Ilyn Payne

Ser Ilyn Payne is a member of House Payne, the King’s Justice, and royal executioner. He is Podrick Payne’s cousin.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

Though Ilyn Payne was born with a tongue, it got cut off. He became a royal executioner for Robert, and his position made him one of the most feared people throughout King’s Landing. Before Robert Baratheon’s royal executioner, Ilyn served as Tywin Lannister’s Captain of the Guard. When Robert asked Lord Eddard Stark to become the Hand of the King, he accepted the offer and began probing into the mysterious death of Lord Jon Arryn, the former Hand of the King. However, his investigation sheds light on a dark secret about Tywin Lannister’s daughter, Cersei Lannister. Ned gets beheaded by Illyn on orders of the new King, Joffrey Baratheon.

Ilyn Payne Personal Details

  • Name: Ilyn Payne.
  • Allegiances: House Payne, House Lannister, House Baratheon.
  • Titles: Ser, Captain of the Guards, King’s Justice.
  • Culture: Westermen.
  • Current Occupation: The Royal Executioner of the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Eye Color: Colorless.
  • Religion: Faith of the Seven.

Appearance and Personality

Ser Ilyn Payne is a tall slim-framed grim man with a scarred face. He has a dark demeanor heightened by a deep set of colorless eyes, hollow cheeks, and an unnerving height that towers above many. Backing Ilyn’s coarse face is a bald head with only wisps of hair strands that flow as long as a woman’s hair. Because of his inability to speak, Ilyn seldom makes a sound and glares at people, creating tension in them. However, for some, the feeling his stares create is that of undiluted terror.

For his attire, Ilyn Payne class himself in haggard-looking clothing, which includes rusted chainmail worn over boiled leather, cracked leather boots, and a battered shield. Though his dress is rusty, Ilyn takes pride in his weapons and keeps them in great shape. He wields a great sword with a stained hilt and wears it on his right shoulder.

Though he comes from House Payne, none of Ilyn’s armor features an emblem of his house. As a skilled executioner, Ilyn uses a single stroke to finish people off. His accuracy and swiftness in killing added more terror to his presence, and even prodigy knights like Ser Jaime Lannister admitted that he was one of the best executioners to have come out of Westeros.


As a member of House Payne, Ilyn Payne served under House Lannister. He became the Captain of the Household Guards at Casterly rock and served Tywin faithfully. During his time as Captain, Tywin served as the Hand of the King for King Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King. One day, Ilyn made a statement insinuating that Tywin Lannister was the one who ruled the Seven Kingdoms. When Aerys got word of his speech, he ordered that hot pincers get used in removing Ilyn Payne’s tongue.

Aftermath of Robert’s Rebellion

After Robert Baratheon killed Prince Rhaegar Targaryen at the Battle of the Trident, Tywin Lannister sacked King’s Landing, and Robert became King. To show thanks for Tywin’s help, Robert made Ilyn the King’s Justice.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones

After the death of Lord Jon Arryn, King Robert Baratheon decides to travel North to Winterfell to meet his long-time friend, Lord Eddard Stark. After Robert’s trip to Winterfell, Ser Ilyn Payne travels to meet him near the Trident to escort him back to King’s Landing. When Sansa Stark sees ilyn, she gets terrified of him and thinks she has offended him. Upon apologizing, he does not respond and moves away from her.

At the Trident, Joffrey Baratheon gets attacked by Nymeria, Arya Stark’s direwolf, after he tries harming her and her friend, Mycah. Upon injuring Joffrey, Arya runs away, and when Jory Cassel, Ned’s Captain of Guard, finds her, he assists in chasing Nymeria away. Because Nymeria goes missing, Queen Cersei insists that Sansa’s direwolf, Lady, gets killed instead. When Robert orders Ilyn to kill the beast, Ned stops him, saying he will do the deed himself.

On getting to King’s Landing, Eddard becomes the Hand of the King. When Robert goes on a hunting trip, Eddard sits on the Iron Throne and holds the court. He learns that Gregor Clegane is raiding the Riverlands and sends Lord Beric Dondarrion, instead of Ilyn Payne, to kill Gregor; this makes Ilyn slightly angry as his expression changes on learning of the order.

When Eddard learns the truth about Cersei’s children, he confronts her about it, and she organizes the murder of her husband. Upon Robert’s death, Eddard gets arrested, and Joffrey becomes King. On Ned getting arrested, Ilyn holds on to the ancestral Valyrian sword of House Stark, Ice. After getting convinced by Lord Varys to admit to treason, Ned obliges. However, King Joffrey tells Ilyn to kill him. On Joffrey’s order, Ilyn uses Ned’s own sword to behead him as his daughter, Sansa, watches.

A Clash of Kings

Though she does not see her father getting beheaded, Arya witnesses the event. Ilyn Payne goes on her death wish list as she gets smuggled out of King’s Landing. After learning of Eddard’s execution, Lord Tywin Lannister sends his son, Tyrion, to King’s Landing to serve as the acting Hand of the King. On getting to the capital city, Tyrion learns from his sister that she wishes Eddard did not get killed.

When Stannis Baratheon learns of his brother’s death, he claims the Iron Throne and declares himself King. His brother, Renly Baratheon, does the same, and with Robb Stark as the King in the North and Balon Greyjoy as King of the Iron Islands, the War of the Five Kings starts. After capturing Storm’s End, Stannis sails for King’s Landing. During the Battle of the Blackwater starts, Cersei orders Ilyn to remain with her in the Queen’s Ballroom of Maegor’s Holdfast. After ordering some servants to get killed, Cersei reveals to Sansa that Ilyn is with them because he will kill them if Stannis wins.

When Lord Tywin returns to King’s Landing with Lord Mace Tyrell, he defeats Stannis. Among the captives from the battle, one man insults Joffrey, stating he was born out of incest. Upon hearing the insults, Joffrey orders Ilyn to kill the man.

A Storm of Swords

After Ned’s head gets chopped off with Ice, Tywin Lannister takes the blade from Ilyn and gives it to Tobho Mott, a master blacksmith from the Free City of Qohor in Essos. In place of Ice, Tywin gives Ilyn Payne a long greatsword with its pommel made from dragonglass. Ilyn attends Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell. At the wedding, Joffrey chokes to death. Upon dying, Cersei blames Tyrion for her son’s death. 

After Tyrion gets betrayed by his lover Shae, he demands a trial by combat. Prince Oberyn Martell fights for Tyrion but gets killed by Ser Gregor Clegane, Cersei’s champion. Though Gregor wins, the poison from Oberyn’s spear causes him great agony. Cersei orders Ilyn to end his misery, but Qyburn convinces her to keep the knight for his experimentation.

Meanwhile, Vargo Hoat captures Jaime after Catelyn Stark frees him. Zollo cuts off his sword hand, and when he gets sent back to King’s Landing, he tries to regain his fighting prowess. To prevent anyone from knowing he is training with his left hand, Jaime begins practicing with Ilyn Payne. Upon learning of his brother’s trial, Jaime frees him from the black cells. However, before leaving King’s Landing, Tyrion sneaks into his father’s tower and kills him and Shae.

A Feast for Crows

After becoming the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Jaime takes Ilyn Payne on an expedition to the Riverlands in hopes of ending the siege of Riverrun. Though he hopes to behead Lord Beric Dondarrion should he find him, the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners remains hidden from Jaime. At Harrenhal, Jaime orders Ilyn to kill one of the Mountain Men for raping a girl, Pia. During his sparing session with Ilyn, Jaime reveals he slept with his sister Cersei.

When Jaime holds a council outside Riverrun, Edwyn Frey suggests the ilyn should behead Lord Clement Piper, one of the few lords who still support Robb Stark even after his death. To end the siege, Jaime orders Ilyn to cut down Edmure Tully from the gallows. He then convinces Edmure to make his uncle surrender the castle.

Appearance in Adaptation

In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Ilyn Payne got portrayed by Wilko Johnson. He appeared in seasons 1, 2, and 6 and starred in 5 episodes. Acting on the boy-king’s orders, Ser Ilyn Payne beheads Lord Eddard Stark. Ilyn’s execution of Ned makes Arya hate him. Later, Tywin tells Tyrion that Ilyn will not behead him for the alleged murder of Joffrey.

Actor’s Passing

On November 21, 2022, Wilko Johnson, the actor that portrayed Ser Ilyn Payne, passed away aged 75. Though some knew him for his role as ilyn Payne, Wilko Johnson was an acclaimed guitarist and songwriter.

Ilyn Payne: The Mute Killer

Though a minor character, Ilyn Payne played a pivotal role in the conflict of the Seven Kingdoms. Though he was an executioner following orders, his action singlehandedly destroyed Westeros. Ilyn was an agent of death who was indirectly responsible for one of the most destructive conflicts of the Seven Kingdoms.


Why was Ilyn Payne terrifying?

Ser Ilyn was terrifying because he was the King’s Justice. He performed all the executions and was mute. His inability to speak only added dread to his position.

Why did Ilyn Payne and Podrick Payne not talk?

Though Podrick and Ilyn were related, they never had a chance to converse as Ilyn became mute. Also, Pod was terrified of Ilyn, like almost everyone his age.

Would Ser Ilyn have killed Cersei if Stannis had won?

Yes. Ser Ilyn would have executed Cersei and Sansa if Tyrion lost the battle of the Blackwater. It was his job to kill when ordered, and because Cersei ordered it herself, he would have killed her.

Is Podrick related to Ilyn?

Yes. Podrick Payne is Illyn’s cousin. Though they are related, they never talked, and Ilyn never acknowledged Pod.

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