Ramsay Bolton

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Ramsay Bolton
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Ramsay Bolton- -Iwan Rheon.jpg
Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton
First appearance
Last appearance
Created by George R. R. Martin
Portrayed by Iwan Rheon
(Game of Thrones)
Voiced by Iwan Rheon (video game)
  • The Bastard of Bolton
  • Ramsay Snow
  • Novels:
  • The Bastard of the Dreadfort
  • Red Helm
  • Television:
  • Lord Snow
Gender Male
  • Lord of Winterfell
  • Castellan of the Dreadfort
  • Novels:
  • Lord of the Hornwood
  • Television:
  • Lord of the Dreadfort
  • Warden of the North
  • Lord Paramount of the North
Family House Bolton
  • Roose Bolton (father)
  • Walda Bolton (mother-in-law)
  • Domeric Bolton (half-brother)
  • Novels:
  • Robb Stark (Lord of Winterfell)
  • Television:
  • Roose Bolton (Lord of Winterfell and the Dreadfort, Lord Paramount and Warden of the North)
  • Television:
  • Sansa Stark (Lady of Winterfell)
  • Jon Snow (Lord Paramount and Warden of the North)
Kingdom The North

Ramsay Bolton, formerly known as Ramsay Snow and also as Bastard of Bolton or Bastard of the Dreadfort, 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.

Introduced in 1998's A Clash of Kings, Ramsay is the eldest son of Roose Bolton, the lord of the Dreadfort, an ancient fortress in the North of the kingdom of Westeros. He is subsequently mentioned in A Storm of Swords (2000) and A Feast for Crows (2005). He later appears in Martin's A Dance with Dragons (2011).

Ramsay is portrayed by Welsh actor Iwan Rheon in the HBO television adaptation.[1][2]

Character description[edit]

Ramsay Snow is the bastard son of Lord Roose Bolton of Dreadfort, and is conceived out of Roose murdering a miller and raping the victim's wife. A year later the woman arrived at the Dreadfort with the newborn Ramsay, and Roose gave the woman the mill along with a pig, several chicks and a bag of silver coin every year on the condition that she never reveal to Ramsay the truth of his parentage. Ramsay's mother arrived at the castle years later claiming she needed help in raising Ramsay, who grew up wild and unruly, so Roose sent a servant known as Reek to Ramsay and his mother as a cruel jest. However Ramsay and Reek grew inseparable, and even Roose would later reflect on whether Ramsay had corrupted Reek or whether Reek had corrupted Ramsay. Despite Roose's instruction to Ramsay's mother, either she or Reek eventually informed him of his true parentage.

Ramsay is an ugly young man, even when dressed finely. He is big boned and slope shouldered, with a fleshiness indicating he will be fat later in life. His skin is pink and blotchy, his nose broad, his hair long and dark and dry. Although his mouth is small, his lips are wide and meaty, wormy looking, and has a wet-lipped smile. His distinctive eyes resemble Roose's — small, close-set and oddly pale, like two chips of dirty ice. Ramsay sometimes wears a garnet cut in the shape of a drop of blood in his right ear, and a black leather jerkin over a pink velvet doublet slashed with dark red satin, along with black boots, belt and scabbard. For battle Ramsay wears dark armor with a pale pink cloak, and a red rounded helm and gorget that resemble the face and shoulders of a skinless, bloody man whose mouth is open in a silent scream. Ramsay's weapons include a falchion, a dagger, and a flaying knife, all with hilts of yellow bone. Though savage in battle, he was never officially taught at arms, and his swordsmanship style is vicious and highly aggressive, wielding his sword as if it were a butcher's cleaver. Ramsay's personal steed is named Blood, and he keeps a pack of female hunting hounds.

Ramsay has a group of men-at-arms companions called the Bastard's Boys (though never within their or Ramsay's hearing), who follow him although their true allegiance lies with Lord Roose to spy on Ramsay. Ramsay is a depraved sadist renowned for his savage cruelty: he tortures prisoners and enthusiastically engages in the forbidden old Bolton custom of flaying captured enemies alive. He openly enjoys having young peasant women stripped naked and released into the forests, before hunting them down with feral dogs. After raping the victims first, he would give a quick death to women who give him "good sport" then flays their corpses, and likes to "honor" them by name his dogs after the victims he enjoys most. The women who do not give him good sport are raped and then flayed alive. The skins of his kills are brought back to Dreadfort as gruesome trophies, and the bodies of the victims are fed to his dogs.

While most bastards content themselves with life, Ramsay had larger ambitions. He considers himself a true Bolton despite his birth and is highly resentful of his baseborn status and will violently correct those who refer to him otherwise. Roose suspects that it was Ramsay who murdered Roose's trueborn heir Domeric, and expects that Ramsay will kill all of Roose's future children. The suspected poisoning of Domeric also earned Ramsay the enmity of House Dustin, as Lady Barbrey Dustin was fond of her nephew Domeric. Two years prior to the beginning of the series, Roose brought Ramsay to the Dreadfort as he had no other sons, and Ramsay learned to read and write. He is a cunning and capable manipulator who is particularly good at thinking on his feet, though less savvy when it comes to long-term consequences and intricate politics. Roose chides Ramsay for his abusive "amusements" as it goes against Roose's creed of creating "a peaceful land, a quiet people" image for House Bolton's rule, but Ramsay refuses to listen.



Ramsay Bolton is not a point of view character in the novels, and is mostly a background character in the novels. His actions are witnessed and interpreted directly through the eyes of Theon Greyjoy,[3] and indirectly from stories heard by Bran Stark and Davos Seaworth.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

While his father is at war in A Clash of Kings, Ramsay is named castellan of the Dreadfort. After Lord Hornwood and his heir are killed fighting for Robb Stark, Ramsay forcibly marries Lady Hornwood to claim her lands, before starving her to death. He escapes justice by switching places with his servant Reek, who is killed instead; Rodrik Cassel brings Ramsay, in the guise of Reek, back to Winterfell, intending to have him testify to Ramsay's crimes before being executed. However, Theon Greyjoy and the Ironborn capture Winterfell and release Ramsay in exchange for a vow of service to Theon. When Theon's hostages escape, Ramsay murders two peasant boys and convinces Theon to present the corpses as those of Bran and Rickon Stark. As the Northerners move to take back Winterfell, Ramsay persuades Theon to let him ride to the Dreadfort to gather reinforcements. He returns with an army of Bolton soldiers and massacres the Northern relief force, but then proceeds to kill the Ironborn, burn Winterfell, and take Theon prisoner.

A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows[edit]

Prior to the Red Wedding, Roose Bolton presents Robb Stark with a piece of Theon's skin, revealing that Ramsay has been flaying him; though disgusted, Robb acquiesces to Theon's further captivity, as Theon's father Balon has recently died and Theon's absence presents a succession crisis for the Ironborn. Following Robb Stark's death, King Tommen Baratheon legitimizes Ramsay as a Bolton. The Lannisters pass off Jeyne Poole as Arya Stark and send her north to be betrothed to Ramsay, with only the Lannisters and Boltons aware she is not the real Arya Stark.

A Dance with Dragons[edit]

In the dungeons of the Dreadfort, Ramsay has savagely tortured and mutilated Theon until he is so broken and in fear of Ramsay that he has adopted the identity of Reek. Ramsay coerces him to assist in lifting the Ironborn siege of Moat Cailin, subsequently reneging on his promise of safe passage to the Ironborn by having the garrison flayed. After Stannis Baratheon's capture of Deepwood Motte, Ramsay's wedding to "Arya" is moved from Barrowton to a rebuilt Winterfell. Following the wedding, Ramsay repeatedly abuses Jeyne. Shortly after the wedding, Jeyne and Theon escape with the help of Mance Rayder. Jon Snow later receives a letter from Ramsay claiming that he has captured Mance and killed Stannis Baratheon (who was besieging Winterfell), threatening to destroy the Night's Watch if Jon does not deliver Theon, Jeyne, and several other members of Stannis' court to Ramsay as captives. It is not revealed how much of the letter is true or if Ramsay was its actual author.

Family tree of House Bolton[edit]

Roose[b]"Fat" Walda
  1. ^ Martin, George R. R. (2011). "Chapter 32, Reek III". A Dance with Dragons. ISBN 978-0553801477. 
  2. ^ a b c Martin, George R. R. (2011). "Appendix: House Stark". A Dance with Dragons. ISBN 978-0553801477. 
  3. ^ Martin, George R. R. (2011). "Appendix: House Frey". A Dance with Dragons. ISBN 978-0553801477. 
  4. ^ Martin, George R. R. (1999). "Chapter 28, Bran IV". A Clash of Kings. ISBN 0-553-10803-4. 
  5. ^ Martin, George R. R. (2011). "Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell". A Dance with Dragons. ISBN 978-0553801477. 
  6. ^ Ramsay marries Sansa Stark in the television adaptation Game of Thrones.

TV adaptation[edit]

Iwan Rheon played the role of Ramsay Bolton in the television series.

Ramsay Bolton was played by Welsh actor Iwan Rheon in the HBO television adaption of the series of books,[4] who received positive reviews for his performance.[5] Rheon had previously auditioned for the role of Jon Snow, which he lost to Kit Harington.[6][7][8] Ramsay is first mentioned in the show's second season and first appears onscreen in the third, though Rheon is credited as "Boy" until his true identity is revealed in the third-season finale "Mhysa".[9]

Ramsay's dog appears to be a Cane Corso.

The circumstances of Ramsay's conception and acknowledgement do not change in the show, although in the show Ramsay's mother dies soon after his birth. Ramsay is raised at the Dreadfort, knowing nothing of his mother. At the age of eleven, he first encounters the Dreadfort kennelmaster's daughter, Myranda, and is drawn to her fearlessness, eventually taking her as his mistress. He tells her that he plans on wedding her but after his legitimization, he dismisses such promises.

Second season[edit]

After Theon Greyjoy and his forces capture Winterfell, Roose Bolton offers to Robb Stark to have Ramsay and the men left at the Dreadfort lift the occupation. Robb agrees, with orders to spare the Ironborn if they surrender, but to bring Theon to Robb alive. The Ironborn subdue Theon and present him to Ramsay, who takes Theon prisoner, but Ramsay then proceeds to sack Winterfell and flay the Ironborn garrison for his own amusement.

Third season[edit]

Ramsay sends word to the Stark forces at Harrenhal claiming that the Ironborn sacked Winterfell and fled before the Bolton forces arrived. In the Dreadfort dungeons, Ramsay's men gruesomly torture Theon while Ramsay watches on in the guise of a cleaning boy. Claiming to be a servant of Theon's sister Yara, he sets Theon free before sending his men after Theon, only to follow and kill them when they recapture Theon. Theon confesses that during his conquest of Winterfell he used two farmer's boys to fake the murders of Bran and Rickon Stark, as Ramsay pretends to lead Theon to Deepwood Motte, the castle Yara holds. In reality, Ramsay leads Theon in a circle back to the dungeon and reimprisons him, tormenting Theon with the revelation that he was the architect of his suffering all along.

After severing Theon's pinky, he has Myranda and another servant seduce him; however, this is only intended to taunt Theon before Ramsay severs his genitals. He sends Theon's penis to his father Balon, threatening to further mutilate him and to flay the other Ironborn invaders unless they flee the North; Balon refuses, as he now has no use for Theon. Theon begs Ramsay to kill him, but Ramsay states that Theon is more useful alive. Noting Theon's stench, he dubs him "Reek" and beats him until he responds to his new name.

Fourth season[edit]

When Roose Bolton returns to the Dreadfort, he reprimands Ramsay for having overstepped his boundaries as castellan by mutilating a valuable hostage and sending terms of surrender to the Greyjoys. Infuriated, Ramsay demonstrates his brainwashing of Reek by having him reveal that Bran and Rickon Stark are still alive, and having Reek shave him without harming him, even after revealing Roose's murder of Robb Stark. Impressed, Roose orders Ramsay and Reek to lift the Ironborn occupation of Moat Cailin. Yara and her men infiltrate the Dreadfort and try to rescue Theon, but he refuses to go with her, fearing another of Ramsay's tricks, and Ramsay chases the Greyjoy soldiers away with his hounds. Pleased with Reek's loyalty, Ramsay has him pose as Theon to convince the Ironborn holding Moat Cailin to surrender, with promise of safe passage, though Ramsay reneges on his word and flays the entire garrison. As reward for his success, Ramsay is legitimised as a Bolton. He then accompanies the rest of House Bolton in moving to Winterfell.

Fifth season[edit]

Ramsay draws the ire of Roose after flaying the family of a Northern lord who refuses to pledge fealty. In order to placate the other Northern houses and to solidify the Boltons' hold on the North, Ramsay is betrothed to Sansa Stark, publicly believed to be the last living Stark. Though he initially feigns kindness to Sansa, after Myranda shows her Reek in the kennels, Ramsay uses Sansa's contempt for Reek as psychological torment, by having him apologise for "killing" Bran and Rickon, having him give Sansa away at the wedding, and ultimately forcing Reek to watch as he rapes Sansa on their wedding night. When Sansa begs Reek to signal for help, Reek instead warns Ramsay, who flays a maid who had tried to help Sansa.

With Stannis Baratheon's forces camped and ready to march on Winterfell, Ramsay persuades Roose to let him and twenty men infiltrate his camp and destroy his supplies. The plan succeeds, ultimately causing most of Stannis' army to desert him. The remnants of the Baratheon army march on Winterfell, but Ramsay leads the Bolton cavalry to defeat them with ease. In the chaos of the battle, Theon kills Myranda and flees with Sansa.

Sixth season[edit]

After mourning Myranda, Ramsay is warned by Roose that he faces being disinherited if Sansa is not recovered and Roose's unborn child is a son. Ramsay sends his best hunters after Sansa and Theon, though they are all killed by Brienne of Tarth. After Roose's wife Walda gives birth to a boy, Ramsay promptly murders his father and has his hounds maul Walda and his newborn half-brother to death, securing his position as Lord Bolton and the official ruler of Winterfell.

Ramsay is approached by Smalljon Umber, who asks for his help in defending the North against the wildlings Jon Snow has offered refuge to at the Wall. To secure their alliance, Smalljon presents Ramsay with Osha and Rickon Stark, who were previously under the protection of Smalljon's now-deceased father, the Greatjon. Ramsay kills Osha when she tries to assassinate him, and throws Rickon in Winterfell's dungeons. He then sends a letter to Jon Snow at Castle Black, threatening to exterminate the wildlings and have Rickon and Jon killed if Sansa is not returned to him.

Jon Snow responds by leading an army of Wildlings and assorted Stark loyalists on a march towards Winterfell. As the Stark and Bolton armies prepare for battle, Ramsay releases Rickon and tells him to run to his half-brother before killing him with an arrow. With Jon having charged out in a futile attempt to save Rickon, his forces follow behind and are drawn out of their position. The Bolton phalanx quickly surrounds the Starks, but the Knights of the Vale arrive and overwhelm the Boltons. Ramsay flees to Winterfell, and kills the giant Wun Wun when he breaches Winterfell's gate, but is attacked and brutally beaten by Jon. Locked in the kennels, Ramsay is visited by Sansa, who watches as his hungry hounds eat Ramsay alive. Ramsay's death marks the end of House Bolton and its rule in the North.[10]

Recognition and awards[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref.
2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [11][12]
2015 IGN Awards Best TV Villain Nominated [13]
IGN People's Choice Award Best TV Villain Nominated [13]
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [14]


  1. ^ "Game of Thrones Cast and Crew: Ramsay Snow played by Iwan Rheon". HBO. Archived from the original on March 30, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017. 
  2. ^ Martin, George R. R. "Not A Blog: From HBO". GRRM.livejournal.com. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Game of Thrones Viewer's Guide". 
  4. ^ "'Game of Thrones' Q&A: Iwan Rheon on Ramsay Bolton". Details. 
  5. ^ "Ramsay Bolton: 'Game of Thrones' actor Iwan Rheon". Telegraph. 
  6. ^ Locker, Melissa (April 26, 2016). "This Game of Thrones Star Almost Played Jon Snow". Time. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  7. ^ Egner, Jeremy (April 20, 2016). "Ramsay Bolton of Game of Thrones Is the Most Hated Man on TV". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  8. ^ Brown, Emma (April 20, 2016). "Culture: Iwan Rheon". Interview. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  9. ^ Winter Is Coming Staff (July 27, 2012). "Confirmed: Iwan Rheon cast in Game of Thrones". Winteriscoming.net. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  10. ^ Fowler, Matt (June 19, 2016). "Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastard Review". IGN. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  11. ^ "SAG Awards Nominations: 12 Years A Slave And Breaking Bad Lead Way". Deadline Hollywood. December 11, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2016. 
  12. ^ "SAG Awards: Lone Survivor, Game Of Thrones Win Stunt Honors". Deadline Hollywood. January 18, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Best of 2015". IGN. January 28, 2016. Archived from the original on January 14, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2016. 
  14. ^ "SAG Awards Nominations: Complete List". Variety. December 9, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2016.