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This article is about the leader of the White Walkers. You may be looking for the Night's King, the legendary 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
NK mini sigil
NK mini sigil
"The true enemy won't wait out the storm. He brings the storm!"
Jon Snow regarding the Night King.[src]

The Night King is a recurring character in the fourth, fifth and sixth seasons. He is played by guest star Richard Brake in the fourth and fifth seasons, and by Vladimir Furdik onward. He first appeared in "Oathkeeper". He is the leader and possibly the creator of the White Walkers and the first of his kind, having existed since the age of the First Men. By extension, he is also the master of the Wights.

Biography

Background

Night's-king-creation-605

Leaf turns a First Man into the Night King.

Before he became a White Walker, the Night King was a First Man that was captured by the Children of the Forest, Leaf among them. Leaf pressed a dragonglass dagger into his chest, causing his eyes to turn blue and turning him into the first of the White Walkers. Thousands of years later, Leaf tells Bran Stark that her people created the White Walkers to defend themselves when Westeros was invaded by the First Men, who were cutting their sacred trees and slaughtering the Children of the Forest.[1]

The Night King is a legendary figure, known by name among, at least, some noble houses in the North.[2]

Season 4

White Walker leaders thirteen at temple

The Night King approaches an altar-like ice formation where Craster's son is placed.

The Night King first appears in a vision that Bran Stark has, when Bran communes with a Weirwood Heart tree. He experiences a flood of images from the past, present, and future, many of which he was not physically present for. He does not comprehend what all of these images are. In retrospect, one of them is an image of the Night King picking up the last of Craster's sons off an ice altar.[3]

After Rast places Craster's final son on the ground in the Haunted Forest, a White Walker riding an undead horse approaches and takes the baby, carrying it towards a shattered mountain in the Lands of Always Winter.

Baby

With a touch of his finger, the Night King turns Craster's final son into a White Walker.

Once inside, the White Walker approaches an icy altar ringed by large icy spikes and places the baby upon the altar. In the distance, a group of thirteen black-garbed White Walkers are revealed to be viewing the proceedings from afar. One of them breaks from the middle of their number and approaches the altar, stopping to regard the human child for a moment before gently gathering him in its arms. The baby immediately calms, staring into the face of the Night King, who has a crown of horns jutting from his head. He places his index finger upon the baby's cheek, causing the child's eyes to turn icy blue and its skin to grow pale: most likely the fate of Craster's other sons.[4]

Season 5

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The Night King and his army look at Jon Snow.

The Night King appears again when Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane are coordinating the evacuation of Hardhome. He appears to be leading the attack, or is at least observing it with some other White Walkers, and watches from one of the cliffs above the town as Jon slays one of his lieutenants with Longclaw. The Night King looks on this turn of events with mild interest, as he didn't think anybody would put up any sort of meaningful resistance. As Jon, Tormund and the remaining defenders leave on the boat, the Night King appears on the dock and locks eyes with Jon. With a mere raise of his arms, the Night King raises the entirety of Hardhome's erstwhile defenders as wights, and keeps his gaze upon Jon as the boat slips away.[5]

Season 6

The Night King appears in one of Bran Stark's visions, where he witnesses him as a human being transformed into a White Walker by the Children of the Forest, notably among them Leaf. She explains after his vision that they had to do it because they were at war with the First Men.

Night king the door with bran

The Night King is able to see Bran Stark and grips his arm.

Later, Bran decides to experience a vision on his own, and finds himself looking at an army of wights and the Night King and the other White Walkers at the back. Bran walks closer and is shocked to see that the Night King notices his presence. Bran wakes up screaming after the Night King suddenly appears right next to him and grabs his arm.

The Three-Eyed Raven says that the Night King touched him, which Bran confirms when a blue hand-mark is imprinted on his forearm. The Three-Eyed Raven says because of that mark, the Night King now knows exactly where they are, and the cave cannot protect them any more.

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The Night King assaults the cave of the Three-eyed raven with the army of the dead.

The Night King and his army quickly travel to the cave, preceded by their aura of cold which notifies the Children of the Forest and Meera Reed. The Children of the Forest prepare their scarce defenses outside of the cave, but are quickly overrun and they are forced to retreat back to the tunnels. The Night King sends his army of wights to attack the tunnels, and they kill most of the Children and Summer, though Bran, Meera and Hodor manage to leave the cavern. One of the other White Walkers is killed by a dragonglass-tipped spear. The Night King enters the cavern, and glares at the warging Three-Eyed Raven before he kills him.

The Night King then sends the rest of his wights to kill Leaf, and eventually, Hodor, who attempts to stop the wights from going further by sacrificing himself to hold the door.[1]

While Meera drags Bran through the snow, Bran sees visions of the Night King converting Craster's last son into a White Walker, leading a massive attack on Hardhome, and branding him with his mark.

In the aftermath of his victory at Winterfell and the confirmation from the Citadel that winter has come, Jon informs the Northern lords who wish to return home following Ramsay Bolton's defeat to prepare for winter that their war is not over, alluding to the Night King as their true enemy, warning that the Night King won't wait out the winter storms, he brings the storm.[6]

Powers and abilities

The Night King possesses a number of supernatural powers or abilities – it is not, at present, clear how many of these are unique to him, or if other White Walkers possess some of these.

White Walker conversion
The Night King can turn a human baby into a White Walker by pressing the tip of his finger to the baby's cheek. The child's skin will begin to pale and its eyes will turn the same blue as the other White Walkers.[4]
Raising wights
The Night King can raise corpses as wights. He doesn't require physical contact to do so, and can raise hundreds of wights at a single time just by lifting his arms.[5]
Superior strength
Although he has not been observed engaging in single combat, the Night King presumably has the same enhanced strength that other White Walkers exhibit.[5][7]
Weapon shattering
The Night King's touch can presumably shatter regular metal weapons, as with most White Walkers.[5][7]
Marking
The Night King can mark someone so that he knows exactly where that person is, and no magical boundary can stop him from pursuing a person so marked.
Minor seismic control
The Night King can cause fissures in the ground.

Appearances

Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose * Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children
  • Bran's vision
Season Five appearances
The Wars to Come The House of Black and White High Sparrow Sons of the Harpy Kill the Boy
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken The Gift Hardhome The Dance of Dragons Mother’s Mercy
Season Six appearances
The Red Woman Home Oathbreaker Book of the Stranger The Door
Blood of My Blood * The Broken Man No One Battle of the Bastards The Winds of Winter
  • Bran's vision

Image gallery

Behind the scenes

  • The synopsis for "Oathkeeper" on the HBO Viewer's Guide originally listed this character as the Night's King, though this was later removed. Initially, it was unclear whether the character was meant to be the same as the Night's King, another legendary figure. During the Inside the Episode for "Hardhome" Weiss and Benioff referred to the character explicitly as "the Night King", but the term was not used on-screen until Bran used it in "The Door."
  • The Night King was portrayed by Richard Brake in "Oathkeeper" and "Hardhome and by professional stunt performer Vladimir Furdik from "The Door" onward. Furdik, sans prosthetics, also plays the Night King prior to his transformation in "The Door".
  • Executive producers Benioff and Weiss discussed the distinctive appearance of the Night King in a Season 4 featurette:
Weiss: "We wanted to kind of evolve the White Walker look. He is of a group of almost ageless creatures."
Benioff: "It's an interesting mix between something frightening, obviously, but also regal, something aristocratic about him. We wanted a distinction from the other White Walkers that we've seen."
Weiss: "And we went back and forth for a long time, until we hit upon something that was, if anything, moving in a more human direction, while maintaining a generally horrific look."[8]
  • According to the Season 4 Blu-ray commentary, a lot more material was actually filmed with the Night King in "Oathkeeper", but the production team then decided to cut it in order to keep his appearance brief and mysterious.[9]
  • A storyboard of the Night King's transformation in "The Door" confirms that the production team envisioned him as the first White Walker, and that the Children were curious to see how he would turn out since the ritual had never been done before. The storyboard also identifies the Night King as having been an Andal (misspelled "Andle"), so it's not clear how reliable it is from a lore perspective.[10]
  • The Night King's Ice Blade is notably different to his subordinates, having a forward curving blade instead of the usual straight shard design. Its possible that the weapon is inspired by the Falx, a sickle-like weapon used by the Dacians against the Romans.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, there has not yet been any mention of the Others, who appear in person only very occasionally, currently having a leader or any kind of hierarchy, and the legends of Night's King firmly say he was one of the First Men.

After "Hardhome" aired and Weiss and Benioff first referred to the character as the Night King, Game of Thrones Wiki contacted George R.R. Martin asking how to treat the White Walker referred to as the "Night King" relative to the ancient Lord Commander known as the "Night's King" - if they are the same character, or if "Night's King" is a title that can be held by different characters, like "King in the North." He was also asked if it was significant that Benioff and Weiss refer to him as the "Night King", without a possessive "S". Martin cryptically avoided the first question, but said he prefers the spelling "Night's King":

"As for the Night's King (the form I prefer), in the books he is a legendary figure, akin to Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder, and no more likely to have survived to the present day than they have."[11]

See also

References

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