- "They were touched by White Walkers. That's why they came back. That's why their eyes turned blue. Only fire will stop them."
- ―Samwell Tarly
A wight is a reanimated corpse, either human or animal, raised from death by the White Walkers to act as their minions.
A wight is a recently deceased body reanimated by magic. Many stories say White Walkers alone have the ability to do this. Samwell Tarly noted that the wights he had encountered had been dead for weeks, yet there was no sign of rot or decay. Regardless of eye color while alive, a wight has icy blue eyes, like those of its masters. Wights are also nigh-indestructible and can withstand an injury that would normally be fatal, including stab wounds and removal of limbs. Even amputated limbs will still move around on their own. Decapitation is ineffective, as the headless corpse will keep moving, albeit robbed of its sensory organs.
However, wights are very susceptible to fire. Their flesh is extremely flammable; it will easily catch fire and continue to burn if exposed to even a small amount of flame. As a precaution against them, the Free Folk burn their dead so they can not be revived as wights.
A wight's physical condition will roughly match the condition the corpse was in when it was reanimated. A corpse that was killed in a relatively non-violent way and which is resurrected soon after death will still seem relatively lifelike. In contrast, a corpse that died violently or which was resurrected long after it died and it had already begun to decompose will still look like a maimed, rotting corpse. Reanimation will halt the physical process of rot and decay, but otherwise it does not restore previous damage. A corpse with a broken leg won't magically have the leg healed when it is reanimated into a wight.
Wights are not particularly intelligent, and it is debatable if these creatures are truly sapient and aware of themselves. They lack the ability to speak, uttering only bestial growls and hisses. They do seem to be able to carry out the basic attack commands of the White Walkers, but seem to function on more of a "zombie" level of instinct. They can remember how to use a sword, albeit in a crude hack-and-slash attack, but they haven't been observed using bows and arrows or other complex tools. Exactly how much wights remember of their previous lives is unclear, or if they remember them at all. The wight of Othor, a member of the Night's Watch, did seem to remember the way to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont's quarters to try to attack him.
The White Walkers are also shown to be capable of reviving any dead animal as a wight, such as horses. White Walkers have been observed riding horse-wights as mounts.
The corpses of two members of Benjen Stark's scouting party, Othor and Jafer Flowers, are found in the outskirts of the Haunted Forest near the Wall. They are taken back through the Wall to Castle Black, and Sam notes that despite being dead for weeks, rot hasn't set in. Later that night, they reanimate as wights, and Othor attacks Jon Snow and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. The creature survives every kind of attack, including impalement and having its arm cut off, until Jon Snow throws a lamp at it, setting it on fire. Both corpses are then burned completely, with Samwell Tarly pointing out their likely nature to all present.
|Season One appearances|
|Winter is Coming||The Kingsroad||Lord Snow||Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things||The Wolf and the Lion|
|A Golden Crown||You Win or You Die||The Pointy End||Baelor||Fire and Blood|
|Season Two appearances|
|The North Remembers||The Night Lands||What is Dead May Never Die||Garden of Bones||The Ghost of Harrenhal|
|The Old Gods and the New||A Man Without Honor||The Prince of Winterfell||Blackwater||Valar Morghulis|
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
- "We're all the same to them. Meat for their army."
- ―Mance Rayder
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Others (the book term for the White Walkers) are able to animate corpses, human and animals alike, to serve them as footmen or mounts. The Others are also shown to be capable of reviving any dead animal as a wight, such as horses, dogs, bears, and even aquatic animals. Exactly how the White Walkers reanimate corpses into wights has never been revealed in the narrative, though it apparently occurs fairly quickly and can be done in the field: after Waymar Royce is killed by the Others Will flees, but moments later he is attacked by Waymar's reanimated corpse.
Wights are easily identified by their eyes having turned bright blue like two blue stars, regardless of the eye color they had while being alive. When they are destroyed, the blue disappears from their eyes.
When Othor and Jafer's bodies were brought to Castle Black, one of the strange things that the onlookers noticed about them was that both corpses had blue eyes, while they had different eye color in their lives. In the corresponding scene of the TV series, none of the corpses has blue eyes. When Othor the wight fights Jon, it has blue eyes, but they are not glowing.
When the wights are dismembered, the severed limbs continue to function independently regardless of what happens to the body itself, as happened to Jon while fighting the wight Othor: Jon cut off Othor's arm, yet the severed limb grabbed at his calf, and he barely managed to pry the fingers off his leg.
The severed hand that Ghost tore off Jafer's corpse continued to twitch and stir even after Jafer was destroyed, until it finally had rotted away while Alliser Thorne was waiting for an audience at King's Landing.
Beheading a wight does not make it harmless, as happened with the wight Jafer Flowers: it continued to kill even after its head was cut off.
To be clear, being bitten by a wight will not turn someone into a wight. Wights can only be created by the White Walkers when they reanimate corpses. Although they share some characteristics with classic depictions of "zombies", they aren't the same thing. Of course, a major part of the White Walkers' tactics still involves the exponential zombie growth rate of their hordes of wights: people killed by a wight (not bitten, but just with a sword, etc.) can then in turn be resurrected into more wights by the White Walkers, who will in turn kill even more people so the White Walkers can turn them into even more wights, ad infinitum.
- Wights at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
|Humans:||First Men (Northmen · Crannogmen) · Andals (Southerner) · Ironborn · Dornishmen · Rhoynar · Hill tribes · Free Folk (Thenn · Hornfoot · Ice-river clans · Cave people) · Dothraki · Lhazareen · Valyrian · Ghiscari · Qartheen · Summer Islanders|
|Sapient non-humans:||Children of the Forest · Giants · White Walkers (Wights)|
|Animals:||Direwolves · Dragons · Manticores · Ravens · Shadowcats|
|Legendary and magical creatures:||Grumpkins and Snarks · Harpies · Krakens · Mermaids · Nagga the Sea-Dragon · Shadow · Sphinxes|
|Plants:||Weirwood · Ghost grass|