Jon is the bastard son of the late Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. He is a steward in the Night's Watch. Now serving on the Wall, Jon has found a place of acceptance where the circumstances of his birth are of little importance. He has a pet direwolf named Ghost, and wields the bastard sword, Longclaw, which was a gift from Lord Commander Jeor Mormont who sees Jon as a surrogate son.
On a mission to discover King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder's plans, Jon infiltrated the wildling army. While learning their plans, Jon fell in love with a wildling woman, Ygritte, and began a relationship with her. Jon was forced to leave her behind after they scaled the Wall. Jon returned to his sworn brothers in the Watch and warned them about the coming invasion.
Jon is the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, the head of House Stark and Lord Paramount of the North. The North is one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms in Westeros, and House Stark is one of the Great Houses of the realm. House Stark rules the region from their seat of Winterfell and Eddard also holds the title Lord of Winterfell. He is also the Warden of the North to King Robert Baratheon.
Eddard once told King Robert Baratheon that Jon's mother is a serving girl named Wylla, but refused to elaborate any further. Jon himself has no knowledge of his mother.
Jon was raised at Winterfell on an equal footing with Eddard's legitimate children. He has an older half-brother Robb, two younger half-sisters Sansa and Arya, and two younger half-brothers Bran and Rickon. Jon's presence at Winterfell is a source of friction between Eddard and his wife, Catelyn, although Catelyn put aside her anger temporarily when the infant Jon became severely ill. Jon got on well with his half-siblings, particularly Robb and Arya.
Jon Snow and Robb instruct Bran in archery, when they learn about a captured deserter. Jon accompanies his father, Robb, Bran and Theon Greyjoy to the beheading of a deserter from the Night's Watch; it is Bran's first time watching his father carry out an execution. Jon praises Bran afterwards for keeping his composure. On their way back to Winterfell, they find a dead direwolf and six newborn pups. Jon talks Lord Eddard into allowing the young Starks to adopt them, pointing out that a direwolf is the sigil of House Stark: given that there are five direwolves and five trueborn Stark children, it must be a sign from the Old Gods 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. However, just as they are about to leave, they find the runt of the litter, an albino, which crawled away from its mother's corpse. As an outsider like himself, Jon takes this direwolf as his own, naming him Ghost. Treated coldly by his stepmother, Jon decides to approach his uncle Benjen and offer to join the Night's Watch. He meets Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who knows what it is like to be an outcast. Tyrion tells him to wear the name "bastard" as a badge of honor, so no one can hurt him with the word.
Jon has a run in with Jaime Lannister who sarcastically thanks him for protecting all of them from all of the terrible things that allegedly exist beyond the Wall, in order to taunt him. Before Jon departs for the Wall, he says goodbye to 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." At their parting, Eddard vows to tell Jon the truth about his mother the next time they meet. Jon is accompanied by his uncle Benjen and Tyrion Lannister, who has expressed a desire to see the Wall (and pee off of it) before he dies.
At Castle Black, Jon's expectations of the Night's Watch are confounded. Instead of a brotherhood of noble warriors sworn to defend the realm from wildlings and White Walkers, he realizes 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. Jon offers to train some of his new brothers and Pypar and Grenn accept. He also befriends 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. 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. He is restricted to quarters. Later, Othor's corpse becomes a wight and attacks 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. 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, when Robert Baratheon's rebels slew his nephew the Mad King and his son and grandchildren.
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 unsavory ally Craster. Jon is perplexed when he learns that Craster marries his 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 wildlings are gathering with their leader, King Beyond the Wall Mance Rayder. Jeor reprimands Jon for failing to follow his lead with Craster
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 recognize the creature. 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
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 realizes his opponent is a 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 wildlings. She explains that they share the blood of the first men and 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’s caught off guard. He pursues her but is ambushed and taken captive. Ygritte tells him that he should’ve took 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.
As they make their way to Mance, Ygritte continues to playfully mock Jon by tapping him on the head with the flat of his sword. 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, stunning Ygritte and the rest of the band. Qhorin whispers a line from the Night's Watch oath to Jon with his dying breath. Jon's hands are freed, and Ygritte leads him to the crest of the mountain to look over the massive wildling encampment.
As Jon Snow is led by Ygritte and the Lord of Bones into the main wildling camp in the Frostfangs 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 wildlings 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 wildlings 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, as they do not recognize a class of nobility in their culture.
Mance says he is glad that Jon killed Qhorin, as he had killed many of Mance's wildlings. 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 advised Jon to get a new cloak.
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 wildlings, 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 doesn't know what that is, so Mance explains 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 menagerie 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 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 defenses 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 wildlings 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 Eastwatch-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's lying to them, he'll rip his guts out through his throat.
Jon and Ygritte then walk away, but she steals his sword Longclaw, 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 wildlings' 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 and the South, before they kiss.
After surviving the perilous climb of the Wall, Jon Snow, Ygritte and the wildlings led by Tormund Giantsbane make their way towards Castle Black to await Mance Rayder's signal to begin the attack on the Night's Watch. Afterwards Jon confronts Orell about cutting his and Ygritte's rope loose on The Wall, nearly killing the 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, whilst continuing to express his distrust in Jon. Jon also tries to persuade Ygritte that the wildlings' 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 renews her passion for him and tells him bluntly that if they die, they die, but before they die they will live.
Jon Snow 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. While in the abandoned mill not far away from the wildlings, Bran and Jojen Reed discuss how they plan to cross the Wall, before Meera spots the old horse breeder riding nearby. After the old man is captured by the wildlings, Hodor — scared by the thunder — begins yelling, which threatens to give away their location to the wildlings. Bran uses his Warg abilities to enter Hodor's mind and cause him to pass out.
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. Realizing 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. At the urging of Jojen, Bran enters the mind of Summer, his direwolf, to aid Jon. Summer and Shaggydog kill two wildlings threatening 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 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 Robb's death. 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 ever bring himself to hate Robb. 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 Maestor Aemon, acting Lord Commander Alliser Thorne, and Janos Slynt. At the hearing Jon admits to killing Qhorin Halfhand, to living amongst the wildlings, 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, realizes that Jon is speaking the truth, and the hearing ends with Jon being allowed to keep his head.
After Olly arrives at Castle black, he tells the Night's Watch about the widlings attacking villages. Thorne asks for Jons opinion on protecting the smallfolk living in the the Gift. Jon says that if the wildlings breach the Wall, they can move south by force for over a thousand miles before they reach an army that could stop them. The black brothers are interrupted by a single horn blast. It is 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 wildlings 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 to fight wildlings and one of the new recruits is Locke, who is actually there to try and find Bran and Rickon. The training session is interrupted by Thorne who continues to talk down to Jon and reminds him that he's nothing but a steward. Jon and Sam are talking about Bran going beyond the Wall and once he realizes 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. Jon gives a speech about giving Mormont's death by the mutinies and this convinces a number of his brothers to join him in his attack, including Grenn, Edd, and Locke.
The group attacks at night, taking the mutineers by surprise. Jon personally enters the main building to deal with Karl. 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 one of Craster's daughter-wives. Karl attempts to kill her, though it's a fatal mistake as Jon doesn't miss the opportunity to thrust Longclaw 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 on 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.
The wildling attack on Mole's Town has reached 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 wildlings 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's "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 blocked the gates, 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, signaling the unanticipated appearance of Tormund's band of wildlings at Castle Black. Alliser decides to go down and defend the keep, leaving Janos Slynt in charge of the Wall's defenses. 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, demoralizing 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 defenses
The black brothers continue to rain down arrows on the advancing wildlings, 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 wildlings 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 lead by Grenn to hold it at any cost. Then, Sam arrives to ask him for more men to defend the castle, so Jon decides to give Edd control of the Wall, tasks Sam with releasing Ghost from his pen to assist in the fighting, and orders half a dozen other men to descend with him and finally enter the fray.
Jon quickly dispatches several wildlings, catching the attention of Styr, and so the two meet in single combat. Styr eventually gets the upper hand by knocking Longclaw away, brutally smashing his face into an anvil and tossing 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 Styg'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 Longclaw with Sam. Sam tells Jon to come back, and Jon looks and Sam and smiles unreassuringly 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 and Ygritte. 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 the 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 most of the wildlings. 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.
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, 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 wildlings. Nevertheless, Stannis wants Jon to retake the North with the help of the wildlings, stating that he will pardon them and declare them citizens of the realm once the war is won. Stannis will give the wildlings 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.
Jon does his best to convince Mance to save his life as well as all the wildlings, but it is unsuccessful. As Mance is led to the pyre, Stannis gives him one last chance to save his life. Mance 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 by Jon.
Stannis and Davos summon Jon to discuss his future. Showing him a raven's message from Lyanna Mormont saying she would only pledge her house to a Stark of the North Stannis offers to legitimize Jon and make him Lord of Winterfell. Later that day the choosing has begun and many brothers of the Night's Watch have assembled to vote for either Ser Alliser Thorne 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 defense of Castle Black (including the fact that 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 legitimization. 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 respects his decision 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 while under Bolton rule.
During a meeting of the Night's Watch, Jon assigns 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 Greyguard, a ruined castle. Janos refuses to obey and openly insults him, even after Jon warned him that this was a direct order. Having publicly disobeyed and insulted Jon, the Lord Commander orders Janos taken outside, and calls for Olly to fetch him Longclaw. While on the chopping block, Janos pleads the Lord Commander 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 his own father to his death. 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. Later, Sam presents him with requests to the Northern Lords for men for the Night's Watch, but 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, 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 Aemon for advice on a decision he is about to make, noting that half the men in the Night's Watch despise him for his sympathy for the wildlings, but Aemon tells him to "Kill the boy, and let the man be born," in other words, do what he believes is best. Indeed, Jon's plan is to allow the wildlings 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 closes friends such as Edd and Olly, but Jon's goal is actually to keep the wildlings from falling into the hands of the coming White Walker army. Jon speaks alone with Tormund, requesting that he go to the wildling fishing village Hardhome to negotiate with the remaining wildlings who escaped from Stannis' surprise attack. Tormund agrees, so long as Jon accompanies him so that the wildlings will know it is not a trap. Jon borrows several of Stannis' ships for the journey. 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 criticizes his mission, and says his farewells to Sam, who gives him a bag of dragonglass daggers in case he should run into White Walkers on the way. He hugs Sam one final time and leaves Castle Black on his mission. Later, 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 Hardhome with his companions. After Tormund kills Rattleshirt, he and Jon go inside a hut to speak with the leaders of the tribe. Though the wildlings 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 dragonglass weapons with the wildlings 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 wildlings agree while the rest decide to stay. 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 dragonglass daggers, but he is ambushed by a White Walker. They fight for a while and Jon is almost killed until he retrieves Longclaw and uses it to slay the Walker, learning that they 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 the 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 Wall on foot, and he makes himself seen by Alliser Thorne so that they will be let inside. As the wildlings are let through Castle Black into the North, Jon laments not being able to save the rest, while Samwell comforts him, reminding him that he at least saved a few. 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 the war against the White Walkers and his increasingly strained relationship with the rest of the Night's Watch with Sam, who asks for leave to take Gilly and the baby Sam 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 intercourse (to Jon's amusement). Jon eventually agrees to Sam's request and sees him off.
Jon meets with Davos who on behalf of Stannis, demands Jon send the Wildlings to fight for Stannis in Winterfell. Jon points out that the Wildlings will never fight for Stannis as it isn't their fight. Their argument is broken up by the arrival of a wearied Melisandre who says nothing, but confirms the deaths of Stannis and Shireen Baratheon purely through body language.
That night while reading messages, Olly comes to Jon and tells him one of the Wildlings knows of the whereabouts of Jon's uncle. Jon quickly follows Thorne to a gathering of his Watch brothers, only to find a sign marked "Traitor". Thorne and several other Black Brothers proceed to stab Jon before 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 and declares "for the Watch." Jon collapses from his wounds and is left to die by the mutineers as a pool of Jon's blood stains the ice around him.
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 realize that Thorne was most likely the orchestrator to Jon's demise, and free Ghost to help them protect Jon's body while Edd heads out to find Tormund and the Wildlings. 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 wildlings, 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 Lord of Light 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 have seem to be in vain and Tormund storms out in frustration. Those remaining leave the room one by one, and after a few moments alone, along with his direwolf, 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 personally cuts the the trapdoor rope, hanging them simultaneously.
Jon then passes his cloak and command to Edd, declaring his watch has (technically) ended and leaves Castle Black and the Night's Watch
A day later Jon is packing his belongings. Informing Edd that he intends to ride south, 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 - but Jon retorts by saying that he already died, and that he couldn't stay after what was done to him. At that point, a single horn blast is heard signalling a visitor. Jon goes outside only to find that the person who arrived at Castle Black was none other than Sansa Stark - his half sister, along with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. After the two siblings noticed each other, Jon approached Sansa in disbelief and the two quickly and wordlessly embraced.
Shortly thereafter, Jon brings Sansa inside to get warm and eat. Sansa casually expresses her enjoyment of her soup, as she and Jon reminisce about the kidney pies Old Nan used to make. The two solemnly talk about how they should never have left Winterfell, but Jon concedes that they never could have known about the awful fate that befell their family afterwards. Sansa regretfully mentions how awful she was to Jon during their childhood, and that she felt guilty about it for years - but Jon shrugs it off since they were children back then, much to the chagrin of Sansa - who playfully tells Jon to admit she was awful, and demands that Jon forgive her, which he does. Sansa asks Jon where he intends to go now that he's left the Night's Watch, which Jon corrects her in saying that they'll leave together, as their father's ghost would probably haunt him if he didn't protect her. Sansa tells Jon that the only place they have left to return to is Winterfell, and that as their home - they need to reclaim it from the Boltons, otherwise they'll never truly be safe. Jon's mood dampens at this, as he tells Sansa that he's tired of fighting, as he's been doing it nonstop since he left Winterfell, also referencing all the things he had to do until now (including hanging Olly, who was younger than Bran). Sansa tells Jon that with or without his help, she'll do it herself if she has to.
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 wildlings and asks for their help in the coming battle against Ramsay. Though Tormund speaks for Jon, Dalba is skeptical, citing that they were allowed into the North to help fight against the White Walkers, not the Boltons. Jon points out that if they do not help, Ramsay will wipe them all out anyway. Tormund also points out that Jon effectively died for the wildlings' well-being, something they owe him for. The wildlings 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 Ironborn and Jon's allegiance with the wildlings.
Despite being heavily out numbered, 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 and Smalljon Umber meet with Jon, Sansa, Tormund, and Davos 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. In response, he acknowledges Sansa's presence and expresses his anticipation that she will return to his side once he defeats the Stark army. Sansa asks for proof of Rickon's capture, which he provides by way of the decapitated head of his direwolf, Shaggydog. 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 criticizes Jon for not listening to her advice and for attacking too early insisting that they could have gathered more men. Jon however insists 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's army and as he does brings out a bow. Jon hastily 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 was approaching his brother, Rickon is struck in the back with an arrow and killed. With Jon now defenseless in the middle of the battlefield, Bolton archers fire volleys of arrows in his direction with the Bolton cavalry charging at him as well. The Stark cavalry begin their charge to meet the Bolton cavalry, narrowly saving Jon from being trampled, 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 cavalry, 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 Wildlings 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 realizing that Sansa was right all along. Ramsay returns to Winterfell and closes the gates, confident that their opponent is not equipped for 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 his shield, and then proceeds to mercilessly beat Ramsay's face into a bloody pulp, until he is stopped by Sansa. The Bolton army surrenders, and Winterfell once again belongs to the Starks. In the aftermath of the battle, Rickon's dead body is found, and Jon orders the body to be transported to the crypt, to be buried next to his father, Ned Stark.
Son of Lyanna Stark, Jon is unaware of his true parentage and was raised by her brother Ned as his bastard son. Jon joined the Night's Watch where he served as steward to Lord Commander Mormont. He was himself elected Lord Commander of the Watch with support of his friends Sam Tarly and Maester Aemon. During his tenure, Jon made the unpopular decision to ally with the wildlings and save them from the White Walkers. For that he was murdered at Castle Black by his own men, but to the awe of everyone, Jon was brought back to life by the red priestess Melisandre. Restored as Lord Commander, Jon executed his murderes befor abdicating his command and passing it on to Edd Tollett. He swore off all fighting, until a reunion with his long-lost sister Sansa persuaded him to retake Winterfell. With a rag-tag army of Northern allies and the crucial last-minute support of the Vale, Jon led the Starks to victory in the Battle of the Bastards and reclaimed their childhood home. Impressed with his leadership, the Northern houses have proclaimed him their king.
Because Jon was raised by Ned Stark in Winterfell, Jon has adopted a clear moral compass and a true sense of honor, which he tries his hardest to abide by even when he must make a hard decision. He has always admired and idolized 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 child-mother relationship. 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 honor. 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.
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 honor 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 demeanor, Jon is very compassionate and somewhat protective of his fellow outcasts such as Samwell Tarly, Grenn, or 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 him, he was never poor or hungry, but lived in a castle and always had a roof over his head. Jon was also formally trained in swordsmanship by Ser Rodrik Cassel, and excelled at it. 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 behavior 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 honors 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. 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.