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This article is about the Great House. For the special feature, see: House Stark (Complete Guide to Westeros)

Eddard Stark: "Look at me. You're a Stark of Winterfell, you know our words."
Arya Stark: "'Winter is coming'."
Eddard Stark: "You were born in the long summer, you've never known anything else. But now winter is truly coming. In the winter, we must protect ourselves, look after one another."
— Lord Eddard Stark and his daughter Arya.[src]

The banner of House Stark of Winterfell, the rulers of the North.

House Stark of Winterfell is a Great House of Westeros and the royal house of the Kingdom of the North. They rule over the vast region known as the North from their seat in Winterfell. It is one of the oldest lines of Westerosi nobility by far, claiming a line of descent stretching back over eight thousand years. Before the Targaryen conquest, as well as during the War of the Five Kings and early on in Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros, the leaders of House Stark ruled over the region as the Kings in the North.

Their rule in the North seemingly ended after the events of the Red Wedding when House Frey and House Bolton betrayed House Stark after forming a secret alliance with House Lannister, during which Roose Bolton murdered King Robb Stark. Both the North and Winterfell were taken over by House Bolton. However, the Boltons' hold was jeopardized when Sansa Stark escaped their clutches after learning her brothers Bran and Rickon Stark were still alive and reunited with her half-brother, Jon Snow, at Castle Black. Sansa and Jon marched on the Boltons to save their younger brother Rickon, who was later murdered by Ramsay Bolton, and retake Winterfell. House Stark was restored to their former stature after the Battle of the Bastards. The Stark victory led to House Stark's return to royal status in the North with their bannermen declaring Jon as the King in the North. He later abdicated his title as king in order to gain the full support of Daenerys Targaryen in the Great War, becoming the Warden of the North. Following the Battle of King's Landing, Bran Stark was chosen as the new king of the Six Kingdoms, allowing the North to secede as an independent kingdom under Sansa.

House Stark's sigil is a grey direwolf on a white background, over green. They are one of the few noble houses whose words are not a boast or threat. Instead, the House Stark family motto is a warning, one that, no matter the circumstances, will always be relevant: "Winter Is Coming,"[1][2] which served as a reminder of their beginnings in the wake of the Long Night and a grim portent of things to come.

House Stark, as the only First Men dynasty to resist the Andal invasion, proudly hold on to the worship of the Old Gods. Due to their rule over the North and knowledge of it's troubles, they are unfailing supporters of the importance of the Night's Watch, despite it's fall from glory in current times. As one of the last remaining Valyrian steel items, from old Valyria, House Stark greatly treasures it's ancestral sword of Ice, which has been used in battles and executions.



Before the Targaryen conquest, the leaders of House Stark ruled over the region as the Kings in the North.[3] The house traces its roots to Bran the Builder, a legendary First Man who lived during the Age of Heroes and founded House Stark. The Starks were not originally the monarchs of the North; they began as vassals to the Barrow Kings, who lost support due to their inactive rule while the Starks' ancestor built the Wall and protected the North. They warred with the Barrow Kings, emerging victorious. The Starks ruled as Kings of Winter over one of the many smaller, petty First Men kingdoms that were established in the North, with their chief rivals for domination being the Red Kings of House Bolton. Eventually the Starks united the North under them. Although their stronghold of Winterfell has been the capital of the North, war helped make it it's strongest castle, in opposition to the Reeds' Greywater Watch and the Dreadfort of House Bolton, with attacks from from the latter raising the need for more keeps, more walls, more guard towers and the expansion of their granaries and larders to survive sieges. Winter town would be raised from smallfolk seeking shelter from winter, and these would also join the Stark soldiers in fighting the Boltons.

They gained a new vassal from the Reach after House Manderly's exile, giving them a new home at White Harbor in exchange for their guarding the river against pirates. They defeated the Boltons, drove pirates away from the White Knife, slew the last Marsh King and wed his daughter for the Neck, with it's governance being given to House Reed and, according to legend, King Rodrik Stark wrestled with an ironborn for Bear Island and won, giving it to House Mormont. Several centuries before the Targaryen conquest, Karlon Stark, a younger son of the King in the North, was awarded lands in the eastern regions of the North after successfully putting down a rebellion led by House Bolton. Over time Karlon's seat of Karl's Hold came to be known as Karhold, and the Starks that descended from him became known as Karstarks.

Although the Starks had to content with defiant Houses in their unification campaign, some chose to submit and become loyal vassals, like the Umbers of Last Hearth and the Glovers of Deepwood Motte, with even their greatest rivals for dominance, the Red Kings of House Bolton, who made a sinister reputation for themselves with their practice of flaying, with one of them being notorious for ripping out the entrails of captive Starks, choosing to bend the knee, and their hostility being put on hold, due to the need for the end of unrest. Their timing proved crucial just then, due to the Andals landing and invading Westeros, swiping all lands of First Men rule except the North due to the other Houses fighting on their own, while the North opposed with a united front, with the Manderlys attacking their ships and the Reeds attacking their incursions into the Neck.

King Torrhen Stark was on the throne at the time of the Targaryen conquest and marched his army south to face them. He surrendered when he saw the Targaryens' greater host and their dragons, despite being suggested to resist from Moat Cailin or assassinating the sleeping dragons, believing that fighting was futile, due to the Targaryen victories at the Burning of Harrenhal and the Field of Fire. He was made Lord Paramount of the North and served the Targaryens as Warden of the North, thus escaping the fates of House Gardener of the Reach and House Hoare of the Riverlands whose lords refused to bend the knee and were rendered extinct after failing to resist the invaders. Thereafter, Torrhen was known as "the king who knelt", though those who criticize him for this often forget that they are only alive to do so thanks to his surrender.[1]

Season 1

Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark becomes Hand of the King to King Robert Baratheon after the death of Jon Arryn. Ned takes his daughters Sansa and Arya to King's Landing. It is there that he discovers the true lineage of Robert's assumed children. Upon Robert's death, Ned publicly declares that Joffrey Baratheon was the product of incest between Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister, and therefore is not the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. He is subsequently executed for treason. His firstborn son and heir Robb is declared the King in the North by his bannermen (the first in 300 years), and fights to secede from the Seven Kingdoms in what would become the War of the Five Kings.[4] Sansa becomes a political captive of House Lannister, while Arya escapes King's Landing with Yoren of the Night's Watch.

Season 2

Robb continues his campaign against the Lannisters, winning a trio of victories in the Riverlands and a further three victories in the Westerlands at Oxcross, the Yellow Fork, and the Crag. Bran and Rickon leave Winterfell after a traitorous Theon Greyjoy takes control of Winterfell. Theon kills two farmer's sons and declares their bodies are those of Bran and Rickon, leading the majority of Westeros believing that all the male Stark heirs are dead (as Jon is a bastard son of Ned Stark and sworn to the Night's Watch).

Season 3

Although Robb continues to win every battle that he fights, House Baratheon of King's Landing secures an alliance with House Tyrell that effectively leads to victory over Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of the Blackwater. As Robb continues to march further in the Westerlands, many of his bannermen, such as Rickard Karstark, begin to lose faith in King Robb and are aware that he broke his vow to marry one of the daughters of Lord Walder Frey by marrying Talisa Maegyr. Robb and his host arrive at Harrenhal to discover that Ser Gregor Clegane has put 200 northern prisoners to the sword and left Harrenhal without a fight. Robb received news at Harrenhal that his grandfather Hoster Tully has died, and Robb goes to Riverrun to attend the funeral, leaving Roose Bolton and his men in charge of Harrenhal.

At Riverrun, Robb chides his uncle, the new Lord Edmure Tully, for attacking Ser Gregor at the Stone Mill, forcing Gregor's host to retreat to Casterly Rock and losing more than 200 men in the battle. Later, Rickard Karstark murders the two Lannister captives, Willem and Martyn Lannister, which causes Robb to execute Rickard, making the Karstarks abandon his host. With his host diminished due to the Karstarks' abandonment, Robb opts to have the support of House Frey, but finds it difficult because of his broken vow. However, the Freys agree to support Robb if his uncle Edmure marries Roslin Frey. Robb and Edmure agree to the terms of the Freys and prepare to head to the Twins for the wedding.

Robb and Talisa Stark lie dead at the Red Wedding.

At the Twins, the Freys and Boltons betray Robb and massacre him, his wife, mother, Grey Wind, the present Northern lords and most of the Northern army, during the event known as the Red Wedding.[5] House Stark is stripped of its lordship in the North and is given to House Bolton, making Roose Bolton Warden of the North for his contribution to Robb's death.[6]

Bran and Rickon, who have been travelling north along with Osha, Hodor, Jojen Reed and Meera Reed, as well as their two direwolves, Summer and Shaggydog, part ways: Bran, Jojen, Hodor, Meera and Summer head beyond the wall, while Rickon, Shaggydog and Osha head to the Last Hearth to seek shelter from House Umber.

Season 4

Bolton has roughly half of his whole army trapped south of the Neck, since the ironborn captured Moat Cailin, and cannot properly rule the North.[7] His son Ramsay takes back the Moat and the Boltons ride to Winterfell in order to rule the North from there, as it is the ancient stronghold of House Stark and the capital of the North.[8]

Tywin's eventual plan was to return the North to the Starks under Lannister control via the possible son of Tyrion and Sansa, but Tyrion and Sansa escape (separately) King's Landing following King Joffrey's assassination. Tywin himself was killed before his plan could come to fruition.[9][10]

Bran makes his way further north, eventually reaching the weirwood tree occupied by The Children of the Forest and the Three-Eyed Raven.

Season 5

Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish secretly returns Sansa to Winterfell in the hopes of wedding her to Ramsay. The Boltons are eager to cement their control over the North, particularly since they are now living in a Westeros without solid Lannister support as Tywin Lannister is now deceased. Littlefinger tells Sansa that she is perfectly situated; Stannis Baratheon is likely to liberate Winterfell soon, and will likely declare her Wardeness of the North. Even if he doesn't, Sansa will be perfectly placed to retake Winterfell from within House Bolton. Although Sansa doesn't quite realize it, there are many in the North who are already taking heart from the fact that there is again a Stark in Winterfell.[11][12] Sansa eventually flees Winterfell with Theon during the Battle of Winterfell.

Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at the time, is betrayed by his men and stabbed to death.[13]

Season 6

Sansa flees from Winterfell with Theon at her side. They are nearly caught, but are saved by Brienne and a now-trained Pod, who eliminate Ramsay's hunters. With the threat neutralized, Brienne again offers herself to serve Sansa in order to keep the oath she made to her mother.[14] Unlike before, Sansa accepts, and the two recite the oath of service, with assistance from Pod. Sansa is heading to her resurrected half-brother Jon at Castle Black as he will protect her and keep her safe.[15]

Smalljon Umber trades Rickon Stark and Osha over to Ramsay Bolton, the new Warden of the North, in order to secure an alliance with House Bolton against the Free Folk.

Meanwhile, Bran Stark experiences a vision of his family while training with the Three-Eyed Raven. He witnesses several of his family members including his father Ned, uncle Benjen, and his aunt Lyanna Stark.

Jon Snow and Sansa Stark reunite.

At Castle Black, the Red Priestess Melisandre resurrects Jon from the dead.[15] Jon decides to leave the Night's Watch on the grounds that his watch has ended through his death.[16] Sansa, accompanied by Brienne and Podrick, reunites with Jon. Sansa urges Jon to help her re-take Winterfell from the Boltons. Later, Jon finally agrees after receiving a letter from Ramsay stating he has their younger brother Rickon and demanding the return of Sansa. Jon resolves to march on the Boltons, leading an army of able-bodied Free Folk under Tormund and gathering forces he and Sansa plan to rally among the remaining loyal houses in order to save Rickon and reclaim Winterfell from the Boltons.[17]

Jon and Sansa manage to recruit only a few hundred soldiers from Houses Mormont, Hornwood, and Mazin. Sansa argues they need more men but Jon resolves to march on Winterfell with the forces they have, arguing there is no more time left. Sansa sends a further raven to an unknown party, likely Littlefinger.[18]

Rickon Stark is killed at the onset of the Battle of the Bastards.

As the Battle of the Bastards begins, Rickon is killed by Ramsay. As Jon is on the verge of losing, the Knights of the Vale arrive to join the battle with Littlefinger. Jon and Sansa reclaim Winterfell after Jon beats Ramsay in a one-to-one combat, leaving Ramsay's fate for Sansa to decide. Jon orders his brother Rickon to be buried in the crypt next to his father. Sansa visits the dog kennels and kills a bloodied Ramsay with his own dogs. With Ramsay's death, House Bolton is rendered completely extinct, Winterfell finally returns to her rightful owners and the Red Wedding is partly avenged.[19]

Jon Snow is hailed King in the North.

After the battle, the Northern lords, along with the Lords of the Vale meet in the hall at Winterfell to treat with House Stark and discuss provisions for the Winter. Lord Cley Cerwyn floats the idea of hiding behind castle walls, but Jon rejects this, reminding the Northern houses of their true enemy and that this enemy "doesn't wait out the storms, he brings the storm." Lyanna Mormont declares Jon Snow the King in the North, despite his bastardy, as he has the blood of Eddard Stark, the last rightful Warden of The North, and Robb, the last King in the North. Lyanna is then followed by the rest of the gathered lords, who all declare Jon their king. Meanwhile, in the Riverlands, Arya personally slays Walder Frey and every member of the house who participated in the Red Wedding massacre, finally avenging the North.[20]

Season 7

At Winterfell, Jon organizes the defense of the North against the Night King and his army of the dead, whilst asking that all maesters start searching for dragonglass as it destroys White Walkers and wights.

Jon Snow, the King in the North, at Winterfell.

Jon and Sansa receive a message from newly-crowned Cersei, demanding the North submit to the Iron Throne. Elsewhere, Bran and Meera Reed reach the Wall and are allowed passage by Lord Commander Eddison Tollett.

At Winterfell, Jon, Sansa, and Davos discuss a letter they received from Tyrion about a potential alliance with Daenerys. Sansa advises Jon against the alliance, while Davos thinks it will be beneficial due to her dragons which can breath fire against wights. Some days later, Jon receives a message from Sam, regarding a vein of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone. Despite the objections of the lords and Sansa, Jon decides to sail to Dragonstone with Davos to negotiate with Daenerys, appointing Sansa as regent while he is away.

Sansa plans to keep their soldiers warm and the food reserves from running low during the coming winter. She later reunites wit Bran and states he deserves to be the Lord of Winterfell, being the last legitimate son of their father. He rejects it because of him becoming the Three-Eyed Raven.

Jon negotiates with Daenerys.

Jon and Davos arrive at Dragonstone and are greeted by Tyrion and Missandei. Jon and Daenerys are introduced to each other, but he refuses to bend the knee to her. Jon proposes they both help each other, informing her of the army of the undead coming for the Seven Kingdoms.

The surviving Stark siblings are reunited.

Back at Winterfell, Littlefinger unsuccessfully tries to ingratiate himself with Bran, hoping to exploit the disunity among the Starks. Arya returns to Winterfell and reunites with Sansa and Bran, but becomes upset when she realizes that Rickon is dead.

At Dragonstone, Jon is unable to convince Daenerys of helping them because he refuses to bend the knee, but she allows him to mine the dragonglass beneath Dragonstone. She later leaves after learning of the destruction of her allies in the Reach, Dorne, and the Iron Islands.

At Winterfell, some northern lords, upset over Jon riding south, suggest to Sansa that she take over the North which she rejects. Arya thinks the lords are committing treason by slandering Jon and should be executed. She goes on to accuse her sister of wanting the northern crown.

Arya later steals a letter from Petyr Baelish's quarters and learns that Sansa had written to Robb to surrender to Joffrey, not knowing that it was Littlefinger's plan all along that she find the letter. Jon decides to head beyond the wall in order to catch a wight, so he can convince Daenerys and Cersei of their existence.

At Winterfell, Arya and Sansa dispute over her letter to Robb even though she states that she had written it under duress. Sansa later receives a message from Cersei inviting her for a parley in King's Landing and sends Brienne to attend in her place.

Benjen sacrifices himself to save Jon.

Beyond the Wall, Jon and his ranging party hunt for wights but are ambushed by the undead army led by the Night King. Thoros of Myr is killed, but they are rescued by Daenerys and her dragons. Jon is rescued by his uncle Benjen Stark ,who is overwhelmed by the wights. While recovering, Jon pledges his allegiance to Daenerys as his queen.

The Stark siblings execute Littlefinger for his crimes against their family.

At Winterfell, Littlefinger tries to manipulate Sansa against Arya, but his plan backfires as she decides to have him tried and ultimately executed for his crimes instead of letting him destroy their family. Sometime later, Sam arrives at Winterfell and meets with Bran, who tells Sam that Jon's true parents are Rhaegar Targaryen and his aunt Lyanna Stark. Bran states that Jon is still a bastard, albeit a Dornish bastard named Sand, but Samwell informs Bran about Rhaegar's wedding with Elia Martell being annulled by High Septon Maynard and his remarriage to someone else. Bran uses his greensight to confirm this as well as Jon's true name being Aegon Targaryen. Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys give into their feelings for each other.

Season 8

Jon arrives with Daenerys and her army of Dothraki, Unsullied, and two dragons at Winterfell, where Sansa promises allegiance to Daenerys. At a gathering of the Northern lords, however, Jon is scorned for bending the knee to Daenerys and giving up the Northern crown. Sansa later tells Jon that she doesn't trust her and berates him for giving up the crown, but he replies that they need her army.[21]

Sansa and Daenerys agree to let Jaime Lannister fight against the undead, despite his actions against the Starks.[22]

The combined Stark and Targaryen forces fight against the undead. group of wights. Despite being nearly overwhelmed, the undead army is obliterated after Arya kills the Night King, ending the Great War and saving House Stark and the North.[23]

The last of the Starks.

After their victory, Sansa and Bran remain at Winterfell, while Jon leads the remaining Stark and Arryn troops and Dothraki to meet with Daenerys and her troops at King's Landing.[24]

Jon leads the Stark army into King's Landing.

When the Battle of King's Landing begins, Jon leads the forces besieging the city, while Daenerys destroys the city's walls and part of the Golden Company guarding it, then they charge into the city and fight its defenders. The defenders surrender, but Daenerys refuses it and decides to raze the city.[25]

Arya Stark in a burning King's Landing.

Arya meanwhile sneaks into the Red Keep with the Hound during the battle, but he convinces her to flee so she doesn't end up like him. Jon has his forces evacuate the city as the wildfire caches placed by Aerys II long ago start erupting because of Drogon's destruction.[25]

Jon confronts Daenerys in the throne room about the massacre of innocent civilians, but she replies that it was necessary. Jon relunctantly kills her.

After this, Jon is taken prisoner by the Unsullied. Sansa and Bran Stark travel south to King's Landing with thousands of Northmen for trial of Jon and Tyrion. Bran is then elected king and allows Sansa to declare the North independent. He appoints Tyrion as the Hand of the King and decides to exile Jon to the Night's Watch, in order to avoid a war between his supporters and the Unsullied.

Jon Snow bids farewell to his Stark family.

Jon goes into exile. After returning to Castle Back, Jon reunites with Ghost and the wildlings led by Tormund. Meanwhile, Sansa is named Queen in the North, and Arya sails for her voyage to the west of Westeros. After donning his Night's Watch cloak, Jon leaves with the Free Folk for the lands beyond the Wall.[26]

Current status

The status of the surviving Starks and what political positions they held was not fully clear after Jon Snow was hailed as the new King in the North by not only the lords of the North but the Vale as well. The return of Bran and Arya Stark to Winterfell clarified the ambiguity of all of their political positions in the North.

While Jon ruled as the King in the North, his half-sister Sansa Stark attended court alongside him as the Lady of Winterfell. In his absence, Jon gave Sansa regency over the Kingdom of the North as both his sister and the only Stark (the highest ranking and ruling family in the North) in Winterfell used as precedent.

When Bran Stark, the rightful Lord of Winterfell, returned to Winterfell, he abdicated his lordship for his new role as the Three-Eyed Raven. Once Arya returned to Winterfell, Sansa and Petyr note Arya is next in the line of succession for the lordship of Winterfell. Jon Snow is believed to be Eddard Stark's bastard son, which means would not be included in the line of succession, unless he were to be legitimized as a Stark

However, Jon pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen, in order to gain her full support in the Great War, stepping down as king and accepted the title and role of Warden of the North. Presently, the North and Vale are reintegrated into the Seven Kingdoms.[27] As of the end of Season 7, the current positions of the surviving members of House Stark are as follows: Jon is Warden of the North, Sansa is Lady of Winterfell, Arya is Sansa's heir, and Bran abdicated his claim to any formal political position.

Jon Snow is actually the son of Eddard's younger sister, Lyanna Stark, and according to the normal line of succession, would rank behind both Sansa and Arya. At the same time, as the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, Jon is currently the heir to the Iron Throne. Samwell Tarly, with the help of Gilly, confirmed through High Septon Maynard's personal diary that Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled and then was remarried to Lyanna.[28][29]

At the Great Council of 305 AC, Bran Stark was chosen as the new Lord of the Six Kingdoms, with the king being elected by the lords of Westeros rather than inheriting the crown through a royal bloodline. The North has been granted independence with Sansa Stark being declared the Queen in the North as a hereditary monarch.



Household and retainers


Sworn to House Stark

The sigil of House Stark on a tapestry in Winterfell.

Vassal houses

Prominent allies

The Lords of the North

The Riverlords

The Vale of Arryn

Military strength

Robb Stark in Northern cavalry armor.

During Robert's Rebellion, the Greyjoy Rebellion and the War of the Five Kings, House Stark is able to field thousands of men and has proven itself capable in times of conflict, fighting and prevailing with many engagements within each conflict. Out of 18,000 Northerners that Robb Stark marched south to confront the Lannisters, a large amount of them were Stark soldiers.[30] However, the Red Wedding greatly weakened the once formidable great house, leading to the destruction of the Stark army. Despite this, House Stark managed to retake Winterfell from House Bolton, hence the Stark army was restored.

A Stark man-at-arms.

The average Stark soldier wears a brown or dark blue coat with green or grey sleeves, with chainmail worn under it and a suit of leather coat of plates armor worn over it; he also wears a pair of grey or brown leather boots. The soldiers are often equipped with helmets and round shields of steel or iron, both grey in color and the shields emblazoned with the Stark direwolf. Warriors in the Northern heavy cavalry or heavy infantry wear relatively cheap brigandine armor, with many choosing to wear mail underneath as well, rather than the expensive plate armor of the well-equipped Lannister troops.

After the end of the War of Five Kings, House Stark takes part in the Battle of Winterfell, during the Great War, where the House's forces suffer heavy casualties.[31] The remaining Stark forces later partake in the Battle of King's Landing alongside the Vale and Targaryen troops, apparently not taking significant losses.


A view on the areas Beyond the Wall from "Winter Is Coming", an area the Starks must deal with every generation.

The House Stark banner, a direwolf on a white background, is a reference to their northern origin and lifestyle. Throughout the history of Westeros, the Starks have always had a fear of the impending threat of the White Walkers. This manner of life has bred extraordinary stoicism and loyalty within the Starks, one of their chief characteristics. Their surname, "Stark", one reminiscent of the First Men, is an accurate description of where they come from: the barren land of the North. However, white can also be seen as an isolated color, a point made perfectly clear throughout the series.

Eddard Stark about to be executed on the orders of Joffrey Baratheon in "Baelor."

The House Stark motto, Winter Is Coming, is different to all the other mottos of Westeros. In A Game of Thrones, Catelyn muses "...they [other noble houses] boasted of honor and glory, promised loyalty and truth, swore faith and courage. All but the Starks. Winter is Coming, said the Stark words."[32]

It is significant that the Starks do not use their motto to remind of their positive attributes, but rather to remind people to look up at the more impending doom, and a bigger fight up ahead. Their determination to face the odds shows that they are made of different stuff then the Southerners, and are not into their political games of intrigue. Perhaps these are the differences that make the Starks so persecuted, with only three actual Starks (Sansa, Arya, and Bran, or four counting Jon, who is at least half-Stark) alive by the end of the show, as opposed to the six at the beginning of the show (counting Catelyn and Jon). Their differences are even seen in the way they talk, such as when Ned infuriates Robert by calling him: "too fat for his armor" when Lancel Lannister was not able to put it on properly.

The sigil of House Stark, a direwolf, is also symbolic. For starters, the direwolf mother who gave birth to the cubs featured in the series is found with a deer antler sticking out of the mother's side, representing the fact that Ned's downfall was brought on by him accepting the position of Hand of the King. The names of the cubs are also symbolic. Like direwolves, the Starks are loyal and protective, and, like the direwolves, almost go extinct. Sansa names her direwolf Lady, representing her dreams of being Queen Consort to Joffrey, whom she describes as handsome. However, Lady is eventually killed for another wolf's crimes (see below), representing how Sansa's youthfulness died after Joffrey tortured her for most of Season 2 in King's Landing, until he married Margaery Tyrell. Arya names her direwolf Nymeria, after a warrior princess from the Age of A Hundred Kingdoms, a fitting depiction of Arya's warrior spirit. When Nymeria attacks Joffrey, Arya sends her away to avoid her being "executed", and Lady is thus punished for the crime (see above). This is foreshadowing of the way Arya flees King's Landing at the end of Season 1 to the Wall. The losing of the wolf also symbolises that Arya is uncertain of what her future holds. Robb's direwolf, Grey Wind, is absolutely inseparable from him. During the Red Wedding, the Freys lock Grey Wind in a cage and kill him, just as they do with Robb. Bran's direwolf is not yet named when he enters a coma, a result of Jaime pushing him out of a tower. After awaking, however, he names him Summer. Summer dies when White Walkers burst into the Weirwood tree, and his death symbolises Winter truly arriving. Bran is also known as "The Sweet Summer Child", for he has never known Winter and its hardships. Rickon's direwolf, Shaggydog, because Rickon never received a proper education or grooming lessons, and was instead raised by a wildling, Osha. When they seek refuge with House Umber, the Umbers betray them and kill Shaggydog. Likewise, the Umbers are allied with Ramsay Bolton, who is eventually Rickon's killer at the Battle of the Bastards. Jon's direwolf, Ghost, is albino and the runt of the litter, representing a bastard's disadvantage in front of his half-sibilings. The word "ghost" makes us think of the part of a person that lives on, and when Jon is resurrected by Melisandre in Season 6, Ghost is the first being to see him alive. Ghost is white, and Jon Snow is also sometimes called the White Wolf, such as by Wyman Manderly in "The Winds of Winter."


Family tree



Catelyn Stark
née Tully House-Tully-Main-Shield.PNG



Talisa Stark
née Maegyr



Bran I the


(Aegon Targaryen)

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, House Stark was founded by Brandon the Builder, a semi-mythical figure who is credited with building the Wall and Winterfell, founding the Night's Watch and ensuring the survival of the people of Westeros after the mythical Long Night and the War for the Dawn against the enigmatic Others (called "White Walkers" in the TV series). The family has survived for over 8,000 years and was the independent royal house of the vast territories of the North until King Aegon the Conqueror overran the southern half of the continent. By the time the King in the North, Torrhen Stark, had gathered together his widely scattered bannermen, Aegon had already conquered most of the South. Particularly, Aegon had already used his dragons to inflict a crushing defeat on both the Westerlands and the Reach at the Field of Fire. Torrhen Stark finally advanced south to the Riverlands with the amassed armies of the North to a confrontation with Aegon. However, upon seeing Aegon's vast numerical superiority and his dragons, Torrhen Stark realized he had no hope of victory, and chose to bend the knee in submission.

The civil war known as Robert's Rebellion began when Lyanna Stark was kidnapped by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Lord Rickard Stark and his son and heir Brandon both demanded her return from King Aerys II Targaryen and were executed by the Mad King for their presumption. Eddard Stark, now the head of the family, called the banners of the North to war, supported by House Baratheon, House Tully and House Arryn. It was decided that Robert Baratheon would claim the throne due to his strong claim as the grand-nephew of a previous Targaryen king. During the civil war Stark troops were instrumental in several engagements, including the Battle of the Bells and the Battle of the Trident, and it was Eddard Stark's forces which reached King's Landing just after the Lannisters had sacked it, ensuring the city was turned over to Robert's army when it arrived. The Starks also proved instrumental in the later Greyjoy Rebellion, lending troops used by Robert to storm the castle of Pyke and crush the uprising.

In the novels, four of Lord Eddard Stark's six children inherit the Tully look from their mother Catelyn, possessing the auburn hair and blue eyes distinctive of House Tully. However, Arya inherits the Stark look of dark hair, grey eyes, and a long face alongside her half-brother Jon who, as Eddard's illegitimate son with an unidentified woman, does not possess Tully blood. While this has resulted in Arya being mockingly called "Horseface", Ned assures her that she bears a striking resemblance to his beautiful deceased sister Lyanna when Lyanna was a girl. Jon's own inheritance of the traditional Stark look and resemblance to Ned is a plot point illustrating he is of Stark blood and used by characters in-universe to identify Jon as a son of Eddard Stark. As a little girl, Arya once feared that she might be a bastard child because she and Jon are the only two among the Stark children to inherit the Stark look, but Jon assured her that she is a trueborn daughter.

In the novels, the Stark banner is a whole direwolf. In the TV series, the Stark banner most often used is just a direwolf's head, though the alternate version showing the whole direwolf is also seen (i.e. on banners during the Tourney of the Hand, tapestries at Winterfell, and Ned Stark's wax seal on the letter he sends to Stannis Baratheon). Further, the sigil in the books is just a grey direwolf on a white field. This is used in the TV series, but it also frequently uses a subtle variant which has the grey direwolf on a white field, surmounting a small green escutcheon at the bottom.

Many houses sworn to House Stark in the books did not appear in the series.

Lesser Houses

  • House Condon
  • House Fenn
  • House Flint of Flint's Finger
  • House Ironsmith
  • House Lake
  • House Lightfoot
  • House Locke
  • House Moss
  • House Overton
  • House Slate
  • House Stout
  • House Waterman
  • House Wells
  • House Woolfield

Mountain Clans

  • Burley
  • Flint of the Mountains
  • Harclay
  • Nott
  • Liddle
  • Norrey
  • Wull

Skagos Clans

  • Crowl
  • Magnar
  • Stane

George RR Martin has said that the War of the Five Kings is inspired by the real-life Wars of the Roses in England (1455-1485). As such, House Stark is based on the House of York with specific members having some similarities with them such as Sansa Stark for Elizabeth of York and Robb Stark for King Edward IV.

See also