Catelyn Stark

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Catelyn Stark
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Michelle Fairley Cat Stark in the Vale.png
Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byGeorge R. R. Martin
Adapted byD.B. Weiss & David Benioff
(Game of Thrones)
Portrayed byMichelle Fairley
In-universe information
  • Cat
  • Lady Cat
  • The Silent Sister
  • Mother Merciless
  • The Hangwoman
  • Novels:
    Lady Stonehart
TitleLady of Winterfell
SpouseNed Stark

Catelyn Stark (née Tully), or Cat to family and close friends, is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. She is a prominent point of view character in the first three novels.

Introduced in 1996's A Game of Thrones, Catelyn is the wife of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, the Warden of the North and mother to five of his children Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon, but resents his bastard son Jon Snow. She was born into House Tully of Riverrun, the lord paramount clan of the Riverlands, as the oldest child of Lord Hoster Tully and Minisa Whent, and has two younger siblings — sister Lysa and brother Edmure.

Catelyn is portrayed by Northern Irish actress Michelle Fairley on the HBO series Game of Thrones.[1] American actress Jennifer Ehle was originally cast as Catelyn Stark and appeared in the unaired pilot, but left the series for family reasons before the first season began.[2][3] Fairley's portrayal of Catelyn has garnered critical acclaim, with many in particular praising her performance during the episode "The Rains of Castamere".[4] Due to this popularity, many fans were disappointed she did not appear in the series' fourth season, despite the character's resurrection in the novels.[5][6]

Character description[edit]

Catelyn Stark is described as beautiful, with fair skin, long auburn hair, blue eyes, long fingers, high cheekbones and full breasts, and dressed simply in the grey color of House Stark or the blue and red of her father’s House Tully. She is proud, strong, kind and generous, has a strong grasp of politics, and is often governed by the desire to protect her children. Catelyn is usually in accord with her husband Eddard Stark, but resents his admission of his illegitimate son Jon Snow into their household.

Catelyn was originally betrothed to Eddard's older brother Brandon, the heir to Winterfell at the time. When Brandon was sadistically executed by King Aerys II, Lord Jon Arryn, who was the guardian of Eddard and Robert Baratheon, rebelled against House Targaryen. Soon after the rebels won the Battle of the Bells, Catelyn was married to Eddard, having never met the new groom before the wedding day, to consolidate the alliance between the Riverlands and the North. She was initially disappointed as Eddard is shorter and less handsome than Brandon, but later fell in love with Eddard after seeing the "good sweet heart beneath his solemn face".


Coat of arms of House Tully and House Stark

Book series[edit]

A Game of Thrones[edit]

After the royal party arrives at Winterfell, Catelyn receives a letter from her sister Lysa Arryn stating that the Lannisters had killed her husband Jon Arryn, the king's 'Hand' (second-in-command). King Robert Baratheon persuades Eddard to take his place. When her son Bran is injured and goes into a coma, she sits by his bed until they are attacked by an assassin who has come to kill Bran. Catelyn is wounded in the attack, and travels to King's Landing to warn Eddard after recovering. There, her childhood companion Petyr Baelish tells her that the dagger used in the attack belongs to Tyrion Lannister. On her way back to Winterfell, she takes Tyrion to her sister at the Eyrie for trial, where Tyrion escapes execution by demanding and winning a trial by combat. After the news of Eddard's execution by order of King Joffrey reaches Catelyn, she argues for peace, but is overruled by the newly crowned King Robb and his bannermen.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

Catelyn advises against Robb's plan to send Eddard's former ward, Theon Greyjoy, to forge an alliance with Balon Greyjoy. Catelyn is sent by Robb to attempt an alliance with Renly Baratheon and his massive Reach-Stormlands host. Catelyn meets Renly at Bitterbridge and follows his host to the ancestral Baratheon seat of Storm's End, where she witnesses first the unsuccessful parley between Renly and his older brother and rival claimant Stannis, and then Renly's subsequent murder later that night by a shadow creature. Afterwards, Catelyn flees with Brienne of Tarth, one of Renly's kingsguard, to Riverrun. Upon hearing of her younger sons' supposed murder at the hands of Theon Greyjoy, Catelyn goes to confront the captive Jaime Lannister. Although the novel ends her storyline ambiguously, it is revealed at the beginning of the third novel that Catelyn set him free and asked Brienne to escort him to King's Landing in an attempt to exchange him for her daughters, who were still captives of Joffrey. This, however, causes problems for Robb and costs him an ally, House Karstark, which had held grudges against the Lannisters.

A Storm of Swords[edit]

Catelyn's brother Edmure Tully places Catelyn under house arrest at Riverrun, but Robb pardons her after he announces his wedding to Jeyne Westerling, invalidating his marriage proposal to House Frey. Lord Walder Frey agrees to forgive Robb if Edmure marries his daughter Roslin, and Catelyn travels to the Frey seat of the Twins to attend the wedding with Robb and other northern lords. However, Walder Frey and his men take revenge on Robb for his slight on their house by slaughtering the northern host, an act of treachery that became known as the "Red Wedding". In an attempt to save her son's life, Catelyn takes Aegon Frey hostage and kills him when Roose Bolton kills Robb regardless, but she still has her throat slashed by Raymund Frey. The Freys then mutilate Robb's corpse, and throw Catelyn's stripped naked corpse into the Green Fork in mockery of House Tully's tradition of river burial.

Three days later, Catelyn's body is washed ashore downstream along with hundreds of other corpses, and a wolf pack led by Arya Stark's stray direwolf Nymeria is drawn to scavenge upon the dead. However, Arya is skinchanging into Nymeria at the time during her sleep, recognizes her mother's body, controls Nymeria to pull it out of the river and guards it against other wolves until the outlaw band Brotherhood Without Banners passes by to repel the wolves. Catelyn is then resurrected by Lord Beric Dondarrion, who sacrifices his life force to revive her in repayment to her husband Eddard's honoring. However, the period of time she spent deceased has caused Catelyn's body to partly decay, disfiguring her looks; furthermore, upon her reanimation she loses most of her previous kind personality, except for her hatred of the Lannisters and the Freys. Catelyn then assumes command of the Brotherhood, and changes their aim to terrorizing anyone related to House Frey and Lannister. Her uncompromising brutality earns her the moniker "Lady Stoneheart".

A Feast for Crows[edit]

Stoneheart and the Brotherhood come across a small party led by Brienne, who informs Stoneheart that she is searching for Sansa at Jaime Lannister's request. Stoneheart names Brienne a traitor because she carries Oathkeeper, a Lannister sword that was forged from Ned Stark's Valyrian steel blade, Ice. Brienne swears that she is still faithful, but Stoneheart insists she must prove it by killing Jaime, whom she believes played a role in the Red Wedding. Brienne refuses, even when threatened with a hanging. Just before Brienne is to be hanged, she shouts out a word.

Family tree of House Tully[edit]

Television series[edit]

In January 2007 HBO secured the rights to adapt Martin's series for television.[7][8] Jennifer Ehle was originally cast as Catelyn Stark and filmed her scenes in the unaired pilot until she eventually left for family reasons.[2][9] Michelle Fairley was then cast in the role, which she played for three seasons. Catelyn's storyline diverges from the book following the Red Wedding in that she never reappears as Lady Stoneheart.

Fairley's performance has received critical acclaim. Time wrote about "The Rains of Castamere": "Michelle Fairley’s fantastic performance captures the horror, with the edge of desperation, anguish, and madness of a woman who has lost her sons (she believes all of them), lost her grandchild, may have lost her daughters, and for all she knows, is witnessing the extinction of the house she belongs to...".[10] The closing scene of "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" was praised by HitFix's Alan Sepinwall, highlighting Michelle Fairley's acting as Catelyn gathers allies to arrest Tyrion.[11]


  1. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 19, 2010). "Fairley to replace Ehle in HBO's 'Thrones'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (August 3, 2009). "Trio of actresses cast in TV projects". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  3. ^ Watson, Fay (2019-10-10). "Game of Thrones: Why did GoT recast these 3 major roles?". Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  4. ^ Game of Thrones: Michelle Fairley is shunned by the Emmy Awards, but the show picks up 17 nominations (Yahoo TV UK)
  5. ^ Silman, Anna (June 16, 2014). "Book Fans Angered by Huge Game of Thrones Finale Omission". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  6. ^ Gupta, Prachi (June 16, 2014). ""Game of Thrones" director explains the Lady Stoneheart situation". Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  7. ^ Radish, Christina (2013). "Producers David Benioff, Dan Weiss & George R.R. Martin Talk Game of Thrones Season 3 and 4, Martin's Cameo, the End of the Series, and More". Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  8. ^ Fleming, Michael (January 16, 2007). "HBO turns Fire into fantasy series". Variety. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (March 19, 2010). "'Game of Thrones' recasting: Ehle out, Fairley in". HitFix. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
  10. ^ James, Poniewozik (June 3, 2013). "Game of Thrones Watch: So Close. So Far". Time. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  11. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (May 8, 2011). "Review: 'Game of Thrones' – 'Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things': Wall stories". HitFix. Retrieved May 10, 2011.