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|“||Bastards can rise high in the world, like your half-brother Jon Snow. Born the bastard of Winterfell, now the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. You didn't know? Yes, he's done very well for himself.||„|
|~ Ramsay Bolton about Jon Snow|
|“||He's never been a bastard. He's the heir to the Iron Throne.||„|
|~ Bran Stark about Jon Snow's true origins (TV-series only)|
Jon Snow is a central character, and one of the main protagonists of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the TV series Game of Thrones. He is introduced as Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark's illegitimate son. From infancy, Jon is raised by Eddard as his own alongside Eddard's lawful children at Winterfell and the identity of Jon’s mother is unknown to all but Eddard. Jon has five half-siblings: an older brother Robb Stark, two younger sisters Sansa and Arya Stark, and two younger brothers Bran and Rickon Stark.
It is later revealed Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark, Eddard's younger sister, and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, making Jon not only the nephew of Eddard and cousin of Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon, but also the true heir of the Iron Throne. Jon is unaware of his true parentage. He is also the nephew of Daenerys Targaryen and is Stannis Baratheon's second cousin once removed. Only Eddard knew of Jon's parentage and claimed Jon as his illegitimate son to protect him from the Baratheon regime. Jon and Daenerys are unaware of their blood connection and in the television series, become lovers without this knowledge. As of the fifth book A Dance With Dragons, this revelation of Jon's parentage is not yet confirmed. Jon is Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, a thounsands of years old organization that guards the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros against any threat that comes from north of the great Wall protecting them.
In the sixth season of the television series, Jon is resurrected and later elected the new King in the North after his late brother (revealed to be cousin) Robb Stark. In the seventh season Jon Snow's real name is revealed: Aegon Targaryen and is the true heir to the Iron Throne, ahead of Daenerys.
He is portrayed by Kit Harrington.
Due to being raised by Ned Stark in Winterfell, Jon Snow has a strong sense of honor, duty, and morality, striving to do the right thing when faced with difficult choices. Like his father, Jon is solemn, somber, with a drive to protect. He has a deep love for his family and is close with his father, his uncle, and his half-siblings, particularly Robb and Arya. Jon is also mature and perceptive beyond his age. However, despite being more mature than the other Stark children, he initially possesses a childish arrogance when he first arrives at the Night's Watch due to his privileged upbringing, resulting in him being a more skilled swordsman than the other recruits. This attitude attracted him the nickname "Lord Snow". However, after he is scolded by Donal Noye and made to realize his advantages, Jon reaches out to the other recruits, teaches them how to fight, and becomes more open towards people. Despite a solemn nature, Jon is empathetic and possesses a protective streak, particularly showing his compassionate side to other outsiders, such as his little sister Arya, Samwell Tarly, Grenn and Pyp.
Though Jon grows up with a father and siblings who love him and who he loves, the societal stigma of his illegitimate status and the cold treatment by his father's wife results in Jon feeling like an outsider among his family. His illegitimate status also results in a strong desire to prove himself, believing that a good way for a bastard child in his position to gain honor and respect is to join the Night's Watch as status means less among the Watch's ranks. Jon dreams of emulating his uncle Benjen, First Ranger in the Night's Watch, and initially aspires to become a ranger like his uncle. Jon's sense of duty is shown as strong when he grows remorseful of breaking his celibacy vows with Ygritte, as seen in Jon's thoughts in the novels.
Jon is also fairly shy around women, as shown during his first encounter with Ygritte, and as revealed to Sam, he was a virgin at the time he joined the Night's Watch. Snow did not try to have sex with women of wary that he could father an illegitimate child himself: having lived his life as a bastard, he felt that it wasn't a life another child should have to go through. However, it is revealed that, for love, Jon could even break his vows of celibacy, as he did with Ygritte, but after she dies, her memory will stop Jon from sexual encounters with other women, as shown when he turned down Melissandre. Love, however, will not stop Jon from doing his duty, as he leaves Ygritte to return to Castle Black and warn his sworn brothers of Mance Rayder's planned invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
Having a preconceived idea about the wildings in the past, Jon grows more fond of the wildings after his time among them and develops compassion for them to the point that in both novels and series, he makes peace with the Free Folk after the Battle of Castle Black. In the novels, Jon allows the wildings to join the Night's Watch or take shelter at Castle Black, while in the TV series, he fights among them against the White Walkers at Hardhome.
Telltale's Game of Thrones
Jon Snow is a recurring character in Telltale Game of Thrones video game.
He debuts in Episode 3: The Lost Words, after Gared gets into a fight with Finn. He tells Frostfinger he needs another man atop the wall and Gared accompanies him to the top of the wall. While in the elevator, Jon reveals that his brother was Robb Stark and tells him that there were 3,000 men at the Red Wedding and not one could save his brother from being butchered by Lord Walder Frey's men.
Powers and abilities
- Skinchanging: The ability to inhabit the body of an animal and control its actions by opening the "third eye". Much like his half-brother, Bran, Jon Snow is a strong skinchanger, but unlike Bran, he is untrained and unaware of his true potential. Jon's ability manifested itself few times, most notably during his ranging with Qhorin, when he slips into his direwolf, Ghost, and spies on a wildling horde nearby and wakes up screaming when Ghost is attacked by an eagle. Jon acknowledges his skinchanging abilities during his time with the wildlings, but remains ignorant and refuses Melisandre when she offers her assistance.
- Expert swordsman: Jon is a talented swordsman, having been trained by Ser Rodrik Cassel, Winterfell's Maester-at-arms, and excelling in the use of the blade. His skills are seen in both novels and TV series alike. In the TV series, Jon demonstrates his prowess by overpowering and killing many Thenns in the Battle of Castle Black. Later during the Massacre at Hardhome, Jon, uses his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw, to hold his own against a White Walker and ultimately kill him. Additionally, in the TV series, Jon has developed a reputation as a great swordsman among the people in the North according to Ramsay Bolton.
- Skilled Hand-To-Hand Combatant: In the TV series, Jon is skilled in unarmed combat. This is shown during the Battle of Castle Black, as he is able to kill Styr despite being overpowered by him, using his fists.
- Archery skills: Jon has middling archery skills, shown mainly during the wildling attack of Castle Black, when he looses arrows against the attack. In TV series, when Mance Rayder is sentenced to death by burning alive, Jon shoots him with an arrow, killing Mance before the flames can consume him.
- In the television series, it was revealed that Jon's real name is Aegon Targaryen. His father Rhaegar named him the same as his other son from Elia. In the books, in Westeros there is no such thing as a "divorce/marriage annulment": no man or woman can make a marriage annulment, unless it is for specific reasons to convince the High Septon, and still only these: if the marriage was never consumed or if one of the couple is already married to a living individual. The only thing Rhaegar would be able to do would be legitimization, nothing more (however only kings have such power). If such thing happened, Rhaegar could have still named Jon with another name and not the same as his first son, Prince Aegon. If that's the case, it is speculated that Jon's birth name in the novels might be Jaehaerys Targaryen.
- Furthemore, Rhaegar wouldn't have wanted to risk angering the Dornish like that. Even if Rhaegar hypothetically pressured the High Septon into granting him an annulment on some false pretext or another this would greatly anger the Martells and possibly make them rise in open revolt against the Targaryens, especially since her children were heirs to the Iron Throne.
- It is generally suspected that Rhaegar wanted a second marriage because he believed he needed to have three children to fulfill part of the prophecy about The Prince That Was Promised - that the "Prince" would actually be three people acting together. Elia Martell had very frail health, however, and her first two pregnancies nearly killed her, and the maesters said she would not survive another.
- It is speculated on why the TV showrunners would make such an oversimplification from a polygamous marriage to an annulment, and believed that Benioff and Weiss wanted to make Jon Snow unquestionably the rightful heir to the Iron Throne - when in reality, even in the books, there is no scenario under which his inheritance would not be challenged by his enemies. Rebel armies don't care about the legality of words on paper, all they need is a pretext. Rhaegar may have taken Lyanna as a second wife in the books, but Jon's enemies may counter with arguments against the lawfulness of this marriage within the rules the Faith, and rebel movements would use that argument against them. A marriage annulment would simply be considered unlawful, no matter what. Also, bastard or not, compared to Jon's, Aegon Targaryen's claim, if confirmed authentic, would still be superior.
- Also there's still the fact that the Baratheons deposed the Targaryens and were accepted as the new rulers. The Targaryens lost every castle and rights in Westeros and as long as Stannis Baratheon lives in the books, he is the actual rightful monarch of the Iron Throne. Even if every Baratheon dies, the Targaryens remain exiled by the Westerosi and Robert's bastards and House Florent would still hold valid claims. Edric Storm, being the only male bastard acknowledged by Robert as highborn would have the best chance to be legitimized before any other bastard.
- While in the TV series, Jon died in the finale of Season 5 and was resurrected by Melisandre in the second episode of Season 6, his fate is uncertain in the novels, as George R.R. Martin has neither confirmed nor denied Jon's presence in the upcoming novel, The Winds of Winter. He has implied that he's not done with Jon yet.
- In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow is the second of three characters to kill a White Walker, the others being Samwell Tarly and Meera Reed.
- Jon's plot before his stabbing varies depending on version. While in the novels, Snow receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton threatening him to storm Castle Black and enlists the help of the wildings in going to Winterfell to kill Ramsay himself, in the TV series, Jon dies after he rescues the wildlings from Hardhome and grants them safe passage into the Seven Kingdoms.
- However, in Game of Thrones, Jon receives the letter from Ramsay after his resurrection and after reuniting with his half-sister Sansa, Ramsay's TV show bride. Just like in the books, Jon decides to fight back against the Boltons and succeeds leaving Castle Black to fight against Ramsay.
- While in the novels, Jon possesses the strong supernatural power of skinchaging, common among the wildlings and Starks, in the TV series, these abilities are rarely if ever mentioned. In the books, Jon is able to inhabit his direwolf, Ghost, and has wolf dreams, but he is untrained and unaware of his true potential. He is one of the three wargs in the novels, the other two being his half-siblings Bran and Arya Stark, while in the TV show, only Bran's warging abilities are shown. George R. R. Martin confirmed that all the Starks children of this generation are wargs.