Do you miss Jon Snow after the Game of Thrones finale? Same, but good news: Below are eight ways James Holden of the fantastic TV show The Expanse is basically the same character. If you love actor Kit Harington's Jon Snow, you'll probably love Steven Strait's James Holden, and you can see new episodes from Holden soon when The Expanse Season 4 premieres December 13 on Amazon Prime.
The Expanse has been called "Game of Thrones in space," which might make sense when you consider the ongoing book series is co-written by GoT author George R.R. Martin's former assistant. There are many similarities in the tone of the shows, and even more in the leading characters of Night's Watch Lord Commander Jon Snow and Rocinante Captain James Holden.
Not that The Expanse fans call him "James." We call him Holden -- or Cap or Hoss if we're Amos and Alex, or "Jim" if we're Naomi, or a bunch of curse words if we're Avasarala. Holden is like Game of Thrones' Jon Snow that way too -- he gets special nicknames depending on who's obsessing over him at any given moment. Without further ado, let's obsess over both of them right now...
Both James Holden And Jon Snow Have Perfected The Sulky Smolder
Natural leaders Jon Snow and James Holden are both described as pretty boys in their respective books. They aren't written as looking so similar, but the TV casting directors definitely went in the same direction with Kit Harington as brooding Jon Snow and Steven Strait as brooding James Holden. They both look sulky and smoldering (and confused) in similar ways, with dark brown hair and deeply earnest faces always in mid-frown or mid-impassioned speech. The girls tend to go for them. On that note...
James Holden And Jon Snow Have Free-Minded Love Interests Who Know A LOT More About ... Everything
Jon Snow falls for saucy Ygrritte, the Free Folk wildling who constantly reminds him he knows nuthin. Captain James Holden falls for his XO Naomi Nagata, a brilliant Belter -- basically The Expanse's equivalent of a wildling -- who gently informs Holden when he's being stupid about something, which is quite frequently. Jon was a complete innocent before meeting Ygritte. Holden had plenty of girlfriends, but was naive about so many aspects of Belter life. Both Jon and Jim evolve throughout their series, thanks in large part to their better halves opening their minds to different ways of life.
Jon Snow And James Holden Have Lovably Ruthless Sidekicks Who Get The Best Quotes
Jon Snow and James Holden will never be the life of any party. Tormund and Amos, on the other hand, could turn any gathering into a rager. The lovable sidekicks are scene-stealing quote machines. Man, I'd love to see a spinoff with those two dudes throwing down. Drinking and fighting, rinse, repeat. Tormund and Amos are both ruthless warriors who had to grow up fast in tough places. The good news about Amos is he's part of the story right away on The Expanse, unlike Tormund who first shows up in Game of Thrones Season 3.
Jon Snow And James Holden Would Never Survive Without Their Priceless Weapons
Jon Snow is one of the rare beneficiaries of a Valyrian steel sword. He wields Longclaw, which was given to him by Lord Commander Mormont, and it's the ideal weapon for his fight against the White Walkers. James Holden has ... his coffee maker on the Rocinante! Nothing in this world makes Holden happier, or gives him more strength to save the universe, than a cup of coffee. (Except for that one time Holden had a temper tantrum and smashed his beloved coffee maker. But he instantly regretted that betrayal.)
Jon Snow And James Holden Both See Ghosts
Jon Snow has Ghost as his direwolf companion and James Holden has .... well, a ghost of his own, in a way. It's a spoiler for a few seasons and it's related to the protomolecule that causes all kinds of trouble on The Expanse. It's also related to one of The Expanse's best and most popular characters, who appears to leave the story early on but -- thankfully -- comes back in a big way!
Jon Snow And James Holden Have Bizarre Family Trees
Jon Snow grew up thinking he was the bastard son of Ned Stark and Someone Else. The mystery of his mother lingered on the show, although book readers figured it out early on. He was a secret Targaryen, not Ned's biological son at all but the son of Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Jon was really Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne. James Holden also has his own bizarre family tree. An "Earther" from Montana, he is the only child of eight parents. Since The Expanse is set in a world where Earth has 30 million people, it's a big deal to bring a new child into the world. His parents were part of a genetic collective where their DNA was combined to create an heir to carry on their fight to preserve one of the last remaining undeveloped areas of wildernesses. Heavy stuff!
Jon Snow And James Holden Were, Uh, 'Fired' After Ideological Fights
Both our Js are self-righteous lads who tend to believe they know best and get headstrong about those beliefs. That often gets them in trouble. James Holden enlisted in the United Nations Navy and served as First Lieutenant on a spaceship until an ideological battle with a superior office led to a fight. Holden tried to punch the guy and missed, which is kind of classic Holden, and he was court-martialed and given a dishonorable discharge. Jon Snow was Lord Commander of the Night's Watch until his own people stabbed him to death over working with the wildlings instead of fighting them. Jon was brought back to life, but took the hint and quit his job on the Night's Watch.
Jon Snow And James Holden Are Constantly Being Drafted To Save The World
They are good men who mean well. But neither one asked to be a savior of the universe, and sometimes it's pretty clear they shouldn't have the jobs. Both Js do tend to get themselves and others into trouble. They manage to live through that trouble, but if you look behind them, there are a lot of bodies in their wakes. Jon is a warrior, but his Game of Thrones battle track record is actually pretty awful. He never actually wins anything, it's others who swoop in to save him. The Expanse's Holden tends to insert himself into situations, makes them public, and then leaves others to clean up the mess. He gets the crew of the Rocinante into all kinds of shenanigans, and it leads to a massive intergalactic war. He becomes known throughout the galaxy as a guy who keeps stepping in trouble, and sometimes The Powers That Be use him for that. Stop putting these guys in charge!
There are more ways Game of Thrones' Jon Snow and The Expanse's James Holden are similar. For one thing, they tend to win over their skeptics, although you'll have to watch The Expanse -- and read the book series -- to see how that continues to play out for James Holden.
Things should really be getting good for Holden in The Expanse Season 4, which will now be airing on Amazon. The show was cancelled on Syfy after Season 3, which was a blessing in disguise. Amazon Prime is investing heavily in the show, and already renewed it for Season 5. There are eight books so far in the series, so expect a lot more Holden triumphs and failures to stream your way.
The Expanse Seasons 1-3 are now streaming on Amazon. Season 4's 10 episodes will appear all at once on December 13. Are you ready to see what Holden and the Roci crew do next?
Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.
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