At the end of season 5, Mother's Mercy. Jon Snow is killed by a group of Night's Watch "rebels" or group of Night's Watch that didn't agree with Snow's decision of bringing Wildlings in the Black Castle.

What I do not understand is the reason they killed Snow and their timing as well. If they had an issue with wildlings they shouldn't have lifted the door to let them in as we see in Hardhome, I thought that will be the most important scene of season 5 because for a moment it seemed as if Ser Alliser Thorne is not going to permit Wildlings to enter. But we see Wildlings peacefully enter Black Castle. If they had a grudge against Wildlings they shouldn't have let them enter in the first place. But once they have entered, what is the reason to kill Jon Snow, knowing that he is the Lord Commander and an expert swordsman and considering the fact that they are on brink of war with White Walkers, it doesn't make much sense.

It seems as if Jon Snow's murder was not only because of Wildings but because of Ser Alliser Thorne's grudge with Snow as well. If I missed something kindly explain.

  • 5
    Why do you write the biggest spoiler: Right there in your title?
    – NachoDawg
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 12:12
  • @nachodawg Yeah you are right, should have taken care of that. Sorry. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 14:02
  • At first we need to clarify if his death is permanent.
    – Trollwut
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 12:10
  • 2
    He's dead. The director confirmed at the comic-con panel, "He's deader than dead". The question now is whether or not he comes back.
    – Brobin
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:53
  • The timing was to cause a terrible cliffhanger :)
    – m1gp0z
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 19:02

4 Answers 4


Jon pretty much answers this question himself this very episode while talking to Sam.

[I am] The first Lord Commander in history to sacrifice the lives of sworn brothers to save the lives of wildlings. How's it feel to be friends with the most hated man in Castle Black?

(from this transcript)

It's a case of "last straw". His concessions to the wildlings were already hugely unpopular - and now they'd led to brothers getting killed. Hence "traitor" and the idea that the killers were avenging.

Alliser Thorne in particular is an archetypal authoritarian personality.

It would take a lot for him to break the sacred hierarchy and rebel against the Lord Commander - even someone he hates, like Jon.

When Jon planned the mission to Hardholme, he was angry, hated the idea, but didn't plot or scheme. He said what he believed, with characteristic bluntness:

A.T.: Lord Commander, it is my duty to tell you I believe this mission to be reckless, foolhardy, and an insult to all the brothers who have died fighting the wildlings.

J.S.: As always, thank you for your honesty.

When Jon returned with wildlings and a giant, he still hated what was happening, but he's a man of his word and so he gritted his teeth and opened the gate. At this point his only reason to be angry was that it appeared Jon's "reckless, foolhardy and [insulting]" mission had somehow succeeded - he didn't yet know the result was even worse than it looked.

When he then learns that sworn brothers died horrifically for the sake of Jon's mission, and that valuable irreplaceable equipment was lost, that was the final straw.

He also takes pride in being a very up-front, blunt and honest character. He's a doer, not a schemer - the type to avenge his brothers by looking the man in the eye and telling him why he's killing him as he does it, with witnesses by his side.

He's not the type to plot an elaborate, devious assassination plan. When he makes up his mind to act, he acts, simply and plainly.

  • Isn't Lord Commander "sworn brother" himself? Some of his people died indeed, but it was not his intention. But so called Night's Watch (rebels) killed Snow deliberately. I think you have a point, because the "traitor" sign makes connection with your statements. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 11:21
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    He blames Jon because it happened on the mission he'd warned Jon not to undertake and which he already considered an "insult" to the watch even before he knew brothers would die for it - I've edited in some quotes Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 11:42

Because it's the only way to guarantee his death

If Thorne hadn't opened the gate, Jon would still have options to get back to Castle Black. His options are dangerous, but not impossible.

They could try to climb the wall. Jon has done that before. It's extremely dangerous, but possible.

Or, they could go to one of the other Night's Watch castles, Eastwatch, or the Shadow Tower. It would be a long trek to get there and back. They would have to trek through deep snow and cold, and hope the Others don't find them.

Ser Alliser was a knight in his time before the wall. He knows the best way to make sure someone is dead is to kill him yourself.

  • 1
    If it was personal, why did they say "For the watch". Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 14:05
  • @FaizanRabbani I've now removed that section. It never did make as much sense on the page as it did in my head. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 15:34

One important thing to remember is that the HBO Series included less depth in the portrayal of this scene. The in fifth book (Jon XIII), the rebels' reasonings are explained more clearly:

Ramsay sends a letter to Jon entitled 'Bastard' that says that he has defeated Stannis (which we do not know if it is true or not, unlike the show). This enrages Jon, and he decides that he wants to march against the Boltons. Even though he is Lord Commander, he cannot command his Brothers to march with him, but he asks them to join him only if they wish. But, for a Sworn Brother to do as such is against his oaths. This causes discontent within the Wall, and then Jon is killed.

It seems that Jon's decision to march was perceived as more treasonous than his attempt to help the Wildlings. It also gave Alliser's band justification in

killing Jon

(because he was breaking his vows and would therefore be punishable by execution anyway.)

Although Jon is arguably not in violation of his vows in the series, this clearly shows the levels of betrayal of which Alliser perceives himself to be the victim.

Credit to @Shevliaskovic for providing the above book reference in this question.


Other answers have already explianed why Ser Allisor got support with Night's Watch in killing Jon Snow. I will like to try to cover more of what the OP has asked, why he was killed at night instead of not allowing to enter. Some of the Night's Watch's brothers are still loyal to Jon, so there was a chance that they rebel against Allisor at that time. Or some may help him in entering at a later point of time.

Even a large crown can change loyalaty to seeing that brothers of Night's Watch are not being allowed to enter. However, killing at night makes sure that no man stops them. And very few people are involved who are loyal to Allisor already or have a grudge with Jon or the Wildings.

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