In the episode S08E03 of Game of Thrones, the plan of the defenders for vanquishing the Night King is to lure him near Winterfell using Bran for being able to approach him and kill him. It is well explained why the Night King wants to eliminate Bran: he wants to erase humans with all of their knowledge. Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven and as such the memory of the world. By being alive he is a threat to the Night King's plan.

But why would the Night King want to kill Bran personally whereas any minion could have done it? Especially when Theon was on the verge of being submerged by the wights and there was apparently no need for the Night King to kill Bran in place of any wight. Moreover because Bran is marked, the Night King knows at any moment where Bran is, so he would certainly know when Bran dies, making his presence useless for checking that Bran is indeed dead.


3 Answers 3


Usually three-eyed ravens are protected by beings and magic that resist efforts less than those of the Night King, himself. The previous three-eyed raven and the last of the Children were protected by spells that concealed them, and, even when he was able to put his mark on Bran, it took his powers to breach their defenses.

Often those defenses can't be breached by the power wielded by his underlings or cannon fodder. It took him, himself, to kill a dragon. It took him, himself, to re-animate it. Probably none of his underlings was up for the challenge of wielding/controlling the reanimated dragon, so it took him, himself, to bring down the Wall that stopped him since his creation.

He probably didn't want to chance the last three-eyed raven, the pinnacle of his thousand+ year efforts, getting away because of some kind of defense that might stymie his minions. Quite possibly, a fully-trained three-eyed raven might have greater capabilities to defend themselves, and there was no way for him to know how much training Bran was able to get in before being flushed from his previous hiding place.

To waste those efforts and have to pursue the three-eyed raven for an indeterminate length of time, because he was too lazy to take care of it himself was probably not a risk he wanted to take, and one that he definitely thought was more of a risk than the remote possibility of a mere mortal human being able to kill him.

Hindsight is 20/20. One has to make a lot of assumptions about the Night King knowing all along what we know now in order for this to be an exceedingly foolish move, IMO. He was vastly powerful, but not omniscient or all-powerful.

  • 'Usually three-eyed ravens are protected by beings and magic that resist efforts less than those of the Night King, himself' Brynden Rivers was protected while under his weirwood tree north of the wall. That is explained by magic similar to that preventing the dead and white walkers coming through the Black Gate. They were not even concealed, white walkers knew exactly where he was. That is why Bran, Meera and Jojen were attacked just before making it under the weirwood tree to meet Brynden. There is no mention of Bran, Brynden or the Children being magically protected.
    – mkriri
    May 1, 2019 at 8:59
  • 2
    @mkriri - You are aware that this is the "Movies and TV" stack exchange, right? So what's in the book would be relevant in the SciFi/Fiction stack. There absolutely is a mention of them being magically protected, when the wights get smashed to pieces trying to follow them into the cave, by Leaf, and Brynden later explaining that now that the King marked Bran and knew where he was, he'd be able to come for him. Whether it's his powers that can breach the defenses once he knew exactly where they were, or the Night King's mark breaching them, it's still the Night King, himself. May 1, 2019 at 14:50
  • For dramatic effect.

It wouldn't be nearly as satisfying to an audience of the Night King used some minion to do his dirty work. Narrative often involves setting up a character and their nemesis. Not having a final confrontation would be anti-climactic, and outsourcing that confrontation equally so.

(It's possible there may be some magical power transfer involved, the idea that when a warrior slays an opponent in battle they take their power. As we know from Melisandre, killing one with royal blood releases a great deal of power that can be channeled, so killing the Three-Eyed Raven would surely be a powerful ritual act.)

The Three-eyed Raven is humanity's memory. There is a concept that no one is truly dead until no one alive remembers them--the idea that those who have shared and affected our lives are a part of us.

  • Yes, this helps for dramatic effect. The problem that I have with that explanation, is that it doesn't explain why the defenders assumed the Night King would come to Bran − unless they knew the directors would do that for dramatic effect.
    – Jim
    May 2, 2019 at 7:34
  • @Jim this was actually covered in the show. Bran is literally the memory of humanity in Westeros, and the Night King wants to extinguish that memory to fully extinguish life. Bran assures the war council that the Night King will come for him.
    – DukeZhou
    May 2, 2019 at 17:19

Hubris perhaps. He felt he had won the battle, with his forces recently replenished by the newly dead and Winterfell nearly overrun. He had apparently taken out both dragons and was able to simply walk into the castle and up to Bran, opposed only by Theon who he killed easily.

Had the battle gone less well he may have settled for killing Bran some other way, but given the circumstances perhaps he wanted to do it personally and felt he was in little danger.

  • It doesn't explain how the defenders known that he would come to Bran though.
    – Jim
    May 2, 2019 at 7:27
  • I suppose they didn't, it was a gamble. Ideally they would have killed him long before he got there. Or perhaps they thought he might be distracted by the opportunity presenting itself.
    – user
    May 2, 2019 at 8:51

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