BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

GoT: Everything You Need to Know About the Man Who Knows Nothing – The Jon Snow Breakdown

5 Minute Read
Oct 20 2023

Ned Stark’s bastard, King in the North, Aegon Targaryen–you can’t say you know nothing about Jon Snow after reading this breakdown.

Jon Snow is a major character in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and the HBO show Game of Thrones. He is also set to be the main character in a new upcoming HBO show. This show might come out sometime, or it might not. We know nothing really. Much like Jon Snow once did.

Who is Jon Snow? And why is he important?

Growing Up Jon Snow, Ned Stark’s Bastard

Born in 283 AC, Jon was the acknowledged bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark. As an illegitimate child in the North, he couldn’t take his father’s name Stark. Instead, was given the surname Snow. The second oldest of Lord Eddard’s children, he grows up in the family keep of Winterfell. While he had a close relationship with his half-siblings, he always felt something of an outsider. Still, it seems he had a fairly happy time growing up as a young Lord. Jon does not know who his mother is and often wonders about it.

Jon Snow in Books and Show

For the first several seasons of Game of Thrones, Jon’s storyline parallels that of the books.  At the start, he’s given an albino Direwolf pup he names Ghost. When Lord Eddard and a number of the family travel south to King’s Landing, Jon takes another path. He travels north to the Wall to join the celibate order of the Night’s Watch. At the wall, he trains to become a ranger and shows leadership skills.

Jon Snow is one of the first people to survive an encounter with the zombie-like Wights. His actions earned him the favor of the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and he is given Longclaw, a Valyrian steel sword. Shortly afterward, he learns of the death of his father and that his brother is leading an army. Though tempted to desert and aid his family, he eventually decides to stay with the Watch.

Beyond the Wall & Back Again

Jon Snow takes part in the Great Ranger and travels north of the wall to scout and stop a Free Folk invasion. After displaying mysterious Warg powers, he’s captured by the Free Folk. Under orders from his commander, he pretends to join them. On this mission, he meets and falls in love with Ygritte, one of the Free Folk. While traveling with them, Jon comes to be fond of the people and their way of life. He is again tempted to give up his vows and join them. However, after being sent south of the wall on a raid, Jon leaves the Free Folk and returns to the Night’s Watch.




He soon ends up in command of the defense of Castle Black when the army of the Free Folk attacks it. He successfully holds off the attack, though Ygritte, fighting against the Watch, is killed. Stannis Baratheon, one of the contenders for the Iron Throne and the savior of Castle Black, takes a liking to Jon. He offers to make him a legitimate Stark and give him Winterfell if Jon will leave the Watch and help him win the North.


But Jon refuses. Instead, he’s elected the commander of the Night’s Watch. He attempts to lead them well and gains allies with the remaining Free Folk. Jon is aware that the real enemy is the Wight Walkers. However, by dealing with the Free Folk, he alienates many of his comrades. Eventually, he’s murdered by members of the Night’s Watch.


Beyond the Books

In the books, Jon’s story seemingly ends with his death, though there are hints this might not be the last we see of him. Production of the show, however, progressed past the narrative point of the books. So in the show, Jon’s story continued. After his death at the hands of his sworn brothers, he’s brought back to life by the priestess Melisandre.

Feeling that his murder and death released him from his vows, he leaves the Night’s Watch. With his sister Sansa, he is able to recapture the North from the various forces that have taken it over. After winning the Battle of the Bastards, Jon is crowned the King in the North.


Shortly after this, Jon’s real parentage is revealed. He is not, as he was told, Eddard Stark’s bastard son. He is in fact the legitimate son of Eddard’s sister Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. This gives Jon one of the best claims to the Iron Throne. While this is a major and old theory among fans of the book, it hasn’t been confirmed. More worried about the threat of the Wight Walkers than the throne, Jon travels to Dragonstone to meet with Queen Daenerys Targaryen, who, unknown to either one, is his aunt. In order to face the coming threat, he pledges himself and the North to her. He partakes in some dangerous missions on her behalf and eventually becomes her lover.

Jon Snow at Show’s End

via Warner Bros.

Jon remains a central and important figure throughout the rest of the show. He is one of the main leaders of Daenerys’ forces. He fights in the Long Night and helps defeat the Wight Walkers, even getting to ride the dragon Rhaegal. When Jon and Daenerys learn of Jon’s true parentage, it starts to drive a wedge between them. Still, Jon remains loyal to his queen.

After Daenerys goes mad and burns King’s Landing, causing thousands of innocent deaths, he is forced to rethink things. After getting close to his queen and lover, Jon kills Daenerys, ending the reign of the mad queen. But once again, he’s responsible for the death of a lover. As a punishment (or reward?), Jon is sent North of the Wall to help the remaining Free Folk rebuild. The show ends with him riding off into the far north.


Let us know what you think of old Jon Snow, down in the comments!

Author: Abe Apfel
  • Two Edward Scissorhands Cosplays, One Cosplayer – Get You Someone Who Can Do Both