Why The Night King On 'Game Of Thrones' Might Be Related To The Stark Family

by Rebecca Patton
photo courtesy of HBO

We've been told that winter is coming ever since Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, and eight years later, it's finally here. But as the ice creeps further south, so do the Night King and his undead army. And while audiences have seen this seemingly indestructible villain several times already, his identity has been kept under wraps — well, kind of. One theory holds that the Night King is a Stark, which would make sense in some ways, since Winterfell is the northernmost kingdom in Westeros. But whether that ends up being true, here are a few theories about the Night King's true identity.

The White Walkers have been teased since Season 1, when a member of the Night's Watch went mysteriously missing. And while those south of the wall may have scoffed at any legends they'd heard involving the supposed undead, the Wildings knew all too well that the White Walkers were real. What's more, countless Free Folk have joined their growing zombie ranks, which Westeros will have to contend with in Season 8. And although we don't know how things will end with the Night King, here are some things we already know about him, and some things we can speculate.

The First Man Who Became the Night King Could Have Been a Stark

Back in Season 6, Episode 5, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) discovered that the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers in an attempt to protect themselves from humans who had begun invading and threatening their way of life. The creatures achieved this by stabbing an unnamed First Man with dragon glass, thus creating the Night King.

The Telegraph pointed out that, since the Starks are descendants of the First Men, it's reasonable to assume that the Night King was a Stark himself — or rather, that the Starks would be his descendants. That would certainly explain why both Jon and Bran have seemingly had connections with the White Walker — either while warging or during battle. This may not mean anything specific for Season 8, but it is interesting to note.

The Night King and the Night's King Could Be One In the Same

According to A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the Night's King was the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, who fell in love with a woman "with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars." This description, of course, sounds a whole lot like she was a White Walker. The site also states that the Lord Commander called himself the Night's King and brought the woman back to the Nightfort, where they violently reined for 13 years until they were defeated by Brandon the Breaker and Joramun, per the site.

Furthermore, the wiki states that in A Storm of Swords, Nan suggested that the Night's King was a Stark named Brandon. Is it just a coincidence that Night's King is so similar to Night King? Could this former Lord Commander have been transformed into the king of the White Walkers, somehow someway?

Bran Stark Might Be The One Pulling The Strings

Speaking of Bran, the youngest surviving Stark has already demonstrated his ability to warg, and Reddit user turm0il26 laid out an impressive theory — crediting the YouTube channel Game of Theories for helping formulate the idea. The Redditor explained in a lengthy post how Bran might be the Night King — or, rather, warging into the White Walker. Not only is he able to possess both animals and people (RIP, Hodor), but Bran can time-travel, so it only stands to reason that the Stark could try and rewrite history where the White Walkers are concerned. However, that may prove to be more of a problem than a solution.

The Redditor theorized that the first time Bran attempts to fix things, he inadvertently causes the Mad King, a.k.a., Viserys and Daenerys's father, to go crazy. The next time, turm0il26 predicted that the Stark becomes his namesake, Bran the Builder — the first King in the North who built both the wall and Winterfell. The third time Bran does this, however, he wargs into the First Man who would become the Night King, inadvertently becoming stuck in the past, thus becoming the very thing he was trying to prevent. Pretty wild, right? But as we've already seen, this might be crazy enough to be true.

Jon Snow Could Become The Night King 2.0

This theory doesn't venture that Jon is the Night King but rather will become him before it's all said and done. Let Reddit user AnghkoR_ explain (note: the post has been edited to correct any spelling errors):

"The idea is (and as the prophecy foretells it) that Azor Ahai will save the world from the Night king. What we speculated about was the idea that the Night king is actually immortal, that there is no method to kill him for good and that even the children of the forest can't control / kill him. The only way to 'defeat' him is that...someone has to 'pull out' the dragonglass in his chest which was used to create him in the first place. By doing this the Night King would 'die', but unlike what happens when someone kills a 'normal' white walker, none of the creatures the Night king 'created' or turned would die. Instead they would lose the mind controlling effect the Night King has on them and they would start...rampaging around the country."

The post continues, theorizing that Snow would be the one to sacrifice himself for the greater good, stabbing himself with the same dragon glass in order to gain control of the White Walker hoard and lead them back north, where they can't hurt anyone. This would be incredibly sad, if true, but it would solidify Jon as a hero.

But even if none of these theories turn out to be true, it's still fun to speculate. And audiences will learn soon enough who the Night King is and what his motivations are. Whatever ends up happening, Game of Thrones Season 8 promises to be one to remember.