In the final episode of Game of Thrones, a pivoting moment resides in

A gathering where all greatest remaining Lords & Ladies of Westeros are presented Tyrion and Jon Snow by Grey Worm, in order for them to be judged.

I don't understand how the Council made up by the remaining Lords & Ladies was so merciful with Tyrion and so harsh for Jon Snow.

First, it seems that Grey Worm and the Unsullied (which for some reason have not executed the two prisoners the moment they found out they successfully conspired to kill their queen, and waited for a trial gathering Lords of the kingdom to be assembled) hold a lot of authority on the prospects of the prisoners, and almost hold as hostages the Lords & Ladies.

However, as the scene unfolds, it seems they decide to fall in with the Council's authority on its own lands.

As such, they accept to see Tyrion go from allegedly sentenced to death for treason to choosing the future of Westeros and becoming the Hand of the new king, as it's what the new king and the rest of the Council wants.

However, Jon Snow is most severely punished by a life-long exile in the Night's Watch (taking the black being often represented in the series as an ultimate choice with death). But most of the Lords & Ladies at the table are in fact on Jon's side, or, if not exactly, are at least expected to have been horrified by Daenerys's slaughter and wishful for her cruel reign to end. In fact, we're very much in the same situation as with the Mad King prior to Robert's Rebellion. When Jaime Lannister killed this king, judged by most as a tyrant, he was pardoned by the new king and remained a King's Guard knight.

At the gathering, except for Grey Worm which seems to respect the Council's decisions, only Yara Greyjoy seems to be unhappy about Daenarys's death. Though, her opinion is of light importance as, as opposed to a lot of others present in the Council and particularly Jon's allies, she has played a very little role in the Long Night and the attack against Cersei.

How come Jon was punished for killing a queen almost everybody judged as a tyran deserving to die, and not honoured for having accomplished the only move leading to potential peace in Westeros?
All the more so when the two persons that can truly decide his fate – the King and his Hand – are his brother and the man that convinced him to kill the queen to save the Realm?

Finally, as discussed in comments for this question, Jon is at this moment the true heir to the throne, and an important part of the Council is aware of it. In fact, the plot insists heavily on that Daenerys decided to reign by fear because she was afraid that the people of Westeros would turn to Jon, who they like better and who has a better claim to the throne. But when she is ruled out, this much advertised turn of events strangely doesn't take place.

Edit: I don't believe it's a duplicate of this question, as my question asks why the judgement for Jon is so harsh, while the other one asks why Tyrion judgement ends up freeing him. Those are two different characters, and I can't see the answer to the other question that would apply to this one.

  • 17
    Option 1: Force Jon to be King of the 7 Kingdoms and spend the rest of his life in Kings Landing dealing with BS politics. Option 2: Force Jon to spend his days living free at or beyond the Wall with few responsibilities, travelling with his friend Tormund and his dire wolf Ghost. Are you suggesting that option 2 is the greater punishment for Jon? Do you think Jon would have preferred option 1?
    – krb
    May 20, 2019 at 20:10
  • 2
    I think Jon would have preferred to be a free man to which the kingdom is thankful instead of an exiled criminal. He could also have declined the title of King and put it to vote by the Council (as we're shown the official line of succession can be bypassed, as nobody proposed to look for the true heir according to it) and remained a powerful Lord. I don't think Jon ever expressed his will to come back North of the Wall after his first death.
    – Mysterry
    May 20, 2019 at 20:23
  • 10
    Jon can’t decline the kingship, other than by taking the black. As the rightful Targaryen heir he would always be a target for plotters and a threat to the king, and I wouldn’t give much for his life expectancy. His practical choices are become king, go back to the Night’s Watch, or die.
    – Mike Scott
    May 20, 2019 at 20:31
  • 3
    @Mysterry I don't think Jon ever expressed his will to come back North of the Wall.. - after defeating the Night King and before heading to King's Landing Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost north saying: I wish I was going with you. He has expressed his wish to go back North of the Wall and in the end when he does so he smiled (a LOT of people missed that smile)
    – slebetman
    May 21, 2019 at 6:45
  • 4
    Tyrion's crime was releasing a prisoner and stepping down as Hand (before Daenerys had the chance to fire him, literally). That's nowhere near as bad a crime as killing the Queen. May 21, 2019 at 10:25

4 Answers 4


It was a compromise.

It is specifically explained by Tyrion:

The Unsullied wanted your head of course. Grey Worm has accepted the justice of the life sentence. Sansa and Arya wanted your freed but they understand our new king needs to make peace. No one is very happy.
Game of Thrones, Season 8 Episode 6, "The Iron Throne"

Grey Worm has a great army (ready to kill right in the middle of King's Landing) and therefore a great power.
That is the main reason why the other lords were not more strict.

But also, the fact that Jon really did betray the queen to whom he swore to be loyal is a great deal for the noble people. They don't have any need to protect Jon.

I would also like to add two more things:

  1. According to Bran, naming Tyrion the Hand of the King is punishment for him as he will serve the people for the rest of his life.

  2. It wasn't the worst thing for Jon. If he remained free in King's Landing he would suffer because he would still be reminded of the terrible events (killing his love and seeing hundreds of people dying by her hand). Also, as a child he always dreamt about becoming part of the Night's Watch, and he can be now (again).

  • 5
    Let us remember Jaime Lannister, who killed a tyrant (a king who liked to see people burned) and was forever shunned as Kingslayer by the very nobles he may have saved. May 21, 2019 at 9:15
  • 2
    @MatthieuM. It is as Tyrion said, the story is the most powerful tool. Just by giving him the name kingslayer he was doomed. Also I think Jamie was not really liked by the commander of the kingsguard nor by the winning parties of the war (Baratheon/Stark). While Jon was very popular and noone really thought he did it for himself, while Jaime was considered to be selfish.
    – Kami Kaze
    May 21, 2019 at 9:44

Was it harsh, though?

Jon was held prisoner by the Unsullied, and they did not want him to live at all. Anything short of dead is not harsh for regicide, even by modern standards.

Jon didn't want to rule. He said that so many times I thought he was going to end up ruling mostly just to shut him up about it. So, saving his life, letting him off the king-hook, and sending him north to the Wall where he actually liked being hardly seems like a harsh punishment to me.

As to the "true heir" thing, as far as I can tell, it was only Tyrion, Arya, Bran, Sansa, and Sam at the council who knew (I don't honestly remember if Davos knew). Which of them would have benefited more from Jon ruling than from Bran? They all ended up with what they wanted, so why would they reveal his secret?

  • You are forgetting that Varys was busily sending messages to people telling them about Jon Snow's true heritage. We don't know who he told, but at least a good number of the lords at the council are likely to be on the list of people that Varys had told, or would be telling.
    – Makyen
    May 21, 2019 at 6:30
  • See scifi.stackexchange.com/q/212923/21871 rather than using answer comments for this.
    – JdeBP
    May 21, 2019 at 7:21
  • @Makyen He never sent the message, he burnt it before he was executed.
    – Kami Kaze
    May 21, 2019 at 9:45
  • And that's scifi.stackexchange.com/q/212870/21871 .
    – JdeBP
    May 21, 2019 at 11:46
  • @KamiKaze There were multiple messages shown in the first sceen, not just the one that was burned prior to his arrest. This Q&A gives a reasonable summary of what we saw and ultimately that we don't know if any of the messages were delivered.
    – Makyen
    May 21, 2019 at 15:35

It's a punishment in name only, but it allows everyone to say he was punished. In reality, once Jon crosses the border of the North, he is out of the Six Kingdoms and under the control of Queen Sansa. She can pardon him and release him from his oath if she wants.

There is no more Night Watch. There is no more purpose for the Night Watch. Jon knows that. Everybody knows that. Perhaps Grey Worm doesn't, but he's not interested in going up there to check. So Jon gets to the wall and simply passes through it, presumably to live with the Wildings for the rest of his days. Maybe even as their King, but I doubt that.

  • 1
    There wasn't really anything to suggest that the Night's Watch has been disbanded. Rather, the very fact that everyone agreed that Jon would take the black indicates quite the opposite. In the final episode, Tyrion specifically says "The world will always need a home for bastards and broken men," after Jon asks if there is still a Night's Watch. The second half of this answer is incorrect. May 21, 2019 at 15:31
  • "There is no more purpose for the Night Watch." Sure there is. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_military_unit
    – ceejayoz
    May 21, 2019 at 15:34
  • @NuclearWang The Night Watch may not have been disbanded, but there are no surviving members. Furthermore, the mission of the Night Watch is no longer relevant, so unless they are given a new mission, there is no purpose for the Night Watch.
    – Mohair
    May 21, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    @Mohair Your supposition that every member of the Night Watch is dead is based on what, exactly? We've seen a high body count for pretty much every military force (Unsullied, Dothraki, Northmen, etc.) but none of them have been eradicated entirely, so I don't see why the Night Watch would be any different. All the named characters in the Night Watch died, but that's a tiny fraction of the whole group. May 21, 2019 at 15:59
  • @NuclearWang It's based on watching the show. They often talked about how numbers were dwindling, and how only three of 19 castles on the wall were manned. There were only about a dozen left, by their own count, when Jon ordered them to abandon the wall. That Wildlings appeared to be in control of Castle Black when Jon arrived at the end implies that there are no NW members to man it. No commander or subordinate met Jon when he arrived, which implies that neither exists. If the NW can't man their primary castle, then it's safe to say the NW no longer exists.
    – Mohair
    May 21, 2019 at 16:23

Knowing that Jon has Targaryen blood is actually a strong reason to send him to the Night's Watch. Jon and his children (if he had any) could be pretenders to the throne. Even if Jon doesn't want it, if he settled down and had kids then it could pop up generations later. It could even cause problems if his bloodline doesn't want the throne but someone else decides to campaign on their behalf. This has been a cause of real world wars where conflict kept popping up in subsequent generations (e.g. Bonnie Prince Charlie). Sending him to the NW involves him promising not to have any children. They emphasize this by repeating the NW vows (take no wife, hold no lands, father no children).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.