27 Surprising Facts About Ser Barristan Selmy, Commander of the Kingsguard

The legendary show, Game of Thrones is hailed as one of the greatest and most captivating shows ever made in the history of

television shows. The show changed the course of a television series and set up a bar so high that I don’t think anybody would be able to cross that. The historical era, the different houses, the king, queens and knights, evilness of antagonists and sacrifices of protagonists, and everything else that makes this show so compelling has proved to be a successful train in their own way.

The drama-fantasy series based on a series of books has made us familiar with the tropes that endured for so many years. Every character in the show was made so strong that for a second you wouldn’t be able to differentiate among the main and the side characters. Well, such is the case with Barristan Selmy.

There surely are a lot of knights mentioned in the show but nobody would be as heroic as Barristan Selmy. He represents those tropes that are given a new life. The honorable character in the series serves has such a great impact on the show that it is nearly impossible to watch the show and not the incredible reflection that he undergoes.

The best thing that Barristan Selmy did was to track down Daenerys Targaryen and convince her to fight for herself in order to restore her House Targaryen and apart from that, there is so much to know about Barristan Selmy that will fascinate you at each step. So what are you waiting for? Read the article below to find out.

1. Actor who played the role

The role of Barristan Selmy is played by Ian McElhinney. The most significant work of the actor that brought him the name and fame that he has today is because of Game of Thrones. In the theatre adaptation of the series, Selmy is killed by just five seasons but in the book version, he is still alive.

2. His nicknames

The show and the book both tells us that Barristan Selmy definitely has a nickname and not one but two. While one is flattering, the second one is told with the purpose of mocking. The first nickname of his is “Barristan the Bold” which he definitely is but the second one is “Barristan the Old” and I don’t think anybody had to guts to say to his face.

3. Monstrous Killer

As we all know the kind of honorable knight Selmy is and his tales of bravery is already pretty famous but did you know that he played a really important role in the War of Ninepenny Kings and he was the knight who killed Maelys Blackyre, he was the last male to bear the name Blackfyre and he was also known by the name Maelys the Monstrous.

Blackfyre was a cadet branch of House of Targaryen and they were no less in the battle to fight for the Iron Throne. But their battle officially ended when Selmy killed Maelys

4. The Sacrifice

Though we are unsure of the real age of Barristan Selmy, but his birth year is either 236 AC or 237. Selmy was the first son of Ser Lyonel Selmy and he was the one who was the rightful heir of his land and his belongings but he gave it all up, including his rights to the land and all the prestigious titles when he decided to serve as a kings guard.

5. The physical appearance

Well, you must imagine Selmy as you see him in the show but the description of Selmy in the book reveals that he is an old man with white hair but when he was young the color of his hair was blond. He is taller in height with Ser Joran Mormont but as compared to healthy; he falls a little thin.

He was not quite bulky and muscular as him. And though he is old but he is very strong and easily gives competition to any of his enemies who are decades younger than him. He is very skilled and his best weapon is his hands.

6. Marcher Lords

As you must be aware that Barristan Selmy belongs to the protagonist batch of the series and his house is a noble house so that concludes that House Selmy is one of the Marcher lords. Now you would be thinking what is marcher lords, well to answer your question, there are some group of houses that belongs to the Dornish Marches, this is a region near Dorne.

So this area is a battlefield that has many stories to tell. Anyway, the marcher lords are considered to be very authoritive and extremely military-focuses houses from the Stromlands and the reach and they are known for producing one of the best warriors in Westeros.

Well, you must be wondering what are some other houses that reside in the Dornish Marches, so they are, House Swann, House Tarly, House Peake, House Caron, House Dondarrion, and of course, House Selmy.

7. Knight or Noble?

The books by George R. R. Martin on which this whole series is based on has raised confusion among the fans. Confusion is, whether Selmy belongs to a knightly house or a noble house? In the beginning, it was stated that House Selmy is a knightly house and it was also confirmed by the fact that Selmy is called ‘Ser’ and not ‘Lord’ so that concludes his house to be knightly.

But then in the fifth book called A Dance with Dragons, it was mentioned that the House Selmy is in fact a noble house. So what is it? Maybe they are trying to implement that their house got a promotion or this could be a mistake.

8. Where it all started

Barristan Selmy joined the Kingsguard when he was 23 years old. At the time he was sworn in by Ser Gerold Hightower who was the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard then.

9. Selmy’s Point of View

Ian McElhinney played Barristan Selmy in Game of Thrones but besides that, he also portrayed the same character in a special serious of videos that were created for the Blu-ray release. The videos only comprise the fifth season. These videos basically showed us the history and lore of the series in a pretty detailed manner and as shown in a series that it is told by various characters. And McElhinney narrates the point of view of Barristan Selmy in these videos on Robert’s Rebellion.

10. Master to the Apprentice

When Barristan Selmy was young, he served as a shield bearer for a knight from another marcher house, House Swann, and the man was named Ser Manfred Swann. Though we do not have enough information about Ser Manfred Swann at the moment but various assumptions has been made regarding this, which suggests that Manfred was the one who trained Selmy. Well, if this is true that he must have been a legendary knight because he did a great job.

11. The Promotion

Along with Jaime Lannister, Barristan Selmy is also the one who survived King Aerys II Targaryen’s Kingsguard, after Robert’s Rebellion. And following the death of Gerold Hightower, Barristan Selmy gets promoted to the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard under King Robert Baratheon.

12. Jaime Lannister

Barristan Selmy was right there during the first-ever experience of Jamie Lannister in combat. Jamie was just 16 at the time and he served as a squire which means a shield barrier for Selmy.

13. Not So True

It was shown in the movie that Jamie Lannister and Barristan Selmy share a pretty affectionate and courteous relationship among themselves but the book tells the different tale. As per the book, Selmy is not very fond of Jamie Lannister and it is written that before Robert’s Rebellion, Selmy denied the fact that Jaime could be initiated into the kings guard considering the fact that he was so young. But this is not it, things only start to get worse from this point.

When Jaime kills the Mad King, Selmy suggests that he has committed such a heinous crime and as a result of that he should be sent to the wall.

14. Feeling disappointed

Before the filming of the series, the actor had read the books on which the series was getting made. McElhinney then developed the thinking that he is going to have an expanded role in the fifth season considering in the book version, the fifth book, Dance with Dragon shows Selmy’s very important role.

But then he was devastated to know that in the theatre adaptation they have decided to cut his role short and he openly showed his appointment over this and said that the real storylines shouldn’t be abandoned. Well, this would be a natural reaction of any actor whose role is getting cut.

15. The actor was unaware of what’s coming

During the time when season was getting shot, the filming dates were sent to the actor, Ian McElhinney and he was surprised that the dates were actually for just a half of the season. Later when he contacted the creators of the series he got to know that Barristan Selmy would be killed off after that season and it came as an utter shock to him.

16. The canceled marriage

As we are aware that when Selmy decided to join the kings guard, he abandoned all his rights and titles that was for the heir to House Selmy. Before he was also engaged to someone and they were later going to marry together but when he left everything behind, he left his fiance too. Then the fiance had to marry Selmy’s cousin.

17. Considered a hero

Bran Stark, who was left crippled because of his fall from a tower idolized Barristan Selmy. Bran was meant to join his father and his sisters in King’s Landing but the unfortunate event changed everything for him. But as per the inner monologue of Bran, he was most excited to meet Barristan Selmy when going to the South; he considered Selmy and hero and believed that he is the greatest knight alive. But as we are all aware that Bran never got that chance, and that is really sad.

18. The forbidden love

Forbidden love stories have the ability to add the element of magic in literally everything. And why would you think that Barristan Selmy had no such love for the ladies, because apparently, he did. This is one of the biggest secret of his that he was so passionately in love with Ashara Dayne.

Ashara was the sister of Arthur Dayne, who was the fellow member of the Kings guard. But there was nothing that Selmy could do because as a member of the Kings guard he was forbidden to have a wife and to share intimate relations with anyone. However, there were few time when he got to meet the love of his life.

19. Keeping the king hostage

Out of many moments when Selmy shines was during the Defiance of Duskendale. During the time, the ruler of Duskendale was Lord Denys Darklyn. Lord Denys was having some kind of dispute with the Iron Throne related to the taxes. After that, Lord Denys Darklyn invited King Aerys II to discuss the matter face to face which Lord Tywin Lannister profusely declined.

But King Aerys II insisted on going and ended up going to Duskendale. Then a sudden twist was awaiting all of us when Lord Denys Darklyn kidnapped him and taken him hostage.

20. I told you so

‘I told you so’ these must be the words that Tywin Lannister must be muttering after the kidnapping of King Aerys II. For at least six months, he was held captive at the fort at Duskendale. Though the allies of Tywin Lannister surrounded the place they couldn’t start the attack. But they had to do something soon because the life of Aerys was in danger.

To end this dilemma, Selmy had to step up and go on a one-man mission in order to bring back the king safe. For that he infiltrated the castle of Duskendale and smuggled the king outside safely.

21. Started Early

From the very early age, Selmy dedicated his career to be of a fighter and you would be surprised to know that he was just 10 years old when he took this decision. And as a kid or we say young fighterm he used to put on an armor suit at the tourney held in Blackhaven and he used to read the list as a mystery knight.

At the time most of the attendants used to laugh at this little tiny knight but it was Prince Duncan Targaryen who recognized the kind of courage he had and was impressed by his boldness. Also, Duncan is the one to give Selmy the title of “Barristan the Bold”.

22. The small council

In the show, Game of Thrones, we have never seen Selmy sitting in the small council that the king Robert Baratheon held even though as the lord commander of the king’s guard, it was his duty to attend it. But in the book version of the series, it was written that Selmy never missed the small councils and used to take the side of Ned Stark when he protested against the assassination that could have taken Daenerys Targaryen’s life.

23. Battle of Trident

Contrary to his fellow kings guard, Selmy had an active participation in the Battle of Trident where he was fighting alongside Rhaegar Targaryen. In the battle, Selmy became serious wounded and literally every weapon was used on him but despite that he was very courageous and ended up killing most of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark’s allies.

24. Selmy’s dismissal from the small council

Selmy was dismissed from the small council by Varys and the reason behind that is revealed in the book Song of Ice and Fire, which says that the true intention of Varys was that he wanted Selmy to find Daenerys Targaryen and stand by her as a ruler. Following that a close friend of Varys, Illyrio Mopatis, send Selmy tp Daenerys while in the company of Strong Belwas.

25. The plotting

Though it is not clearly shown in the series but the true reason why Barristan Selmy was dismissed as a Kingsguard was not only to make Jaime Lannister the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard but also to make Sandor Clegane into a guard which was actually not allowed since he was not a knight. After seeing so much wrong, Selmy becomes disgusted and leave the place.

The whole idea is said to be Varys’s plan who had other plans for Selmy and there is a reason why Varys is called the Master of Whisperers.

26. The lost battle

Though Selmy showed a lot of bravery and courage in the royal army, they lost the battle of the Trident, and then Robert Baratheon was killed by Prince Rhargar Targaryen in single combat. Barristan Selmy himself was very wounded and he had no way to be treated on the field. And at that moment, it was Roose Bolton who suggested that he should be killed immediately since he still possesses a threat to them.

But contrary to this, Robert has so much respect in his heart for an old knight who is just performing his duty, that he sent his men to treat the wounds of Selmy and at that moment, Robert himself was wounded so much. This is seen as such a generous act on his end since he did this even after knowing that Selmy had killed many of his friends.

27. The darkest moment

Even though Robert showed such generosity towards him in the Battle of Trident, but Selmy was internally preparing to kill him later in the aftermath of Robert’s Rebellion. But he was so serious wounded that he didn’t even managed to be present at the moment when Robert sat on the Iron Throne in the King’s Landing after winning the battle. This means that he wasn’t present during the darkest moment of Robert’s Rebellion.

Though Tywin Lannister was there and his infamous act of presenting the dead bodies of Prince Rhaenys’s children, Rhaenys and Aegon also happened at the moment. He did so as for the new king as a proof of his security and as said by the Selmy himself that if he was there at that moment there was no force on earth that could have stopped him from killing the Baratheon monarch as when Robert smiled and watched the dead bodies of those innocent children.


When there’s a lot that we know, there is so much remains untold. The hidden secrets, not-known-before facts, the mysteries and what not. But you don’t need to worry about it, because we are here to leave no stone unturned to bring you the fascinating facts about literally everything.

This was the article about Barristan Selmy, some unknown, surprising facts, and the untold story of his valor that will be remembered in history forever. He did everything dedicatedly and there was a reason why he was hailed as the best knight at the King guard. Despite his personal valor, he also glorified the place that he belonged to. Though you would find some differences in the theatre adaptation of his character as compared to the book but one thing remained the same, and that was his bravery all along.

If you are a fan of Game of Throne, I am sure you would have an interesting take on this article which we are dying to know, so please enlighten us in the comment section below. Also, do let us know by commenting below how you like this article and which topic should we cover next?