|“||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|
Jon Snow is a central character, and one of the main protagonists of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the TV series Game of Thrones. He is introduced as Lord Eddard Stark's bastard son, but he is actually the son of Lyanna Stark, the sister of Eddard, and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, making Jon the cousin of the King in the North Robb Stark, Daenerys Targaryen's nephew (and lover in the TV series), and Stannis Baratheon's second cousin once removed. His parentage in the novels remains yet to be seen. From infancy, Jon is raised by Eddard Stark as his own alongside his lawful children at Winterfell and Jon’s true parentage is kept secret. He is a member of the Night's Watch, a centuries-old organization that guards the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros from any threat that comes from north of the great Wall protecting them.
He is portrayed by Kit Harrington.
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
In the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, fourteen-year-old Jon Snow and two of his half-brothers Robb Stark, also fourteen, and seven-year-old Bran Stark witness the execution of a Night's Watch deserter carried out by their father, Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark. Jon is the illegitimate son of Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. When his sons reach the age of seven, Eddard has his sons witness executions to teach them the gravity and finality of the tasks they must undertake when they become men and to follow the Stark custom of carrying out sentences themselves. Nineteen-year-old Theon Grejoy, Ned's hostage/ward, also accompanies Ned and Ned's sons at this execution.
When Jon is returning back to Winterfell with his father and brothers, he has a riding race with Robb. During the race, they find a dead direwolf and her pups. Eddard is unwilling to allow the children to adopt the five pups, but Jon, in an effort to save the pups and so that his trueborn siblings can adopt them, points out that there are five - three males and two females, one for each of Eddard's legitimate children. When Eddard asks Jon if he doesn't want a pup for himself, Jon simply responds that he is not a Stark. As the pair leave for Winterfell, Jon hears a strange sound in the woods and returns with a direwolf pup of his own, a mute albino, who he names Ghost.
During the feast for King Robert I Baratheon when the king and the royal family visit Winterfell, Jon expresses his wish to join the Night's Watch himself when his uncle, Benjen Stark, Eddard's brother, suggests that the Watch could use a man like him. Jon aspires to become a ranger like his uncle Benjen, First Ranger in the Night's Watch, and to join a brotherhood where social status does not matter as much in the rest of Westeros. He pleads with Benjen to talk to his father, convinced his father will allow it if Benjen supports his decision. Benjen is reluctant. When Eddard is appointed Hand of the King, he must leave Winterfell with his daughters, Sansa and Arya. Eddard cannot take Jon south with him because the southern court will not tolerate an illegitimate child and he wants Jon to stay with Robb in Winterfell, as they are so close. However, Catelyn, Eddard's wife, will not allow it, telling Jon is Eddard's son, not her own. She reflects on her hurt that Jon is Eddard's son with another woman, remembering that Eddard has always been protective of Jon, and called him 'son' for all the North to see when he brought him to Winterfell to raise alongside their trueborn children. Though they have a happy marriage, she was frightened by Eddard's icy refusal to tell her who Jon's mother when Catelyn had asked him about her, telling Catelyn that Jon is his blood and this is all she needs to know, and Catelyn fears Eddard may have loved Jon's mother more than her. As things become increasingly heated between Catelyn and Eddard while they argue, Maester Luwin arrives and tells them about Jon's aspirations to join the Night's Watch, which shocks Eddard. However, with no other option available as Catelyn will not let Jon stay, Eddard reluctantly allows Jon to go with his uncle, reflecting there is honor in the Watch and Jon can rise high there.
As Jon prepares to leave with his uncle, he visits the comatose Bran and says a tearful goodbye to him. He then shares a farewell embrace with Robb, wherein they promise to see each other soon, and has an emotional goodbye with his little sister Arya and Jon gives her a Braavosi-type sword he had made for her. Before heading for the Wall, Jon says goodbye to Eddard, who vows to tell Jon who his mother was next time they meet. On his way to Castle Black, Jon is accompanied by Tyrion Lannister, Queen Cersei Lannister's brother, with whom he develops a friendship due to their similar status as nobleman outsiders. He also takes Ghost with him.
At first, Jon is reluctant to make friends with the other Watch recruits due to realizing that the Night's Watch is no longer a brotherhood of noble warriors, but rather a fallen ancient order manned with quite a few criminals alongside knights and good men such as his uncle Benjen, Jeor Mormont, Donal Noye and Maester Aemon. Jon has an initially superior attitude towards the other recruits, which makes relationships between himself and the other recruits hostile at first. He is bullied by other recruits, such as Todder, Grenn, and Pypar, for humiliating them in the training yard.
The smith Donal Noye scolds Jon, lecturing Jon by explaining he humiliated the other boys with his superior skills. This forces Jon to realize his privileged upbringing in a castle, in which he was trained under Winterfell's master-at-arms while the other boys have had no such upbringing, resulting in Jon readjusting his outlook, wherein he decides to help the other recruits learn how to fight. Later, Jon is overjoyed to learn his half-brother Bran will live but also learns he is crippled. Jon reaches out to Tyrion as a friend and asks him to find a way to help his newly crippled brother before the dwarf leaves the Wall. Jon offers to train some of his new Watch brothers, including Pypar, Grenn, Dareon, Todder, Halder, and they accept, all forming a friendship with Jon. However, this results in the enmity of Alliser Thorne, the mean-spirited Night's Watch master-at-arms who is insulting and tormenting in the training of the new recruits. He starts to call Jon 'Lord Snow' for being a bastard son with a young lord's upbringing. Jon also befriends the fat and bookish coward Samwell Tarly, the former heir to Horn Hill, when he arrives at Castle Black and convinces the other recruits 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, but Jon and his friends refuse to harm Sam. However, Sam's training is not going well and Thorne keeps tormenting him, meaning that Sam is still unable to take his vow. Realizing Sam will be left without protection if he remains in training with Thorne, Jon convinces Maester Aemon to take Sam as his personal steward in the library, earning the enmity of Chett, Aemon's steward before Sam takes his vow.
After completing his training, Jon becomes a Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch, having sworn his vows before a weirwood tree, due to his faith in the Old Gods of the Forest and his Stark heritage. He is assigned to the stewards rather than the rangers and is taken as personal squire of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, who, seeing Snow's potential, offers to groom him for command. Later, Ghost finds the corpses of two rangers assigned to Benjen, Othor and Jafer Flowers.
Lord Commander Mormont receives news of the arrest of Jon's father Eddard Stark and tells Jon about his father’s arrest. Jon is devastated and worried for his father and sisters but Mormont must tell him there is nothing Jon can do. Afterward, Thorne taunts Snow for about his father's arrest, calling Ned a traitor and Jon a traitor's bastard, to which an angered Jon throws a knife in attempt to attack him, but is stopped by his friends. Caught by Lord Commander Mormont, he is restricted to his quarters as the Old Bear admonishes Jon. While Jon is a wreck over the harm befalling his father and sisters, Othor's corpse becomes a wight and attacks Mormont. Jon saves the Lord Commander's life by burning the wight, and his hand in the process, and earns a pardon for his earlier misdemeanor. Mormont also gives Jon the Valyrian steel ancestral sword of House Mormont, Longclaw - given that his own son Jorah fled into exile and left it behind. Jon tries to refuse, but Mormont insists. Jon is grateful to Mormont but inwardly thinks that Eddard Stark will always be his father.
Jon considers leaving the Watch to join Robb's army when it marches against the Lannisters, but Maester Aemon reveals his true identity as Prince Aemon Targaryen, revealing he understands Jon's conflict between love for family and duty to the Watch. Aemon explains that he is an uncle of the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen, and tells him how he decided to uphold his vows for the Watch despite the ruin of House Targaryen at the end of Robert's Rebellion, which continues to haunt him.
When news of Eddard's execution reaches Castle Black, Jon attempts to desert the Night's Watch in order to join Robb's army and seek vengeance for their father's death. However, thanks to Sam and Ghost, the black brothers Pyp, Grenn, Toad, and Halder intercept Jon near Mole's Town and convince him to stay. Later, Jon is confronted by Lord Commander Mormont, who tells him that makes no matter who sits on the Iron Throne as long as the undead army of Others is marching beyond the Wall. Later, Jon is taken to the Great Ranging ordered by Mormont, who attempts to find more information about this new threat.
A Clash of Kings
Mormont leads a party of rangers beyond the Wall to investigate the disappearance of Jon's uncle, Benjen, with intent to learn more information about the King-beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder and the new threat posed by the Others.
Having earned the trust of Qhorin Halfhand, Jon is taken in Qhorin' scouting party. On the journey, he is caught in a fight between the scouting party and a group of wildings. Snow slews the wilding skinchanger Orell and attempts to kill a hooded warrior, until he discovers that the wilding is a girl named Ygritte and instead takes her captive. Jon is instructed to execute her, but he is reluctant to do it since he feels she does not deserve to die. Ygritte initially scolds him for not killing her. Upon learning his identity as Lord Eddard's bastard, she tells him a story of how the Starks and the wildings are bound by blood: the then King-beyond-the-Wall Bael the Bard had slept with Lord Brandon Stark's daughter and their bastard became the new Lord Stark since Brandon didn't have any sons. Ygritte tries to seduce Jon into running away with her and join the Free Folk, but Snow lets her escape.
Later, Qhorin expresses his knowledge about Jon sparing Ygritte and Snow tells him that she said that Mance Rayder would accept him if he deserts. Qhorin instructs Jon to infiltrate the wildlings and learn their plans if they are caught, then return to Castle Black. He orders Jon to kill him in front of the wildlings and ignores Jon's objections about this. Jon and Qhorin are subsequently captured by Rattleshirt's party. Though seen as a coward by the wildings for his yielding, Ygritte speaks for him, assuring they will spare his life. Jon pretends to disavow the Night's Watch, and the wildlings force him to fight Qhorin to death to earn their trust. With Qhorin's silent consent, Jon kills him with the aid of Ghost.
A Storm of Swords
Jon has gained the trust of the wildings by killing Qhorin and marches with their host. He meets with Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall and is able to convince him that his desertion is sincere. Jon learns that Mance plans to invade the Seven Kingdoms and march south to escape the Others, crushing the Night's Watch in the process if necessary. Jon falls in love with Ygritte and finds himself torn between her and his Night's Watch vows. However, after Ygritte convinces Mance that the two have a sexual relationship in order to save Jon, Snow eventually reluctantly has sex with Ygritte. Jon is assigned to Styr's mission to scale the Wall and attack Castle Black by unawares. After climbing the Wall, he escapes the wildings at Queenscrown - unaware that this is due to the efforts of his half-brother Bran, who is hiding in a castle nearby. While heading for Castle Black, however, he takes an arrow in his leg.
Prior to his death, Jon's half-brother Robb Stark, in his capacity as King in the North, issues a decree, legitimizing Jon, demanding the Night's Watch to release him, and names him his heir-by-will, in belief that Bran, Rickon, and Arya are all dead and not wanting Winterfell and the North to fall into the hands of House Lannister after Tyrion's forced marriage to Sansa Stark. Robb's decree is issued and signed by all the Northern lords, however, the Red Wedding takes place shortly after and Jon remains unaware of it.
Jon reaches Castle Black barely conscious and informs Maester Aemon and Donal Noye about the upcoming attack. He is eventually informed, to his grief and disbelief, that his half-brothers, Bran and Rickon, died at the hands of Theon Greyjoy after the Fall of Winterfell. After recuperating, Jon helps Donal Noye in defending Castle Black against Styr's raiders. All the raiders are killed, including Ygritte, who dies in a grief-stricken Jon's arms. After Noye's death, at the advice of Maester Aemon, Snow takes command of the Night's Watch defenses. Using his natural leadership abilities, Jon is able to held the Wall against Mance Rayder's host and leads the Night's Watch to victory in the battle. However, with the arrival of reinforcements from Eastwatch led by Ser Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt, Jon is arrested and led to the Ice Cells for desertion and killing Qhorin Halfhand, as Thorne and Slynt had that information from a captured Rattleshirt. However, after Maester Aemon vouches for him, Thorne and Slynt have no option but to free him, realizing his popularity at Castle Black. Thorne and Slynt instruct Snow to go beyond the Wall and negotiate peace with Mance Rayder in hopes Jon will die in this mission, sending him to assassinate the King-beyond-the-Wall.
Jon has no choice but to submit. During the negotiations, Mance informs Snow that he has the Horn of Winter, which he claims will cause the Wall to collapse and reveals that the only reason the wildlings attacked the Wall was to escape the others, not to conquer. Rayder offers Snow the Horn of the Winter if the Night's Watch exchange it for their pass through the Wall, but informs Jon that the wildings will never kneel to the lords and laws of the Realm. Their negotiations are eventually interrupted by the arrival of King Stannis Baratheon and his army. The wildings and the giants are defeated after a battle and many wildlings are imprisoned.
Taking shelter at Castle Black, Stannis offers to legitimize Jon, giving him a Stark name and appointing him Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North if Jon kneels to him as a son of Ned Stark. With Jon as the Stark by his side, Stannis wants to use this in his efforts to rally the North’s support. Jon is overwhelmed by feelings of grief for his lost half-siblings as he loves them and is lead to believe they have all died, and is ashamed of his suppressed childhood dream to become Lord of Winterfell. Realizing that the godswood will be burned due to Stannis' allegiance to R'hllor, Jon turns down the offer, as Winterfell belongs to the Old Gods of the Forest. Nominated by Sam, Jon Snow is eventually elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
A Feast for Crows
In one of his earliest acts as Lord Commander, Jon sends Sam away from Castle Black, with Maester Aemon, Gilly and Mance' son for their safety to prevent Melisandre from burning anyone as Aemon warns Jon Melisandre is seeking king's blood. To hide Mance's son, Jon has him switched with Gilly's, certain Gilly's son will be safe as he has no king's blood. Jon has Gilly's son raised under his protection and promises Gilly he will ensure her son is well-raised and safe. Gilly's son is frequently tended to by Val, who Stannis's men believe to be a wildling princess. Jon gives Sam a particular mission to go to the Citadel in Oldtown and study to become a maester. Outraged by the election of a surviving son of Ned Stark as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Dowager Queen Cersei Lannister plots to have Snow killed, but is imprisoned before this plans can come into fruition.
A Dance with Dragons
As Jon grows into his position as leader, he makes a number of reforms to improve the Watch's chances against threats beyond the Wall, such as the Others. Among these are daily training in various weapons and skills to improve the abilities of the Night's Watchmen and his personally making the rounds to check in to see how various groups in the Watch are doing. Jon successfully negotiates the peaceful surrender of the remainings of Mance Rayder's armies and allows the wildings to settle down in the small populated regions of the Gift and to join the Night's Watch. He finds himself in the hard position of trying to maintain the Watch's political neutrality due to Stannis' war for the Iron Throne, while having to deal with the general adversity of the black brothers towards the idea of allowing their traditional enemies through the Wall and the upcoming threat of the Others. The situation evolves darkly upon learning that his half-sister Arya is married to Ramsay Bolton, unaware that the bride is actually Jeyne Poole pretending to be Arya Stark, who is training to be No One in Braavos.
When Jon orders Slynt to garrison Greyguard, one of the abandoned castles along the Wall, Janos refuses. Jon publicly points out that the punishment for refusing a direct command is death, yet gives Janos three chances to follow orders (it was more chances than Janos gave his father when he betrayed Ned two years prior). After Slynt refuses once more, refusing the idea that Jon can command him or the Night's Watch, Jon orders him to be hanged for his insubordination. However, he then recalls the laws of the First Men, the lessons of his father, and beheads Slynt himself, using Longclaw to carry out the sentence. This increases Stannis' respect for Jon and cements his new position.
Jon works to save the wildlings from the threat of the Others for both humanitarian and pragmatic reasons. He is able to strike an alliance between the Night's Watch and the wildings by treating with Tormund. He settles the wildlings on the Gift and gives the warriors the opportunity to guard the Wall by garrisoning unoccupied castles against the Others. As the wildings are moved into the gift, Mance Rayder is given to the flames by Melisandre. However, later Melisandre reveals that Mance is still alive, disguised as Rattleshirt, who was burned at the stake in Rayder's place. Wishing to save Arya, Jon allows Melisandra to send Mance to rescue "Arya" from the Boltons.
Melisandre later tells Jon a vision of a girl in a dying horse making her way to Castle Black, convinced that she must be Arya escaping from the Boltons, and another vision of him surrounded by the daggers in the night, but he pays no mind to the latter warning. The vision of a girl in a dying horse arriving to Castle Black eventually fulfills, except is not Arya, but Alys Karstark, Jon's distant cousin, who escaped Karhold from her planned marriage with Cregan Karstark. She reveals that the Karstarks being the only Northern house to declare for Stannis is just a plot of Arnolf Karstark to take over as Lord of Karhold. Jon eventually arranges Alys to marry Sigorn, the new Magnar of Thenn, in a move to protect Alys from Cregan. He arrests Cregan, who has pursued Alys, when Cregan comes to take Alys against her will. Snow later sends a raven to Stannis, informing him of the Karstark treachery.
Later, Jon receives a letter addressed to "Bastard", sealed with pink sealing wax, which is used by House Bolton. The letter says:
|“|| Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.
Your false king's friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.
I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.
I want my bride back. I want the false king's queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want this wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard's heart and eat it.
|~ Ramsay Bolton, Trueborn Lord of Winterfell.|
Jon is horrified and angered by the letter, his thoughts with his siblings. He spends the next two hours deciding what to do. Jon reads the letter aloud to the Night's Watch. Unwilling to make any of his men break the Night's Watch neutrality, Jon announces his intention to march south and confront Ramsay and the wildlings volunteer to go with him. Jon's decision, compromising the Watch's stance of neutrality, causes great discontent within the Watch's upper leadership. While Jon attempts to leave Castle Black, he hears a scream of agony and rushes to the source where he discovers a bleeding Wun Wun's smashing to a dead Ser Patrek of King's Mountain against a tower wall. While Jon is distracted in his attempts to prevent more loss of life, he is stabbed repeatedly by Bowen Marsh and other black brothers, who attack in tears while muttering "for the Watch". He attempts to take Longclaw and fight back, but the incessant stabbing causes him to break down and fall in the snow. Jon's last word is "Ghost".
Game of Thrones
|“||He's never been a bastard. He's the heir to the Iron Throne.||„|
|~ Bran Stark about Jon Snow's (born Aegon Targaryen) heritage. (in the TV-series)|
First three seasons
Season 1. Following the plot of A Game of Thrones, Jon is the bastard son of Ned Stark who joins the Night's Watch. He arrives at the Wall, with his direwolf Ghost in tow, to find that the order is a shadow of its former self. Raised to be a talented fighter with a strong sense of justice and honor, Jon is at first contemptuous of his fellow recruits, who are mostly lowborn, untrained criminals and exiles. He soon puts aside his prejudices, befriending some of the others—in particular Samwell Tarly—and standing up for them. Jon takes his vows but is disappointed to be made steward to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont rather than a ranger, but eventually realizes that he is being groomed for command. Jon saves Mormont from a wight, and is given Longclaw, the ancestral blade of House Mormont, in thanks. He is torn between his family and his vows when his father is arrested for treason and then executed, but ultimately remains with the Watch out of duty.
Season 2. As in A Clash of Kings, Jon is part of a small scouting party led by ranger Qhorin Halfhand. When the party is overtaken by wildlings, among them the Lord of Bones and the woman warrior Ygritte, Qhorin orders Jon to appear to defect and join the wildlings so he can discover their plans. Qhorin stages a fight and secretly instructs Jon to kill him to gain the wildlings' trust. Jon does, and is taken to meet Mance Rayder, the wildlings' King-Beyond-the Wall.
Season 3. Following part of A Storm of Swords, Jon pledges his loyalty to Mance and travels with the wildlings to scout and then scale the Wall. During the journey, he begins to fall in love with the flame-haired Ygritte. Refusing to kill a farmer who has witnessed their crossing over into Westeros, Jon is attacked by the other wildlings, but escapes. He is tracked by Ygritte, who shoots him with three arrows before he is able to escape again. He finds his way back to Castle Black to warn the Night's Watch about the impending attack on the Wall by the wildings.
Jon recovers from the injuries inflicted by Ygritte, though he still grimaces while getting dressed. He has been informed about his brother Robb's death at the Red Wedding and reflects on how he was jealous of Robb as he felt Robb was better at everything than him - but could never hate his brother, having loved Robb deeply as his brother. Sam responds by saying he feels the same way about Jon, that Jon is better than him at everything. Later, Jon is summoned to testify before a panel of five sworn brothers, including Maester Aemon, acting Lord Commander Alliser Thorne, and Janos Slynt (who was exiled to the Wall by Tyrion). Jon admits killing Qhorin Halfhand, living amongst the wildlings, and even bedding one. He also states that Mance intends to attack and gives information 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.
Meanwhile, at the Dreadfort, Theon Greyjoy is forced to inform Roose Bolton, Robb's traitor, of all he knows about the whereabouts of Bran and Rickon. On Ramsay Snow' suggestion, Jon becomes a target for the Boltons, who fear that Snow might avenge his fallen half-brother and fear the possibility of Jon uniting the Northern houses against them due to his status as the eldest living son of Ned Stark. Roose subsequently sends his best hunter, Locke, to use Jon for finding Bran and Rickon and kill them all. Meanwhile, Sam informs Jon that Bran is headed North of the Wall, worrying Jon who wants to find Bran and bring him back to safety. While avenging the mutiny against the later Lord Commander Mormont at Craster's Keep, Locke prevents Jon from finding Bran.
The orphan boy Olly later arrives at Castle Black and informs the Night's Watch how the wildling armies have marched south of the Wall and killed every man in his village except for him. Snow eventually supports Thorne's position of the Night's Watch doing nothing to save the villagers, realising that the wildlings are trying to get them into a trap. Later, Jon and Grenn are training the new recruits to fight wildlings and one of the new recruits is Locke. After Thorne scolds Jon for participating into the training despite being a steward, Jon gets acquainted with Locke, unaware of his true intentions.
Thorne enlists Snow in an expedition to Craster's Keep to kill the Night's Watch mutineers, whom Jon believes may tell Mance of the Wall's weak defenses if caught. 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). They attack at night, taking the mutineers by surprise. Snow personally enters the building to deal with Karl Tanner and begins a fight with him. The two are eventually matched, though Tanner is able to get the upper hand and knock Jon on the floor. As is about to deal the killing blow, Karl is stabbed in the back by one of Craster's wives. Karl turns to kill her, leaving Jon the time to raise and stab Tanner in the back of his head, killing him.
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 (Snow being completely unaware that Locke had been killed by a Bran-possessed Hodor). Then, Jon reunites with Ghost before turning to Craster's wives and offering them refuge at Castle Black. However, they decline, citing their abuse at the hands of other members of the Night's Watch. Before leaving, they set a torch to Craster's Keep, burning it to the ground.
Jon and his remaining fellow black brothers return to Castle Black, to the dissatisfaction of Thorne and Slynt, the former threatening to kill Ghost if Jon doesn't lock his wolf in. Snow later suggest sealing the tunnel, knowing about the wildlings' superior forces with the involvement from giants, but Thorne refuses and assigns Jon and Sam to duties atop of the Wall until the next new moon.
Later that night, a huge wildling host is heading to attack the Wall, just as Mance promised, while a particular band, led by Tormund, had already broke into Castle Black. The Battle of Castle Black begins. Thorne decides to go down and defend the keep, leaving Slynt in charge of the Wall defences. However, the cowardly ex Lord Commander of the City's Watch finds himself overwhelmed. Realizing that he is demoralizing the troops, Grenn dispatches Slynt, allowing Jon to take over the Wall defenses.
After sending a group led by Grenn to hold the inner gate from a giant and his mammoth, Jon goes down himself to confront Tormund's band. He sends Sam to free Ghost from his pen, then goes into the middle of the fight. Jon is able to dispatch many Thenns with Longclaw, attracting the attention of Styr, the Magnar of Thenn. The two broke into a single combat, causing Jon to kill Styr with a hammer. Shortly after, he turns around to see Ygritte with a bow pointed at him, with an arrow drawn. However, Jon smiles at her, causing her to be unable to lose the arrow. Before they can say anything, Ygritte is shot through the heart by Olly. She dies in Jon's arms, with the nearly the same dialogue as in the books.
Later, after the battle is concluded, Jon goes beyond the Wall to negotiate with Mance, holding a plan to kill him in the back of his mind. Jon finds Mance into a wildling camp north of the Wall and claims he wants to make terms with him. Despite showing disappointment at Jon's betrayal, Mance agrees to drink a toast for their fallen friends. However, he quickly realizes that Jon has come to kill him, but Stannis Baratheon's armies arrive before they can make a move. After a short battle, Jon introduces himself to Stannis and his lieutenant, Ser Davos Seaworth, mentioning that he is Ned Stark's bastard son. He convinces Stannis to arrest Mance for questioning and burn the dead bodies so they can't return as wights. Later, Jon visits an imprisoned Tormund, who tells Jon that Ygritte truly loved him and asks him to bury her beyond the Wall, where she belongs. He later takes Ygritte's body into the woods and burns it, weeping as he walks away.
Jon Snow spars with Olly, along with other new recruits before being summoned by Melisandre to see Stannis atop the Wall. 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 admits that he would like to, but reaffirms that he is a sworn brother of the Night's Watch. Stannis eventually tasks Jon with enlisting Mance Rayder and the wildlings to his cause of taking the Seven Kingdoms, promising them land if they kneel to him. This offer is an ultimatum: if Mance does not kneel, he will be burned alive. Jon does his best to convince Mance to save his life as well as all the wildlings, but it is unsuccessful. 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 consume Mance, Snow mercifully shots Mance with an arrow, killing him before the flames.
Thereafter, Stannis confronts Jon for preventing his order from being carried on by showing mercy on Mance, but eventually shows him a letter from Lyanna Mormont, who says she will only align the Bear Island to a Stark. Therefore, Stannis offers Jon legitimization as Jon Stark and name him Lord of Winterfell. Later, during a choosing for the new Lord Commander, Jon informs Sam that, though greatly tempted by the prospect of becoming a true Stark, he will refuse Stannis, again being loyal to his vows. After hearing this, Sam nominates Jon as the third candidate and recounts how he took command of the defense of Castle Black 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 Snow is elected as the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
Later approached by Stannis and Davos about the legitimization offer, Jon states that his place is with the Night's Watch since he is the new Lord Commander. Stannis 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. After Stannis leaves, Davos stays behind and tries to further persuade Jon to help Stannis retake the North, iterating 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.
During Jon's first general meeting of the garrison in the main hall as Lord Commander, he starts with some levity by assigning his black brothers to various positions, such as naming Thorne First Ranger and ordering Slynt to repair Greyguard, a ruined castle. Janos Slynt publicly disobeys and insults Snow, causing him to be dragged outside and prepared for execution. Ignoring Slynt's pleas for mercy, Jon personally beheads him, executing a small vengeance on one of the men who betrayed his own father to his death, and slaughtered the Stark guardsmen in the throne room as well as King Robert's bastard children, many of them infants.
When Sam presents him with requests to the Northern Lords for men for the Night's Watch, Jon 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 (Boltons) 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", the same words Ygritte used to tell him, leaving Jon stricken.
Following Maester Aemon's advice to assume his decisions, Jon expresses his plan 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 closest friends such as Edd and Olly, but Jon's goal is actually to prevent 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 added to the White Walkers ever-growing army of the undead. Later, Jon frees Tormund from his chains and requests that he goes 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. 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.
Jon and Tormund travel north of the Wall to the wildling village of Hardhome, seeking wildling support for his plan to ally the Night's Watch and the wildlings against the growing threat of the White Walkers. 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, to prevent the King-beyond-the-Wall from suffering the agony of being burned alive. Jon gives a speech about how the wildlings should 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. After some persuasion from Tormund, five thousand wildlings agree while the rest decide to stay. However, a massive force of wights, led by White Walkers and their Night's King, attacks the village.
Jon fights his way to the hut to retrieve the dragonglass daggers, but he is ambushed by a White Walker in the process. 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 quickly regains his ground and kills 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. Shortly thereafter, two thousand wildlings are rescued.
After returning to Castle Black, Jon is greeted by Davos, who has come 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. They broke into an argumentis 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.
Later, Olly summons Jon with the news that a wildling knows the whereabouts of his missing uncle, Benjen Stark. Jon quickly follows Thorne to a gathering of his Watch brothers, only to find a sign marked "Traitor". Jon realizes that he was fooled, but it is too late: Thorne, Yarwyck, Marsh and two other black brothers 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." Collapsing from the wounds, Jon dies.
Summoned by Ghost's cries from a nearby pen, Davos finds Jon's corpse in the snow, and he, Dolorous Edd, and other brothers of the Watch loyal to Jon barricade themselves inside a small room with Ghost and the body. An attack by Thorne and his men is thwarted by the arrival of Tormund and his wildlings. Davos convinces Melisandre to attempt to resurrect Jon before his body can be burned. Then, Melisandre performs a ritual with Jon's body: cleaning his wounds, cutting some of his hair and beard, burning them 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, returning from the dead.
After coming back to his senses, Jon is accosted by Melisandre and Davos. He reflects on his perceived failure despite doing what he thought it was the right thing. However, after some encouragement from Davos, Jon gets dressed and enters the courtyard to the surprise of every men: wildling or black brother and reunites with Tormund and Edd. Later, Thorne, Marsh, Yarwych and Olly are rounded up for execution for their role in the mutiny that ultimately caused his death. After collecting the last words from each (with the exception of Olly), he cuts the trapdoor rope, hanging the four simultaneously. Tehnically free of his Night's Watch vows due to his brief death, Jon relinquishes command to Edd, declaring that his watch is ended, before leaving Castle Black in anger.
A day later, Jon packs his things. Edd chastises him for leaving the Night's Watch despite knowing about how dangerous the White Walker threat is and since those who betrayed and murdered him have been dealt with, but Jon, still traumatized, refuses to listen, arguing that he did all he could. Edd reminds Jon of the oath he swore, only for Jon to retorts by saying that he already died, and that he couldn't stay after what was done to him, not trusting his former brothers anymore. They are interrupted by the horn announcing a visitor. Jon is astonished to see his half-sister, Sansa Stark, arriving after escaping Ramsay Bolton with help from Theon Greyjoy, along with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. Although they were never particularly close, Jon and Sansa share a tender embrace.
Shortly thereafter, Jon brings Sansa inside to get warm and eat. The two share their lives since leaving Winterfell, and reminisce about their childhoods in Winterfell. Sansa regretfully mentions how awful she was to Jon during their youth, and that she felt guilty about it for years, asking Jon to forgive her. Jon shrugs it off as childhood mischief, though he forgives Sansa after she presses the issue, and swears to protect her. Sansa tries to persuade Jon to help her drive the Boltons out of Winterfell, but Jon, traumatized after his death experience at the hands of the Watch mutineers, refuses to fight.
Later, as Jon shares a meal with Sansa, Brienne, Podrick, Tormund and Edd, he receives a letter from Ramsay. The letter says:
|“|| To the traitor bastard Jon Snow,
You allowed thousands of wildings past the Wall. You have betrayed your own kind and you've betrayed the North. Winterfell is mine, bastard, come and see.
Your brother Rickon is in my dungeon. His direwolf skin is on my floor, come and see. I want my bride back, sent her to me and I will not trouble you or your wilding lovers. Keep her from me and I will ride north to slaughter every wilding man, woman or babe living on your protection. You will watch as I skin them living.
You will watch as my soliders take turn raping your sister. You will watch as my dogs devour your wild little brother. Then I will spoon your eyes from your sockets and let the dogs do the rest. Come and see.
|~ Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.|
Jon notes that Ramsay signs the letter as Warden of the North, to which Sansa correctly deduces that Ramsay murdered his father, Roose Bolton, to take over his position and is certain that now he has Rickon prisoner. Jon asks Tormund how many men he has; Tormund says 2,000, not enough to fight Ramsay's 5,000 by themselves. Sansa points out that Jon can use his status as the son of the "last true Warden of the North" to unite the various Northern houses and take Ramsay down. Therefore, Sansa implores Jon to help her take back Winterfell and rescue Rickon, which convinces Jon to fight again.
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 two of the three most powerful houses have already declared for the Boltons, Jon suggests rallying the weaker houses, as their combined strength would give them a numerical advantage when combined with the 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 in order to challenge Ramsay.
Jon, Sansa and Davos are able to recruit the Free Folk and soldiers of Houses Mormont, Hornwood and Mazin summing 2,405 fighting men, thus still not able to challenge Ramsay's 5,000 plus Karstark and Umber forces. Knowing that snow storms might decimate their army, Jon says they should strike Winterfell immediately before Ramsay can gather more men. However, Sansa confronts Jon, arguing that they still don't have enough men to retake Winterfell and proposes that they continue to add more soldiers to their cause. When Jon refuses to change his mind, Sansa writes a letter behind his back, requesting help from an unknown party.
Ramsay, Smalljon Umber and Harald Karstark meet with Jon, Sansa, Tormund, Davos, and Lyanna Mormont at the battlefield the day before the battle. Ramsay offers his peace terms: if Jon kneels before him and acknowledges him as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, Ramsay will pardon him for "deserting" the Night's Watch and the lords behind him for having rebelled against him. Aware of Ramsay breaking his terms too many times, Jon instead challenges him to a one-on-one combat to solve their dispute without massive deaths, but Ramsay refuses, citing his almost certain victory due to his significant larger army. Jon voices doubt that his men will be willing to fight for him when hearing he won't die for them, to which an angered Ramsay threatens to kill Rickon. Sansa asks for proof of Rickon's capture, which he provides by way of the decapitated head of his direwolf, Shaggydog. Sansa threatens to kill Ramsay after the battle before riding away.
As the armies face each other in Battle of the Bastards, Ramsay murders Rickon to enrage Jon, who attacks the Bolton army in a murderous fury. A devastating battle ensues in which the outnumbered Stark forces are nearly slaughtered until the knights of House Arryn arrive with Sansa and Petyr Baelish and destroy the Bolton army. This gives Jon the time to gather a small wildling force and storm Winterfell. After conquering the castle, Jon blocks Ramsay's arrows a total of three times with the shield of a fallen Mormont soldier, then knocks him to the ground and nearly beats him to death, but relents upon seeing Sansa, instead allowing Sansa to be the one to decide Ramsay's fate. Sansa feeds Ramsay to his hounds, leaving House Bolton extinct.
Days after the battle, a meeting is held in the Great Hall of Winterfell to disqus the future of the North with the Boltons' defeat and the upcoming, more serious, threat of the Night King and his army of White Walkers. The Northern lords, the Free Folk and the Knights of the Vale proclaim Jon Snow the new King in the North, hailing him as the White Wolf, in reference to the heraldry used by bastard Stark sons with the colors reversed.
Meanwhile, beyond the Wall, Bran experiences a vision of the past which shows Ned reuniting with a dying Lyanna in the Tower of Joy. She makes him swear to protect her son—Jon.
Due to being raised by Ned Stark in Winterfell, Jon Snow has a strong sense of honor, duty, and morality, striving to do the right thing when faced with difficult choices. Like his father, Jon is solemn, somber, with a drive to protect. He has a deep love for his family and is close with his father, his uncle, and his half-siblings, particularly Robb and Arya. Jon is also mature and perceptive beyond his age. However, despite being more mature than the other Stark children, he initially possesses a childish arrogance when he first arrives at the Night's Watch due to his privileged upbringing, resulting in him being a more skilled swordsman than the other recruits. This attitude attracted him the nickname "Lord Snow". However, after he is scolded by Donal Noye and made to realize his advantages, Jon reaches out to the other recruits, teaches them how to fight, and becomes more open towards people. Despite a solemn nature, Jon is empathetic and possesses a protective streak, particularly showing his compassionate side to other outsiders, such as his little sister Arya, Samwell Tarly, Grenn and Pyp.
Though Jon grows up with a father and siblings who love him and who he loves, the societal stigma of his illegitimate status and the cold treatment by his father's wife results in Jon feeling like an outsider among his family. His illegitimate status also results in a strong desire to prove himself, believing that a good way for a bastard child in his position to gain honor and respect is to join the Night's Watch as status means less among the Watch's ranks. Jon dreams of emulating his uncle Benjen, First Ranger in the Night's Watch, and initially aspires to become a ranger like his uncle. Jon's sense of duty is shown as strong when he grows remorseful of breaking his celibacy vows with Ygritte, as seen in Jon's thoughts in the novels.
Jon is also fairly shy around women, as shown during his first encounter of Ygritte, and as revealed to Sam, he was a virgin at the time he joined the Night's Watch. Snow did not try to have sex with women of wary that he could father an illegitimate child himself: having lived his life as a bastard, he felt that it wasn't a life another child should have to go through. However, it is revealed that, for love, Jon could even break his vows of celibacy, as he did with Ygritte, but after she dies, her memory will stop Jon from sexual encounters with other women, as shown when he turned down Melissandre. Love, however, will not stop Jon from doing his duty, as he leaves Ygritte to return to Castle Black and warn his sworn brothers of Mance Rayder's planned invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
Having a preconceived idea about the wildings in the past, Jon grows more fond of the wildings after his time among them and develops compassion for them to the point that in both novels and series, he makes peace with the Free Folk after the Battle of Castle Black. In the novels, Jon allows the wildings to join the Night's Watch or take shelter at Castle Black, while in the TV series, he fights among them against the White Walkers at Hardhome.
Telltale's Game of Thrones
Jon Snow is a recurring character in Telltale Game of Thrones videogame.
He debuts in Episode 3: The Lost Words, after Gared gets in a fight with Finn. He tells Frostfinger he needs another man atop the wall and Gared accompanies him to the top of the wall. While in the elevator, Jon reveals that his brother was Robb Stark and tells him that there was 3,000 men at the Red Wedding and not one could save his brother from being butchered by Lord Walder Frey's men.
Powers and abilities
- Skinchanging: The ability to inhabit the body of an animal and control its actions by opening the "third eye". Much like his half-brother, Bran, Jon Snow is a strong skinchanger, but un like Bran, he is untrained and unaware of his true potential. Jon's ability manifested itself few times, most notably during his ranging with Qhorin, when he slips into his direwolf, Ghost, and spies on a wildling horde nearby and wakes up screaming when Ghost is attacked by an eagle. Jon acknowledges his skinchanging abilities during his time with the wildlings, but remains ignorant and refuses Melisandre when she offers her assistance.
- Expert swordsman: Jon is a talented swordsman, having been trained by Ser Rodrik Cassel, Winterfell's Maester-at-arms, and excelling in the use of the blade. His skills are seen in both novels and TV series alike. In the TV series Jon demonstrates his prowess by overpowering and killing many Thenns in the Battle of Castle Black. Later during the Massacre at Hardhome, Jon, uses his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw, to hold his own against a White Walker and ultimately kill him. Additionally in the TV series, Jon has developed a reputation as a great swordsman among the people in the North according to Ramsay Bolton.
- Skilled Hand-To-Hand Combatant: In the TV series, Jon is skilled in unarmed combat. This is shown during the Battle of Castle Black, as he is able to kill Styr despite being overpowered by him, using his fists.
- Archery skills: Jon has middling archery skills, shown mainly during the wildling attack of Castle Black, when he loose arrows to their army. In TV series, when Mance Rayder is sentenced to death by burning alive, Jon shoots him with an arrow, killing Mance before the flames can consume him.
- In the television series, it was revealed that Jon's real name is Aegon Targaryen. His father Rhaegar named him the same as his other son from Elia. In the books, in Westeros there is no such thing as a "divorce/marriage annulment": no man or woman can make a marriage annulment, unless it is for specific reasons to convince the High Septon, and still only these: if the marriage was never consumed or if one of the couple is already married to a living individual. The only thing Rhaegar would be able to do would be legitimization, nothing more (however only kings have such power). If such thing happened, Rhaegar could have still named Jon with another name and not the same as his first son, Prince Aegon. If that's the case, it is speculated that Jon's birth name in the novels might be Jaehaerys Targaryen.
- Furthemore, Rhaegar wouldn't have wanted to risk angering the Dornish like that. Even if Rhaegar hypothetically pressured the High Septon into granting him an annulment on some false pretext or another this would greatly anger the Martells and possibly make them rise in open revolt against the Targaryens, especially since her children were heirs to the Iron Throne.
- It is generally suspected that Rhaegar wanted a second marriage because he believed he needed to have three children to fulfill part of the prophecy about The Prince That Was Promised - that the "Prince" would actually be three people acting together. Elia Martell had very frail health, however, and her first two pregnancies nearly killed her, and the maesters said she would not survive another.
- It is speculated on why the TV showrunners would make such an oversimplification from a polygamous marriage to an annulment, and believed that Benioff and Weiss wanted to make Jon Snow unquestionably the rightful heir to the Iron Throne - when in reality, even in the books, there is no scenario under which his inheritance would not be challenged by his enemies. Rebel armies don't care about the legality of words on paper, all they need is a pretext. Even if Rhaegar polygamously married Lyanna in the books, Jon's enemies would always say that Rhaegar couldn't lawfully do that because it is against the rules of the Faith, and rebel movements would use that argument against them. A marriage annulment would simply be considered unlawful, no matter what. Also, bastard or not, compared to Jon's, Aegon Targaryen's claim, if confirmed authentic, would still be superior.
- Also there's still the fact that the Baratheons deposed the Targaryens and were accepted as the new rulers. The Targaryens lost every castle and rights in Westeros and as long as Stannis Baratheon lives in the books, he is the actual rightful monarch of the Iron Throne. Even if every Baratheon dies, the Targaryens remain exiled by the Westerosi and Robert's bastards and House Florent would still hold valid claims. Edric Storm, being the only male bastard acknowledged by Robert as highborn would have the best chance to be legitimized before any other bastard.
- While in the TV series, Jon died in the finale of Season 5 and was resurrected by Melisandre in the second episode of Season 6, his fate is uncertain in the novels, as George R.R. Martin has neither confirmed nor infirmed Snow's presence in the upcoming novel, The Winds of Winter. He still implied that he's not done with Jon yet.
- In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow is the second of three characters to kill a White Walker, the others being Samwell Tarly and Meera Reed.
- Jon's plot before his stabbing varies depending on version. While in the novels, Snow receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton threatening him to storm Castle Black and enlists the help of the wildings in going to Winterfell to kill Ramsay himself, in the TV series, Jon dies after he rescues the wildlings from Hardhome and grants them safe passage into the Seven Kingdoms.
- However, in Game of Thrones, Jon receives the letter from Ramsay after his resurrection and after reuniting with his half-sister Sansa, Ramsay's TV show bride. Just like in the books, Jon decides to fight back against the Boltons and succeeds leaving Castle Black to fight against Ramsay.
- While in the novels, Jon possess the strong supernatural power of skinchaging, common among the wildlings and Starks, in the TV series, this abilities are rarely if ever mentioned. In the books, Snow is able to inhabit his direwolf, Ghost, and has wolf dreams, but he is untrained and unaware of his true potential. He is one of the three wargs in the novels, among his half-siblings Bran and Arya Stark, while in the TV show, only Bran's warging abilities are shown. George R. R. Martin confirmed that all the Starks are wargs.