"The night is dark and full of terrors, old man, but the fire burns them all away."
―Melisandre to Cressen[src]

Melisandre, often referred to as the Red Woman, is a Red Priestess in the religion of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, and a close counselor to Stannis Baratheon in his campaign to take the Iron Throne. After Stannis Baratheon's death at the Battle of Winterfell, she revives Jon Snow after he is murdered by various members of the Night's Watch, believing him to be The Prince That Was Promised, and serves Jon as an adviser until she is banished from the North after the Battle of the Bastards when Jon learns that she sacrificed Shireen Baratheon and countless innocent people while in Stannis's service. However, she later unites the newly crowned King in the North with Daenerys Targaryen, believing they both have an important part to play in the Great War.



Originally born a slave in Essos centuries ago, Melisandre is a Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, a deity that is not widely worshiped in Westeros. Hailing from Asshai, a country located in the far east of the continent of Essos, she claims to wield powerful magical abilities, particularly the power of prophecy. Melisandre wears a large ruby necklace that seems to glow whenever she performs her magic. Some years ago she crossed the Narrow Sea and came to the court of Lord Stannis Baratheon on the island stronghold of Dragonstone, to preach her faith. Stannis and the majority of his household have now converted to her religion, and she has become a close adviser to Stannis himself.[1]

Season 2

The night is dark and full of terrors

Melisandre burns the statues of the Seven.

On a beach in the island of Dragonstone, Melisandre conducts a ceremony for her god, the Lord of Light. Behind her, statues of the Seven, widely worshiped in Westeros, are burning as offerings. She intones "The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors" and the crowd of onlookers repeat her words. Melisandre predicts that a heavy darkness will fall on the world in the wake of the long summer, that stars will bleed while the cold breath of winter will freeze the seas and says that the dead will rise in the north. Maester Cressen steps in front of her and interrupts the ceremony, reminding the crowd that they were "named in the light of the Seven". Melisandre dismisses Cressen as old and fearful and challenges him to stop her. Cressen hangs his head and walks away. She continues her preaching with the story of the burning sword Lightbringer. She calls Stannis forward and he withdraws a flaming sword from the statue of the Mother with a gloved hand. His men cheer him as he holds the sword aloft and then kneel as he thrusts the sword into the sand. They chant "Lord cast your light upon us." Davos is the last to kneel as Melisandre responds "The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors." Stannis answers "The Night is Dark and Full of Terror." He holds out his hand to his wife Selyse Baratheon who joins him and they lead the congregation from the beach.[2]

Melisandre PaintedTable

Melisandre at Stannis' council meeting at the Painted Table of Dragonstone.

Inside the castle of Dragonstone, Stannis holds a meeting in the Chamber of the Painted Table. Matthos Seaworth reads aloud from a letter that he has prepared stating Stannis's claim to the Iron Throne. Stannis objects to the use of "beloved brother" to refer to Robert Baratheon, Davos calls it a harmless courtesy but Stannis insists that it is a lie and that it be removed from the letter. Matthos continues to detail the illegitimacy of Joffrey Baratheon and Cersei's other children as products of incest between Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister. Stannis insists that Jaime be called the Kingslayer but also that Jaime's title as a knight be acknowledged. He orders copies of the letter to be sent to every corner of the realm from the Arbor to the Wall.[2]

Davos counsels that House Lannister is the true enemy and urges Stannis to make peace with his younger brother Renly Baratheon. Stannis says that he will not make peace with Renly while he is claiming the throne. Davos notes that many lords have already declared for Renly including Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly.

Melisandre 2x01

Melisandre takes the poisoned cup from Maester Cressen.

Melisandre interjects that Stannis does not need to beg lords for support because the Lord of Light stands behind him. Davos asks how many ships the Lord of Light can command and Melisandre says that He has no need for ships. Davos accepts that He does not but says that they do if they are going to war. Davos asks Stannis to consider Robb Stark instead of Renly. Stannis counters that Robb is trying to steal the northern half of his kingdom and reminds Davos that he had always been firm with thieves. He says that Joffrey, Renly and Robb are all thieves and that they must bend the knee to him or be destroyed. Cressen stands and offers an apology for his actions on the beach before inviting Melisandre to share his wine. He draws from the cup before handing it to Melisandre. Cressen steadies himself on the table and his nose begins to bleed: he had poisoned the drink. Melisandre drinks from the cup anyway and then watches the Maester collapse, his blood spreading on the stone floor beneath him. She says that the fire burns the terrors of the night away and the jewel in her choker pulsates with light.[2]

Stannis and Melisandre arrive to the Chamber of the Painted Table, finding Davos and Matthos already there. Davos reports his success recruiting Salladhor Saan and his pirate fleet. Stannis is doubtful of their capability but ultimately relents to Davos's arguments and promises that Salladhor will have his share if he gets the job done and dismisses the men. As they leave, Melisandre stops Matthos and whispers in his ear.[3]

Melisandre Night Lands dress 2

Melisandre in Stannis's council chamber.

Stannis asks Melisandre what she said to Matthos. She reveals that she told him that "death by fire is the purest death." Stannis questions her intent and she says only that it is true. She asks if Stannis is troubled and he says that he is. She claims that armies are toys to the Lord of Light. Stannis suggests that she tell her god to burn them. She says that she can tell Him nothing but prays for, and obeys, His commands. Stannis reports that Renly has 100,000 men whose allegiance should be his. Melisandre urges him to have faith. He tells her that in a real war the side with the greater number wins and that he cannot take King's Landing without Renly's men and cannot defeat Renly in the field. She claims to have seen the path to victory in the flames. He reminds her that he has said her words and burnt the idols of the Seven already. She circles behind him and undoes her robe. She tells him that he must give all of himself. He reminds her of his marriage vow. She says that Selyse is sickly, weak and shut away in a tower and that she disgusts Stannis. She says that Selyse has given Stannis no sons, only stillborns and death. She promises him a son. He repeats the promise as she kisses his ear. He returns her kisses and lifts her onto the table, scattering the models onto the floor as he begins to have sex with her.[3]

Stannis, accompanied by Melisandre, Davos and several guards, meets Renly on the coast of the Stormlands to parley. Renly brings Catelyn Stark, Brienne and Loras Tyrell along with his own guards. Renly feigns confusion over his banner and wonders why Stannis’ version of the stag is aflame.

Renly Stannis Parley

Melisandre at the parley of Renly and Stannis.

Melisandre explains that Stannis has taken the fiery heart of the Lord of Light for his sigil. Renly says that she must be the fire priestess he has heard so much about and jokes that he now knows why Stannis found religion late in life. Stannis warns his brother to watch his tongue. Renly says that he is relieved that Stannis is not really a fanatic and calls him charmless, rigid, and a bore but not godly. Melisandre admonishes Renly to kneel before the Lord’s chosen and says that Stannis was born amidst salt and smoke. Renly jokes that she makes Stannis sound like a ham. Stannis again warns his brother. Catelyn admonishes the brothers as the discussion continues, with Renly reminding Stannis no-one supports his claim. Stannis, for the sake of their mother, gives Renly the night to reconsider and offers to restore him to his seat on the council and name him his heir until he has a son if he strikes his banners before dawn. He says that otherwise he will destroy Renly. Renly reminds Stannis of his numerous supporters and says that they will make him king. Stannis wheels his horse and rides away as Melisandre warns Renly to look to his sins because "The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors."[4]

Stannis summons Davos to his flagship, the Fury. After a brief conversation Stannis orders Davos to smuggle Melisandre ashore and says that it must be done in secret and that they will not speak of it afterwards. Davos asks Stannis to consider cleaner alternatives but Stannis insists that cleaner ways do not win wars.[4]

Davos rows Melisandre into a cove below the cliffs of the coast. She asks him if he is afraid, calling him Onion Knight, and he retorts that he has been told that the night is dark and full of terrors. She says that he has carried more unpleasant cargo in his time. She asks if he is a good man and he says that he is a mixture of good and bad. She counters that if half an onion is black with rot then it is a rotten onion and asserts that good and evil are absolutes. Davos asks which she is and she says that she is good. She says that she is a champion of light and life.[4]

They beach their rowboat and Melisandre asks Davos if he loves his wife and he says that he does. She asks him about other women and he asks her not to talk about his wife. She says that she is speaking of other women like herself and asserts that he wants her. She tells him that he wants to see what is beneath her robe and that he will.[4]


Melisandre gives birth to the Shadow.

They enter a cave in the cliff. Davos says that it is strange that her Lord of Light asks her to work in the shadows. She counters that shadows cannot live in the dark and are servants of the light. He finds their way barred and says that the bars are new. Melisandre says that their passage cannot be barred and opens her robe. She appears heavily pregnant and Davos calls on the seven gods for protection. Melisandre tells him that there is only one god and that He only protects those who serve Him. Davos’s lanterns glow with increasing intensity, startling him. He backs along the wall of the cave as Melisandre lies down on her robe. She begins to moan and something shifts under the skin of her belly. Her choker glows red as she throws her head back. Her moans and gasps intensify, as though she were experiencing intense pleasure, as Davos looks on. Shadowy hands grip her legs and a dark figure pulls itself free of her womb. The shadow stands before her for an instant before passing between the bars.[4]

The shadow assassinates Renly and Stannis takes control of the majority of his army. Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth are in the tent with Renly when he is killed. Catelyn is not sure what she saw, but Brienne is sure it was a shadow with Stannis's face. Stannis sails on King's Landing with his new forces, but Davos convinces him to leave Melisandre behind lest she be credited for his victory.[5]

Stannis suffers a crushing defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater but manages to retreat.[6] He returns to Dragonstone and confronts Melisandre about the validity of her predictions. He begins to strangle her in fury but relents when she reminds him of the spell they used to kill Renly. He expresses regret at murdering his brother. Melisandre warns him that he will commit worse betrayals before their long war is over but insists that he must fight on. She shows him a vision in flames that awes him and restores his faith in her.[7]

Season 3

Following Stannis's defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, the King becomes isolated and withdrawn, and allows no one but Melisandre to see him. Melisandre begins to conduct human sacrifices, ordering any of Stannis's remaining followers who spoke out against her or their dwindling cause to be burned alive as offerings to the Lord of Light. Davos returns with the intention of murdering her in order to stop her from leading Stannis to his doom. He denounces Melisandre as his enemy and draws a knife when she mentions his son's death, but he is restrained and taken to the dungeons.[8]

Melisandre talking to davos

Melisandre talks to Davos regarding his son's death being pure by fire.

She leaves Dragonstone for the Riverlands, despite Stannis wanting her to stay and be with him. She insists there is something they must find. When she arrives, she meets Thoros of Myr of the Brotherhood Without Banners. She at first demands to know what happened to Thoros's mission to convert Robert Baratheon. After bluntly telling her he failed, Thoros asks that she be more open about her needs and that she refrain from speaking High Valyrian. Thoros shows her Beric Dondarrion and explains his many resurrections. Melisandre is astonished, noting that even if it were possible, Thoros shouldn't have that kind of power.

Melisandre with thoros and beric

Melisandre with Thoros and Beric.

Thoros chastises her and reminds her that he is but an instrument of the Lord of Light. He and Beric then agree to give Gendry over to her, in exchange for two heavy bags of gold. As she is about to leave with her prize, Melisandre is accosted by Arya Stark, who refers to her as "evil". She brushes off Arya's insults and looks into the girl's eyes, seeing many other pairs of eyes that Arya will one day shut forever. The Red Priestess asserts that they will meet again one day. [9]

As Melisandre's ship quietly traverses Blackwater Bay, she finally reveals the truth of Gendry's heritage to him by pointing out toward the Red Keep and identifying it as his father's house. Upon arriving at Dragonstone, Melisandre discussed him with Stannis.

Melisandre seducing gendry

Melisandre seducing Gendry.

He is confused at Melisandre's kind treatment towards someone she intends to sacrifice, but the Red Priestess compares the situation to sacrificing a lamb: the creatures are unwieldy to deal with when nervous, but are easy to sacrifice when calm. She puts Gendry up in a lavish chamber and seduces him. She quickly turns the tables, tying him to the bed and proceeding to leech his blood for a ritual.[10]

Melisandre burns the letter

Melisandre sees into the flames.

After Davos Seaworth frees Gendry and faces Stannis's wrath, he tries to save his skin by producing a letter to the Night's Watch. Melisandre burns the letter and confirms the truth of the message: the War of the Five Kings is but a distraction from the true conflict, as darkness marches on the Wall. Melisandre also confirms that Davos must not be killed, as R'hllor has decreed the Onion Knight's importance to the forces of light in the coming conflict.[11]

Season 4

Melisandre talking to shireen

Melisandre talking to Shireen.

Melisandre presides over the burning of several of Stannis's bannermen who have refused to cease their open worship of The Seven, Queen Selyse's own brother among them. Melisandre later dines with Stannis and Selyse. She makes smalltalk when discussing the Lord of Light, but keeps her silence when they begin arguing about Princess Shireen, who has angered Selyse by not converting. Stannis forbids Selyse from laying a hand on Shireen. Selyse suggests sending Melisandre to talk to Shireen instead, a task the red priestess looks decidedly unenthusiastic about. Nonetheless, Melisandre visits Shireen later that night. She dismisses The Seven-Pointed Star as "lies and fables" and tells Shireen that there are only two gods, R'hllor and the Great Other, and only one hell, the one they live in now.[12]


Melisandre talking to Selyse.

Months later, Queen Selyse speaks to Melisandre, who is enjoying a bath. Melisandre quips that the Lord of Light told her to enjoy it as it was the last time she would have a good bath, but the joke goes over Selyse's head. Cementing her position as Melisandre's most devoted follower, the Red Priestess tells Selyse about her use of potions and illusions in serving the Lord of Light, the idea being that a bit of pageantry and deception in helping converts see the truth will be forgiven later on. Selyse asks her if she used the potions when she slept with Stannis, to which she replies that she did not. Selyse then remarks on her desire to leave their daughter Shireen behind when they go to the North but Melisandre is as dismissive about Shireen's "heresy" as she always is, and assures Selyse that Shireen will be needed where they are going.[13]

Melisandre accompanies Stannis to the North in his defense of the Night's Watch against the wildlings, although she does not participate in the battle itself. At the Watch's funeral for their fallen brothers, she keeps her gaze fixed upon Jon Snow.[14]

Season 5

Melisandre HBO Got S5

Melisandre prepares to burn Mance Rayder.

Stannis Baratheon sends for Jon Snow through Melisandre, and on the way from Castle Black to the top of the Wall, she shows him how she is never cold by allowing him to touch her cheek. She also asks if Jon is a virgin. Jon replies that he is not and Melisandre replies that is a good thing. Later, she oversees the burning of Mance Rayder, personally lighting the pyre and denouncing him as a King of Lies, while proclaiming Stannis the only true king.[15]

Melisandre intervenes in an argument between Selyse and Stannis over Shireen; this time, Melisandre quite firmly comes down on Stannis's side, and says that the Lord of Light doesn't care about Shireen's disfigurement, for Stannis's blood runs through her veins. After Selyse leaves, Melisandre inquires as to whether she will be left behind when Stannis marches on Winterfell; Stannis confirms that this time, she will come with him.

Melisandre and jon sons of the harpy

Melisandre tries to seduce Jon.

Satisfied, Melisandre visits Jon Snow, offering a surprisingly mundane reason for him to join the battle: his familiarity with Winterfell's layout will provide a tactical advantage. Melisandre then proceeds to try and seduce Jon, undoing her dress and straddling him at his desk. She urges him to take her, as the Lord of Light made humans male and female for a reason, and to prove that he is on the side of life and not death. Jon resists, citing his vows, and the fact that Stannis wouldn't approve. Melisandre retorts that they shouldn't tell Stannis, and that he already broke his vows to lie with a woman - a woman who is now dead and needn't hold Jon's heart. Jon admits that his feelings for Ygritte are still real even though she's gone. Melisandre does up her dress and departs, declaring "you know nothing, Jon Snow."[16]

Stannis inside his command tent

Stannis inside his command tent with Davos and Melisandre, en route to Winterfell.

Melisandre departs Castle Black along with the rest of Stannis's army, riding next to him.[17] During the march, the weather turns for the worse and a snow storm delays his army. Melisandre speaks alone with Stannis and reminds him that they may need to sacrifice more King's blood in order to better their chances of winning the upcoming battle in the snow which they both saw in the flames, citing the deaths of Robb Stark and Joffrey as examples. When Stannis says that they have no chance of locating Gendry, Melisandre suggests that they sacrifice Shireen. Stannis is visibly shocked and disgusted by the suggestion, asking her if she has lost her mind. She tries to convince him by saying that Stannis must be the undisputed king when the Long Night comes, but he rebuffs her and orders her to leave his presence.[18]

However, an attack by Ramsay Bolton leaves Stannis's men and food supply diminished, after which Stannis reluctantly allows Melisandre to sacrifice Shireen along with several other victims. Melisandre is the one who offers the prayer to the Lord of Light, lighting the pyre without remorse and killing Shireen despite her screams for help from her parents.[19]


Melisandre sacrifices Shireen.

The next day, the temperature climbs and the snow melts rapidly, enough that the army can march at last. Melisandre tells Stannis that the Lord was true to His word and soon, Stannis will take Winterfell. Stannis gruffly pulls away from Melisandre's attempt to embrace him. When a soldier reports to Stannis that half of his army has deserted in the night, Melisandre's composure begins to waver. Immediately thereafter, another soldier reports the discovery of Selyse Baratheon's body. Her faith all but shattered (and probably fearing Stannis's wrath), Melisandre abandons Stannis, steals a horse and flees back to Castle Black. As she arrives, Jon and Davos intercept her, Jon asking after Stannis and Davos after Shireen. Melisandre does not answer, her blank, regretful expression being enough to confirm Jon and Davos's fears.[20]

Season 6


Melisandre's true form is revealed.

After Ser Davos brings the corpse of Jon Snow into a room, Melisandre is called. She tells the few men loyal to Jon that she saw Jon fighting in Winterfell in the flames, but chalks it up to another vision that will not come true. Later that evening in her chambers at Castle Black Melisandre undresses for the evening. Looking forlorn at herself in the mirror, she takes off her necklace and her illusion of beauty disappears, revealing her true form: a frail old woman, many centuries old. She climbs slowly into bed.[21]

Later, Ser Davos implores Melisandre to attempt to revive Jon Snow, saying that he cares nothing for red gods, drowned gods or the Seven, but he does believe in her power. Melisandre reluctantly agrees to try. As Davos and Tormund watch, with Ghost present too, Melisandre attempts the resurrection, ritualizing the experience more than Thoros did. Initially after performing the ritual, nothing happens. Dejected, all but Ghost leave. As Ghost gets up from resting, Jon Snow gasps and opens his eyes.[22]

Melisandre raises jon from dead

Melisandre attempts to bring Jon Snow back to life.

A few moments later, an astonished Melisandre returns to the room to find Ser Davos assisting the newly-revived Jon. Desperate for answers, Melisandre asks him about his experience, and is disappointed to learn that like Beric Dondarrion, he saw nothing while dead. Still pressing, Melisandre says that Stannis was not The Prince That Was Promised, but "someone must be". Since Jon is still trying to wrap his head around what happened, Davos asks Melisandre to give him some space - which she does to his surprise. Melisandre is later visible on the ramparts of Castle Black when Jon appears before the Night's Watch, and when he executes the ringleaders of the mutiny at Castle Black.[23]

Battle of the Bastards 18

Jon meets with Melisandre the night before battle.

Davos asks if Melisandre intends to stay at Castle Black. She replies that she will do whatever Jon Snow commands her to do, as she does indeed consider him to be the prince that was promised. Davos points out that she was once sure it was Stannis, and takes the opportunity to grill her about what really happened on the road to Winterfell. They are interrupted by Brienne of Tarth, who boldly tells them that Stannis lost, and that she executed him after he admitted to using blood magic to kill Renly. Davos processes Brienne while Melisandre slips away.[24]

Melisandre is present at a war council meeting while Sansa Stark, Jon Snow and Davos discuss which of the Northern houses they can ask for support. Melisandre later rides with Jon and Sansa when they depart from Castle Black. [25]

The night before the Jon Snow goes to battle with Ramsay Bolton, he enters Melisandre's tent and remarks that he did not see her at the war council. He asks her not to bring him back from the dead a second time if he falls during the next day's battle. She implies that it is not her decision and she must do as the Lord of Light commands.

The Winds of Winter 20

Melisandre is made to leave and travel south from Winterfell, never to return or she will be hanged.

After the battle, Melisandre walks along the battlements of Winterfell, as she once saw in the flames. She is unaware that Ser Davos is watching her from below, having discovered that she had Princess Shireen burned at the stake. [26]

When Davos interrupts Melisandre's conversation with Jon Snow in the hall of Winterfell and challenges her about Shireen's death, she shows remorse at the sight of her burned wooden carving and confesses her culpability. Though she argues that she burnt Shireen at the command of her parents, when Jon asks her for any last defense, Davos denounces the order as evil and threatens to execute her personally. Jon exiles her from the North for her crime of infanticide, after which she is seen riding south from Winterfell.[27]

Season 7

After being exiled from the North, Melisandre heard tales of Daenerys Targaryen's impending arrival, and returns to Dragonstone to meet her. Although Varys is hostile towards her due to his hatred for blood magic, Daenerys welcomes her in light of the assistance that Kinvara and the Red Priests of Volantis have given her. Cordial and, for the first time, without evangelizing, Melisandre tells the Dragon Queen about her search for The Prince That Was Promised. When Daenerys points out that she isn't a prince, the queen's translator Missandei explains this isn't actually a problem: the High Valyrian word for "prince" is actually gender-neutral and can mean "prince or princess". Melisandre avoids speculating on the promised one's exact identity, and tells Daenerys that she has a role to play in the war to come and so does the King in the North, Jon Snow. She urges Daenerys to meet with him and let him tell her the things he's seen. Tyrion is surprised by Melisandre's message but agrees, prophecy or no, that he could be a valuable ally and tells the Queen that he has more reason than she does to hate Cersei Lannister. Daenerys agrees to summon him so that he can bend the knee to her. Melisandre remains silent through the political discussion.[28]

Melisandre on the Rocks

Varys confronts Melisandre.

When Jon Snow finally arrives at Dragonstone, Melisandre stays back, observing from the cliffs. Varys meets her there and intuits that she's done something to anger the King in the North. Melisandre confirms that neither Jon nor his adviser are fond of her due – in her own words – to mistakes that she had made. Melisandre says that she will stay away from both Jon and Daenerys as her days of "whispering in the ears of kings" are over. Melisandre declares that she has "brought ice and fire together" and that her work is done. Varys is delighted to hear that she will depart for Volantis soon, and advises her not to return to Westeros. Melisandre states that she cannot follow that advice, as she must return to Westeros once more to face her end: like Varys, it is her fate to die in Westeros.[29]


Melisandre is best defined by her seemingly unwavering faith in the Lord of Light, which seems to dominate every move she makes. A religious fanatic, she attributes many, if not any, great thing to be done in the world as an act carried out by the Lord; however, funnily enough, she doesn't credit herself with anything she does in the fire god's service, describing herself as simply a vessel for his will. She is extremely intelligent in her own way and appears to have an uncanny understanding of other people, which enables her to either gain their trust or to subdue them in a confrontation without it coming to blows between them, which sets her apart from women like Cersei Lannister (who subdues them by threatening them with her own family's power) and Margaery Tyrell (who actually gets people to trust her and feel comfortable around her). The latter is a person whom Melisandre especially contrasts with in this regard, because almost everyone feels uneasy around her, in spite of her calm and serene behavior.

Melisandre has a habit of being exceptionally changeable in spite of her absolute faith in R'hllor, which is demonstrated several times. When she meets Stannis Baratheon, she convinces him that he will win the war with great ease on the basis that he is the one true king, and goes to extremely great lengths to ensure that this victory is carried out (to the point of using blood magic to murder Renly Baratheon, which proves to be a wasteful move since Stannis ended up losing the Battle of Blackwater Bay anyway). When Stannis broods over losing at Blackwater Bay, he actually threatens her and she remains faithful to R'hllor, although she doesn't willingly admit that her god wronged both her and Stannis by causing the loss at Blackwater Bay - a suggestion which Melisandre ought to believe because she is convinced that the Lord of Light controls everything, and seems to have protected the usurping lords who stand against Stannis. She defends herself by assuring Stannis that the war between Stannis and his enemies will be long and costly, but eventually he will succeed.

Melisandre is a woman who is completely aware of her own enigma - in fact, her enigma is something that she relishes. Very little is truly known about her past other than generalizations that she gives other people; she claims that she has been fighting for far longer than Stannis ever has (something which is strongly supported by how old she is revealed to be), and is revealed to actually be a ferocious opponent in her own right, as she subdues Stannis when he attacks her by reminding him of how he needs her alongside him. She also frightens Davos Seaworth with her own powers, especially by alluring him in anticipation for what he is about to see. One prime example is when Davos returns to Dragonstone and Melisandre maintains control over Stannis by provoking Davos into attacking her, which leads to him being arrested. In spite of her animosity, Melisandre wasn't above realizing that Davos was still of use to Stannis and that he would be needed in the coming war. Melisandre is also completely able, and adept, at using her own sex to her advantage, seducing Gendry into being a part of her ritual for Stannis - however, when Robb Stark is killed as a result of this ritual, Melisandre scorns Davos for wanting to see the Lord's power, since the ritual still hasn't brought Stannis closer to the Iron Throne, even though Melisandre performed the ritual herself.

Melisandre, although apparently representing a god who is good and true, can deliberately be incredibly ruthless and cruel. She is completely willing to erase hundreds of lives in representation of her faith in the Lord of Light, to the point of outright murdering good men and allies under the assumption that it will win Stannis favor with her god. She saw nothing wrong with burning people publicly, and behaved as if they had been freed from their sinful bodies and become assets to the Lord of Light, comparing it to how a woman screams before she gives birth and is immeasurably happy afterwards - Shireen Baratheon is quick to point out the drastic difference being that women giving birth aren't ash and bone afterwards. Melisandre speaks of the sinfulness and cruelty of her enemies, even though she herself can be cruel and even arrogantly, unapologetically sadistic, shown prominently when she taunts Davos with the concept that the mass-casualties at Blackwater Bay were his fault because Melisandre wasn't there, and how she uses Mathos's own death (which happened right in front of Davos) as an example to this. The worst example of her cruelty by far is when she convinces Stannis to burn his own daughter alive in public, indifferent to the screams of both Shireen and her mother, and the brutal despair that Stannis experiences.

As the War of the Five Kings climaxes and devolves into disaster, Melisandre's faith begins to crack. She begins to lose faith in Stannis as the Battle of Winterfell comes closer at hand, but remains at his side for the most part; however, after the deaths of Shireen and Selyse (the latter of which Melisandre is partly responsible for), Melisandre flees the battle, perhaps in fear of Stannis's rage, and is unable to do anything to help Stannis crush the Boltons in battle, even though she claimed to Davos that she would have eased Stannis's victory at Blackwater. Melisandre's faith is crushed at the news of Stannis's defeat and the concept that she was wrong, and she becomes more withdrawn than before. She seems to transfer her faith to Jon Snow, who actually proves to be the man who would win a great battle in the North, and supports him after she resurrects him. This is a surprising turn for Melisandre because she supported Stannis so strongly under the impression that he was the one true king that would defeat the great evil to come, only to transfer her faith to somebody else. On the other hand, this is an understandable move by Melisandre because she tries to maintain her faith in the Lord of Light, in spite of the misfires and obstacles that come her way. It should be noted that during her service to Jon, Melisandre stops proselytizing her faith and only uses her magic when he commands it, adopting a more subdued approach to her religion and future events and ultimately behaving a bit more like Thoros.

Melisandre's inadvertent cruelty and ruthlessness, as well as her extremely costly faith in the Lord of Light, finally explodes in her face when Davos finally confronts her over the death of Princess Shireen. Having quarreled with Davos over the true greatness of the Lord of Light from the beginning, Melisandre is defenseless when Davos berates her over the wastefulness of her sacrifices and the fact that, in spite of her claims to represent a great god, she purposefully burned a child at the stake on the basis that she had king's blood in her veins. Melisandre is unable to speak when Davos condemns the Lord of Light as evil because of what he 'made' Melisandre do, and has the gall to shame Stannis and Selyse as equivalently responsible for Shireen's death, even though, out of the three of them, Melisandre was the only one who didn't show restraint in the act. She is unapologetic about her own blind faith, and maintains her philosophy that the Lord of Light is influential in the battle between good and evil, and the fact that she committed unforgivably evil acts in representation of good.

Even though Melisandre stakes a claim of superior knowledge about the Lord of Light, she faces several incidents and outcomes which she proves unable to predict or even understand. She is speechless at the revelation that Beric Dondarrion had been brought back six times by the Lord of Light, which she deemed impossible. She is also disappointed at the concept that there is nothing after death, even though she convinced herself and tried to convince many others that death would be a release into someplace much greater than the hell that everyone lives in.


Being a red priestess, Melisandre possesses a wide range of magical abilities.


Melisandre can receive prophetic visions from the Lord of the Light by looking into flames, the art of which is called pyromancy. 

Shadowbinder Magic 

Being a shadowbinder from Asshai, Melisandre possesses the magical ability to control and manipulate shadows as shown when she births a shadow demon and sends it to assassinate Renly Baratheon.

Blood Magic

Melisandre has shown she has the knowledge and power to perform blood magic, as shown when she prepares a blood magic ritual involving drawing blood from Gendry with leeches, and then having Stannis curse the names of his rival kings into the fire.


Like Thoros, Melisandre has the power to resurrect people from the dead by saying a long High Valyrian incantation over the deceased person's body, as shown when she successfully manages to resurrect a fallen Jon Snow.

Glamour Magic 

Melisandre has the power to cast glamours, magical illusions which alter the physical perception and appearance of people and objects, as when her ruby necklace was shown to carry one over herself, to give her current beautiful appearance over her old and withered true self.

Slowed Aging/Longevity

Melisandre has somehow managed to stay alive for over three hundred years, as shown when she removes her enchanted ruby necklace and reveals herself to be an old and withered crone.

Poison Resistance 

Melisandre has shown to have a magical resistance to poisons, as shown when she drank and survived a whole cup of Maester Cressen's poisoned wine with the strangler.

Cold Resistance

Being a servant of the Lord of the Light, Melisandre once commented to Jon Snow that she is incapable of feeling the cold.


While she is never seen practicing alchemy, it is implied that she is proficient in this branch of magic, as when she showed Selyse Baratheon her large repertoire of elixirs and potions while bathing, all of which she had presumably brewed herself. 


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
Season Three appearances
Valar Dohaeris Dark Wings, Dark Words Walk of Punishment And Now His Watch Is Ended Kissed by Fire
The Climb The Bear and the Maiden Fair Second Sons The Rains of Castamere Mhysa
Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children
Season Five appearances
The Wars To Come The House of Black and White High Sparrow Sons of the Harpy Kill the Boy
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken The Gift Hardhome The Dance of Dragons Mother’s Mercy
Season Six appearances
The Red Woman Home Oathbreaker Book of the Stranger The Door
Blood of My Blood The Broken Man No One Battle of the Bastards The Winds of Winter
Season Seven appearances
Dragonstone Stormborn The Queen's Justice The Spoils of War Eastwatch Beyond the Wall The Dragon and the Wolf


Spoken by Melisandre

"The night is dark and full of terrors, old man, but the fire burns them all away."
―Melisandre, to Cressen[src]
"Death by fire is the purest death."
"Look to your sins Lord Renly, the night is dark and full of terrors."
―Melisandre to Renly Baratheon.[src]
"You've chosen the darkness Ser Davos, I'll pray for you..."
―Melisandre ​to Davos Seaworth.[src]
"I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you'll shut forever. We will meet again."
―Melisandre to Arya Stark.[src]
"A god is real, or he's not. You only need eyes to see."
―Melisandre to Gendry.[src]
"Death is coming for everyone and everything ... a darkness that will swallow the dawn."
"There is only one hell, Princess. The one we live in now."
―Melisandre to Shireen Baratheon[src]
"You know nothing, Jon Snow."
―Melisandre to Jon Snow[src]
"If you want to help him, leave him be."
―Melisandre to Davos Seaworth about Jon Snow.[src]
"The great victory I saw in the flames, all of it was a lie."
―Melisandre to Davos Seaworth.[src]
"I've been ready to die for many years. If the Lord was done with me, so be it, but he's not."
―Melisandre to Jon Snow[src]

Spoken to/about Melisandre

Davos Seaworth: "There's always the Red Woman."
Night's Watch loyalist: "What's one redhead going to do against forty armed men?"
Davos Seaworth: "You haven't seen her do what I've seen her do."
— Davos Seaworth about Melisandre.[src]
Jon Snow: "Ride South today. If you return to the North, I'll have you hanged as a murderer."
Davos Seaworth: "If you ever come back this way, I will execute you myself."
— Jon Snow and Davos Seaworth exile Melisandre for murdering Shireen.[src]

Image gallery

Behind the scenes

  • Carice van Houten was previously asked to audition for the role of Cersei Lannister when Season 1 was shot, but schedule conflicts prevented her from auditioning. She was asked to come back to audition during the shooting of Season 2, and was cast as Melisandre.[30]
  • Oliver Ford Davies, who played Cressen, said in 2013 that when he asked van Houten why Cressen's poison kills his character but does not kill hers, the actress replied that Melisandre is "400 years old".[31]
  • Kelly Long was a stunt double for Carice van Houten in the role of Melisandre.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Melisandre is a priestess of the red god, R'hllor, the Lord of Light, whose worship involves the idolization of fire and light. R'hllor is a popular deity in several of the Free Cities (particularly Lys, Myr, and Volantis) but is almost unheard of in Westeros. Although the series has altered some of Melisandre's actions, van Houten's portrayal is overall consistent with Melisandre as described in the books.

Melisandre has only one POV chapter in the novels.[32] In the other chapters she appears in, her actions are narrated from the POV of Cressen, Davos, Sam and Jon.

Very little has been revealed about Melisandre's earlier life, other than that she is originally from the city of Asshai in the distant east. Melisandre recalls that as a small child, she was a slave named "Melony". At the slave auction block, she was known as "Lot Seven". She was sold at a young age to the temple of the Lord of Light in Asshai, eventually rising to become a priestess, and thus has spent most of her life in the service of the religion. Melisandre thinks to herself that she "had practiced her art for years beyond count".

Melisandre keeps stating that "Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone". Since Dragonstone, a volcanic island, is a place of smoke and salt, she claims that Stannis is Azor Ahai reborn. Apparently, Melisandre is unaware that her statement fits someone else - Daenerys, who was born on Dragonstone and has hatched fossilized dragon eggs into live dragons; Stannis, on the other hand, was not born on Dragonstone but in Storm's End, and so far has not done anything that could, even metaphorically, be described as waking stone dragons.

In A Clash of Kings, Melisandre "gives birth" to two shadows, the first against Renly and the second - being the one that Davos bears witness to - against Ser Cortnay Penrose, the castellan of Storm's End. He ferries Melisandre into the caves beneath Storm's End because the castle is an ancient stronghold, and guarded against magic. To accomplish this he employs the same route, and "smuggler's tricks" he used when smuggling onions and dried fish into the castle during the Siege of Storm's End in Robert's Rebellion. The TV series condensed this into just one incident.

Melisandre's vision powers can detect dangers that threaten her, but they are limited. Davos takes advantage of that weakness in order to save Edric Storm; indeed, Melisandre fails to foresee that.

After Melisandre arrives at Castle Black, she oddly continues to wear lightweight clothing not well suited to the sub-arctic cold at the Wall - her magical powers apparently give her all the heat she needs. Her powers also allow her to only sleep for one hour a night: she dislikes sleeping more than the bare minimum she has to, because she has nightmares about her time as a slave. She takes an interest in Jon Snow, and whenever she looks into the flames for visions of Azor Ahai, who she believes to be Stannis, all she sees are visions of Jon.

Melisandre does not travel with Stannis's host to Winterfell but stays in Castle Black. She repeatedly warns Jon of "daggers in the dark", but he refuses to listen, especially after she tells him of a vision she has had of Arya Stark fleeing through the North and finding Jon at the Wall; the girl turns out to be Alys Karstark.

Melisandre is one of the people whom Ramsay demands from Jon in the Bastard Letter, referring to her as "his [Stannis's] red witch". It is unclear why Ramsay (if indeed the letter was written by him) needs her.

Despite what Davos thinks of Melisandre, she is not heartless: she sympathizes with him for losing four of his sons at the battle of the Blackwater; therefore she asks Stannis to leave Davos's fifth son Devan at Castle Black, where he will be relatively safe. Melisandre does not resent Davos for intending to kill her or for preventing her from sacrificing Edric Storm. She has a positive opinion about Davos due to his total loyalty to Stannis, even though he is misguided in her eyes.

Her appearance is slightly different in the books. She is described as having red eyes and being taller than most men. Carice van Houten, who plays Melisandre, has blue eyes and is not particularly tall, her height being 5 foot 6.5 inches (169 cm). Melisandre's hair is noted to be much redder than that of a natural redhead, but this was easily addressed with a wig.

Melisandre's name did not appear in the Season 1 Pronunciation guide, but the phonetic pronunciation of her name was later seen written out in a behind-the-scenes short video: "meh-liss-AHN-dreh".[33]

See also


v  d  e
Lord: None, extinct Heir: None, extinct
Seat: Dragonstone Lands: Blackwater Bay and the Stormlands
Title(s): Lord of Dragonstone
Current members:None, extinct
Deceased members:King Stannis Baratheon · Queen Selyse Florent · Princess Shireen Baratheon · Petyr Baratheon · Tommard Baratheon · Edric Baratheon
Household:{Maester Cressen} · Lady Melisandre · {Lord Axell Florent} · Ser Davos Seaworth · Ser Imry Florent · {Matthos Seaworth} · Bert · {General}

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