Ilyn Payne

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House Payne.svg Ser
Ilyn Payne
House Payne.svg
Ilyn Payne by amoka.jpg
Ilyn Payne, by Amok

Culture Westermen
Born Westerlands[1]

Played by Wilko Johnson
TV series Game of Thrones:
Season 1 | 2

Ilyn Payne is a knight from House Payne. He serves as the King's Justice, the royal headsman, for King Robert I Baratheon. Ilyn is a cousin to Podrick Payne.[2][3] In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Wilko Johnson.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Ilyn Payne

Ilyn is a grim man, tall and thin, with a beardless, pockmarked face.[4][5] He is taller than the Valyrian steel greatsword Ice, which is six feet long.[6] Ilyn has a deep set of pale, colorless eyes and hollow cheeks.[4] He is almost completely bald, but the few wisps of hair he has are "as long as a woman's".[4] Since he is tongueless, Ilyn can only voice a choking rattle[7] and a clacking laugh.[8][9] He often stares at people with his hollow eyes,[8] which can be unnerving.[10][9] Due to his appearance as well as his silence, many people find him terrifying,[4] a suitable trait for the King's Justice.[8]

Ser Ilyn wears old and rusted chainmail, iron grey, over boiled leather.[4][8] A large two-handed greatsword with a stained leather hilt is strapped over his right shoulder to a scabbard on his back.[4] He wears cracked leather boots, and his horse and battered shield do not display the arms of House Payne.[8] While Ilyn keeps the steel of his weapons immaculate, his armor and chambers within the Red Keep's dungeon are poorly kept.[8]

Ilyn is a skilled executioner; he has never botched an execution and seldom requires more than a single stroke to finish off his charges.[8] Since he cannot speak, nor read or write, Ilyn delegates to underlings, such as Rennifer Longwaters.[11][8] Ser Jaime Lannister thinks that Ilyn lives for nothing but killing.[8]


Ser Ilyn was the captain of the guard for Lord Tywin Lannister when Tywin served as Hand of the King for King Aerys II Targaryen. Ilyn was overheard saying it was Tywin who truly ruled the Seven Kingdoms, rather than Aerys, so the king had Ilyn's tongue torn out with hot pincers for the comment.[4][12][8]

After Robert's Rebellion against House Targaryen, Ilyn was named as the King's Justice by King Robert I Baratheon as a wedding present for Tywin. This was a sinecure to compensate Ilyn for the tongue he lost in the service of House Lannister.[8]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

The execution of Eddard Stark, by Magali Villeneuve ©

Ser Ilyn Payne is among the members of the king's court who come north to near the Trident, to escort King Robert I Baratheon back to King's Landing after his trip to Winterfell. Sansa Stark is terrified of Ilyn upon seeing him. The girl apologizes for having possibly offended Ilyn, but the knight turns away without responding.[4]

After Prince Joffrey Baratheon is attacked by Nymeria, Robert agrees with Queen Cersei Lannister that Sansa's direwolf, Lady, can be executed at Darry. The king expects Ilyn to kill the beast, but Sansa's father, Lord Eddard Stark, says he will do it himself with Ice, his Valyrian steel sword.[13]

Eddard sits the Iron Throne as Hand of the King while Robert goes hunting in the kingswood. Instead of sending Ilyn to hunt down Ser Gregor Clegane for his raids against the riverlands, Ned grants command to Lord Beric Dondarrion, as Houses Clegane and Payne are both sworn to House Lannister. According to Lord Varys, Ilyn did not look pleased at Lord Stark's decision.[14]

When Eddard is arrested by the Lannisters after Robert's death, Ilyn takes the ancestral Valyrian steel greatsword of House Stark, Ice, for his own.[5] Lord Stark publicly confesses to treason at the Great Sept of Baelor. It is expected he will be allowed to join the Night's Watch, but King Joffrey I instead shocks the attendees by ordering Ilyn to bring him Ned's head. Janos Slynt and his gold cloaks aid Ilyn with the execution. Yoren prevents Arya Stark from watching Ilyn behead Ned with his own sword, Ice,[5] although Sansa is forced to watch.[15]

A captive at the Red Keep, Sansa has a nightmare of Ilyn.[15] While holding court, King Joffrey has Ilyn chop off the hand of a thief.[15]

A Clash of Kings

The red comet reminds Arya Stark of her father's blood on Ice.[16] Ilyn's execution of Eddard Stark awards him a place on Arya's list.[17]

Queen Cersei Lannister tells her brother Tyrion, the acting Hand of the King, that she did not approve of Lord Stark's execution, which has outraged the Faith of the Seven.[18] Tyrion discusses Joffrey's order with Varys.[19]

Tyrion sends Eddard's bones to Robb Stark, King in the North, but refuses to return Ice to House Stark until peace is made.[20]

During the Battle of the Blackwater, Cersei has Ilyn remain with her in the Queen's Ballroom of Maegor's Holdfast, in the Red Keep.[21] When Osfryd Kettleblack informs the queen that a groom and two maidservants were caught trying to flee the Red Keep with three of the king's horses, she has Ilyn execute them and place their heads on pike outside the stables. Sansa sees blood drying on Ice after Ilyn kills the three condemned servants. Cersei reveals that the true reason for Ilyn's presence is to have him kill Sansa and herself if Stannis Baratheon is victorious in the battle.[7] The armies of Lords Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell arrive and force Stannis to retreat, however.[22]

When the turncloaks and hostages are presented in the throne room after the battle, a defiant bastard of House Florent hails Stannis as the true king and denounces Joffrey as a monster and abomination born of incest. Joffrey has Ilyn take the man out for beheading.[23]

A Storm of Swords

Ilyn, by Mark Evans © Fantasy Flight Games

Sansa Stark has a nightmare of marrying King Joffrey I Baratheon and having him turn into Ilyn on their wedding night.[24]

Lord Tywin Lannister takes Ice from Ilyn so that Tobho Mott can create two new swords from the Valyrian steel, one a gift for King Joffrey and the other for his son, Ser Jaime Lannister.[25] Tywin gives Ilyn a new blade,[26] a silver greatsword six feet long and bright with runes. The pommel is a chunk of dragonglass carved in the shape of a grinning skull with ruby eyes.[6]

Ilyn is present at the wedding feast after Joffrey weds Margaery Tyrell. Joffrey asks Ilyn for his sword so he and Margaery can cut the huge dove pie. The king chokes to death during the feast,[6] a victim of the strangler.[27] The boy's mother, Queen Cersei Lannister, accuses her brother Tyrion of murder.[6]

Tyrion demands trial by combat, but he is condemned to death after his champion, Oberyn Martell, is killed by Ser Gregor Clegane.[28] The Mountain has poisoned by Oberyn, however, and Tywin insists that Grand Maester Pycelle heal him. Since Gregor had publicly admitted to having killed Elia Martell, Tywin wants him to be executed by Ilyn to appease House Martell.[26]

Since Jaime's sword hand had been chopped off by Zollo by command of Vargo Hoat,[29] Jaime tries to train with his left hand. Ser Addam Marbrand defeats him easily in a sparring session, so Jaime considers instead practicing with the mute Ilyn.[26] Jaime and Varys help Tyrion escape the black cells before his execution, and Tyrion murders Tywin before disappearing.[30]

Sansa continues to dream of Ilyn after being taken from King's Landing to the Eyrie by Petyr Baelish.[31]

A Feast for Crows

Jaime Lannister and Ilyn, by Pojypojy ©

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister suggests that Ilyn put the dying Ser Gregor Clegane out of his misery, but Qyburn convinces her to allow him to tend to Gregor instead.[32] Cersei blames Ilyn for Tyrion Lannister's disappearance, as the Red Keep's dungeons fall under the jurisdiction of the King's Justice.[11]

Ser Jaime Lannister, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, demands the services of Ilyn and Ser Addam Marbrand for leading the expedition to pacify the riverlands and resolve the siege of Riverrun.[8] If Lord Beric Dondarrion, leader of the brotherhood without banners, is captured, Jaime intends for him to be publicly executed by Ilyn in King's Landing.[8] When his column stops at Hayford, Jaime chooses Ilyn as his sparring partner because Ilyn cannot talk, read, or write. Ilyn bests Jaime in their session with blunted tourney swords, but Jaime is determined to improve by continuing their sparring each night.[8] At Harrenhal, Jaime has Ilyn execute one of the Mountain's men for having raped Pia; the girl smiles when Ilyn presents the head to her.[33]

While sparring with Ilyn in the godswood of Darry, Jaime admits to having once slept with his sister, Queen Cersei, in the bedchamber of Ser Raymun Darry, after King Robert I Baratheon had passed out drunk.[33] When the two knights spar in a burned village, Jaime slips on mud in the Red Fork.[34]

Ilyn sparring with Jaime Lannister, by Joshua Cairós © Fantasy Flight Games

During Jaime's war council outside Riverrun, Edwyn Frey suggests that Ilyn should behead Clement Piper, Lord of Pinkmaiden, for insubordination. A camp follower by the Tumblestone shrinks away from Ilyn in fear. Jaime has Ilyn cut down Edmure Tully from the gallows upon which he has oft been threatened by Ser Ryman Frey. When Ryman objects, Jaime threatens him with Ilyn and dismisses Ryman from the siege.[35]

Edmure surrenders the castle to the new Lord of Riverrun, Emmon Frey, although Ser Brynden Tully is able to escape. Ilyn and Jaime remain at Riverrun after Forley Prester departs for the westerlands with Edmure and the Westerlings and the Freys return to the Twins. The two knights regularly drink wine after their nightly sparring, and Jaime tells the mute Ilyn further details about his incestuous relationship with Cersei.[9]

A Dance with Dragons

Ilyn is described as being lately the King's Justice and headsman.[36]

Ser Jaime Lannister resolves the siege of Raventree[37] and then disappears with a woman in the riverlands;[38] Ilyn's location is not mentioned.


Wilko Johnson as Ilyn in Game of Thrones

Oft-times Ser Ilyn frightens me as well, sweet lady. He has a fearsome aspect.[4]

Renly: Ser Ilyn has not been feeling talkative these past fourteen years.

Joffrey: Aerys Targaryen had his tongue ripped out with hot pincers.

Cersei: He speaks most eloquently with his sword, however, and his devotion to our realm is unquestioned.[4]

Jeyne: Ser Ilyn's the King's Justice, not Ser Loras. Lord Eddard should have sent him.
Sansa: Ser Ilyn's almost like a second monster. I'm glad Father didn't pick him.[39]

Lords and knights moved aside as he stepped through, tall and fleshless, a skeleton in iron mail, the King's Justice.[5]

—thoughts of Arya Stark

Sansa: Why is Ser Ilyn here?
Cersei: To deal with treason, and to defend us if need be. He was a knight before he was a headsman. When the axes smash down those doors, you may be glad of him.[21]

He had been too young to have known Ser Ilyn before he'd lost his tongue. He would have been a different man in those days, but now the silence is as much a part of him as those hollow eyes, that rusty chainmail shirt, and the greatsword on his back.[6]

—thoughts of Tyrion Lannister

You were a knight once, ser. So was I. Let us see what we are now.[8]

Jaime Lannister to Ilyn

Ser Ilyn made the perfect drinking companion. He never interrupted, never disagreed, never complained or asked for favors or told long pointless stories. All he did was drink and listen.[9]

—thoughts of Jaime Lannister




  1. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Ilyn Payne.
  2. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 59, Sansa IV.
  3. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 60, Sansa VI.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  10. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 32, Sansa III.
  11. 11.0 11.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
  12. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 16, Eddard III.
  14. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 67, Sansa VI.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 1, Arya I.
  17. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 26, Arya VI.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  19. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
  20. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.
  21. 21.0 21.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  22. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
  23. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 16, Sansa II.
  25. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  27. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  29. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 21, Jaime III.
  30. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77, Tyrion XI.
  31. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  32. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  33. 33.0 33.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
  34. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  35. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI.
  36. A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  37. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
  38. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
  39. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 44, Sansa III.
Unknown Captain of the guards
Served under: Tywin Lannister
Next known title holder:
Last known title holder:
Victor Risley
King's Justice
284 AC–present
Served under: Robert I Baratheon
Joffrey I Baratheon
Tommen I Baratheon