Samwell, better known as Sam and affectionately as Little Sam, is the son of Craster, a wildling who married his daughters, and Gilly, one of his many daughters-wives, hence making Sam a product of incest. He was named after Samwell Tarly, who saved the lives of Gilly and her son. Later, Samwell secretly adopted Sam, presenting the boy to his family, House Tarly, as his own bastard son and of Tarly blood, though he has not been officially acknowledged.
Two of Craster's wives deliver Gilly's son in a birthing hut. At the same time the Night's Watch survivors of the Battle of the Fist of the First Men take shelter at Craster's Keep. After Gilly and Samwell Tarly notice that her new baby is a boy, they realize that Craster will want to sacrifice him to the White Walkers.
Sam visits Gilly, who is deeply distraught about the impending fate of her newborn son. She is frantic, and yells at Sam not to draw attention to his gender, as Craster will want to offer it up as a sacrifice when he finds out. He asks her if she has decided on a name, but she responds that there is no point in naming her baby if he is only going to be offered up as a human sacrifice. She gives Sam back his mother's thimble and says she doesn't care about such stupid things, and is focused only on protecting the life of her baby.
When a mutiny breaks out that results in the deaths of Craster and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, Sam rushes to Gilly's hut and tells her that they must leave. Sam runs out of Craster's Keep with Gilly and her baby, as loyal Night's Watch members fall to the mutineers, who also kill or rape Craster's other wives. Gilly leads the way into the night because she knows the woods around her home.
After several days of traveling, Sam, Gilly, and her baby arrived at an abandoned cabin in a forest. After lighting a fire, Sam suggests that Gilly name her son but she does not know any boy names. Sam gives her some examples, and also explains the difference between first and last names. They are interrupted by the squawks of several crows outside. When Sam and Gilly, who is carrying the baby, went out to investigate, they saw hundreds of crows squawking angrily at them. Shortly later, Gilly witnesses a White Walker approaching and realized that the creature has come for the baby due to Craster's habit of sacrificing male babies to these creatures. Sam manages to kill the White Walker with a dragonglass dagger. The three of them then flee into the night.
Following their encounter with the White Walker, Sam's mother Gilly and her protector Samwell continue their journey to Castle Black, the headquarters of the Night's Watch. Based on Samwell's knowledge of the roads and places in the North, they head for Nightfort, an abandoned castle which was formerly the headquarters of the Night's Watch and is situated between Castle Black and Beyond the Wall.
After traveling past the Wall, Sam and the adults finally reach Nightfort, where they encounter Bran Stark, the half-brother of Samwell's friend Jon Snow. Bran and his companions Jojen Reed and his sister Meera, the servant Hodor and the direwolf Summer are traveling Beyond the Wall in search of the Three-Eyed Raven.
Due to their experiences beyond the Wall, Samwell and Gilly are not willing to return to the Wall with Bran and company. They part company, and Sam and the adults complete their journey to Castle Black. There, they met Maester Aemon, who is furious at the prospect that Samwell has violated his vows. However, Aemon's demeanor softens upon learning that Gilly was one of the late Craster's wives and that Sam is one of his offspring. Aemon acknowledges that Gilly is now a refugee and that she and her child should be sheltered since the North is no longer safe for humans. Aemon then orders Sam to begin writing letters immediately and to make sure that all forty-four of Castle Black's ravens are well-fed, as every one of them will fly that night: the White Walkers have returned, and Westeros must be warned. For the moment, Sam and his mother are safe from the White Walkers.
A whore is annoyed that Gilly's baby woke her up during a night in Mole's Town. Meanwhile, a wildling raiding party, including Tormund, Styr, and Ygritte, attack the town, killing everyone in their path. Ygritte discovers Gilly hiding with her baby, but urges them to keep quiet, sparing their lives. Gilly and her baby flee to the safety of Castle Black. Sam is overjoyed to see them and has them hide in a storage room for the duration of the battle.
Little Sam remains with his mother Gilly at Castle Black. However, Gilly is fearful that she and her baby may be sent away if Ser Alliser Thorne is chosen as the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
On his deathbed, Maester Aemon fondly interacts with Little Sam, recalling that his younger brother Egg had a jolly laugh just like him when he was a baby. His strength failing, he also warns Gilly that she must go south with her baby before it is too late - winter is almost upon them and the White Walkers will come with it to attack the Wall.
Sam asks Jon if he can travel to Oldtown to study and replace Aemon as the new maester for Castle Black, as he feels there is no other way he can help them as he cannot fight. He also wishes to take Gilly and little Sam with him, in order to protect them from the coming war against the White Walkers. Jon allows this and Sam, Gilly and little Sam depart shortly after.
Little Sam accompanies his mother Gilly and Samwell Tarly on a sea voyage to Oldtown in the Reach. Since the Citadel only admits men within its walls, Samwell plans to send Sam and his mother to live with his family at Horn Hill. Samwell is unwilling to abandon Sam and his mother to the tender mercies of the streets of Oldtown.
After landing in Oldtown, Little Sam, Gilly, and Samwell travel by station coach to the Tarly family home at Horn Hill. To protect Gilly, Samwell claims that she was a Northern woman he had bedded in Mole's Town and that Little Sam is his son. Upon arriving at Horn Hill, Sam and the adults are welcomed by Samwell's mother Melessa and his sister Talla Tarly, the former of whom Sam seems to like. While Melessa and Talla are friendly and hospitable, Samwell's father Randyll Tarly is hostile and derides Sam's mother for being a Wildling. Later that night, Samwell steals the family heirloom Heartsbane and flees Horn Hill with both Gilly and Little Sam.
After arriving in Oldtown, Sam and Gilly meet a Citadel maester. Sam gives him a letter from Lord Commander Snow about Sam becoming a maester for the Night's Watch, but the maester is skeptical about Jon Snow's state, saying that no word was given about Lord Commander Mormont's death from Maester Aemon. The maester states that Sam's situation is "irregular" to which Sam responds, "Life is irregular." The maester then says that Sam must speak to the Archmaester in order to discuss these issues. The maester then allows Sam to use the library, but blocks Gilly and Little Sam from entering.
Little Sam and his mother Gilly stay in Oldtown while Samwell studies at the Citadel nearby. While Sam plays with his mother, Samwell discovers that mines of dragonglass can be found beneath Dragonstone. Little Sam accompanies his mother and adoptive father when they decide to leave Oldtown, arriving in Winterfell soon after.
When Samwell mourns the deaths of his father and brother, Jon asks, not yet knowing why Samwell is shaking and sad, if Little Sam is alright. Sam sleeps in the crypts of Winterfell, with his parents, as the multiple armies at the castle await for the White Walkers. He survives the non-combatant attack from the reanimated wights, after which Gilly announces her pregnancy by Samwell.
|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|
|Season Eight appearances|
|Winterfell||A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms||The Long Night|
|The Last of the Starks||The Bells||The Iron Throne|
Behind the scenes
In the books, Gilly's son was born in the third novel - the TV series split the third novel in half due to its size, adapting it across Season 3 and Season 4. Moreover, time seems to move more slowly in the TV series. This leads to complications for his exact age in the TV continuity: the exact rate at which time progresses has not been directly specified, but generally it seems that it follows a principle that one TV season equals one year of in-universe story time. At the least, this principle was followed in the first three seasons: characters in Season 2 state that one year has passed since the events of Season 1, and characters in Season 3 state that two years have passed since Season 1. For example, in late Season 3 Brynden Tully says that the war - which began in late Season 1 - had been going on for two years by that point.
Gilly's son Sam was born on-screen in Season 3 episode 3, "Walk of Punishment". If the principle that one TV season equals one year of story-time has remained consistent, Sam would have to be around 3 years old in Season 6 (possibly a little less, due to a difference of a few months, etc.)
Gilly's son is still a baby only about a year old as of his most recent appearance in the fourth novel, when Gilly takes him on the journey to Oldtown - corresponding to her storyline in Season 6 of the TV series. The TV adaptation, however, might not have taken into account for this storyline the principle followed in the rest of the TV series about the rate at which time progresses from one season to the next, keeping Gilly's son a baby - when, if the time principle was followed consistently, he should be a toddler around 2-3 years old.
On the other hand, few statements about the progression of time have been made from Season 4 onwards. While Seasons 1 to 3 were outright stated to last about one year each, the rate at which time progresses from Season 4 onwards might have slowed down - just without making it explicitly clear to the audience through on-screen dialogue (in which case, it is possible that only about one year has progressed since the beginning of Season 4). Roose Bolton said at the Red Wedding at the end of Season 3 that he was going to marry Fat Walda Frey, by mid-Season 5 she announced she was pregnant with his child, and in early Season 6 she gave birth. It isn't clear exactly when she conceived, though this would result in a nine month pregnancy. Thus, at the very least, roughly a year or so must have passed between Season 3 and Season 6.
Even so, Sam was born in early Season 3, other comments indicated that Season 3 lasted one year (albeit Sam was born after it began), and even a conservative reading of the TV timeline would have to make him nearly 2 years old in Season 6 - straining the plausibility of him remaining a "baby" and not a "toddler".
When Sam reappears in Season 6 episode 3 "Oathbreaker", his age is ambiguous: he doesn't seem to be played by a baby-actor anymore but by a somewhat older child with a full head of hair, but the situation is still very unclear.
Season 6 finally gave a statement about the passage of time when Edmure Tully reappeared, and he said that he has been a prisoner of the Freys for "years" since the Red Wedding - years plural, meaning at least 2 years must have passed between Season 3 and Season 6, possible up to 3 years (if each season indeed lasts one year). Gilly's baby was born earlier in Season 3, meaning that he similarly must be at least 2 years old or so by Season 6.
For further discussion see the "Timeline" article.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Gilly's child actually does not possess a name yet. Due to the harsh conditions Beyond the Wall, the wildlings have a high infant mortality rate and believe that naming a baby after birth is an ill-omen. Therefore, they do not give their babies names at all until they have survived to two years of age. Gilly follows this custom and, for that reason, she has not given any name to her baby yet. Wildlings do sometimes give their babies "milk names" in the meantime but Gilly hasn't called her baby "Sam" in the books.
Val, Mance Rayder's sister-in-law, a respected member of the Free Folk who is regarded as a "wildling princess" by many southerners, affectionately gives Gilly's baby the milk name "Monster," calling the baby "my monster" and "sweet little monster," until he is of age to be officially named.
In A Feast for Crows, Jon sends Gilly and Mance Rayder's baby son alongside Sam and Maester Aemon to Oldtown via Braavos, fearing that Melisandre may sacrifice either Aemon or the baby for their "king's blood". Gilly is heartbroken that she has to leave her own baby behind, but Jon forces her to (he feels sorry for her, but reluctantly sticks to his decision). Jon promises Gilly that her boy will be safe and raised at Castle Black under his protection. Before departing, Gilly tells Jon to take good care of the baby and not to name him before he is two years old, to which Jon gives his word to Gilly. Most of the journey, Gilly is overcome with grief at being separated from her child.
Currently, the child is being raised at Castle Black under Jon's protection and is attended to by wet nurses arranged for him by Jon, with Jon ensuring that the child is thriving and cared for; Val often tends to the baby when she's at Castle Black and is very fond of the child.
After Maester Aemon's death, Gilly explains she intends to name Mance Rayder's baby "Aemon Steelsong" or "Aemon Battleborn" in Maester Aemon's honor when the baby reaches two years of age. She does not choose a name for her own baby.
In the show, it appears that Gilly's son and Mance Rayder's son have been condensed into one character.
- "Walk of Punishment"
- "And Now His Watch Is Ended"
- "Second Sons"
- "The Rains of Castamere"
- "Breaker of Chains"
- "The Mountain and the Viper"
- "The Watchers on the Wall"
- "The Wars To Come"
- "The Gift"
- "Mother's Mercy"
- "Blood of My Blood"
- "The Winds of Winter"
- "The Dragon and the Wolf"
- "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"
- "The Long Night"
- "The Last of the Starks"