Like most families in Game of Thrones, the Stark’s lineage is as complex as the periodic table of elements. Between the string of children, those that marry each other but die, and those who are so gruesomely killed, a headache is never far away.
So, instead of retracing the Stark’s family tree as far as G.R.R Martin has made it possible, we’ll start with characters who matter actively in the plotline of the story we know and love…
Rickard and Lyarra Stark
The Stark family tree as it matters for the Game of Thrones story starts with Rickard Stark, father of the regretted Ned Stark.
Rickard was, like Ned after him, the Lord of Winterfell. He married his cousin twice removed, Lyarra Stark (because of course he did) and with her he had four children –Brandon, Eddard, Lyanna, and Benjen. Finally, a few familiar names in sight!
What Happened to these Stark Sons?
Brandon, the eldest of the Stark children, went to King’s Landing after his sister, Lyanna was “abducted” by Rhaegar Targaryen, to complain to King Aerys II AKA “The Mad King”. The old man had already lost all his marbles by this point and he imprisoned Brandon on the spot.
His father, Rickard went to King’s Landing to chat with Aerys about the whole ordeal, but Aerys wasn’t in the mood for a talk and downright had father and son killed, which sparked the events known as Robert’s Rebellion – a key moment in the Game of Thrones’ timeline.
So, now we know why the Mad King killed Rickard. But what about Lyarra, his wife?
Lyarra, Ned’s mother, is never really mentioned, but it’s safe to assume she had the luck of dying of more natural causes.
Right, so what about Benjen Stark?
Hold your horses! You’ve met Benjen and you should remember exactly what happened to him!
After the rebellion, Benjen vanished beyond the Wall as a member of the Night’s Watch. He was in the TV show early in season 1 and when he sacrificed himself to save Jon’s life in season 7.
You’ve heard all about Lyanna Stark throughout the seasons, but who actually is she and how did she die?
Lyanna Stark died in childbirth during the rebellion. She was supposedly abducted by Rhaegar, Aerys II’s dashing son, who was already married to Elia Martell, though he annulled his marriage with her to be with Ned’s sister.
It was confirmed in season 7 that Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually truly in love and had merely eloped in secret. Rhaegar died on the battlefield, killed by Robert Baratheon, meanwhile Lyanna had Rhaegar’s child during a fatal labor. She named him “Aegon” but she begged Ned to protect him, which led him to hide the child’s true identity under the guise of a bastard’s son – “Jon”.
(If you’re wondering how and why this means Jon is Daenerys’ nephew, check out our infographic which explains it in full.)
Eddard AKA Ned and Catelyn Stark
Finally, we’re in familiar territory!
After winning the rebellion, Eddard Stark, whom we also know as Ned, thus became Lord of Winterfell. He married Catelyn Tully who was initially betrothed to his brother Brandon, and together they had five children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Brandon (who we know better as Bran), and Rickon Stark.
Let’s not forget Jon who was raised as Ned’s bastard son, although it was confirmed in the seventh season that he was actually his nephew, making him cousin to the Stark kids.
In what was one of the most shocking and best Game of Thrones scenes, Ned Stark was beheaded under the order of Joffrey Baratheon after he threatened to tell everyone about Cersei and Jamie Lannister’s incestuous relationship.
And now we move on to the Stark children, who are quite literally the stars of the show. Well, the ones whose hearts are still beating, at least…
Robb Stark, the eldest of the brood, went to fight for the North in the War of the Five Kings, and he married Talisa (in the books known as Jeyne Westerling), a healer, who got pregnant with his child. Unfortunately, the two of them were slaughtered alongside Catelyn Tully during the infamous Red Wedding by Walder Frey and his henchmen, under the order of the Lannisters.
Jon Snow AKA King of the North AKA Aegon
He might not be an official sibling to the Stark children, but he certainly has a place in the Stark family tree.
Jon Snow fought tooth and nail all eight seasons from earning his place as King of the North to going from a confident Lord of Winterfell, back to a fearful Night Watch ranger.
Despite a whirlwind romance with Ygritte, a Wildling, he was never married or betrothed, but he did experience true love with Daenerys Targaryen. This was not only to reinforce the troops against the White Walkers, but also because they truly had a thing for each other, despite the fact that they were aunt and nephew.
Jon Snow being Lyanna’s legitimate son, was both a legitimate Targaryen and a legitimate Stark by blood, making him simultaneously Lord of the North and worthy contender to the Iron Throne. But this knowledge became a threat to Daenerys, leading her into madness and slaughtering more people than you could even imagine. Jon, knowing what he had to do to protect the Seven Kingdoms, killed Queen Daenerys Targaryen, leading him to be sent off to the Night’s Watch for treason.
Sansa Stark, second born child of Ned and Catelyn, was briefly betrothed to Joffrey Baratheon but eventually married Tyrion Lannister, though the marriage was never consummated. In a later season, she also married Ramsay Bolton to reinforce the North. Although he abused and raped her, fortunately Sansa did not fall pregnant. Ramsay died at the fangs of his own dog and Sansa was once again a free woman, perhaps one of the most strongest female characters on the show.
Her story came to a triumphant end when she demanded that Winterfell remained independent from the King’s rule and she was rightly crowned Queen of the North.
Arya Stark, third born child of Ned Stark, fled King’s Landing early on and went on a road trip that saw her eventually become a merciless assassin. She killed Walder Frey, her family’s murderer before joining her siblings back at Winterfell. Arya did the unthinkable by successfully killing the Night King with a stab in the chest, saving all of humanity and when the dust settled in King’s Landing, she chose to set sail and explore Westeros.
Bran Stark AKA King of Westeros
After Ned’s death, Bran Stark, his fourth-born child who had lost use of his legs after being kicked from a tower by Jaime Lannister, went on a road trip of his own. Many seasons and strange dreams later, he became the new Three-Eyed Raven, which made him the most knowledgeable human of the known world, except it turned him into a little bit of a robot…and a weirdo, actually.
Following the death of both Queen Cersei and Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Bran eventually went on to become none other than King of Westeros after a fair election by the leaders of the Westerosi kingdoms.
Rickon Stark, the youngest of the clan, was mostly absent throughout the series, only making brief appearances. Unsurprisingly, he died during the Battle of the Bastards in season 6, killed by Ramsay Bolton’s arrow as he was about to reunite with Jon. WHY DIDN’T HE ZIG-ZAG?!
The Stark family tree may have gotten smaller, but what’s left of it is very admirable, indeed. If only Ned and Cate lived to see what greatness would become of (most) their children. Many may have fallen since the first season, some of them (okay, most of them) in cruel ways, but the remaining Stark children stand stronger than ever.
What did you think of this tree? Was it what you expected or are there things you didn’t know about House Stark? Let us know in the comments!
Want to understand more of these complex dynasties in Game of Thrones? Check out our infographic and explanation of the Targaryen family tree!