Ever since his brief introduction in Bran's vision at the beginning of Season 4, the Night King, leader of the White Walkers, has inspired terror in the hearts of Game of Thrones viewers everywhere.
A 12,000 year old force to be reckoned with, the entire series of Game of Thrones is leading up to a battle between man and the White Walkers, a fight that we got a taste for in Season 5 when the battle of Hardhome was fought.
After the resulting massacre at Hardhome, it would be easy to believe that there's almost no way the humans could triumph over the White Walkers, especially with such a powerful leader as the Night King. But who is this blue-eyed humanoid who leads the army of the dead, and was he always this way? Read on to find out:
A former First Man intended to protect
In Season 6, Episode 5 (yes, it was that episode, sorry to bring it back up), it was revealed that the Night King was actually created by the Children of the Forest. The Children didn't create the Night King with total evil intentions, but more as a reaction to the First Men killing their kind and also chopping down their sacred weirwoods.
Using blood magic, Leaf drove a dragonglass blade into the chest of a First Man, turning his eyes blue and creating the first White Walker. Initially it seems as though the White Walkers were created to be used as a weapon against the First Men by the Children of the Forest, but somewhere over the last 12,000 years they turned against their makers.
The longest winter
Eight thousand years before Robert's Rebellion, and the resulting fall of House Targaryen and rise of House Baratheon, there was a period known as the long night. The winter lasted an entire generation, and during this time the White Walkers came south to Westeros, killing all who came before them and reanimating them to create an army of wights.
Thanks to men collaborating with giants and Children of the Forest, the White Walkers were eventually driven to the far North and the Wall and the Night's Watch was created to keep them at bay. In the centuries since the longest winter, White Walkers faded into the stuff of legends until reports of stirrings in the North came shortly before the War of the Five Kings.
A return south
At the very beginning of Season 1 came the first clues that the White Walkers were back. Deserters from the Night's Watch and wildlings told those in Westeros, but their words were dismissed. It wasn't until members of the Night's Watch were attacked by reanimated members that the stories were believed.
Finally, the Night King reappeared on screens in Season 4 when we witnessed him transforming Crafter's son, however it was Season 5 when shit truly got real at Hardhome. After Jon Snow began leading an evacuation of the village of Hardhome, the Night King appeared, leading his army of wights in a attack. As Jon and Tormund leave the Night King stands by, locks eyes with Jon and raises his arms, and with them, the entirety of Hardhome's casualties as wights join his army.
Finally, in Season 6, following the reveal that the Children of the Forest created the Night King and the White Walkers, Bran has a vision where the Night King sees him and grabs his arm, allowing him entrance to their hideout with the Children of the Forest. After running from his army of wights, escaping only thanks to Hodor (rest in peace, sweet prince), Bran and Meera make it away in nick of time.
With the Night King and his army getting closer to the Wall, and winter finally upon Westeros it seems only a matter of time until there's a battle similar to that fought 8,000 years ago. Jon Snow seems to have already laid down a challenge to the king, after slaying a White Walker with Valyrian blade Longclaw, but will he be able to take down the King as well? Only time will tell.
What do you think will happen when the Night King returns?
Source: Game of Thrones wikia