“You’ve got the North in you – the real North.”
Jon Snow, born Aegon Targaryen, is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, the late Prince of Dragon stone. From infancy, Jon is presented as the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, Lyanna’s brother, and raised alongside his lawful children at Winterfell, the seat of House Stark. However, his true parentage is kept secret from everyone, including Jon himself, in order to protect him from those that sought the complete annihilation of House Targaryen after Robert’s Rebellion and to maintain order in the realm.
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 due to his sympathy for the Free Folk. Using the power of R’hllor, Jon is resurrected by the Red Priestess Melisandre at the behest of Ser Davos Seaworth. Freed from his Night’s Watch vows, Jon joins his “half-sister,” Sansa Stark, in building an army and together they retake Winterfell from House Bolton at the Battle of the Bastards, restoring House Stark’s dominion over the North. Following the execution of Ramsay Bolton, Jon is declared King in the North.
When the war for Westeros begins, Jon negotiates with Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaegar’s sister, to secure her support against the White Walkers, her dragons and abundance of obsidian on her military base of Dragon stone providing a distinct advantage in the Great War. After successfully capturing a wight and presenting it to Queen Cersei Lannister as proof that the army of the dead is real, Jon pledges himself and his army to Daenerys, whom he falls in love with, subsequently abdicating and being named Warden of the North.
Jon returns to Winterfell with Daenerys and the Targaryen forces, reuniting with his “half-siblings” Arya and Bran Stark, who discovers his true parentage. After his lineage is revealed to him by Samwell Tarly, he fights in the Battle of Winterfell, during which the Night King is defeated and the return of the Long Night is prevented. Afterwards, Jon aids Daenerys in her resumed campaign to take the Iron Throne and participates in the Battle of Kings Landing. However, when Daenerys lays waste to a surrendered King’s Landing, Jon attempts, but fails, to prevent his men from sacking the city. Unable to dissuade Daenerys from this path, a conflicted Jon assassinates her to prevent further carnage, and is taken prisoner by the Unsullied. Following the Great Council of 305 AC, Bran, who is elected as King of the Six Kingdoms, negotiates with the Targaryen allies, and Jon is ultimately sent into exile as a compromise, returning to the Night’s Watch for regicide.
After receiving a heartfelt welcome upon his return, he travels north of the Wall with Ghost and Tormund, leading the remaining Free Folk to settle in the thawing free lands.
Jon Snow spent the next seventeen years being raised in Winterfell as Lord Eddard’s illegitimate son, alongside his true born children with his wife. Understandably, Eddard never told anyone, including Catelyn or Jon himself, who his mother was or even if she was still alive. When pressed by King Robert Baratheon, whom he couldn’t deny an answer, Ned went as far as to concoct a vague explanation that Jon’s mother was some lowborn woman named “Wylla” that he met during the war. Lady Catelyn’s eldest son, Robb, would be acknowledged unquestionably as Eddard’s heir, but Jon was otherwise never treated much differently than her younger sons Bran and Rickon.
Despite sharing a happy marriage, Jon’s presence at Winterfell would serve as a constant source of friction between Eddard and Catelyn. Because Jon was never legitimised, Catelyn was never his “stepmother” in any sense of the term or had any obligations to him whatsoever. She never mistreated Jon but she was cold towards him and avoided him whenever possible, viewing him only as a living reminder of the one time that Eddard had dishonoured her. Catelyn would later confess to her daughter-in-law Talisa about how Jon caught the pox when he was a child, and she stayed with him through the night and prayed to the gods to let him live out of guilt for previously praying for his death, accepting that the boy was not to blame for her husband’s sin, though it was still not enough to make her love Jon, something she would eventually come to regret.
Due to his bastard status, Jon grew up feeling like an outsider at Winterfell. Although Lord Stark would see that he was well-treated, Jon’s attendance at Winterfell’s more “formal” occasions was restricted and he would even be barred from sitting inside at the Lord’s table with his family so as not to offend important guests. 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, and had a noble’s upbringing. Jon received a highborn education from Maester Luwin and a young lord’s martial training from Winterfell’s Master-at-Arms, Ser Rodrik Cassel.
Of the Stark children, Jon was very close friends with Robb – given that they were roughly the same age, being regular companions in training and riding. He was also close 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 un-ladylike pursuits, also felt like a social outsider. In contrast, Jon’s early relationship with Sansa was unpleasant; very much her mother’s daughter, she was aloof and cold to him as well.
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, Theon, Rodrik, and Jory Cassel, Rodrik’s nephew. 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. On their way back to Winterfell, they find a dead dire wolf – a species not seen south of the Wall in centuries – and her newborn pups.
Jon talks Lord Eddard into allowing the young Starks to adopt them, pointing out that a dire wolf is the sigil of House Stark: given that there are five dire wolves and five true born Stark children, it must be a sign 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. Theon remarks, “The runt of the litter, that one’s yours, Snow.” Jon takes this dire wolf as his own, naming him Ghost.
Catelyn ensures that Jon, Robb, and Theon are groomed for the arrival of Robert and Queen Cersei Lannister. Jon, in particular, is set against the altering of his appearance, as well as expressing antipathy against the royal family. When the Baratheon entourage arrives, Jon is present, but is not allowed to attend the subsequent banquet for fear of offending the royal guests (on Catelyn’s suggestion). He waits outside in the courtyard venting his frustrations against a practice dummy. 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.
Since they don’t care about recruits’ pasts and even a bastard can rise to positions of high honour in it, the Watch provides an easy escape from his life in Winterfell. He later meets Tyrion Lannister, Queen Cersei’s younger brother. 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 armour, and then it can never be used to hurt him. When Jon angrily asks Tyrion what he knows about it, Tyrion replies that “all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes.”
Before departing, Jon has a run-in with Jaime Lannister, who infamously killed his grandfather Aerys II, the Mad King. Jaime 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 is sure Bran will survive. 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 Kings road, 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.
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 wildling’s and White Walkers, he realises 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 due to his highborn upbringing. Jon offers to train some of his new brothers and Pypar and Grenn accept. 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.
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. 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 misdemeanour. Mormont also gives Jon his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw – given that his own son Jorah fled into exile and left it behind. 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.
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.
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 unsavoury 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 wildling’s 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 wildling’s who is willing to give them shelter and supplies which mean the difference between life and death for many black brothers in the wild.
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 recognise the creature hidden in the shadows. Craster spots him and knocks him out. 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 of the Night’s Watch.
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.
Qhorin leads his men into the pass and they locate and ambush the wildling watchers. Jon realises 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.
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 wildling’s. She explains that both the wildling’s and the Northmen like the Starks are descendants of the First Men, and the wildling’s 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. 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.
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 (in actuality, Theon faked their deaths following their escape, in order to intimidate his northern subjects).
As they make their way to Mance, Ygritte continues to playfully mock Jon by tapping him on the head with the flat of Long claw. 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, who whispers a line from the Night’s Watch oath to Jon with his dying breath, stunning Ygritte and the rest of the band. Jon’s hands are freed, and Ygritte leads him to the crest of the mountain to look over the massive wildling encampment.
As Jon is led by Ygritte and the Lord of Bones into the main wildling camp in the Frost fang 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 wildling’s 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.
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 wildling’s 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 recognise a class of nobility in their culture.
Mance says he is glad that Jon killed Qhorin, as he had killed many of Mance’s wildling’s. 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 advises Jon to get a new cloak, his black one clearly attracting malignity.
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 wildling’s, 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, ignorant to what a warg is, explained to 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”.
As Jon Snow and the Free Folk arrive at the Fist of the First Men, they survey the bloody aftermath of the assault on the Night’s Watch by the White Walkers and their army of undead wights. However, they only find corpses of horses and no human remains. Jon says that there were three hundred men of the Night’s Watch at the Fist, and asks Mance if Mormont could still be alive. Mance says that with Mormont, it’s possible he was able to escape, but that even if he did he and his men took quite a beating and are trapped miles away from the Wall with the White Walkers in close pursuit. Mance warns Jon that all of the missing corpses from the Fist are no longer his friends and brothers from the Night’s Watch, but have been resurrected as undead monsters who serve the White Walkers. Jon reluctantly agrees.
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.
On their way to the Wall and Castle Black, Jon and Ygritte are gathering firewood, when the warg Orell asks him about the defences 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 wildling’s 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 East watch 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. Despite this, Jon remains steadfast to the lie.
Jon and Ygritte then walk away, but she steals his sword Long claw, 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 wildling’s 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. Afterwards Jon and Ygritte lay together in a naked embrace and Ygritte tells Jon she wishes they could stay in this cave forever.
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.
After surviving the perilous climb of the Wall, Jon Snow, Ygritte and the wildling’s 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 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 wildling’s 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.
Jon 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. 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.
Realising 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. In the nearby Queens crown, a hidden Bran enters the mind of Summer to aid 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 a heartbroken Ygritte and heading back to the Wall.
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.
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 honourable 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 Maester 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 wildling’s, 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, realises that Jon is speaking the truth, and the hearing ends with Jon being allowed to keep his head.
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 Northerners 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 at Red Wedding. 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, promising a lordship as a reward.
The orphan Olly then arrives at Castle black, telling them how the wildling raiding parties south of the Wall killed his entire village. Thorne asks for Jon’s opinion on protecting the small folk living in the Gift, thinking Jon will disagree with his decision not to send help. Instead, Jon regretfully says that he knows from his time with the wildling’s that this exactly what they want – to lure as many of them out of Castle Black as possible to weaken its defences for the massive attack about to come from the north side of the Wall, which would allow them to move over a thousand miles southward before they reached 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. They are interrupted by a single horn blast, revealed to be Grenn and Edd, 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 wildling’s will know how vulnerable Castle Black really is. Jon tries to convince Alliser Thorne that eliminating the mutineers should be their top priority.
Jon and Grenn are training the new recruits, one of which is Locke, to fight wildling’s. The training session is interrupted by Thorne who continues to talk down to Jon and reminds him that he is 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. Jon is worried for Bran and once he realises 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).
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 Sissy. Karl attempts to kill her, though it’s a fatal mistake as Jon doesn’t miss the opportunity to thrust Long claw through the back of Karl’s head and out of his mouth.
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.
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.
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 wildling’s 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.
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.
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. 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, signalling the unanticipated appearance of Tormund’s band of wildling’s at Castle Black.
Alliser decides to go down and defend the keep, leaving Janos Slynt in charge of the Wall’s defences. 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, demoralising 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 defences, silently thanking Grenn. The black brothers continue to rain down arrows on the advancing wildling’s, 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 wildling’s 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 led by Grenn to hold it at any cost. 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.
Jon quickly dispatches many wildling’s with Long claw, 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 Long claw 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.
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 Long claw with Sam. Sam tells Jon to come back, and Jon looks and Sam and gives him an unsure smile before stepping out into the wilderness on the other side of the gate. 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 wildling’s, scattering the rest.
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.
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 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 wildling’s. Nevertheless, Stannis wants Jon to retake the North with the help of the wildling’s, stating that he will pardon them and declare them citizens of the realm once the war is won. Stannis will give the wildling’s 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 as a sacrifice to R’hllor.
Jon does his best to convince Mance to save his life as well as all the wildling’s, but it is unsuccessful: the wildling’s only follow him because he kneels to no one, so if he did kneel to Stannis they would lose all respect for him and ignore his commands anyway, so he might as well die with his honour 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.
Stannis and Davos summon Jon to discuss his future. Stannis shows him a letter delivered by messenger-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 legitimise 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 (who is fervently supported by Janos) 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 defence 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.
Jon is approached by Stannis and Davos about the offer of legitimisation. 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.
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 Grey guard, 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, telling Jon, “You can stick your order up your bastard ass.” Having publicly disobeyed and insulted Jon, the Lord Commander orders Janos taken outside, and calls for Olly to fetch him Long claw.
Obedience to the laws of his “father” – 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 Eddard 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.
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 honourable 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.
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”.
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 wildling’s, 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 wildling’s 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 keep the wildling’s 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.
Jon speaks alone with Tormund, who reveals that the remainder of Mance’s army probably fled back to Hard home, 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 wildling’s 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.
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 criticises his mission, and says his farewells to Sam, who gives him a bag of dragon glass 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.
Jon reaches Hard home 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 wildling’s 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 dragon glass weapons with the wildling’s 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 wildling’s 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 dragon glass daggers, but he is ambushed by a White Walker. They fight for a while and Jon is almost killed until he retrieves Long claw. To the surprise of both Jon and the White Walker, Long claw 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 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.
Jon and the others make it back to the north side of Castle Black on foot 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 wildling’s 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.
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 wildling’s 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.
That night while reading messages, Olly comes to Jon and tells him one of the wildling’s 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 in the heart and declares, “For the Watch.” Jon collapses and dies from his wounds before the mutineers leave him out in the cold to bleed out.
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 realise 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 Wildling’s. 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.
After being rescued by Edd and the wildling’s, 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 R’hllor 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. 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.
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.
Technically free from his vows, Jon then passes his cloak and command to Edd, declaring his intent to leave the Night’s Watch.
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. 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.
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.
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.
With help from Tormund, Jon speaks with the wildling’s and asks for their help in the coming battle against Ramsay. Though Tormund stands by Jon, Dalba is skeptical, citing that they were allowed into the North to help fight against the White Walkers, not the Boltons. Jon agrees this isn’t their fight and he shouldn’t be asking for their help but points out that if Ramsay wins, he will wipe them all out anyway. Tormund speaks up for Jon, saying he died for the wildling’s well-being and if they don’t help him, they are “cowards”. The wildling’s 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 Iron born and Jon’s allegiance with the wildling’s. Despite being heavily outnumbered, 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.
Ramsay, Smalljon Umber, and Harald Karstark meet with Jon, Sansa, Tormund, Davos, and Lyanna 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. Sansa asks for proof of Rickon’s capture, which he provides by way of the decapitated head of his dire wolf, Shaggy dog. Sansa refuses the terms of surrender and tells Ramsay he will die the following day before riding off.
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 criticises Jon for not listening to her advice and for attacking too early, insisting they need more men. Jon responds 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.
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 and as Rickon does so, Ramsay brings out a bow. Jon desperately 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 is about to reach his brother, Rickon is struck in the back with an arrow and killed.
With Jon now defenceless in the middle of the battlefield and charging the Bolton cavalry alone, Bolton archers fire volleys of arrows in his direction. Davos commands the Stark cavalry to follow their commander and they begin their charge to meet the Bolton cavalry, narrowly saving Jon from being trampled and 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. 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 Wildling’s 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 realising that Sansa was right all along. Ramsay returns to Winterfell and closes the gates, confident that their opponent is not equipped for a 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. 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 it until he gets close enough to smack the bow out of Ramsay’s hands and hit him to the ground, whereupon he furiously 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, restoring House Stark’s hold on Winterfell. 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.
In the aftermath, in the Great Hall with Melisandre, Jon reminisces about how his family sat at the main table during feasts while he was mostly made to sit away with the squires (or sometimes to remain outside in the case of Robert Baratheon’s visit), though they both agree that Jon was luckier than most bastard children. Davos then enters and openly accuses Melisandre of sacrificing Shireen, which Melisandre admits, though also pointing out that her magic still brought Jon back to life. Shocked at the revelation, Jon orders Melisandre to leave the North on threat of execution.
As Jon watches Melisandre riding away from the top of the castle’s walls, he tells Sansa that the lord’s chambers are being prepared for her and when Sansa tries to say Jon should have them, Jon says, as a bastard, he’s not “a Stark” and that Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell. Jon continues that the battle was won because she brought the Knights of the Vale. Sansa apologises for not telling him about the Vale army and when Jon asks her about Little finger, Sansa says he is not trustworthy. Jon responds he and Sansa must trust each other completely now and kisses her on the forehead. Sansa informs him that a white messenger-raven has just arrived from the Citadel, officially announcing that the years-long autumn is over, and winter has come – which many fear will be as long as the ten-year summer which preceded it. Jon wryly points out that their father always promised it would come some day.
Some time later, the surviving heads of all the Northern vassal Houses convene in Winterfell’s great hall, along with the lords of the Vale who came to their rescue with their large army (such as Yohn Royce and Little finger). They debate what to do next. Lyanna Mormont rises and shames those who did not join Jon and Sansa to help defeat Ramsay. She reiterates that the North knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is “Stark.” Lyanna continues by saying that Jon may be a bastard but she doesn’t care and he is a Stark to her. She hails Jon as the new King in the North. Wyman Manderly, whose son Wendel was killed at the Red Wedding, also rises to apologise, saying he didn’t send aid before because he didn’t want to send his men to die for nothing, but now Jon has avenged the Red Wedding.
Lord Wyman goes on to call Jon “the White Wolf” and he too proclaims him King. Robett Glover apologises profusely, saying that he dishonoured himself by not aiding him before, and he only didn’t help Jon because he thought he had no hope of winning. Lord Cerwyn, whose parents were flayed alive by Ramsay Bolton and did not help out of fear, also swears his allegiance. All of the gathered lords of the North and the Vale draw and raise their swords and hail Jon as the new King in the North, echoing how Robb Stark’s banner men previously proclaimed him king. Surprised, Jon shares a look with Sansa, who returns Jon’s smile as he stands. However, Sansa’s smile vanishes when she sees Little finger glowering in the corner of the hall.
Meanwhile, beyond the Wall, Bran experiences a vision about Jon’s origins and realises he is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
To prepare for the forthcoming conflict with the Night King, the newly declared King Jon orders his banner men to conscript all able-bodied men and boys aged 10 to 60 for combat training. However, he notes that having only half of the population in the North fighting the White Walkers is not enough he also orders that every woman and girl should also be trained and equipped as well. He also asks that all maesters should start searching for dragon glass. He stresses that dragon glass is now more valuable than gold due to the threat of the White Walkers.
When Sansa advocates that the Umbers and Karstarks be stripped of their lands and titles as punishment for supporting Ramsay Bolton, Jon advocates forgiveness and insists that children will not be punished for the crimes of their fathers. Despite Sansa’s continued insistence, Jon insists his decision is final and summons Ned Umber and Alys Karstark to reaffirm their loyalty to House Stark. They oblige and kneel before King Jon. Jon says that the mistakes of the past don’t matter anymore.
In private, Jon Snow chides Sansa for questioning his decision-making in front of the other lords and ladies and tells her to trust him. When Sansa reminds him that the late Joffrey Baratheon did not tolerate dissent, Jon reassures her that he is not Joffrey. Sansa tells Jon that she knows he is nothing like Joffrey and assures Jon that he is good at leadership but she stresses that he must act wiser than Ned and Robb.
At Winterfell, Jon, Sansa, and Davos discuss Tyrion’s letter that they have received. While Sansa suspects it might be a trap, Jon doesn’t think so due to Tyrion ending the letter with the line “all dwarfs are bastards in their fathers’ eyes”, which Tyrion has told Jon in their first meeting years ago. Even so, Jon agrees that now is not the right time to go to Dragon stone. Davos opines that Dany will make a good ally in the war to come against the White Walkers.
Later Jon receives a raven from Sam informing him of his discovery of dragon glass on Dragon stone. At another gathering of the Northern lords Jon informs them of Sam’s discovery and Daenerys’s invitation telling them that he has decided to accept. Many of the Lords, including Sansa, openly disapprove, but Jon stresses that they need both the dragon glass and powerful allies like Daenerys to have any chance at defeating the Night King. He names Sansa as Regent to rule in his place until he returns.
In the crypts beneath Winterfell Jon pays respects to Ned until he is interrupted by Little finger. Little finger tries to sweet talk Jon, but he sees through his manipulation and starts to walk away. Little finger informs Jon of his love for Sansa, which causes him to lose his temper and start to strangle him. Jon threatens Little finger saying that he will kill him if he ever touches Sansa. He then leaves the crypt and gives a farewell nod to Sansa before joining Davos on the ride to White Harbour, where they will take a ship to Dragon stone.
Jon and Davos arrive at Dragon stone, and are immediately greeted by Tyrion and Missandei. Upon meeting, Tyrion address Jon as the bastard of Winterfell while Jon addressed him as the “dwarf” of Casterly Rock. Jon observes that Tyrion has picked up some scars. Jon also introduces Davos while Tyrion introduces Missandei, who requests that they surrender their weapons. Jon and his entourage hand over their weapons to Daenerys Targaryen’s Dothraki guards.
On the walk to the castle, Missandei walks with Davos and tells him that she comes from the island of Naath. Davos remarks that it was a paradise full of palm trees. Jon and Tyrion talk about Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion. Tyrion assures Jon that it was a sham and remarks that she is a lot smarter than she lets on, which Jon agrees. While Jon is aware about the fate of the previous Starks who had met with the Mad King, Jon insists that he is not a Stark. Jon and Davos are startled at the sight of Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion flying low over the causeway and dive to the ground, while an amused Missandei and Tyrion retain their composure. Offering Jon a hand up, Tyrion says he wishes he could tell Jon he’ll get used to the dragons – but no one is quite used to them except their mother, who is waiting for Jon within.
In the throne room, Missandei introduces Queen Daenerys’s many titles while Davos introduces Jon Snow simply as King in the North. Daenerys thanks Jon for traveling so far but insists that he is a mere Lord. Davos begs to differ but Daenerys responds that there has been no King in the North ever since Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror and adds that an oath lasts for perpetuity. Dany then reiterates her demand for Jon to bend the knee but he refuses. When Dany accuses him of breaking faith with House Targaryen, Jon reminds her that the Mad King burnt his grandfather Rickard and uncle Brandon.
Daenerys apologises for her father’s actions and stresses that children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents. She then urges Jon to renew the historic allegiance between their two great houses. Jon expresses agreement with Daenerys’s view that children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents but argues that he is not beholden to his ancestors’ oaths. Jon tells her that he has come for her help. Dany reminds him that she has three dragons and Dothraki who have pledged themselves to her. Getting to the point of his trip, Jon likens the fighting between the Great Houses to children squabbling over a game. Jon Snow points out that the Army of the Dead is their true enemy. Daenerys is skeptical but Tyrion vouches for Jon. Jon says that they need to make cause to fight against the Army of the Dead.
Daenerys asks Jon if his father knew that his friend King Robert had sent assassins to kill her as a baby; overlooking the fact that Lord Eddard Stark had opposed King Robert Baratheon’s assassination plot and Robert had rescinded said plot on his deathbed (though, she may be unaware of that). Dany recounts that she was targeted by assassins, enslaved, raped, and defiled but that her faith in herself rather the gods kept her going. Daenerys talks about the miracle of her dragons’ hatching and the Dothraki crossing the Narrow Sea. When Daenerys reiterates that she is destined to rule the Seven Kingdoms, Jon retorts that she will be ruling over a graveyard.
Tyrion says they cannot split their forces. Davos then speaks up for his king and tells Dany that Jon won the support of the Wildling’s and fought the White Walkers. Davos also mentions that Jon Snow came back from the dead. Davos says that it doesn’t matter who bends the knee. Tyrion doesn’t see the point of Jon Snow’s refusal to submit. When Jon disputes Daenerys’s claims to queenship, Dany responds that he is in open rebellion since he has declared himself King in the North. Daenerys then receives a message from Varys. Dany orders Missandei to give Jon and his followers food and lodging. When Jon asks if he is a prisoner, she says not yet.
Later, Jon and Tyrion discuss his predicament. Jon is unhappy that he is a prisoner while the White Walkers and the Night King still pose a threat. Tyrion says he trusts the word of Jeor Mormont and Jon. Jon asks Tyrion how he can convince people about the existence of things which they don’t believe exist. Jon wants to help his people and is frustrated with the deadlock. Tyrion encourages Jon not to give up. When Jon remarks that he is a fool for going south, Tyrion reassures him that the Mad King’s daughter is not her father and has protected people from “monsters,” telling him to speak with her servants. Tyrion asks if there is something he can do to help Jon.
While Dany is watching over her dragons, she is joined by Jon. Dany tells Jon that she named her dragons Rhaegal and Viserion after her brothers Rhaegar and Viserys Targaryen. Jon realises that Tyrion has been petitioning her. Dany tells Jon she is determined to remove Cersei. She allows Jon to mine the dragon glass and agrees to provide men and equipment. When he asks if she believes in the Night King and White Walkers, she tells him to get to work. Later, Jon leads Daenerys on a tour of the long-abandoned Valyrian dragon glass mine that Samwell Tarly told him about. The mine is ancient and impressive, used by the First Men long before the Valyrians came to dragon stone. But this is not why Jon asked Daenerys to come.
As they proceed deeper into the mines led by torchlight, Jon shows her cave paintings they discovered left behind by the Children of the Forest, filled with arcane magical symbols. Daenerys is stunned that the mythical Children stood where they are standing now, thousands upon thousands of years ago, long before mankind ever arrived in Westeros. Jon says this isn’t exactly true, leading her into another chamber, this one filled with narrative drawings of the Children and the First Men. Daenerys wonders if the Children and First Men fought each other, but Jon then shows her ancient carvings of the White Walkers themselves, one of which Jon recognises as an image of the Night King. Jon explains that the Children of the Forest and the First Men only managed to drive off the White Walkers the first time during the Long Night because they chose to join together to fight off their own extinction, and that is the choice between Jon and Daenerys now.
Jon still wants Daenerys to ally with him to defeat the army of the dead. He insists that the North won’t accept a southern ruler again after everything that has happened to them. Daenerys urges that they will if their king does. If his point in showing her the cave drawings was that she should swallow her pride and ally with him because the White Walkers are such a world-ending threat, by the same token, the North should submit to her, because their survival should outweigh their pride. When Daenerys receives word about Casterly Rock and High garden, she becomes frustrated about her constant defeat, and asks Jon whether if she must utilise her dragons in her conquest. Jon tells Daenerys that he never thought that it was impossible for dragons to live again, and that people follow Daenerys because she have done the impossible. He the. warns her that if she uses her dragons to melt castles and burn cities, she will be just the same as those before her. Afterwards, Jon reunited with Theon who has survived his encounter with Euron. The anxious Theon asks Jon if Sansa is all right. Jon proceeds to scold Theon that what he did for Sansa was the only reason why he is still alive.
Some time later, Jon witnesses Daenerys returning to Dragon stone on Drogon. Drogon approaches Jon who does not flinch at the dragon and starts to pet him, much to Daenerys’s amazement. They then meet with Jorah Mormont who has returned from Oldtown. Jon then receives a letter regarding the army of the dead approaching Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Tyrion Propose sure a plan to capture a wight to prove Cersei about the existence of the White Walkers. Jon agrees and departs with Davos, Jorah, and Gendry.
Jon arrives at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and heads out with a ranging party consisting of Tormund, Jorah Mormont, Gendry, Sandor Clegane, Thoros, Beric Dondarrion, and a few others on a mission to capture a wight. They succeed but half of the party, including Thoros, end up being killed as they are attacked by wights, prompting Daenerys to intervene with all three of her dragons and leading to the death of Viserion by the Night King, who later resurrects the beast for his own use. Despite this devastating loss, Jon continues to fight and nearly drowns in the cold waters beneath the ice. Though he manages to pull himself out, he is all alone and nearly overwhelmed by the wights until a last-minute intervention by his long-lost uncle Benjen, who tells him to flee on his horse while he buys time for his nephew to escape. While riding away on horseback, Jon watches his uncle being overwhelmed by the undead. He makes it back to East watch and is brought aboard the ship with Dany, Davos, and Sandor.
In the Narrow Sea, Jon Snow wakes to find Daenerys watching over him in his chambers. Jon apologises for the disastrous ranging party and the fact it caused Viserion’s death, but Daenerys tells him not to apologise because she now knows that the Army of the Dead is real. Overcome with emotion, she tells Jon that the dragons are the only children she will ever have, and vows that she and Jon will together destroy the Night King. Jon thanks her for her support, addressing her as “Dany”, and Daenerys realises that the last person to address her by that name was her older brother (and Jon’s uncle) Viserys Targaryen, who Daenerys remembers as not being a good person. Jon apologises and asks if “My Queen” would be more appropriate; realising he is agreeing to bend the knee (though both of them are still unaware that he is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne), Daenerys asks Jon what the Northern lords loyal to him will make of this. Jon assures her they will come to see her for the good person she is, as he already has. Touched by his statement, Daenerys gently takes Jon’s hand in her own for a moment. They gaze into each other’s eye for a moment – a long moment – but Daenerys suddenly pulls away and tells him to get some rest and leaves him alone.
After recovering from his ordeal, Jon and the rest of his allies head to the Dragon pit to parley with the Lannisters. When Cersei dismisses their warnings about the Night King and his army as a ploy to trick her into lowering her defences, they rattle the captured white into lunging for her, making her and her allies see once and for all that the threat from beyond the Wall is real. Jon steps forward and picks up the wight’s discarded hand, using a torch provided by Davos to demonstrate how fire can be used to stop them. He then uses a dragon glass dagger to the heart to end the wight’s upper half, bluntly stating that if they don’t win the coming war, such a fate awaits every person in Westeros. Seemingly convinced, Cersei immediately offers terms: satisfied that Daenerys is concerned with the Army of the Dead, Cersei will not withdraw her troops, but will guarantee that they will not hinder the Targaryen or Northern forces in any way during the battle against the White Walkers. She refuses to deal with Daenerys at all, however, and calls on Jon Snow, as King in the North and Ned Stark’s son, to keep the truce and to stay out of any future conflict between Cersei and Daenerys. Jon, however, says that he cannot serve two queens – and reveals to all assembled that he has already declared for Daenerys, infuriating all three Lannisters present. Declaring that there will be no truce if it is just her and Daenerys, Cersei storms out, content to let the Starks and Targaryens battle the undead alone and then deal with whoever emerges victorious from that conflict.
Daenerys and Tyrion rip into Jon over his ill-advised action, suggesting that learning to lie just a little might be a good skill. Jon responds by arguing that while such an attitude may or may not have contributed to getting his father killed, if no one is willing to speak the truth, then everyone’s word is worthless, and lies will not help them win the coming fight. While Tyrion goes to talk to Cersei, Daenerys and Jon discuss the dragons and how her ancestors caged them, and in turn, become less impressive as the power of the dragons waned. Jon questions Daenerys’s assertion of infertility, particularly when she admits that she never got an informed opinion about her condition from anyone except Mirri Maz Duur herself. Their conversation is interrupted by the return of all three Lannisters. Cersei has agreed to work with Daenerys, but not by keeping her troops back: the Lannister army will march north to fight alongside the Starks and Targaryens. Little do Jon and Daenerys know that Cersei has no intention of keeping her promise and that she intends to let them fight the White Walkers on their own and mop up whoever wins with the help of the Golden Company. Jaime refuses to back down from his pledge to help fight the White Walkers and defies his sister-lover by traveling north. Whether he will warn Jon and Daenerys of Cersei’s plan remains to be seen.
Later, as the two of them ride a ship to White Harbour, Jon enters Daenerys’s cabin where the two of them begin to consummate their relationship, still unaware that they are aunt and nephew.
Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, Samwell Tarly and Gilly arrive. The former visits Bran and the two of them discuss Jon’s origin: he was born to Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark at a Tower in Dorne, and is not a Snow at all, but a Sand. Sam realises that that isn’t true either, recalling the entry from High Septon Maynard’s private journal about annulling Rhaegar’s marriage. Bran expressed his doubts, but Sam reiterates the private nature of the journal and encourages Bran to use Greensight to confirm it. To his own surprise, Bran easily finds the wedding, where he sees a clearly happy Lyanna wedding Rhaegar in a Faith of the Seven ceremony before a Heart tree. Warging forward to the Tower of Joy, Bran finally hears Lyanna’s dying words. Now piecing the truth together, Bran declares that Rhaegar never raped Lyanna. She loved him and ran off with him, and bore him a son, Aegon Targaryen, making “Jon” not only legitimate but the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Upon arrival in the North, Jon and Daenerys, along with their combined forces, march through Winter town on their way to Winterfell. The townspeople cast Daenerys many suspicious looks, and Jon reminds her that Northerners have a long-established distrust of outsiders. Upon arriving at Winterfell, he introduces her to Sansa. Jon and Daenerys later ride Daenerys’s dragons, Jon riding Rhaegal and Daenerys riding Drogon. They find a waterfall where Jon used to hunt as a child and they share an intimate moment.
Later, Jon meets up with Sansa, who is angry that Jon bent the knee to Daenerys. Jon says titles are not important when the Army of the Dead is coming and he is certain Daenerys will make a good queen for them. Sansa asks Jon if he bent the knee to save the North or because he loves Daenerys, who later invites him to ride atop Rhaegal. While he initially finds it difficult, he soon gets used to it. After landing, he and Daenerys share a kiss which leaves both the dragons jealous and intimidated. When he reunites with Arya, he finds out that she is more loyal to Sansa than the Targaryen queen.
Later in the catacombs when he is lighting candles in remembrance of his family, he reunites with Sam. Sam asks him whether he knew about Daenerys burning his brother and father, but Jon is surprised. Sam tells him he’ll make a better king and reveals his true parentage to him, he is Aegon – the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
The Stark and Targaryen forces prepare to fight the dead near Winterfell. Bran offers himself as bait to lure the Night King for an ambush in the Gods wood of Winterfell. Jon opts to use the dragons to protect Bran in the Gods wood. Later, Jon informs Daenerys about his true parentage in the crypts. Daenerys is distrustful and claims it is convenient that only Bran and Sam know of this. They are interrupted by sounds of horns which signal the arrival of the Night King’s army.
During the Battle of Winterfell, Jon rides atop Rhaegal and leads him in fighting the dead. He and Drogon battle the Night King and the undead Viserion with Rhaegal being heavily injured. Rhaegal is able to land on the ground but falls unconscious due to his injuries while landing and Jon is knocked off from the dragon’s top. He is wounded during the battle and is pinned down by Viserion, though he survives as the Night King’s army is obliterated with his death.
After the battle, Jon leads a mass cremation for the dead and is hailed by the wildling’s during the celebrations of the victory. After the celebrations, Daenerys meets up with Jon in his room. Jon offers his condolences for Jorah’s death and Daenerys affirms that Jorah loved her but she couldn’t love him the way he wanted, not the way she loves Jon. She and Jon begin to kiss, preparing to have sex but Jon stops himself. Daenerys laments that Jon told her the truth of his parentage and is fearful people will press his claim against hers for the Iron Throne. Jon is vehement that he does not want the throne. Daenerys tells Jon it doesn’t matter what he personally wants, people will press his claim. Jon tells Daenerys he will refuse and on his knee, declares Daenerys will always be his queen. Daenerys insists that he must never reveal his parentage to anyone but Jon tells Daenerys he owes his sisters the truth. He is certain they can all live happily together but Daenerys says the only way that can happen is if Jon never tells the truth about himself and leaves.
While making the plans for attacking King’s Landing, Daenerys wants to take the Red Keep while Tyrion and Jon vouch for a siege in hopes this will reduce casualties. Sansa opts for letting their forces rest before charging into another battle. Jon, however, assures the queen that they will obey her command. Afterward, Sansa and Arya state that they do not trust her. When Jon defends Daenerys and says that they only have to get to know her, Sansa and Arya reply they never will as she is not one of them. Jon says he has never been a Stark but they both insist he is. Pained, Jon looks at Bran, who says that it’s his choice to tell them. Jon makes them both swear to never tell anyone the secret he is about to reveal to them. After they do, then at a loss for words, Jon tells Bran to reveal the truth of his parentage to them.
Jon marches to King’s Landing along the Kings road with the surviving Stark, Arryn, and Dothraki forces unopposed while the Unsullied reach the capital ahead of them. Hopes for a peaceful surrender, however, are quickly extinguished with Missandei’s execution. Later, Jon separates from his forces after crossing the Trident and heads back to Dragon stone. Varys informs him about Daenerys’ unstable state of mind and is requested by him to take the Iron Throne, but he refuses.
Daenerys later has Varys executed for treason. When Varys is burned alive by Drogon’s flames, Jon is disturbed by the execution via fire. Later, Jon comes to see Daenerys and she blames Jon telling Sansa about her parentage for what happened. Jon states he doesn’t want the crown which is what he told Varys, with Daenerys replying Sansa betrayed his trust and is as responsible for Varys’ death as she is. Daenerys confides that the people of Westeros love Jon more than her, that all she has here is fear, not love. Jon tells Daenerys that he loves her and she will always be his queen. As she asks if that’s all she is to him, the two kiss but Jon breaks it off, still hesitant over their blood ties. Daenerys accepts this but resigns herself to ruling by fear.
During the Battle of King’s Landing, the Golden Company is caught off-guard by Drogon and as a result, is decimated by the charging Northern and Targaryen forces. The surviving Lannister forces surrender but Daenerys refuses to accept. Both the Targaryen and Northern forces start slaughtering the unarmed Lannister forces as Jon tries in vain to hold them back. As a result, the Lannisters who have surrendered start clashing again, and Jon is forced to fight to deflect their attacks. He is horrified by the carnage that occurs despite his calls to stop it, and kills one of his soldiers trying to rape a woman. When the wildfire caches stored below the city years ago by Aerys II Targaryen start erupting due to Drogon’s dragon fire, Jon orders his forces to evacuate.
After the battle, Jon, Davos, and Tyrion observe in horror the ash-covered devastation wrought by Daenerys, with charred bodies strewn everywhere. Tyrion leaves for the Red Keep alone and rejects Jon’s suggestions to take some of his soldiers as guards. A little while later, Jon confronts Grey Worm and the Unsullied who are executing captive Lannister soldiers. Grey Worm states that he has been ordered by Daenerys to execute all who followed Cersei. When Jon tries to stop him, the Unsullied and Stark soldiers almost come to blows, but Davos defuses the situation by telling Jon to take it up with the queen. As they walk away, they witness Grey Worm executing the captives.
At the Red Keep, he witnesses Daenerys giving a speech to her victorious forces and Tyrion disavowing his loyalty and being arrested for releasing Jaime. He then reunites with an injured Arya. Surprised, he asks why she was in King’s Landing, to which Arya responds that she came to kill Cersei, but Daenerys got there first. She warns Jon that he will always be a danger to her because of his parentage and Sansa will never bend the knee to her.
A while later, Jon visits the imprisoned Tyrion, who expects he’ll be executed soon. Tyrion admits that Varys was right all along about Daenerys. He warns Jon that she won’t stop until she has “liberated” the world and rules it all. He recounts her atrocities but Jon states it happened because of the trauma from the loss of loved ones she suffered. Tyrion states he knows Jon doesn’t want to betray her and knows Jon loves her, he loved her too. He admits he is asking Jon to do a terrible thing but advises him to take action because she is now the greatest threat to the people. He warns that he’ll always be in danger because of his parentage and asks if his sisters will ever bend the knee. Jon responds they’ll always be loyal, but Tyrion reasons that Sansa told him about his parentage because she doesn’t want Daenerys as the Queen. Jon responds that she can’t choose, but Tyrion states he can and has to do it now.
Troubled, Jon walks to the Great Hall and finds Daenerys standing by the Iron Throne. Jon confronts her about her atrocities during the battle. She displays no remorse, believing it was necessary to achieve her ends. Jon tries to dissuade her from this path, urging forgiveness for Tyrion and those in King’s Landing, which she rejects and states the world they need can’t be built by those loyal to the current one. She assures that the new world she has in mind will be a good one. When Jon asks about others wanting to choose what is good, she responds they don’t get to. She tries to convince him to be by her side to build her new world and an anguished Jon reaffirms his allegiance to her. As they share a passionate kiss, Jon reluctantly stabs her. Daenerys collapses and dies in his arms as Jon grieves over her. Drogon approaches them after witnessing this while Jon gently lays her on the ground. Seeing his mother dead on the floor, Drogon becomes enraged and faces Jon. Jon prepares for his death, but the dragon instead melts the Iron Throne and flies away with her corpse, which Jon witnesses.
He is imprisoned in the Red Keep for the murder of Daenerys. Despite being supposed to be put on trial in front of the lords and ladies of Westeros, he is absent because the Unsullied want to punish him themselves. Tyrion convinces Grey Worm to allow the new King of the Andals and the First Men punish him since the crime was committed in Westeros. Ultimately, Bran is elected as the king and decides to exile Jon to the Night’s Watch in order to avoid a war between his supporters and the Unsullied. The new Hand of the King, Tyrion, later visits a defeated Jon and informs him of his fate. Jon dryly asks if there still is a Night’s Watch, and Tyrion responds the world still needs a refuge for bastards and broken men. Jon states that he doesn’t feel right about what he did, but Tyrion responds they did it together and to ask him in 10 years if it was right. Jon bids farewell to him, but Tyrion responds he might want to piss off the top of the Wall after serving a few years as the Hand.
While being taken into exile by two wandering crows, he bids farewell to Bran, Sansa, and Arya at the docks. Jon congratulates Sansa on gaining independence for the North and assures her she will be a good leader when she laments they lost their king before they hug. Jon then tells Arya that she could to visit him at Castle Black, but Arya states that she isn’t going back North and plans to explore the uncharted seas to the west of Westeros before the two tearfully hug. Finally, Jon kneels before the new king Bran and apologises for not being there when he needed him, but Bran states he was “exactly where he was supposed to be”.
Some time later, he arrives at Castle Black and reunites with Tormund and the wildling’s. Later, he dons the black cloak of a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch and reunites with Ghost. He then leaves with Ghost and the wildling’s for lands north of the Wall, watching forlornly as the gate to Castle Black closes behind him, and then rides into the Haunted Forest alongside them.
- “You are a Stark. You may not have my name, but you have my blood.”
- ―Eddard Stark to Jon before he leaves for the Night’s Watch.
Because he was raised by Ned Stark at Winterfell, Jon has adopted a clear moral compass and a true sense of honour, 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 idolised 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 honour.
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. His closeness with Brandon and Rickon was proved when the latter had to leave Winterfell and Master Luwin advised them to go Castle Black, where the old man was sure that their half-brother would keep them safe. With Sansa on the other hand, according to the talk they had when they reunited at Castle Black, the friendship has never been deep as those between Jon and the other siblings. Since then, however, Sansa proves to have great faith in her half-brother by standing up for him when he is King in the North and, when she discovers his true parentage, by seeing him as the best candidate to become King of the Seven Kingdoms. Also, when Jon is forced to join again the Night’s Watch, Sansa shows great sorrow and thinks that sending Jon away is both a great unfairness and a great loss for the North.
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 honour 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 demeanour, 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 had a noble’s upbringing. Jon was formally educated by Maester Luwin and was trained in combat by Ser Rodrik Cassel, excelling at swordsmanship. 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 behaviour 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 honours 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 honourable convictions and previous commitment to the Night’s Watch, his experience of being murdered by his own men and then revived has made Jon somewhat 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.
The revelation that he is a Targaryen has made no difference to Jon; he has remained loyal to his origins, as a Northman and a Stark, and through much suffering, many hard choices and also some mistakes, Jon proved to be a born leader. To protect his land and family, in just a few years he has risen up from being a bastard to becoming the King in the North, a prominent figure among the Free Folks and the one who many have acknowledged as the most suitable to become King of Seven Kingdoms.
Main: Jon Snow and Ygritte
- Ygritte: She was Jon’s first love, although in their first encounter she tries to seduce and cheat him. When Jon infiltrates the Wildling’s, they become lovers and Jon really falls in love with her, but ultimately he chooses his vows for the Night’s Watch over her. Ygritte shoots him with three arrows but due to her feelings for Jon, she couldn’t bring herself to kill him. In the Battle of Castle Black, Ygritte was killed by Olly and died in Jon’s arms. A devastated Jon cremates her body just beyond the Wall, per Tormund’s suggestion that she belongs in the true North.
Main: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen
- Daenerys Targaryen: The Mad King’s daughter and the youngest sister of Jon’s father, Prince Rhaegar, making her his aunt by blood. Having been summoned from Winterfell to bend the knee to Daenerys, Jon initially refuses on the grounds that they need to ally against the Night King and the army of the dead instead of removing Cersei from the Iron Throne. After witnessing the large numbers of the army of the dead, Daenerys agrees to help Jon and during their time together, they fall in love. They fight the Army of the Dead in the Battle of Winterfell, during which the Night King is defeated. With the Long Night prevented, Jon honours his pledge to help Daenerys take the Iron Throne. However, she razes King’s Landing after the city surrenders, killing thousands of civilians. Unable to dissuade her from continuing this destruction, Jon reluctantly assassinates Daenerys, and she dies in his arms as he grieves.