Brynden Tully

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House Tully.svg Ser
Brynden Tully
the Blackfish
Brynden Tully.svg
Blackfish by Amok©

  • Brynden the Blackfish[1]
  • Brynden Blackfish[1]
  • Blackfish[1]
Culture Rivermen
Born In 243245 AC[2]Riverrun[3]
Father Lord Tully
Personal arms A leaping trout, black, on a field of blue and mud red
(Paly wavy azure and gules, a trout embowed sable)

Played by Clive Russell
TV series Game of Thrones:
Season 3 | 4 | 6

Brynden Tully, also known as Brynden Blackfish,[1][4][5][6] Brynden the Blackfish,[1] or simply the Blackfish,[7][8][9] is a knight from House Tully. He is the younger brother of Hoster Tully, Lord Paramount of the Trident, and the uncle of Lady Catelyn Stark, Lady Lysa Arryn, and Ser Edmure Tully. The Blackfish has served as the Knight of the Gate for House Arryn since Robert's Rebellion. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Clive Russell.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Brynden Tully

Brynden is tall and lean,[4] with a hoarse, smoky voice.[1] He is clean-shaven,[4] and his face is craggy and windburnt, his features lined and weathered.[1] His once-auburn hair has gone to grey.[1] He has bushy eyebrows and laughing eyes of deep blue.[1]

A kind man with the patience to listen,[1] Brynden is also a blunt[1] and stubborn man[9] who does not care what others think.[5] He is a seasoned warrior, a veteran of half a hundred battles,[10] and precise in his movements.[4] He is also a strong swimmer.[11]

As the Knight of the Gate, Brynden wears grey heavy plate armor and helm, but when commanding outriders he trades this for mail and leather.[1][12] Brynden also owns grey ringmail under blackened steel, with a black trout adorning the helm's crest.[13] He rides a grey horse,[1] as well as a chestnut courser decorated in red and blue.[13] Brynden's cloak, in the blue-and-red colors of House Tully, is fastened by a clasp of obsidian and gold in the shape of a black fish,[1][12][13] his only concession to ornament.[14] The banner of his standard-bearer depicts a black fish.[1]


Early Life

Brynden is the brother of Hoster Tully, younger than him by five years.[1] The brothers were close through their childhood.[4] Together with Norbert Vance, Brynden squired for Lord Darry,[13] and was eventually knighted. In 260 AC, Brynden fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings against the Band of Nine on the Stepstones. There, he proved himself a great and worthy knight, and gained fame and renown throughout the Seven Kingdoms.[9]

After their father died, Brynden's older brother Hoster inherited the rule of Riverrun. Hoster sought to betroth Brynden to Bethany Redwyne, but Brynden refused, straining their relationship. While other lords like Lord Bracken and Walder Frey made offers as well, Brynden remained unwed.[15] George R. R. Martin has thus far not shed any light on why Brynden has chosen to remain unwed.[16]

When Catelyn Tully was eight, Hoster called Brynden the "black goat of the Tully flock" during an argument. Brynden pointed out that their sigil was a fish, which made him a black fish instead of a black goat. Brynden took for his personal sigil the Tully emblem, but with a black trout jumping, instead of a silver trout, and he became known as the "Blackfish".[1]

While Brynden's relationship with Hoster was strained, he had a good relationship with Hoster's children, Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure, as well as Hoster's young ward, Petyr Baelish. When Hoster was too busy and Lady Minisa Whent too ill, the children ran to Brynden with their problems and stories.[1] On the night when Catelyn's betrothal to Brandon Stark was announced, Petyr, who had been in love with Catelyn, passed out drunk on a table after Catelyn rejected a kiss from him. In order to prevent Hoster from seeing his young ward like this, Brynden carried Petyr away.[17]

Hoster and Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, considered betrothing Hoster's younger daughter, Lysa, to Tywin's heir, Jaime.[18] As such, Lord Sumner Crakehall sent Jaime, his squire, with a message to Riverrun. Hoster took a fortnight to write his reply, during which he sat Jaime next to Lysa with every meal. Jaime ignored the shy Lysa, however, instead pressing Brynden for stories about the War of the Ninepenny Kings.[9]

Robert's Rebellion

Robert's Rebellion began in 282 AC. Catelyn Tully's betrothed, Brandon Stark, and his father, Lord Rickard Stark, had been killed by King Aerys II Targaryen, so Catelyn was instead betrothed to Brandon's younger brother, Lord Eddard Stark. In order to bind House Tully to the rebel cause, Lord Hoster agreed to wed Lysa to Lord Jon Arryn,[19] The sisters were wed to Eddard and Jon in a double ceremony at Riverrun, but during the wedding feast Brynden informed his brother that he had taken service with Lord Arryn.[1] Considering this to be personal rejection,[3] Hoster disowned Brynden[4] and refused to speak his name for years to follow.[1]

Brynden continued to fight in Robert's Rebellion, further increasing his fame.[3] Following the conclusion of the war and the ascension of King Robert I Baratheon, Brynden went with Lysa to the Vale of Arryn and was named Knight of the Gate, the commander of the Bloody Gate, by Lord Arryn.[3]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Brynden Tully by Nicholas Gregory © Fantasy Flight Games

Brynden serves as Knight of the Gate when his niece, Catelyn Stark, arrives at the Bloody Gate with her captive, Tyrion Lannister.[1] After news arrives of Lannister attacks upon the riverlands, Brynden quarrels with Lady Lysa Arryn over her decision to not send aid to Riverrun. Recognizing his House Tully roots, Brynden resigns his position as Knight of the Gate.[14] He accompanies Catelyn to White Harbor and then Moat Cailin.[7]

Once Brynden meets Catelyn's son, Robb Stark, at Moat Cailin,[7] he quickly becomes a part of Robb's war council and commands one hundred scouts.[12] Brynden's outriders kill a dozen Lannister scouts under command of Ser Addam Marbrand, and Brynden's bowmen shoot ravens which depart the Twins.[12] Brynden learns from a captured outrider that his nephew, Ser Edmure Tully, was defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister in a battle under the walls of Riverrun.[12] After Catelyn negotiates an alliance with Lord Walder Frey, Robb leads most of the northern horsemen west across the Green Fork, while Lord Roose Bolton commands the remaining soldiers east of the river.[12] Brynden leads three hundred men to screen Robb's march,[20] and Theon Greyjoy is one of his picked scouts.[21]

Robb tasks Brynden and three hundred Tully men with drawing Jaime out of his encampment at Riverrun, and the Kingslayer ends up captured in the battle in the Whispering Wood.[20] The Blackfish then leads Robb's van at the Battle of the Camps, which lifts the siege of Riverrun.[22] While still angry about Brynden's refusal to marry Bethany Redwyne so many years ago, a dying Lord Hoster Tully agrees to see Brynden, claiming he is too sick to fight. Catelyn expresses certainty that Brynden will never marry.[15] Brynden is present when Robb is proclaimed King in the North.[15]

A Clash of Kings

Brynden and Hoster reconcile after many years, leaving the past behind them.[4] Brynden realizes that Lord Tywin Lannister is the true danger for Houses Stark and House Tully in the War of the Five Kings, and knows that Tywin wishes them to march on Harrenhal.[4] Brynden accompanies Robb to campaign in the westerlands, with Martyn Rivers taking command of the outriders at Riverrun.[10]

When Maester Vyman informs Catelyn that Hoster will soon die, he suggests sending a rider to Brynden, as Brynden would want to be with his brother when he died.[10]

A Storm of Swords

Ser Brynden by Christine Griffin © Fantasy Flight Games

Brynden returns to Riverrun together with King Robb.[5] He and Robb angrily claim to Edmure that the Battle of the Fords ruined their plan to defeat Tywin in the west, explaining that Brynden's scouts had found a good spot for an ambush along the gold road.[5]

After Lord Rickard Karstark murders Tion Frey and Willem Lannister, Brynden reports that the Karstark fighting men have left Riverrun. The Blackfish is sent out with a hundred men in search of the Karstarks, although expectations are low. Robb executes Rickard at Riverrun.[23]

When Hoster finally dies, he receives a funeral as per the Tully customs. When Lord Edmure fails to hit Hoster's boat with a fire arrow, Brynden offers to make the shot, though is refused. After Edmure fails twice more, he gives the bow to Brynden, who hits the funerary boat with a fire arrow in one attempt.[24] With the Freys having left Robb's service after he wed Jeyne Westerling, Brynden advises Edmure to wed one of Lord Frey's daughters.[24]

Brynden remains at Riverrun when Robb travels north to the Twins to attend the wedding of Edmure to Roslin Frey, in preparation for the plan to retake Moat Cailin from the ironborn. Robb names him Warden of the Southern Marches and tasks him with protecting his queen, Jeyne.[25] Galbart Glover takes command of the outriders in Brynden's place.[25] After the brotherhood without banners express skepticism that Brynden would pay ransom for Arya Stark, a relative he might not know, if they bring her to Riverrun, Arya flees from the outlaw group. She is captured by Sandor Clegane, however.[26]

The Freys and Boltons betray the Starks and Tullys in the Red Wedding, with Robb and Catelyn murdered[27] and Edmure taken captive.[8] Brynden and Edmure are attainted by the Iron Throne, with Riverrun promised to Ser Emmon Frey once the Blackfish surrenders the castle.[8][28] Sandor considers bringing Arya to Riverrun, but the girl thinks her great uncle would consider her a fraud and instead hang the Hound.[29] Lysa states the Vale mountain clans, who have been armed by Tyrion,[30] have become bolder since Brynden resigned as Knight of the Gate.[31]

A Feast for Crows

Blackfish in the Riverlands by Amok © Fantasy Flight Games

Brynden, the castellan of Riverrun,[32] continues to hold the castle in Robb's name, even as other river lords surrender and bend the knee to the Iron Throne. He expels refugees from Riverrun and picks the land clean.[9] Ser Daven Lannister, the new Warden of the West, and Ser Ryman Frey lead the siege of Riverrun,[33][13] but they have difficulty feeding their hosts.[34] When a drunken Ryman demands to speak with Brynden, the Blackfish puts an arrow in Ryman's horse, spilling him into the mud. Brynden is unmoved by Ryman's daily threats to hang his nephew, Edmure. Brynden refuses to give up Riverrun or Robb's widow, Jeyne.[9][13] The queen's father, Lord Gawen Westerling, worries that the Blackfish will kill his family inside the castle if the Freys hang Edmure.[9]

Queen Cersei Lannister sends her brother Jaime, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, to pacify the riverlands and end the siege.[34] Brynden parleys with Jaime, but only as an excuse to hear Jaime's reasons for not returning Catelyn's daughters, Sansa and Arya, and to see Jaime's stump. Jaime tells Brynden that he will be allowed to take the black if he surrenders and mentions that Jon Snow is now Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Brynden recalls Catelyn's distrust of Jon and assumes that the boy's new position was given to him by the Lannisters.[13]

During Jaime's war council, Addam Marbrand offers to climb Riverrun's walls with a small group and open its gates, Edwyn Frey suggests having archers smear their arrows with night soil and target Brynden, and Ser Lyle Crakehall desires single combat with the Blackfish. Lord Norbert Vance offers to negotiate with Brynden, but Lord Clement Piper thinks the Blackfish would refuse to surrender to the Freys.[13] Jaime convinces Edmure, the head of House Tully, to surrender the castle, with the promise that Brynden and the garrison can take the black.[13] However, before Edmure gives the castle up to Jaime, he allows Brynden to escape by swimming under the portcullis that had been slightly raised at the Water Gate.[11] Addam and Ser Dermot of the Rainwood unsuccessfully search south and north of the Red Fork, respectively.[11] Jaime doubles the men with Ser Forley Prester, who is tasked with bringing Edmure and the Westerlings to the westerlands, as he fears the convoy may come under attack by Brynden.[11]

A Dance with Dragons

Brynden has been declared an outlaw.[35] When Jaime resolves the siege of Raventree, he is told by Lords Jonos Bracken and Tytos Blackwood that Brynden has not come to Raventree Hall.[35]

Quotes by Brynden

Brynden Tully the Blackfish by Miguel Regodón Harkness ©

I asked your sister for leave to take a thousand seasoned men and ride for Riverrun with all haste. Do you know what she told me? 'The Vale cannot spare a thousand swords, nor even one, Uncle,' she said. 'You are the Knight of the Gate. Your place is here.' Well, I told her she could bloody well find herself a new Knight of the Gate. Black fish or no, I am still a Tully. I shall leave for Riverrun by evenfall.[14]

—Brynden to Catelyn Stark

Catelyn: He says he is too sick to fight.
Brynden: I am too old a soldier to believe that. Hoster will be chiding me about the Redwyne girl even as we light his funeral pyre, damn his bones.[15]

Catelyn Stark and Brynden

Peace. Peace is sweet, my lady ... but on what terms? It is no good hammering your sword into a plowshare if you must forge it again on the morrow.[15]

—Brynden to Catelyn Stark

Brynden: That thing's not crimson. Nor Tully red, the mud red of the river. That's blood up there, child, smeared across the sky.
Catelyn: Our blood or theirs?
Brynden: Was there ever a war where only one side bled?[4]

—Brynden and Catelyn Stark

My first rule of war, Cat—never give the enemy his wish.[4]

—Brynden to Catelyn Stark

Brynden: I am the last man in the Seven Kingdoms to tell anyone who they must wed, Nephew. Nonetheless, you did say something of making amends for your Battle of the Fords.
Edmure: I had in mind a different sort of amends. Single combat with the Kingslayer. Seven years of penace as a begging brother. Swimming the sunset sea with my legs tied. The Others take you all! Very well, I'll wed the wench. As amends.[24]

—Brynden and Edmure Tully

Jaime: Some might say a cripple and an old man are well matched. Free me from my vow to Lady Catelyn and I will meet you sword to sword. If I win, Riverrun is ours. If you slay me, we'll lift the siege.
Brynden: Much as I would welcome the chance to take that golden sword away from you and cut out your black heart, your promises are worthless. I would gain nothing from your death but the pleasure of killing you, and I will not risk my own life for that ... as small a risk as that may be.[13]

Jaime Lannister and Brynden

Quotes about Brynden

The Blackfish. Thank you for joining us, ser. We need men of your courage.[7]

Robb Stark to Brynden

Ser Brynden Tully was Robb's eyes and ears, the commander of his scouts and outriders.[4]

Catelyn Stark's thoughts

Small chance the Blackfish will pay good coin for a girl he doesn't know. Those Tullys are a sour, suspicious lot, he's like to think we're selling him false goods.[26]

Resolve is one thing Brynden Blackfish never lacked for. Hoster Tully could have told you that.[9]

Tully had a craggy face, deeply lined and windburnt beneath a shock of stiff grey hair, but Jaime could still see the great knight who once enthralled a squire with tales of the Ninepenny Kings.[13]

Jaime Lannister's thoughts


Lord Tully
Two sons[36]
House Stark.svg
House Arryn.svg


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
  2. See the Brynden Tully calculation.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Brynden Tully.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
  6. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn VIII.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  16. So Spake Martin: Brynden Tully's Bachelorhood (March 19, 2002)
  17. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  18. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister.
  19. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 63, Catelyn X.
  21. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 37, Theon III.
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20, Catelyn III.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 35, Catelyn IV.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  26. 26.0 26.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
  27. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  29. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 65, Arya XII.
  30. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
  31. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
  32. A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
  33. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  34. 34.0 34.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
  35. 35.0 35.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
  36. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  37. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
Last known title holder:
Joffrey Arryn
Knight of the Gate
283298 AC
Succeeded by
Preceded by Castellan of Riverrun
299300 AC
Served under: Edmure Tully