Wights “Army of the Dead”

wight was a reanimated corpse, either human or animal, raised from death by the White Walkers using necromancy to act as their minions. Wights were often referred to collectively as the Army of the Dead, or simply as the dead.

Characteristics

Jafer Flowers

The seemingly dead wight of Jafer Flowers, a ranger of the Night’s Watch.

A wight was a recently deceased body that had been reanimated by the White Walkers, using the potent dark magic of necromancy. Many stories claim that White Walkers alone had the ability to create wights. Samwell Tarly noted that the wights he had encountered had been dead for weeks, yet they exhibited no signs of rot or decay. Regardless of their eye colour while alive, all wights had icy blue eyes like those of their masters, assuming the corpse in question still had intact eyes. Wights were also nigh-indestructible and could withstand an injury that would normally be fatal, including stab wounds and the removal of limbs; even amputated limbs would still move around on their own. Decapitation was ineffective, as the headless corpse would keep moving, albeit robbed of its sensory organs.

However, wights were extremely susceptible and vulnerable to fire. Their flesh and bones were extremely flammable, as if it were coated in oil: it would easily catch fire and continue to burn if exposed to even a small amount of flame. As a precaution against them, the Free Folk burn their dead so they cannot be revived as wights. Just like the White Walkers, wights can also be killed permanently by weapons made of dragon glass or Valyrian Steel. It was also revealed that if a White Walker died, the wights that it raised would also be instantly destroyed, demonstrating some sort of essential magical bond between the Walkers and their wights.

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A wight showing signs of heavy mutilation prior to being resurrected.

A wight’s physical condition would roughly match the condition the corpse was in when it was reanimated. A corpse that was killed in a relatively non-violent way and which was resurrected soon after death would still seem relatively lifelike, conceivably passing off as the living had it not been for the dramatically altered colour of their eyes. In contrast, a corpse that died violently or which was resurrected long after it died and it had already begun to decompose would still look like a maimed, rotting corpse. Reanimation would slow the physical process of rot and decay, but otherwise it did not restore previous damage. A corpse with a broken leg will not magically have the leg healed when it is reanimated into a wight. A wight that had been reanimated for a long time, six months to two years, would start to decompose slightly, with parts of its flesh rotting away while other flesh dried out leathery. This did not affect their mobility: wights that had been dead for many years could rot away until they are almost skeletal, with exposed bones held together by sinews and shreds of muscle.

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A wight-horse.

Wights were not particularly intelligent, and it was debatable if these creatures were truly sapient and possessed self-awareness. They lacked the ability to speak, uttering only bestial growls and hisses. They did seem to be able to carry out the basic attack commands of the White Walkers, but seemed to function on more of a “zombie” level of instinct. They could communicate with each other in a way, as shown when Jon Snow’s team tackled a wight in order to capture it, it let out an ear-piercing screech that alerted thousands of other wights to rush to its position. They could remember how to use a sword, albeit in a crude hack-and-slash attack, but they were observed using bows and arrows or other complex tools. Exactly how much wights remembered of their previous lives was unclear, or if they even remembered them at all. The wight of Othor, a member of the Night’s Watch, did seem to remember the way to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’s quarters to try to attack him.

Non-human races, such as giants, could also be reanimated as wights.

White Walker Oathkeeper with baby

A White Walker rides a wight-horse.

The White Walkers were also shown to be capable of reviving any dead animal as a wight, such as horses, snow bears, and dragons. White Walkers had been observed riding horse-wights as mounts.

Notable wights

  • {Wildling girl} – A wildling child who was killed by White Walkers along with the rest of the members of her camp. Was either destroyed over the course of the Great War or upon Arya Stark killing the Night King.
  • {Jafer Flowers} – A ranger in the Night’s Watch who was killed during a ranging mission with Benjen Stark. Burned by Night’s Watch.
  • {Othor} – A ranger in the Night’s Watch who was killed during a ranging mission with Benjen Stark. Burned by Jon Snow after he threw a lantern at him.
  • {Bruni} – A wildling who was a lover of Osha. Disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and later revealed to have been killed and reanimated as a wight upon returning to kill Osha. Burned by Osha after she managed to trap him in their hut and set it aflame.
  • {Karsi} – A wildling spear wife who led one of the many tribes that retreated to Hard home. Participated in fending off wights during the massacre of the settlement. Killed by wight children as she couldn’t bring herself to kill them, and was later reanimated by the Night King shortly after. Was either destroyed over the course of the Great War or upon Arya Stark killing the Night King
  • Finn – A recruit for the Night’s Watch. Stabbed in the stomach by a wight with a spear, and later burned as a wight by Gared Tuttle. (Player-determinant)
  • {Captured wight} – A wildling who had died and was reanimated by the White Walkers. He was captured by a group of humans, who used him as evidence to prove to the Seven Kingdoms that the threat of the White Walkers is real. Killed after being stabbed in the chest with a dragon glass dagger by Jon Snow.
  • {Viserion} – One of the Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons. Struck in the neck by an ice spear thrown by the Night King, who later reanimated him. Destroyed upon Arya Stark killing the Night King.
  • {Ned Umber} – A Northern lord and the head of House Umber. Killed during the White Walkers attack on Last Hearth. His corpse was impaled to a wall, put at the centre of a spiral of made from severed limbs tacked to it. Burned by Beric Dondarrion shortly after being found.
  • {Eddison Tollett} – Acting Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Struck in the back by a wight during the Battle of Winterfell and reanimated shortly afterwards by the Night King. Was either destroyed in the fighting or upon Arya Stark killing the Night King.
  • {Lyanna Mormont} – A Northern lady and head of House Mormont. Was killed during the Battle of Winterfell when her torso gets crushed by a wight giant. Reanimated shortly afterwards by the Night King, and was either destroyed in the fighting or upon Arya Stark killing the Night King.
  • {Qhono} – A Dothraki warrior who served Daenerys Targaryen. Was killed during the Battle of Winterfell and reanimated shortly afterwards by the Night King, and was either destroyed in the fighting or upon Arya Stark killing the Night King.

History

Season 1

During a scouting mission beyond the Wall, Will of the Night’s Watch sees the corpse of a young wildling girl standing and walking. He flees from her.

The corpses of two members of Benjen Stark’s scouting party, Othor and Jafer Flowers, are found in the outskirts of the Haunted Forest near the Wall. They are taken back through the Wall to Castle Black, and Sam notes that despite being dead for weeks, rot hasn’t set in. Later that night, they reanimate as wights, and Othor attacks Jon Snow and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. The creature survives every kind of attack, including impalement and having its arm cut off, until Jon Snow throws a lamp at it, setting it on fire. Both corpses are then burned completely, with Samwell Tarly pointing out their likely nature to all present.

Outside Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, Cotter Pyke’s rangers discover four wights and wisely burn their bodies.

Season 2

Wights 1x10

A horde of wights, led by White Walkers, moves against the Night’s Watch camp.

Surrounded by a snowy fog, Samwell sees a massive army of wights is being led by White Walkers towards the Night’s Watch encampment on top of the Fist of the First Men. Some of the White Walkers ride atop wight horses.

Season 3

Following the Battle of the Fist of the First Men, a wight chases Samwell Tarly but is stopped by Ghost and then set on fire by Lord Commander Mormont.

All of the black brothers slain at the Fist of the First Men have been turned into wights. Only the mutilated horses have been left behind by the White Walkers.

Season 4

Wights rise

Wights rise from the ground to kill Bran and company.

A White Walker, riding atop a wight horse, takes the last son of Craster to the abode of his masters at the Lands of Always Winter.

As Bran Stark and his companions reach the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, they are attacked by a group of wights that emerge from the snow-covered ground. The wights manage to injure Jojen Reed fatally, while Bran, Meera, Hodor, and Summer are saved by the intervention of a mysterious girl, who is actually one of the Children of the Forest. The remaining wights are destroyed by the magic protecting the cave.

Season 5

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The Night King raises the deceased corpses of the free folk as Wights, minions of the White Walkers, after the Massacre of Hard home.

At Hard home, as the Free Folk begin to row towards the ships to go back to the Wall with the Night’s Watch, a storm suddenly brews atop the hills, a sign that White Walkers are coming. Seeing this sign, Loboda orders the gates to be shut, leaving behind many wildling’s. The screams suddenly come to an abrupt ending, and are immediately seen reanimated as Wights. The Wights serve as the executors for the White Walkers during the Massacre at Hard home.

At the end of the massacre, the Night King is seen on the dock, locking eyes with Jon Snow. He slowly raises his arms and reanimates all of the massacred free folk as wights to continue to serve at the will of the White Walkers. Death only strengthens the numbers for the White Walkers, a horrible realisation to Jon Snow, Tormund, and the rest of the surviving Free Folk and Night’s Watch.

Season 6

While in the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran goes behind the Three-Eyed Raven’s back and enters a vision where he sees a massive and motionless army of wights gathered by a frozen weir wood tree. As Bran walks through their ranks, he is visibly disturbed yet none of the wights seem to notice him. The Night King, mounted on a wight horse, notices his presence and immediately all the wights in the army turn around to stare at Bran. He then notices the Night King is suddenly standing beside him. As he tries to flee, the Night King grabs Bran’s forearm, causing him to cry out in pain and end the vision.

Later, as Meera and Hodor are preparing to flee the cave, they notice the air is so cold their breath is visible. Meera goes to the cave’s entrance, only to be faced with the Army of the Dead, led by the Night King and three other White Walkers. Leaf and The Children of the Forest use magic projectiles to destroy dozens of wights, but are quickly overwhelmed. They light a fire around the entrance to prevent the wights from entering but the Walkers are able to pass through. The wights end up climbing over the Weirwood and crawling through roots at the top of the cave. Meera and the Children fend off several wights as she desperately tries to get the unconscious Bran out from his vision, but the wights quickly swarm the cave, killing all of the Children of the Forest except for Leaf.

As Hodor, Meera and Leaf drag the unconscious Bran down a long tunnel toward the exit, Summer charges at the swarm of wights in an attempt to protect his owner and is quickly and brutally mauled to death. The wights continue forward, crawling on all sides of the tunnel and the ceiling. As they close in, Leaf sacrifices herself, using magic to cause a fiery explosion as she is stabbed to death, buying the other three just enough time to get to a door at the end of the tunnel. With some difficulty Hodor pushes the door open and pulls Bran through, coming back to help Meera close it just as the swarm reaches them. Meera grabs Bran’s sled and yells at Hodor to “Hold the door!”. Hodor braces himself against the door long enough for Meera and Bran to escape into the tundra. Inevitably, the wights begin to break through the wood of the door and begin scratching and stabbing a visibly distressed Hodor, who sadly watches his friends disappear into the snow.

The wights continue to pursue Meera and Bran into the forest. Shortly before the dead can catch up to them, however, the duo are saved by a mysterious figure clad in black. He later identifies himself as Benjen Stark, Bran’s long lost uncle and the former First Ranger of the Night’s Watch.

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The army of Wights on their way south, along with three undead giants.

Season 7

The White Walkers are shown leading the Army of the Dead south, now with increased numbers, having at least three undead giants.

At Winterfell, Jon Snow receives a raven from Tyrion Lannister inviting him to Dragon stone to meet with Daenerys Targaryen, who has begun her war for Westeros and claims the Iron Throne. Sansa Stark and Davos Seaworth both believe he shouldn’t go, though Davos recalls how Jon told him that fire kills wights and mentions how Daenerys does have three fire breathing dragons. Later, Jon receives a raven from Samwell Tarly at the Citadel in Old town telling him that there is dragon glass beneath Dragon stone, which can kill both White Walkers and wights, convincing him to ride to White Harbor and depart for Dragon stone to try and convince Daenerys to help them in the Great War to come. He leaves Sansa in charge of the North in his absence.

Jon tries to make it clear to Daenerys Targaryen that the Army of the Dead is the true enemy, but she is clearly more concerned with Cersei Lannister. However, she later allows him to mine the dragon glass, but is still weary of his unwillingness to bend the knee.

Bran Stark wargs into a flock of ravens that fly over the Wall into the Lands of Always Winter. Through the ravens, he sees the Army of the Dead led by the White Walkers and the Night King, travelling south towards Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

After the Wight Hunt, where a wight is captured by Jon Snow and his party, using four anchoring chains, the dead dragon Viserion is pulled out from underneath the icy water. The Night King kneels on the ground, placing a hand on the dragon and raising the corpse of Viserion as a wight.

Breached wall wights

Wights prepare to march through the breached Wall.

The captured wight is presented by Sandor Clegane and Jon Snow to the attendants of the Parley in King’s Landing. Sandor demonstrates that wights can be cut apart with ordinary weapons without dying or showing pain. Jon then burns the wight’s arm, and the wight expresses pain. He finally kills the wight with a dagger of dragon glass. The White Walkers later lead the wight army out of the Haunted Forest to the Wall, marching close to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea before stopping, seemingly relieving the East watch garrison, Tormund and Beric Dondarrion among them. Suddenly, the Night King, riding the undead Viserion, bursts from the sky and has Viserion breathe magical blue fire onto the Wall, creating a breach that nullifies the ancient spells of the Wall and allows the White Walkers and the wights to cross at last.

Season 8

The surviving Free Folk, Brotherhood Without Banners, and Night’s Watch members encounter each other at Last Hearth after abandoning The Wall. There they find the castle’s inhabitants butchered and mutilated by the Army of the Dead. In the great hall they see a spiral made of human arms and Ned Umber pinned at the center. Beric Dondarrion says it is a message from the Night King at which point Ned reanimates as a wight and tries to attack Tormund but Beric lights the wight and the spiral on fire with his sword.

Remaining at a distance from Winterfell, the White Walkers send their wights into the Battle of Winterfell against the alliance of living armies after the wights stop a Dothraki charge, killing most of the Dothraki screamers. The wights overwhelm the defending Unsullied and slaughter the Northern and Vale soldiers and knights, forcing the Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces to fall back behind the castle’s walls. The wights are stopped when Melisandre lights the massive trench surrounding Winterfell on fire, but the Night King commands them to move forward, and some wights throw themselves on the fire to cover it and allow the rest of the Army of the Dead to pass through the breaches. The wights are able to get through into Winterfell, massing up the castle walls. A wight giant breaks through Winterfell’s gates but is killed by Lyanna Mormont, who dies from being crushed by the giant’s hand.

Jaime & Brienne S8 Ep3

Jaime and Brienne fight wights at Winterfell.

The dead continue to fight the living inside the walls of Winterfell. After retreating inside, Arya Stark finds herself sneaking around wights in Winterfell’s library, but she is discovered and forced to run. Arya is saved by Sandor Clegane and Lord Beric Dondarrion, who sacrifices himself saving Arya from the wights. Outside, the Night King uses the wight dragon Viserion to melt one of Winterfell’s towers, and even after being knocked off a cut Viserion, the Night King advances towards Winterfell, though on foot.

Night King S8 Ep3

The Night King raises new wights.

Jon Snow charges at the Night King but is unable to reach him before the Night King, once again, reanimates the dead as wights in front on Jon, and all those who have fallen fighting the Army of the Dead at Winterfell rise again as wights, holding Jon off. Jon is rescued by Daenerys Targaryen on Drogon and pursues the Night King into Winterfell, but Daenerys falls off Drogon when he is attacked by wights, causing Drogon to fly away. Daenerys is alone and surrounded by wights until Ser Jorah Mormont comes to her defence, though he dies protecting his queen.

Many wights follow the White Walkers as they enter through Winterfell’s gates and regroup with the Night King at the Winterfell gods wood, where the Night King aims to kill the new Three-Eyed Raven, Bran Stark. However, the Night King is destroyed by Arya Stark before he can kill Bran, setting off a chain reaction that destroys the White Walkers, which the Night King created, and their wights, which the White Walkers each created. This ends the Army of the Dead.

The mysterious White Walkers carry blades made out of crystallised ice. They have been observed wielding them both as swords and as long spearheads.

White Walker ice blades are incredibly sharp, capable of decapitating a man in a single swing. Conventional bronze and steel weapons freeze and shatter when used against ice blades, and the ice blades are strong enough to pierce even hides and scales of dragons. However, Valyrian steel suffers no ill effect and is an effective counter-weapon. It is not clear if dragon glass shares this property.

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