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The Entire Stark Family Tree Explained

A Great House of Westeros, House Stark of Winterfell is the royal house of the Kingdom of the North. Their sigil is a grey direwolf, and their words, "Winter Is Coming," connect the Starks through "House of the Dragon" and "Game of Thrones."

It is said that when the Long Night comes, it will come from beyond the Wall, and Winterfell's purpose is to stand against it. The Starks rule over Westeros' largest region, known as the North, from their seat in Winterfell. It's also said that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and the family has long been a strong supporter of the Night's Watch. As one of the oldest noble bloodlines in all of Westeros, the Starks can trace their descent back over 8,000 years. And as the only prominent First Men line to resist the Andal invasion, the Starks are set apart by their proud worship of the Old Gods.

At times, the Starks are led by the King (or Queen) in the North. At others, a Stark bends the knee and pledges fealty to the King or Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, often becoming "Warden of the North." One famous example is Torrhen Stark, the "King Who Knelt" to Aegon the Conqueror, and another is Jon Snow, who united his forces with Daenerys Targaryen hundreds of years later. 

The Stark family tree can be a bit complicated, so brace for winter as we take you through their genealogy.

The origins of House Stark

Members of House Stark — and indeed, the Seven Kingdoms themselves — trace their roots back to Bran the Builder, a legendary First Man who lived during the Age of Heroes and founded the famous house. According to legend, it was he who built the Wall, among other things. And it's through his legacy that the Starks overcame their rivals to become the Kings of Winter, even emerging victorious from long wars with the vicious and barbaric Red Kings of House Bolton (per "The World of Ice & Fire").

After defeating the Boltons, the Starks got rid of the pirates at the White Knife under King Jon. His son, King Rickard Stark, later killed the last Marsh King and married his daughter to claim the Neck, which was then given to the Reeds. Sometime thereafter, King Rodrik Stark wrestled an Ironborn for Bear Island and won it for House Mormont. Karlon Stark, a younger son of the King in the North at the time, put down a rebellion and was given lands in the eastern region of the North. Karl's Hold eventually came to be known as "Karhold," and his descendants were called Karstarks.

The Starks continued to rule in the North for generations, defending their lands from all would-be invaders. That is, until the Targaryens arrived in Westeros.

Aegon's Conquest

King Torrhen Stark sat the throne in the North during Aegon Targaryen's Conquest. He marched south to face them with 30,000 Northmen, but then immediately surrendered once he saw the Targaryen army and its dragons. Torrhen was made Warden of the North, and the Starks survived. Others, like House Gardener of the Reach and House Hoare of the Riverlands, refused to bend the knee and saw their lines ended.

Torrhen was thenceforth known as "The King Who Knelt," a double-edged sobriquet that shames him at the same time that it acknowledges he's to thank for the Starks' survival. Queen Rhaenys Targaryen arranged for Torrhen's daughter to marry Ronnel Arryn, the Lord of the Eyrie. It's suggested in George R.R. Martin's "The World of Ice & Fire," where much of the Stark family history is written, that Torrhen only agreed after much protest.

For a century after Aegon's Conquest, the Starks stayed out of politics, so all we have are long lists of genealogy. Torrhen was succeeded by Brandon the Boisterous, and rule later fell to Roderick Stark, who was succeeded by Brandon the Boastful. Aegon the Conqueror's son Aenys I saw uprisings in the Vale, the Iron Islands, and Harrenhal, but the Starks stayed out of such affairs for the most part.

The Dance of the Dragons

Warning: This slide contains potential spoilers for "House of the Dragon."

Ellard Stark was Warden of the North when he took part in the Great Council to determine the heir of the elderly King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. The final vote came out in favor of Jaehaerys's second grandson Viserys Targaryen instead of Princess Rhaenys, the daughter of the King's first son. The Starks and Baratheons were the only two Great Houses that dissented, which is important because they later aligned with Rhaenys and the Velaryon family at Viserys' court. The Starks eventually sided with Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen during the so-called Dance of the Dragons — the civil war detailed in George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood," which serves as the basis for HBO's "House of the Dragon."

After Ellard came Benjen Stark, then Rickon, and then Rickon's thirteen-year-old son Cregan Stark. Cregan's uncle Bennard served as regent during this time, and as he was reluctant to surrender his power when the young Stark came of age, Cregan eventually imprisoned his uncle and cousins and took over. Cregan later managed to become Hand to King Aegon III Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons, though his time in that role was incredibly brief.

More Lords of Winterfell

The "Old Man of the North" Cregan Stark's death led to a messy line of succession, with Winterfell passing messily through Cregan's many sons and their descendants. His eldest son Rickon Stark died young, and rulership passed to Cregan's second son Jonnel, who married Rickon's daughter Sansa (his niece) and became Lord of Winterfell. Cregan's fourth son Barthogan eventually took over because Rickon had no children upon his death. Barthogan also died with no heirs, so Cregan's fifth and final son Brandon Stark took the seat. 

Brandon's eldest son Rodwell followed, and then Rodwell's younger brother Beron, who died in a battle with the Ironborn. Beron's eldest son Donnor came next, and then rule passed to Donnor's little brother Willam, who died in a wildling invasion. William was succeeded by his son Edwyle, the father of one Rickard Stark. Of course, that's the same Rickard who later begat Eddard, our "Ned" from "Game of Thrones."

Robert's Rebellion

When Ned Stark was a boy, his father Rickard sent him to foster at the Eyrie. There he met two of the most important people in his adult life — his best friend Robert Baratheon and his future wife Catelyn Tully. Even before Robert's Rebellion, Ned and his siblings were at the center of some pretty important events in Westeros. All four attended the great Harrenhal tourney where Prince Rhaegar Targaryen insulted the Martells by favoring Ned's sister Lyanna over his own wife. Later, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish challenged Ned's older brother Brandon, who was betrothed to Catelyn, to a duel for her hand, which he lost. After hearing about Lyanna running off with Rhaegar — or her "kidnapping," as it was made out to be — Brandon set out to bring her back, and his father Rickard followed. Neither ever returned.

In King's Landing, Brandon was promptly arrested by the Mad King Aerys II for threatening the prince. He and his father were executed together by Aerys in gruesome fashion, but the Mad King wasn't done. He demanded the heads of Ned and Robert from Jon Arryn as well. These events led directly to the start of the rebellion against the Targaryen family — a war fueled in part by the murder of the Starks, and in part by Robert's outrage at Rhaegar "stealing" his betrothed, Lyanna.

Lord Eddard Stark & Lady Catelyn

With his brother Brandon dead, Ned Stark became betrothed to Catelyn Tully himself, marrying her before joining the fighting. He became one of the leaders in the war against the Mad King, although he didn't get to King's Landing in time to see Jamie Lannister take out the Mad King. Robert became the new King, but a schism developed between him and Ned due to the Lannisters' less-than-savory tactics in overthrowing the Targaryens.

Eventually, Ned tracked down his sister Lyanna, fighting through several Kingsguard knights to get to her. Sadly, she was already dying by the time he arrived. When he returned to Winterfell, he had an infant Jon Snow with him — a child he claimed to be his own bastard, but who was later revealed to be the trueborn son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. In his absence, Catelyn had given birth to another child, Robb. Ned and his wife had five biological children altogether: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon. They were also parents to Jon Snow and fostered Theon Greyjoy. 

Under Robert's rule, Ned served as head of House Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North. He later became the Hand of the King after John Arryn was murdered, leading to him uncovering the Lannister conspiracy around Robert's children and his death. Ned's shocking execution at the hands of the Lannisters set off the War of the Five Kings, which makes up a majority of the "Game of Thrones" timeline.

Benjen Stark

Benjen Stark is a bit of a lateral move in the Stark family tree, but he's an important member of the family. As the youngest child of Lord Rickard and Lady Lyarra Stark, he attended the crucial Harrenhal tournament that led to Robert's Rebellion with his older siblings. There, he and Lyanna rescued Howland Reed from an attack, establishing a loyal bond between their houses that would pay dividends during the war.

This was also the feast at which Benjen first got it into his head that he should join the Night's Watch. While he served alongside his older brother during Robert's Rebellion, fighting to avenge the rest of their family, he did not stay long in Winterfell afterward. Once Ned returned north, Benjen left for the Wall and Castle Black, eventually rising to the esteemed Night's Watch rank of First Ranger.

Of course, Benjen often returned to Winterfell. During one visit for a feast honoring King Robert — the gathering at the very beginning of "Game of Thrones" — he speaks with Jon Snow about joining the Night's Watch himself. Though he discourages Jon from joining at first, he later aids him in donning the black robes. During a mission north of the Wall, Benjen goes missing and is presumed dead. However, later on in "Game of Thrones," he's revealed to have survived, helping Bran and Jon several times before dying sacrificially. This is different from the books, in which Benjen has not resurfaced.

The Stark charges

Alongside their trueborn children, Ned and Catelyn Stark also raised two wards in Theon Greyjoy and Jon Snow. Theon is a ward from the Iron Islands, fostered as a hostage at Winterfell, as part of the punishment levied against his father Balon. He goes down a dark path during the War of Five Kings and tries to claim power for himself at any cost, but he winds up being captured and brutally tortured by Ramsay Bolton. However, he redeems himself a bit later on by helping Sansa Stark escape from Ramsay and later fighting for Winterfell. He is ultimately killed by the Night King while defending Bran.

Meanwhile, there's the tortured family tree of Jon Snow, who's believed to be Ned's bastard. In reality, he is the rightful King, being the last survivor of the Targaryen dynasty and Ned's sister Lyanna's secret (but legitimate) son by Rhaegar. Jon and Daenerys Targaryen are possibly the two halves of the Song of Ice and Fire and are believed to be the two faces of "the prince that was promised." But in the end, Jon's not enough of a Targaryen to relish marrying his aunt. When Daenerys goes mad and attacks King's Landing, Jon is the one who must stand in her way.

Robb Stark

Robb Stark, known later in life as the Young Wolf, is the eldest son of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell and his wife Lady Catelyn, conceived on their wedding night. He was the Stark heir for all of his childhood, and he bonded strongly with both Jon Snow and Theon Greyjoy, who were both of similar age.

The Stark in Winterfell while his father served as Hand in King's Landing, Robb was later declared King in the North during the War of the Five Kings after his father was executed for his investigations into Joffrey's lineage and the larger Lannister conspiracy. Like his father, Robb proved to be a great warrior and tactician in many ways. He won several major battles against House Lannister during the War, even besting Jaime Lannister himself. However, he and his mother (and his direwolf Grey Wind) were eventually betrayed and murdered at what would later be called the Red Wedding. Robb's wife and unborn child were killed as well.

Sansa Stark

Sansa Stark is Ned and Catelyn's eldest daughter and second-oldest child — the picture-perfect lady who's more than happy at the start of "Game of Thrones" to marry Prince Joffrey Baratheon. Of course, Joffrey ends up being terrible, and an early encounter between him, Sansa, and Arya results in Sansa's direwolf Lady being killed. Things only get worse when Sansa arrives in King's Landing. After her father's execution, she's basically left alone as a hostage. The very person she once wished to marry ultimately becomes her greatest tormenter.

When we first meet Sansa in the show, she's naïve to the extreme and the polar opposite of her younger sister Arya. But by the time Joffrey dies, Sansa is already a much shrewder operator and an expert in the ins and outs of the political game. Afterwards, she travels with Littlefinger, who becomes obsessed with her due to her similarities with her mother. They travel all the way to the Vale, and she later falls into the vile hands of Ramsay Bolton, though she eventually escapes. After the Battle of King's Landing, Sansa declares the North an independent kingdom once again and is crowned Queen in the North.

Arya Stark

Arya Stark is lost to her family at the beginning of the War of the Five Kings and has to find her own way in the world, but she never stops looking for her family or seeking revenge on their enemies. After escaping King's Landing, Arya keeps a list of all the people she wants to kill, and she trains hard to become the kind of warrior capable of exacting that vengeance.

Arya travels with the Hound and eventually leaves him to die. Her travels then take her to the House of Black and White in Braavos, where she trains as a Faceless assassin. On her return to Westeros, she learns about the Red Wedding and puts her mind to ending the Frey line in return. After that, she returns to Winterfell, reunites with her sister, and kills Littlefinger for his many betrayals.

In the end, Arya fells the Night King during the Battle of Winterfell. She then heads out to murder Cersei Lannister, but Daenerys gets there first, destroying King's Landing in the process. Arya tries to help the refugees and later joins the great council to decide Westeros' future. Once the King of the Six Kingdoms and the Queen of the North are named, Arya sails west — beyond the world as it's been mapped so far in search of new adventures.

Rickon Stark

The youngest child and third son of Ned and Catelyn Stark, Rickon is only 6 when his father leaves Winterfell to become the new Hand of the King. When Winterfell is taken during the War of the Five Kings, the wildling Osha saves Rickon and Bran from Theon's group. from then on, the boy is on the run.

Following the sack of Winterfell, Rickon and his companions head north to Castle Black to find their half-brother (actually cousin) Jon Snow — Bran, Rickon, their two direwolves, their wildling guardian Osha, and Hodor. They first meet up with the Reed siblings so Bran can learn about his greensight powers, and eventually they return to the North. Osha diverges from the rest with Rickon, but they are ultimately captured by Ramsay Bolton. Shaggydog is killed, and Rickon is held hostage, leading to Jon and Sansa's declaration of war.

tragically, Rickon doesn't live much longer. Ramsay kills him in a particularly cruel way, shooting him down just as he's about to rejoin his family. After Ramsay is defeated, Rickon's body is brought to Winterfell, where he's buried in the crypts next to his late father. 

Bran Stark

Brandon Stark, commonly called Bran and historically known as Bran the Broken, is the fourth child and second son of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn. He eventually becomes King of the Six Kingdoms, with his sister Sansa taking the northern crown. Bran is a talented skinchanger and greenseer, which gives him a strong connection to the earth and Weirwoods. It also leads him to his destiny as the time-hopping Three-Eyed Raven.

After his adventures north of the Wall, Bran returns a good deal stranger and more alien than his family remembers him. But of course, the same could be said of his siblings. Arya is a Faceless Man, the once childlike Sansa is nearly unrecognizable as a regal queen, and even Jon Snow has died at least once. From this point, Bran seems to exist in all times simultaneously, and he's responsible for using his intense powers to aid his family — and the world — against the threat from the North. Once the Night King is dispatched and the great council is summoned, they put Bran on the throne. He becomes King of the Six Kingdoms, with the seceded North turned into an ally headed by the Queen of the North, his sister Sansa.