It’s rather strange to think that a group known for both their stubborn refusal to bow to authority and their hatred of the Night’s Watch would, in fact, unite behind a man who served for many years in that organization, even if he was born a willing. Obviously, this says a great deal about the sort of charisma and power that Dance Ryder wields as a leader, but there are still some aspects of their decision to unite behind him that don’t quite add up.
While many of them appear as one would expect of people who haven’t experienced the benefits of civilization, there are some truly strange, bizarre, and sometimes downright frightening tribes. As their name suggests, the wild lings seem to have an almost pathological aversion to anything that smacks of the civilization of the south, presumably because it would make them either soft or would take away their vaunted independence.
Students of history will know that, in Westeros, it’s something of a miracle that the entire continent still has any people left, considering the many uprisings and wars that have taken place over the centuries. Logically speaking and given their violent natures, they should've driven themselves to the point of extinction before the events of the series and yet, there's enough of them to mount a resistance against the White Walkers and even lay siege to the Wall.
Given how little contact there usually is between those south and north of that great edifice, however, it doesn’t make sense that so many of the wild lings would not only be able to speak Westeros, but actually be fluent in it. He’s a truly reprehensible character, but the bigger mystery is why the wild lings, not especially known for their caring or their mercy, would leave him alone to lead his life as he wants rather than (at the very least) taking his wives as their own.
Indeed, it is precisely their knowledge of the existential threat posed by the ancient and malevolent creatures that leads them to unite. However, it remains unexplained why they would have tried to live Beyond the Wall in the first place, knowing that there was such a power lurking there, simply waiting for its chance to strike at the south.
Though they don’t get as prominent billing in the series as they do in the books, it’s still mentioned that the Horn foots, as their name implies, have feet that have been so scarred from the cold that they no longer need to wear shoes. They often raid the North for resources and are bitter enemies of the Night's Watch.
In the books, the Wild lings aren't exactly literate, but they have a strong oral tradition of stories and songs and seem perfectly knowledgeable about their own past battles and historical figures. The Alliance : Under Dance Ryder, who has managed to unite dozens of tribes and chieftains under his leadership.
Ass kicking Equals Authority : The Free Folk only bow down to strength, and only figuratively. Badass Native : They endure a lot of hardships and are brave fighters, even if their discipline and cohesion are lacking.
Born Unlucky : Their chronic misfortunes originate from their ancestors living on the wrong side of the Wall when it was constructed eight thousand years ago. Did Not Think This Through : As Jon points out, despite being a Badass Army united under Dance Ryder, it's clear that the individual Wild lings are only out for themselves and lack any form of organization or discipline to be truly effective as a fighting force.
Some Wild lings also display signs of being more bloodthirsty than pragmatic, which is a serious problem when you're trying to pull off a stealth attack. Dying Race : After the White Walker attack at their last place of refuge Hard home, the entire Willing population beyond the Wall has been reduced to a few thousand at most and the survivors have still not found safety.
Earn Your Happy Ending : After fighting tooth and nail against the Wights and the very environment itself to survive, the Wild lings make peace with the people south of the Wall, defeat a once-presumed unstoppable foe in the Night King, and are given freedom to roam as far south as they like. Everyone Has Standards : Dortmund's band of Wild lings are fully prepared to Rape, Pillage, and Burn their enemies, but even they are disturbed and disgusted by the Then' fondness for cannibalism.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture : More a mash-up of the whole 'cold northern barbarians' fantasy trope than any actual single real world culture, but they mostly resemble Norse Vikings being tall, long haired and long bearded, axe-wielding marauders from the Grim Up North beyond the local equivalent to Scotland and Northumbria. They speak in vaguely Scandinavian tones in addition to the usual OOP North brogue (Kristopher Hindu basically substitutes his native Norwegian accent for Dortmund), and their buildings are essentially wooden longhouses that have horse head gables, which are commonly found throughout North Germanic countries such as Norway and Denmark.
The Then are cannibals who shave and scarify their heads, they wear scale armor. Castor's tribe consists entirely of him and his wives, he marries his female offspring and gives his sons to the Night King.
Gender Is No Object : Willing men and women alike take part in raiding parties. Godzilla Threshold : The return of the White Walkers and an expected very long Winter fast approaching, convinces the various Willing factions to band together under Dance Ryder and flee South as a unified force.
HeelRace Turn : After the Battle of Hard home, as allying with the North becomes the survivors' last and only chance at surviving the coming Winter. Honor Before Reason : They refuse to bow to Stands and fight under his banner, before or after he has Dance executed, despite him giving them literally everything they wanted and needed : passage through the Wall and land to settle.
Insistent Terminology : They consider themselves real Northerners and regard people down south of the Wall, including the land other Westeros consider “The North” to be southerners; much to the annoyance of Jon Snow and even little Reckon, who spouts that “We are not Southerners” when OSHA, an ex-Wildling, brings it up. Invading Refugees : Wildings have raided the Seven Kingdoms as long as anyone can remember but at the start of the series, they have amassed together into a single horde that is intent on smashing their way through the Wall, so they can flee the oncoming armies of wights and White Walkers.
Leroy Jenkins : As Jon points out, their tendency to charge in without thinking is why they've never managed to successfully invade the North. Moral Myopia : The Wild lings claim the people of the Seven Kingdoms “stole” their land and invasions are attempts to get it back.
Since the Wild lings cannot take land south of the Wall, by their own culture they have no right to it, and it is not stealing. Nicknaming the Enemy : They refer to The Night's Watch as “Crows”, and Southerners in general as “Keepers”.
Not So Different : Like many Northerners, they are descendants of the First Men and so share blood and cultural traits. The only reason their cultures divided was due to their differing placements on either side of the Wall, a fact emphasized by Wild lings and Jon Snow.
Both people were more or less secluded descendants of the First Men, but the Iron Born lived on tree-less islands and turned to a religion based around the sea, while the Wild lings had weir wood trees and thus kept to the Old Gods of the Forest. Been agrees and is impressed that Tyrion is less prejudiced than most of his Watch brothers.
Pride : They see themselves as “free” and have contempt for the customs south of the Wall. Proud Warrior Race : Not terribly disciplined, though, which is why their invasions have all failed (along with the giant wall of ice).
Due to their choice to stand behind Jon Snow as his army in the Battle of the Bastards, they have been whittled down further by a few hundred more. Due to their service and sacrifice, they are now under the banner and protection of Jon Snow's authority as the new King in the North.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork / Enemy Mine : Dance Ryder managed to unite the various Willing clans by pointing out that despite their complete hatred for each other, they should fear the White Walkers more. We ARE Struggling Together : Used to be the case before Dance Ryder unified all the tribes, and even under his leadership, they are a very loose coalition on the brink of infighting.
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters : Most Westeros and the Night's Watch regard the Wild lings as raiding marauders who pillage and plunder the lands beyond the Wall and are not content to remain on the other side, practicing a less civilized way of life. The Wild lings, however, feel that they are oppressed and unjustly forced to live on the other side of a wall and that their violent raids are their only option to flee the White Walkers, since the Watch will never simply let them through.
He's taking the Wild lings south to save them from the threat of the White Walkers. From the books... Dance turned away from the Night's Watch when he realized how pathetic and petty their hatred for the Wild lings is, because they're people just trying to live like everyone else.
Badass in Charge : Unites every single Willing clan, no mean feat by a long shot. Big Bad : To the Night's Watch for the first four seasons, as the leader of the Wild lings is planning to march on the Wall.
Broken Pedestal : An odd case that happens long after his death, as in Season 7 Dortmund admits that he could have saved the world a lot of trouble if he'd simply swallowed his pride and knelt to Stands. Jon doesn't correct Dortmund, despite the fact that in Dance's final conversation with him (which was Dance's conversation with anyone), the King Beyond the Wall said that the Free Folk would just stop following him and descend into chaos once again, losing all cohesion, although he also said that part of the reason he was acting was that he wanted the freedom to make his own mistakes.
Cincinnati : Specifically, he was elected to lead the Wild lings out of the White Walkers' reach. Luckily, Jon Snow puts him out of his misery with an arrow before the flames can really do their nastiest work.
Everyone Has Standards : Dance is noticeably shocked when Jon informs him the Lord Commander is well aware of Crater giving his sons to the White Walkers. Face Death with Dignity : He doesn't want to die and knows the way chosen by Stands is horrible, but he walks to the pyre very graciously.
From the books... Dance also reveals that he used his non-assuming appearance to enter Winterfell itself during King Robert's visit, posing as a bard, where he saw Jon. Know When to Fold 'Em : When Stands attacks the Wild lings in a pincer move, Dance quickly realizes there's no hope of coordinating his army in time to mount even a half-capable defense.
Their lines were already broken by an enemy they didn't expect, and to prevent unnecessary bloodshed, Dance quickly surrenders. Mercy Kill : Jon puts an arrow in his heart as he's being burned at the stake.
Modest Royalty : The Wild lings don't believe in “blue blood” and have contempt for the protocol used south of the Wall. The Nondescript : Compared with Dortmund Giants bane or the Lord of Bones, he looks like a regular man.
He can't hide his terror at learning Stands intends to burn him to death. Perma-Stubble : While most of the other Wild lings have beards or thicker facial hair, Dance keeps it stumbled.
Once he shows up, he's mostly portrayed as a very sensible man with heroic traits who is trying to save a people who dwell in the wrong side of the Wall. Steven Ulysses Per hero : His surname is pronounced just like “raider”, fitting for the leader of a Barbarian Tribe.
Another chieftain of the Free Folk and Dance Ryder's second in command. Accidental Misnaming : Tends to get people's names or nicknames wrong a lot because he either doesn't know or doesn't care to learn them.
Actually, That's My Assistant : Jon initially assumes Dortmund to be Dance Ryder and bows, calling him “Your Grace.” Adaptation Badass : Not that book Dortmund was a push-over, but show Dortmund one-ups him by being an absolute monster on the field, single-handedly racking up more onscreen kills during the Battle of Castle Black than most of the other Wild lings combined.
Adaptation Villainy : To a degree; he's less jovial and more brutal than his book counterpart initially. Age Lift / Adaptation Dye-Job : His distinctive beard is white in the books, and he's implied to be at least in his 50s.
Amazon Chaser : He's immediately smitten upon catching sight of Brien ne, and silently flirts over dinner. An Axe to Grind : Trades his signature machete for a massive great with dragon glass blades going into Jon's expedition north of the Wall.
Annoying Arrows : Takes several during the Battle of the Wall, but keeps fighting. Beware the Nice Ones : He's fairly affable and takes an immediate shine to Jon Snow, but doesn't hesitate to warn him that if he crosses him or betrays the Wild lings trust, he will not hesitate to pull Jon's guts out through his throat.
While this is mostly due to his tremendous fighting ability, a lot of the time it can be chalked up to him being extremely lucky. He has his closest brush with death yet when wights nearly drag him underneath a frozen lake beyond the Wall, but Sandor saves him in the nick of time.
The battle against the Night King's armies at Winterfell ends with him and Gentry standing Atop a Mountain of Corpses ; how he managed to survive that particular battle likely just gives even more credence to his earlier claim of being “good at killing people”. Character Tics : Often tilts his head before speaking, as if prefacing his speech with a “well...” Co-Dragons : With Star, to Dance.
Combat Pragmatist : He leads his army to kill a harmless old man, in the hopes that it will draw the Night's Watch out of their castles to investigate, and they'll be easier to defeat. Composite Character : The man Jon believes to be Dance in the books is Star, the Magyar of Then, whose first appearance has been pushed back to Season 4.
Interestingly, show Dortmund kills For's grandnephew at the Battle of the Bastards. Defiant to the End : Grossly outnumbered, surrounded by crossbowmen, with several arrows sticking out of his body, yet he still refuses to surrender.
Depraved Bisexual : Briefly invoked to mess with Gentry and Sandor similar to his bear story, he quickly admits he only likes women. Did Not Get the Girl : He's reduced to drunken sobbing when Brien ne chooses Jaime over him after the Battle for the Dawn.
Luckily, a nearby servant girl with the hots for Wild lings is able to distract him from his sorrows. The Dreaded : His performance in the siege of Castle Black seems to make quite an impression, as almost all the Night's Watch mutineers give up the second he returns.
Earn Your Happy Ending : After taking part in four different major battles in the series, and holding the fort against the initial waves of the Long Night, dodging dozens upon dozens of near-death experiences, Dortmund finally sees the peace and freedom his people have always wanted. At the end of the series, he is gifted Ghost, and the two are reunited with Jon Snow.
Enemy Mine : He recognizes that the Wild lings need to ally with the Night's Watch in order to survive against the White Walkers. He starts to slowly seethe with anger when he listens to Jon reading Ramsay's threatening letter about how the psychopath will slaughter every last Free Folk, feed Jon to his hounds, and allow his men to gang rape Santa.
Despite it not being his battle, he immediately asks Santa how many men Ramsay has, eager to go to war and help Jon put the bastard in his place. Evil Cannot Comprehend Good : After being captured, he immediately assumes the Night's Watch is going to torture him to death, as that's what Wild lings often do to their prisoners.
In fairness, given the Who Fights Monsters level brutality and Fantastic Racism of the Night's Watch's more extreme members, it's very likely that this would have been the case if they didn't have Jon leading them. Fiery Redhead : He's a Large Ham eager to fight, with bright red hair.
When the Willing leaders are hesitant to follow Jon, Dortmund is noticeably annoyed and gives them a Dare to Be Badass to get them to go along with the plan to take back Winterfell. Come Seasons 7 and 8, Dortmund takes every opportunity to embrace Jon warmly and praise the man's deeds to anyone who'll listen.
He becomes this with Dolores EDD as well, even embracing him after reuniting following the Breaching of the Wall. Dortmund, on the other hand, is a very effective leader, is generally friendly and well-liked, and has zero issue slaughtering innocents and peasants.
The fact they act as foils to one another becomes most obvious when they personally fight each other during the Battle of Castle Black. Moreover, Thorne despises Jon Snow and does everything he can to keep him down and then undermine his authority when he ascends to power, ultimately betraying him to his death.
The Glop : Upon his return to Winterfell after the Wall is breached, Dortmund comes flying at Jon out of nowhere and hugs him so hard he literally tackles the background music off. Horny Vikings : Although the Wild lings at large are essentially a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to far northern Native Americans and indigenous Scandinavians, Dortmund evokes the more traditional image of a viking: Scandinavian accent, fiery red hair like Thor, colossal beard, and incredible combat prowess.
Implacable Man : Absolutely nothing can stop him during the attack on Castle Black, and it's only when the Wild lings are fully repulsed that he's captured. Innocently Insensitive : After the Battle of Winterfell, Dortmund is boasting proudly to a group of Free Folk during their celebratory feast about Jon and goes over their history, finishing with his admiration that Jon had the balls to climb on a dragon, something a madman or a King would do.
The Lancer : He effectively becomes one to Jon Snow in Season 6, as he leads the Willing forces help House Stark in taking back Winterfell. Large Ham : Dortmund is prone to chewing scenery and making grandiose declarations.
Literal-Minded : Wild lings tend to speak directly and plainly, so he's not great with things like metaphors. Manly Tears : He can barely keep his resolve as he watches Dance being burned at the stake.
Perpetual Frowned : Dortmund has an often chilling and always penetrating gaze, until he mellows out in later seasons. Pet the Dog : When Jon begins fighting the Wild lings once he can't bring himself to kill the old man as the Wild lings demand, Dortmund's first act is to restrain Gritty, preventing her from participating in the fight and getting herself killed.
Notable in that he chose to do this over engaging Jon in combat, despite looking absolutely pissed at his betrayal. Later, after the Battle of Castle Black, an uncharacteristically somber Dortmund tells Jon that Gritty honestly, truly loved him when she was alive, before instructing Snow to burn her body in the homeland she loved so much.
Put on a Bus : After the Long Night's ended, he takes his people (and Ghost) back beyond the Wall. Returns to the series finale, officially leaving Castle Black for the Far North with Jon Snow, Ghost, and the surviving Free Folk in tow.
Reasonable Authority Figure : With Dance dead, he becomes the de facto Willing leader, and he recognizes quickly that an alliance with Jon is for the good of his people. He also recognizes the damage Dance's stubborn pride did to the Wild lings and himself and what kind of end it got him and resolves not to go down that path himself.
Screaming Warrior : In the fray of battle, Dortmund mixes his powerful blows with grunts. Sir Swears-a-Lot : He's up there with the Hound, emphasized by his comparatively jovial demeanor and more casual use of Country Matters.
So Proud of You : Over the seasons, Dortmund is amazed that Jon keeps trying against impossible odds (making friends with the Free Folk and saving their lives from the White Walkers, standing up to arrogant and corrupt authority figures like Thorne and Stands, dying and coming back to life only to dive right back into battle, etc.) By Season 8, he boasts proudly to anyone who will listen that Jon is probably the greatest man and friend that he's ever met in his life.
The lingering hostility is set aside, as Jon Snow states that they're all on the same side when it comes to facing the White Walkers, with Torah and Dortmund ultimately marching side-by-side immediately behind Jon in the team's V-Formation Walk beyond the Wall. Took a Level in Kindness : When Jon convinces him to ally with the Night's Watch against the White Walkers, he mellows out.
Dortmund: (to Jon, as he's being dragged off on his orders) I SHOULD HAVE THROWN YOU FROM THE TOP OF THE WALL, BOY! Villainous Friendship : Dortmund and Gritty are shown to be fairly close to one another throughout the series.
Dortmund's accent sounds indeterminately between Scottish and Kristopher Hindu's native Norwegian. You Are in Command Now : With Dance gone, Dortmund is the closest thing the disparate clans of Free Folk have to a central leader.
Adaptation Attractiveness : While not unattractive, Book Gritty is described as having crooked teeth and a pug nose. Adaptation Badass : In the novels, Gritty is a bold spear wife and skilled with a bow, but never a notable fighter.
In the show, she's a prodigious archer who never misses a shot and boasts of killing more than anyone else in her raiding party. Adaptation Villainy : There is no mention of Book Gritty aiding another willing band to kill innocent villagers before the battle.
Armor-Piercing Question : When Jon angrily declares that he and his family are of the First Men and therefore, have same blood as the Wild lings and have as much claim to the North as they do, she responds with a simple, “Then why are you fighting' us?” Brief Accent Imitation : Loves to mock Jon by repeating his sentences in a guttural tone modeled after Snow's one.
Brutal Honesty : When the Half hand asks her what the Wild lings would do if they captured him, Gritty informs him he would count himself very fortunate if his death was quick. Dramatic Irony : Her catchphrase is originally a reference to Jon's Night's Watch vows and eventually expands to his naivete about certain Willing customs, but it is oddly prescient in retrospect once the audience learns of Snow's true parentage and birthright.
Face Death with Dignity : When she believes Jon is about to execute her, she asks only that he does it clean and burns her body afterwards. If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten : Pulls a variant of this to test Jon, essentially telling him, “If you're really a Willing, fuck me” as one of Jon's Watch oaths prohibited marriage and fathering children.
Improbable Aiming Skills : Dortmund notes that she has them, indicating that her failure to kill Jon with three arrows was deliberate. A Match Made in Stockholm : Jon makes her a prisoner shortly after meeting her, and the two become romantically involved in Season 3.
Villainous Friendship : Gritty and Dortmund are shown to be fairly close to one another throughout the series. Villain Respect : In Season 2, after their first meeting, she shows a bit of this to Jon.
Woman Scorned : After Jon chooses his duty over her, she puts three arrows into his back. Dortmund lampshades it later, when he tells Jon he knew Gritty loved him from the fervor with which she wanted to kill him.
Would Not Hurt A Child : She spares Gilly and young Sam's lives because the latter is only a baby. A Willing skin changer (a person who can enter the minds of animals) in service to Dance Ryder.
Animal Eye Spy : He uses his eagle for this purpose, making him Dance's most valuable scout. Orwell is frequently antagonistic toward Jon, viewing him as a Fake Defector and a rival for Gritty's affections.
Ascended Extra : Getting any screen time at all is a larger role than what he has in the books, where he's already dead before Jon infiltrates the wild lings. He wars into his eagle at the last second after Jon stabs him during their duel to the death.
Brutal Honesty : He has no illusions that humanity is any different from the animals whose minds he inhabits. Butt-Monkey : He gets no respect for his nagging suspicion of Jon, despite being completely right the whole time.
Crazy Jealous Guy : Part of the reason he antagonizes Jon is that he has feelings for Gritty. Orwell : I've seen you two whispering in the night, giggling like a pair of girls.
Defiant to the End : After Jon fatally stabs him, his consciousness jumps into his eagle. However, Orwell not only saved himself but many other groups of Wild lings, and could almost be considered heroic for making the hard choice.
They were halfway up a dangerous 700ft climb, had a large chunk of Wall come away from them moments before and wipe out several other groups, coupled with Jon and Gritty swinging precariously and threatening to pull them all down? Emergency Transformation : Body Surfs into his eagle companion seconds before his death to try and kill Jon Snow.
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten : He savvy invokes it with Jon to test his allegiance. Impaled with Extreme Prejudice : With Jon Snow's great sword, right through the chest.
Lean and Mean : Of all the Wild lings, he looks the most like he's been living rough with little food. Spared by the Adaptation : In the books, Orwell was one of the Wild lings in Gritty's scouting party and was actually killed by Jon when their group was found and killed (except for Gritty, who was spared by Jon) by Horn Half hand's ranging party.
He dies similarly to his book counterpart in “The Rains of Cashmere”. Taking You with Me : In “The Rains of Cashmere”, Orwell wars into an eagle after Jon mortally wounds him.
He comes close to clawing Jon's eyes out and leaves him with permanent facial scars. He absolutely destroys his foes in battle and gives Jon Snow a No-Holds-Barred Beat down.
The Berserker : In contrast to his Soft-Spoken Sadist ways, in battle he's screaming and howling with wild, powerful axe blows. Blood Knight : When swinging his massive axe at the Night's Watch, Star is wearing a big smile like he's having the time of his life.
Bond Villain Stupidity : Instead of continuing to beat Jon to death, he elects to choke him. Jon gets enough breathing room to spit blood in his face and slam a hammer into his head.
Creepy Monotone : The few times he bothers to talk, it's in a very deliberate tone that almost sounds like he's speaking a foreign language. The Then then pull a human arm out of a bag and begin to roast it.
Establishing Character Moment : When he first shows up, him and his men strut into the Willing camp, throw away the meat being cooked over the campfire, and replace it with a human arm. Guttural Growler : An absolutely terrifying man who, in his first scene, never speaks in anything above a low growl.
Token Evil Teammate : Star might very well be the nastiest Willing ever introduced on the show. Similarly to Dortmund, Star's accent is somewhere between English and Kolokolnikov's native Russian.
Badass in Charge : Nobody didn't become the leader of the Then through his skills as a public speaker. Curb-Stomp Battle : Points for balls, but he lasts all of two seconds against a White Walker.
General Ripper : Even in the face of extinction, he views the crows as the true enemy. Impaled with Extreme Prejudice : A White Walker thrusts its spear into his gut, killing him outright.
In Bulgarian folklore, salt bush is only present in a song where someone complains to it about men being clueless about women. Senseless Sacrifice : He goes up against a White Walker, so Jon can get a bag of dragon glass daggers, but the Walker makes short work of Labor and ends up preventing Jon from recovering the bag.
They only actually made two giant costumes by the end of Season 4 (which are full-body suits), “Congo” and “Mag the Mighty”. Note In the books, the giants are hairy ape-like creatures similar to Bigfoot, with few tools and no need to dress.
In the show they look like 4-meter tall humans with rough facial features and wear clothes similar to those worn by the Wild lings. At his size, this would likely be the case so the Night's Watch archers don't bother, and he is taken out with one ballista bolt, an “arrow” by giant standards.
The Archer : Wields a large bow relative to his height, and an arrow from him is able to reach the top of the Wall, hit a target, and send them flying the rest of the way to the Castle Black courtyard. Back for the Dead : First appears in Season 3 to introduce giants to Jon (and the audience).
Congo and him attack the outer gate with mammoths during the first day of battle at the Wall. Donned Hill states that they put twenty arrows into him, and he just shrugged them off (though it helps that he's wearing many heavy layers of animal hides, which serve as crude but effective armor).
When the mammoth flees and Congo is killed, Mag drops the crowbar and forces the gate by himself. Giant Took : After his companions are killed, he still tries to force the gates to Castle Black by himself, and nearly succeeds.
Last of His Kind : As explained by Dance Ryder to Jon Snow, in “The Children”. Mutual Kill : Takes down Green and five other brothers while trying to get through the outer gate to Castle Black, but dies along with them.
Granted, he has to exert himself with great difficulty, and it takes a few minutes, but it was a case of Villainous Valor (see below). Unstoppable Rage : When Congo is killed, Mag gets pissed enough to lift the Castle Black gate all by himself.
Villainous Valor : When his giant comrade is slain by a ballista, and the mammoth and its crew are all driven off by the flaming barrels of oil, Mag the Mighty bellows in rage and presses on, slowly managing to lift the outer gate entirely by himself (albeit with great effort). The Night's Watch fills him with twenty arrows, but they barely affect him due to his size.
His show counterpart is The Quiet One, with hints of Tranquil Fury, and his opinion seems to hold sway with the Wilding elders. Badass Baritone : Has a deep voice whenever he does speak and is single-handedly the best defender at Hard home as well as the 'Battle of the Bastards'.
The Big Guy : To Jon's army at the Second Battle of Winterfell. Big Guy Fatality Syndrome : He is the strongest member in Jon's group, and he is the only named character among them to die in the Battle of the Bastards.
Heroic Sacrifice : Already mortally injured, he spends the last of his strength to forcefully open the gates of Winterfell and allow Stark forces inside, sparing them the need for a siege and securing their victory. You No Take Candle : According to a lengthy post on his blog, the TV serie's staff linguist David J. Peterson explained that this is how giants talk within the Old Tongue itself (Wun is the first giant to have any speaking line, in Season 5's “Hard home”).
His true name is unknown; he calls himself the Lord o' Bones, while the Night's Watch mocks him as Rattle shirt. Back for the Dead : After disappearing for almost two seasons, he shows up just to get his skull caved in for insulting Dortmund.
Gritty: He could have killed me half a dozen times! Dropped a Bridge on Him : While he was never a major character, his appearance in Season 5 hints at him being something relevant.
Hoist by His Own Petard : Beaten to death with his own Staff of Authority by Dortmund. Maybe a little Shout-Out to another character that has been Adapted Out : Harm Hogshead, who decorates her staff... with dog heads.
Trigger Happy : It takes Gritty a lot of effort to convince him to not give Jon the chop. She actually does very well against the Wights, and only dies because she froze up at the sight of undead children.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished : She does suffer injuries, but as far as Wights go, she gets away mostly intact considering she was mauled by undead children. Cute Monster Girl : Kari was a damn good-looking lady in life, and even as a Wight she's still very pretty, with her Occult Blue Eyes.
Devoured by the Horde : While most of the Wild lings who die at Hard home are simply stabbed to death, Kari is mauled by undead children. Missing Mom : To Johnny and Willa, who are seen with Dortmund passing through the gates of Castle Black.
Reasonable Authority Figure : The first Hard home Willing to join Dortmund and Jon Snow's alliance. Sacrificial Lion : She's established as a skilled and dangerous warrior, so her death is used to make a point of how screwed everyone is.
We Hardly Knew Ye : She has all the makings of a prominent character, but alas, she is killed in the same episode she is introduced. Women Are Wiser : She is apparently the only female clan leader, and she is easily the smartest and most reasonable one among them.
When the white cold comes, your swords and cloaks and pretty fires won't help you. Ascended Extra : His one scene from A Clash of Kings is developed into a larger storyline.
Asshole Victim : Karl provokes him into a fight, so that he can kill Crater and then steal his food. When the white cold comes, your swords and cloaks and pretty fires won't help you.
He's also incestuous, rapes, beats and abuses his daughters, and offers his sons up as Human Sacrifices. Can't Kill You, Still Need You : How the Night's Watch view Crater; he might be a lecherous and repulsive old willing who weds his daughters and sacrifices his sons to the White Walkers, but the information and safety he's provided to the Watch over the years are too valuable to lose.
The only reason he isn't ousted from his home is because it provides a vital rest spot for the Rangers. But by allowing Crater to breed they are indirectly bolstering the ranks of the White Walkers.
Evil Old Folks : He's reached his elder years, and also rapes his daughters and sacrifices his sons. Informed Attribute : The Night's Watch supposedly turns a blind eye to Crater's incest and femicides because he's “useful” to the Rangers, with his farmstead serving as a place to shelter and re-supply whilst scouting beyond the Wall.
Given the lackluster quality of “help” demonstrated during the first three seasons, and the fact that his precious Keep could have been run without him by his daughters or even a dedicated contingent of Night's Watch, it comes off as more than a little hard to swallow for many a viewer. Jerk ass : His incestuous, abusive marriages aside, Crater is a sadistic, cruel bully without a single redeeming quality hidden in his vile personality.
Jerk ass Has a Point : While he gives the Night's Watch as little food as possible and wants them gone ASAP, the fact is that he does have a large family to feed, and winter is coming, so while he may be a disgusting person in many, many other ways, Crater's extremely grudging and minimalist hospitality is actually pretty reasonable. Subverted when one remembers that on their trip through, the Night's Watch brought a huge tribute of food and liquor, more than enough to feed the few survivors without tapping into Crater's own precious larder.
Massive Numbered Siblings : Before he dies in “And Now His Watch Is Ended”, he notes that Gilly's boy is his 99th son, and he has at least 13 daughter-wives that we see. If he had female, the fucker will keep hoarding them to continue his sick routine of Parental Incest Wife Husbandry.
Open Secret : Mormon and probably Been already know that Crater kills his sons, but he is too valuable to get rid of as an ally. When he's insulted in his house, he attacks his guests, but they were deliberately provoking him, making it unclear who violated Sacred Hospitality first.
Token Evil Teammate : He makes himself valuable to the Night's Watch, so they'll leave him alone, but is so despicable that none of them are very happy about it. Too Dumb to Live : It's not a good idea to take people under your roof, insult them, give them as little food as possible, and threaten to kill them for a joke, especially when they might not have the same morals and honor their leader has.
Though incest is a core theme in both the books and the show, Crater takes it Up to Eleven as he marries and rapes his daughters on a routine basis. When Elders Attack : In Season 2, Mormon says Jon's not fit to accompany Horn's scouts by pointing out that he got disarmed and beaten bloody by “an old man”.
In-universe Memetic Badass Horn Half hand immediately calls Crater “a tough old goat”, suggesting that there's no shame in being beaten by him. Wife Husbandry : His entire way of life is built around marrying his own daughters, and breeding more wives.
Would Hurt a Child : Rapes his daughters and sacrifices his sons to the White Walkers. Action Survivor : Lampshade by EDD, who tells Sam, following the Willing raid on Mole's Town, that since she was able to survive not only years living under Crater, the long march to the Wall, and not to mention a White Walker ; that she probably survived the aforementioned raid (which she did, unbeknownst to them, thanks to Gritty of all people).
Birds of a Feather : Both Gilly and Sam are kind, awkward, relatively quiet outcasts with cruel fathers and several siblings they're not particularly close to. Sam initially thought Gilly and their son would be safer away from him, and Gilly could be just a wee bit irritable whenever he even hinted at their separation from him, never mind how downright cold she was the first time he did leave her and the baby in Mole's Town and how frantically annoyed she was when he insisted on fighting with the others rather than staying with her and baby Sam after they were reunited.
Book Dumb : Her situation never allowed her access to any kind of literary education, and she has a limited vocabulary as a result, but she's far from stupid nonetheless. At one point, she suggests the name “Crater” for her newborn baby, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Chekhov's News : Is initially the one to stumble across some very important information regarding a series protagonist in some historical records kept by the Masters at the Citadel. Both times her reaction is to keep her eyes glued to the floor and try her best to avoid giving them ammo to pester her with.
Places like the Night Fort, Castle Black and Mole Town are well outside her comfort zone. She's among the many daughter-wives Crater keeps and abuses, she's bullied by a sex worker in Moles town when she's just trying to live in peace, two Nights Watch brothers harass and try to rape her, and Sam's father is condescending and racist towards her.
Mother Bear : Hopeless or not, she was going to take any chance that came her way to deny the White Walkers her little boy for as long as she possibly could. Mistaken for Prostitute : When Sam introduces her to his family, his father later disdainfully says he thought she was a Mole's Town whore.
Step ford Smile : Like the rest of Crater's wives, she puts on an obedient, happy face to stay on his good side. The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter : She's very pretty considering she's the inbred daughter-wife of a psychotic old rapist.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are : After Sam takes a harsh verbal smackdown, Gilly tells him he killed a White Walker and a Then and that he doesn't need to impress his father to be a hero. Not Allowed growing Up : By the end of season 7 he's somehow still a baby, although three or four years have passed.
When the last son of the incestuous family is born, she delivers him to Crater's killers and tells them to sacrifice the baby. Deal with the Devil : Not only with the White Walkers, but also with the Night's Watch mutineers who killed Crater and took his place.
Mr. Exposition : Moral turns up to explain to Karl and the audience what exactly happens to the baby boys. Broken Bird : Incredibly, things got worse for her after Crater dies, and it shows on her face.
When he drunkenly slams her to the ground, she merely sits back up with barely a shift in her expression. This gives Jon enough time to recover Long claw and ram it through Karl's mouth.
A Night's Watch deserter living among the Free Folk and part of OSHA's band. Would Hurt a Child : For starters he wounds Bran in the leg with a knife to test that he is really paralyzed, then takes him hostage and threatens to cut his throat.