From the early days of Game of Thrones, the Starks have always been the easiest family to root for. They are an honorable house whose members are heroic and kind-hearted. They are also a family who seems to find themselves in trouble quite often, resulting in the tragic deaths of several prominent members.
As one of the oldest houses in Westeros, the Starks have a long history, some of which is explored in the show. However, George R.R. Martin’s books feature so many more stories about the Starks and their people that haven’t made it to the screen. So before its remaining members embark on their last battle, check out some facts about the Starks the show leaves out.
10 Their Descendants
It is mentioned in the show that Starks descend from the First Men rather than the Andals who later invaded Westeros. Starks hold this lineage as a point of pride, as it connects more closely to the land.
The Wildings are also descendants of the First Men, and that’s not the only connection they share with the Starks. According to legend, King Beyond the Wall Bael the Bard, snuck into Winterfell and seduced the daughter of Brandon Stark, Lord of Winterfell. This resulted in a son who would eventually become Lord of Winterfell. Therefore, the Starks have wildling blood.
9 Starks Vs Bolton
One of House Stark’s most prominent enemies in the show has been House Bolton. Roose Bolton helped orchestrate the Red Wedding and personally killed Robb Stark. Ramsay Bolton tortured Sansa Stark and killed Rickon. Not very loyal for a fellow Northern house.
The animosity between these two houses actually goes back a long time. After the first Stark was named King in the North, the Boltons sought to overthrow them. They were beaten into submission but never became loyal subjects, openly defy the Starks and continuing to perform outlawed acts like flaying.
8 Prominence Of The Direwolves
Direwolves are the sigil of House Stark, but the animals serve a much deeper connection to the Starks of this story. When the direwolf pups are found in the first episode of the show, it seems like destiny. There is a pup for each Stark child, including an albino pup for the bastard Jon Snow.
Going into the final season, only two direwolves remain – Ghost, who belongs to Jon, and Arya’s Nimeria. Due to budget issues, the show has greatly minimized the importance of the direwolves from the books. In the books, the animals are constantly by the Stark’s side and share a special bond with the children.
7 Bending The Knee
For centuries, Starks ruled the North. The Lord of Winterfell was known as King in the North (or King of Winter) and did not answer to any Southern king. All that changed when Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons arrived in Westeros.
Perhaps not believing dragons were real, many houses in Westeros took up arms against the Targaryen invaders. They were quickly defeated and their swords were used to forge the Iron Throne. However, the Starks at the time were wiser than most and chose to bend the knee rather than fight. It is because of this that no Stark sword is a part of the Iron Throne.
6 Lyarra Stark
While most of Ned Stark’s family are dead before the show begins, many of them are mentioned prominently. We are told his father and brother were killed by the Mad King and, of course, his sister Lyanna died giving birth to Jon Snow. Strangely, as important as Ned’s family has been to the show, no mention is made of his mother.
Ned’s mother, Lyarra Stark, is actually a cousin of her husband, Rickard Stark. Though she is not mentioned much in the books, it is hinted at that Lyarra is from Skagos, a Northern island very close to the Wall. It could be that this lineage becomes important at some point.
Warging is a unique ability featured heavily in the show which allows a person to enter the minds of animals. The wildling Orell is the first warg we meet and, of course, Bran is a very talented warg, even being able to warg with humans.
However, in the books, Bran is certainly not the only Stark who seems to have that ability. Arya has been able to enter the minds of cats and she often dreams she is in the mind of her direwolf, Nimeria. Jon has similar dreams as Ghost and it is rumored that Jon warged into Ghost following his assassination by the Night’s Watch.
4 Ashara Dayne
Ned Starks life — and death — have been defined by difficult decisions. In a world where dishonesty can be a lifesaver, Ned has remained true to his morals. This has meant he has encountered a lot of tragedy in his life. One of the most devastating was his love of Ashara Dayne.
Long before being wed to Catelyn Tully, it was rumored that Ned and Ashara were in love. Sadly, the war broke out which eventually led to Ned killing Ashara’s brother, Arthur Dayne, at the Tower of Joy. Ned personally informed House Dayne what happened, then returned to Winterfell. Ashara committed suicide shortly after.
3 Ned’s Missing Remains
The death of Ned Stark remains one of the most impactful moments in both the show and the books. Though he has been gone since Season 1, Ned’s presence is still felt strongly throughout the series.
In Season 2, we see Littlefinger deliver Ned’s remains to Catelyn and later we see his statue has been erected in the crypts of Winterfell. Sadly, in the show, Ned is not laid to rest so easily. Tyrion had his bones sent to Winterfell as a show of good faith, but the chaos of the war has meant they’ve yet to arrive. It may be unimportant, but does seem like an unresolved issue that could reappear.
2 The Knight Of The Laughing Tree
The tourney at Harrenhal is a very significant moment in the book and the show. This is where Rhaegar Targaryen publicly declared his love for Lyanna Stark, kickstarting the war that would set the stage for the entire plot.
However, there is another interesting story from this tourney the show left out. In the books, we hear the story of Howland Reed, a friend of the Stark family who was bullied by some highborn knights. During the tourney, a mystery knight with a personalized sigil arrived to fight for Reed’s honor. The knight unseated the bullies before disappearing. Though the knight’s identity is still unknown, the clues indicate it was in fact Lyanna Stark.
1 Brandon The Breaker
Despite being the biggest threat facing Westeros, we still know little about Night’s King. The books haven’t yet introduced the character but through stories from the past, clues have been revealed as to his identity and his past dealings with the Starks.
The title, Night’s King, was held by the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. It is said he fell in love with a pale-skinned, blue-eyed woman who turned him into a White Walker. He ruled the Wall as a king, committing atrocities, before he was defeated by the King in the North Brandon the Breaker. If this is the true identity of Night’s King, he could be holding a grudge against the Starks.