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There are going to be some spoilers about the Night King, the white walkers, and in particular "The Long Night" in this article. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
Coming off of “The Long Night,” one of the biggest episodes of Game of Thrones since the series first began airing on HBO in 2011, creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss have been making the rounds in the press, including one high profile appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! where they were very cagey regarding the status of the white walkers in the fantasy universe.
Jimmy Kimmel asked some pretty specific questions regarding the last episode, one of which happened to be: “Have we seen the last of the white walkers?” David Benioff took the question and bluntly told Kimmel:
Yeah, we’re not going to answer that.
The two are spoilerphobes to the point where they were telling another story in the same interview about George R.R. Martin asking who Jon Snow’s mother was and they wouldn’t even reveal the name of the character—even though the show already has. Point being, if they are weird about stuff that’s already happened, it’s not a huge shock they would also keep their lips zipped about what’s coming next.
If that’s all that comment was, that is.
You can take a look at the full interview from Jimmy Kimmel Live! below.
Still, the non-answer is a little curious, given the way “The Long Night” ended with Arya kicking ass and surprising the Night King, effectively saving Bran (but not Theon, may he rest in peace).
The answer to “Have we seen the last of the white walkers?” should theoretically be a “yes,” given that Ary killed off the Night King, which caused a chain reaction of all of the other white walkers who had been raised from the dead, including the white walker dragon, to return to icy oblivion. Given a lot of people watched the episode and Jimmy Kimmel alluded to the Night King's death with his question, if the white walkers were in fact no longer a threat, it seemingly wouldn't be a huge spoiler to confirm, unless there were other plans coming for the dead.
The fact Dan Weiss and David Benioff wouldn’t just agree the white walkers are gone when questioned by Jimmy Kimmel is curious indeed.
There are some wild theories out there about how more white walkers could still be lurking in the shadows. One of the most prominent has to do with what the white walkers do with Craster’s sons, one of whom we saw back in Season 4 become a white walker himself. Could there be white walkers still hiding out in the depths of the other side of the wall? Were some of those white walker's not tied to the Night King's fate?
Another notable theory has to do with Bran’s story going in an interesting direction. There are a lot of Bran theories out there right now, but one in particular has to do with Bran potentially becoming the new Night King or making someone else the new Night King. This would happen in order to bring likable characters back to rally against Cersei and Euron Greyjoy’s armies.
In addition, this would either involve warging, time travel or the Children of the Forest and may not be feasible, but again, these thoughts are out in the universe as we march toward the end of Game of Thrones.
(THR talked out the Craster idea in detail but there are plenty of other questions and theories posed by fans on forums like Reddit as well. For the record, Isaac Wright-Hemstead previously denied the theory that Bran and the Night King were one and the same, and Arya capably killed off the Night King last week, but there are lots of potential futures for Bran running around as well.)
All in all, there are three episodes in total left in which the two famous showrunners and their extensive teams will wrap up the story. Before that, it's worth noting that ahead of Season 8, author George R.R. Martin talked a little bit about Game of Thrones’ ending, revealing it will be “bittersweet.” He noted that his fondness for popular fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien's works heavily influenced his own vision of Westeros and its surrounding lands, revealing,
I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with a victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory… All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.
The two showrunners have also spoken out before about ending the series on a similar note to what George R.R. Martin envisions when he finally gets around to wrapping his behemoth texts. Things definitely change between the books and the series, however, and the showrunners also promised "deviations" from Martin's narrative.
For example, the Night King isn't a character in the books at all. There's no scene featuring him turning one of Craster's babies, for example, because he doesn't exist. The white walkers are still a looming threat, but anything involving the Night King is brand new territory. So, we'll have to wait and see how this particular portion of the story unfolds.
Still, something tells me we’ll be updating our guide to the most meaningful Game of Thrones deaths before the end of the eighth and final season. You can catch Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 tonight at 9 p.m. ET, only on HBO. While we don't know whether this white walker wrinkle is something we need to worry about, the preview for this week's episode did confirm that Dany has set her sights on Cersei and co. The northern army will be marching south, and last we checked, it presumably still has two dragons on its side.
Oh yeah, and Emilia Clark also promised that there's even bigger stuff to come, particularly in Episode 5. So, there's definitely that.