A Song of Ice and Fire/Characters/House Stark
The house ruling the North, the largest but least populated territory of the Seven Kingdoms and the lands most vulnerable to Westeros' long winters that last for years at a time. They are a grim house of iron will and devotion to honor, holding to the old laws and customs of the First Men. They claim to descend from Brandon the Builder, who built the great Wall that seals the realm away from the far north. Their sigil is the direwolf, a large species of wolf that is no longer seen below the Wall. Unlike other houses, their words are not a boast or declaration, but a warning.
Bran: Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?
Our first protagonist. Lord of Winterfell and head of House Stark, Eddard is a man of deep integrity and honor who is devoted to those he loves. However, he is unbending in his honor, which gets him in trouble. At the beginning of the series, he is appointed Hand of the King and thrown into the nest of vipers that is the royal court. He tragically fails at the Game of Thrones and is eventually executed because of a teenage ruler's whim.
- Ancestral Weapon: Ice, see BFS below.
- Beware the Honest Ones: How Cersei reacts to him.
- BFS: Ice , his ancestral blade, is a five-foot greatsword.
- Contractual Genre Blindness: It's tough being heroic in a Crapsack World.
- Dead Little Sister: Lyanna.
- Cool Sword: Ice is forged of Valyrian steel, and as such is tremendously sharp. It also never dulls.
- Deadpan Snarker: Several times. Most notable when Cersei slaps him in the godswood, and he answers "I shall bear that as a badge of honor", echoing what she says when her husband beats her.
Grand Maester Pycelle: My lord Hand, I urge you to remind this good knight that Lord Tywin Lannister is the father of our own gracious queen.
- And in response to Pycelle's claim that "Sleep is a great healer." Eddard says, "I hoped that was you."
- Decoy Protagonist
- Fatal Flaw: While generally considered his honor, his real undoing is his sense of compassion. See below.
- Fish Out of Water: Country Mouse in a Deadly Decadent Court, roughly (he's not precisely rural, but he is from the Westerosi equivalent of Alaska).
- The Good Chancellor: He attempts to be one towards Robert.
- Grim Up North: Subverted, as he's one of the few unambiguously good guys in the setting, but he's still a hard and grim man.
- Honor Before Reason: While the fandom consistently treats this as his main character trait (or sometimes only character trait), it's actually not nearly as prevalent as it's made out to be. While he does pull this several times, he could have had Cersei and her children locked up and/or executed with no stain on his honor, since by Westerosi law and culture they were all guilty of crimes against the crown. He could have thusly preserved the throne for Robert or Stannis. He chooses not to not because of honor, but compassion for Cersei's children, who he holds blameless.
- That said, its increasingly evident that several characters, such as Varys and Littlefinger, were hell-bent on war no matter what he did, whilst Cersei soon went out of her way to hunt down and murder all of Robert's bastards to hide her infedlity, and neither Stannis nor Renly would likely have gave a damn about what course of action he took. For all the talk about his Honour Before Reason, he was arguably both the Only Sane Man (despite what Cersei thinks, thrones are not a game and the civil war is a direct result of sch a mentality) and damned no matter what he did- by the time he got involved, events were in motion beyond both his perception and his control.
- Horrible Judge of Character: For trusting Cersei.
- Killed Off for Real
- Lawful Stupid: He can sometimes come off as this. Good job warning Cersei, idiot. But in fairness, there were several dangerous conspiracies afoot at court that neither he nor others were aware of that played a hand in what happened, and nobody could have reckoned that Joffer would have him executed and spark off a civil war for no good reason.
- Note, however, that with many of these actions, Ned was perfectly aware of the potential fallout, but feels bound to his course of action for whatever reason. He feels that he has to warn Cersei not for her sake, but because he doesn't want to see her children killed because of her. It wasn't that he was stupid, he just had different priorities than the rest of the deeply pragmatic and/or cruel people around him.
- The Promise: "Promise me, Ned".
- The Stoic: Sometimes called "cold-hearted," Eddard is a very reserved man.
- Real Men Love the Old Gods: Ned is an extremely devout worshiper of the quasi-druidic Gods of the First Men and the Children of the Forest known as the Old Gods.
- The Strategist: He gave Robert his throne.
- Too Dumb to Live: Partial aversion. He's clever enough, he just is too nice and noble a man to actually use the information he gathers--for example, his death could have been averted if he'd been okay with killing some guards and frightening some children. Though that said, neither Cersei nor Tywin thought killing him was a good idea, and he like them probably assumed it was too stupid to be a real risk; unfortunately, like everyone else, he underestimated Royal Brat Joffrey and Manipulative Bastard Littlefinger.
- Tragic Hero
- You Killed My Father and Brother: Eddard's father, Rickard, and brother, Brandon, were both executed by Aerys II Targaryen; they were shortly followed by nearly all of Brandon's noble entourage, and eventually their fathers as well. Eddard doesn't get to take direct vengeance, though, as Aerys was killed by Jaime Lannister during the Sack of King's Landing.
Catelyn Tully Stark* / Lady Stoneheart
"These are the knights of summer, and winter is coming."
Wife of Eddard Stark, originally from the House Tully and above all devoted to her father, brother, husband and children. After Jon Arryn dies, she receives a letter from her sister Lysa, Jon's widow, who blames the Lannisters for Arryn's death. While her husband joins the royal court, she stays in Winterfell in order to protect her children. She gets killed along with Robb, but is resurrected as insane and possibly undead.
- Arranged Marriage: Originally to Eddard's older brother Brandon. By custom, Eddard replaced him when he died.
- Blue Eyes
- Came Back Wrong: As an undead, possibly insane Knight Templar.
- Cassandra Truth: She tells Robb that sending Theon to the Iron Islands is a bad idea. Robb does not listen, with disastrous results.
- Chew Toy: She tragically loses a lot of family members.
- Crusading Widower: Gender-flipped.
- Despair Event Horizon: Th;e Red Wedding as a whole, but especially when poor Robb is killed. Take into consideration taht she believes Bran and Rickon, as well as Arya, to be dead.
- Determined Widow: So determined that she came Back from the Dead.
- Foil: To Cersei. They're both extremely determined women who would do anything to protect their children, but at first Catelyn is presented much more sympathetically, as a wise, protective maternal figure as opposed to a scheming bitch who will attempt to destroy anyone she even perceives as a threat to her offspring. However they later become increasingly similar as the results of their respective actions on behalf of their children play out, particularly after Catelyn comes back from the dead and goes on a killing spree directed at anyone who ever wronged her family while she was alive.
- Happily Married: As noted above, what began as an Arranged Marriage to the younger brother of her murdered fiancee ended up with her and Ned truly falling in love with each other.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She trusted Petyr with Ned's life. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Also, she truly believes that Jon (or his children) will try to steal Winterfell from her kids. (Though it's possible that this last is just her attempting to justify her entirely unjustified hatred of him.)
- Mama Bear
- The One That Got Away: For Littlefinger.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Originally married Ned out of obligation, but they grew to love each other.
- Settle for Sibling: Enforced.
- Silk Hiding Steel: The Tully motto is Family, Duty, Honor," and those are the words Cat lives by-- even after becoming Lady Stoneheart.
- Strong Family Resemblance: All of Catelyn's children except Arya are said to have inherited her Tully red hair and blue eyes, but Sansa is said to be the spitting image of her when she was younger (although she notes that she will grow more beautiful).
- Tragic Villain: After her resurrection as Lady Stoneheart, she's sliding towards this territory
- Wicked Stepmother: A rare protagonist example, and she has a pretty sympathetic (if not really excusable) reason for it. When your husband (who will prove to be loving and faithful thereafter) comes home with an infant he claims as his bastard son, insists on openly raising said bastard at home in defiance of all custom, and not only refuses to discuss the matter but actually frightens you when you try to ask who the mother is, it's gonna be pretty hard to bear in mind that it's really not the kid's fault.
- The fact that she can forgive Ned for all of this but can't forgive Jon is the part that really puts the "wicked" in it.
- You Should Have Died Instead: Catelyn's only Kick the Dog moment is when she tells Jon he should have been crippled instead of Bran. Jon was trying to comfort her at the time.
"I have won every battle, and yet I feel like I'm losing the war."
Eddard's oldest son and heir. While young, he proves to be a bold and promising ruler when his father leaves to join the King's court. He is loyal to his father's people and shares his father's commitment to honor above all, which gets him killed as well, for forsaking a marriage vow to "do the right thing" after he sleeps with another woman in a moment of passion.
- Arranged Marriage: An averted one to a daughter of House Frey, which does not turn out well.
- Badass Normal: He's sixteen during the bulk of the story, he never loses a battle.
- Blood Knight: Arguable. Robb does not seem to be particularly bloodthirsty (especially compared to many of the other characters), but Catelyn notes early on that he is "wedded to his war", and he will only offer peace terms that are so harsh they are almost certain to be rejected. While this is par for the course for the mentality of his world, it is clear that he is not overly eager to end the bloodshed.
- Blue Eyes
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: Robb's single biggest mistake in the whole war, more so than trusting Roose Bolton, Theon Greyjoy, or Walder Frey, more so than skipping out on his arranged wedding, more than not trading Jaime for Sansa and using an arranged marriage with her to broker an alliance with another house boils down to this; not telling his uncle Edmure Tully about his plan to lure Tywin into the Westerlands. If he had told him, then Edmure wouldn't have made his disastrous You Shall Not Pass stand against Tywin; Tywin's forces would have been decimated by Robb's on Lannister home ground, putting the pressure on them instead of the Riverlands, Stannis would have sacked King's Landing, destroying the Lannister's central power-base(and really the whole reason they were at war to begin with, what with Joff being a head on a spike), and Tywin would have been forced to surrender. Bolton would have never had cause to turn traitor, and Walder's reaction to the arranged marriage falling through would have been sulking in a corner.
- Fatal Flaw: The code of honour, again.
- Heroes Love Dogs: If only he had listened to his wolf Grey Wind a little bit more...
- Honor Before Reason: He takes after his father in this respect.
- In-Series Nickname: " The Young Wolf."
- Killed Off for Real
- Nice Guy
- One Thing Led to Another: "She...comforted me, mother."
- Our Werewolves Are Different
- The Promise: "I will not lose." He keeps it, but it doesn't help him much.
- Pyrrhic Victory: As he himself remarks at one point, he's won every battle he's fought in so far but is still losing the war.
- Redheaded Hero
- Sex Equals Love: Robb believes that it does, or at least that it should. It doesn't end well.
- Supporting Leader: Robb is the one leading the "good" Stark forces despite not being a POV character
- Tragic Hero
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Subverted: his father loves him and is very proud of him... which has led to Robb feeling like any failure on his part would make him unworthy of said love.
- Young Conqueror: Robb commands a good percentage of the continent's armed men while barely old enough to grow a beard. Though he is also a deconstruction, as his youth leads him to act impulsively and make a number of mistakes that lead to his apparent death.
Sansa Stark* / Alayne Stone*
"Life is not a song, sweetling. You may learn that one day, to your sorrow."
—Littlefinger, to Sansa
Eddard's oldest daughter, a cute and innocent girl who is originally set to become the next Queen. Her main flaw, except for her tendency to look down on others, is that she is very naive. At first, Sansa often thinks the harsh world works like it does in romantic fairytales. Ouch. Needless to say, certain events change that. With the help of Littlefinger, she seems to be becoming more savvy, cynical and manipulative, though still has a good heart. How far will this take her in the games of thrones, we still don't know.
- Arranged Marriage: First to Joffrey, which doesn't go through; next to Tyrion, which does.
- The next phase in Littlefinger's plan may involve yet another such marriage, this time to Harrold Harrdyng, the heir to the Vale.
- Attempted Rape: She goes through this thrice. Her crush on Sandor comes from him rescuing her from the first attempt. The second attempt is by Sandor that ends up as a Near-Rape Experience (see below). When her rescuer pops up during the third attempt, she immediately, though incorrectly, assumes that it's Sandor again.
- Becoming the Mask ( Following Lysa's death, she has come to think of herself as Alayne Stone, to the point of the chapter headers changing.)
- Bodyguard Crush: Evidenced by her false memory of being kissed by Sandor "the Hound" Clegane.
- Break the Cutie: Oh god yes.
- Break the Haughty: She starts out thinking handsome guys are always the best, but after the Starks fall out of grace, the only people who defend her from Joffrey are the horribly scarred Sandor Clegane (who admittedly is still a bit of a bastard) the kind but deformed Tyrion Lannister, and the fat jester Dontos. Lots of readers dislike her initially for her extreme haughtiness in the first book -- but as of the second, she quickly starts becoming much less arrogant and less prejudiced.
- Blue Eyes
- Broken Bird: She becomes one over a slow, painful process.
- Damsel in Distress
- Dye or Die: Sansa must dye her distinctive auburn locks to a generic brown to mask her identity.
- Fallen Princess
- Forceful Kiss: Sandor gives this to her. Subverted, as it didn't really happen. Later actually does happen with Littlefinger.
- Hello, Nurse!: She starts the story as an eleven year-old girl, but quickly starts growing up; everyone starts to praise her beauty and virtually every male character who can get away with it attempts to molest her (with the only exception being the who one actually has the "right" to do it, Tyrion). And the exception is an exeption only because of scruples and not lack for interest. Meanwhile Sansa herself is fantasizing about Sandor Clegane.
- Heroic BSOD: The poor girl spends her time after hearing about the Red Wedding in a catatonic state.
- She has another when she starts menstruating, which means Joffrey will try raping her as soon as he finds out. Really not helped by her having horrible cramps.)
- The Ingenue: Quite the Deconstruction.
- In-Series Nickname: Sandor Clegane almost never calls her by her actual name. He decides right off the bat that she's like a "pretty little talking bird," and refers to her almost exclusively as "little bird" from then on. Naturally, fuels the Shipping.
- Innocence Lost
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Gains those as the series advances.
- Jerkass Facade: Has to put on one of these to survive, while taking Manipulative Bitch lessons from Littlefinger. It helps that she's got talent to lie to other people, though that one still needs polishing.
- Loose Lips: Unintentionally helped the queen's plot against Eddard, which cost him his life, and also prevented the Tyrell's plan to help her and whisk her away to Highgarden because she can't keep her mouth shut.
- Ironically, the time she kept her mouth shut early in the series, it also end up costing the life of two characters.
- Morality Pet: Both she and Arya are this for Sandor Clegane.
- Naive Newcomer: To the King's Landing court.
- Near-Rape Experience: During the Battle of the Blackwater, with a very drunk Sandor Clegane. Ends with them both in tears.
- Her wedding night with Tyrion could also be considered one of these, although neither of them would think of it that way.
- No Periods, Period: Averted messily, and with GOOD reason.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: According to Word of God, all the Stark children are wargs, though we haven't seen anything from Sansa yet, possibly because her direwolf, Lady, is one of the series' first casualties.
- Princess Classic: As with her sister Arya, a Deconstruction; she is what happens to this kind of character when they grow up in a non-Disneyfied setting.
- Put on a Bus: She does not appear in the fifth book, but will return in the sixth.
- Replacement Goldfish: Littlefinger seems to have transferred his unrequited affections from Catelyn to Sansa, who strongly resembles her mother.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: The Stark sisters are about as different as they could possibly be. They even look very different, with Sansa getting her mother's auburn hair and blue eyes, and Arya taking after her father.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: She plays the girly-girl part to Arya's tomboy.
- Virginity Makes You Stupid: At the beginning.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Part of the fandom hate was because she was written so soppy-eyed and gullible at the beginning. If the author could have talked her into toning it down a bit, her initial reception might've been much more positive.
- She's generally considered now to have had some of the best character development of the whole series, along with Jaime Lannister.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Had Sansa realized sooner that world wasn't like a fairytale, she would've gone through less hardship. Then again, had she gone through less hardship, she wouldn't have realized that the world wasn't like a fairytale...
Arya Stark/Cat of the Canals*
"Fear cuts deeper than swords."
Eddard's free-spirited tomboy daughter who doesn't fit into her highborn role at all. During the beginning, she mostly exists as a foil for her older sister Sansa. When the war breaks out, Arya plunges into the wide world and becomes embroiled in a surprising number of violent adventures despite her tender age.
- Anti Heroine: She appears to be slowly working her way up the sliding scale as she takes levels in badass: she's around a type III in A Clash of Kings, and a type IV in A Storm of Swords.
- Attempted Rape: Even though she's nine years old at the time.
- Ax Crazy: She has been displaying signs of this since the end of A Storm Of Swords. When she needs money, her first idea is to kill and rob someone where nobody can see.
- Becoming the Mask: She starts to think of herself as Cat of the Canals rather than Arya by the end of A Feast For Crows. She's not quite there yet, though...until, at the end of A Dance With Dragons, she is finally 'no one'.
- Break the Cutie: You know your life's in the gutter when your only two mentors of recent memory are Sandor Clegane and a face-shifting assassin.
- Bond Creatures: Like all the Starks, has a potential to be a warg; it's theorised that the reason she's not doing well with her Faceless Man training is because part of her is still running around Westeros, in the form of Nymeria. In ADWD while blind, she discovers she can see through the eyes of a cat.
- Broken Bird: Poor Arya's gone from spirited tomboy to a cold-blooded and possibly insane killer. Her casual attitude towards killing has given several other characters the heebie-jeebies, justifiably since she's not even hit puberty yet.
- Character Tic: Chewing on her lip. The Faceless Men train her out of it since it's an idiosyncracy of Arya Stark.
- Chekhov's Gun: The iron coin which Jaqen H'ghar gives her, which isn't just a keepsake.
- Child Soldiers: A tragic example.
- Enfant Terrible
- Heroic BSOD: As her sister, she has one after the Red Wedding.
- How Dare You Die on Me!: Poor kid ends up saying this quite often.
- I Call It Vera: Needle, Jon's gift to her.
- I Have Many Names: She takes on number of identities to survive: Arry, an orphan boy; Weasel/Nymeria/Nan, servant at Harrenhal then cupbearer to Roose Bolton; Salty, when aboard the Titan's Daughter on her way to Braavos; Cat of the Canals, an orphan from King's Landing whose father was killed by a bravo; Beth, a blind beggar girl.
- Innocence Lost
- Kid Hero: Deconstructed.
- Little Miss Badass: Probably more like Little Miss Ax Crazy Psycho for Hire by the fourth book.
- Loss of Identity: This is part of what she needs to accomplish to become a disciple of the God of Many Faces. She finally succeeds in A Dance with Dragons
- Madness Mantra: Her mantra doesn't necessarily show insanity, but her constant repetition in her head of people she wants dead is rather unnerving for a girl who, once again, hasn't hit puberty yet.
- Morality Pet: Both she and Sansa are this for Sandor Clegane.
- Motive Decay: She seems to have started forgetting why she set out to learn the skills of an assassin and simply begun to focus on the process of doing so.
- Our Werewolves Are Different
- Plucky Girl: She'll never give up on her goals. Sure, as of late, these goals are murder, but still, gotta admire such persistence.
- Princess in Rags: For most of the story.
- Professional Killer: In training to become this in A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, and first assassinates someone at the end of the latter.
- Rebellious Princess: Deconstructed, since she suffers so damn much because of her rebelliousness.
- She Fu: Eddard has a Genre Savvy moment at realizing her Tomboyish ways and decides she should be trained in the more "elegant" Braavosi fencing style.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: The complete opposite of Sansa in almost every conceivable way.
- Snooping Little Kid: Arya overhears some important conversations through her travels, and starts snooping in earnest during her training with the Faceless Men.
- Street Urchin
- Survival Mantra: Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords.
- Also "Stick them with the pointy end."
- Sweet Polly Oliver: She disguised herself as a boy more than once to keep her true identity hidden. Even after giving up the disguise, she is still often mistaken for a boy because of her short hair, male clothing, and un-girlish bearing.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: She plays the tomboy part to Sansa's girly girl.
- Training from Hell: Her instructors at the House of Black and White are benevolent enough, but the training itself is extreme. It involves being temporarily blinded to learn to manage and fight without seeing. Next in line is being made deaf, and then being crippled. She also has to conspire in assassinations.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Dancing" and "needlework" for her less-than-ladylike swordfighting training.
"A thousand eyes, a hundred skins, wisdom deep as the roots of ancient trees. A greenseer."
Eddard Stark's kind and gentle eight-year-old son who dreams of being a knight and loves to climb and explore, until Jaime Lannister pushes him out a window and he becomes crippled from the fall. While in a coma, he has a dream of a three-eyed crow that gives him prophetic visions as well as magical abilities to take control of his pet wolf.
- Amnesia Danger
- Animal Eye Spy: His main ability. And by animals, it means including humans, though so far he has only used one.
- The Beast Master: As of A Dance with Dragons, he directly controls one direwolf, and through his direwolf indirectly controls a pack consisting of three other wolves. He can control ravens. And he can control Hodor.
- Blue Eyes
- Body Snatcher: Poor Hodor.
- Bond Creatures: Summer.
- Dead Guy, Junior: Many of his ancestors were Brandons, but it was mentioned a number of times that he was specifically named for his dead uncle.
- Faking the Dead: After the fall of Winterfell.
- Garfunkel: He's clearly being set up for something big, but in the first two books he's mainly about showing what happens at Winterfell after everyone else leaves.
- Genius Cripple
- He Knows Too Much
- Heroes Love Dogs
- How Do I Shot Web?: He slowly learns to handle his skinchanging ability (taking over his wolf's mind) after he is crippled.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Played around. He doesn't eat people with his own mouth, but hunts them down through his wolf (well, undead corpses anyway), and devours them. He doesn't mind the taste.
- I Coulda Been a Contender
- Messianic Archetype: Another one, and probably the only one that actually deserves that title.
- Name's the Same: His full name (Brandon) was shared by a number of his ancestors, including a couple of legendary figures in the history of Westeros and his deceased uncle. Whether this has any significance has yet to be revealed.
- In-universe, it's not particularly notable, as it seems to be a custom of House Stark to have a Brandon every generation. The important ones tend to go have epithets: Bran the Builder, Bran the Shipwright, Bran the Burner (destroyed the aforementioned fleet at anchor after his father died at sea), Bran the Daughterless... and now, at least in his own mind, Bran the Broken.
- Obliviously Evil: As a skinchanger Bran does things he considers harmless, but other skinchangers would call "abominable."
- Our Werewolves Are Different
- Put on a Bus: Along with his companions Jojen, Meera, and Hodor, he doesn't appear in A Feast For Crows. Martin said in the afterword to Feast he wrote so much that he decided to split what would have been one book into two, with Feast dealing mostly with King's Landing and A Dance with Dragons being about The Wall and the other countries.
- The Bus Came Back: In Dance we finally see what he and his companions have been up to behind the Wall.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone
- Recurring Dreams: In the first two books, he always dreamed of a three-eyed crow pecking him between his eyes, telling him to fly.
- Seers: He hasn't shown the ability to see the future and it is not known if he could, but he could see the past and present through the eyes of all the weirwoods, events that can go back the thousands of years the weirwoods had stood.
- Snooping Little Kid: With traumatic results.
- Sorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: His dream of becoming a knight.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia
- Upgrade Artifact: Weirwood paste.
- Waif Prophet
"I want Mother, and I want Father, and I want Shaggy!"
The youngest Stark, a spirited and energetic four-year old boy. Over the course of the story he grows scared and violent when his world disintegrates around him. His pet wolf, Shaggydog, is unique among the direwolves for being black and unusually savage.
- The Berserker: He's on his way.
- Blue Eyes
- Faking the Dead: After the fall of Winterfell.
- Fiery Redhead
- The Load: Not his fault; he just has the bad timing to be four years old during a blood-drenched civil war that his family is heavily involved in.
- Our Werewolves Are Different
- Put on a Bus Although Davos Seaworth is being sent to find that bus...
- The Unfettered: They needed four people to pacify him. He's four.
- Wild Child: Rickon grows wild without parental guidance. Shaggydog's fear and rage is a reflection on his personality.
"Remember, all dwarfs are bastards, but not all bastards need be dwarfs."
—Tyrion Lannister, to Jon Snow.
Eddard Stark's (presumably) illegitimate bastard son by an unknown mother, brought home after a war. Jon has felt like an outsider among the Starks since he was very young, when he learned what it meant to be a bastard and thus why he was Catelyn's Unfavorite. The experience made him bitter and left him with a desire to prove himself. When his father leaves Winterfell, he chooses a life of hard duty in the Night's Watch to earn his own honor.
- Badass: Over the course of the series Jon displays prodigious sword skills, pragmatic strategic planning and a pretty giant set of balls.
- Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Jon just got stabbed?! Cliffhanger, End book.
- Celibate Hero: Tries to pull this to remain focused at the Night's Watch. It... didn't work.
- The Chains of Commanding: After taking command of the Night's Watch.
- Colonel Badass: Is this in ADWD after being elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
- Dark Horse Victory: His election as Lord Commander. Two of the top candidates for the office, Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister, drop out and support him because they don't want Janos Slynt to win but can't stand each other either.
- Enemy Mine: Jon is actively recruiting wildlings to come south of the Wall and even man the castles of the Watch, because the white walkers trump everything. The other officers are willing to live with it, but they take every opportunity to express their disapproval.
- Fake Defector
- Five-Man Band: Jon has a clique of friends in the Night's Watch - Jon himself, Samwell, Dareon, Grenn and Pyp.
- Heroes Love Dogs
- Heroic Bastard
- If You're So Evil Eat This Kitten: When Jon fakes his defection to the wildlings, they make him execute the Colonel Badass he's serving under. Unfortunately for the wildlings, the man figured this would happen and warned Jon beforehand, since the information Jon could gather was more important than the life of one ranger. Jon still feels guilty about killing him, though.
- The wildlings try it again later, but this time with an innocent old man they happened to capture south of the Wall. This time Jon refuses, by killing several of the wildlings and escaping.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Gains them when he arrives at the Night's Watch.
- Kid Hero
- Knight in Sour Armor
- Meaningful Name: In three different ways.
- Poetically, the surname 'Snow' has ominous connotations, possibly appropriate since Word of God states Jon will become a much grayer character in upcoming books.
- In-universe historically, the name Snow indicates an interesting similarity with House Stark, the Kings of Winter.
- Symbolically, the surname Snow in real life is an ancient House that held a family seat in England before the Norman Conquest, and was also the name of a legendary King of Denmark. A possible unintended metaphor for his heritage.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: What ends up getting him in trouble with his brothers of the Night's Watch.
- The Oathbreaker: subverted in the first book. Keeps his vows even though he'd rather break them and go riding off to help Robb fight the War of Five Kings.
- Played straight in the third, when he breaks his Celibate Hero vow. (In fairness, it was a "If You're So Evil, Fuck This Girl" situation. And as early as the first book it was clear that few brothers of the Night's Watch take this one seriously.)
- Played straight again in book 5. Jon admits in his own mind that he is forswearing his vows when he tries to lead a wildling crusade to Winterfell and bring back Ramsay Bolton's head. Two pages later, he's being stabbed. Lord Commander Can't Get Away with Nuthin'!
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Jon is a very common name in Westeros, partly because of Jon Arryn, whom this character was named after.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: As Lord Commander.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
- Our Werewolves Are Different
- Scylla and Charybdis: Toward the end of ADWD, Ramsay Bolton sends the Night's Watch a letter blaming Jon for kidnapping Arya and demanding her return, threatening to attack if she isn't sent back. Jon knows Bolton wouldn't believe the truth(that they don't have her) and will therefore attack anyway, so he's basically forced to prepare to attack Bolton first. The other officers of the Watch, viewing this as taking sides in a conflict, disagree. Vigourously.
- Standardized Leader: He's basically a classic fantasy protagonist in a decidely non-classic fantasy world.
- Tell Me About My Mother: Averted. Jon Snow does not know the identity of his mother, and for reasons yet to be revealed Ned never bothered to tell him (or anyone else for that matter; when Catelyn asks about Jon's mother, Ned apparently responds in such a negative manner that he scared the shit out of her). Ned's refusal to discuss Jon's mother has caused several Epileptic Trees to form around Jon's parentage, both in-universe and amonst the fandom. Ironically, when Ned was going to King's Landing and Jon was going to the Wall, Ned promised to tell him about her when they next met - which, of course, they never did.
- The Strategist: In the beginning of ADWD, he acts as an unoffcial military advisor to Stannis, and his advice turns out to be very good.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Male example naturally as once he becomes Lord Commander, he feels it's necessary to adopt a reserved personality and put the good of the Watch first. This doesn't go over well with all of his friends there, some of whom think it's a case of Acquired Situational Narcissism.
- The Unfavorite: To Catelyn, because he's not her son - but Eddard insists on raising him at home, in defiance of custom, and refuses to even discuss the matter of who his mother is.
- Though Catelyn notes it's mostly in defiance of Southron custom, and that it's a "peculiarity" of the Northmen that they tend to keep their bastards close by and actively participate in their upbringing. See also Jon's Shadow Archetype Ramsay Snow.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: At first. Once he joins the Night's Watch, he quickly wises up however.
- Made explicit with the Maester's advice upon his promotion: "Kill the boy (within you)."
- You Are in Command Now: Has to take charge of the defense of Castle Black when all the Night's Watch men who outrank him are dead or somewhere else.
"On the Wall, a man gets only what he earns."
Ned's younger brother, Benjen is First Ranger of the Night's Watch at the beginning of A Game of Thrones. He comes to Winterfell to attend the dinner honoring the arrival of King Robert, and tells Ned about his worries over events north of the Wall. He also talks with Jon Snow about the boy's ambition to join the Watch, but when Jon actually arrives at Castle Black he is distant with his nephew, reminding him that men of the Night's Watch forswear family ties when they take their oaths. Shortly thereafter he heads out on a ranging in an attempt to find out what has become of Ser Waymar Royce, and disappears north of the Wall; the search for his whereabouts becomes a major plot point in Jon's part of the story.
- Badass: Like most of the family. His competence as a ranger is one of the primary reasons Jeor Mormont decides that his disappearance couldn't have been due to something as mundane as a Wildling attack.
- The Ghost: He becomes this after his disappearance.
- Mentor Archetype: Subverted. At first it appears he's being set up to act as one to Jon Snow, but he's not particularly helpful to the boy even before he disappears. The reason for his unhelpfulness is that he believes Jon has to earn the right to serve under him as a ranger, rather than just being given it right away due to their blood ties.
- Put on a Bus: He disappears early in the first book, but it's unlikely that we've seen the last of him.
"Promise me, Ned."
Ned's younger sister, Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon until Rhaegar Targaryen abducted her, starting the Rebellion. She died for unknown causes in "a bed of blood" when Ned found her.
- Action Girl: From Meera's tale we learn that Lyanna was able to beat the crap out of three squires. It's also theorized that she was the Knight of the Laughting Tree (if it's true, she also defeated three knights in a tourney).
- Arranged Marriage: To Robert Baratheon. She was not happy due to his reputation.
- Berserk Button: Don't beat her father's men. And don't tease her 'cause sad songs made her weep.
- Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: She appears as a sad girl with a white dress splattered with blood in a dream.
- Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Ned claims that Lyanna's Last Request was to be buried in Winterfell. Note that she died in Dorne.
- Characterization Marches On: At first looks like she was a Princess Classic, then we learn that it wasn't the case.
- Dead Little Sister: To Ned
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: She died in Ned's arms something like five minutes later he found her.
- Damsel in Distress: Abducted, and needing to be saved...
- Hot-Blooded: Maybe. Ned says Lyanna had “the wolf blood”: her first reaction when she saw Howland Reed being beaten was not to call for help but to beat his attackers, and she threw a cup of wine on Benjen because he teased her. In front of the Prince. And the court. Ned also notes that Arya bears a lot of similarities to Lyanna, including appearance.
- Identical Niece: At one point Bran sees a vision of Lyanna as a child, but she looks so much like Arya that he thinks it's some muddled vision of his sister, not his aunt.
- Last Request: Ned promised something to her.
- Living MacGuffin: Her abduction starts Robert's Rebellion.
- Memetic Outfit: The crown of blue roses that Rhaegar gave her.
- The Lost Lenore: To Robert.
- Love Ruins the Realm: Rhaegar and Robert started a war for her.
- The One That Got Away: To Robert.
- Posthumous Character
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: As with most of the Starks.
- Second Hand Storytelling
- Sex Slave: Robert thinks she was this to Rhaegar after her abduction. It's implied that there was something more between them, however,
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo
- Tomboy: As a kid. In a vision Bran sees child-Lyanna fighting and winning against Benjen: he mistakes her for Arya and is confused 'cause they never played like that.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Played with: while it's generally accepted that Lyanna was really beautiful, the ones to believe her beauty extraordinary are Robert (her fiancé) and Eddard (her brother). Some characters, including Barristan Selmy and Cersei herself, note that if Rhaegar had married Cersei instead, he would not have looked twice at Lyanna.
"You will feed them yourselves, you will train them yourselves and if they die you will bury them yourselves".
During the very first chapter of the series, the Starks find a dead direwolf (impaled through the throat with a deer antler) and its six pups; three males (Grey Wind, Summer, Shaggydog), two females (Lady and Nymeria) and an abandoned mute albino male (Ghost). "Does This Remind You of Anything?," the characters ask each other. Each Stark child takes a pup, with the bastard Jon Snow taking the albino, which is an outsider like him. The personalities of the wolves mirror their owners', as do their fates...
- Action Girl: Arya's wolf is named "Nymeria," after a warrior queen. True to her namesake, she's currently leading an enormous pack of wolves on a rampage around the Trident.
- Big Badass Wolf, making them the ultimate Cool Pet.
- Grey Wind is stated several times to have had his own fearsome kill tally of Lannister bannermen and horses.
- Bond Creature: Even after learning the nature of wargs/skinchangers and their animal thralls, Jon recognises the connection between him and his direwolf goes deeper than that. Ghost is a part of him. This seems to be true of all the Starks and their wolves.
- Evil-Detecting Dog
- Nymeria bites Joffery before it is clear just how much of a monster he is.
- Questionable, considering that it was in response to Joffrey attacking Arya.
- Summer distrusts Big and Little Walder who later become squires to the man who burns Winterfell.
- Grey Wind behaves aggressively towards the Westerlings, who, with the exception of Jeyne, are Fake Defectors and all but attacks the Frey welcoming party before The Red Wedding.
- Ghost stops being silent the day Jon is betrayed by his brothers.
- Though doesn't seem 100% accurate. Grey Wind acts aggressively towards Raynald Westerling who in the end dies to free Grey Wind from being murdered by some Frey soldiers.
- Nymeria bites Joffery before it is clear just how much of a monster he is.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Rickon names his wolf Shaggydog. (To a lesser extent, this is true of all the direwolves, but none of the others, except maybe Nymeria, are quite as savage as Shaggy, nor do they have quite so cutesy a name.)
- Bran's direwolf is named Summer, bringing to mind brightness, cheer, warmth, and so on. Summer probably has the highest human kill-count after Grey Wind, however, much higher than Shaggydog despite Shaggy's apparent viciousness. Threaten Bran and Summer will kill you much faster than winter ever will.
- Foreshadowing: The death of the mother and the separation of the pups symbolize the scattering of the Stark children and the death of their father Lord Eddard. The fact that the mother direwolf was killed by a stag further reinforces this as the stag is the sigil of House Baratheon, and accepting King Robert's offer led to Ned's death.
- Heroic Albino: Ghost.
- Meaningful Name: Nymeria was named for a famous warrior queen who lead her people from the eastern continent to Dorne. As of A Dance With Dragons she leads a pack of wolves numbering in the hundreds around central Westeros.
- Lady is noted to be about as refined and regal as a wolf can be.
- Ghost is pale and silent.
- Summer is Bran's direwolf. Old Nan often called Bran "my sweet summer child". Bran is the strongest warg of the Stark children, to the point that he and Summer are becoming increasingly one being: "Summer-Child".
- "Shaggy" brings to mind something wild and unkempt. Shaggydog is the most feral and least controllable of the wolves, likely due in part to belonging to the youngest child and thus receiving the least effective training, but also likely because Rickon is the least in control of his own emotions and these bleed into his bond with the wolf.
- Grey Wind is, well, grey, and seems to be the fastest of the litter, often described as moving and attacking before anyone has realized he's there.
- Never Found the Body: Grey Wind. During the Red Wedding, he was kept chained to a post outside the castle, and so when letters came to King's Landing saying that his head had been lopped off and sewn to Robb's chest, there's no reason not to believe it. It wasn't until two books later that it was remarked that during the massacre, one of the Westerling knights had freed him from a net the Freys had thrown over him and that he was last seen running toward the woods. True, his immediate future wasn't looking too good, what with being pierced by several crossbow bolts and all, but his previously reported death now isn't a 100% certainty.
- Then again, Daenerys had a vision of the Red Wedding, including a man with the head of a wolf.
- The TV series makes Grey Wind's death more explicit, actually showing the body (unless the Freys just happened to have a wolf head laying about for the occasion). Whether this counts as Word of God since the series creators do have access to Martin and his input is probably arguable.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Despite their connection, the Stark children have a tendency (at the worst possible moment) to view them just being restless animals.
- Robb laments Grey Wind's new found aggressive nature toward people, blaming it on him growing too fond of violence from their battles together. In reality it's the treacherous Westerlings and Freys that are setting him off.
- When Ghost becomes increasingly uncontrollable to the point of going berserk, Jon leaves him behind attributing it to his desire to hunt a huge boar. It's because his Night's Watch brothers are about to betray him.
- Pet Monstrosity: Eddard warns his kids about making sure this doesn't happen, since these wolves will grow a lot.
- Princess Classic: Sansa's direwolf is named "Lady". Ned observes on his first real interaction with her that it's extremely apt, as she's perhaps the most sweet-tempered and well-behaved animal he's ever seen.
- Undying Loyalty: In contrast to many of the human characters.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Lady.