The Lord Commander is a rank found in several of the Seven Kingdoms' institutions. It is a combination of "Lord", meaning that the person holding the title is of noble birth, or at the very least knighted, and "Commander", indicating a position of authority and leadership. The term may refer to:
- The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, the order responsible for defending the Wall. The current Lord Commander is Jon Snow.
- The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, the elite group of seven knights whose duty it is to protect the King and the royal family. The Lord Commander also holds a seat on the king's Small Council as a military advisor. The Kingsguard's current Lord Commander is Ser Jaime Lannister. He took over the role when Ser Barristan Selmy was dismissed. Ser Duncan the Tall was Lord Commander when Selmy rose to prominence.
- The leader of the City Watch of the Seven Kingdoms' various cities is called a "Lord Commander" when of noble birth, but simply "Commander" when not. Janos Slynt was merely a "Commander" due to his lack of noble birth, but was later elevated to the nobility as Lord of Harrenhal in gratitude for his service to King Joffrey in betraying Eddard Stark.
In contrast, the leader of the Kingsguard is always called "Lord Commander", though this might simply be because most knights tend to be noble-born. Even if a commoner is knighted for bravery on the battelfield but was not born noble - as was the case with Ser Duncan the Tall, who was born in the slums of Flea Bottom but later became Lord Commander - being knighted technically promotes a commoner into a "noble". Members of the Kingsguard are supposed to exclusively be knights, and thus even a common-born member such as Ser Duncan would be called "Lord" Commander on the grounds that he is at least a knight. The City Watch only runs into this difference because unlike the Kingsguard, non-knights and commoners can join it and rise to command positions.
Sandor Clegane's appointment to the Kingsguard was considered controversial because he wasn't even a knight, which was explicitly against the rules of the order. The Lannisters did offer to knight Sandor, but he simply refused, because he always considered allegedly honorable knights to be hypocrites. Ultimately, Sandor abandoned the Lannisters and the Kingsguard during the Battle of the Blackwater.
It is apparently no accident that the leader of both the Night's Watch and the Kingsguard hold the title "Lord Commander": when Visenya Targaryen organized the first Kingsguard for Aegon I Targaryen, she consciously modeled its vows on those of the Night's Watch, such as abandoning all previous political allegiances and swearing to hold no lands and father no children. Because Visenya was directly inspired by the Night's Watch, it seems that she directly took the title "Lord Commander" from the Watch as well.