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Brynden Tully

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"People have been calling me "Blackfish" for so long they don't remember my real name."
―Brynden Tully[src]

Brynden Tully, popularly called "the Blackfish", is a recurring character in the third and sixth[1] seasons. He is played by Clive Russell. Ser Brynden Tully is a knight and a member of House Tully. He is the younger brother of Lord Hoster Tully, and the uncle of Catelyn, Lysa, and Edmure Tully.

After the massacre of the Northern army at the Red Wedding and the death of Robb Stark, the Blackfish reassembles the remnants of the Tully host and retakes Riverrun from House Frey, becoming the de facto leader of House Tully during his nephew's captivity.



Brynden Tully is the younger brother of Hoster Tully, Lord of Riverrun and head of House Tully, and the uncle of Catelyn Stark, Edmure Tully, and Lysa Arryn. Brynden is a respected knight and formidable battle commander, who first distinguished himself in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, nearly forty years before the War of the Five Kings.

Brynden often argued with his older brother Hoster, particularly over the fact that Brynden never married. When Brynden returned home from the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Hoster had already arranged for him to marry Bethany Redwyne, of the wealthy and powerful House Redwyne. Brynden refused this generous match, however, refusing to be told when and whom to marry. Hoster was angry that Brynden would not do his duty to their family and enter into a marriage-alliance to improve their fortunes, and said that he was the black goat of the Tully herd. Brynden joked that given that the Tully sigil is a trout, it would be more fitting to say that he was the "black fish" of the Tully school. The nickname stuck, and Ser Brynden became popularly known as "The Blackfish" ever since. Brynden even took to using a black fish in his own personal heraldry: like the standard Tully heraldry it uses a red and blue background, but swaps out the normal silver trout for a black one. Hoster would attempt to contract other arranged marriage-alliances for Brynden over the years, many of them very promising matches, but Brynden turned down them all, which led to constant bickering between the two brothers throughout their lives.

Despite his disagreements with his brother over his refusal to marry, Brynden is very devoted to his family.

Season 3Edit

3x03 Brynden Comforting Catelyn

Brynden comforts Catelyn over the death of her father and the disappearance of her two younger sons.

During the funeral of Hoster Tully, an annoyed Brynden takes the place of his nephew, Lord Edmure, after the latter fails several times to hit the funeral boat with flaming arrows. Later on he also chides Edmure for calling Robb "nephew" instead of treating him as his King as Edmure defends his course of action that led to the Battle of Stone Mill. He also consoles Catelyn when she muses about her father's funeral and whether she will ever see Bran and Rickon, whose whereabouts are unknown following the Sack of Winterfell.[2]

The Blackfish brings Rickard Karstark and his men before King Robb after they brutally murdered Willem and Martyn Lannister as revenge against House Lannister. Brynden is highly offended when Rickard makes a derogatory comment about Ned Stark and punches him in the face in retaliation. Brynden counsels King Robb not to execute Lord Karstark but instead to keep him as a hostage, thus keeping the Karstark forces loyal to the Starks. King Robb disagrees, however, and executes Lord Karstark under charges of treason while Brynden watches on along with Edmure, Talisa and Catelyn.[3]

The Blackfish is again present when "Black Walder" and Lothar Frey come to Riverrun to discuss an alliance between House Stark and House Frey. The Freys demand that Edmure must marry one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters if the alliance is to go ahead. Edmure is reluctant to agree to these terms but Brynden tells him that he must if they have any hope of winning the war. Edmure finally relents.[4]

En route to the Twins for Edmure's wedding, Brynden agrees with Catelyn that Walder Frey is the prickliest man he has ever met, and quips that he has seen "wet shits I like more than Walder Frey".[5]

When they finally reach the Twins, Brynden is visibly angered when Walder Frey lightly insults Talisa, but stays himself. During the wedding feast, he drinks heavily and brings up Roose Bolton's marriage to Frey's granddaughter Walda to further cement their alliance. Roose confides to Brynden and Catelyn that he actually did it since Frey promised him a dowry of silver matching Walda's weight. Brynden briefly goes outside to relieve himself on a tree, narrowly escaping the Red Wedding massacre that follows shortly after and claims the lives of Robb, Catelyn, Talisa and all of their Northern allies.[6]

Roose Bolton and Walder Frey later discover that Brynden escaped. Though Frey is undisturbed, Roose is visibly concerned that Brynden will reach the safety of Riverrun before he is found.[7]

Season 6Edit

Lord Petyr Baelish informs Sansa Stark that Brynden has led what remains of the Tully army in taking back Riverrun from House Frey, and he advises her to seek her uncle out for help retaking the North. Heeding this advice, Sansa sends Brienne of Tarth to meet with Brynden.[8]

Family treeEdit

Family tree Hoster
Hoster Tully
Minisa family tree
Minisa Tully
née Whent Whent shield icon
Family tree Blackfish

Brynden Tully

"The Blackfish"
Eddard tree
Eddard Stark Stark shield icon
Catelyn Tree
Catelyn Tully
Jon Arryn tree
Jon Arryn Arryn shield icon
Lysa tree
Lysa Tully
Family tree Littlefinger
Petyr Baelish Baelish shield icon
Family tree Edmure
Edmure Tully
Roslin tree
Roslin Tully
née Frey Frey shield icon
Unnamed son
Robb fam tree
Robb Stark Stark shield icon
Family tree Talisa
Talisa Stark Stark shield icon
née Maegyr
100px-Tyrion tree
Tyrion Lannister Lannister shield icon
100px-Sansa tree
Sansa Stark House-Stark-Main-Shield
Ramsay Bolton House-Bolton-Main-Shield
Arya family tree
Arya Stark Stark shield icon
Bran fam tree
Bran Stark Stark shield icon
Rickon fam tree
Rickon Stark Stark shield icon
Robin tree
Robin Arryn Arryn shield icon


Spoken by Brynden
"Don't call him "nephew". He is your King."
―Brynden to Edmure Tully[src]
Brynden Tully: "You're lucky I'm not your King. I wouldn't let you wave your blunders around like a victory flag."
Edmure Tully: "My "blunder" sent Tywin's mad dog scurrying back to Casterly Rock with his tail between his legs! I think "King Robb" understands we're not going to win this war if he's the only one winning any battles!"
— Brynden Tully and Edmure Tully.[src]
"Even in war's darkest days, in most places in the world absolutely nothing is happening."
―Brynden to Catelyn Stark[src]
"Your father was a stubborn old ox. I was surprised when he died. Didn't think death had the patience."
―Brynden to Catelyn Stark about his brother Hoster Tully.[src]
Edmure Tully: "The laws of Gods and men are very clear. No man may compel another man to marry."
Brynden Tully: "The laws of my fist are about to compel your teeth!"
— Edmure and Brynden[src]
"I've seen wet shits I like better than Walder Frey."
―Brynden about Walder Frey.[src]
Catelyn Stark: "He complained about this marriage the entire way from Riverrun- and now, look at him."
Brynden Tully: "The Gods love to reward a fool."
Catelyn Stark: "Uncle!"
Brynden Tully: "What? He's my nephew. I love him. And he's a damn fool."
— Catelyn and Brynden talk about Edmure's delight wih his bride, Roslin Frey.[src]
"Pardon my lord, my lady. I need to find a tree to piss on."
―Brynden fortuitously escapes the Red Wedding.[src]
Spoken about Brynden
Roose Bolton: "The Blackfish escaped."
Walder Frey: "An old man on the run with no allies. I have Tywin Lannister backing me, who does he have?"
Roose Bolton: "As you say."
— Roose Bolton and Walder Frey discuss Brynden's escape from the Red Wedding.[src]


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

Behind the scenesEdit

Brynden Tully was announced as appearing in Game of Thrones and was expected to debut in the second season based on comments by George R.R. Martin. He debuted in the first novel, however his introduction to the TV series was pushed back due to time constraints. He was not cast for the first and second seasons, however, a press release confirmed he would be cast in Season 3.[9] He is played by Clive Russell.[10] It has been confirmed that Brynden will return for Season 6.

On the Season 3 Blu-ray, the Blackfish narrates Histories & Lore videos on "House Tully" and "The Riverlands"

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Blackfish is a canny and respected warrior. He is tall and clean-shaven, and dons a red and blue Tully cape, like his nephew Edmure. Brynden possessed the distinctive auburn hair of the Tully family in his youth, but it has now gone mostly grey. He values his family above all else, but like the rest of the Tully family, he dislikes Jon Snow, who reminds him of Eddard Stark's infidelity to his niece Catelyn (which he voices in A Feast for Crows).

Brynden is an experienced battlefield commander. He rose to particular distinction during the War of the Ninepenny Kings which was fought over the Stepstones, in which he fought alongside Ser Barristan Selmy. The young Jaime Lannister highly revered him and was eager to hear of his exploits in the war.

Brynden took up the nickname "the Blackfish", after he refused to marry Bethany Redwyne, which would have advanced the family's fortunes. This led to years of bitter quarrels and estrangement with his brother Hoster. After one such quarrel with his elder brother, when Lord Hoster called him the "black goat of the Tully herd", Ser Brynden pointed out that their sigil was a fish, so he took the name "Blackfish", and changed the color scheme of his personal sigil to a jumping black trout (which is normally silver in the Tully sigil).

So far, the books have never made exactly clear why Brynden has never married, i.e. if he loved a woman who did not return his attraction, or if his brother refused to allow him to marry anyone else if he wouldn't go through with the arranged marriage to Bethany Redwyne. As the younger brother of Hoster, Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, Brynden was certainly one of the more eligible bachelors in Westeros. This has led to some fan speculation that Brynden may be a homosexual, and that this in-part caused the rift with his older brother when he refused to take part in a marriage-alliance he had brokered, but so far the books have given no particular hint that this is the case. Others speculate that Brynden may have loved Minisa Whent, but after she married his older brother Hoster, he refused to ever love again. Whatever the reason why Brynden never married, it is something of an open secret among his immediate family members: at one point Catelyn comments in passing to Edmure, regarding Brynden's disagreements with her father, that they both know why he never married.

In the novels he is first encountered serving in the Vale of Arryn, where he serves his niece, the Lady Lysa, following the death of her husband, as the Knight of the Gate, who commands the Bloody Gate. After Catelyn asks for his assistance and Lysa refuses to send aid after the Lannisters invade the Riverlands, Brynden resigns from his post and agrees to return to the Riverlands and help in the growing struggle against the Lannisters. In the TV series, some of Brynden's activities in the Vale have been taken over by Ser Vardis Egen.

Along with Edmure, he becomes one of King Robb Stark's most trusted lieutenants, his "eyes and ears". Theon Greyjoy references the Blackfish's talent for battle and strategy.

The Blackfish is not present during the events of the Red Wedding because Robb had left him holding Riverrun as "Warden of the Southern Marches" (a new title that Robb created), overseeing the defenses of the Stark-loyal territories of the Riverlands, and protecting his Queen, Jeyne Westerling (the book's counterpart of Talisa Maegyr), who also remained at Riverrun.

According to the agreement with Tywin and the Freys, Riverrun is granted to Emmon Frey, the second son of Lord Frey. Following the Red Wedding, Ryman Frey leads two thousand spears to take Riverrun, reinforced by Lannister troops led by Daven Lannister.

Brynden anticipates the siege. He gathers all the foodstuffs and goods he can within the castle, expels all the unnecessary mouths, and prepares for a long siege.

See alsoEdit


v  d  e
Lord: Edmure Tully Heir: Bran Stark
Seat: Riverrun Lands: The Riverlands
Title(s): Lord Paramount of the Riverlands · Lord of Riverrun
Ancestors:Edmyn Tully
Current members:Brynden Tully · Roslin Tully
Deceased members:Catelyn Stark · Hoster Tully · Minisa Tully · Lysa Arryn
Household:Brienne of Tarth

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