In the TV show there is a lack of proper armor; very few people wear helmets. I suppose the reason is, out of universe, so that we can see the faces of the actors.

But what about shields? It's not like they were all wearing full plate armor, so it was predictable that archers would inflict a lot of damage on them. Is there a reason, out or in universe, that explains why Jon Snow's army didn't have any shields in the Battle of the Bastards?

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    It's not only for the battle of bastards, it's the whole tv-show that lack of helmet and shield. I dont see any In-universe answer for that... Take the duel between oberyn and gregor, in the books, oberyn wear a shield and a helmet, not in the tv-show.
    – Kepotx
    Feb 11, 2018 at 22:18
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    Because Kit's face is too gorgeous to hide behind a helmet.
    – Möoz
    Feb 11, 2018 at 22:47
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    also, real armor is useless when you have a proper plot armor
    – Kepotx
    Feb 11, 2018 at 22:54
  • Forget shields and helmets, they don't wear hats in the North!
    – Dima
    Feb 12, 2018 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


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To start off with we already have a question talking about the lack of helmets. The TL;DR of it though is that everyone wears a helmet until they are a main cast member and then they don't anymore so they are more easily recognised on the battlefield.

It's worth noting that the majority of the armies in Westeros do have shields just look at the following examples.

Unsullied Lannister army

Baratheon army Stark army

With that said why didn't Jon's army at the Battle of the Bastards have shields? Well they are mostly made up of wildlings who don't seem to have many shields.We do see some carrying shields but not many. The only few I've seen were in this scene.

Jon enters the wildling encampment

In most of the other scenes we don't see wildlings with shields at all. In the picture of those that are about to climb the Wall one is actually wearing a shield.

The wildlings come south of the Wall The Wall climbers

Karsi at Hardhome Jon with Mance

With all of this together we can deduce that shields are in short supply for the wildlings and so were in short supply for Jon's army. Note that the few shields they may have had could have been lost at Hardhome as they had to rush off.

However, we do see a couple of shields at the Battle of Bastards in Jon's army though we can't quite tell if all of them are on wildlings or Northern forces.

Jon's lineup

Out of universe it appears that the battles we do see, we don't really see any shields. When we see armies with their shields it is usually just seeing them before or after a battle. This is likely because it takes more training for someone to use a shield effectively and it can make it easier to hurt the actors.

  • It's hard to imagine running short of shields - historically, they were usually just wood, sometimes with a thin metal coating on top or leather.
    – Shamshiel
    Feb 12, 2018 at 10:59
  • @Shamshiel Up North, especially beyond the Wall, wood is more importantly used for fire than a shield. Shields take training so I doubt the wildlings would have wanted to use them, especially last minute. They also had little time to prepare so couldn't really make any shields and the North was low on supplies after being engaged in lots of major battles recently.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 12, 2018 at 11:01
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    It's not like there's a shortage, the place is covered in forest. Shields generally take pretty minimal training and were often just thrown to raw recruits without issue. I think this probably a showrunner/GRRM issue that doesn't make much sense.
    – Shamshiel
    Feb 12, 2018 at 11:03
  • @Shamshiel They have shields in the books. There is a shortage because of time, shields have been lost in battles and making them takes time which they didn't have. They do take training to be used effectively especially in a battle where a shields strength mainly comes from a shield wall which also requires training/discipline which the wildlings don't have.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 12, 2018 at 11:09
  • I don't think the Wildlings (or anyone else that I recall) is portrayed using shield wall or other advanced formation tactics anyway. Making a basic shield is actually pretty simple and takes very little time (bind some wood together.)
    – Shamshiel
    Feb 13, 2018 at 11:20

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