The Night King is the leader of the White Walkers and arguably the most evil villain on TV.
He can be seen as a metaphor for human nature, with his brutal slaughtering of innocent people and his hatred for all living things. The Night King’s origin story is revealed in Season 6 Episode 5: “The Door”.
In this episode, Bran Stark learns that he can see into the past by warging into animals. He sees how the Children of the Forest created the Night King by using a piece of dragonglass to drag an ancient man from his grave and turn him into their slave.
They also created another White Walker to act as a servant to their new creation; however, he was not successful at this task because he was too caught up in his own thoughts.
The Night King’s skin is described as having a ‘frosted purple’ appearance. In the show, White Walkers are feared by humans because they do not age beyond a certain point. They can be killed with fire, but only if they fall victim to it or die of old age first.
The book and series offer different origins and theories about this mythical villain who promises to finally bring winter to Westeros.
Discover the origins and stories about the leader of the White Walkers, the Night King.
Origin of the legend in the books
In the books by George R.R. Martin, the information that exists about the Night King and his army of Others (the name given in the literary saga to the White Walkers) is sparse and turned into legend. These old stories were told by the Old Nurse of the Stark family and it is through Bran that we learn of many of them.
According to ancient stories, the Night King emerged in the Age of Heroes, long after the dark event known as the Long Night when darkness fell over the entire known world and the Others had their reign of destruction.
But before the Night King became a terrible legend, he was the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. According to the Old Nurse, the leader of the Crows “was a man who knew no fear. And that was his fault, for all men must know fear.” Beyond the Wall, the fearless man knew love with the most unlikely creature: an Other.
Enchanted by the White Walker “with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars”, the Lord Commander dropped everything to join her. Giving his body to the creature with “skin as cold as ice”, he transformed himself into an Other. But that doesn’t mean he abandoned the Night’s Watch he led – and thus began his reign of chaos.
Taking his wife with him to his side of the Wall, the Lord Commander proclaimed himself the Night King and established his headquarters at Nightfort for 13 years. With his ice queen by his side, he bewitched the members of the Night’s Watch to do whatever he ordered.
The end of his reign of terror
The atrocities committed by the Night King and his queen were never explored, except that there were countless human sacrifices during their 13 years in power. It took the united forces of the North and the Free People to make the Night King disappear.
A pact was forged between Brandon Stark, the Transgressor, and Joramun, the King-beyond-the-Wall, to destroy the threat of the Others and free the Night’s Watch. In the final battle, it was said that Joramun blew the Winter Horn and thus awoke the giants who came to his aid. Thousands of years later, the Free Folk still believe that this object would be able to bring the Wall down, if blown up again.
With the villain’s defeat, the Night’s Watch suffered several consequences and learned new rules to prevent them from being dominated again. All army castles cannot have fortifications to the south, lest they oppose the lands they are obliged to defend. The Night’s Watch became politically neutral, serving only the realm of men, as guardians but never rulers.
The man behind the legend
After the final battle, all records with the infamous Lord Commander’s real name were erased. Brandon Stark ordered that any hint of the Night King’s true identity be entirely eliminated from the history books.
Officially, the legend remained that this order was due to the discovery of human sacrifices to the Others and to try to protect the following generations from this cruel legend. But there is another version of events, something that is just a rumor but that was strong enough to survive the millennia of history.
There is an alternative theory which suggests that the Night King was a man of House Stark. Due to his identity, Brandon Stark wanted to erase any memories that linked his family to a villain who could taint the entire legacy of the Lords of Winterfell. Over time, other northern families have been identified as being at the origin of the Night King, from the Boltons to the Umbers, among many others.
The series has a very different origin
Since the fourth season of Game of Thrones, audiences have seen several appearances of the Night King. First as a vision of Bran, then converting Craster’s baby into a White Walker, leading the slaughter on Durolar, and finally leaving his mark on Bran in season six.
It was his presence in season 6 that we get to know the origins of the Night King in the series. When Bran was in the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, he has a vision that shows the villain’s creation. The Night King initially appears as a human tied to a tree, after being captured by the Children of the Forest.
He was one of the First Men and was turned against his will. It was Leaf who put an obsidian dagger into the heart of man and created the first of many White Walkers. When Bran returns from this vision, he confronts Leaf who explains that they created these beings to defend themselves from the First Men. The Children of the Forest were being slaughtered and their sacred trees were being cut down, and the creation of the White Walkers was an attempt at survival against the invaders.
Good conquers evil
After capturing the dragon Viserion and melting the Wall at the end of Game of Thrones season 7, the Night King prepares to arrive with his army at Winterfell, where the living prepare their defenses against the dead.
The plan is to separate Bran Stark from the rest so that the Night King follows him alone. This is because, according to the Three-Eyed Raven, the undead aims to kill him to destroy the World along with all its Memory.
The plan works, and just as the Night King is ready to attack Bran, Arya Stark appears from the shadows, stabbing him with her Valyrian steel dagger. There, he explodes into shards of ice, wiping out his entire dead army as a result.
Powers and abilities of the Night King
Being a supernatural being, many of his abilities are also included in this category.
- Cryogenics: Being an ice being, the Night King freezes everything he passes or touches. This includes normal metal weapons, which are thus easily broken.
- Conversion: The Night King is able to turn human babies into White Walkers by placing his fingers on their cheeks.
- Necromancy: Possibility of reanimating corpses that are not burned.
- Marking: Possibility of putting a mark on someone in order to always know their location.
- Fire Immunity: Due to the extreme cold it radiates, the Night King is immune to fire.
- Longevity: The Night King was created by the Children of the Forest and has lived on for over 10,000 years.
George R.R. Martin spoke about the differences between the two Kings
With the profound differences between the two Night Kings, everything seems to indicate that we are dealing with two distinct figures. In the book, the name originally used is Night’s King, but in the series the apostrophe disappears and becomes just Night King. Both were translated into Portuguese as Rei da Noite, but this detail of the English language can make all the difference.
George R.R. Martin is the author of the literary saga and the best source fans can ask about these differences. And that’s exactly what one fan did, asking the question about different ways to spell the villain’s name and differences in origin. The author replied that he still preferred the Night’s King form and added that:
“(…) in the books he is a legendary figure, similar to Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder, and there is no more chance he has survived to the present day than they do.”
When the series surpassed the existing books, the creators were forced to continue developing the mythology of Westeros. Game of Thrones has already made several changes to the original canon established in A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Night King appears to be no exception.
Frequent Asked questions
What is the Night King’s true name?
The Night King is the leader of the White Walkers and the first character to be introduced in Game of Thrones. His true name has never been revealed, but he is often referred to as “The Night King” or “The King of the Undead.”
In Season 4, Episode 3, Bran Stark and his companions encounter a trio of warlocks who tell him that they know what he really wants. When Bran asks them what his true name is, they reply: “You will never know.”
This implies that only those who are capable of entering the mind can uncover a person’s true name.
Who is the Night King?
The Night King is the leader of the White Walkers, the sworn enemies of all living creatures. He first appeared in Season 5 and has been played by Vladimir Furdik since Season 6.
The Night King is a legendary figure in Westeros. His true name is unknown and he seldom speaks, but his acts speak for him: he’s a merciless tyrant who wants to destroy all life on earth.
How did the Night King die?
In the last episode of season 8, Bran Stark tells Samwell Tarly that he knows how the Night King died. This is a crucial information for the viewers who are eagerly waiting to know how the story ends.
The Night King died because he was stabbed by a dragonglass dagger.
What are the Night King’s powers?
The Night King is the leader of the White Walkers. He has power over ice, which he can use to create ice spikes, walls and other structures. He can also freeze people in blocks of ice.
He also has power over wights, which are dead humans who were turned into undead slaves by the White Walkers. They obey his every command and will fight for him when he needs them to.
Is there any way to defeat the Night King?
The Night King is a powerful ice-wielding White Walker that can control the dead. He has been the main antagonist of Game of Thrones since season 6. It is not clear how he was able to resurrect the dead and use them as his army, but it is speculated that he made a pact with the Children of the Forest in order to gain this power.
The only way to defeat him would be by stabbing him with a Valyrian steel sword called Dragonglass.
How did the Night King Really Come to Be?
The Night King has been a significant character in the Game of Thrones series for many seasons. He is one of the most powerful and feared characters in Westeros. But, how did he become the Night King? The story goes that when the First Men arrived in Westeros, they discovered it was already inhabited by an ancient race of people known as the Children of the Forest.
These two races lived together for a long time, but then eventually war broke out between them. The Children of the Forest used their magic to create White Walkers and wights to help them fight against their enemies.
One such White Walker was created from a man who was captured and sacrificed to become its first leader – The Night King. This story is only found within Game of Thrones lore, but other stories of the Night King exist. He has been both portrayed as a hero and villain, with one story even telling how he is responsible for saving humanity from the White Walkers by slaying them – so that they could be sent back to their frozen prison.