Let's have some flashback about S04E04,

When a white walker brings one of Craster's son to Night King. So, the scene goes like this,

[WikiPedia] Later, a White Walker retrieves Craster's son. The Walker travels to the White Walkers' fortress in the Lands of Always Winter and lays the child on an altar made of ice. The leader of the White Walkers, the Night King, approaches and places his hand on the boy, transforming him into a White Walker.

So, they've shown that the Night King can convert living into white walkers by just touching them.

But in S08E03, it didn't seem to be the case when Arya approached the Night King to kill him.

The question is, How is Arya not transformed into a White Walker when the Night King grabs her by the neck?

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    There's clearly more to turning a baby into a White Walker than just touching it. Note when the Night King touched Bran, I know this is a different situation but the point stands. May 8, 2019 at 10:52
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    yeah that's a bit of a leap to assume just because the white walker touched the baby it became one. Also, even if that was all that was required - who was to say that there didn't have to be min amount of time required or that it would work in 100% of cases? or maybe having valerian steel on you imparts immunity? there are just so many possibilities you can't deduce without more information - need someone who has read the books to give us some more information, if there is any, on how the white-walkerization process applies to someone when they are still alive.
    – ycomp
    May 8, 2019 at 14:35
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    @ycomp there isn't much else there, except to say that there may be other kinds of WW (The Night Queen), which the TV series kind of took "Coldhands" and combined him into Benjin Stark. I also suspect that much of the TV-verse WW mythology will be better explored in the 'Long Night' prequel TV series, since the synopsis includes, "origins of the white walkers", but I would love for something more to come of this, since Tormund and ghost are going North and I have a hard time believing that the whole mythological premise is just gone. May 8, 2019 at 14:47
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    “they've shown that the Night King can convert living into white walkers by just touching them” — we don't know that it's just by touch. He might have to wish really hard! And we don't know that he can do it to all living things. Maybe it's just babies. May 8, 2019 at 16:03
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    Even when not converted, I think in the books the White walker shattered a steel sword by touching it. I would guess that would hurt Arya as well. But the show is a whole Other thing now.
    – Zikato
    May 9, 2019 at 7:29

3 Answers 3


There was no time or intention to turn her into White Walker.

Let us look at the scene from S04E04.

A white walker brings a baby holding in his lap and puts it on an ice table (or whatever it is) for the arrival of the Night King. All were waiting for the ceremony to happen because it is planned. The Night King arrives at the place and changes it with his touch.

If we look at the scene from S0803 closely, it was dark. Night King was going towards Bran. Arya came running and suddenly jumps towards Night King. He senses the movement and sound and grabs Arya by her neck by reflex. So, the intention was to stop and kill her. When Arya drops the dagger, Night King looks surprised. This shows he doesn't know what would happen next. There was no time to think and turn her into a white walker by touch. There was no planning in this scene like S04E04. First intent is to stop and kill Arya. We do not know what would he do if he killed her. Even if he had so much time, it's unclear whether Night King can turn adults directly into white walkers. It's neither hinted in the show or books. When he holds Arya, we hear a cracking sound of ice. Arya was quick enough to react, drop the dagger and do the rest.

  • 40
    Do we even know if the Night King is able to turn full grown adults into white walkers and not just newborns?
    – solalito
    May 8, 2019 at 7:00
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    @solalito We don't know if he can change adults into white walkers. It is not shown in the show.
    – Nog Shine
    May 8, 2019 at 7:18
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    @NogShine: Well, we don't know about living full grown adults :P About the dead we even know it works with grown dragons ;P
    – Zaibis
    May 8, 2019 at 7:19
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    @Zaibis Dead people are turned into wights, not white walkers. And it's unclear exactly what Viserion became.
    – Arthur
    May 8, 2019 at 8:24
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    @RJ What is your doubt? It is neither hinted in the show nor in the books that Night King can turn adults into white walkers by his touch. So, it has to be a ceremony and pre-planning even if he has to change babies into white walkers so that he can think and change through a process.
    – Nog Shine
    May 9, 2019 at 4:02

Your assertion that "they've shown that the Night King can convert living into white walkers by just touching them" is not correct. The only time it happens is with the babies taken from Craster.

Neither the show nor the books explain how exactly this occurs but this transfer of living babies from Caster to the White Walkers seems to be the only case of the White Walkers taking living captives, moreover it is strongly implied that the transfer of babies to the White Walkers is part of a deal that Caster has struck keeping him safe. Given that there are many wildlings north of the wall that could easily be taken alive it seems likely that there is something special about this transfer that provides something the White Walkers need or otherwise why would they spare Caster in return?

The obvious conclusion is that these are the only living beings that the Night King can turn whether that is because he needs newborn, male, babies or whether there is something special about Caster himself. It also seems likely that the location where the transformation occurs is special in some way as why else would he transport the baby there? Either way, it seems likely that Arya is alive because the Night King can only create White Walkers with a touch under special circumstances and probably requires a baby and a special location to do so.

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    This - entirely this. There may be a requirement for an altar of ice, or it may be a 3-hour ritual that only ends with the convert being brought to the centre of the newly empowered magic circle and "changed with a touch". There are dozens of potential prerequisites and requirements that could be missing. After all, if a touch was all it took then surely the Night King would have trained himself as a master of unarmed combat, and just converted his enemies mid-battle? May 8, 2019 at 12:33
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    @Chronocidal I never realized that I wanted this martial arts movie... May 8, 2019 at 15:22
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    @Adonalsium I propose we name the protagonist "Frederick". The film will be called "Fist of the Morph Star". Tagline? "Watatatatata.... You are already Fred" May 8, 2019 at 16:19

I think a good question is why are there so few White Walkers? In the scene where the Night King turns the baby into a White Walker we only see 12 or 13 in the background. The Night King has been around since the age of the First Men, something like 8,000 years, and there are only 13 White Walkers? Why wouldn't he make an entire army of White Walkers? That would be a far more effective force than the wights are.

The limited number of White Walkers suggests one or more of the following:

  1. It isn't simple to do (and therefore can't be done quickly)
  2. Only certain types of humans can become White Walkers (i.e., males, babies, red heads, etc.)
  3. The Night King is highly selective based on some other criteria

I can't remember seeing a female White Walkers, so that alone suggests that Arya could not become one.

  • As for the female while walker, we can see the the free folk lady turns into a white walking at the hard home episode while john and others flee using boats. May 9, 2019 at 6:13
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    @BkSantiago You're mixing up wights (basically zombies, light blue eyes, can be any dead animal, no special powers, vulnerable to fire) with white walkers (called "others" in the books; blue skin despite the name, white hair, darker blue eyes with a pattern, ice swords that crack regular metals, can freeze nearby water and put out nearby fires). Many people do mix these up... I really wish they hadn't chosen two such similar names and appearances. May 9, 2019 at 13:33

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