Jon Snow 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, in which he is portrayed by English actor Kit Harington. He is a prominent point of view character in the novels, and has been called one of the author’s “finest creations” and most popular characters by The New York Times. Jon is a main character in the TV series, and his storyline in the 2015 season 5 finale generated a strong reaction among viewers. Speculation about the character’s parentage has also been a popular topic of discussion among fans of both the books and the TV series.
Jon is introduced in 1996’s A Game of Thrones as the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, the honorable lord of Winterfell, an ancient fortress in the North of the fictional continent of Westeros. Knowing his prospects are limited by his status, Jon joins the Night’s Watch, who guard the far northern borders from the wildlings who live beyond The Wall. As the rest of the Starks face grave adversity, Jon finds himself honor bound to remain with the Watch. In A Clash of Kings (1998), he joins a scouting party investigating the growing threat from the otherworldly “Others” beyond the Wall, and manages to infiltrate the wildlings. Jon learns of their plans to invade Westeros in A Storm of Swords (2000), and begins to fall in love with the fierce wildling woman Ygritte. He betrays them—and Ygritte—before they can attack, but the Night Watch’s victory comes at a heavy price for Jon. Now the Lord Commander of the Watch, he appears briefly in 2005’s A Feast for Crows. Jon returns as a prominent character in a A Dance with Dragons (2011), working to negotiate an alliance between the Night’s Watch and the wildlings. The growing animosity he has attracted from among the Watch finally catches up with him, and he is forced to face the dire consequences.
On the HBO series Game of Thrones, Jon’s storyline follows the character’s plot arc from the novel series, though season 6 and season 7 of the TV adaptation continue on from the events of Martin’s latest published installment. Harington was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the role in 2016. He was also nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television in 2012, 2016 and 2017.