What is dead may never die... but what about what is undead? That's what a lot of Game of Thrones fans are wondering after Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) killed the Night King (Vladimír Furdík) in the latest episode of the HBO hit.
While there are still many fans who do believe this truly is the end of the Night King and his army of the dead (this show is called Game of Thrones, not Game of Zombies, after all), others have been busy piecing together theories on why they believe the Night King will rise again. And even if you don't agree, you have to give credit to some of their theories, which make some good points.
Playing into all this speculation is the fact that on Thursday night creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss refused to answer the question of whether the show was definitively done with the White Walkers while appearing on Jimmy Kimmel. (Although, to be fair, they refused to give a real answer to any question Kimmel posed.)
But if you read Vladimír Furdík's many interviews he did following "The Long Night," either he is a great liar or you really get the sense that his work on the show is finished. ("Now I am free," Furdík told Vulture of the relief that came from not holding secrets any longer.) However, just because Furdík may be done playing the Night King doesn't mean that the Night King is necessarily gone for good, according to some viewers.
Let's look back on the history of the Night King. He was originally created by the Children of the Forest in order to defend themselves when the First Men invaded Westeros. However, the Night King and his White Walkers turned on their creators and began killing everything, not just humans. And this is where it gets interesting. We know the Three-Eyed Raven that shepherded Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) was living among the last surviving Children of the Forest. And Reddit user Jsretep posed the idea that the original Three-Eyed Raven, whoever that may have been, was actually created by the Children of the Forest as a means to help in the fight against the Night King.
In this scenario, the Night King and the Three-Eyed Raven would exist to help keep the balance in the world, with the White Walkers, Three-Eyed Raven, and humanity all keeping the various other forces from becoming too powerful, but never truly destroying each other. The Night King and Three-Eyed Raven being opposing forces that are inherently linked together fits in nicely with the guiding theme of "ice and fire," as does the idea of checks in power (chaos is a ladder, after all).
If the need for balance is true, then that would mean that eventually another Night King would rise in his predecessor's place, just like the Three-Eyed Raven title passes on from one man to the next. But given that the Night King's first attack on both humans and the Children of the Forest happened thousands of years ago, it's possible that another Night King wouldn't launch an attack on Westeros until far into the future, once humanity had recovered enough from this war to become too powerful once more.
Then again, other fans argue that another Night King will rise again and it will happen quite soon. There are those who still insist Bran and the Night King are one and the same, with the young Stark revealing himself to be the true villain of the series at some point over the final three episodes. Others argue that since the Night King touched Arya, she is now marked to take over the mantle, which, on one level, would be a fitting career path for A Girl Who Is Familiar with Death. Then there are some who have suggested that since the Night King is a warg, once he realized Arya was going to stab him, he warged into another body (Bran? Arya? One of those Ravens Bran had flying about?). And finally, there's also a theory that when Arya caused the Night King to shatter, among the pieces of what remains may still be the dragonglass shard that the Children of the Forest used to create him. If this magicked dagger were to be placed in another's body, it could feasibly create another Night King. But why would anyone want to do that? And who has the time?
While some claim that the death of the Night King felt rushed (despite having an eight-season buildup to this moment), what would really feel rushed would be to try to squeeze in the war with Cersei (Lena Headey), the crumbling alliance between Jon (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), and the rise of another Night King all in three episodes, even if they are do have extended runtimes.
Then again, we never could have predicted that so few people were going to die in the Battle of Winterfell, so who can even say with any certainty what the show will do next?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.