"His name is Aegon Targaryen. If Robert finds out, he'll kill him. You know he will. You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned. Promise me."
Lyanna Stark to Eddard Stark after giving birth to Jon[src]

Jon Snow, born Aegon Targaryen, is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, the late Prince of Dragonstone. From infancy, Jon is presented as the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, Lyanna's brother, and raised by Eddard alongside his lawful children at Winterfell, but his true parentage is kept secret from everyone, including Jon himself. In order to escape his bastard status, Jon joins the Night's Watch and is eventually chosen as Lord Commander. However, he is later murdered in a mutiny, and resurrected by the Red Priestess Melisandre. Freed from his Night's Watch vows, Jon joins his cousin, Sansa Stark, in building an army and together they retake Winterfell from House Bolton, restoring House Stark's dominion over the North with Jon being declared the new King in the North. However, after successfully capturing a wight and presenting it to the Lannisters as proof that the Army of the Dead are real, Jon pledges himself and his army to Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaegar's sister, and steps down as King of the North, with Daenerys naming him the new Warden of the North.



Jon baby

Ned brings a newborn Jon to Winterfell, as Catelyn looks on in horror.

Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Ned never told anyone, including Jon, who his mother was - an unusual position for a bastard, as they normally know who their mother is but not their father. When Ned left for the south to fight in Robert's Rebellion, he left his pregnant new bride Lady Catelyn Tully at Riverrun while he continued on campaign, and she later gave birth to his first lawful son, Robb Stark. Ned eventually made it to the Tower of Joy and found his sister Lyanna lying in bed and covered in blood. She asked Ned to promise her that he would take care of and protect her newly born son, Jon, saying that King Robert Baratheon would kill him. She then died Ned's arms, her last words being "Promise me, Ned. Promise me.". When Ned returned from the war, he had brought with him the infant boy, which he said was his bastard son that he fathered during the war. Ned once told Robert that he was his bastard son from a women named Wylla, but he refused to elaborate any further. Ned never even told Jon himself whether his mother was alive or dead, though he later promised that when he later returned from serving King Robert in King's Landing, he would tell Jon about her (as by then he would have reached the age of adulthood).[1]

Jon and Robb

Jon and Robb play with snowballs in their childhood.

Acknowledged bastard children of lords are usually sent away to one of their other castles or holdings to be taken care of but not kept in the presence of his lawful family. Very unusually, Eddard announced that he would raise Jon at his home castle Winterfell, alongside his trueborn children with Catelyn. Robb was always treated as Eddard's heir, but otherwise, Jon wasn't treated much differently than his younger half-brothers Bran and Rickon. Jon's presence at Winterfell was an understandable source of friction between Eddard and his wife Catelyn. Given that Jon was never legitimized, she was never his "stepmother" in any sense of the term or had any obligations to him whatsoever. Instead, he was a living reminder of the one time that Eddard had dishonored her, though otherwise over the years she loved Eddard very deeply. Catelyn never mistreated Jon but she was cold to him and avoided him whenever possible (not that Jon ever said he expected more from her).[1][2] Catelyn would later confess to her daughter-in-law Talisa about how Jon caught the pox when he was a child, and she, out of guilt for previously praying for his death, stayed with him through the night and prayed to the gods to let him live, finally accepting that he was not to blame for Eddard's affair with Wylla, though it was still not enough to make her love Jon, something she would later regret.[3]

Arya and Needle

Needle, the sword that Jon gave to his half-sister Arya as a going-away present.

Due to his bastard status, Jon grew up feeling like an outsider at Winterfell. Eddard would see that Jon was well treated, but, for example, when King Robert and Queen Cersei made an official visit to Winterfell, Jon was not allowed to sit inside at the front table with the king and lords, as this might have offended them.[1] Otherwise, Jon still lived better than many bastard-born children and was well-raised by Eddard as his own. He was loved by his father and siblings, was never hungry or poor, lived in his father's castle, always had a roof over his head, and received a young lord's martial training from Winterfell's Master-at-Arms, Ser Rodrik Cassel. Of his half-siblings, Jon was close friends with Robb - given that they were roughly the same age, being regular companions in training and riding. He was on good terms with both Bran and Rickon as well as having a friendly rival in Lord Eddard's ward Theon Greyjoy. However, Jon's closest relationship was with Lord Stark's younger daughter, Arya, who, as an adventurous tomboy prone to unladylike pursuits, also felt like a social outsider. In contrast, Jon's relationship with Sansa was unpleasant; very much her mother's daughter, she could be aloof and cold to him as well.[4]

Season 1

Winter is Coming Bran Robb Jon

Jon and Robb instruct Bran.

Jon Snow and Robb instruct Bran in archery, when their father Eddard receives word about a captured deserter from the Night's Watch, for which the penalty is death. Jon accompanies his father, Robb, Bran, and his father's ward Theon Greyjoy out to the holdfast where the deserter, Will, is being held. It is Bran's first time watching his father carry out an execution, but as the deserter is brought into position outside, Jon warns Bran not to look away, as their father will know. Jon praises Bran afterwards for keeping his composure.

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Jon finds Ghost beside the pup's dead mother.

On their way back to Winterfell, they find a dead direwolf and her newborn pups - which is very surprising because direwolves have not been seen south of the Wall in centuries. 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. Just as they are about to leave, however, he finds the runt of the litter, an albino, which crawled away from its mother's corpse. On Theon's suggestion, as an outsider like himself, Jon takes this direwolf as his own, naming him Ghost.

Later when King Robert Baratheon and his entourage arrive for a great feast in the main hall, Jon is not allowed to attend for fear of offending the royal guests (on Catelyn's suggestion), so he waits outside in the courtyard venting his frustrations against a practice dummy. There he meets Tyrion Lannister, Queen Cersei Lannister's younger brother, who also stepped outside. As a dwarf, Tyrion knows what it is like to be an outcast, so he gives the young man some advice: never try to hide what he is, for the world will not forget. Instead, he should wear the name "bastard" openly, like armor, and then it can never be used to hurt him. When Jon's uncle Benjen Stark arrives, Jon tells him he has been thinking about it, and before his father leaves for the south he wants to join the Night's Watch, as they don't care about recruits' pasts and even a bastard can rise to positions of high honor in it.[5]

Before departing, Jon has a run-in with the queen's twin brother Jaime Lannister in the castle yard, who sarcastically thanks him for protecting all of them from the mythical monsters that allegedly exist beyond the Wall, in order to taunt him. Before Jon departs for the Wall, he says goodbye to the unconscious 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." Jon says he will miss her, and they both hug. As he prepares his saddle, Robb asks if Jon said goodbye to Bran, and expresses his doubt in him dying. Jon says Starks are hard to kill, and Robb asks about his mother, and Jon assures him she was kind. Robb offers to visit him at the Wall sometime, and they bid farewell with a hug. At their parting on the Kingsroad, Eddard vows to tell Jon the truth about his mother the next time they meet. Jon is accompanied by his uncle Benjen and Tyrion, who has expressed a desire to see the Wall (and urinate from the top of it) before he dies. Ghost also accompanies Jon to the Wall.[1]

Jon and Sam oaths

Jon and Sam swear their oaths to the Old Gods.

At Castle Black, Jon's expectations of the Night's Watch are soon disappointed. 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.[6] He also befriends the fat and bookish coward 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.[7]

Jon and Jeor

Lord Commander Mormont rewards Jon Snow.

After completing his training, Jon is inducted into the Night's Watch and swears his oath before a weirwood heart tree on the north side of the Wall. 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.[8] Learning of Eddard's imprisonment in King's Landing, Thorne taunts Jon about being a traitor's bastard, causing Jon to draw a knife in anger. He is restricted to quarters. Later, Othor's corpse becomes a wight and attacks Lord Commander Mormont. Jon saves Mormont's life by burning the wight, earning a pardon for his earlier misdemeanor.[9] Mormont also gives Jon his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw - given that his own son Jorah fled into exile and left it behind.
Jon and Pypar 1x10

Jon is convinced to go back to the Night's Watch.

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 - as he is secretly a long-forgotten great uncle of the Mad King, and was once known as Aemon Targaryen, but his entire family was killed at the end of Robert's Rebellion.[10]

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.[11]

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 incestuously marries his own 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 - the man disgusts him as well, but unfortunately he's one of the few wildlings who is willing to give them shelter and supplies which mean the difference between life and death for many black brothers in the wild.[12]

Arriving at the fist of the first men

Jon at the Fist of the First Men.

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 hidden in the shadows. Craster spots him and knocks him out.[13] 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.[14]

Ygritte caught

Qhorin and Jon Snow take Ygritte captive.

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.[15]

Jon lies with Ygritte 2x6

Jon and Ygritte share body heat.

Qhorin leads his men into the pass and they locate and ambush the wildling watchers. Jon realizes his opponent is a young 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.[16]

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 both the wildlings and the Northmen like the Starks are descendants of the First Men, and the wildlings 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 is caught off guard. He pursues her but is ambushed and taken captive. Ygritte tells him that he should have taken her when he had the chance.[17]

Jon kills Qhorin

Jon slays Qhorin.

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.[18]

In Winterfell, after Theon Greyjoy betrays House Stark and takes the castle, he refuses to flee and join the Night's Watch when he is surrounded by Ramsay Snow's men on the basis that Jon will likely kill him for betraying the Starks and apparently burning Bran and Rickon alive (though in fact he faked their deaths because they escaped).[19]

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.[19]

Season 3

As Jon Snow is led by Ygritte and the Lord of Bones into the main wildling camp in the Frostfang mountains, he discovers that almost all of wildling society is on the move to escape the White Walkers, including the 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.[20]

Jon is led into the tent of the 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, since they do not recognize a class of nobility in their culture.[20]

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.[20]


Mance talking to Jon.

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 eagle 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".[21]

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.[22]

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 is lying to them, he will rip his guts out through his throat.[23]

Jon and Ygritte s3e5

Jon Snow and Ygritte enjoy a bath after making love.

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.[23]

Afterwards Jon and Ygritte lay together in a naked embrace and Ygritte tells Jon she wishes they could stay in this cave forever.[23]

The climb jon snow

Jon afraid of climbing the wall.

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 side and the south side, before they kiss.[24]

Ygritte and Jon Bear and Maiden Fair

Jon and Ygritte south of the Wall.

After surviving the perilous climb of the Wall, Jon Snow, Ygritte and the wildlings led by Tormund Giantsbane advance through the Gift - the strip of land immediately south of the Wall which the Watch draws supplies from - and continue on towards Castle Black, to await Mance Rayder's signal to begin the attack. 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, while continuing to express his distrust in him. 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 restates her passion for him and tells him bluntly that if they die, they die, but before they die they will live.[25]

Ygritte and Jon - The Rains of Castamere

Jon tells the wildlings that the old man is no threat.

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.[26]

Rain of castamere jon snow

Jon attacks Orell.

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. Realizing 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.[26]

Stopping to rest and tend to his injury, Jon is confronted by a furious Ygritte, who has an arrow ready to shoot him. Jon tries to talk Ygritte out of shooting him, insisting that he still loves her. Though his feelings are clearly reciprocated Ygritte is still angered by his betrayal and shoots Jon three times with her bow as he flees from her. Jon is badly injured, but his horse manages to carry him the rest of the way to Castle Black, as he hovers in and out of consciousness. Having reached safety, Jon is brought inside the castle by the guards, where he encounters Sam and Pypar, who are overjoyed to see him and insist that his injuries be taken care of.[27]

Season 4

S04E1 - Jon Snow

Jon testifies before a panel of five sworn brothers.

Jon survives the injuries inflicted by Ygritte and has largely recovered, though he still grimaces while getting dressed. At some point, Jon has been told about his half-brother Robb's death at the Red Wedding and wanting vengeance for his family, but decides to stay at the wall. He shares with Sam that he had always been jealous of Robb for having more of their father's affection and for being better than him at riding, fighting, and winning the affection of other girls. Still, he says he could never bring himself to hate Robb, as he was also always a good friend and honorable person. Sam responds by saying he has felt the same way about Jon, that Jon is better than him at everything (except reading). It turns out that Sam had been sent to retrieve Jon, who has been summoned to testify before a panel of five sworn brothers, including Maestor Aemon, acting Lord Commander Alliser Thorne, and Janos Slynt (who was exiled to the Wall by Tyrion). At the hearing Jon admits to killing Qhorin Halfhand, to living amongst the wildlings, and even to having bedded one. He also states that Mance intends to attack and gives intel on his plans and strength. Both Slynt and Thorne are openly hostile to Jon, disbelieving much of what he says and call for his execution. Aemon, however, realizes that Jon is speaking the truth, and the hearing ends with Jon being allowed to keep his head.[28]

Meanwhile, at the Dreadfort, when Theon Greyjoy is pressed by Roose Bolton for information on the whereabouts of Bran and Rickon Stark, he reluctantly guesses that they may try to head to Jon at Castle Black. On Ramsay Snow's suggestion, Jon becomes a target of the Boltons, since Ramsay reasons that even though Jon may be a bastard, he is still a son of Ned Stark, and may pose a threat to the Boltons' future hold on the North, either because the Northeners who are still furious at the Boltons for betraying the Starks may rally behind him even though he is a bastard in the Night's Watch, or because Jon may simply seek revenge on both Roose and Ramsay for their role in the Starks' downfall. Roose subsequently sends his hunter, Locke, to the Wall in order to infiltrate the Watch, use Jon to find Bran and Rickon and then kill them all.[29]

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Jon speaks to the Night's Watch about the wildling threat.

The orphan Olly then arrives at Castle black, telling them how the wildling raiding parties already south of the Wall killed his entire village except for him. Thorne asks for Jon's opinion on protecting the smallfolk living in the the Gift, thinking Jon will disagree with his decision not to send help. Instead, Jon regretfully says he knows from his time with the wildlings that this exactly what they want, and why they are attacking the villages - to lure as many of them out of Castle Black as possible to weaken its defenses for the massive attack about to come from the north side of the Wall. If the wildlings breach the Wall, he says, they can move south by force for over a thousand miles before they reach an army that could stop them. Therefore, Jon agrees with Thorne that they should do nothing, and concentrate every available man in Castle Black itself to brace for the assault. The black brothers are interrupted by a single horn blast. It is revealed to be Grenn and Eddison Tollett, who have escaped the mutineers at Craster's Keep. Jon is relieved to see them alive, but his relief turns to concern when they reveal that the mutineers remain entrenched at the keep. Jon understands that if the mutineers are captured by Mance Rayder, then the wildlings will know how vulnerable Castle Black really is. Jon tries to convince Alliser Thorne that eliminating the mutineers should be their top priority.[30]

Grenn and Jon - Oathkeeper

Jon and Grenn shows how to fight against the wildlings for the new recruits.

Jon and Grenn are training the new recruits to fight wildlings and one of the new recruits is Locke. The training session is interrupted by Thorne who continues to talk down to Jon and reminds him that he is nothing but a steward. Locke approaches Jon and they get acquainted, with Jon unaware of Locke's true purpose. Jon and Sam are talking about Bran going beyond the Wall and once he realizes that he could be at Craster's Keep, Locke comes in to tell him that Thorne has summoned him. Thorne gives him permission to attack Craster's Keep, but only with volunteers. Slynt convinced Thorne that Jon questioning his decisions is a problem, and if Jon gets himself killed on a dangerous mission he volunteered for (knowing the risks), it will both remove him and be his own fault; alternatively, if he succeeds and returns alive, so much the better. Jon gives a speech about avenging Mormont's death at the hands of the mutineers and this convinces a number of his brothers to join him in his attack, including Grenn, Edd, and Locke (who secretly intends to kill Jon during the mission and blame it on the mutineers).[31]

Jon Snow-So4Ep5

Jon preparing to battle against Karl inside Craster's Keep.

The group attacks at night, taking the mutineers by surprise. Jon personally enters the main building to deal with Karl Tanner. The two of them are evenly matched, though Karl manages to get the upper hand by spitting in Jon's face and then kicking him to the floor. Before he can land the finishing blow, Karl is stabbed in the back by one of Craster's daughter-wives. Karl attempts to kill her, though it's a fatal mistake as Jon doesn't miss the opportunity to thrust Longclaw through the back of Karl's head and out of his mouth.

S04E5 - Jon Snow & Ghost

Jon reunites with his direwolf  Ghost shortly after the raid on Craster's Keep.

After the fight, Jon and the others count five dead amongst the Watch, including Locke, whose neck was snapped in a way that terrifies Jon (Jon being completely unaware that Locke had been killed by a Bran-possessed Hodor). He then reunites with Ghost before turning to Craster's wives and offering them refuge at Castle Black. They decline, saying that after the abuse they took at other members of the Night's Watch they can't trust them and will go their own way. Before leaving, they set a torch to Craster's Keep, burning it to the ground.[32]

S04E7 - Jon & Grenn

Jon arrive at Castle Black with his remaining brothers from the raid at Craster's Keep.

Jon and his fellow black brothers return to Castle Black, much to the annoyance of Ser Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt. Once Alliser spots Ghost, he orders Jon to lock up Ghost or his direwolf will become food for the Night's Watch. Later, Jon reports that Mance Rayder's army was closing in on Craster's Keep and will reach the Wall before the next full moon. Jon states that defending the tunnel is hopeless since the gates will not stop the giants in Mance Rayder's army. He proposes they seal the tunnel, but Alliser Thorne refuses to listen. Alliser then assigns Jon and Samwell Tarly to night duties atop the Wall until the next new moon.[33]

S04E8 - Jon & Sam

Jon and Sam shocked to hear the recent news regarding Mole's Town.

News of the wildling attack on Mole's Town, the largest village in the Gift, reaches Castle Black. Jon, Pypar, and Eddison Tollett try to comfort a distraught Sam, who believes that Gilly and her baby are dead. Grenn is furious that the wildlings slaughtered the inhabitants of Mole's Town, which included brothers of the Night's Watch. Jon concludes that if Mole's Town has been attacked, then Mance Rayder's assault on Castle Black is imminent.[34]

S04E09 - Jon & Sam (On the Wall)

Jon tries to explain relationships with Sam.

Atop the Wall, Jon and Sam are staring out into the darkness of the north and awaiting the imminent wildling invasion. Sam attempts to interrogate Jon about what it was like to be with a woman, stating that as their deaths are likely imminent, it may be his last chance to find out. Sam brings up that the vows of the Night's Watch only explicitly forbid members from taking wives or producing children, and that other "activities" are open to interpretation. Jon replies glumly that Ser Alliser most likely does not care about their interpretations. When further pressed by Sam to describe lying down with Ygritte, Jon attempts to explain but is unable to properly express it, proclaiming exasperatedly that he is "not a bleeding poet." Jon offers to take the watch up alone so Sam can go below.[35]

S04E09 - Jon (On the Wall)

Jon looks at the signal just as Mance promised.

Later that night, Jon hears the horn blowing and looks north, witnessing a tremendous conflagration north of the Wall, just as Mance had promised him. Jon approaches Thorne, who finally relents and admits that they should have heeded his advice and sealed the tunnel, but grimly muses that leadership means not second-guessing oneself because of "clever little twats" like him.
S04E09 - Jon & Grenn (On the Wall)

Jon given charge of the Wall.

While they start to prepare for the massive wildling army that is emerging from the woods, another horn blows from down below at Castle Black, signaling the unanticipated appearance of Tormund's band of wildlings at Castle Black. Alliser decides to go down and defend the keep, leaving Janos Slynt in charge of the Wall's defenses. Even though a wildling strike force led by two giants, one of which is riding a mammoth, charge towards Castle Black's outer gate, Janos Slynt does nothing and breaks down, demoralizing the troops. Grenn steps in by falsely claiming that Alliser needs Janos back down in Castle Black, allowing Jon to take command of the Wall's defenses.[35]
Battle of Castle Black

Jon fights a Thenn during the Battle of Castle Black.

The Battle of Castle Black begins. The black brothers continue to rain down arrows on the advancing wildlings, even killing ones that are attempting to scale the Wall. One giant, armed with a massive bow, manages to fire a huge arrow at one of the bunkers atop the Wall, and Jon is unable to warn his brothers fast enough before the giant fires again, violently killing one of his black brothers. Although Jon manages to repel most of the wildlings attacking the outer gate, including the mammoth, one giant manages to single-handedly lift the gate. Jon, knowing the inner gate won't hold against him, sends a group of black brothers lead by Grenn to hold it at any cost. Then, Sam arrives to ask him for more men to defend the castle: Ygritte killed Pypar with an arrow through the throat, and Tormund badly wounded Ser Alliser, with the rest on the verge of being overrun. Jon decides to give Edd control of the top of the Wall, and tasks Sam with releasing Ghost from his pen to assist in the fighting, then orders half a dozen other men to descend with him and finally enter the fray.[35]

Ygritte dies

Ygritte dies in Jon's arms.

Jon quickly dispatches many wildlings with Longclaw, catching the attention of Styr, Magnar of the Thenns, and so the two meet in single combat. Styr eventually gets the upper hand by knocking Longclaw away, then Jon disarms Styr of his axe using some chains, and the fighting goes hand to hand. Styr brutally smashes his face into an anvil and tosses him into the blacksmith's forge. However, when Styr picks Jon up and begins to strangle him, Jon spits blood in Styr's face, distracting him long enough for him to grab the blacksmith's hammer lying next to him and bury it into Styr's skull. Upon killing him, Jon turns around to find Ygritte pointing her bow at him with an arrow drawn. He smiles at her, causing her to hesitate. Before either can say anything, Ygritte is shot through the heart by Olly. Jon holds her in his arms as she tells him that they should have never left the cave, and they lament circumstances that prevented them from being together as she succumbs to her wound.[35]

Jon goes beyond the Wall

Jon ventures beyond the Wall to confront Mance Rayder.

Later, while Edd forces the wildling army to retreat for the night, down below Jon deals with a heavily wounded Tormund, who continues to fight despite being the only wildling left alive in the castle. Jon subdues him with a crossbow and orders his brothers to take him prisoner and interrogate him. The following morning, Jon discusses with Sam his suicidal solution to end the wildling threat: he plans to assassinate Mance Rayder, noting that he is the only thing binding the disparate wildling clans that make up the army, and his death will rob them of that purpose and leadership. Sam tries to stop him, but to no avail. As Jon prepares to leave via Castle Black's tunnel, they discover the bodies of the black brothers who held the inner gate against the giant. Grenn is amongst the casualties and Jon tells Sam that all bodies must be burned. Before Jon leaves, he remembers the promise he made to Jeor Mormont and decides to leave Longclaw with Sam. Sam tells Jon to come back, and Jon looks and Sam and smiles unreassuringly before stepping out into the wilderness on the other side of the gate.[35]

S04E10 - Jon & Stannis

Jon convinces Stannis Baratheon to arrest Mance Rayder for questioning.

Jon finds Mance in a wildling camp north of the Wall and claims he wants to negotiate with him. Despite Mance expressing disappointment at Jon's betrayal, they drink a toast to some of their fallen friends, such as Grenn, Ygritte, and Mag the giant. Mance then notices that Jon is eyeing a cooking knife, and quickly deduces that Jon came to parley with Mance simply so he could assassinate him. Before anyone can make a move, they are interrupted by the sound of war horns. Outside, hundreds of mounted knights led by Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth arrives and slaughter many of the wildlings, scattering the rest.
S04E10 - Burial of Ygritte

Jon gives Ygritte a northern burial beyond the Wall, at the request of Tormund.

Jon introduces himself to Stannis as Ned Stark's son, and suggests that Stannis arrest Mance instead of executing him, reasoning that Mance had the chance to kill him, but chose not to. Out of respect for Ned Stark, Stannis accepts, and Jon also advises Stannis to burn the bodies of the dead in order to prevent them from returning as wights. During the funeral, Jon notices Melisandre staring at him through the flames. Later, Jon visits Tormund, who tells Jon that Ygritte truly loved him, and asks him to lay Ygritte to rest north of the Wall. Jon later takes his love's body into the woods and burns it, weeping as he walks away.[36]

Season 5

Jon Snow spars with Olly, along with other new recruits before being summoned by Melisandre to see Stannis atop the Wall. He questions the Red Woman if she is cold, as she is dressed in unusually light clothing for the local climate, but she states that "the Lord's fire" lives within her. Melisandre asks if Jon is a virgin. Jon replies he is not, which she approves.

Jon and Mance wars to come

Jon tries to convince Mance to bend the knee to Stannis.

Jon meets with Stannis and Davos, kneeling before the king. With Roose Bolton ruling Winterfell, Stannis asks Jon if he wants to avenge his fallen half-brother. Jon reaffirms that he is a sworn brother of the Night's Watch. Davos states that his loyalty to the Watch is considered dubious because of his time spent with the wildlings. Nevertheless, Stannis wants Jon to retake the North with the help of the wildlings, stating that he will pardon them and declare them citizens of the realm once the war is won. Stannis will give the wildlings their lives and freedom if Mance bends the knee and swears his loyalty. He gives Jon until nightfall to convince Mance, or the King-Beyond-the-Wall will be burned.

Jon does his best to convince Mance to save his life as well as all the wildlings, but it is unsuccessful: the wildlings only follow him because he kneels to no one, so he if did kneel to Stannis they would lose all respect for him and ignore his commands anyway, so he might as well die with his honor intact by refusing. As Mance is led to the pyre, Stannis gives him one last chance to save his life. Mance politely refuses and is led to the stake and Melisandre lights the pyre. Unable to watch Mance suffer, Jon storms off. Just as the fire begins to fully consume Mance, he is mercifully shot through the heart with an arrow by Jon.[37]


Jon is elected the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

Stannis and Davos summon Jon to discuss his future. Stannis shows him a letter delivered by messnger-raven from Lyanna Mormont saying she would only pledge her House to a member of House Stark. Stannis offers a simple solution: as king, he will officially legitimize Jon and make him Lord of Winterfell. Later that day the choosing for the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch has begun and many brothers of the Night's Watch have assembled to vote for either Ser Alliser Thorne or Ser Denys Mallister commander of the Shadow Tower. After hearing from Jon that he intends to refuse Stannis's offer and stay true to his vows, Sam nominates Jon as the third candidate and recounts how he took command of the defense of Castle Black (including the fact that Thorne fought bravely and Janos Slynt was cowering in the pantry with Gilly) and was willing to sacrifice himself to stop Mance. With the votes cast, Maester Aemon and his aide tally the tokens and a tie is declared between Jon and Thorne. Aemon feels around in his hands for his voting chip and produces a circle token and adds it to Jon's stack amidst cheers and laughter as Jon has been chosen as the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.[38]

Jon is approached by Stannis and Davos about the offer of legitimization. As the new Lord Commander, Jon reminds the king that his place is with the Night's Watch, even though his dream was to be a Stark. Stannis, a man of duty, respects his decision to keep his vow and tells Jon he intends to march on Winterfell within a fortnight since the Night's Watch cannot afford to feed both his army and the wildling prisoners. He also recommends sending Alliser Thorne to command Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and that executing the wildling prisoners would be the safest choice. Stannis then leaves, but Davos stays behind and tries to further persuade Jon to help Stannis retake the North. Davos iterates that the Night's Watch is "the shield that guards the realms of men", telling Jon that it may not just mean protecting the Seven Kingdoms from beyond the Wall, but possibly taking part in battles in order to prevent the Seven Kingdoms from suffering, such as the North will under Bolton rule.


Lord Commander Jon Snow presides over a mess hall meeting.

During Jon's first general meeting of the garrison in the main hall as Lord Commander, he starts with some levity by assigning a black brother to oversee the digging of a new latrine pit. He also acknowledges Ser Alliser Thorne as an experienced and valuable member of the Night's Watch by naming him First Ranger. Jon then orders Janos Slynt to man and repair Greyguard, a ruined castle. Janos refuses to obey, even after Jon warns him that this was a direct order. Janos then refuses him a third time and publicly insults him, saying he can take his order and shove it up his bastard ass. Having publicly disobeyed and insulted Jon, the Lord Commander orders Janos taken outside, and calls for Olly to fetch him Longclaw. Obedience to the laws of his father, Eddard Stark - that the man who passes the sentence must swing the sword - Jon makes ready to personally behead Janos. While on the chopping block, Janos begins to plead for mercy, but Jon executes the cowardly former Commander of the City Watch with a single blow - incidentally exacting small justice on one of the men who betrayed his own father to his death, and slaughtered the Stark guardsmen in the throne room and King Robert's bastard children. From across the courtyard, Stannis Baratheon sees Jon behead Janos for refusing his orders, and slightly nods in approval.[39]

Janos before execution

Jon prepares to execute Janos Slynt.

Jon continues to train new recruits, with Stannis, Selyse, Shireen, and Melisandre observing him, with Stannis implying that he does not believe Jon to be Eddard's bastard son - saying that Eddard was always an honorable man and it wasn't in his character to randomly have sex with some tavern whore. Later, Sam presents him with requests to the Northern Lords for men for the Night's Watch, but he is reluctant to send one to Roose Bolton, his brother's killer, until Sam convinces him that they must stay neutral and ask for as many men as they can for the Watch, and right now the Boltons rule the North and have the most men - leading Jon to sign the request angrily. Melisandre enters his office and again tries to persuade him to chase the rats out of his home, but he claims that Castle Black is now his home. She attempts to seduce him, sensing a power inside his blood, but Jon rebuffs her, remembering his love for Ygritte. As Melisandre leaves, she tells him, "You know nothing, Jon Snow".[40]

Later on, Jon consults Maester Aemon for advice on a hard decision he is about to make, noting that half the men in the Night's Watch despise him for his sympathy for the wildlings, but Aemon tells him to "Kill the boy, and let the man be born," in other words, just make the hard choice and do what he believes is best. Indeed, Jon's plan is to allow the wildlings to pass the Wall and settle in the North as subjects of the Seven Kingdoms or even let them join the Watch. Jon's idea is met with harsh criticism, even from his closes friends such as Edd and Olly, but Jon's goal is actually to keep the wildlings from falling into the hands of the coming White Walker army. Jon points out that every single wildling left on the north side of the Wall will be killed, then resurrected and and added to the White Walkers ever-growing army of the undead. Jon speaks alone with Tormund, who reveals that the remainder of Mance's army probably fled back to Hardhome, a large fishing village on the coast. Jon requests that Tormund go there and negotiate with the remaining wildling chieftains, to let them pass through the Wall on Jon's terms. Tormund agrees, so long as Jon accompanies him so that the wildlings will know it is not a trap. Jon borrows several of Stannis's ships for the journey (as he is marching inland and won't be using them). Later, as Stannis prepares to leave Castle Black for Winterfell with his army, Jon thanks him for his help, promises him he will have his ships back, and watches Stannis depart for Winterfell to take his childhood home back from the Boltons.[41]

Jon later prepares to leave Castle Black with Tormund and a group of black brothers including Edd. He entrusts the care of the Night's Watch to Thorne, who criticizes his mission, and says his farewells to Sam, who gives him a bag of dragonglass daggers in case he should run into White Walkers on the way. He hugs Sam for what might be the last time and leaves Castle Black on his mission. Later at Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton mentions to Sansa Stark that Jon has been made the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, citing Jon as an example of a bastard who rose high in the world, claiming that if Jon did it, then so can he.[42]


Jon uses Longclaw to defeat a White Walker.

Jon reaches Hardhome with his companions. After Tormund kills the Lord of Bones for challenging him, he and Jon go inside a hut to speak with the leaders of the clans. Though the wildlings are prepared to kill Jon for murdering Mance, Tormund stands up for him and reveals that Jon in fact killed Mance out of mercy. Jon offers to share the dragonglass weapons with the wildlings and allow them to settle on land south of the Wall, if they promise to aid the Night's Watch in the coming battle against the White Walkers: even if they and all the men of the Seven Kingdoms are not enough to stop them, they can at least die fighting. Five thousand wildlings agree while the rest decide to stay, though Tormund hopes more will come around with time. However, as they are preparing to leave, they are all attacked by an army of wights. Jon fights his way to the hut to retrieve the dragonglass daggers, but he is ambushed by a White Walker. They fight for a while and Jon is almost killed until he retrieves Longclaw. To the surprise of both Jon and the White Walker, Longclaw doesn't shatter from the cold of the Walker's weapon when he uses it to parry his attack - because it is made of Valyrian steel, forged with dragon-fire and spells. 


Jon gazes upon the horrific aftermath of the Hardhome massacre.

Jon quickly regains his ground and slashes the White Walker with it, making it shatter into a cloud of ice particles, and revealing that the White Walkers can also be killed by Valyrian steel. Edd helps Jon to his feet and they make it back to the boats to Stannis's ships, with the wights refusing to follow them in the water. But as they leave, the Night's King himself appears at thousands of e wharf and shares a long glance with Jon, at the same time using his magic to raise all of the dead as wights before Jon's eyes. Jon looks on in obvious terror, as he knows the slaughter he just witnessed is merely a prelude to what is coming for all of Westeros.[43]

Jon and the others make it back to the north side of Castle Black on foot (no explanation is given why they didn't simply sail back to Eastwatch at the eastern end of the Wall), and he makes himself seen by Alliser Thorne so that they will be let inside. Thorne hesitates but ultimately relents and orders the gates to be opened. As the wildlings are let through Castle Black into the Seven Kingdoms, Jon laments not being able to save the rest, while Samwell comforts him, reminding him that he at least saved a few, who would have died too if he did nothing. Thorne, however, warns Jon, telling him that his kind heart will get him killed. Indeed, as Jon looks around, he sees almost all of his brothers looking at him scornfully, among them Olly, Othell Yarwyck, and Bowen Marsh.[44]

Jon discusses with Sam the war against the White Walkers, and his increasingly strained relationship with the rest of the Night's Watch. Sam asks for leave to take Gilly and her baby with him to Oldtown where he will train to become a maester. Sam reasons that he is better suited to the life of a maester than a warrior, and that the Night's Watch needs to fill the gap left by the late Aemon Targaryen. Jon is reluctant, as he has few friends nowadays, and also points out that as a maester, Sam's vow of chastity will be doubly prevalent, before finding out that Sam and Gilly have had sex already (to Jon's amusement). Jon eventually agrees to Sam's request and sees him off.

Davos Seaworth returns to Castle Black to beg Jon for soldiers - though this was really just a ruse to get Davos out of Stannis's camp, because he had become so desperate that he gave in to Melisandre's request to burn Shireen as a sacrifice. Jon points out that the Night's Watch, even if they do ally with Stannis, will not be enough, and the wildlings will not fight for Stannis as it isn't their fight. Their argument is broken up by the arrival of a wearied and addled Melisandre - who abandoned Stannis when it became apparent he would lose the Battle of Winterfell. When Davos questions her about Stannis and Shireen, she says nothing yet her sorrow is manifest, all but confirming the demise of his king and princess. Still forlorn and at a loss for words, Melisandre heads inside the castle, leaving both Jon and Davos horrified at the news.

Jon's death

Jon is stabbed to death by his own men.

That night while reading messages, Olly comes to Jon and tells him one of the wildlings knows of the whereabouts of his uncle Benjen Stark, who has been missing since before the Great Ranging. Jon quickly follows Thorne to a gathering of his Watch brothers, only to find a sign marked "Traitor". Thorne, Yarwyck, Marsh and two other black brothers proceed to stab Jon while uttering, "For the Watch." As the wounded Jon kneels, gasping for breath, Olly tearfully comes forward and after a few moments of pause, stabs Jon and declares, "For the Watch." Jon collapses from his wounds and the mutineers leave him out in the cold to bleed to death.[45]

Season 6

Upon seeing the body of his dead master, Ghost howls in mourning from his pen. His cries summon Davos, Edd and a handful of other black brothers who quickly move Jon's body to his quarters. They quickly realize that Thorne was most likely the orchestrator of Jon's demise, and free Ghost to help them protect Jon's body while Edd leaves to find Tormund and the Wildlings. Melisandre also looks at Jon's body and claims that she had seen a vision of him fighting at Winterfell, though Davos remains adamant that Jon is gone for good. Thorne later approaches Davos and the loyal brothers with a promise of amnesty if they throw their weapons down and surrender, though they refuse to back down, despite Thorne's threats of death if they don't.[46]

Jon Snow Alive

Jon is revived by Melisandre.

After being rescued by Edd and the wildlings, Davos goes to Melisandre and asks if there's any magic she knows of that can resurrect Jon. Shaken by Stannis' death, she says all she believed in was a lie. Davos states that he wasn't asking the Lord of Light for help, but Melisandre herself.

Melisandre then performs a ritual with Jon's body: cleaning his wounds, cutting some of his hair, trimming his beard, and burning it in the fire, all while chanting in High Valyrian. Her attempts seem to be in vain and Tormund storms out in frustration. Those remaining leave the room one by one, and after a few moments alone with Ghost, Jon awakens, gasping for air.[47]

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 5.36.07 PM

Jon prepares to hang the mutineers

Coming back to his senses, Jon is accosted by Davos and Melisandre. He reflects on his perceived failure in spite of doing the right thing, but after some encouragement from Davos, Jon gets dressed and enters the courtyard to the surprise of every wildling present, reuniting with Tormund and Edd. Later, the leaders of the mutiny are rounded up for execution. After hearing last words from each (with the exception of Olly), Jon once again acts in accordance with his father's law that "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword" and personally cuts the trapdoor rope, hanging them simultaneously.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 5.42.20 PM

Jon relinquishes his command as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch to Edd.

Technically free from his vows, Jon then passes his cloak and command to Edd, declaring his intent to leave the Night's Watch.[48]

A day later, Jon packs his belongings. Edd chastises him for abandoning the Night's Watch despite the threat of the White Walkers looming, and reminds Jon of the oath he swore. Jon retorts by saying that he already died, and that he couldn't stay after what was done to him. His half-sister, Sansa Stark arrives after escaping Ramsay Bolton with help from Theon Greyjoy, along with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. After a moment of stunned disbelief, Jon joyfully embraces his long-lost sibling.

Book of the Stranger 36

Jon reunites with Sansa.

Shortly thereafter, Jon brings Sansa inside to get warm and eat. The two share their lives since leaving Winterfell, and reminisce about their childhoods. Sansa regretfully mentions how awful she was to Jon during their youth, and that she felt guilty about it for years. Jon shrugs it off as childhood mischief, though he forgives Sansa after she presses the issue. The pair acknowledge that their last haven is Winterfell, and even then, the Boltons are currently occupying it, but Jon is reluctant to fight again after everything he's been through.

Book of the Stranger 24

Sansa implores Jon to help her take back Winterfell and save Rickon.

Later, as Jon eats with Sansa, Brienne, Podrick, Tormund and Edd, he receives a letter from Ramsay, informing him that he is holding Rickon prisoner and furiously demanding the return of Sansa on threat of massacring Jon's allies, raping Sansa and murdering Rickon and Jon. Jon notes Ramsay's signature and Sansa deduces that Roose Bolton is dead. Jon asks Tormund how many men he has; Tormund says 2,000, not enough to fight Ramsay's 5,000 by themselves. With some urging from Sansa to rally the Northern Houses still loyal to the Starks, Jon resolves to take Ramsay down.[49]


Jon, Sansa and their followers depart Castle Black to rally the North.

While discussing strategy with Davos, Melisandre, Sansa, Brienne, Edd, and Tormund, Jon bitterly notes that they simply don't have the numbers to challenge the Boltons at present. Even though the three most powerful houses are already backing the Boltons, Jon suggests rallying the weaker houses, as their combined strength would give them a numerical advantage when combined with his current forces. When Sansa mentions Brynden Tully's recapture of Riverrun and the virtual guarantee of support from the Tullys, Jon is surprised that Sansa has such valuable information. Thereafter, Jon, Sansa, Tormund and Brienne leave Castle Black. [50]

With help from Tormund, Jon speaks with the wildlings and asks for their help in the coming battle against Ramsay. Though Tormund speaks for Jon, Dalba is skeptical, citing that they were allowed into the North to help fight against the White Walkers, not the Boltons. Jon points out that if they do not help, Ramsay will wipe them all out anyway. Tormund also points out that Jon effectively died for the wildlings' well-being, something they owe him for. The wildlings agree after Wun Wun stands up and says "Snow", confirming his allegiance. Jon, Sansa and Davos later accost Lady Lyanna Mormont, who previously refused to aid Stannis Baratheon. Jon tells Lyanna of his friendship and service under her uncle, Jeor Mormont, while he was in the Night's Watch, though Lyanna initially refuses them, citing that Jon is a bastard and Sansa has been married into House Lannister and House Bolton. Jon reveals that Ramsay is holding Rickon hostage, and Davos manages to convince her that they need to defeat Ramsay in order to unite the North against the coming White Walkers. Lyanna agrees and supplies them with sixty-two men, the remaining force of House Mormont, promising that each will fight with the worth of ten men. However, Jon fails to convince Robett Glover to pledge his allegiance to them, as he cites Robb Stark's failures to protect the North from the Ironborn and Jon's allegiance with the wildlings. Despite being heavily out numbered, Jon remains adamant that they attack Winterfell before Ramsay gathers more men or the weather turns against them. Behind Jon's back, however, Sansa sends a letter calling for help.[51]

Jon meets other houses s6

Jon meets the Boltons, Umbers, and Karstarks.

Ramsay, Smalljon Umber, and Harald Karstark meet with Jon, Sansa, Tormund, Davos, and Lyanna Mormont at the battlefield the day before the battle. Jon offers Ramsay a chance to settle their dispute in one on one combat but Ramsay refuses, citing his almost certain victory due to his significantly larger army. Ramsay offers surrender terms saying he will pardon Jon for breaking his Night's Watch vows if he will hand Sansa over, which is ignored. In response, he acknowledges Sansa's presence and expresses his anticipation that she will return to his side once he defeats the Stark army. Sansa asks for proof of Rickon's capture, which he provides by way of the decapitated head of his direwolf, Shaggydog. Sansa refuses the terms of surrender and tells Ramsay he will die the following day before riding off.[52]

Jon holds a meeting with Tormund and Davos, in which he discusses their battle plan to let the Boltons attack the middle of their formation in order to encircle their army. After the meeting, Sansa criticizes Jon for not listening to her advice and for attacking too early insisting that they could have gathered more men. Jon however insists that this is the largest army they could possibly gather. Jon meets with Melisandre and insists to her not to bring him back if he should fall in the battle. Melisandre insists it's not her gift that has brought Jon back but the Lord of Light's and that only the Lord of Light can decide Jon's fate.[52]

Jon prepares for battle s6

Jon prepares to rescue Rickon.

The armies gather the following morning as Ramsay brings out Rickon. Telling Rickon that they are playing a game, he tells Rickon to run towards Jon's army and as he does brings out a bow. Jon hastily rides out on a horse to try to save Rickon as Ramsay fires arrows at him. Ramsay appears to have no intention of hitting Rickon with his few shots but eventually, just as Jon was approaching his brother, Rickon is struck in the back with an arrow and killed. With Jon now defenseless in the middle of the battlefield, Bolton archers fire volleys of arrows in his direction with the Bolton cavalry charging at him as well. The Stark cavalry begin their charge to meet the Bolton cavalry, narrowly saving Jon from being trampled, forcing them to abandon their initial strategy of luring the Bolton army into encirclement. After luring Jon's army forwards, Ramsay executes his own pincer movement with his infantry, completely encircling the Stark/Wildling army.[52]

Battle of the bastards Jon main

Jon Snow fights against Ramsay Bolton's army.

The Bolton army continues to press their advantage, with interlocking spears from all directions forcing Jon's army closer and closer together. Jon nearly suffocates as he is pushed beneath the tide of Wildlings that are pushed into one another, but he eventually claws his way out, just in time to see Petyr Baelish and Sansa arrive with reinforcements courtesy of House Arryn. The cavalry from the Vale quickly flanks the encircling Bolton army, which is decimated. Vindicated, Jon makes eye contact with Ramsay as he retreats from the battlefield, clearly satisfied by this turn of events and realizing that Sansa was right all along. Ramsay returns to Winterfell and closes the gates, confident that their opponent is not equipped for siege of Winterfell, as long as they remain within the gates, and he readies his archers. However, unexpectedly, with the help of the giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, Jon's forces manage to breach the gates, and the remaining Bolton forces are defeated, although Wun Wun is severely injured by a barrage of arrows and spears, and eventually succumbs to Ramsay's final arrow, as Jon and Tormund watch on in horror, helpless to save their friend.[52]

Ramsay finally accepts Jon's offer to a one-on-one duel, while wielding a bow and arrow. Grabbing a nearby shield, Jon deftly blocks all of Ramsay's shots with his shield until he gets close enough to smack the bow out of Ramsay's hands and hit him to the ground, whereupon he punches Ramsay's face into a bloody pulp. Though it seems as if Jon will kill Ramsay, he stops when he sees Sansa, knowing she has as much right to revenge as he does. Jon orders Ramsay locked up and the remaining Boltons surrender. Rickon's body is found and Jon orders his body buried in the crypt with Ned's bones. Sansa asks Jon for Ramsay's whereabouts, and he directs her to the kennels, where she kills Ramsay that night by setting his own hounds on him.[52]

After the battle, Ser Daavos tells Jon about Mellisandre burning the Princess Shireen at the stake. She admits to her crimes but defends herself by saying that the horses were dying and the men were starving so it was the only way. Daavos then counters back by saying that Stannis died anyway. Jon asks if she has anything to say for herself. Mellisandre admits that she was wrong about Stannis but that everything she does is for a greater purpose and that she will help Jon when the Army of the Dead arrives. Jon then orders her to head south and says that if she ever comes back, he'll have her hanged. Daavos adds to this by saying that he'll kill her himself if she comes back. Jon and Sansa then watch Mellisandre head south. Jon says that Sansa can have Ned and Catelyn's old room as she was the one to send in the Knight's of the Vale. Sansa then says that he should have it, but he insists that she has it. Jon asks if she trust Littlefinger, and she says that only a fool would trust him. Sansa apologizes for not telling Jon about the Vale, but he says that without her, they would've lost. Jon then says that they need to trust each other as they have " many enemies now.". Sansa finally says that a white raven flew in from Oldtown, announcing that winter has finally come.

During a meeting with the Wildlings, northern houses, and the Vale, many of the lords cast doubt upon this alliance. Lady Lyanna Mormont then rises, saying that Jon may be a bastard but Ned Stark's blood runs through him, which she says makes him a true Stark. She says that the other lords are cowards for not helping Jon during the Battle of the Bastards. The other lords decide that she's right and proclaim Jon the King in the North.


"You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood."
Eddard Stark to Jon before he leaves for the Night's Watch.[src]

Because he was raised by Ned Stark in Winterfell, Jon has adopted a clear moral compass and a true sense of honor, which he tries his hardest to abide by even when he must make a difficult decision, especially after he became Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He has always admired and idolized his father, but due to Catelyn Stark's cold disdain for Jon, Eddard was careful not to give him more attention than his lawful children by Catelyn. Lady Stark was never actively mean to Jon, but because he wasn't her own son she intentionally ignored him (as is common for bastard children), meaning that Jon grew up without a mother-figure. Nor did Jon consider Catelyn's behavior to be unusual or unexpected: it is rare for a noble to raise their bastard child alongside their lawful children, and his presence was a great insult to her honor. While his interactions with Catelyn remained awkward or nonexistent, he actually became good friends with his half-siblings, particularly Robb and Arya. Robb was of the same age as Jon so they became playmates and comrades in training, while due to her tomboyish personality Arya was also something of a social misfit like Jon, which they bonded over.

Like many bastard children, Jon had to learn to grow up quickly. This made Jon mature and perceptive beyond his age, so he could navigate his complicated relationships within the Stark household. His bastard status has also made Jon something of a loner, solemn and somber with a desire to prove himself to society and to his father. Jon thought that the best way for a bastard in his position to gain honor and respect was to join the Night's Watch, emulating his uncle Benjen, because past social status is ignored after joining the Watch. Despite his introverted demeanor, Jon is very compassionate and protective of his fellow outcasts such as Samwell Tarly, Grenn, and Pyp.

In many ways, Jon has been unusually lucky for a bastard child, given how rare it is for a lord to raise one in his own castle alongside his lawful children. For all of Jon's misgivings about not knowing his mother and Catelyn ignoring and shunning him, he was loved by his father and siblings, was never poor or hungry, but lived in a castle and always had a roof over his head. Jon was also formally trained in swordsmanship by Ser Rodrik Cassel, and excelled at it. This made Jon somewhat arrogant when he was a new recruit at Castle Black, until Tyrion pointed out that the other recruits were all far less fortunate than he was. This humbles Jon, and he changes his behavior to be the champion of the other downtrodden recruits, and helps train them by walking them through the swordplay techniques he knows.

The Starks were an interfaith household, with Eddard and Catelyn's children being exposed to not only the religion of the Old Gods of the Forest worshiped by most Northmen, but also Catelyn's devout adherence to the Faith of the Seven. Because Jon had no real interaction with Catelyn, and revered his father Eddard, he was not exposed to the Seven but proudly keeps to the Old Gods, and honors the traditions of his First Men ancestors. When Jon took his vow to become a member of the Night's Watch, he chose to do so in front of a heart tree, sacred to the Old Gods.

Jon is also fairly shy around women, and as he revealed to Samwell, he was a virgin when he joined the Night's Watch. While he was attractive enough, as a bastard son with nothing to inherit he had no realistic marriage prospects with noblewomen. Jon was even wary of having sex with random girls or prostitutes (as Theon did), because he was terrified of fathering a bastard of his own: having lived his life as a bastard, he felt that it wasn't a life another child should have to go through.

However, death has changed Jon. Despite his honorable convictions and previous commitment to the Night's Watch, his experience being murdered by his own men and then revived has made Jon far more cynical and nihilistic. No longer believing in himself and his ability to face the coming threat, due to being murdered for doing what he thought was right - Jon abandons the Night's Watch, despite knowing full well how dangerous the threat looming beyond the Wall really is. He loses his determination about fighting and becomes much more lonely and melancholic only speaking when he hasn't any other choice. Also, Jon feels remorse for hanging his former steward Olly, even though the latter did murder both him and the woman he loved. While he is wary of conflict since his return, his love for his family has brought him back into the fight. To this end, Jon chooses his family over the Night's Watch - a choice he once attempted to make when Robb marched off to war, but forsook in the past. When Ramsay decides to play a "game" with Rickon, Jon once again chooses his family by attempting to save his little brother's life, even at the cost of his own life and battle plans.


TV Series

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
Season Five appearances
The Wars To Come The House of Black and White High Sparrow Sons of the Harpy Kill the Boy
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken The Gift Hardhome The Dance of Dragons Mother’s Mercy
Season Six appearances
The Red Woman * Home Oathbreaker Book of the Stranger The Door
Blood of My Blood The Broken Man No One Battle of the Bastards The Winds of Winter

* Appears as a corpse.

Video Game

Telltale Game Series appearances
Iron From Ice The Lost Lords The Sword in the Darkness Sons of Winter A Nest of Vipers The Ice Dragon


"I never met my mother. My father wouldn't even tell me her name. I don't know if she's living or dead. I don't know if she's a noblewoman or a fisherman's wife or a whore..."
―Jon Snow to Samwell Tarly[src]
"I'm the watcher on The Wall."
―Jon Snow taking the black.[src]
"My father told me big men fall just as quick as little ones, if you put a sword through their hearts."
―Jon Snow to Tormund[src]
"With me, lads. Castle Black's not falling tonight."
―Jon Snow during the battle for Castle Black.[src]
"I'm not asking you to forget your dead. I’ll never forget mine. I lost fifty brothers the night that Mance attacked the Wall. But I’m asking you to think about your children now. They’ll never have children of their own if we don’t band together. The Long Night is coming and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them. The Free Folk can’t stop them, the Night’s Watch can’t stop them and all the southern kings can’t stop them! Only together. All of us. And even then it may not be enough, but at least we give the fuckers a fight."
―Jon Snow[src]
"Ramsay Bolton cannot be allowed to keep Winterfell, my lady. It is our duty to stop him, even more so because he holds our brother Rickon Stark his prisoner."
―Jon Snow to Lyanna Mormont.[src]
"If I fall, don't bring me back."
―Jon Snow to Melisandre[src]
"Thousands of men don't need to die. Only one of us."
―Jon Snow to Ramsay Bolton.[src]

"Go on, Tommy, shear him good. He's never met a girl he likes better than his own hair."
―Robb Stark about Jon Snow.[src]
"Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
Tyrion Lannister to Jon Snow[src]
"Seventeen years ago you rode off with Robert Baratheon. You came back a year later with another woman's son."
Catelyn Stark to Ned Stark[src]
"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 to Jon Snow[src]
"Honor made you leave, and honor brought you back."
Jeor Mormont to Jon Snow[src]
"You're prettier than half my daughters."
Craster to Jon Snow[src]
"Your death will be a gift for them south of the Wall. They'll never know what you've done. They'll never know how you died. They won't even know your damn name. But they'll be alive because some nameless bastard north of the Wall gave his life for theirs..."
Qhorin Halfhand to Jon Snow[src]
"Snow, a bastard from the North. Now when- when good old Ned came home with some whore's baby, did you pretend to love it? No. You're not very good at pretending. You're an honest woman. You hated that boy, didn't you? How could you not hate him? The walking, talking reminder that the honorable Lord Eddard Stark fucked another woman."
Jaime Lannister antagonizes Catelyn Stark by reminding her of Jon Snow.[src]
Catelyn Stark: "Many years before that, one of the boys came down with the pox. Maester Luwin said if he made it through the night, he'd live. But it would be a very long night. So I sat with him all through the darkness, listened to his ragged little breaths, his coughing, his whimpering."
Talisa Stark: "Which boy?"
Catelyn Stark: "Jon Snow. When my husband brought that baby home from the war, I couldn't bear to look at him. Didn't want to see those brown stranger's eyes staring at me. So I prayed to the gods "Take him away, make him die." He got the pox and I knew I was the worst woman who ever lived. A murderer. I'd condemned this poor, innocent child to a horrible death all because I was jealous of his mother, a woman he didn't even know! So I prayed to all Seven Gods, "Let the boy live. Let him live and I'll love him. I'll be a mother to him. I'll beg my husband to give him a true name, to call him Stark and be done with it, to make him one of us.""
Talisa Stark: "And he lived?"
Catelyn Stark: "And he lived. And I couldn't keep my promise. And everything that's happened since then, all this horror that's come to my family, it's all because I couldn't love a motherless child."
Catelyn Stark tells Talisa Stark about Jon Snow[src]
Selyse Baratheon: "You think highly of this boy."
Stannis Baratheon: "Lord Commander of the Night's Watch"
Selyse Baratheon: "A bastard by some tavern slut."
Stannis Baratheon: "Perhaps. But that wasn't Ned Stark's way."
Selyse Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon discuss Jon Snow.[src]
"Bastards can rise high in the world, like your half-brother Jon Snow. Born the bastard of Winterfell, now the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. You didn't know? Yes, he's done very well for himself."
Ramsay Bolton about Jon Snow.[src]
"Who does Jon Snow want to command? The Night's Watch or the wildlings? Everyone knows he loved a wildling girl. He spoke with Mance Rayder many times. What would have happened in that tent between those two old friends if Stannis's army hadn't come along? We all saw him put the King-Beyond-the-Wall out of his misery. Do you want to choose a man who's been fighting the wildlings all his life? Or a man who makes love to them?"
Alliser Thorne attempts to dissuade the others from electing Jon Snow as the new Lord Commander.[src]
"He’s prettier then both my daughters, but he knows how to fight. He’s young, but he knows how to lead. He didn’t have to come to Hardhome. He came because he needs us. And we need him."
Tormund on Jon Snow[src]
"You have a good heart, Jon Snow. It will get us all killed."
Alliser Thorne to Jon Snow as the wildlings pass through Castle Black[src]
Roose Bolton: "Jon Snow is a bastard, not a Stark."
Ramsay Bolton: "So was I, Father."
Harald Karstark: "Your hold on the North will never be secure as long as a Stark can walk through that door."
Ramsay Bolton and Harald Karstark warn Roose Bolton about Jon.[src]
"We just have to make it to Castle Black. Once we're with Jon, Ramsay won't be able to touch us."
―Sansa Stark to Theon Greyjoy about Jon.[src]
"If you want to help him, leave him be."
―Melisandre to Davos Seaworth about Jon.[src]
"They think you're some kind of God. The man who returned from the dead."
―Tormund to Jon Snow about how the wildlings see his ressurection.[src]
"You are the son of the last true Warden of the North. Northern families are loyal, they'll fight for you if you ask. A monster has taken our home and our brother. We have to go back and save them both!"
―Sansa Stark to  Jon Snow seeking his help in taking back Winterfell.[src]
"The crows killed him because he spoke for the Free Folk as no other southerner would. He died for us! If we are not willing to do the same, we're cowards. If that's what we are, we deserve to be the last of the Free Folk."
―Tormund to the wildlings about Jon[src]

Jon Snow: "Why's your mother so deadset on us getting pretty for the King?"
Theon Greyjoy: "It's for the Queen, I bet. I heard she has a sleek little minge."
Robb Stark: "I heard the prince is a right royal prick."
— Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy and Robb Stark.[src]
Robb Stark: "Next time I see you, you'll be all in black."
Jon Snow: "It was always my color."
Robb Stark: "Farewell, Snow."
Jon Snow: "And you, Stark."
Robb Stark's final words to Jon Snow.[src]
Eddard Stark: "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."
Jon Snow: "Is my mother alive? Does she know about me? Where I am, where I'm going? Does she care?"
Eddard Stark: "The next time we see each other, we'll talk about your mother. I promise."
Eddard Stark's final words to Jon Snow.[src]
Davos Seaworth: "Some of the Night's Watch fear you have too much affection for the wildings."
Jon Snow: "They were born on the wrong side of the Wall, that doesn't make them monsters!"
Davos Seaworth and Jon Snow[src]
Jon Snow: "I don't know what I have left to give you."
Stannis Baratheon: "You can give me the North."
Jon Snow: "I can't. Even if wanted to, I'm a bastard. A Snow."
Stannis Baratheon: "Kneel before me, lay your sword at my feet, pledge me your service and you'll rise again as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell."
— Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon.[src]
Edison Tollet: "Your eyes are still brown. Is that still you in there?"
Jon Snow: "I think so. Hold off on burning my body for now!"
Dolorous Edd and Jon Snow.[src]
Bowen Marsh: "You shouldn't be alive. It's not right!"
Jon Snow: "Neither was killing me."
Bowen Marsh and Jon Snow[src]
Sansa Stark: "Winterfell is our home. It's ours. And Arya's and Bran's and Rickon's wherever they are. It belongs to our family, we have to fight for it!"
Jon Snow: "I am tired of fighting! It's all I've done since I left home. I killed brothers of the Night's Watch, I've killed wildlings, I've killed men I admire, I hanged a boy, younger than Bran! I've fought, and I lost."
Sansa Stark: "If we don't take back the North, we'll never be safe. I want you to help me, but I'll do it myself if I have to."
Sansa Stark and Jon Snow[src]
Jon Snow: "Battles have been won against greater odds. I've fought beyond the Wall against worse than Ramsay Bolton."
Sansa Stark: "You don't know him."
— Jon and Sansa about Ramsay Bolton.[src]

Image gallery

Family tree


Aerion family tree
Aerion Targaryen
Aemon Targaryen Maesters-ShieldNight's-Watch-Main-Shield
Aegon V family tree
Aegon V Targaryen
Targaryen Queen
Duncan Targaryen
Aerys Targaryen template Image
Aerys II Targaryen
Rhaella tree
Rhaella Targaryen
Daeron Targaryen
Elia Martell House-Martell-Main-Shield
Rhaegar Targaryen
Lyanna tree
Lyanna Stark House-Stark-Main-Shield
Viserys tree
Viserys Targaryen
Daenerys tree
Daenerys Targaryen
Drogo tree
Rhaenys tree
Rhaenys Targaryen
Aegon Targaryen
Jon Snow family tree image
"Jon Snow"
(Aegon Targaryen)


Rickard Stark
Lyarra Stark
Brandon Stark

Catelyn Stark
née Tully House-Tully-Main-Shield
Eddard Stark

Lyanna tree
Lyanna Stark

Rhaegar Targaryen House-Targaryen-Main-Shield
Benjen Stark Night's-Watch-Main-Shield

Robb fam tree
Robb Stark
Family tree Talisa
Talisa Stark
née Maegyr
Tyrion Lannister House-Lannister-Main-Shield
Sansa Stark
Ramsay Bolton House-Bolton-Main-Shield
Arya Stark
Bran Stark
Rickon fam tree
Rickon Stark
Jon Snow family tree image
"Jon Snow"
(Aegon Targaryen)

Behind the scenes

On the Season 3 Blu-ray, Jon narrates the Histories & Lore video "The North".

During casting for the first season, Harington competed with fellow cast members Iwan Rheon, Alfie Allen and Joe Dempsie for the role of Jon Snow. Rheon was later cast as Ramsay Snow/Bolton, Allen as Theon Greyjoy and Dempsie as Gendry. Harington remains close friends with all three.

Harington is contractually obligated to keep his hair long enough in the off-season that he can return to playing Jon Snow during actual filming - it would take longer than a full year for his hair to grow back to its full length need for the role. To achieve Jon Snow's signature long dark hair, the TV series's hair designer Kevin Alexander first has to dye Harington's hair slightly darker; Then, to create the effect of dirty ringlets, he dampens the hair and then puts in a mixture of wax and hair putty before the hair totally dries. This combination keeps the curls soft and movable - if they were put on dry hair it would make it stiff.[53]

Despite initial claims from Harington, Benioff and Weiss that Jon had been killed off for good following the fifth season, Harington later hinted that Jon would return in some way, which was proven true in the sixth season. Harington confirmed that he had been told to lie to the rest of the cast and even his friends and family. Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, apparently believed him, while Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth, did not (reportedly laughingly telling Harington to "fuck off"). Even the rest of the cast were forced to assert that Jon was dead, such as Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, while Natalie Dormer said that Jon was "dead right now.....right now", hinting that he would return. Throughout production, the name "Jon Snow" was not even allowed to be mentioned except for script-readouts; he was referred to only as "LC" (Lord Commander). Rampant speculation broke out after the leaking of a photograph which showed Harington as Jon wearing the outfit of a House Stark soldier, fueling fans' beliefs that Jon was not gone for good. The first poster released for the sixth season featured a bloodied-but-apparently-alive Jon, further teasing that Jon would return. After the airing of "Home", Harington issued a public apology to the series' fanbase for lying to everyone and expressed appreciation for the fans' love for his character.

While shooting Jon's showdown with Ramsay in "Battle of the Bastards", Harington actually punched Iwan Rheon twice by accident, though Rheon was not seriously hurt. Harington and Rheon are good friends in real life.

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 (except Arya, to an extent, but she is a girl, while he looks very much like a young version of Eddard). From his half-siblings, he is closest with Robb and Arya, while getting on relatively well with Sansa, Bran and Rickon. Unlike in the television series, Jon's rivalry with Theon is more antagonistic than friendly, since Jon is jealous of Theon's highborn status, while Theon resents Jon for being bastard-born but treated better than him by Eddard. Eddard refuses to reveal who Jon's mother is. Jon feels alienated from his family because of his bastard status and the coldness of Lady Catelyn, who sees him as an interloper in her family and resents that he lives at Winterfell with her true-born children. At the feast to welcome King Robert Jon is made to sit with the commoners, far from his father and brothers, as Catelyn fears that the king or queen would take insult at sharing a table with a bastard. This coincides with the visit by his uncle Benjen, and (emboldened by having more than he is used to drinking) makes Jon realize that his future may lie outside Winterfell's walls. His uncle frustrates Jon by telling him to wait a few years before deciding, but when Eddard decides to go to King's Landing, Lady Catelyn refuses to allow Jon to remain behind at Winterfell. Catelyn was relieved because when Jon joined the Watch he forsook any right to inheritance, and could never challenge her own sons for Winterfell. Nor did Catelyn have to pressure Jon into joining: he went to the Wall of his own volition, albeit because he had been raised on legends of the former glories of the Night's Watch. There is no mention in the books that Jon caught the pox as a child and Catelyn, out of guilt, prayed for him to survive: in A Game of Thrones, Catelyn states outright that she wishes it was Jon who had fallen from the broken tower in Bran's place. He is crestfallen to discover that the Watch is now a glorified penal colony, full of murderers, rapers, and other outcasts, and few of the recruits are like his uncle.

The prostitute character Ros was invented for the TV series, so Jon never tried to have sex with her only to back down from it in the end out of fear of fathering a bastard - though the novels do have Jon make some similar statements that he is horrified at the thought of creating bastard children of his own who would be looked down upon with nothing to inherit, as he grew up, thus the overall point that Jon didn't really have any experience with women before joining the Watch basically stands.

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.

Jon didn't see a White Walker taking one of Craster's sons in the forest as he did in the TV series. When Mance Rayder later asks him why he would betray the Night's Watch to join the wildlings, Jon instead point out that it is because he will always be treated with scorn as a bastard, pointing out how back at the feast of Winterfell he wasn't allowed to sit at the main table with the "real" Starks.

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 and Tyrion Lannister do not get dashingly roguish scars over their eyes - they outright lose their sword hand and nose, respectively). 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.

The subplot in Season 4 in which Jon Snow returns to Craster's Keep to finish off the mutineers there (that never occurs in the novels - no punitive action is taken against the mutineers at any point), and nearly encounters Bran again, was an invention of the TV series: in the books, the Battle of Castle Black begins soon after Jon returns, but due to the way the TV seasons were split, Jon returned at the end of Season 3 - even though the battle would only take place as the climax at the end of Season 4. Jon therefore had to have something to do in the earlier parts of the season.

Unbeknownst to Jon, late in the third novel Robb names him as his heir: since Jeyne has not given him heirs yet, Bran and Rickon are reported as dead, Arya is missing, and Sansa was forced to marry Tyrion - the Lannisters could lay claim to the North. Robb realizes that he needs to name a new heir, because if he dies there will be no obvious successor to challenge the Lannister's claim through Sansa, and decides Jon is the best choice - given that Robb is a king, he can simply issue a decree legitimizing Jon. Catelyn pleads with Robb not to choose Jon, and instead pick a very distant cousin from House Royce, but Robb does not listen to her. He signs the decree in the presence of several of his northern lords as witnesses. However, it is unknown what has become of the decree, as it is no longer mentioned in the books. It is speculated that Robb has given it to Maege Mormont and Galbart Glover, whom he sent on a mission to seek out Howland Reed (therefore they do not attend the Red Wedding), but their current location is unknown. So far in the books, Jon has not received the decree, and has no idea of its existence.

Jon is tempted by Stannis's offer to make him Lord of Winterfell. He has only three reservations: he is a bastard; Winterfell is ruined; he is bound by his oath to the Watch. Stannis assures Jon he can legitimize him, and Winterfell can be rebuilt. As for the oath: Melisandre tells Jon "R'hllor is the only true god. A vow sworn to a tree has no more power than one sworn to your shoes. Open your heart and let the light of the Lord come in. Burn these weirwoods, and accept Winterfell as a gift of the Lord of Light". Jon thinks it over, recalling how when he was very young, too young to understand what it meant to be a bastard, he used to dream that one day Winterfell might be his. Later, when he was older, he had been ashamed of those dreams. Now, in order to claim his father's castle, he must turn against his father's gods. The more Jon thinks about it, he grows to loathe the notion of destroying the weirwood of Winterfell. He looks at Ghost, whose white fur and red eyes remind him of a heart tree, and this is what makes him reject the legitimization offer. Had Jon accepted the offer, it is doubtful the people of the north would have accepted him as their Lord - who is both an oathbreaker and a defiler of the old gods.

In the books, after Jon is elected the new Lord Commander, at his command Mance Rayder is given a quick death, and he executes Janos Slynt for insubordination, and is somewhat disappointed that Alliser Thorne did not attempt to defend him - Thorne bluntly tells Jon that unlike Slynt, he isn't stupid enough to give Jon a reason to execute him, so he quietly accepts his orders to garrison a different castle on the Wall and leaves without incident. Thorne has not returned yet and his fate is unknown, therefore he is not among those who attack Jon later.

One of the goals that Jon intends to achieve as the new Lord Commander of the Watch is to restore and garrison as many of the sixteen abandoned castles as possible, by both members of the Watch and wildlings. So far, most of those castles have been garrisoned, but are badly undermanned.

Stannis often consults with Jon about his next moves. Jon is aware that by advising Stannis, he is walking on a very thin ice: the Watch must not get involved in the political conflicts south of the Wall; on the other hand, the Watch owes Stannis a great debt: without him, the wildlings would have eventually overcome the defenders of Castle Black. Jon dissuades Stannis from taking ill-advised actions that can be disastrous to him, like granting northern castles to southron lords and the plan to attack Dreadfort (an idea brought up by the treacherous Arnolf Karstark, who secretly collaborates with the Boltons); instead, he advises Stannis to gain the support of the Northern mountain clans and to liberate Deepwood Motte from the ironborn. Stannis accepts both advices, and as a result his position greatly improves: he gain the support of many northern houses, and his army grows more than three times.

Unbeknown to Jon, Cersei plots against him: she receives his letter that the Night’s Watch takes no side, asking for arms and manpower, but has given Stannis food and shelter. She informs that to the council, claiming this is a treason. Most of the council members suggest to impose sanctions on the Night's Watch. Qyburn has more devious plan: to send the Wall a hundred men, allegedly to take the black, but in truth to kill Jon. Cersei accepts Qyburn's advice and intends to send Osney Kettleblack with a hundred men to the Wall for that purpose, but as things turn to be, that scheme is not executed.

Though Jon initially has the support of almost the entire Night's Watch, he earns the distrust of most by proposing an alliance with the wildlings so that they will not fall into the hands of the White Walkers. He also gives Stannis Baratheon valuable advice on how to win the allegiance of Northern Lords by liberating Deepwood Motte from the ironborn. In the meantime, Melisandre tells Jon of visions she has had concerning "daggers in the dark" and a Northern girl riding for Castle Black on a horse from Winterfell. Jon initially assumes the girl to be Arya Stark, whom he hears is marrying Ramsay Bolton (though he is unaware that it is Jeyne Poole, Sansa's best friend, in a disguise), but it turns out to be Alys Karstark, who informs Jon of the Karstarks' plan to betray Stannis to the Boltons, which leads Jon to lose faith in Melisandre.

Melisandre, however, reveals to Jon that Mance Rayder is actually still alive, since she used her powers to disguise him as Rattleshirt (and Rattleshirt as Mance, which led him to being burned in Mance's place), and Jon sends Mance to rescue Arya from Winterfell. Jon also meets Tycho Nestoris, a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos who has come to negotiate with Stannis. Jon secures a loan from Nestoris for ships and food for the Night's Watch, and instructs him on where to find Stannis and warn him of the Karstarks' betrayal.

Jon arranges a mission to Hardhome to rescue the remaining wildlings there, but does not join the mission himself - instead he receives desperate reports by messenger-raven that they are under siege by wights.

As Jon prepares to head out to Hardhome to rescue them, he receives a letter from Ramsay (often referred to as "the Pink Letter"), who taunts Jon by claiming that he has killed Stannis, destroyed his army and taken Mance prisoner, and demanding his bride, Reek, Melisandre, Stannis's family, Mance's son and sister-in-law. Ramsay closes the letter by threatening to march on the Wall and destroy the Night's Watch if Jon does not agree, and "I will cut out your bastard heart and eat it".

Jon now realizes that he can't defend Castle Black from attack from the south (the Wall is located north of the castle) even as the Boltons are tearing the realm apart from the south. He reads the letter aloud in Castle Black's courtyard, and announces that he will ride south to confront and kill Ramsay himself - which might be construed as breaking the Watch's strict vow of political neutrality. Jon argues that the neutrality goes both ways, and Ramsay cannot just threaten to kill the head of the Night's Watch with impunity. Jon ultimately receives a very similar letter in the TV series, although it is after his resurrection - and unlike in the novels, Sansa is there to witness it. (Sansa never married Ramsay in the novels, so this change was thrown in to increase the emotional impact of the scene - which could also explain delaying the letter until after Jon abandoned the Night's Watch.)

But this is the last straw for many of the older Watch officers who were growing increasingly annoyed at Jon's decisions, especially about accepting the wildlings to the Watch. Moreover, they had the somewhat legitimate fear that if Jon fought Ramsay and lost, the Boltons would destroy the entire Night's Watch on the accusation that they were implicit in his actions. As Jon is preparing to leave, a fight breaks out with the giant Wun Wun, and in the distraction they choose the moment to stab Jon. The mutineers are led not by Alliser Thorne (who has been sent earlier by Jon to scout beyond the Wall and has not returned, his fate is unknown) but by Bowen Marsh, who openly weeps as he does so very reluctantly and says "for the Watch". Subsequent mutineers each walk up and stab Jon as well, but as he loses consciousness he doesn't recognize them (the chapter is narrated from Jon's POV). Olly is not present as the character was invented for the TV series and doesn't exist in the novels - he is loosely a condensation of half a dozen other characters Jon trusted. Jon collapses, smoke rising from his wounds, and the last word he utters is "Ghost..." as he hears his direwolf howling.

Jon's resurrection in the television series implies that he will return in The Winds of Winter.

See also

A Wiki of Ice and Fire favicon Sandbox/Jon Snow (Updated) on A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)


v  d  e
Lord: Jon Snow Heir: Sansa Stark
Seat: Winterfell Lands: The North
Title(s): Lord Paramount of the North · Warden of the North · Lord of Winterfell

As independent kingdom: King in the North

Ancestors:Brandon the Builder · Brandon the Breaker · Dorren Stark · Rickard Stark · Rodrik Stark · Karlon Stark · Theon Stark · Osric Stark · Torrhen Stark · Cregan Stark
Current members:Arya Stark · Bran Stark
Deceased members:Rickard Stark · Brandon Stark · Lyanna Stark · Eddard Stark · Robb Stark · Talisa Stark · Catelyn Stark · Rickon Stark · Benjen Stark
Household:{Maester Luwin} · {Ser Rodrik Cassel} · {Jory Cassel} · {Vayon Poole} · Jeyne Poole · {Septa Mordane} · {Old Nan} · {Hodor} · {Farlen} · {Mikken} · {Osha} · Meera Reed · {Jojen Reed} · Brienne of Tarth · Podrick Payne · Davos Seaworth · Maester Wolkan