Portrayed by: Kit Harington
Show: HBO’s Game of Thrones
He knows things. He actually knows a lot of things. Jon Snow is the one noble Game of Thrones character I’m almost positive many viewers could agree on. He’s one of the good ones—the pure ones. Like Brienne of Tarth, Jon served as an ultimate symbol of hope while everyone else fell into the trenches of uncertainties. Behind the kind, ruminating eyes was a man who’d seen too much not to care, and in a world where the Iron Throne was all that mattered, for Jon Snow, it was the people—it was honor, dignity, and love.
There weren’t many people in George R. R. Martin’s world that’d be steadfast to their word the way Jon Snow was. His innate kindness, sincerity, and astounding bravery not only made him worthy of a King’s title, but he stood as an inspiration of the fact that light in darkness and goodness amongst cruelty can be the most unexpected form of strength.
In this universe, there weren’t many male characters with the level of compassion that ran in Jon’s veins. Because Jon’s kindness wasn’t similar to what we’d often seen on Game of Thrones, we could understand that it came from a place of profound loss. Where there was kindness in the form of a man who so desperately needed to release it, the type of game he managed to play was unlike anything else. In the world of ice and fire, you either play the game as hard as you can or you lose. And Jon Snow lost too much. Westeros was never the place for the soft at heart, but they were the ones to survive it all.
Throughout Game of Thrones’ run, Jon admirably grew while building thicker skin and toughening up while keeping the gentleness at bay. Physically and emotionally, his tender spirit only ever expanded towards the people deserving of it—those who didn’t receive it enough. It’s in his interactions with his friends, Ygritte, his sisters, and Daenerys and dragons. And perhaps that’s where the uniqueness in his kind heart comes from—plenty of men are kind, but to carry the tarnished innocence Jon does all while remaining warm and gentle is a remarkable combination.
Writer’s Note: This deep dive will not acknowledge the canon events of the series finale.
Jon Snow, The Lone Wolf
Jon Snow was as sincere as they get. When he promised something, he intended to keep it until his final breath. When he said something, he stated it straight from his heart. Jon has seen too much terror in this world to remain as sincere as he has; others would break and crumble, and some would harden to the point of no return, but somewhere along the way, he continued brooding sincerity. He wasn’t merely the boy who found a lone white wolf in the forest in a place of complete isolation after the death of his mother, but somewhere inside of him, that boy still governed his heart despite the horrors they’d seen.
Jon had every right to project fury, but goodness surpassed it all. It never changed, even while he did questionable things. And that was entirely because Jon had chosen to remain loyal to his roots—he’d decided to make a name for himself through nobility. In desperate times, steadfast loyalty is what he held on to, and when need be, he fought harder than anyone else to reflect it.
It requires stating that Jon’s sincerity brought the kind of hope in Ygritte that would’ve otherwise been lost forever. His honesty, even when he knew it could be used against him, stood as the supreme proof that he didn’t care how he was perceived as long as he didn’t mask his genuine emotions. Whatever he is, that’s how the world will see him. And a woman with a fire in her heart needed the kind of gentle truth that’d leave her trusting in something more significant. A woman who was confident that the promises made to her came from a place of unparalleled adoration and sincerity. A woman who knew that at the end of the day, no matter how naive, she’d chosen the kind of man who’d be her absolute strength and anchor if they had more time. A woman who knew that she’d never be more loved than she was in the little time they spent together. And the same can be said for Daenerys, though the final season excluded.
Further, where his siblings were concerned, though he’s always known he’s a bastard, it never stopped him from adoring his siblings. We watched much of his respect for women come centerfold through his belief in Sansa’s capabilities and his unwavering faith in Arya, no matter where she was. Jon was fully aware of how much Sansa had to endure from a young age, and the choice to see her as capable, intelligent, and incredibly strong reflected the kind of morals he lived by. He admired the strength born from adversaries.
While he would always be both a Stark and a Targaryen, where his siblings are concerned, we would always know that he’d see the best in each of them. In the face of mistakes, no part of Jon’s heart towards his loved ones would change; instead, he’d love even harder.
Conclusively, Jon’s courage wasn’t measured by how many battles he won or how many situations he tackled, but rather by the choice to ceaselessly fight with honor. There was immense bravery in his steadfastness, and the choice to continue down the honorable road showcased immeasurable courage through the eyes of a kind man who wasn’t afraid of protecting those he loved. The choice to leave his home when he did to join the Night’s Watch—everything Jon has done has been for the sole reason that he’s needed to feel as though his life served a purpose. He needed to feel as though he was doing everything in his power to be of use to this dark world. And that’s a kind of bravery not many possessed, for when the battle towards the Iron Throne began taking place, more often than not, people stood their ground, broke promises, and changed the course of their objective because of what their opponents were doing. Still, Jon Snow longed for something bigger—to give back.
Jon Snow is no saint, but his innate goodness was unparalleled. For, even when he fought or killed, it was always on the right side of the battleground. And through every episode, Kit Harington spoke a thousand words every time he was on screen. Jon could be quietly sitting in the background, but we knew that his mind was anything but silent. Harington layered the character masterfully in those quiet moments, allowing him to grow more and more with each passing episode. In the hands of another actor, it’s hard to imagine what Jon would be like with the debatable writing. He was, and would always be, one of the best parts of the series.
Despite the horrifying ending, Jon’s kindness would only grow, and his honor would only ever increase. The truth shook him, the darkness at times overwhelmed him, but with an army of loved ones by his side and a tender heart governing his choices, he’d always do great things. If there’s one thing he knew nothing of, it was the inimitable greatness within him—greatness that others thankfully saw, and as the rightful heir to the throne, well … we could’ve had it all.