Game of Thrones is one of the most unique stories ever told. And it isn't just because of the immense and mysterious world that George R.R. Martin has created, but more due to the way he has shown it to us. While some writers fail to develop a single clear plot, or a single developed character, Martin has given us multiple central characters with their individual stories and goals. Still, there is one central protagonist.
Over the course of the first season, we were originally led to believe that Ned Stark was our main protagonist and would continue to be throughout the series. How could Martin kill off the main character so early in the series? The answer is simple. He was not the main character. Jon Snow, the "Bastard of Winterfell," is the main character.
Of course, this is argued about extensively by diehard fans. Many believe that the main character is actually Daenerys Targaryen or Brandon Stark. They undoubtedly have excellent points but there are obvious signs that Jon is the most important protagonist. He has been the most relevant advocate in the fight against the series' true antagonist, The Night King. The biggest sign is his true heritage: being the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, a living embodiment of Ice and Fire. The series is actually called, A Song of Ice and Fire, after all.
18 He Is A Trueborn Targaryen
Turns out he is actually the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned' s sister, Lyanna. Ned only claimed Jon as his bastard to hide his true identity from Robert Baratheon, who would have had Jon killed. We found out that the Maester in Dorne annulled Rhaegar's marriage to Elia Martell so that he could secretly marry Lyanna, making Jon a trueborn Targaryen.
This reveals that Jon has the rightful claim to the throne, being the son of the crown prince. How will Daenerys react when they all inevitably find out that Jon has a truer claim to rule Westeros, and when they find out that she is in love with her nephew?
17 He's The Only Person To Encounter A White Walker And A Dragon
So far throughout the series, witnesses of myths and legends such as white walkers and dragons have only seen one side of the coin. Until now.
Jon Snow was the first person in possibly the history of Westeros to encounter both of these. Obviously, we have seen him dealing with the threat of the white walkers since he first ventured beyond the wall. Along with Sam Tarly, not only were they the first to go toe to toe with the blue eyed monsters, but they also were the first (in this age) to find out their weaknesses. Jon has now obviously seen the other side of the coin, witnessing Daenerys Targaryen and her three dragons on Dragonstone.
At this point, really nothing is out of the realm of possibilities seeing how he has pretty much seen it all.
16 He's The Only Bastard To Ever Be Proclaimed 'King In The North'
Daenerys Targaryen was not wrong regarding her statement about the history of Westeros. Before Jon, the last true King In The North was King Torrhen Stark, otherwise known as the King Who Knelt.
What makes Jon Snow even more unique than this former king is the fact that he is the only bastard, in the history of Westeros, to ever be proclaimed King In The North. Another aspect that makes him one of a kind is that he never proclaimed himself king either, but was chosen. The irony of this situation is not lost on fans. In the beginning of the series, we see Jon practicing with his sword during a feast for the king because, being a bastard, he was not worthy to be around the lords and king.
If only they realized his true importance to the realm!
15 Robb Stark Made Jon His Heir (In The Books)
Alterations from the books to the TV series have become more and more common as the show has progressed.
One of the biggest things missing from the show is the fact that before his death, Robb Stark legitimizes Jon Snow as a Stark and makes him his heir. He does this not only because he cares for Jon deeply, but also in response to Sansa's marriage to Tyrion Lannister. He understands that if he dies, Sansa will become Lady of Winterfell and the Lannisters will truly hold the seat of the north. Despite objections from his mother who always hated Jon, Robb decrees this in front of all his bannermen before the Red Wedding.
We are unsure if word of this has spread or not. The Winds of Winter will undoubtedly make this clear.
14 Jon Is A Warg (In The Books)
Like his brother Brandon Stark, Jon Snow is a warg.
While Bran is significantly more powerful (he ends up being a greenseer), Jon has shown that he is capable of the ability. Jon starts the books being completely unaware of this power but slowly figures out what he's capable of when he accidentally wargs into the mind of his direwolf, Ghost. He becomes slightly familiar with the process as the story progresses and he begins to warg more often, mostly to spy on the wildlings. One of the freefolk who Jon meets during his time away from the Night's Watch instantly recognizes this power within him. Jon continues to have these wolf dreams during the time that Ghost is roaming beyond the wall.
It's definitely cool that he has this power but it's easy to understand why they left it out of the show.
13 He Met Mance Rayder As A Child (In The Books)
Most fans would be surprised to learn that Jon met Mance Rayder years before he was taken to the Wildling camp.
Before Mance deserted the Night's Watch, he was a ranger who lived at the Shadow Tower. At one point during Jon's childhood, Mance rode south escorting Lord Commander Qorgyle to Winterfell to meet Lord Eddard Stark. The two boys had collected a large mound of snow on top of a gate that they were planning on dumping on a passerby. Mance discovered the boys in their scheme and promised not to tell anyone.
While he's dead in the TV series, Mance is alive and being held prisoner in Winterfell by Ramsay Bolton.
12 He Was The First (In The Current Age) To Discover Valyrian Steel Destroys White Walkers
While the entirety of Game of Thrones is spectacular, there are a few standout episodes that are suspenseful enough to keep us on the edge of our seats all the way through.
"Hardhome" from season 5 is a prime example, giving us our first glimpse at what the White Walkers are capable of. Despite its brutality and massive death count, our heroes walk away with some extremely valuable information that will help them later on. We see Jon scrambling to survive his first one on one encounter with a White Walker, and in the process he finds out that Valyrian steel has the same effect on the dead as dragon glass.
In a scene that ramps up our anxiety to full gear, just when we think Jon Snow has met his end, he raises Longclaw and successfully wards off the blue eyed monster.
11 His Sigil Is The Same As The Starks But With Inverted Colors
Being a bastard in Westeros comes with a certain set of expectations from every region of the continent.
Some areas are a lot more lenient towards these 'guidelines' while others follow them strictly. Part of the expectations that come with being a bastard of a great house pertains to that house's coat of arms. While bastards may use the same sigil as the house they descend from, it is the law that the colors must be inverted. In the books, Jon Snow's actual sigil is the white wolf. We have yet to see the white wolf sigil in the TV series, but we have heard the northern lords refer to Jon as the 'White Wolf'.
Tradition has seemed to be disregarded with Jon Snow now King In The North without being legitimized, as well as him continuing to use the original sigil of House Stark.
10 He Is Technically A Deserter Of The Night's Watch
As fans, we know more about certain characters than the people in Westeros, sometimes even more than those characters know about themselves.
We all watched Jon being stabbed to death by the Night's Watch brothers. We all understand his justification when he says, "My watch has ended." He gave his life for the watch and by doing so, released him of his vows. However, to all other lords of Westeros who haven't had much experience with the supernatural forces at work in the show, this may come across as a false exaggeration to desert the Night's Watch. By definition, he technically did abandon his post and any northern lord would be obligated to follow the letter of the law and behead him.
However, we know this won't happen to the King In The North.
9 He Was Chosen For Every Leadership Position He Has Held
Jon is such a likable character because he embodies characteristics that we see in all heroes.
He has been scorned as a bastard and had to live with that stigma his entire life. Perhaps this is why he has a never-ending desire to prove that he is a good and honorable person. He doesn't do things for praise or for the glory, but because he knows what's right. Jon doesn't wear all the bad things that have happened to him on his sleeve, All these factors added to him being a natural leader and are why we've seen him voted into leadership positions wherever he has gone.
He has never sought out any position of power he has held and that's just another testament to his selfless character.
8 Jon Sends Mance Rayder To Winterfell To Save Arya (In The Books)
In the book A Dance With Dragons, Jon is surprised to find out that Mance wasn't burned at the stake after all.
Melisandre had disguised a wildling using her magic and that was the man that Jon shot with his bow. Mance, who was using Melisandre's magic to stay disguised, was alive and well. Using the leverage of holding Mance's son hostage (another alteration from the TV series), he orders Mance to go south to Winterfell and rescue Arya, who is there with the Boltons. (Little does Jon know it's actually a lowborn girl posing as Arya)
He ultimately fails in his mission and is captured by Ramsey, who is now holding him in a cage out in the cold.
We wonder if Jon will rescue Mance in The Winds of Winter!
7 Stannis Offered To Make Jon A Stark And Lord Of Winterfell
Jon's true character comes to light in season 5 when he meets Stannis Baratheon.
We see Jon try to save Mance's life, a man he was prepared to kill at the beginning of the season, by attempting to break through his pride and get him to bend the knee to Stannis. Jon's integrity is tested multiple times while Stannis is at Castle Black. First, when Stannis tries to push the line of the neutrality when it comes to the politics of the Seven Kingdoms. Most importantly, Stannis offers to legitimize Jon as a Stark and release him from his Night's Watch vows, as well as make him Lord of Winterfell.
Jon refuses, even though he admits it's the one thing he always wanted more than anything.
6 Jon Was Forced To Join The Night's Watch Against His Will (In The Books)
An interesting aspect of the series that was changed from the books to the show was Jon's motivation in joining the Night's Watch.
In both the show and book he is insistent when talking to his Uncle Benjen about becoming a brother. He thinks it's a way for even a bastard to become something more than a stain on a great house. Benjen is hesitant to immediately take Jon with him to the Wall. In the book, after Ned decides to become the Hand of the King, he realizes he cannot take Jon south with him and Catelyn Stark forbids Jon from remaining at Winterfell with Ned gone.
Jon is then basically forced to join the Night's Watch, and his demeanor towards it changes as he becomes angry about leaving.
5 He's Younger In The Books Than He Is In The Show
The first book of A Song of Ice and Fire starts 14 years after the events of Robert's Rebellion.
This would make both Jon and Daenerys 14 years old, as they were both born at the end of the war. However, when the show was being created the producers realized that the TV series would span out over the course of many years, and the actors themselves would quickly grow out of their characters age. The producers then decided to add a few years to many of the younger characters' ages. In the TV series, they changed the timeline to begin seventeen years after the war, instead of 14.
Even at the young age of 22, Jon and Daenerys have experienced more than any of the older characters left in the show.
4 He Was The Second Youngest Lord Commander
Many people think that Jon was the youngest Lord Commander to ever be chosen.
While he was elected at the age of 20 (17 in the books), you might be surprised to find out he was actually the second youngest, not the first. The youngest Lord Commander chosen also shared the Stark blood, Osric Stark, who was only 10 when he took the position. His command might also be one of the longest, as he served as Lord Commander for over 60 years. Jon Snow's command was much smaller than that. Less than two years into his time he faced a mutiny over his decision to let the Wildlings move south, and was stabbed to death by his own men.
All fans of the show remember how this turned out!
3 He Doesn't Want To Ever Father A Bastard
Jon Snow hated the stigma that came with being a bastard of a great house of Westeros.
He felt that it was unfair to his true nature and that he was treated as a lesser because of something that was beyond his control. We remember Benjen Stark's warning to Jon about the potential family he could be giving up by joining the Night's Watch, to which Jon replies that he doesn't care. He says it again later on in the show - he would never want to have a child that is a bastard, only because he wouldn't want them to live with the same stigma and shame that he did.
We wonder how Jon will react that he is not a bastard after all but a trueborn!
2 He Almost Died As A Baby
One of the most interesting theories about the cause of the misfortunes of the Stark family throughout the course of the show actually comes from within the show itself.
Catelyn Stark has her own theory, which involves blaming herself for all the problems they have faced. In season 3 episode 2, "Dark Wings, Dark Words" we hear Catelyn Stark tell her daughter-in-law, Talisa Stark, about the long night she faced when Jon Snow got the pox as a baby. After begging for his death, she realized what she had done and prayed that if the Gods let him live, she would love him as her own and ask for him to be made a true Stark.
She reveals that she couldn't live up to her promise and that is why her family now faces such horrors, because of her.
1 His Fate In The Books Is Still Uncertain
The last time we see Jon Snow in A Dance With Dragons is similar to the last time we see him in the season 5 finale "Mother's Mercy", where Jon is betrayed and stabbed to death by the Night's Watch.
Fans of the TV series were shell shocked by this gruesome death and the wait for season 6 was definitely a long one because of it. While we know exactly how the events occur afterward in the show, his fate has yet to be revealed in the books, which tend to be sometimes radically different than the show. No set release date for the next installment of the books, The Winds of Winter, has been revealed.
Will Jon Snow be resurrected in the books like he was on the show? We'll have to wait to find out!