Well, the Battle of Winterfell has been fought and won, thanks to Arya’s quick reflexes and years of training. But even though the Big Bad is dead (as far as we know), we never learned the Night King’s true identity on Game of Thrones. While it’s very possible audiences will never get a crystal clear explanation, it’s still frustrating that the wordless villain had so little character development before he burst into ice chips in the Godswood during the April 28 episode. Ah, Night King, we hardly knew ye!
While Bran first saw visions of the villain in Season 4, the Night King made his battle debut in Season 5, Episode 8, when Jon and some of the Wildings attempted to defend Hardhome from the White Walkers. Since then, the Night King has won the Olympic medal for javelin throw, killing Viserion and turning him into a super wight. He’s also made his mark on Bran, murdered the former Three-Eyed Raven, killed Theon Greyjoy, and made intense eye contact with Jon. And while he’s likely lying in a melting puddle right now in the Godswood, here are a few things we can deduce about who the Night King was.
He Was One of the First Men
As audiences learned back in Season 6, Episode 5, the Children of the Forest were responsible for creating the White Walkers. Although they did so in an attempt to protect themselves, they ironically succeeded in creating a much more dangerous threat.
The creatures achieved this by taking one of the First Men — or the first humans to arrive in Westeros — and stabbing him in the heart with dragon glass. While we saw footage of this in the episode, we never learned the name of that First Man before he was turned into the OG White Walker. As Night King actor Vladimir Furdik told Entertainment Weekly, "Somebody made him the Night King. Nobody knows who he was before — a soldier or part of [nobility]. He never wanted to be the Night King."
He Created All the Others
This perhaps goes without saying, but it’s still notable that the Night King is also Papa White Walker. And since he’s patient zero and created all of the other wights and White Walkers, that meant he controlled them all, like a master puppeteer. Audiences saw this clearly during the Battle of Winterfell when he commanded the wights to walk directly into the fire, laying their bodies down on top of the flames. This made it pretty obvious that he had mind control over his armies, and when his body shattered, theirs followed suit.
He Was the Manifestation of Death
As audiences saw in Season 8, Episode 2, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms," the Night King’s identity is pretty straight-forward, in a way. When Sam Tarly asked what the villain wanted, Bran answered, "An endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory." Sam responded, "That’s what death is, isn’t it? Forgetting. Being forgotten. If we forget where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re not men anymore. Just animals."
That’s what the Night King did — removed everything human about a person, leaving just the body. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss emphasized this point in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I don’t think of [the Night King] as evil, I think of him as Death," Benioff said. “And that’s what he wants — for all of us. It’s why he was created and that’s what he’s after."
He Wanted to Kill The Three-Eyed Raven
In the same Bran speech, he said, "He’ll come for me. He’s tried before, many times, with many Three-Eyed Ravens." He clarified his point a bit later, saying, "His mark is on me. He always knows where I am." And the Night King very well could have killed Bran if it weren’t for Arya saving the day with Littlefinger’s Valyrian steel dagger.
There were several compelling theories regarding the Night King’s true identity, including ones that held that he was Bran and/or a Stark descendant or even a Targaryen, but none of these have been confirmed onscreen. So unless we haven’t seen the least of the Night King, these inconclusive hints may be the most satisfying answers that GoT fans will ever get.
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