Samwell Tarly

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Samwell Tarly
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Samwell Tarly-John Bradley.jpg
John Bradley as Samwell Tarly
First appearance Novel:
A Game of Thrones (1996)
"Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" (2011)
Created by George R. R. Martin
Portrayed by John Bradley
(Game of Thrones)
Aliases Sam
Sam the Slayer
Gender Male
Family House Tarly
Significant other(s) Gilly (lover)
Relatives Randyll Tarly (father)
Melessa Florent (mother)
Dickon Tarly (brother)
Talla Tarly (sister)
Kingdom The Reach

Samwell Tarly, called Sam, 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 1996's A Game of Thrones, Sam is the eldest son of Randyll Tarly, from the fictional kingdom of Westeros. He subsequently appeared in Martin's A Clash of Kings before being a POV character in the later novels.[1]

Sam is portrayed by John Bradley-West in the HBO television adaptation.[2][3][4]

Character description[edit]

Samwell Tarly, called Sam, is the elder son of Lord Randyll Tarly of Horn Hill. Ten chapters throughout A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows are told from his point of view. In spite of his self-professed cowardice, Sam is highly intelligent, resourceful, and loyal. Randyll, renowned as one of Westeros' finest military commanders, tried to groom Sam as a worthy heir when he was young, but Sam's complete lack of martial abilities and his interest in scholarly pursuits ultimately forced Randyll to raise Sam's younger brother Dickon to take Sam's place instead. Randyll refused to let Sam join the Citadel to become a maester, but instead forced him to join the Night's Watch, implying that he would have Sam killed and his death staged as a hunting accident if he refused. Sam decided to take the black.[clarification needed]


Samwell Tarly is a background character in the first two novels of the series, and his actions and thoughts are interpreted by others point of view characters, like Jon Snow. He then becomes a point of view character in the novels, as of third novel, A Storm of Swords.[5]


A coat of arms showing an empty black field
Coat of arms of the Night's Watch

In the books[edit]

A Game of Thrones[edit]

Sam is soon bullied by his fellow recruits for his weight and shyness, although Jon Snow takes pity on Sam and convinces them to go easy on Sam in arms training. Sam fails to progress in training and is not deemed ready to officially join the Night's Watch, so Jon persuades Maester Aemon to let Sam join the Order of Stewards instead, with Sam assigned to help Aemon in the rookery and library. When Jon tries to abandon the Night's Watch to join Robb Stark's army and avenge the death of his father Eddard Stark, Sam alerts their fellow recruits, who convince Jon to not break his vows to the Night's Watch.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

Sam takes part in the Great Ranging beyond the Wall, to take care of the ravens as Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's aide. While stopping at Craster's Keep, Sam befriends one of Craster's daughter-wives, Gilly. Gilly is pregnant and fears that, if her child is a boy, Craster will sacrifice him to the Others. Sam is horrified, but unable to help. Later, at camp at the Fist of the First Men, Sam and Jon's direwolf Ghost discover a cache of dragonglass daggers.

A Storm of Swords[edit]

The Watch's camp at the Fist of the First Men comes under attack from the Others, with Sam one of the few survivors. The survivors flee to Craster's Keep, but Sam and two other brothers, Small Paul and Grenn, become separated from the group. They are attacked by an Other that kills Paul before Sam stabs it with a dragonglass dagger, killing it instantly. Sam and Grenn regroup at Craster's Keep with the other survivors, where Gilly gives birth to her son. Soon after, a brawl breaks out between loyal brothers and brothers resentful of Craster or planning to mutiny; Mormont and Craster are among those killed in the fight. Sam flees with Gilly and her son, and are accosted by wights before being rescued by a mysterious man, Coldhands, who is supposedly a fellow black brother. Coldhands takes them to the Nightfort and asks them to escort Bran Stark and his party through the Wall to meet with Coldhands.

Sam and Gilly encounter a group of black brothers led by Denys Mallister and Bowen Marsh and join them on the march to Castle Black. They arrive to find that Stannis Baratheon has defeated the Wildlings besieging the Wall and is threatening to name himself Lord Commander if the Night's Watch is unable to agree on their new leader themselves. Mallister and Cotter Pyke are the leading candidates, but Janos Slynt, who Sam thinks will be a poor leader, is gaining popularity. Sam approaches Mallister and Pyke independently, convincing each one that Stannis will name the other as Commander and suggesting that they support Jon as candidate instead. Thanks to Sam's machinations, Jon is elected Commander.

A Feast for Crows[edit]

Jon sends Sam to Oldtown to become a Maester, accompanied by another brother, Dareon (who is appointed as a recruiter), Maester Aemon (who Jon fears will be sacrificed by Melisandre for his royal blood) and Gilly and her baby. During the voyage to Braavos, Gilly grows despondent, and Sam realises that Jon had swapped Gilly's baby with Mance Rayder's newborn son lest he be sacrificed as well. Aemon falls ill during the voyage and they are forced to spend their money on a healer and lodging in Braavos. In Braavos, Sam also encounters Arya Stark, though he does not realise her identity. Aemon hears of his great-grandniece Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, and comes to believe that she fulfills the prophecy of a "prince that was promised", asking them to inform the Citadel. Dareon decides to desert and Sam fights him, before being thrown into a canal. He is rescued by a Summer Islander, Xhondo, who offers Sam and Gilly passage to Oldtown. Aemon ultimately passes away early in the journey, and Sam and Gilly briefly become lovers in their grief.

Sam plans to have Gilly sent to Horn Hill, with the baby passed off as Sam's bastard. Meanwhile, Sam arrives at Oldtown to meet with Archmaester Marwyn, telling him of Aemon's request. Marwyn resolves to travel to Slaver's Bay to meet with Daenerys, ordering Sam to keep his story secret from the other maesters. The only other two people who witness Sam and Marwyn's conversation are fellow apprentices Alleras and Pate (speculated to be Oberyn Martell's daughter Sarella Sand and a disguised Jaqen H'ghar, respectively).

In the show[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Sam is quickly identified as being soft and weak by Castle Black's master-at-arms Ser Alliser Thorne and suffers in sword-training until Jon Snow convinces the other new recruits to go easy on him. Sam is assigned to the order of stewards, to serve Maester Aemon. When Jon tries to abandon the Night's Watch, Sam follows with Pyp and Grenn and convinces Jon to remain loyal to the Night's Watch.

Season 2[edit]

Sam joins the Night's Watch in the Great Ranging. Along the journey the party rests at Craster's Keep, where Sam encounters and falls in love with Craster's pregnant daughter-wife Gilly. While camping at the Fist of the First Men, Sam discovers a cache of weapons made from dragonglass. While Sam is out collecting dung for fires, the White Walkers march on the Fist of the First Men. Sam is unable to outrun the army of the dead, but for unknown reasons their leader spares Sam.

Season 3[edit]

Sam and the survivors of the resulting massacre flee back to Craster's Keep. Sam witnesses Gilly give birth to a baby boy, with Gilly and Sam realising that they must keep the birth secret to stop Craster giving the baby to the White Walkers. A brawl later breaks out among Craster and the Night's Watch, and Sam flees with Gilly and the baby. They are followed by a White Walker who tries to take the baby, but Sam kills it by stabbing it with a dragonglass dagger. Sam and Gilly pass through the Wall at the Nightfort, where they discover Jon's half-brother Bran Stark and his party, headed beyond the Wall. Sam is unable to dissuade them to come to Castle Black, but promises not to tell Jon of their destination.

Arriving back at Castle Black, Sam warns Aemon of the advancing White Walkers and Aemon has Sam send the warning throughout the Seven Kingdoms. Later, Jon returns to Castle Black, gravely wounded and disguised as a Wildling. Sam recognises Jon and orders him to be attended to.

Season 4[edit]

Sam reveals to Jon that Bran is alive and headed beyond the Wall. Sam decides to send Gilly to Mole's Town to work as a maid in the brothel, as he fears for her safety at Castle Black. Mole's Town is attacked by the Wildlings, who slaughter the entire populace of the town; Sam is distraught, unaware that Gilly and her baby had been spared by Ygritte. Gilly later makes it to Castle Black moments before the Wildlings attack. Sam participates in the battle, and manages to kill the Thenn Warg.

Season 5[edit]

When the Night's Watch convenes to choose their new Lord Commander, Sam speaks up to nominate Jon, who is ultimately elected. Sam spends his time researching the weaknesses of the White Walkers and tending to a dying Maester Aemon, and comforts Aemon in his final moments as he dies of old age. Later, Sam is beaten while defending Gilly from two black brothers who attempt to rape her. Gilly tends to his wounds, and the two finally consummate their relationship. After Jon returns from Hardhome, Sam entreats Jon to send him to the Citadel in Oldtown in order to train as a Maester, while also taking Gilly to safety.

Season 6[edit]

As women are banned from the Citadel, Sam intends to leave Gilly and Little Sam at the Tarly seat of Horn Hill, though he warns Gilly to hide her Wildling heritage due to his father's bigotry towards the Wildlings. At dinner with the members of House Tarly, Randyll insults Sam's lack of fighting prowess. Gilly defends Sam by revealing that he killed a White Walker, in doing so accidentally revealing that she is a Wildling. Though disgusted, Randyll acquiesces to Gilly staying at Horn Hill as a servant, but forbids Sam from ever returning to Horn Hill. Sam decides to take Gilly and Little Sam with him to the Citadel, also stealing House Tarly's Valyrian steel sword Heartsbane. They travel on to Oldtown, where Sam is scheduled to explain events at Castle Black to the Archmaester. While he waits, Sam is permitted to peruse the Citadel's library, and is awestruck by the library's expanse.

Family tree of House Tarly[edit]

Randyll Melessa Florent
Samwell Talla Daughter Daughter Dickon Eleanor

TV adaptation[edit]

Samwell Tarly is played by John Bradley in the television adaption of the series of books.[6]