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Mance Rayder

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Mance Rayder
3, 4
First seen
Last seen
Appeared in
3 episodes (see below)
Also known as
Date of birth
The Night's Watch (formerly)
The Free Folk
Portrayed by


Mance: "Do you know what it takes to unite ninety clans, half of whom want to massacre the other half for one insult or another? They speak seven different languages in my army. The Thenns hate the Hornfoots, the Hornfoots hate the Ice-river clans, everyone hates the Cave people. So, you know how I got moon-worshipers and cannibals and giants to march together in the same army?"
Jon: "No."
Mance: "I told them we were all going to die if we don't get south. 'Cause that's the truth."
— Mance Rayder and Jon Snow[src]

Mance Rayder is a recurring character in the third and fourth seasons. He is mentioned in the first and second seasons. He makes his first on-screen appearance in "Valar Dohaeris" and is played by Ciarán Hinds.[1][2] He is the leader of the Free Folk and a feared opponent of the Night's Watch.



Mance Rayder was once a noted ranger of the Night's Watch. He was actually born a wildling and is proud that he has wildling blood in his veins, but as an infant he was left at one of the castles on the Wall to be raised in the Night's Watch.[3]

As a young man, he deserted his post and fled north of the Wall to join the wildlings.[4] He rose to become the King-Beyond-the-Wall, a title bestowed on a wildling leader who manages to unify all of the tribes under his command. It appears he has held the position of King-Beyond-the-Wall for more than a decade, as Ser Alliser Thorne mentions he was King-Beyond-the-Wall during the previous winter.[5]

Season 1Edit

Ser Alliser tells Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly that the wildlings under Rayder are hard, skilled men who know their country much better than the Watch does.[6]

A wildling raiding party takes Bran Stark prisoner near Winterfell. One of their number, Osha suggests taking Bran Stark as a captive to Mance. This suggestion is rejected as the wildlings are fleeing south in terror of the White Walkers.[7]

Season 2Edit

Craster tells Lord Commander Jeor Mormont that Mance is assembling an army in the Frostfangs.[8] Varys reports rumors of the wildlings organizing under Mance to the Small Council.[9] Qhorin Halfhand predicts that the wildlings will be more dangerous under Mance because he used to be a man of the Night's Watch and knows their tactics.[10]

When she is captured, Ygritte points out to Jon Snow that the wildlings chose Mance Rayder to lead them, and he's not "King-Beyond-the-Wall" because his father was. Ygritte also says that Mance Rayder chose to desert from the Night's Watch to join the Free Folk.[11] Ygritte reverses the situation and takes Jon prisoner. She argues to the Lord of Bones that Mance will want to question Jon because he is the bastard son of Ned Stark, so they shouldn't just kill Jon on the spot. The Lord of Bones has also captured Qhorin and they march back to Mance with both captives.

When Jon Snow slays Qhorin, Ygritte mentions to the Lord of Bones that he can tell Mance Rayder who killed Qhorin. Jon's ropes are cut and they stand before Mance's encampment. [12]

Season 3Edit

Jon Snow is brought to the main wildling camp and introduced to Mance Rayder, though Jon initially mistakens Tormund for the King-Beyond-the-Wall, until Mance reveals himself, and asks Jon why he wants to break his vows and leave the Night's Watch to join them. Jon Snow expresses disgust at Lord Commander Mormont's complacency towards Craster, particularly in regards to Craster's practice of sacrificing his newborn sons to the White Walkers, and he tells Mance that he wishes to join the side that fights for the living.[13]

As Mance's army marches from the Frostfangs, Mance asks Jon about his killing of Qhorin Halfhand, whom Mance liked. Mance reminds Jon that despite his lking of him he will kill him if he betrays the Free Folk, also revealing to Jon of his Wildling blood. Jon answers he understands what is like to want to protect one's people. Mance refutes him and rethorically asks him if he understands how to unite nearly one hundred clans and tribes - Thenns, Hornfoots, Ice-river clans, cave people - that want to massacre each other. He adds that his army speaks seven different languages. He then insists asking Jon how he managed to unite moon worshippers, cannibals, and giants into the same army. Jon admits he doesn't know. Mance answers he told them they were all going to die unless they go south. Afterward, the two join Tormund and Ygritte beside Orell, who is scouting with his eagle. Mance explains Orell is a warg, capable of entering the minds of animals and seeing through their eyes. He then asks Orell what he saw. Orell explains he saw the Fist of the First Men, and dead "crows". [14]

Upon arriving at the Fist, Mance and his army discover that the bodies of the Night Watch were gone and the White Walkers had rearranged the dead carcasses of their horses into a complex spiral. Realizing that Lord Commander Jeor Mormont had lost most of his fighting men, which severely weakened the Watch, he ordered Tormund to take twenty men and Jon, and climb the Wall. Their mission was to wait for other parties on the other side and attack Castle Black from the South while he hit them from the North with the main army. When the time would come, Mance would signal them by lighting the 'biggest fire the North has ever seen'.


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

Image galleryEdit


"I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!"
―Mance Rayder[src]

Behind the scenesEdit

Dominic West was originally offered the role but turned it down, as he did not want to be away from his family for so long to film in Iceland.[15]

Like a great many Game of Thrones cast members, Hinds is Irish, and thus has to effect a Northern accent when portraying a Wildling.

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Mance Rayder is a former brother of the Night's Watch. He was born as a wildling, but was given over to be raised by the Watch when still an infant. Chafing at the restrictions and orders that the Night's Watch places upon its members, he fled over the Wall and took refuge amongst the wildlings. Over several years he became a respected war leader and warrior, and eventually was made King-Beyond-the-Wall by acclamation. At the start of the books his name and growing strength has been noted by Lord Eddard Stark, who ponders taking an army beyond the Wall to deal with him before he is summoned south to King's Landing instead.

He is a large man with long brown hair that has gone mostly gray. Otherwise, Mance is noted for being a surprisingly unremarkable, average-looking man. Mance's age in the book is not given, nor how long he has been amongst the wildlings. However, Benjen Stark had never met him, suggesting that Rayder left before Benjen joined the Night's Watch after the events of Robert's Rebellion. Though according to Mance himself, he once visited Winterfell with Lord Commander Qorgyle while still with the Watch when Robb and Jon were boys; this makes it more likely that he left the Watch sometime before the Greyjoy Rebellion.

See alsoEdit


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