In Defense of Whiny Jon “Emo” Snow

Posted: October 7, 2013 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: , , , , ,

Abstract: Often, I hear a complaint about Jon Snow that basically says he’s a big emo whiner. I take some issue with that, and the following is an angst-ridden gloomy complaint about such complaints. Heavy Sigh.

This is the fifth part in a series examining alleged negative aspects of Jon Snow, the acknowledged illegitimate son of Lord Eddard “Winter is Coming, We’re All Going to Die” Stark. This was all explained four posts ago. Should you not want to read the whole thing, I’ll summarize: I’m a fan of Jon Snow, and I feel it necessary to respond to criticism of the bastard of Winterfell. Hasn’t Jon suffered enough emotional trauma just from his mommy-issues? Must the Internet be so mean to him?


Okay. When I’m listening to Game of Thrones recap podcasts, when the topic of discussion turns north, there’s usually one podcaster on each podcast that goes on about that Emo-Motherf***er Jon Snow. Usually followed by an exasperated “I can’t take any more of his whining!”

Okay, I get that. The bastard of Winterfell has been known to complain and whine. I won’t deny that. I’m ready to convict him right now.

Let’s hit some of the angst-ridden events that a certain someone has whined about or had angsty-face about.

  • Ned Stark unexpectedly brings him to Catelyn after a war, going “Look what I brought you, Cat!” Catelyn is not happy.
  • Grows up at Winterfell, kind of part of the family, but always an outsider.
  • Eventually gets the opportunity to venture away from the other members of Team Stark, to be his own man. (Yay!)
  • But things don’t work out the way he expects. There’s a lot of disrespect he has to endure. (Boo!)
  • He gets assigned to duties that he feels are beneath him.
  • While on a pretty cool commando raid, he ends up being pretty crappy at executing a prisoner.
  • Has to kill someone he’d rather not kill, someone he respects. But he has to, to get in good with some unsavory characters.
  • Gets some action from a Wildling woman, (Yay!) but it’s not a healthy consensual situation. It never is between captor and captive. (Er, got laid, can’t say Boo too seriously.) But it doesn’t end well. (Okay, boo.)
  • Ends up being betrayed and tortured by Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton’s bastard son.

WHOA! I hear you say! SPOILER ALERT!!! This isn’t something from the first three seasons of Game of Thrones!

RELAX. I’m not talking about Jon Snow. I’m talking about this guy.


No one understands that I’m totally the hero. No One Understands!

My boy Theon. Who is completely an emo whiny entitled brat of a character. But other than Jon not getting tortured by Ramsay, Jon and Theon have a lot of overall life-journey events in common. And although Jon does complain slightly, Theon really whines.

In contrast, Jon passes up opportunities to be emo-complaino…

In season one, episode two, Jon goes to see the comatose Bran Stark. Jon is heading out to join the Night’s Watch, and who even knows when he’ll see the adorable Bran again? If ever. Catelyn Stark was an incredible bitch to Jon while he was trying to say goodbye to his little kinsman.

On the way out, he meets up with Robb Stark, and they have this conversation. (More or less, I’m paraphrasing from memory.)

Robb: You saw Bran?

Jon: I said my goodbyes to him.

Robb: And mother…?

Jon: She was charitable.

Robb: Dude.

Jon would have had every right to blow a gasket and vent. And complain. And emote. Robb was giving him the opening; he knows how Catelyn is.

But Jon knew it would be better to stifle his complaints and couch things in a way that would not bring gloom to this farewell with his peer, the eldest Stark brother.

Cut Jon some slack. Please people.

Anyway, Jon Snow is probably his whiniest in the first season, episode three “Lord Snow.” He’s angry that the Night’s Watch was not what he had expected, he’s put off by his brothers (criminals and thieves, or worse), and he’s abused and mocked by his superiors. But Tyrion takes him aside, gives him some excellent advice, and in a non-emo, non-whiny way, Jon listens and changes his behavior.

I’ve already covered Jon’s actions when he hears about Ned Stark’s troubles in Kings Landing, and when Ned gets beheaded. Jon is put upon, he complains. He does get crabby with Maester Aemon. But I think we can give Jon a break. He’s not being emo, he’s being human.

Jon observes, Jon learns, and Jon acts. He’s not a whiny cry-baby, far from it. If he appears unhappy all the time, well, this is Game of Thrones and he happens to be in House Stark. A lack of happiness is kind of a given.

Still not convinced? That’s cool. I don’t mind people having different opinions from me in regards to characters on Game of Thrones. It’s just TV, which is either not important or amazingly crazy important. (You know how these things go.)


I know nothing? Don’t care. Got laid.

Jon Snow, the Know-Nothing

Occasionally, Jon is also maligned for being just stupid. Along with “oh no, I can’t handle more minutes of Jon being all whiny”, I’ve heard a similar “oh no, I can’t handle any more minutes of Jon Snow and his vacant, blank expression. That dude is a dumb as a rock” statements.

Again, some of this is just how it works with the show. We can’t read Jon’s mind the way we know his thoughts from his point of view chapters, and since Jon is forever being told that he knows nothing, it’s easy to see how that label gets a sort of reality.

But has Jon ever done anything stupid, really?

Once Tyrion tells it like it as at Castle Black, Jon immediately sets out and gets a corp of allies, choosing decent recruits from thugs and goons. He takes care of his own.

When faced with a seemingly unkillable wight, Jon kills it. With fire! it would be stupid to keep stabbing the wight. We’ve seen that kind of crap before.

Despite his lack of experience, Jon identifies the Wildling southern push as a population migration, and correctly guesses that they are moving in fear of the Others. He uses his experience with the Others as a legitimate answer when faced with Mance Rayder’s questions.

So, I’m totally not on board that Jon Snow knows nothing. Despite what Ygritte says. Over and over.

But if you’re not convinced, I’d like to offer some general closing arguments that hopefully will act as a general defense of Jon Snow, from any allegations.

This series concludes in the next post…


The images of Kit Harrington and Alfie Allen are obviously from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

I make no claim to any of the artwork obviously, but I do make some claim to the text of this posting. So there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2013 Some Rights Reserved

  1. Kim says:

    Of course Jon is emo. So (kinda) is Theon, but at least he takes action and does something about it.

    Shh! Tyrion’s emo too. it’s just he’s wittier about it.


    • Kim, thank you so much for your comment, and for bringing Theon in. I always talk about Jon and Theon being two sides of the same coin, but with Theon on a more tragic path.

      I hadn’t thought about Tyrion, but you’re right.


  2. Randyll Webb says:

    Theon was a frightened 10 year old child hostage and only one person cared about him in Winterfell. In contrast, only one person in Winterfell disliked Jon. Theon has a lot more reasons to complain than Jon does… and he does it less.


    • Nice, I respect support for Theon. I’m planning an Understanding Theon post in the future.

      You make a good point about only one person hating Jon, but I think that was a fairly serious situation. I don’t know if I agree that only one person cared for Theon (I assume you mean Robb) since in many ways he was accorded respects due a guest and the son of a lord. (Catelyn didn’t like him, mostly.)

      Regardless, I appreciate your feedback. Right on!


      • Randyll Webb says:

        Well, maybe it’s because I read the books where he’s less pathetic, but more disliked. In all of the Stark chapters, all of the Starks mention not liking or trusting Theon. The only one who did was Robb. In contrast Theon actually has (A few) people on the Iron Islands who love and care about him more than anyone. Even Robb. The writers whitewashed Theon’s relationship with the Starks to make his betrayal seem more shameful, where as in the books choosing his own family over the Starks seemed morally ambiguous.

        You’re welcome. It was a good read.:)


        • I took your original comments to heart, and coincidentally published a “Defending Theon Greyjoy” article today, backing up his choice of Dad vs. Robb.

          (Don’t be distracted by my “In Defense of Theon Greyjoy” article, which are my thoughts on the importance of Theon being tortured throughout Season Three, to establish Ramsay.)

          Thanks again for the commentary. Much appreciated!


  3. Adrianne says:

    Whining??? ahem…Sam Tarley?? Danerys – “I am Danerys Stormborn, I am the Mother of Dragons, Where are my dragons?!!” Need I say more? Oh wait! Sansa Stark!


    • Whoa! Sansa has goooood reasons to whine! 🙂

      Thanks for putting Jon in perspective with the other characters.


      • Adrianne says:

        Lol! Yes, Sansa has great reason to whine. Like Jon, she has not had a chance to do much about her situation (until recently) and has been grasping at every last straw she can.

        I really enjoy you thoughts and will get to reading everything u write about GoT but I gravitate to all things Jon Snow so this was my first stop. Keep up the great work!


  4. Dave Hayes says:

    I agree that using the fear of the Others made sense as a reason to join the wildlings, but I really missed the story of Mance Rayder visiting Winterfell in disguise & Jon pulling the, “you saw where they made me sit” bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too!

      I really appreciate the show, it largely does well as an adaptation, but the removal of cool bits, like Mance’s trip to Winterfell to secretly observe King Robert, did bum me out. That would have been a great Jon/Mance moment.


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