How does every faceless man that wears Jaqen's face has the same intentions and memories of the man that wore it previously?

Every Jaqen we saw wanted to help Arya. We know for a fact that when a faceless man wears a face, they also acquire some of the memories of that face's person before they died.

My theory is that the memories acquired while wearing the face, are transfered to the next faceless man that wears the same face. There is Jaqen who is willing to help Arya and then there is Waif who doesn't accept her. If they chose to swap their masks, they would also swap their "minds". But i can think of many problems with this approach.

How does Jaqen keep on having the same intentions while another faceless man wears him?

  • Season 5, last episode if i remember correctly. The faceless man that was wearing Jaqen's face at that time suicided after he told Arya that she took one life she shouldn't have taken and that they should give another one to the faceless god to maintain the balance
    – Mitsosp
    Sep 14, 2017 at 9:22
  • @Paulie_D I think the OP is talking about the scene where Arya became blind (maybe finale of season 5?) after killing meryn trant, and "Jaqen" drink some poison
    – Kepotx
    Sep 14, 2017 at 9:23
  • @Kepotx That's right. That's the scene I'm talking about.
    – Mitsosp
    Sep 14, 2017 at 9:23
  • Not all of them wanted to help her, and that's the problem. Waif didn't want to help her at all.
    – Mitsosp
    Sep 14, 2017 at 9:29
  • But she assumed Jaqen's appearance and spoke as if it was him after the suicide of the other faceless man. He was still wearing her dress.
    – Mitsosp
    Sep 14, 2017 at 9:32

2 Answers 2


Your answer is made up out of many different questions ans assumptions. I'll try to address all of them individually.

Every Jaqen we saw wanted to help Arya.

That's not true. No Jaqen has ever seemed uncharacteristically helpful to Arya.

  • The first Jaqen, the one who Arya frees and ends up giving her the coin, gave Arya three wishes because she saved three lives. Jaqen even explicitly says that because Arya took three deaths from the god of Death, she must provide three deaths (to make amends with the god of death). Jaqen is not trying to help Arya, he is trying to appease his god.

You could argue that Jaqen could've killed three people himself and did not need Arya to help him. However, he may have noticed that she would be worth recruiting, which incentivizes him to give her a taste of what an assassin's life looks like. And it worked, because Arya was impressed by Jaqen's abilities as an assassin (she had been wanting to learn similar skills, and it shows in her behavior).

  • Jaqen (who first looked like the old black man) took Arya in as a recruit, because she asked to train with them. The Faceless Men need bodies, just like how an army needs soldiers. Of course they are going to take in recruits. This is not a selfless act.
  • Jaqen kills himself in front of Arya, to prove the point that no Faceless Man has an identity. This is part of Arya's training.
  • Jaqen teaches Arya in the ways of the Faceless Men. Again, this is not a selfless act.

If anything, the opposite of your claim is true:

  • Jaqen willingly sends the waif after Arya. Jaqen had already noticed that the waif carried resentment towards Arya. Sending the waif shows that Jaqen was not in any way trying to keep Arya safe.

I think your argument is based solely on the last interaction between Jaqen and Arya:

  • When Arya states that she is Arya Stark of Winterfell, Jaqen gives her a subtle smile and implicitly agrees, allowing her to leave the Faceless Men and resume her life as Arya Stark.

It's never really revealed why Jaqen responds the way he does. It's likely that he simply accepted that Arya would never be a Faceless Man (as she is much too connected to her identity).
If the Faceless Men could force you to lose your identity, then Arya's training would've been pointless, they could've simply made her forget who she was. The only logical explanation for needing to train Arya is that Arya needs to voluntarily let go of her identity.
And if Arya then is shown to stick to her identity, then she is no longer a viable recruit.

Jaqen is not incapable of emotions (evidenced by his somewhat humanlike behavior when Arya meets him in Westeros). He is capable of showing emotions, but as a Faceless Man he chooses to not display them.
His subtle smile at Arya may have been a "leak", where he couldn't hide his approval of Arya's decision. He may already have realized that Arya's destiny is not as a Faceless Man, but Arya herself did not know this until she explicitly restated her identity (thus causing Jaqen to smile, because Arya finally gets it).

How does Jaqen keep on having the same intentions while another faceless man wears him?

This question is built on the assumption that Jaqen's actions are personal, and that they are a kindness towards Arya.

But this is not the case. Jaqen's motivation has always been the Many-Faced God. He is doing the bidding of the order of Faceless Men. His actions are not driven by his personal decisions.

If anything, the whole point of Arya's training is to not let your personality interfere with your service as a Faceless Man. Arya is explicitly forbidden to decide whether she should kill her target or not.
If Jaqen is a skilled Faceless Man (which he is), that proves that his decisions are not made by himself, he is merely executing on the will of the Many-Faced God.

This explains why every Jaqen always behaves the same way: all Jaqens are merely doing what the Many-Faced God tells them to do.

There is Jaqen who is willing to help Arya and then there is Waif who doesn't accept her. If they chose to swap their masks, they would also swap their "minds".

I agree with your facts, but not your conclusion.

If we focus on the lore, the Faceless Men are nothing but empty vessels who do the bidding of the Many-Faced God. This means that all Faceless Men (regardless of the face they wear) must behave in the exact same way.
This is similar to ants. They have no sense of self-preservation, everythnig they do is for the colony, their common ideal. Faceless Men do everything for the Many-Faced God, and therefore share the same ideals.

Thinking about it logically, the TV show could have shown a different face for every single scene where a Faceless Man was shown. This would not have changed the plot in any way, since every Faceless Man should behave the same way.

However, we must also understand that a TV show uses TV tropes. Continually introducing new faces would have been incredibly confusing for the viewer to follow.
So instead, the show runners chose to retain consistency (for the viewer) by reusing the same faces. The face we know as Jaqen is the "convinced" Faceless Man (the one who sees Arya as a viable recruit), the face we know as the waif is the "unconvinced" Faceless Man (the one who sees that Arya is not really a Faceless Man).
We've seen one other noteworthy Face: the old black man who opens the door for Arya. This face has been neutral and devoid of emotion, which is much closer to how all Faceless Men should behave.

I am aware that the waif was not a Faceless Man yet, but a recruit just like Arya. However, the waif has all the skills of a Faceless Man, and behaves as if she is already part of the order (with one exception: she doesn't sense her own personal resentment of Arya, which becomes her downfall).

The waif is still Arya's superior, which is the only relevant part of my argument. From Arya's point of view (and by extension, the viewer's point of view), the waif is a representation of the order of Faceless Men.

Jaqen and the waif visualize the duality of Arya's state of mind. On one hand, she wants to forget her life and what she has had to suffer through (Jaqen - Arya wants become a Faceless Man). On the other hand, she wants to take revenge on those who wronged her, which means that she doesn't just want to forget the past (the waif - Arya does not want to become a Faceless Man).

Here's an interesting (somewhat offtopic) idea:
Jaqen subtly smiled at Arya when she stated her identity (and her intention to remain Arya and not become no one). It makes sense for the waif to smile here, because Arya has just confirmed what the waif always knew about Arya: she's not a real Faceless Man after all. Maybe Jaqen's smile is actually the waif's smile.
If you ignore the face (which you should really do for the Faceless Men), then the smile becomes more meaningful: it showcases a general approval by the Faceless Men (both those who saw her as a viable recruit and those who did not) that Arya is not going to become a Faceless Man.

The duality inside Arya has disappeared (she has chosen to remain Arya), and the dual faces have also disappeared (as Arya has killed the waif). This seems like it's clear symbolism that refers to Arya's state of mind.

  • This is an excellent answer. UV
    – Paulie_D
    Sep 14, 2017 at 10:30
  • This is indeed an excellent answer. It helped me out of the confusion.
    – Mitsosp
    Sep 14, 2017 at 14:40
  • I have another idea of Arya and Jaqen's smile: it can be something that Jaqen has predicted and she is still becoming Faceless Men, wether she knows it or not. Because her list or her revenge is the only thing she can't let go from previous life. And what will she do? Kill those people or in other words, offer them to the Many-Faced God. As she kills everyone, there is less and less connections to being old Arya, or to put it more clearly, with revenge fullfilled she no longer needs to be Arya. Nothing to really makes her want to be Arya. Sep 15, 2017 at 0:05
  • Could be Jaqen doesn't care if she still loves her family after that, probably nobody would become Faceless with rules so strict in so short time. In the show we see Arya being emotional, but we also see she could kill her sister if the needs be. And she cares more about killing people that wronged old Arya than ruling Winterfell for example. So could be all part of the process. Sep 15, 2017 at 0:09
  • Becoming a "good" Faceless Man requires many years of service in order to be like Jaqen is. And recruiting someone who can let go of anything from previous life except killing some people seems like a good candidate. Even Many-Faced God can't expect someone to let go of everything in a few years. But with every kill Arya also changes and becomes less interested in Arya and more interested in her skills. This can explain why Arya is not chased by Faceless Men after she escapeed and took some faces with her. She couldn't possible survive their next attack, let alone multiple attacks. Sep 15, 2017 at 0:13

The problem lies in that there isn't enough information to really know what the bigger agenda of the Faceless Men really is and/or how it operates within the construct of Braavos vs how much freedom they have to do whatever they all do...

Braavos is the wealthiest and likely the most powerful of the Free Cities.[1] It is located in a lagoon on the northwestern end of Essos, where the narrow sea and the Shivering Sea meet.[2][1] Braavos is also known as Braavos of the Hundred Isles[3] and the Secret City...

Braavos is the wealthiest and most powerful of the Free Cities, in part due to the wealth and influence of the Iron Bank.[25] The Iron Bank lends money to foreign nations, including the Seven Kingdoms...

The ruler of the city is the Sealord, who lives in the Sealord's Palace in the northeast of the city. Instead of hereditary succession, the Sealord is chosen by Braavosi magisters and keyholders through a convoluted process,[1] and he serves for life. The selection of his successor can be highly contested and can resort to violence.[17] The Sealord's personal guard is commanded by the First Sword of Braavos.[1][21] The exact position of the Third Sword[18] is not known. Tormo Fregar is believed by some to become the next Sealord if Ferrego Antaryon passes away.[17]...


Iron Bank History:

According to Matthar, the Iron Bank was founded by sixteen men and seven women who hid valuables in an abandoned iron mine shortly after the foundation of Braavos.[2] As the iron mine's chambers filled with treasures, a bank was formed to utilize the wealth. Each of the twenty-three founders had a key to these great subterranean vaults, and their descendants—now numbering at least one thousand—are known as "keyholders" who proudly display ceremonial keys on formal occasions. Other powerful Braavosi own shares in the bank, sit on its secret councils, and have a voice in selecting the men who lead it. http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Iron_Bank_of_Braavos

For instance, the books get a little more into the idea that The Faceless Men in part are "assassins for hire" -- They take money for hits. It's never revealed where this money goes? If they have to pay the Iron Bank for bodies, travel, and/or for other things pertaining to their glamour magic is unclear. We don't know where the money goes...

Followers of Him of Many Faces consider death to be part of the natural order of things and a merciful end to suffering. For a price, the guild will agree to kill anyone in the known world, considering this contract to be a sacrament of their god. The price is always high or dear, but within the means of the person if they are willing to make the sacrifice. The cost of their services also depends on the prominence and security of the target. http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Faceless_Men

But there is this other aspect of Braavos. Braavos is ruled by a Sea Lord, but the Sea Lords are often approved or determined by magistrate of keyholders and how do we not know these key holders are not also associated or the same key holders of the Iron Bank???

So there's this oxymoron that Braavos tries to promote itself as the Freest (and most diverse) City in Essos, but yet we learn that there are these un-seen people behind the scenes of Iron Bank that not only seem to run and determine the agendas of Braavos, but like season 7 of GOT TV series points out, they even participate in the slave trade (an irony because salves of the Valariens called the Moon Sisters escaped and came to Braavos for freedom long ago), and of course are a major influence in Westoros as well by funding for war and sometimes providing soldiers (The Golden Company)...We don't know if any of the Faceless Men are on any of these committees or are key holders and/or have to run by their business to members of the secret councils??

I know others have answered that The Faceless Men aren't really helping Arya, that everything is just "reciprocity" ('only life pays for death' = thematic to many things in series) -- debts to their Red God, but I think it is more complicated than that, because not only does it seem like the Faceless Men can transfer memories, but I also think they get sensory information about people when in their presence (ie "The girl has many names on her lips...").

Even when Arya goes through the process to become a faceless man,it's clear that everything she experiences is very personal (and ironic) as Lady Crane presents a duality between Cersei Lannister and Catlyn Stark. Not to mention the irony of actress, a women pretending to be another person, would be Arya's first hit, paralleling the dark irony of learning to become "no one" (someone else). Even the choice of the waif being a girl of similar age to Arya is not coincidental IMO.

And so what I'm trying to get at is that perhaps Faceless Men's beliefs also have some kind of religious "end game" with the political landscape that goes outside of immediate "debt", but perhaps it is about a longer-term debt--or debts about "personal" things.

IMO the point of the series is that it's a generational family cycle cosmology story with reincarnation and "Karma" (karma is about "debt"), where we are witnessing everyone playing a predestined role to break into a new cycle (one where the White Walkers are finally eliminated). So it could be possible that meeting Arya was not as much of a coincidence as it appears. It could be that she is the key to some end game they have that relates to their beliefs of the cycle cosmology. I keep thinking we will see Jaquin's face again and he may send Arya on a final mission...

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