Game of Thrones' Night King is a terrifying villain. But he may have a connection to one of Westeros' most noble families: House Stark. In both the books and TV series, there are plenty of hints indicating that the Night King could actually be a Stark.
To understand the connection between House Stark and the leader of the Others, it's important to understand the beginnings of each. According to The World of Ice and Fire, the Long Night was a winter that lasted for an entire generation, thousands of years before the story we know takes place. During the Long Night, the Others terrorized the First Men, the humans who had settled in Westeros. After much fighting with the Others, one of the First Men reached an agreement with the magical beings called the Children of the Forest, and joined forces with them to repel the Others.
No one knows for certain who that person was, but it's hinted that this legendary hero was Bran the Builder, the first Stark, who helped establish the Night's Watch. Bran would go on to work with the Children to build the magically-protected Wall to help defend against the Others.
Though this battle and the wall's construction was the first interaction between the Starks and the Others, it was far from the last.
Before we go any further, there's an important distinction to be made between two key figures: the Night King, and the Night's King.
The Night King is the leader of the White Walkers in the Game of Thrones TV series. The Night's King, however, is someone briefly touched upon in the Song of Ice and Fire books.
The Night's King was a human, and the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. To give you an idea of how long ago this was, Jon Snow is the 998th Lord Commander. Or, was. Briefly.
While serving as Commander, the Night's King fell in love with a mysterious woman, and together they began making human sacrifices to the Others. After 13 years, with the help of House Stark, the Night's King and his otherworldly wife were both defeated.
The similar names have led some to speculate that the two may be the same person. But when asked about the possibility, George R.R. Martin asserted otherwise.
So, that's that. They're two different people. But they also may be deeply connected, by a lot more than just their similar names.
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The beginning of House Stark | 0:16
The Night King vs. The Night's King | 1:13
The Night's Queen | 2:23
The Stark connection to the Others | 2:56
A blended family? | 3:29
Sign of the Stark sigil | 4:25
Themes of complex legacies | 4:55