In HBO’s Game of Thrones, it’s safe to say many sympathized and wanted Catelyn Stark to get revenge for all the wrongs done to her family. Ned Stark was beheaded, while their House in the North quickly fell under the ire of the Lannisters once Robert Baratheon died, all as the likes of Cersei and Littlefinger plotted to take King’s Landing and rule Westeros for themselves. Unfortunately, while Catelyn died early on knowing how her enemies got the best of them, the saddest part of her fate was an endearing truth she never learned about her own family.
This is regarding the identity of Jon Snow’s mother, something that haunted Catelyn for years. She loved Ned but part of her resented how he came off like a typical swashbuckling warrior, bedding another woman on his travels. It’s why she hated how he brought his bastard, Jon, home to Winterfell, apparently guilty of his indiscretion and wanting to make amends to everyone.
It seemed like Ned’s code got the best of him, so he wanted to do right by the kid and the mysterious mother no one ever knew about. While Catelyn forgave Ned, as she knew deep down he was a good man, she trained her fury on Jon a lot. She despised him, throwing barbs as he was indeed an outsider to her who’d never be pure and good enough.
Even Ned saw this vitriol, but he couldn’t corral Cat’s emotions as it’d mean possibly letting her know Jon wasn’t his bastard — but actually his nephew. Jon was Lyanna Stark’s secret child, which Ned found as he learned she and Rhaegar Targaryen had a wedding, leaving everyone thinking Rhaegar kidnapped her from King Robert Baratheon. Rhaegar died in the war, while Lyanna died giving birth, so Ned hid Jon’s lineage as he knew Robert would kill the child for his Targaryen blood too.
More so, the boy was the last part of Lyanna, the sister he never stopped loving, so he lied to ensure Jon would be kept alive as his kin. This truth would have placed Catelyn in danger, and all the Starks, as the Baratheon loyalists would have slaughtered them due to their betrayal as this would make the king look like a laughing stock.
It was quite a burden for Ned to bear, sacrificing his own good name and leaving Jon to take the hit when Catelyn spewed her venom. Thankfully, the kids such as Robb, Arya and Bran weren’t as mean as their mom, but this played on Catelyn as she saw Jon as the manifestation of cheating and Ned being weak.
Unfortunately, Catelyn died at the Red Wedding in Season 3’s “The Rains of Castamere,” getting her throat slit by Roose Bolton and Walter Frey’s partnership. It was quite bitter as she also watched Robb die, leaving the House in disarray. The show didn’t bring her back as the zombie Lady Stoneheart from the novels, so Catelyn departed with the thought that her husband damaged his reputation and the one relationship she trusted most wasn’t a bedrock, painting a tragic, lack of closure.