He was notable in his absence during the first episode of season 8, but you’d expect him to make his long-awaited return in the coming episodes, likely taking over Winterfell and pushing what’s left of the armies of the North back to King’s Landing.
Over the seasons his identity has been wrapped in a shroud of mystery, mostly down to the fact that the show’s creators have revealed almost no details about his backstory (other than the fact he was once a human who was turned into a White Walker by the Children of the Forest).
So with one episode down and five to go, we’ve taken a look at the seven different possibilities of who he could be.
Probably the most well-known theory is that the Night King and Bran are the same person.
It goes that Bran has a warging related accident (like when he frazzled Hodor) and traps himself inside the bloke who gets stabbed by dragonglass and turned into the Night King. Basically he’s stuck inside another man’s body.
Not a bad body to get stuck in, though.
This has been getting a lot of traction and it links to the fact that “only Targaryens can ride dragons”.
We know the Night King can – see season seven finale when he resurrected Viserion – which would support the theory about the three headed dragon; three Targaryens (Jon, Daenerys, Night King), three dragons.
Then there’s the scene with (dead) Ned Umber.
We unfortunately saw him at the end of episode one nailed to a wall, surrounded by a mass of severed body parts. These limbs were arranged in a spiral shape, which became even more prominent when it was set alight by Beric.
This mysterious symbol is weirdly similar to the Targaryen sigil and over the course of the seasons we’ve seen this shape again and again and again, particularly with the White Walkers.
Look, here’s the sigil:
Here’s the symbol:
See, he could very well be a Targaryen.
This theory suggests that the man who became the Night King was originally a Stark, which comes from the fact the Night’s King – a different character from the books – was probably a Stark too. He was the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, who apparently fell in love with a White Walker and married her.
Have the showrunners nicked aspect of this backstory for the TV version of the Night King? He’s definitely got something going on with Bran but that could just be because of their connection with Brandon the Builder – the bloke that (obviously) built the wall and kept the wights away from Winterfell.
The theory he’s former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch hinges on the sigil on the Night King’s armor which supposedly looks like a crow’s skull.
Not the one we know, but one a long, long time ago.
The Children of the Forest used him as their weapon because of his powers – is his control of wights linked to his warging powers?
Plus he seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting events, suggesting he has a somewhat fluid grasp on time.
He attacks Jon and the Night’s Watch at Hardhome – because he already knew they were there – and he laid a trap for Dany and her dragons in season 7.
Perhaps the title of the Night King is actually something that’s passed down from person (?) to person every time the White Walkers rise.
In this sense his crown would be much like the role of the Three-Eyed Raven.
There’s even a crazy theory that Jon will become the new Night King – sacrificing himself to somehow save everyone else.
What a bittersweet ending that’d be.
Both men are legendary figures – perhaps even one and the same – who defeated the “darkness” (White Walkers?) long ago, but some think that the only way Azor Ahai/the Last Hero did this was by becoming one of them.
Maybe the Children of the Forest turned him into the Night King in order to control the White Walkers.
This one’s pretty far-fetched to be honest.
Not no one in the same sense as the faceless men from Braavos, just nobody significant – well, other than a scary ice king hellbent on destroying humans. It’s what he was essentially created for, after all.
Showrunner D. B. Weiss did tell Deadline: “I don’t think of the Night King as a villain as much as, Death. … The Night King doesn’t have a choice; he was created that way, and that’s what he is. In some ways, he’s just death, coming for everyone in the story, coming for all of us. In some ways, it’s appropriate he doesn’t speak. What’s death going to say? Anything would diminish him. He’s just a force of destruction.”
This is simultaenously the most likely/anticlimactic explanation out there.
All will be revealed soon enough.
Images via HBO