Sansa Stark: "Why won't he speak to me?"
Sandor Clegane: "He hasn't been very talkative these last 20 years. Since the Mad King had his tongue ripped out with hot pincers."
Joffrey Baratheon: "He speaks damn well with his sword, though."
Sansa learns about Ser Ilyn Payne[src]

Ser Ilyn Payne was a mute knight and the Queen's Justice, the royal executioner, to Cersei Lannister and her predecessors, Tommen Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon and Robert Baratheon. He executed Eddard Stark for treason on Joffrey's orders.



Ilyn Payne losing his tongue

The Mad King has Ilyn's tongue removed.

Ser Ilyn Payne had his tongue removed on the order of the Mad King for suggesting that Tywin Lannister, then Hand of the King and whom Ser Ilyn served as Captain of the Guards, was the true ruler of Westeros rather than King Aerys II. He served Robert Baratheon as "the King's Justice" - the royal executioner.[1]

Season 1

Sansa Stark encounters Ilyn while out walking as they are traveling with the king's procession back to King's Landing, and is startled by his appearance. Sansa apologizes to Ilyn for possibly offending him, but receives no reply. Sandor Clegane informs her that Ilyn had his tongue removed years ago by the Mad King and now serves as the king's executioner.

Ned and Arya

Ilyn is ordered to execute Lady.

Ilyn is later ordered to kill Sansa's direwolf Lady by Queen Cersei as revenge for her sister Nymeria (who acted in defense of Arya Stark) attacking Joffrey Baratheon. Eddard Stark insists on carrying out the sentence himself instead.[2] Following the death of King Robert I in a hunting accident, Ilyn serves King Joffrey I.[3]

Ned's execution

Ilyn executes Eddard Stark.

Eddard is led before the people outside the Great Sept of Baelor and confesses to treason. Joffrey tells the crowd that both his Lady Sansa and his mother Cersei have asked that Ned be sent to Castle Black as a punishment. To the surprise of all, however, Joffrey suddenly proclaims that they have the soft hearts of women, and promises that, during his reign, treason will be punished: he orders Ilyn to bring him Ned's head. Ilyn takes House Stark's ancestral sword, Ice, and beheads Ned with one swift stroke.[4]

Marillion is brought before Joffrey because he wrote a song mocking King Robert and Queen Cersei. As a punishment, Joffrey orders Ser Ilyn Payne to (ironically) cut out Marillion's tongue.[5]

Season 2

Ilyn Payne's unhesitating obedience in carrying out Joffrey's order to execute Eddard Stark is not without repercussions. When Tyrion Lannister arrives in the capital city, sent by his father Tywin to rein in Joffrey's erratic behavior, he confronts his sister Cersei over her defense that she "tried to stop" Eddard's execution. Tyrion bluntly points out Joffrey wasn't the one holding the sword, yet both Cersei and Ser Ilyn simply went along with the boy-king's orders, when they could have easily just stopped what they were doing.[6]

Ilyn's execution of Ned Stark earns him a place on Arya's death list that she recites each night before she sleeps.[7]

Ilyn Payne

Ilyn attends Cersei during the Battle of Blackwater.

Ser Ilyn continues to serve King Joffrey as the War of the Five Kings ravages Westeros. During the Battle of the Blackwater, Ser Ilyn accompanies Queen Cersei to Maegor's Holdfast. Though the Queen claims Ser Ilyn is present to protect them and to deal with potential betrayers, she later admits to Sansa that Ilyn's true purpose is to execute her and Sansa, and possibly the rest of the ladies who have taken refuge in the holdfast, should Stannis Baratheon take the city.[8]

Season 4

When Tyrion Lannister confronts his father on the night before his scheduled execution, Tywin assures his son he won't let Ilyn Payne take his head.[9]

Season 8

With the destruction of the Red Keep by dragonfire during the Battle of King's Landing and the deaths of all known members of Queen Cersei Lannister's household, it is possible that Ser Ilyn Payne was killed, if he had not already died prior to the battle, making his ultimate fate unknown.


Illyn Payne is a stern, grim and brooding man due to having lost his tongue and his ability to speak, he is constantly expressionless and almost never emotes aloud. Even so, numerous of individuals claim that he lives only to kill on the King's word and deeply enjoys his work as executioner. More specifically Ilyn enjoys ironic punishments given to him by the King or will find other ways to sadistically add insult to injury towards the person he is about to either kill or maim. For example he beheads Eddard Stark with Ice, his own sword which had been passed down by House Stark's ancestry and when about to cut the tongue out of Marillion, Joffrey states there was no one more suited to perform such a task. Illyn is also one of the few people who scares the Hound, a seasoned, barbaric and fearless warrior.


Season One appearances
Winter Is Coming The Kingsroad Lord Snow Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things The Wolf and the Lion
A Golden Crown You Win or You Die The Pointy End Baelor Fire and Blood
Season Two appearances
The North Remembers The Night Lands What Is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis

Image gallery

Behind the scenes

On January 9, 2013 actor Wilko Johnson announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas.[10] Though he initially refused treatment, he underwent a successful tumor-removal operation in 2014.[11]

Johnson's declining health has apparently led to him being gradually phased out of the TV series. He only appeared in one episode of Season 2 ("Blackwater"), and did not appear in Season 3 at all. Then again, Ser Ilyn did not prominently appear in the first half of the third novel either (which was adapted as Season 3). (On the other hand, Ser Ilyn's most important role in Season Four was instead given to Bronn.) Given that Ser Ilyn cannot speak or convey his thoughts through writing, he does not have a particularly major presence in the storyline, but he is usually seen hovering around in the background at Joffrey's royal court.

Tywin's dialogue in "The Children" confirms that the character is still alive and active as of the end of Season 4.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ilyn Payne served as Lord Tywin Lannister's captain of household guards when Tywin served Aerys II Targaryen as the Hand of the King. After being heard to joke that it was Tywin who truly ruled the Seven Kingdoms, King Aerys ordered Payne's tongue be removed with hot pincers. Even though he was high in Tywin Lannister's service, Tywin Lannister couldn't stop the Mad King, and this was another step in the increasing tensions between the two which eventually led to Tywin's resignation. King Robert Baratheon named Ser Ilyn as King's Justice as a present to Tywin Lannister to compensate Payne for the loss of his tongue while in service to the Lannisters.

In the book Ser Ilyn arrives at Robert's camp with Renly and Ser Barristan to provide escort back to King's Landing. When Gregor Clegane is terrorizing the Riverlands, Ser Ilyn's name is put forward to be sent to carry out the Hand's orders to arrest him, as King's Justice that's his job, but because of his ties to the Lannisters Lord Eddard sends Beric Dondarrion instead.

When Tyrion Lannister is leading the hill tribes in the army of Tywin Lannister in the Riverlands against the forces of Robb Stark, he is assigned a squire named Podrick Payne. Podrick is a distant relation of Ser Ilyn.

At the execution of Eddard Stark, Arya realizes to her dismay that the sword he uses to carry it out is the Valyrian great sword of House Stark, Ice. The sword was given to Ser Ilyn afterwards.

When Jaime returns to King's Landing, he practices first with his friend Addam Marbrand, but fearing that Addam may get drunk and reveal that Jaime is a poor fighter now, Jaime moves to practice with Ilyn, not Bronn. Ilyn is much tougher with Jaime than Addam, but Jaime prefers it this way, knowing that his secret is safe with Ilyn. After every practice, they sit and drink together. Jaime finds Ilyn the perfect drinking companion, for he never interrupts Jaime, never disagrees, never complains or asking for favors or tells long pointless stories. Jaime feels comfortable to chat with Ilyn that he reveals to him his darkest secrets.

Ilyn, not Bronn, accompanies Jaime to the siege of Riverrun. On the way they continue practicing. While they walk through the besieging camps, a drunken camp follower moves to kiss Ilyn, but when she sees his eyes, she shrinks away. At Jaime's command, Ilyn cuts Edmure loose from the gallows.

Ser Ilyn is a highly skilled executioner having never botched an execution and seldom requiring more than one blow. Ser Ilyn Payne is described as thin, bald, with clean-shaven but hollow and pockmarked cheeks, with colorless deep-set eyes. He wears iron-grey chainmail over boiled leather.

Ilyn is illiterate, thus after his tongue was removed he can no longer communicate complex messages to other people.

By the point the books reached, Ilyn is one of the four people with whom Arya has not settled the score yet (the other three are Cersei, Meryn Trant and Dunsen).

See also


v  d  e
Lord: None, extinct Heir: None, extinct
House-Baratheon-of-King's Landing-Main-Shield
Seat: Red Keep, King's Landing Lands: The Crownlands
Title(s): King of the Andals and the First Men · Lord of the Seven Kingdoms · Protector of the Realm
Deceased members:Robert I · Cersei I Lannister · Joffrey I · Myrcella Baratheon · Tommen I · Margaery Tyrell
Household:{Jaime Lannister} · {Gregor Clegane} · {Preston Greenfield} · {Arys Oakheart} · {Boros Blount} · {Balon Swann} · {Osmund Kettleblack} · Ilyn Payne · Gyles Rosby · {Aron Santagar} · {Qyburn} · Eglantine
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