Ser Barristan Selmy is a knight who is considered by many to be one of the best swordsmen in the whole of the Seven Kingdoms. He served in the Kingsguard with honor and distinction for almost forty years, before being abruptly dismissed by King Joffrey.
Insulted by his dismissal from the Kingsguard, Selmy makes his way across the Narrow Sea to Astapor and seeks out Daenerys Targaryen. After saving Daenerys from an assassination attempt, he pledges fealty to her and becomes one of her trusted advisors.
Ser Barristan Selmy is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, the elite bodyguard of the King of the Andals and the First Men. Barristan is the only known member of House Selmy, a minor house that serves House Baratheon. Barristan Selmy is noted as an extremely capable warrior, even in his old age, and has a reputation for honor and chivalry that is second to none. He served in the Kingsguard of Aerys II Targaryen. He fought in the battle against the Kingswood Brotherhood and slew their leader Simon Toyne. Jaime Lannister, then aged 16, squired for Selmy during the battle and greatly admired his skill.
He never wavered in his loyalty to House Targaryen during Robert's Rebellion, in accordance with the vows he swore when he joined the Kingsguard. Both Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark held Ser Barristan in very high esteem. Upon assuming the throne, Robert pardoned him and made him Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
King Robert Baratheon, Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Jaime Lannister swap war stories in the Red Keep. Barristan recalls his first kill as being a Tyroshi soldier whose name he never knew. Barristan killed him with a lance to the heart. Barristan and Jaime also discuss their campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood, when Barristan slew Simon Toyne in single combat whilst Jaime scored his own first kill - an outlaw he decapitated - as a squire of fifteen.Selmy attends the King at the tournament thrown in honor of Lord Eddard Stark's appointment as Hand of the King.
Barristan stands vigil for Ser Hugh of the Vale after his death in a tournament accident. Eddard quizzes him over Hugh's death and how the lots are drawn to determine which knight will face another in the contests. Eddard states that, in his father's opinion, Barristan was the finest knight in the Seven Kingdoms. Barristan acknowledges that the Mad King's murder of Eddard's father was a grave crime and he is glad they did not cross swords at the Battle of the Trident.
Barristan later accompanies Robert, his squire Lancel Lannister and Lord Renly Baratheon on a hunt in the Kingswood. The king reflects on how much better things used to be, but Renly angrily accuses him of nostalgic self-delusion before stomping off. Barristan is bemused by the exchange, as well as Lancel's constant refilling of Robert's wineskin.Robert tracks a boar and attempts to kill it singlehanded. He takes a grievous wound but finishes the boar off with his dirk. Barristan bitterly claims to have failed the king as Robert lies on his deathbed, but Eddard counsels him that no one could protect Robert from himself.
Barristan accompanies the wounded king's return trip to King's Landing and stands guard outside his chambers. After Robert's death, he stands guard in the throne room as King Joffrey Baratheon commands his counsellors to swear fealty to him. Barristan is shocked when Queen Cersei destroys Robert's proclamation announcing that Eddard is to become the Protector of the Realm, but even more so when Eddard says that Joffrey has no claim to the Iron Throne. During the ensuing melee, Eddard orders that Barristan is not to be harmed, but the City Watch betrays and murders Eddard's men and takes Eddard prisoner instead.
Joffrey later shocks the court by publicly dismissing Barristan from the Kingsguard - which is an irrevocable lifetime appointment - on the grounds of old age and the fact he failed to protect Robert. In reality, of course, Cersei is cleaning house by removing anyone from court who isn't a dedicated Lannister-loyalist. Barristan's shock turns to outrage when Cersei announces that his position as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is to be given to Jaime Lannister. Barristan openly denounces Jaime as "the man who profaned his blade with the blood of the King he had sworn to defend!", causing Cersei to angrily rebuke him. Varys tries to defuse the situation by offering Selmy a keep to live in and servants to tend his needs out of respect for his years of service, but Ser Barristan bluntly refuses the offer, insulted at the council's attempt to fob him off with "a hall to die in and men to bury me", and tears off his cloak, breastplate, and some other items saying he is a knight and will die a knight. Littlefinger crassly jokes that he will apparently be a "naked knight", which causes the whole court to laugh at him.
However, their mockery abruptly comes to an end when Selmy draws his sword in fury, silencing the entire court. Though the other five Kingsguard members block his path to the Iron Throne and Joffrey, Barristan sneers that even now he could kill the other five Kingsguard as easily as "carving a cake". There is a tense pause in the throneroom, as despite his old age Barristan is such a legendary and skilled knight they know that he might indeed be able to fight his way through to harm Joffrey. However, Selmy notes the presence of Janos Slynt and the gold cloaks and ultimately realizes he is too badly outnumbered. He still mocks their fear of him by throwing his sword at Joffrey's feet, telling the "boy" to melt it down and add it to the others that make up the Iron Throne, before storming out in disgust. Ser Jaime was indeed named as the new Lord Commander in Barristan's place, though in absentia as he was captured by the Starks in battle before he could return to King's Landing. Jaime's own place in the Kingsguard was replaced by Joffrey's personal bodyguard Sandor Clegane, an affront to the institution, as Sandor is not even a knight.
The whereabouts of Ser Barristan are unknown.
While imprisoned, Jaime Lannister tells Ser Alton Lannister about his time as Ser Barristan's squire, describing him as "a painter who only used red".
Ser Barristan tracks down Daenerys Targaryen to Astapor in Slaver's Bay, where he saves her from an assassination attempt by a member of the Warlocks of Qarth, preventing a Manticore from harming her. Ser Jorah identifies him to the young queen, and Selmy quickly bows to proclaim his loyalty to her, explaining that in serving her, he hopes to make amends for his failure to protect her family in Robert's Rebellion. Declaring that she is the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, he asks to serve in her Queensguard.
As Daenerys prepares to negotiate for the purchase of Astapor's Unsullied, Barristan strongly argues against using slaves-soldiers as dishonorable. Jorah is in favor of using them, but Barristan retorts that when Daenerys' older brother Rhaegar led his army in the Battle of the Trident, men fought and died for Rhaegar because they believed in him, because they loved him - not because they were slave soldiers whose free will had been stripped away. Jorah responds that Rhaegar indeed fought honorably and nobly, but that in the end Rhaegar died. Daenerys was born months after Robert Baratheon killed Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident, and only knew her cruel and half-mad brother Viserys, so she asks Ser Barristan if he knew Rhaegar. As a member of the Kingsguard at the time, Barristan knew Rhaegar well: he fought beside him and bled beside him at the Trident. Barristan says that Rhaegar was the finest man he ever met, the last dragon. Daenerys grows quiet and says she wishes she'd known her older brother, but that Rhaegar was not the last dragon (she is).
Later, when Daenerys agrees to give the Good Masters her largest dragon in exchange for the Unsullied, Ser Barristan openly protests, begging her to win Westeros back with dragons, not slaves. Daenerys ignores him and completes the transaction. As they depart, the furious queen tells Barristan and Jorah that while she values their advice, they will be advising someone else if they question her in public again.
Ser Barristan is present when Daenerys receives custody of the Unsullied and observes her betrayal of the Good Masters. He survives the subsequent Sack of Astapor and is overjoyed when the recently freed Unsullied agree to continue serving Daenerys. Along with Jorah Mormont and Missandei, Ser Barristan rides out of the city at her side.
As the Targaryen host marches towards Yunkai, Ser Barristan and Jorah ride together and discuss a variety of topics. Barristan admits that Robert was a good man and a good warrior, but a terrible king. Barristan explains that a man of honor must keep his vows no matter what, whether he's serving a drunk or a lunatic. Barristan also explains that Robert never trusted him to do anything more than protect him, hence Barristan was barred from Small Council meetings, though the Lord Commander is usually the Small Council's military attaché.
Ser Barristan is present when Daenerys and Jorah gather reconnaissance on the Second Sons and confirms that their presence will pose a problem. He later presents the Second Sons' captains– Mero the Titan's Bastard, Prendahl na Ghezn, and Daario Naharis– to the queen. He is incensed at the captains' attitude towards Daenerys during the meeting, but holds his tongue as per her instructions. When the captains leave, Daenerys tells Barristan that if they must fight the Second Sons, he is to kill Mero first. Ser Barristan responds that it would be his pleasure.
When Daario Naharis, Grey Worm, and Ser Jorah Mormont plan to infiltrate Yunkai, Ser Barristan offers his assistance. Jorah advises him to stay behind and protect Daenerys, as he is a member of her Queensguard. Ser Barristan is present alongside Daenerys when the group returns victorious.
Ser Barristan is present when Daenerys makes a morning inspection of her army. When she asks after Daario and Grey Worm, Barristan and Jorah inform her that they are "gambling". When she finds her itinerant commanders, Daenerys tells them that it is Barristan and Jorah who will ride at her side, since they didn't keep her waiting. Barristan is later present when Daenerys learns that every mile-marker from Yunkai to Meereen is decorated with the corpse of a slave.
Ser Barristan is at his queen's side at the gates of Meereen. He volunteers to fight Meereen's champion and mentions that he's probably won more duels than anyone else alive; Daenerys rejects his offer, as she wants to preserve his skills for more worthy foes.
Ser Barristan is present when the so-called "Great Masters" are rounded up to be crucified like children on the road to Meereen. He advises her against it, saying that sometimes, it is best to answer injustice with mercy. Daenerys shows her Targaryen blood by firmly declaring that she will answer injustice with real justice.
During a meeting in Meereen, Barristan Selmy is in favor of launching an invasion of Westeros. Ser Jorah councils that the Lannister forces outnumber them, but Selmy states that their army is dispersed, tired and their king is dead. Barristan believes with their current forces and the element of surprise, they could take King's Landing. Barristan also believes that the old Houses will flock to support Daenerys, but Jorah counters that the old Houses will only side with who they believe will win.
Barristan is present when a goat herder and Hizdahr zo Loraq are given audiences with Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen. On the other side of the world, Varys informs the Small Council that Barristan did not take kindly to his dismissal from the Kingsguard, and is now one of Daenerys's advisors. Cersei dismisses Barristan as an old man who was not fit to protect Joffrey. Tywin disagrees, saying her decision to dismiss Barristan was as insulting as it was stupid, because of the old knight's reputation; he also points out that Joffrey did not die under Barristan's watch.
In Meereen, Barristan watches the Unsullied taking the bodies of the crucified masters down outside Meereen, a small boy approaches him, giving him a scroll bearing the seal of the Hand. He reads its contents slowly in consternation. He confronts Ser Jorah: the document is a royal pardon signed by King Robert Baratheon. Barristan surmises Jorah spied on Daenerys. Jorah begs to be allowed to speak with her privately, but Barristan tells him that he will never allow Jorah to be alone with her again. He is later present when Jorah is banished from Daenerys's service.
Ser Barristan remains at Daenerys' side when she meets with more supplicants. He is present when a former slave Fennesz requests to resell himself to his former master and when the charred bones of a goatherd's daughter are presented to Daenerys.
Ser Barristan presents the mask found on the body of White Rat, who was murdered by a member of a group called the Sons of the Harpy, to Daenaerys. She orders the murdered Unsullied to be given a public funeral in the Temple of the Graces. Barristan warns that the Sons will see that as another reason to oppose Daenerys, but she hopes it will make them easier to find and eliminate.
When a member of the Sons of the Harpy is discovered and arrested, Barristan counsels that the man should be given a fair trial rather than simply executing him. Daenerys dismisses everyone present and thanks them for their counsel, but Barristan wishes to have a word with her in private. He reveals how her father set towns and castles aflame, murdered sons in front of their fathers, and burned men alive with wildfire. These brutal actions lead to revolt which toppled the Targaryen dynasty. Barristan states that Aerys ordered these brutalities because he thought he was dispensing "justice" and it made him feel powerful, until the very end. Heeding his advice, Daenerys decides that a fair trial will be held. Unfortunately, a trial never takes place as Mossador murders the Son of the Harpy. Barristan is later present when Mossador is publicly beheaded by Daario Naharis on the order of Daenerys.
Atop the Great Pyramid with Daenerys, Barristan reminisces about the times he spent with Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. He recalls that he accompanied Rhaegar whenever he left to Red Keep to sing to the smallfolk with is harp. Barristan guarded Rhaegar and collected the money, which they would donate to another minstrel, an orphanage, and once they used their earnings to get very drunk. Daenerys is very surprised, who only knew Rhaegar as a great warrior from stories Viserys told her. Daario Naharis appears to tell Daenerys that Hizdahr and many more supplicants are waiting for her. With Daario already guarding her, Barristan decides not to attend. Later, Barristan is walking through the streets of Meereen when he hears the bells toll and notices many civilians fleeing in terror. Drawing his sword, he discovers the Sons of the Harpy have ambushed and murdered several Unsullied soldiers and Grey Worm, severely wounded, making his last stand. Barristan draws several of the Sons of the Harpy away from Grey Worm, cutting down several of them before being stabbed multiple times. Before Barristan can be finished off, Grey Worm manages to kill the last Son of the Harpy. Grey Worm struggles to check if the Barristan is still alive, but sees that the old knight has succumbed to his wounds.
Also known as Barristan the Bold, the former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard was the most famous knight in Westeros untill King Joffrey dismissed him. Ser Barristan then sought out Daenerys to fulfill the oath he swore to the Targaryens when he still served Dany's father, the Mad King. Trusted advisor and Lord Commander of Dany's Queensguard, he was killed in Meereen by the Sons of the Harpy.