Family squabbles, historic rivalries, and claims to the Iron Throne have caused havoc in Westeros throughout the entirety of Game of Thrones, but while the Seven Kingdoms have fought among themselves for control, another threat has amassed north of the Wall. Now, winter has come, and the Night King marches south.
Many villains have cropped up over the seasons of the hit HBO series, but few pose as big of a threat to the realm as the leader of the White Walkers. By the end of Season 6, the Night King obtained a dragon, destroyed a part of the Wall, and begun his descent into Westeros. But we still don't know much about this mysterious monstrosity.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss opened up on why the Night King is important in Game of Thrones, revealing what he ultimately wants on the series.
"I don't think of him as evil, I think of him as Death. And that's what he wants — for all of us. It's why he was created and that's what he's after," Benioff told Entertainment Weekly.
The Night King has been a mysterious entity throughout the series, but the showrunners explained that he's consistent with the concepts explored throughout the entirety of Game of Thrones.
"It was almost logical as you went back in time, as you create the prehistory for all this," Weiss said. "We've seen what the White Walkers do, we've seen how they perpetuate themselves and created the wights. If you're going backwards, well, they made these things … so what made them? We always liked the implication that they weren't some kind of cosmic evil that had been around since the beginning to time but that the White Walkers had a history — that something that seems legendary and mythological and permanent wasn't. They had a historical cause that was comprehensible like the way the wars on screen we're seeing unfold are comprehensible. They're the result of people, or beings, with motivations we can understand."
We finally see the character's origin in Season 6, in which the near extinct Children of the Forest are at war with the First Men thousands of years before the events of the series. In hopes of creating a weapon to take down their foes, the Children shove a sliver of Dragon Glass into the heart of a man, creating the Night King and, potentially, everyone's downfall.
We'll see if the Houses of Westeros can come together in time to stop the Night King, or if they'll fall to the harsh winds of winter, when Game of Thrones premieres on April 14th.