The very first scene of Game of Thrones set up the most important factor of the show. In it, three members of the Night’s Watch, the guardsmen of a great northern wall, go about their business. But no sooner have we met them than two are brutally dispatched by a mysterious creature – a White Walker.
Audiences have learned a lot about the White Walkers since then, of course. The Walkers have the power to reanimate human corpses to do their bidding, for one thing, and they can’t be killed with normal weapons, for another. But most importantly of all, they are marching an army south – and if they get there, it’s game over.
Well, that is what almost everyone in the show is saying at this point, but the fact remains that we don’t really know much about the motives of the White Walkers. Now, then, a new fan theory has surfaced which suggests that almost everything we think we know about them is wrong.
In order to understand this theory, we need to take a closer look at the White Walkers themselves. We already know, for instance, that they usually kill people on sight only to reanimate them later. But there’s more.
In particular, it is important to note that the White Walkers have been around for thousands of years. And when they first appeared, men shared Westeros with a magic race called the Children of the Forest. But these so-called Children lived in Westeros millennia before men ever turned up, according to the mythology of the series.
For a long time after the First Men arrived, then, they fought with the Children in a seemingly endless war. At last, they made peace, and the Children taught men about the Old Gods. But some years after the truce, the Long Night arrived, and the White Walkers with it.
Eventually, the First Men and the Children were able to beat the White Walkers back. And afterwards, Brandon the Builder (whom the Starks are descended from) raised the Wall to keep them from ever invading again. It is thought that the Children may have helped him to do this, too.
But with this being Game of Thrones, things are a bit more complicated than that. Indeed, in the sixth season of the show, we learned through one of Bran’s visions that the Children actually created the White Walkers themselves while they were at war with the First Men. The purpose? The Walkers were meant as a war-ending weapon.
However, it was not explained exactly how it came to be that the Children lost control of the White Walkers. Still, if the Walkers were created to destroy men, it would stand to reason that they’d carry on doing it. But why they would also turn on their makers is unknown.
Anyway, as previously mentioned, the return of the White Walkers was the catalyst for the beginning of our story, both in the books and in the show. Since then, they have done nothing to disprove their apparent motivation: wiping out the race of men.
Yes, from season to season, they have continued to press south, killing pretty much anyone who has stood in their way – and recruiting them into the army of the dead. They have also stolen babies to create new White Walkers and even added a few giants and a dragon to their forces.
We’ve also been given a pretty good look at their apparent leader, the Night King. Seemingly, he’s been around since the Walkers first emerged, and he boasts a number of powers that the other Walkers appear not to possess. For example, he can tell when Bran is watching him through a vision and disrupt it, and he can perhaps even figure out where Bran is via the vision.
So the White Walkers are following the Night King’s lead, and he seems to be principally motived by wiping out humanity, as fans of the show have suspected since he first surfaced. And by the end of season seven, even most of the major characters in the show were in agreement that he was the greatest threat to Westeros.
But now we come on to this interesting fan theory. You see, the Night King is pivotal to this new theory. It suggests that, in fact, the White Walkers are a force for good. It might sound ridiculous, but when you examine the evidence, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t have validity.
How did this theory begin? Well, before season seven of Game of Thrones started, a YouTube channel called Game of Theories posted a video that suggested that Bran was the Night King. Indeed, this theory stated that Bran will eventually become trapped in one of his visions of the past, only to be captured by the Children and turned into the Night King.
Since that video came out, a few different online commenters have further suggested that Bran is not only the Night King, but also still very much aware of who he used to be. And despite appearances, he may be trying to save Westeros from certain destruction.
The most significant moment to support this claim came in the season seven finale. The theory goes that as the Walkers marched, they briefly formed the shape of a direwolf head – the Stark sigil. Bran is, of course, a Stark, and although such a moment doesn’t prove anything, it was seemingly no accident.
Secondly, a number of people – including both the Watchman in the season one opening and Samwell Tarley – have been spared the grizzly fate typically bestowed by the Walkers. Perhaps, then, this was because Bran allowed them to live so that they could warn others of the Walkers’ approach. Could it be that Bran hopes that people can unite and end all of the fighting?
If true, the theory is shocking and completely redirects the way in which the story is heading. However, it is not without flaws. For one thing, it would mean that Bran was complicit in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, which, even for the greater good, is pretty uncool.
Additionally, the Night King could have let Samwell and others live because he needed certain events (like the death of the dragon) to happen in order to get past the Wall. In any case, we have only got one season to go to find out what the Night King really is, and what he is after. After all, winter has well and truly arrived…