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Game of Thrones created the character of The Night King for the HBO show. George R.R. Martin's books reference a legendary figure called the Night's King, but he's not really the same dude. On TV, the Night King was introduced in Season 4 as the leader of the White Walkers. But we also got to see his origin story in Season 6, showing the Children of the Forest created the Night King by tying him up and pressing dragonglass into his chest.
The Children of the Forest made The Night King as the first of the White Walkers thousands of years ago, to defend themselves from the First Men. But the White Walkers turned on the Children of the Forest in the period called the Long Night. And now the White Walkers are heading south beyond the Wall to fight mankind, with that fight appearing to give us the biggest battle in TV history with the Battle of Winterfell.
Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss explained why they made the Night King and what he wants. Benioff tied his motivation to his own creation by the Children of the Forest:
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.
Dan Weiss added to EW that it just made sense logically to explain how the Night King came to be, as tied to the whole mythology.
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.
Vladimir Furdik now plays the Night King, and he recently said nobody knows who the Night King was before he was created by the Children of the Forest, but this wasn't exactly his life plan.
He never wanted to be the Night King. I think he wants revenge.
Vladimir Furdik also told EW his character has some specific motivation going into the final Season 8:
People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is. There’s also that moment [in "Hardhome"] when Jon Snow was on the boat and the Night King looked at him and raised his arms — there’s a similar and even stronger moment between Jon and the Night King this time.
He's talking about that Come At Me Crow moment that launched a thousand memes:
Interesting that there's an even stronger moment between the Night King and Jon Snow this time. Maybe they have the ultimate showdown in the end? If I were the Night King, I might want to kill Jon Snow -- they have unfinished business -- but also perhaps Bran Stark.
There are all kinds of fascinating theories going into the final six episodes of Game of Thrones, but I'm partial to the Bran Is The Night King theory. It may not play out, but I love it anyway.
Game of Thrones' final season is coming at us in less than a month now, starting Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. I'm still hoping this whole thing ends with the end of the Iron Throne itself, but we'll see. Here's more of what we know about the final season. And here's a place for you to share what YOU think will happen.