Samwell Tarly is a major character in the second, third and fourth seasons. He initially appeared as a recurring character in the first season and debuted in "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things." He is played by starring cast member John Bradley-West. He is a steward in the Night's Watch. He is intelligent, well-educated, and insightful, but overweight, unskilled at combat, and believes himself a useless coward (though at least openly admits he is a coward).
BackgroundEditSamwell Tarly is the oldest son and former heir of Lord Randyll Tarly, the head of House Tarly and Lord of Horn Hill. He is popularly called "Sam", and disparagingly as "Ser Piggy." He is gentle, bookish and shy. He is a large boy who, though having grown up in a comfortable setting, was consistently abused by his father, his instructors and his peers.
House Tarly is one of the most powerful noble families in the Reach, and sworn to House Tyrell. By rights, Samwell would have grown up to be one of the top ranking lords of the Seven Kingdoms. However, his father Randyll Tarly is one of the most skilled military commanders in Westeros, and hoped for a son who would carry on his leadership of House Tarly in battle, not an overweight scholarly-minded son like Sam who has no thirst for violence. His father, ashamed of him, forced Samwell to take the black under threat of death in order to disinherit him. Had Sam refused to join the Night's Watch, his father bluntly told him that he would arrange a "hunting trip" with his son in the woods, and then kill Sam in such a way that it looked like an accident. Sam departed for the Wall, leaving his younger brother as heir to House Tarly.
Sam was a virgin when he left for the Wall, and is a bit despondent about the restriction that his vows forbid him from ever taking a wife in the future.
Samwell Tarly arrives at Castle Black. Ser Alliser Thorne identifies him as a soft, pampered lordling and has the other recruits attack him harshly. Jon Snow defends Samwell, to Alliser's annoyance. Samwell is assigned watches with Jon. He tells Jon that he is craven and that his father forced him to come to the Wall or face a 'hunting accident'. Jon convinces the other recruits to go easy on Sam, even using Ghost to intimidate Rast into doing so. Sam befriends Pypar and Grenn.
Thorne is furious at Jon's actions and confronts him and Sam. He tells them of the harsh conditions that exist beyond the Wall and claims men are driven to do terrible things to survive out there, especially in winter. He says that by avoiding the harsh discipline of the Night's Watch, they are condemning themselves to death.
The trainees become men of the Night's Watch and Samwell is assigned to the stewards, specifically to the service of Maester Aemon. When Jon complains about his appointment as a steward to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, Sam points out that Mormont could be grooming him for command. Sam, feeling that his own gods have abandoned him, elects to say his oath to the Watch before a heart tree like Jon. After the ceremony, they are surprised when Ghost arrives, carrying a severed hand in his mouth.
The hand leads them to the bodies of two rangers. They bring the corpses back to Castle Black and Sam notes that there is no smell of rotten flesh on them. The Lord Commander orders the bodies examined, and tells Sam that he may be a coward, but certainly not stupid.
Jon Snow and the Lord Commander are attacked by one of the dead, who has risen as a wight. Jon fights off the wight and Sam watches the two corpses being burned. Sam tells the others that he has read an old book that claimed that reviving the dead can only be achieved by the touch of the White Walkers, who sleep for thousands of years beneath the ice. When the others ask what will happen when they wake up, he only says that he hopes that the Wall is high enough. Sam admires Jon's new sword, Longclaw, given as a gift for defending the Lord Commander. Samwell tries, unsuccessfully, to stop Jon leaving the wall when he receives news of his father's execution in King's Landing. He then convinces Pyp and Grenn to help him to pursue Jon. He is knocked off his horse by a low hanging branch which draws Jon back to check if he is OK. Sam stands, unharmed, and recites his vows with his friends to convince Jon to return.
- Main: Samwell Tarly Season 2
Sam is part of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's Great Ranging beyond the Wall. After travelling for months and passing several abandoned wildling villages they reach Craster's Keep. Craster is an unsavoury ally of the watch who marries his daughters and apparently has no sons. Craster tells them that the wildlings are gathering under King Beyond the Wall Mance Rayder. Sam calls off Ghost, Jon's direwolf, when he comes near Gilly, one of Craster's wives. Gilly calls Sam brave. Sam takes her to Jon Snow for help rescuing her unborn child from Craster but Jon refuses to disobey their orders to stay away from Craster's wives. Jon later follows Craster into the woods and sees him leaving a newborn boy for the White Walkers. Craster spots him and incapacitates him. Craster drags Jon back to his keep and demands that the watch leave. Sam becomes infatuated with Gilly, vowing to return and rescue her.
They march to the Fist of the First Men and Sam is amazed at the ancient fortification. Sam assumes Jon's responsibilities as steward to the Lord Commander so that Jon can accompany Qhorin Halfhand scouting the Skirling Pass. The party does not return and are believed dead but Sam refuses to give up hope. He finds a cache of Dragonglass weapons buried at the Fist while working with Grenn and Edd. While collecting dung for fuel, the companions hear three horn blasts, signaling White Walkers. In a panic, they rush back to the Fist, but the slower Sam is left behind. As a blizzard rolls in, Sam takes shelter behind a rock, and witnesses armed wights and White Walkers approaching out of the snow. A White Walker mounted on a dead horse notices Sam, but appears to ignore him, ordering the wights towards the Fist.
After the Battle of the Fist of the First Men, Sam is wandering in the blizzard looking for shelter. He suddenly notice another man of the Night's Watch, when he walks toward him he discovers the man has been decapitated. Then a Wight approaches Sam and when its going to attack him, the direwolf Ghost knocks the Wight down and rips out its flesh as it drags towards Sam. Finally, the wight is lit on fire by Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and the last remaining Night's Watch of the battle appeared. Mormont is angry that Sam didn't send any ravens in the confusion on the attack of the White Walkers. Finally, Mormont announces that they should retreat to the Wall and warn about the White Walkers to the others in Castle Black and the rest of Westeros.
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont of the Night's Watch leads the few survivors of the slaughter at the Battle of the Fist of the First Men south in hope of reaching the Wall. Samwell Tarly is exhausted and collapses. Rast the raper is annoyed that Sam hid during the battle, and thinks they should leave him because he's slowing them down. Sam is upset that Grenn and Dolorous Edd abandoned him at the start of the attack, although they refuse to leave him now. Mormont tells Sam that he has to keep moving, and sternly forbids Sam to die. Mormont orders Rast to keep Sam alive until they reach the Wall on pain of death.
Farther south beyond the Wall, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont leads the ragged survivors of the Night's Watch expedition to Craster's Keep. Craster mocks the survivors of the battle when they reach his Keep. He initially wants to refuse them shelter until he notices some of them stroking their weapons. Fearful that in desperation they might try to rush him, he relents. As the black brothers warm by his hearth, Craster mocks them. Craster insists that the black brothers should be grateful for his generosity, and that he is a "godly man" for helping them. Mormont tensely questions that he is a godly man, but Craster insists that he is - to the "real gods", the White Walkers, who consume entire armies on their way to the Wall but will spare Craster for his loyalty. He admits that he's feeding his pigs better than them - as pigs are valuable to him - and half-seriously suggests to his guests that they should eat the fat Samwell Tarly. He is also annoyed by Gilly's loud wailing from birthing pains. Sam leaves the main house to a birthing hut where he witnesses Gilly giving birth with the aid of a few other women. To her horror, the baby is a boy. Sam and Gilly wordlessly realize that Craster will want to sacrifice him to the White Walkers.
Samwell Tarly visits Gilly, who is deeply distraught about the fate of her newborn son. She is frantic, and yells at Sam not to draw attention to the fact that it's a boy by calling it a "he" so loud, as Craster will want to offer it up as a sacrifice when he finds out it's a son. He asks her if she's decided on a name, but she responds that there's no point in naming her baby if he's only going to be offered up as a human sacrifice. She gives Sam back his mother's thimble and says she doesn't care about such stupid things, all she's focused on is protecting the life of her baby. When the traitors of the Night's Watch kill Craster and Jeor Mormont, Sam rushes to Gilly's hut and orders her that they have to escape now or they never will. Sam runs out of Craster's Keep with Gilly and her baby, as loyal Night's Watch members fall to the mutineers, who also kill or rape Craster's other wives. Gilly leads the way into the night because she knows the woods around her home. Covered in Mormont's blood, Rast shouts into the darkness that "Piggy" can run for now, but he'll soon be cutting Sam's throat too.
Sam and Gilly stop to camp during their journey to The Wall, after having fled Craster's Keep. Sam shows Gilly the Dragonglass dagger he found at the Fist of the First Men and tells her about Castle Black. Gilly wonders if Sam can sing, the he tells her that he can't sing well. But he knew one song and then he start to sing a song for Gilly and her baby.
Samwell Tarly and Gilly continue on their journey to Castle Black, taking refuge in a destroyed cabin next to a Heart tree. Before they enter, two crows land on a branch on the heart tree, and begin to squawk loudly. Later at night, Sam tries to light a fire. When he is unable to, Gilly does it instead. Meanwhile, Sam suggests that Gilly name her son, but she does not know any boy names, Sam gives her some examples, and also explains the difference between first and last names. Suddenly, they are interrupted by the loud squawks of the crows. Sam and Gilly go outside to investigate, and see hundreds of crows angrily squawk at them. Gilly is then horrified to see a White Walker approaching them, and knows that it is after her child. Sam tries to halt its advance, but the Walker shatters his sword with his bare hand and knocks him aside, and heads for Gilly. Sam staggers back to his feet, pulls out his Dragonglass Dagger, and attack the Walker, stabbing it in the back. The Walker howls in pain, as his whole body begins to freeze from the point at which he was stabbed, he falls to his knees, and shatters, leaving nothing but white dust and the Dagger. Leaving behind the dagger, Sam takes Gilly's arm, and runs as the crows chase after them.
Following their encounter with the White Walker, Sam and Gilly continued their journey south to Castle Black. While they were still a considerable distance from their destination, Sam knew that they were approaching Nightfort, the original headquarters of the Night's Watch which was located between Castle Black and Beyond the Wall. Nightfort had been abandoned centuries ago when the Night's Watch's numbers dwindled. Sam explained to Gilly that he planned to get them across the Wall using a secret sally-port which would lead right into the Nightfort. Gilly expressed her amazement that Sam knew so much history just from reading books, insisting that he is a wizard much to Sam's delight. When they finally caught a glimpse of the wall, which Gilly had never seen before, they were awestruck.
Later, Samwell and Gilly finally arrived at the Nightfort. There, he encountered Bran Stark, Jon Snow's younger half-brother and his companions—Hodor, Jojen and Meera Reed, and his direwolf Summer—who were travelling north beyond the Wall to find the three-eyed raven. Bran and his companions initially mistook him for an intruder but sheltered them after seeing Gilly and her baby. Samwell, noticing the gigantic Hodor and Summer, realizes who Bran was and offered to take them to Castle Black. But Jojen told Sam that he and Bran were travelling beyond the Wall. Due to his earlier encounters with the White Walkers, Samwell and Gilly were unwilling to return to the north. However, Sam reluctantly gave them the obsidian blades which he had found North of the Wall and which he had used to slay a White Walker. While Samwell and Gilly stayed behind in the castle, Bran and company finally reached the Wall. 
After traveling for some distance, Samwell and Gilly finally arrived at Castle Black. There, they met with Maester Aemon, who is displeased at the prospect that Sam had violated his vows. Sam defended himself by reciting the Night's Watch oath to protect the realms of men whatever side of the Wall they are on and repeating Jeor Mormont's assertion that a wall of ice 500 leagues long and 700 feet high was not built to keep out barbarians. Aemon's demeanor softened upon learning that Gilly was one of the late Craster's wives, and acknowledged that she is now a refugee and should be sheltered since the North is no longer safe for humans. Aemon then ordered Sam to begin writing letters immediately and to make sure that all forty-four of Castle Black's ravens are well-fed, as every one of them is to fly that night: the White Walkers have returned, and Westeros must be warned.
Sam is present in Castle Black in the weeks following Jon's return. Sam tells Jon that Alliser Thorne and Maester Aemon are ready to judge Jon for his actions. Sam tries to cheer Jon up and tells him he hasn't done anything wrong. Jon counters that he's "done plenty wrong". People call him "the Slayer" (mostly mockingly) after hearing how he destroyed the White Walker.
|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|
|Season Four appearances|
|Two Swords||The Lion and the Rose||Breaker of Chains||Oathkeeper||First of His Name|
|The Laws of Gods and Men||Mockingbird||The Mountain and the Viper||The Watchers on the Wall||The Children|
|Randyll Tarly||Melessa Tarly|
- "You may be a coward, Tarly, but you’re not stupid."
- ―Jeor Mormont on Samwell Tarly
In the booksEdit
In A Song of Ice and Fire, House Tarly is a loyal vassal of House Tyrell. Lord Randyll is a famous general and one of the best battlefield commanders in the Seven Kingdoms, with a string of significant military victories to his name. During Robert's Rebellion he defeated Robert Baratheon at the Battle of Ashford, despite having inferior numbers. He also had a senior role in Lord Mace Tyrell's long siege of Storm's End.
Lord Randyll is a stern, fierce taskmaster and disciplinarian who holds martial valor and military skill above all other attributes. His eldest son Sam is soft, kindhearted, bookish and fat, enjoying music and reading over fighting and war, although his younger son Dickon shows much more military promise. Furious with Sam's lack of military potential, Ser Randyll sends him packing to join the Night's Watch on the Wall, making Dickon heir in Sam's place.
High Heart is located in the warm lands of the southern Reach, where it rarely snows. Sam says that he never saw snow in his life before he was sent to the Wall, making it an even more desolate and alien environment for him.
Some may have seen Samwell as better suited to joining the order of Maesters, as like the Night's Watch they swear vows that abandon all claim to inheritance, but their intellectual pursuits would fit Sam's talents much better. However, Randyll felt that a Tarly joining the non-martial Maesters would still be a massive embarrassment to the military reputation of their House. Because Randyll was horrified at the prospect of a member of House Tarly ever wearing a Maester's chain, he instead sent Sam off to join the Night's Watch, where at least in theory he would be defending the realm from the dangers beyond the Wall. Ironically, the officers at Castle Black decide that the best use for Sam at the Wall is to serve as an aide to the blind old Maester Aemon, given that many of their recruits are starving peasant boys or criminals who can't even read, and Sam is not only literate but quite well-read. Sam gains some small respite from his suffering at the Wall when he discovers that Maester Aemon's library at Castle Black contains thousands of books collected by the Watch over the millennia, many of them extremely rare (even a well-stocked library such as at Winterfell normally only contains several hundred books).
In the book, Sam's encounter with the White Walker is different in the show: it takes place during the retreat from the Fist of the First Men. Sam collapses, and only Grenn stays with him and urges him to move on. A steward of the Watch named Paul joins them and carries Sam on his back. Due to the delay, the three fall behind the other survivors, and one of the Others attacks them. The Other kills Paul, and Sam desperately stabs it with Dragonglass dagger. To Sam and Grenn's amazement, the Other is destroyed. Sam does not leave the dagger behind, but tells Grenn to pick it up once it is warm enough to touch. Eventually Sam and Grenn catch up with the rest of the Watch. Grenn tells everyone how Sam destroyed the Other. Since then, Sam earns the nickname "the Slayer", which the other rangers use either as respect or for mockery. Sam hates that nickname, even though it is better than "Ser Piggy", because he does not feel he deserves it. He keeps asking people not to call him that, but for no avail.
The thing that attacks Sam and Gilly is not Other but a wight. Although Sam is scared, he is determined to protect Gilly, and fights valiantly against the wight. Both the dragonglass and steel daggers are useless against the wight, but Sam destroys it by shoving a burning stick into its mouth.
George R.R. Martin has stated that he is a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in which main character Frodo Baggins' best friend is Samwise Gamgee, called Sam for short. Similarly, Jon Snow's best friend Samwell Tarly (also called "Sam" for short) is also an overweight, not martially skilled Everyman character who enjoys reading stories in books. Moreover, Pypar (called Pyp) for short, has a similar name to Frodo's other companion Pippin Took (sometimes shortened to "Pip"). Thus both Jon Snow and Frodo Baggins have two companions named "Sam and Pyp".
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, Night's Watch - Samwell Tarly entry
- ↑ "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
- ↑ "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
- ↑ "You Win or You Die"
- ↑ "The Pointy End"
- ↑ "The Pointy End"
- ↑ "Baelor"
- ↑ "Fire and Blood"
- ↑ "The North Remembers"
- ↑ "The Night Lands"
- ↑ "What is Dead May Never Die"
- ↑ "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "The Prince of Winterfell"
- ↑ "Valar Morghulis"
- ↑ "Valar Dohaeris"
- ↑ "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
- ↑ "Walk of Punishment"
- ↑ "And Now His Watch is Ended"
- ↑ "The Climb"
- ↑ "Second Sons"
- ↑ The Rains of Castamere (episode)
- ↑ Mhysa
- ↑ Mhysa
- ↑ "Two Swords"
|Former Lords Commander:|
|Castles of the Watch:|
|Lord:||Lord Randyll Tarly||Heir:||Dickon Tarly|
|Seat:||Horn Hill||Lands:||The Reach|
|Title(s):||Lord of Horn Hill|
|Current members:||Melessa Tarly · Samwell Tarly|