wear heavy gloves over both hands.
After Jon kills Orell, part of Orell's consciousness survives by warging into his eagle, after which Orell's mind controlling the eagle's body attempts to claw out Jon's eye with its talons (which occurred in Season 3 of the TV series). The attack leaves permanent deep scars over Jon's eye. However, rather than disfiguring him, characters within the narrative point out that they think it makes him ruggedly handsome. Stereotypical Fantasy heroes usually never get significantly hurt, at worst getting scars running over their eyes which make them look "cool". Author George R.R. Martin spent much of the books deconstructing or subverting traditional Fantasy literature stereotypes, making Westeros a gritty and realistic setting where instead of all of the main characters miraculously surviving through battles unscathed, some are horribly maimed (i.e. Jaime Lannister does get a dashingly roguish scar over his eye - he outright loses his sword hand). In contrast, Jon Snow actually does behave like a traditionally heroic character, but put in the dark setting of Westeros - and as a result, Jon does end up getting "cool hero scars" over his eye.
- Jon Snow at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Stark entry
- ↑ "The Kingsroad"
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Stark - Jon Snow entry
- ↑ "Winter is Coming"
- ↑ "The Kingsroad"
- ↑ "Lord Snow"
- ↑ "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
- ↑ "You Win or You Die"
- ↑ "The Pointy End"
- ↑ "Baelor"
- ↑ "Fire and Blood"
- ↑ "The North Remembers"
- ↑ "The Night Lands"
- ↑ "What is Dead May Never Die"
- ↑ "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "The Old Gods and the New"
- ↑ "A Man Without Honor"
- ↑ "The Prince of Winterfell"
- ↑ "Valar Morghulis"
- ↑ "Valar Dohaeris"
- ↑ "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
- ↑ "Walk of Punishment"
- ↑ "Kissed by Fire"
- ↑ "The Climb"
- ↑ "The Bear and the Maiden Fair
- ↑ "The Rains of Castamere"
|Former Lords Commander:|
|Castles of the Watch:|
|Lord:||Prince Bran Stark||Heir:||Rickon Stark|
|Title(s):||King in the North · Lord Paramount of the North · Lord of Winterfell|
|Ancestors:||Brandon the Builder · Rodrik Stark · Karlon Stark · Torrhen Stark|
|Current members:||Sansa Stark · Arya Stark · Benjen Stark · Jon Snow|
|Deceased members:||Rickard Stark · Brandon Stark · Lyanna Stark · Eddard Stark · King Robb Stark · Talisa Stark · Catelyn Stark|
|Household:||Ser Rodrik Cassel · Maester Luwin · Jory Cassel · Vayon Poole · Septa Mordane · Theon Greyjoy · Jeyne Poole · Osha · Hodor · Farlen · Old Nan · Mikken · Varly · Heward · Wyl · Tomard · Tommy · Jacks|