Curtain Call: Ben Crompton

Dolorous Edd Tollett 701

What is Edd may never die, but rises again, colder and wight-ier. This week we said goodbye (and then hello, and then goodbye again) to the Night’s Watch most dolorous brother, Eddison Tollett. First introduced in Season Two of Game of Thrones, Ben Crompton’s Edd was a sarcastic, bitter counterpoint to Jon Snow’s perma-glum and Sam Tarly’s cheerful nerdiness. Always on a downer, but with a plethora of smart remarks up his sleeve, Crompton provided us with plenty of humour, but also something of a grounding presence. In a show featuring dragons, zombies and giants, it was always nice to have an every-man character like Edd to provide us with a realistic reaction to some of the more fantastical goings on.


Ah look, more shit. I was starting to wonder what to do with the rest of my day.

Crompton’s interpretation of Edd was cynical and grumpy, but also relentlessly loyal and straight-forward. He’s committed to the original purpose of the Night’s Watch, prepared to fight to the death to avenge Jon Snow and unwilling to forgive the wildlings for killing his brothers Grenn and Pyp. (Okay, he did leave Sam behind that one time, but I’m prepared to forgive him given the events of The Long Night). It’s not easy making a more minor character stand out in a crowded ensemble series, but Crompton did just that. It was a brilliant and heart-warming moment when Jon names him as acting Lord Commander, even if his watch was cut short at the hands of a wight.

His downbeat persona was initially a struggle for Crompton, who described the role as his most-low key performance to date. He admitted having to curb his ‘natural energy’ during his audition, but was still told, ‘less caffeine, more Valium.’

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I’m sure many of us would like to consider ourselves a Sansa or a Tyrion, but I know I’m definitely more of an Edd: loyal to my friends, somehow managing to scrape through despite all the madness around me and making quips all the while (although I would like to avoid dying in battle, if at all possible). He might not have made it out of the game alive, but he did a damn fine job of both defending the realm and serving up sassy remarks.

Might as well enjoy our last night, boys! Light the fuckers up!

Actor and stand-up comic Ben Crompton has a varied career, beginning with a role as Ben Cromptona protester on classic British sitcom The Thin Blue Line, as well as writing for stage and radio. Recent appearances include Mike Leigh’s film Peterloo, as well as roles in Marcella and Vera. Your erstwhile writer would also like to take this moment to recommend Motherland, in which Crompton memorably plays a children’s party entertainer who can make cats appear out of boxes. It’s genius.

Now, his watch is ended, but we’ll never forget Crompton as the brother who gave his life to defend the realms of men.

44 responses

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    1. erin:
      steff666,

      I like Sam, but his being out there was a liability. I figured he get someone killed.

      Exactly, if he was gonna do what he did, he might as well have stayed in the crypts.

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    2. Great job! I hope I hope to see more of his work.

      When the arakhs were lit and the camera pans all the heroes ready to fight, it ends with a focus on Edd’s small smile. The actor did it just right.

      The tone used by the actor when Sam shuffled up to the front line was great. Edd was so kind to Sam when Sam joined the vanguard. I think Edd’s first instinct was to tell him to go back for god’s sake, then he realized Sam’s predicament and softened to ask him why he took so long. That is how I think that was supposed to be understood.

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    3. I’d like to see Ghost give a goodbye to Edd too.
      Ben’s role was severely limited once Castle Black was done as a location of interest, but he was part of a lot of big stuff in those seasons that it was. It’s too bad for him that someone had to be left behind to run the place and Edd was the right person for it. Ben, like the rest, was a fantastic casting and we’ll always remember him for his performance!

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    4. Crompton did a great job, got a good sense of Duty and Camraderie out of his character

      Interestingly what perhaps sticks out the most is the brief stare down with Alliser Thorne right before dragging Janos Slynt out to get beheaded

      Don’t blame him for leaving Sam before Fist of the First Men, he can’t help it if Sam isn’t willing to run. Besides that act of Cravenness seems to have saved Sam…

      Did well in his brief appearance at Battle of Winterfell. As 999th Lord Commander died helping one of his last remaining Brothers of the Night’s Watch

      All the best to Crompton as far as moving onto other projects is concerned

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    5. Clob:
      I’d like to see Ghost give a goodbye to Edd too.

      Yeah that would be good ala Drogon comforting Dany when Ser Jorah died, with Jon and Sam giving him a proper Night’s Watchesque sending off

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    6. I must say, Edd was NOT a character I would have guessed would make it to the final season, but I’m sure glad he did! His constant downer attitude and dry, deadpan sense of humour quickly endeared him to me. Oddly enough, I liked him even more when he bluntly told Sam that he left him behind because he was fat and slow, and he didn’t want to die. I appreciated the honesty. And of course, as the seasons went on, he proved himself, despite his attitude, to be a reliable and loyal friend – from his contributions in the Battle of the Wall, to putting aside his hatred for the wildlings and accompanying Jon to Hardhome, to defending Jon’s dead body from the mutineers, to his final stand at Winterfell.

      Ben Crompton played all of this brilliantly. I had only seen him in one thing before – Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, in which he had a fairly minor role. While Edd may not have been a major character, he was a long-standing one, and one we had all become very attached to, thanks to Ben.

      And now -like Grenn & Pyp – his watch is ended.

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    7. Ben really made Edd a favourite for me. I was often wishing he had more screen time in later seasons. However, despite that he had great lines, always delivered perfectly. So dead pan lol.

      “Oh for f**ks sake Sam, you took your time.”

      I know Sam is labelled as Jon’s best friend but Edd was too. The Last LC 👏

      A big part of me wishes he had survived last episode.

      Thanks Ben, damn awesome job done! Good luck going forward.

      PS Sam is going to feel very guilty that he survived and Edd didn’t methinks.

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    8. Ben as Edd is another example of an excellent performance by a supporting cast member that really made the character stand out. Great job and will miss Edd. Hope to see Ben in other projects soon.

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    9. What a relatable character and Ben sure did it justice. I yelled out at the screen in shock when he died. Such a heartbreaking moment to see poor Edd die. I was really hoping he’d make it through somehow. I will miss his wit very much.

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    10. I loved his character and he did such an excellent job portraying him. Edd’s had a special place in my heart, as like Sam, I often felt they were my friends too.

      It’s so sad saying goodbye to all these characters – and this is an example of how a secondary character can become as loved as a main one – and one of Ben’s accomplishments with this role.
      Edd you’ll be missed! 😢
      Ben my best wishes for the future! ❤️

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    11. BigMac,

      You’ve summed it up so well. Vale Dolorous Edd.

      My friend always refers to him as “Off Brand Robert Carlyle” 😂

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    12. “Whoever dies last, be a good lad and burn the rest of us.”

      Edd was one of my favorite minor characters. His dour grumpiness always made me smile. It’s a testament to Ben Crompton’s fine performance that now, whenever I reread the ASOIAF novels, I picture him as Edd when I read those scenes.

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    13. The show wouldn’t be the same without Edd and his one-liners. His statements made me laugh so many times. And he was technically the last Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (999th I think).

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    14. I will miss Edd so, so much. I love all his dolorous pronouncements in books and show alike, and was hoping against hope that he’d make it. Someone from the Night’s Watch (besides Jon and Sam, if they make it) should have lived long enough to see the Dream of Spring.

      Ben Crompton was absolutely perfect in every single scene he was in. Never a false note.

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    15. Edd was one of the minor characters that I hoped would make it to the end. I enjoyed every minute of his performance.

      Best of luck, Ben!

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    16. Loved Edd in the book, and Ben really made him shine.
      He was such a huge part of Jon and Sam’s story. From the Wall to the Fist of the First men, the mutineers, Hardhome, he was one of the few protecting Jon’s body and he’s the one who brought the Wildlings to save him.
      Oh and he was the first to notice Tormund’s reaction to Brienne, a scene which I loved. 🙂
      He made it to the last and only battle that mattered for the NW. To guard the realms of men.

      We shall never see his like again.

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    17. Dyanna:

      Sam is going to feel very guilty that he survived and Edd didn’t methinks.

      Yeah, I’m wondering what kind of fallout there’s going to be from Sam the Slayer backsliding to Sam the Craven in Ep. 3. He should be beating himself up at least a little, feeling survivor guilt. Or maybe the story is simply that Sam went voluntarily to the frontline, even though he has never been and never will be cut out to be a fighter? Something about the only time one can truly be brave is when one is afraid? Anyway, I hope this thread isn’t dropped completely. Actions should have consequences.

      As for Edd: He is one of my favorite characters both in the books and in the show – in the same way that Eeyore is my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character and Marvin my fave from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. Someone has to hold up the pessimistic end of things. Ben Crompton brought the character’s endearing grumpiness and black humor vividly to life. I will miss him these last three episodes, for sure.

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    18. Of all the characters that I thought should die in the battle of Winterfell, Edd wasn’t one. He deserved a family and a happy ever after.
      Thank you Ben Crompton for making me care for another one in a multitude of great characters in GoT.

      And now his watch is ended.

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    19. Firannion: Yeah, I’m wondering what kind of fallout there’s going to be from Sam the Slayer backsliding to Sam the Craven in Ep. 3. He should be beating himself up at least a little, feeling survivor guilt. Or maybe the story is simply that Sam went voluntarily to the frontline, even though he has never been and never will be cut out to be a fighter? Something about the only time one can truly be brave is when one is afraid? Anyway, I hope this thread isn’t dropped completely. Actions should have consequences.

      As for Edd: He is one of my favorite characters both in the books and in the show – in the same way that Eeyore is my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character and Marvin my fave from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. Someone has to hold up the pessimistic end of things. Ben Crompton brought the character’s endearing grumpiness and black humor vividly to life. I will miss him these last three episodes, for sure.

      I also wonder how Sam will move forward. There is such a lot of interesting story left after this episode.

      For me, this is such a great season so far! Pity that we will not have Ben’s talent for the rest of it…

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    20. Firannion: As for Edd: He is one of my favorite characters both in the books and in the show – in the same way that Eeyore is my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character and Marvin my fave from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. Someone has to hold up the pessimistic end of things. Ben Crompton brought the character’s endearing grumpiness and black humor vividly to life. I will miss him these last three episodes, for sure.

      Yes, excellent comparisons. He has the dry brit humor that Iove; good actor as well. I hope we see him in other shows in the future.

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    21. Triskan:
      And none of these fuckers managed to burn his body.

      Edd, miserable till his last wish.

      As Luka said, they should next episode at least. It’s just a shame they couldn’t before he turned into a Wight.

      What do you think they will do now about the Night’s Watch? Do they still need the Night’s Watch? I’m thinking you still need a force that will protect the realms of men. But I suppose all the Wildlings and the AOTD are gone, so I’m not sure what’s left to protect them from. There still could be ice spiders out there! The Nights Watch also severed the society as an alternative to incarceration or execution, so I can still see value.

      I thought Ben Crompton was a brilliant casting. He did a great job becoming Edd. I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. He was a true loyal brother of the Night’s Watch, and just did his duty. After Jon was resurrected, I enjoyed Edd’s reaction the most. Ben Crompton just seemed so natural in the role. He had a bit of humor along mixed in and he delivered his lines with perfect timing.

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    22. Ben Crompton did great work all through the show and never struck a false note. He exemplified the best of British male character and values in giving life to Edd. I would have much preferred that his character survived as an example of the commoners in the GoT universe obtaining the benefits of their good characters, bravery and loyalty in the final just peace with which the show will hopefully conclude. He would have made a great husband, father and grandfather.

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    23. Edd is one of those characters that provides a lot of color and depth, but you don’t really realize their impact until you’ve seen the episodes at least twice. At least that’s when I came to appreciate how important he was, to the show and to the development of other characters. Ben Crompton was quietly brilliant and was one of the best casting decisions on the entire show.

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    24. Oh, Edd. My male twin of snarkasm and Eeyore demeanour. Definitely not hard to love him! Also provided wonderful comic relief (my favourite – the expression on his face when Tormund was making googly eyes at Brienne over dinner.) Ben Crompton is fantastic. I know I’ve said it before, but I always had a vision of Edd being the last one standing, sitting on the throne, burnt out shell of King’s Landing, looking around going “Oh it fucking figures!!!” ❤

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    25. Anyone else, upon seeing him turn to a wight, yell:

      “STAY BACK – HE’S GOT BLUE EYES!!!”

      Because I didn’t, and I feel it was a missed opportunity…

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    26. At Craster’s: “I was born in a place like this – then I fell on hard times.” Fell in love right there and then. What could he have done to be sent to the wall? Rest well, Lord Commander, and thank you Mr. Crompton.

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    27. Oh, Edd. I knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

      From his very first line on the show – “I was born in a place like this. Later, I fell on hard times.” – Ben Crompton captured the essence of a character who was, as Geoffrey points out, a quintessential everyman, one who copes with the trials and absurdities of the world in the way that so many of us try to – with humor, often of the self-deprecating variety. And Edd had more reason than most to seek such solace. He survived the Fist of the First Men. He survived Hardhome. Ultimately, he did not survive the Long Night … but he died so that his friend Sam might live. Despite all of the times people prophetically cited the famous line from the novels when Edd mournfully predicts he’ll be the last man standing, I never truly believed that Edd would survive to see all of his brothers-in-arms fall around him – because Edd was the kind of man who would do everything in his power to keep those around him alive, including laying down his own life if necessary.

      Edd may have presented himself as a cynic, but what I loved most about his character was that deep down, he really was a true believer – in the Night’s Watch, in his friends, and in the ever-flickering possibility of hope. That shines through most beautifully for me in the scene from “Oathbreaker” when Edd and Jon are reunited after Jon’s resurrection and they share a long and wordless hug, followed by a good-natured joke and a much-needed laugh. Edd never truly lost faith in Jon – he was always ready to follow him into battle, to defend him with his life even after he had fallen, and to risk everything on the hope that he might be able to bring him back. That final moment on the battlements that Edd shared with Jon and Sam was a perfectly fitting sendoff to his character, because it showed both his world-weary fatalism and his determination to keep fighting, no matter the odds.

      At 33 appearances to date, Ben Crompton holds the record (currently tied with Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne, who will pass him next week), for the most appearances by a cast member without becoming a series regular. That’s an indicator of what a constant, reliable, and welcome presence he’s been on the show ever since Season 2 – I often have to remind myself that he didn’t actually appear in Season 1, because he truly feels like an original cast member who’s been there since the very beginning. It will be strange entering these final three episodes without him, but I’ll always be grateful to Ben Crompton for his pitch-perfect portrayal of one of my favorite supporting characters in this story, and I’ll be happy to support him in whatever project comes next.

      To the 999th and final Lord Commander! And now his watch is ended.

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    28. Oh, for fuck’s sake

      Great actor. His deadpan delivery always made me laugh out loud.

      And now his watch is ended.

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    29. “Ah look, more sh*t. I was starting to wonder what to do with the rest of my day.”

      Never heard of Ben Crompton before GoT but I thought he was wonderful as the dour but droll Edd, he seemed to inject just a little bit of warmth into the character who would have been too easy to play as a simple miserablist.

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    30. Edd turning into a wight made me sad, because it may have been the thing he feared the most if his recurring request is taken into account. Luckily, he didn’t manage to harm any of his old friends.
      I loved Edd’s black humour and sarcasm, but he was also honest and a true friend. I wonder whether he had been a criminal or even a murderer before taking the black – just out of curiosity, because GOT has a real power of making me love grey characters.
      Burn in peace, the last Lord Commander! I hope to see Ben in other films and series.

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    31. Shy Lady Dragon,

      Edd was a squire in one of the lesser branches of House Tollett, which isn’t a big house to begin with, so he grew up in pretty humble circumstances. He was recruited by Yoren. He’s one of my favorite characters in the books; his dolorous pronouncements are responsible for much Dornish red out my nose.

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    32. Ben Crompton did such an excellent job in portraying Dolorous Edd, one of my favourite lesser characters in the books.

      It’s a fine line between appearing just a miserablist on the one hand and a tiresome wise-cracking arse on the other. Ben Crompton got Dolorous Edd note perfect. He showed us that beneath the grumpy, wise-cracking exterior there was a heart of gold. Loyal and brave and committed to the good fight – even if it sometimes consisted of shovelling shite.

      RIP Eddison “Dolorous Edd” Tollett, the 999th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

      Now his watch is ended.

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    33. Wolfish,

      Thank you so much! Is this in the novel(s)? I feel like an impostor these days, because I have forgotten so much and I didn’t take the time to reread ASOIAF… while rewatching the series I forgot for how many times. But the silver lining is that I’m going to do it this spring/ summer, after the GOT finale… no matter what happens.
      I still can’t believe we only have 3 episodes left.

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    34. Mango,

      Exactly how I took it as well!
      Reminded me of when Sam was so scared that Gilly and baby had died in the attack on Moles Town, & it was Edd, out of everyone there at Castle Black, who – in his own gruff but caring way – reminded Sam that Gilly was tough, & gave him hope.

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