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Whilst doing some research into suicides in the series I've come across the following quotes from people on reddit that claim the Wall has suicide nets.

The Night's Watch has a long history of suicides, they even had "suicide nets" on the Wall at one point to stop people from jumping to their death
(Spoilers All) Have there been any suicides in ASOIAF?

I seem to recall that the 581st Lord Commander had installed "suicide nets" on both sides of the wall, for the whole length of it. It is speculated that as the NW's manpower dwindled (some centuries before the books' events) the nets fell into disrepair because of a reduced builders' corps.
I could be mistaken though...
(Spoilers All) Suicide in the Nights Watch?

I believe the above quotes have come from the books (/r/asoiaf sub reddit) so answers from the books are preferred but in the case of lack of information show answers are fine.

I've had a look around but I can't seem to find any references for this. Does anyone know if the Wall has suicide nets?

  • 1
    Just to add to the answers, a quick scan of ASearchOfIceAndFire reveals no mention of nets on the Wall (the only mention of a significant net WRT the Night's Watch is when Meera catches Sam in her fighting net - unless they don't use the word 'net' of course) and no mention of the 581st (or "five hundred and eighty first", or any five hundred and something) LC of the Watch. – delinear Jan 11 '18 at 13:02
  • 1
    @delinear Thanks for pointing this out, I had already done the searches like that and turned up nothing so it's good to note a second set of eyes couldn't either. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 11 '18 at 13:04
  • No problem! I guess also worth mentioning that the search covers the book series and novellas and the World Book, but it doesn't cover, e.g. the director commentaries/history shorts related to the TV show or materials in games (digital, board or RPG, albeit I'm not sure if game materials are even considered canon). – delinear Jan 11 '18 at 13:11
  • @delinear How is canon determined for the works set in the world of ASOIAF? As for commentaries or what not there aren't to many for show but westeros has a So Spake Martin section and some other useful material but I was unable to turn anything up there. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 11 '18 at 13:13
13

A Song of Ice and Fire

I have tweeted Elio and Linda, the co-authors of The World of Ice and Fire, and they have stated no nets.

Tweet

@westerosorg Hello! I've found some people claiming that the 581st Lord Commander installed suicide nets on the Wall, though I haven't found any sources backing this up. Do you know if this is the case and if so was it the result of the 581st LC?
@westerosorg It seems I've found the answer to this (they don't) but I'd still appreciate some feedback if I'm wrong in my assessment. Thanks :)
You are quite right. That person claiming the 581st Lord Commander had them installed must have been very confused or was trolling.
Twitter, westerosorg

However, with that said two canon/semi-canon images I have found of the Wall show no signs of nets. The first one if from the 2011 ASOIAF calander and the second is from The World of Ice and Fire. Both of these images show no nets.

The Wall at Castle Black The Wall

I have found the following quote which would appear to imply there are no nets as the rangers have found fallen corpses.

The Others take them all, thought Jon, as he watched them scramble up the steep slope of the ridge and vanish beneath the trees. It would not be the first time wildlings had scaled the Wall, not even the hundred and first. The patrols stumbled on climbers two or three times a year, and rangers sometimes came on the broken corpses of those who had fallen.
A Storm of Swords, Jon IV

The following quotes also seem to imply there's nothing to stop you from falling to your death.

Donal Noye rounded on him. "Any man here stays his sword, I'll chuck his puckered arse right off this Wall . . . starting with you, Septon. Archers! Do we have any bloody archers?"
A Storm of Swords, Jon VIII

He would make me Lord of Winterfell. The wind was gusting, and Jon felt so light-headed he was half afraid it would blow him off the Wall. "Your Grace," he said, "you forget. I am a Snow, not a Stark."
A Storm of Swords, Jon XI

Three hundred might not be enough. Jon kept that doubt to himself. It was true that climbers were desperately vulnerable whilst on the ascent. Stones and spears and pots of burning pitch could be rained down on them from above, and all they could do was cling desperately to the ice. Sometimes the Wall itself seemed to shake them off, as a dog might shake off fleas. Jon had seen that for himself, when a sheet of ice cracked beneath Val's lover Jarl, sending him to his death.
A Dance with Dragons, Jon II

Game of Thrones

Again no mention is made of nets on the Wall and we do see several images of it at different locations and perspectives and we never see any nets. There are some more views of the Wall in the show but I think that's enough to prove the point.

South of the Wall
Castle Black, South of the Wall

North of the Wall
Eastwatch, North of the Wall

Climbing the Wall
The team climb the Wall

Eastwatch
Eastwatch, South of the Wall


However, there are several reasons as to why the Wall won't have nets:

  • It's 700 ft high to successfully stop a suicide it would need more than one row of nets and each would be further out than the last
  • Suicide = desertion and desertion is punishable by death (though the watch is undermanned now so there's some leniency e.g. Jon)
  • The Wall is 300 miles long so that's a lot of nets to keep and maintain
  • The watch is severely undermanned and can't even maintain the trees growing near the Wall or all their castles, the nets are secondary compared to this
  • Don't want to protect the wildling climbers

There are also some reasons as to why it would have them:

  • Someone falling off accidentally or regretting the jump but unable to stop it
  • Someone being pushed off
  • They're short on men so someone saved is better than lost
5

It does not. If you look at the scene where (Season 7 Episode 6/7 spoilers)

the resurrected dragon assaults the north wall,

there are no nets that are visible. It may have been true at one point in the history of the north wall but not at the time of the series. This is likely explained by the disrepair. The risk to repair the nets outweighs the benefits of having them and is likely a reason why they are no longer maintained (i.e. more people died trying to repair them then the number of people it saved).

Interestingly, abondoning the night watch is punishable by Death. So even if they were to rescue someone from the net who attempted to leave through suicide, they would be sentenced to death anyways. Which means the Nets are basically pointless.

  • 1
    Do you have images to back this up? Also if possible do you have any information from book canon which I believe is where those quotes came from? Lastly, the Night's Watch is a bit more lenient with deserters now, Jon, so it may not always be the case. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 11 '18 at 9:23
  • they would be sentenced to death anyways - wouldn't there be an investigation first, to check if the jump was voluntary? It's a terribly easy way to get rid of someone who annoys you. . – user68762 Jan 11 '18 at 11:31
  • @Morrigan who attempted to leave through suicide the quote is implying the person had attempted suicide, it's not going into the detail of investigations or how they got them out the net or found them there etc. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 11 '18 at 11:37
  • @TheLethalCarrot what i meant is, i disagree w/ Nets are basically pointless What about accidents and murder? Also, i recall something about people who were rescued in RL (by nets etc.) tell they regretted it the sec they jumped. In this case, as you also wrote, wouldn't the commander of the watch (who always needs people) be forgiving? – user68762 Jan 11 '18 at 11:44
  • @Morrigan I wasn't saying it was pointless and I agree they probably would but my comment was more from the POV of this answer than my opinion. – TheLethalCarrot Jan 11 '18 at 11:48

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