Game of Thrones fans are divided on whether or not the identity of the Night King is even a mystery that’s waiting to be solved. Some are convinced the chilly antagonist has a secret past waiting to be unveiled, and there are plenty of Night King fan theories out there to back that up. Others think that Night King legends are nothing more than world-building for the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, and that the character in the show is just a nameless, heartless zombie-making machine.
There are merits to both schools of thought, but this is the world of George R. R. Martin, and he loves his dark reveals and plot twists. Of all the fan theories regarding the identity of the Night King, or the Night’s King as he’s known in the books, the most convincing all revolve around the leader of the White Walkers beginning life as a Stark. And you have to admit, a direct connection between the series’ main protagonists, including Bran, and its ultimate villain would be a very George R. R. Martin-esque twist.
What’s Hiding In Winterfell’s Crypt?Photo: Game of Thrones/HBO
Winterfell has an enormous crypt, and there's got to be something interesting hidden in there. In the books, Jon Snow frequently dreams of returning there, which could be because his mother is buried inside. However, it could also be that the crypt is hiding information about the connection between White Walkers and Starks.
Reddit user theDarkLordMordor thinks those secrets are buried deep. The crypt’s vault is described as cavernous, and there are said to be several other levels underneath it, some of which have partially collapsed. There is certainly a lot of history waiting to be uncovered down in those tombs. Perhaps the deceased Starks in the crypts will also play a role.
Old Nan Knows Everything, And She Says SoPhoto: Game of Thrones/HBO
The Stark family caretaker, Old Nan, has a well-earned reputation among A Song of Ice and Fire fans for telling engaging children’s tales that turn out to be surprisingly accurate. She is the one who told Bran about the Night’s King, and she made herself pretty clear about that character’s family origins. Bran remembers her finishing the tale with:
Some say he was a Bolton. Some say a Magnar out of Skagos, some say Umber, Flint, or Norrey. Some would have you think he was a Woodfoot, from them who ruled Bear island before the ironmen came. He never was. He was a Stark, the brother of the man who brought him down.
Just in case Bran wasn’t sufficiently creeped out, Old Nan added, “He was a Stark of Winterfell, and who can say? Mayhaps his name was Brandon. Mayhaps he slept in this very bed in this very room.” Not really leaving anything to the imagination, there, Old Nan.
A Broken Promise Between The Kings Of Winter And White Walkers Could Be At The RootPhoto: Game of Thrones/HBO
Reddit user c_forrester_throne has a pretty comprehensive theory about the origins and purpose of the Others, or White Walkers, and it includes some possible connections to the Starks. The Long Night ended not in the defeat of the White Walkers, but rather in a pact between White Walker and humanity, most likely represented by the Starks.
This is why the White Walkers are now suddenly active, after centuries of dormancy: some aspect of that pact has been broken. It could be that wildling populations north of the Wall keep growing, or that the Night’s Watch has grown too weak. It could be related to the Night’s Watch not staying on their side of the Wall, as the Others didn't really attack in earnest until Jeor Mormont led the Night’s Watch on their great ranging.
There Must Always Be A Stark In Winterfell Could Represent A Family PactPhoto: Game of Thrones/HBO
The White Walkers and Starks may have been able to forge a peace because of certain family ties. Reddit user c_forrester_throne notes that the strong evidence for Stark bloodlines in the White Walker ranks would have made an agreement between the two sides much more likely. In this theory, a Stark diplomat, most likely the legendary "Last Hero," ventured into Other territory to meet with them and make a pact.
This pact may have something to do with the saying “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” If this was a promise, it was kept for generations—until Theon Greyjoy and Ramsay Bolton broke the streak. Coincidentally, this was around the time the White Walker advance started in earnest.