Night's Watch

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Night's Watch
Night's Watch.svg
The chargeless black shield of the Night's Watch
Symbol Black
Type Sworn Brotherhood
Military order
Seat Castle Black
Nightfort (historical)
Region Gift
Current Leader Lord Commander Jon Snow
Founded During the Long Night

The Night's Watch is a military order dedicated to holding the Wall, the immense fortification on the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms, defending the realms of men from what lies beyond the Wall. The order's foundation dates back to the Age of Heroes, at the time when the Others were pushed back. The men of Night's Watch wear only black, and they are known as black brothers.[1] Recruits who join the Watch are said to take the black.[2]



Orders of the Night's Watch, from Game of Thrones Blu-ray

The Night's Watch consists of three orders: stewards, builders, and rangers. All are subject to the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and each of the three orders is led by its own officer, the Lord Steward, the First Builder, and First Ranger, respectively. These officers are appointed by the lord commander.[3]

  • Stewards are responsible for an assortment of critical functions, providing vital day-to-day services. They hunt and farm, tend horses, gather firewood, cook meals, make clothing, maintain weapons, and bring supplies needed by the Night's Watch from the South.[4] Like other members of the Watch, the stewards must be ready to fight at a moment's notice, and all have received at least basic combat training. Bowen Marsh serves as the Lord Steward or First Steward.
  • Builders are responsible for tending to and maintaining the Wall and its castles. The order provides masons, carpenters, miners, and woodsmen to this end.[4] Othell Yarwyck leads them as the First Builder.

Recruiters for the Night's Watch are called wandering crows.[3] The organization also includes septons, maesters, and, at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, sailors. Because brothers come from throughout the Seven Kingdoms or even Essos, there is an unspoken pact to not discuss politics or former loyalties.[3] When war breaks out in the Seven Kingdoms, the Night's Watch tries to remain neutral by honoring all kings and obeying none.[5]

One blast of a sentry's horn represents returning rangers,[6][7] while two are used for wildlings[8] and three for Others.[9] Two long blasts followed by a short one are used as a call to mount horses.[9]

While wildlings and the Watch are often seen as seen as ancient enemies,[10] the black brothers are friendly with some free folk, such as Craster[11] and Haggon.[12] There is greater commerce between the two peoples than generally known,[13] and some wildlings trade at Eastwatch.[12]


Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, by Ryan Valle © Fantasy Flight Games

The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch is the final authority and oversees the entire order. A lord commander serves in office until the day he dies, when a replacement is elected by the men of the Watch. Any man of the Night's Watch can be nominated to be the lord commander.[14]

At Castle Black, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont is advised by First Ranger Benjen Stark, First Builder Othell Yarwyck, and Lord Steward Bowen Marsh. He also entrusts leadership to Ser Jarman Buckwell, Ser Mallador Locke, Ser Jaremy Rykker, Thoren Smallwood, and Ser Ottyn Wythers.[15][16] Ser Denys Mallister is the commander at the Shadow Tower, while Cotter Pyke has command at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Maesters advising the senior leadership are Aemon at Castle Black, Mullin at the Shadow Tower, and Harmune at Eastwatch.[16]

An honorable opportunity to command, rise in rank, and enjoy hunting north of the Wall are reasons why men join the Night's Watch voluntarily.[17] The majority of the officers and leadership of the Watch are pulled from the upper crust of Westerosi society. A noble or knighted man is almost guaranteed a position as an officer in the Watch,[15][18] but there are several powerful and influential brothers that are of common birth as well, such as the senior rangers Qhorin Halfhand, Blane, and Cotter Pyke, a bastard-born pirate. The Watch, as a meritocracy, is one of the few places in feudal Westeros where a common man can rise high.[19]


Once, serving on the Wall was honor and a sign of selfless devotion to duty, with many knights, honorable men, and nobles taking the black voluntarily. The Night's Watch is now often seen only as a way to avoid punishment, suitable less for knights than for the dregs of Westeros. These men are salvaged from dungeons by traveling recruiters known as wandering crows.[3] Disgraced nobles, bastards, and the unwanted legitimate offspring of nobles can be encouraged to take the black, making many of today's Watch a surly and dissatisfied lot.[20]

Those who come voluntarily are free to leave during any time of their training, but no man may leave after he has said vows.[4] Any deserters are sentenced to death.[21] After taking the vows, the men of the Watch cannot own any land, marry, or father children. Men are also encouraged to sever any ties left with their families, if they are lucky enough to have one.[4]


New recruits being marched to the Wall, by Tim Truman © Fantasy Flight Games

When recruits are considered ready to take the black, they say their vows either in a sept or before a heart tree. The vows are as follows:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.[22]

Once a man takes his vows, his crimes and debts are forgiven.[22] Brothers of the Night's Watch serve for life.[23] It is customary to finish a black brother's eulogy with the words, "And now his watch is ended."[24] Castle Black contains a lichyard,[25] and knights can be laid to rest in ancient tombs near the lichyard or burned on a pyre.[26]

Military Strength

The numbers of the Night's Watch have long been dwindling.[27] During Aegon's Conquest, the Night's Watch numbered ten thousand strong.[18] However, by 298 AC, their strength has dwindled to less than a thousand.[15] Of these thousand, six hundred are stationed at Castle Black, two hundred at the Shadow Tower, and fewer at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.[15]

In late 233 AC, when Ser Brynden Rivers was sent to the Wall, two hundred men went with him. Many of them were archers from Rivers's personal guard, the Raven's Teeth.[28]


Castles of the Night's Watch

Castles along the Wall and the surrounding area, from Game of Thrones Blu-ray

The Night's Watch raised nineteen castles to guard the hundred leagues of the Wall, although they have never manned more than seventeen at one time.[29] Today only three of them are maintained by an ever dwindling force. The castles themselves are closer to garrisons, composed mostly of barracks, stables, storehouses, towers and out-buildings, as they have no walls of their own (other than the Wall itself). They were purposefully built this way so the Watch could man only the Wall itself and focus on threats from the north. The Night's Watch feared no attack from the south because of their vow not to take part in the wars of the Seven Kingdoms.[19][30]

Due to manpower shortages, the Watch only mans the Shadow Tower, Castle Black, and Eastwatch.[15] Patrols between the castles used to be more regular, but as the manpower of the Night's Watch diminished, so did the number of patrols.[31] Now the Watch uses mules to ride atop the Wall, as the paths have not been graveled between the older castles in many years. The mules are bred at Eastwatch and are specially trained for their duties.[31]

The castles are listed from west to east:

The Gift

The Gift, consisting of Brandon's Gift and the New Gift, is land south of the Wall. Twenty-five leagues were given by a Brandon of House Stark, commonly believed to have been Bran the Builder, to the Night's Watch for their sustenance. For years the Watch farmed the Gift, but as their numbers dwindled there were fewer hands to plow the fields, tend the bees and plant the orchards, so the wild reclaimed much of the area. Wishing to restore the Night's Watch and reward its loyal service in defense of the realm, Queen Alysanne Targaryen, wife of King Jaehaerys the Conciliator, doubled the extent of the Gift. Towns and villages that were located within the New Gift supported the Night's Watch with their taxes, rendered by goods and labor. In time, the New Gift lost population as people moved south, into the mountains or into the Umber lands east of the kingsroad to avoid wildling raids, further reducing the support structure for the Night's Watch and the Wall.[29]

The nearest point of civilization to Castle Black is Mole's Town, a subterranean village in the Gift whose brothel is frequently patronized by brothers of the Night's Watch.[35] Queenscrown is an example of an abandoned holdfast in the Gift.[33]


Training at the Wall, by Mark Evans © Fantasy Flight Games

Sworn Brothers are attired all in black,[15][13] with roughspun wool being common,[19] so new recruits are said to "take the black".[2] Officers and brothers who come from wealthier origins might wear velvet,[36][14] crisp leathers,[19] moleskin,[1][35] or sable.[11]

The black garb has earned the Watch the nickname "crows",[37][38][39][40] particularly among the free folk, who often call them "black crows."[41][11] While some use this name derogatorily, many in the Night's Watch have adopted the term for their own use.[32] They are also called the "black brothers",[1] and in song they have been called the "black knights of the Wall."[42] Each brother receives a dark cloak,[43] so the Watch are also called "black cloaks".[14] Because members swear oaths to serve for life, a stranger wearing black attire is often viewed with suspicion in the north because he might be a deserter.[35]

Armor includes black ringmail[44] hauberks and coifs,[35] as well as halfhelms.[10] All black brothers carry a steel knife.[45] Nobles relinquish the heraldry of their houses and take up plain black shields.[26] Brothers can carry axes, longaxes, bows, knives, spears, swords, and longswords.[1][46][47][9] Guardsmen carry warhorns,[15] while foresters uses axes to chop down trees.[43] The Watch can defend the Wall with catapults, scorpions, and trebuchets.[48] When ranging beyond the Wall, the brothers camp in black tents.[43]


The Night's Watch employs a small fleet at Eastwatch to patrol the Shivering Sea. Known ships include Blackbird, Storm Crow, and Talon.[49]


The Long Night

The Sword in the Darkness, by Erich Schreiner © Fantasy Flight Games

The Night's Watch is one of the oldest orders in the Seven Kingdoms, as it survived the fall of the kingdoms of the First Men, the coming of the Andals, and Aegon's Conquest. It was founded over eight thousand years ago, at the end of the Long Night. Under cover of an endless night that lasted for a generation, the Others invaded from the Lands of Always Winter, laying waste to much of Westeros. The Others were finally defeated by the Night's Watch at the Battle for the Dawn, which is recalled in "The Night That Ended".[50] The Wall was allegedly built by Bran the Builder in order to protect the Seven Kingdoms,[51] with the brothers of the Night's Watch choosing their own Lord Commander since that time.[52] During the Age of Heroes it was also recorded that the children of the forest gave the Night's Watch a hundred obsidian daggers every year.[25]

Other than the corrupting of the thirteenth Lord Commander, the so-called Night's King, further attacks by the Others never came, however. Instead, the most frequent attacks came from the wildlings, sometimes led by their Kings-Beyond-the-Wall, and their constant attempts at raiding in the north.[27] Little by little, the Night's Watch forgot that its main mission was not the fight against the wildlings, but against the Others.[24]

Hundred Kingdoms

The Night's Watch built nineteen castles along the hundred leagues of the Wall. At the zenith of its power, the Watch had seventeen of the castles manned,[46] with at least ten thousand men between them. Castle Black alone once quartered five thousand fighting men with all their horses, servants, and equipment.[19] The highborn of the north have traditionally considered it an honor to serve on the Wall. Many younger sons of northern houses, low in the line of succession, gladly took the black. Shields of nobles from the Hundred Kingdoms of Westeros were proudly displayed in the Shieldhall at Castle Black.[26]

Six kings were sent to the Wall after Nymeria's War and the unification of Dorne by House Martell.[53]

House Targaryen

The Wall by Marc Simonetti ©

The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros were invaded by the Targaryens during Aegon's Conquest. Although Lord Commander Hoare was the brother of Harren the Black, King of the Isles and the Rivers, the lord commander maintained the neutrality of the ten thousand black brothers under his command, even when Harren died during the burning of Harrenhal.[18] King Aegon I Targaryen became Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and ruled from the Iron Throne in King's Landing. Aegon's sister-wife, Queen Visenya Targaryen, modeled the vows of the newly-created Kingsguard on those of the Night's Watch.[54]

In 43 AC, King Maegor I Targaryen suppressed the Oldtown chapter of the Warrior's Sons. When the king offered the two hundred knights the option of renouncing the Faith Militant and taking the black, or remaining loyal to their faith and face execution, three-quarters of the knights chose to join the Watch.[55] Scores of Poor Fellows took the black when Poxy Jeyne Poore was hunted down in the kingswood two years later.[55]

When Jaehaerys I Targaryen succeeded Maegor on the Iron Throne in 48 AC, four of Maegor's Kingsguard—Ser Olyver Bracken, Ser Symond Crayne, Ser Raymund Mallery, and Ser Jon Tollett—joined the Watch to avoid execution. Hundreds of Poor Fellows, including Rob the Starvling, also accepted the clemency of the new king and took the black.[56] In 49 AC, thirty black brothers accompanied Lord Brandon Stark to King's Landing for the Golden Wedding.[57] The following year, Ser Olyver and Ser Raymund led Rimegate and Sable Hall in rebellion against the Night's Watch. Most black brother remained loyal, however, and Rimegate was retaken with the aid of Winterfell, and Lord Walton Stark beheaded Olyver with Ice. Lord Stark pursued Raymund beyond the Wall, but Walton was slain by giants during the campaign. Wildlings eventually sent Raymund's head to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.[58]

During King Jaehaerys's royal progress to the north in 58 AC, Queen Alysanne Targaryen flew on Silverwing to visit Castle Black and the Wall. Lord Commander Lothor Burley escorted her into the haunted forest, and Benton Glover showed Alysanne the Nightfort, which she felt should be abandoned because of its poor condition. Alysanne paid for the construction of Deep Lake with her own jewels, and Lothor renamed Snowgate to Queensgate in her honor.[59] Alysanne also visited Brandon's Gift, the land south of the Wall given to the Watch for their sustenance. Impressed by the Night's Watch but concerned about their lack of resources, Alysanne convinced King Jaehaerys and Lord Alaric Stark to double the lands with another twenty-five leagues, the New Gift.[59] According to records at the Citadel, the Starks were reluctant to do so, fearing that the Night's Watch would neglect the Gift by focusing their attention beyond the Wall.[60]

Lord Corlys Velaryon suggested that the greens, the rivals of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen and the blacks, be allowed to join the Night's Watch amid the Dance of the Dragons. Rhaenyra and her husband, Prince Daemon Targaryen, decided that their enemies should not be pardoned, however.[61] In the aftermath of the Dance, twenty-two men were arrested by Lord Cregan Stark for the death for King Aegon II Targaryen. During this Hour of the Wolf, nineteen of them,[62] led by Ser Perkin the Flea, were sent to the Wall by Cregan, with only Lord Corlys being spared and Ser Gyles Belgrave and Lord Larys Strong instead choosing death.[63] Grand Maester Orwyle deserted before setting sail on North Star, so Ser Medrick Manderly ordered the guard who had freed him to take his place in the Watch.[64]

In 132 AC, the Night's Watch dealt with several wildling incursions as famine threatened during winter.[64] The following year, a hundred rangers helped hunt down the raiders of Sylas the Grim after they overwhelmed Queensgate.[65] A third of the Night's Watch died during the winter of 134 AC, and hundreds of the black brothers were killed fighting the thousands of wildlings who crossed the frozen Shivering Sea.[66] In 136 AC during the regency of Aegon III, Ser Gareth Long, Lord George Graceford, and several gold cloaks and Fingers chose to take the black after the secret siege.[66]

Guilty of treason after the Third Blackfyre Rebellion, Ser Aegor Rivers was commanded by King Aerys I Targaryen to take the black. Bittersteel was freed en route to the Wall, however, and he fled to the Free Cities.[67] Bittersteel's rival, Lord Brynden Rivers, was sent to the Wall by King Aegon V Targaryen after the murder of Aenys Blackfyre.[28] Bloodraven, many of his Raven's Teeth, and prisoners from the dungeons formed the two hundred men who accompanied Maester Aemon, Aegon's elder brother, to the Wall.[68][28]

The black brothers arrived late at Long Lake, where Raymun Redbeard, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, was defeated by the Starks and Umbers in 226 AC.[69]

House Targaryen fell during Robert's Rebellion. Following the Sack of King's Landing, Lord Tywin Lannister gave loyalists such as Ser Alliser Thorne and Ser Jaremy Rykker the options of execution or taking the black.[15]

House Baratheon

Abandoned Stronghold of the Night's Watch, by Marc Simonetti ©

The manpower of the Night's Watch has decreased more and more, a process which began before Aegon's Conquest.[27] Most of Westeros neglects the Wall. Only the north have the memory of the old days, but even they believe the Others are no more than vague figures in stories told to frighten children.[51] Only a few of the houses south of the Neck have members in the Night's Watch, and most serve because they fell afoul of political machinations or fought on the wrong side of a war. However, there have been fewer wars since Aegon's Conquest.[70] Northmen such as the Starks[46][17][29] and Norreys[71] are more likely to hold the Watch in high regard than southrons;[63] House Lannister, for instance, has not been a strong supporter of the Wall.[3] Some southerners are still friends of the Watch, however, such as Lady Shella Whent.[37]

By the reign of King Robert I Baratheon, only three castles remain in use—Castle Black, Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, and the Shadow Tower—and the Night's Watch's numbers have dwindled to fewer than a thousand men.[15] The Night's Watch is now largely made up of the misfits of the Seven Kingdoms, such as bastards, debtors, killers, outlaws, peasants, poachers, rapers, and thieves.[72][22]

The Warden of the North, Lord Eddard Stark, and the First Ranger, Eddard's brother Benjen, have discussed settling new lords in abandoned holdfasts of the Gift if the lord commander, Jeor Mormont, approves.[33][73] Skeptical of the Night's Watch, some wise men have suggested that the lords of the north should be granted the lands beyond the Wall and tasked with defending against wildlings.[27]

According to Grand Maester Pycelle the Wall is a world apart, and news oft reaches them late.[74] Stories of the Night's Watch are collected in Archmaester Harmune's Watchers on the Wall.[27]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Jon Snow, Ghost and Mormont's raven confront the wight that was once Othor, by Thomas Denmark © Fantasy Flight Games

While ranging in the haunted forest, Ser Waymar Royce is slain by Others. After rising as a wight, Waymar's body slays Will.[1] Gared flees south of the Wall but is executed for desertion by Lord Eddard Stark, the Warden of the North.[21]

Jon Snow[19] and Samwell Tarly[20] join the Night's Watch as stewards,[22] while First Ranger Benjen Stark, Jon's uncle and Eddard's younger brother, disappears beyond the Wall.[20] The lord commander, Jeor Mormont, asks Tyrion Lannister for aid from the Iron Throne.[15] Two slain brothers, Othor and Jafer Flowers, rise as wights at Castle Black, but Jon saves Jeor during the night.[6] Jeor rewards Jon with a Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw.[18]

Jon's father, Eddard, is imprisoned in the dungeons of the Red Keep after the death of King Robert I Baratheon.[75] If Eddard admits to treason, Lord Varys and Queen Regent Cersei Lannister agree that Eddard can join the Night's Watch.[76] King Joffrey I Baratheon surprises the small council, however, by instead ordering Eddard's execution at the Great Sept of Baelor.[76] Eddard's bannermen respond by proclaiming his heir, Robb Stark, as King in the North.[77]

Jon attempts to desert so he can aid his brother Robb in the south, but his friends in the Watch convince him to return to Castle Black.[35] A great ranging is planned north of the Wall to search for Benjen, deal with the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, and learn about the Others.[35]

A Clash of Kings

Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, personally leads the great ranging of two hundred men from Castle Black, which is joined by a hundred men from the Shadow Tower.[3] After visiting Whitetree[78] and Craster's Keep,[11] they fortify the Fist of the First Men within the haunted forest as their base.[43] Jon Snow is part of a ranging party attacked by wildlings, and Qhorin Halfhand convinces Jon to kill him and thereby infiltrate the wildlings.[79][47]

The wandering crow Yoren leads a party of recruits, including a disguised Arya Stark, from King's Landing. Most are slain near the Gods Eye, however.[37]

Ser Alliser Thorne is sent to King's Landing with the hand of a wight,[80][81] but the hand rots and Tyrion, the acting Hand of the King, ridicules Alliser's story.[82]

A Storm of Swords

Defenders of the North, by Ryan Barger © Fantasy Flight Games

Jon Snow is spared by Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall,[13] and the youth begins sleeping with a wildling, Ygritte.[83]

Chett conspires against Lord Commander Mormont at the Fist.[7] An army of wights overwhelm the Watch in the fight at the Fist, and the survivors retreat to Craster's Keep.[7][9] Jeor and Craster are slain during the mutiny at Craster's Keep, however.[24] Of three hundred men sent on the great ranging, only fourteen survive and return to the Wall.[84]

Jon escapes the wildling raiding party and informs the small number of brothers at Castle Black of Mance's plan to attack the Wall.[84] Jon and Donal Noye defend against the attack on Castle Black by Styr's Thenns,[30] while Bowen Marsh commands in a fight at the Bridge of Skulls.[14] The Watch and Stannis Baratheon join forces to defeat the wildlings in the battle beneath the Wall.[10]

When the Watch chooses a new lord commander to replace the late Jeor Mormont, a total of 588 votes are cast, indicating that after the losses during the great ranging and the defense of the Wall, the Watch numbers less than six hundred men.[14] Jon Snow is chosen after several rounds of voting.[85]

A Feast for Crows

Jon sends Maester Aemon to Oldtown to protect him from Melisandre, and the lord commander instructs Sam to learn at the Citadel.[25] Jon names Dareon a wandering crow to replace the missing Yoren.[68] Dareon deserts in Braavos, however, and is murdered by Arya Stark.[39]

A Dance with Dragons

Jon Snow, Tormund, and the men of the Nights Watch, by Donato Giancola ©

There are plans to re-garrison the Nightfort and many of the other castles. The question of who will be responsible for the remanned castles is a point of tension between Jon and King Stannis Baratheon.[86] Jon beheads Janos Slynt for insubordination.[87]

Many of the brothers are disconcerted by Jon allowing wildlings like Tormund to pass through the Wall and garrison the empty castles.[88][89][90][91] Jon arranges the marriage of Alys Karstark to Sigorn of the Thenns.[8] The lord commander sends Cotter Pyke on a dangerous mission to rescue wildlings at Hardhome.[92] Jon asks for volunteers to march on Winterfell after receiving a threatening letter from Ramsay Bolton, but the lord commander is then stabbed by brothers in a mutiny at Castle Black.[26]

Notable Members

Recent Lords Commander

See also: Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
  • Lord Jeor Mormont, 997th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, known as "the Old Bear." Towards the end of his tenure, he becomes increasingly worried as more rangers are lost beyond the Wall, including First Ranger Benjen Stark. Also, there are more reports coming in of wildlings either fleeing south or gathering in large numbers to escape or meet some threat. After an attempt to investigate in force, most of the brothers who go with him are killed at the fight at the Fist. Following this staggering loss, Jeor is murdered by his own rangers during the mutiny at Craster's Keep.
  • Lord Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

Past Lords Commander


See also: Members of the Night's Watch, for a complete list
A hunter in the haunted forest, by Taylor Ingvarsson © Fantasy Flight Games
  • Benjen Stark, First Ranger and younger brother to Lord Eddard Stark. Missing beyond the Wall and thought dead.
  • Blane, a senior ranger of common blood, scout and second to Qhorin Halfhand. Killed while in command of the Shadow Tower men during the fight at the Fist.
  • Bowen Marsh, Lord Steward of the Night's Watch. Leads a successful but costly defense in the fight at the Bridge of Skulls.
  • Chett, former steward to Maester Aemon until Samwell Tarly is raised to the post. Sent to the pens to take care of the dogs. He conspires to kill Jeor Mormont at the Fist of the First Men, but is slain and turned into a wight.
  • Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
  • Donal Noye, one-armed blacksmith at Castle Black. He was personal blacksmith to House Baratheon and made Robert's warhammer before losing an arm during the siege of Storm's End. He dies killing Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg in the tunnel underneath the Wall during the attack on Castle Black.
  • Eddison Tollett, a steward, called "Dolorous Edd" for his sarcastic and black humor.
  • Jarmen Buckwell, a senior ranger. Survives the fight at the Fist and retreats back to Castle Black.[84]
  • Ser Denys Mallister, commander at the Shadow Tower.
  • Janos Slynt, former commander of the City Watch of King's Landing, later Lord of Harrenhal, and finally a brother of the Night's Watch. A political lackey of House Lannister, he is exiled to the Wall by Tyrion Lannister, who wants to rid King's Landing of corruption and himself of Lord Slynt. Tyrion's father, Lord Tywin Lannister, later tries to make Janos a tool of House Lannister in the Watch, and nearly turns the election for a new lord commander in Janos's favor. After Jon Snow's election to the post, Janos's continued insubordination leads Jon to behead him.
  • Maester Aemon, maester of Castle Black and one of the last Targaryens. Dies of old age at sea with Samwell Tarly.
  • Ser Mallador Locke, knight and ranger. Killed during the fight at the Fist.
  • Othell Yarwyck, First Builder of the Night's Watch.
  • Qhorin Halfhand, second-in-command at the Shadow Tower and a ranger of much repute. He allows Jon Snow to kill him so that Jon will be accepted among the wildlings.
  • Thoren Smallwood, acting First Ranger after Benjen Stark's disappearance. Killed by a wight bear during the fight at the Fist.
  • Samwell Tarly, son of renowned battle commander Randyll Tarly. Obese and an admitted coward. Sent by Lord Commander Jon Snow to the Citadel for study.
  • Grenn, a recruit with Jon who is assigned to the rangers.
  • Pypar, more commonly known as Pyp, recruit with Jon, originally with a mummers' troupe.
  • Dareon, a recruit in the same group as Jon and is named a steward sent to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. He was an apprentice singer in the Reach. While in Braavos he deserts but is killed by Arya Stark.
  • Todder, more commonly known as Toad, is a recruit in the same group as Jon, named a ranger.
  • Jeren is a recruit in the same group as Jon Snow and is named a steward. He was the bastard son of a septon.
  • Halder, also known as Stoney, is a recruit in the same group as Jon Snow and is named a builder. Incredibly strong.
  • Albett, also known as Pimple, is a recruit in the same group as Jon Snow and is named a builder.
  • Satin is a recruit of the Night's Watch after Jon. He becomes Jon's steward and squire.
  • Ser Jaremy Rykker, a senior ranger and knight. Killed by a wight at Castle Black.
  • Ser Waymar Royce, novice ranger and knight, slain by an Other.
  • Ser Wynton Stout, an elderly ranger.
  • Small Paul, a simple-minded brother. He is part of a conspiracy to kill Jeor Mormont until the brothers are attacked at the Fist of the First Men. He saves Samwell Tarly, but is slain and returns as a wight.
  • Stonesnake, ranger from the Shadow Tower. Companion to Qhorin Half-Hand and the most accomplished mountain climber in the Watch. Missing and presumed dead after trying to cross the Frostfangs alone and on foot.
  • Ulmer, a grey-bearded outlaw, once part of the Kingswood Brotherhood. Skilled with a bow.
  • Yoren, senior wandering crow. He attempts to smuggle Arya Stark to the north, but is killed at the Gods Eye fighting Lannister men under Amory Lorch who are searching for the outlaw Beric Dondarrion.


Jon Snow, the 998th Lord Commander, by Marc Fishman ©

The Night's Watch is a shadow of what it once was.[95]

On the Wall, a man gets only what he earns.[19]

Any man of the Night’s Watch is welcome here at Winterfell for as long as he wishes to stay.[51]

Robb Stark to Yoren and his Sworn Brothers

The men who formed the Night’s Watch knew that only their courage shielded the realm from the darkness to the north ... We all do our duty, when there is no cost to it. How easy it seems then, to walk the path of honor. Yet soon or late in every man’s life comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose ... It hurts, boy.Oh, yes. Choosing ... it has always hurt. And always will. I know.[18]

I could rise high in the Watch—chief of rangers, likely even Lord Commander ... If I served at Eastwatch, I could command my own ship, and there's fine hunting beyond the Wall. As for women, what wildling woman wouldn't want a prince in her bed? A black cloak can't be turned. I'd be as good as any man ...[17]

—thoughts of Theon Greyjoy

The men of the Night's Watch dressed in black, Ser Denys Mallister reminded me sternly, as if I had forgotten.[13]

The Night's Watch is a pack of thieves, killers, and baseborn churls.[74]

The Night's Watch had nine hundred and ninety-six Lords Commander before Jeor Mormont, most of them men of courage and honor ... but we have had cowards and fools as well, our tyrants and our madmen. We survive because the lords and kings of the Seven Kingdoms know that we pose no threat to them, no matter who should lead us. Our only foes are to the north, and to the north we have the Wall.[30]

This castle's been my home for forty years. You say I'm free to go, but where? I'm too old and too stout to make a hedge knight. But men are always welcome at the Wall.[96]

The Night's Watch needed leaders with the wisdom of Maester Aemon, the learning of Samwell Tarly, the courage of Qhorin Halfhand, the stubborn strength of the Old Bear, the compassion of Donal Noye.[26]

—thoughts of Jon Snow

Behind the Scenes

George R. R. Martin's experiences from a snowstorm while studying at Northwestern University influenced his creation of the Night's Watch and the Wall.[97]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 A Game of Thrones, Prologue.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  5. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Men of the Night's Watch.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 52, Jon VII.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Storm of Swords, Prologue.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 18, Samwell I.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73, Jon X.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 23, Jon III.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Dance with Dragons, Prologue.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon I.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 75, Samwell IV.
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, Tyrion III.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 66, Theon VI.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 60, Jon VIII.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 19, Jon III.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
  21. 21.0 21.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33, Samwell II.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 The World of Ice & Fire, The Wall and Beyond: The Night's Watch.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 40, Bran III.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 30.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55, Jon VII.
  31. 31.0 31.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 26, Jon III.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 56, Bran IV.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  34. A Storm of Swords, Map of Beyond the Wall
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 70, Jon IX.
  36. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 5, Jon I.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 14, Arya IV.
  38. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
  39. 39.0 39.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
  40. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre I.
  41. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 37, Bran V.
  42. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 44, Sansa III.
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 34, Jon IV.
  44. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 5, Arya II.
  45. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell III.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 43, Jon V.
  47. 47.0 47.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 68, Jon VIII.
  48. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 64, Jon VIII.
  49. A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  50. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran III.
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, Bran IV.
  52. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
  53. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: The Coming of the Rhoynar.
  54. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
  56. Fire & Blood, Prince into King - The Ascension of Jaehaerys I.
  57. Fire & Blood, The Year of the Three Brides - 49 AC.
  58. Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
  60. The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
  61. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
  62. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
  63. 63.0 63.1 Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
  64. 64.0 64.1 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
  65. Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
  66. 66.0 66.1 Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
  67. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
  69. 69.0 69.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Wall and Beyond: The Wildlings.
  70. A Game of Thrones RPG and Resource Book, Guardians of Order
  71. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
  72. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
  73. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 76, Jon XI.
  74. 74.0 74.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
  75. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  76. 76.0 76.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
  77. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  78. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 13, Jon II.
  79. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 53, Jon VII.
  80. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6, Sansa I.
  81. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  82. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  83. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 15, Jon II.
  84. 84.0 84.1 84.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
  85. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
  86. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.
  87. 87.0 87.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
  88. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 21, Jon V.
  89. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon VII.
  90. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII.
  91. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
  92. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
  93. The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Stoneborn of Skagos.
  94. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jeor Mormont.
  95. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  96. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.
  97. George R.R. Martin Really Does Know You Want Him To Write Faster, October 19, 2019

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