Follow-up question to Why did the Night King attack the furthest target first?

In "Beyond the Wall" (Game of Thrones, S07E06), the Night King

kills the dragon Viserion with a spear.

Why is he moving so slowly when he could have easily eliminated all targets? Also, in previous episodes, we saw him strolling around, e.g. when attacking Bran's hideout. Is there any in-universe explanation why he is moving slowly, or is he just ... too cool to hurry?

Scope: I'm not asking about this specific episode but in general. We have seen him act slowly in previous episodes.

  • 4
    He displays this menacing behaviour, often. It could be that he is an unintelligent clutz - my money is on him being extremely confident in his ability to destroy the world of the living (even if it in due time), and this results in him doing terrifying things like just watching the group of heroes on the island overnight, rather than killing them, and staring intently at the group right after he killed a dragon, and letting Sam watch the army of the dead in terror (S02E10), (as well as the ranger in S01E01). The White Walkers are mind-f**king them Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 20:42
  • @GhotiandChips: That means we don't know anything about them yet, and any question about them will get the same answer? -> It's his personality.
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:05
  • Any answer will inevitably be speculation, but what we can say, with confidence, given all the evidence, is that it's characteristic of him to act this way (though, that's not a very helpful conclusion, since you also knew that already, and your question is asking Why?). I think being extremely confident you can destroy the world of the living, having lived for so many centuries with this god-like power can do that to you. Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:14
  • 3
    He's lived thousands of years and has made little to no progress towards his goal. Lethargy induced by depression?
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:50
  • 1
    They don't feel time like we do. They don't hunger or need sleep, and are apparently immortal. They have no reason not to be slow, deliberate, and above all, patient.
    – user30594
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 4:05

6 Answers 6


I will repeat down here, my answer to your linked question because I feel that IMO it also answers your question: Why did the Night King attack the furthest target first?

Just my own beliefs, but this is what always explains every White Walker decision question to me:

I really believe that the Night King is always just provoking them. I feel that he is not in a rush because he believes that he has already won the war. Several times it just seems like he is always taunting everyone. He is always showing off. It always feels like if only the White Walkers moved faster, they could end everything.

In Season 7 Episode 6 the White Walkers could have ended everything so many times. They let Jon's crew stay on that little island for what seemed to be days until the ground froze and the Wights decide to attack. They could have thrown javelins, and I suspect that they could even use their powers to freeze the ground faster - neither of which they did.

He could have taken any dragon, IMO, but he decided to show off by getting another one just to create panic in them. I don't feel he is in a rush to kill any of them. I don't believe the white walkers feel the necessity to kill everyone just because they can. I feel they want this war, but they want to appreciate it. This is the kind of personality I feel from them: they like to spread fear. Remember that they once passed by Sam and left him there, it seemed more enjoyable to them to see him scared to death.

Also, a major show off moment, IMO, was when the Night King saw Jon leaving in the boat in Season 5 Episode 8, and raised his hands to summon every dead in the fight.

  • 5
    "Remembering that they once passed through Sam and left him there", I don't think they have seen Sam over there! as per this movies.stackexchange.com/questions/11810/…
    – ashveli
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 9:15
  • 1
    @ashveli I strongly disagree with that answer in every way. IMO it was clear that they exchanged eye contact and that is why Sam lowers his head in fear.
    – LeonX
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:02
  • 1
    @LeonX The rock in front of the WW and his horse seem pretty concrete for that answer - I'm not sure how you can argue that without saying it was a mistake by the producers. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:41
  • 1
    @KallumTanton Oh, I do in fact believe there was a production error. A mistake, as you said. It isn't rare to see positioning errors. To me, they exchanged eye contacts, and when the pan out occurred, the rock was more distant then intended. I'm sorry, but that camera exchange between them, IMO, couldn't mean any other thing.
    – LeonX
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:45
  • 1
    @KallumTanton Haha... Well. All we can do is speculate, since the only way we will know this for sure is to have a producer confirm any of the theories. But I did link the video so anyone can take their own conclusions. ;)
    – LeonX
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:54

It seems all Walkers are moving slowly until they start fighting. Which means they can move fast, they just don't choose to. I think there are two main reasons. First is much more important and it is about psychological warfare. Going slowly like they do shows confidence and breaks enemy in addition to having the great army. Imagine they run forward yelling "Charge!". You would still be scared of bigger enemy since you can't expect to survive, but there is nothing menacing or unthinkable in it. Just normal military behavior. This slow moving shows that no matter what you do and how good and fearless you fight, they just don't care. You can't change anything and that will scare you even if you don't think about it.

They showed this many times, most notably in raising thousands of dead in Hardhome, as LeonX already answered. But normal military strategy might be not to raise them while enemy is watching in order to hide your numbers. However they always choose showing off and going slowly. We don't know what exactly is their motive, but they obviously take their time. Plus when dragons appeared and destroyed wights by the thousands, do you see them panic or getting nervous? No. They are like "Oh, here are some dragons. Let's use spears". And it is effective. Actually the only time you saw any falling out of their coolness is in Hardhome when Jon successfully blocked Walker's weapon with Longclaw.

What I wonder is do they really want to kill every human and why do they use psychilogical warfare if they are so invincible... More like they want to scare everyone, but I'm not sure is it for purpose of damaging morale or something else is in play.

Oh yes, and second reason for being slow is much less important: it looks more awesome for the show :D Actually, I hate these new wights introduced in season 4 or 5. They are now just like out-of-the-mill zombies you saw in all these modern zombie movies and I think it sucks. Like totally sucks. They move fast and make those gnarling noises, they just need to add "Braaaiiiiin" and that's it, no difference. I understand it is easier for larger audiences to watch since that is something everyone is used to, but I think it lowered the effect of the show. Remember the first wight in Castle Black or attack on the Fist of the First Man, when they leave Sam and "charge" at the hill? All the wights were incredibly slow, Walkers actually had normal speed. And that's how it is in the books btw. Tens of thousands of wights, just approaching as slow as possible, without a sound. At first it might seem weak, but then no matter how many you kill and no matter what defence you put up, there is no hope. They just keep coming. And coming. And you are faster, you can slash them few times and then you see it made no difference. They still attack and are strong as hell.

Compared to that, these "arrgh, khkhkhhhh, gnaaaarl" zomie-wights are just boring. If they at least used those from the beginning of the show. Instead they showed us the creepy ones and then switched to usual ones. Meh.

  • At the end you described the difference of regular and modern zombies. Now its a trend that zombies gotta be fast. But I gotta disagree in one point: I can imagine slow zombies saying "BRAAAAAAINSSS" much more than fast zombies.
    – LeonX
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:17
  • I guess you're right. It just let my annoyance out of me and put both undead and infeceted zombies into same group which is not correct. I hope that doesn't affect the final conclusion Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:23
  • @Flater That's a way to see things, but Zombies in general never seem to tire or exert any effort at all. Zombies that run, usually grunt or make some weird noises that would be tiresome all the same.
    – LeonX
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 12:52

I think there are many reasons, some of the potential ones are:

  • Scouring the North for bodies for his army.
  • Searching the North for other items of use.
  • Waiting for the increased cold and sparser food to weaken his enemies.

However, after Season 7 Episode 7 I think the strongest reasons are

  • Waiting for Winter to truly come (As we see in S7E07, snow has finally begun to fall in Kings Landing when he arrives at the wall).
  • Waiting for a way to get past the wall (which he found via the Dragon he captured.)

I don't think he is being "slow". I'm basing my whole answer, and personal view of the show, on the assumption that the Night King has the same ability that the Three-eyed Raven has: to see everything, everywhere.

Based on that, I believe he is just following a grand plan. Every action he's doing has a reason, and he has the ability to wait even thousands of years for each action to happen.

Two examples, which hopefully will explain what I mean better:

  1. He could easily kill Bran, but chose to leave him alive. He could have also most likely kill the previous Three-eyed Raven long before, taking down this enemy completely, but he didn't. Why? Because that is exactly what he wanted: a new Three-eyed Raven. Young, fresh, who see the truth without past judgements. I believe in the final season to come, the Night King will tell his own story and motives to Bran, and want him to see it as a neutral observer.

  2. He could easily kill Jon Snow, many times, but didn't. Why? Because he waited for the dragons. He knew the only way to take down the Wall is by using undead dragon(s). He knew Jon will become ally of Daenerys. He knew she will come to his aid with the dragons, so all he had to do was wait. And that's exactly what he did. After the dragons arrived he did launch a full scale attack, and if not for Benjen, Jon would have died.

So, in essence, the Night King plan all along was to take down the wall and march south, while having someone who can observe all of this. He just waited patiently for each required step to happen.


I'd refer you back to the cave drawings on Dragonstone. We see that the Night King existed since the time of the first men, and last threatened the kingdoms during the Long Night.

So there are a few factors to take into account here -

  • He has no fear of humans, or Bran. He was able to kill the Three-Eyed Raven before he was done training Bran, and he exterminated the Children of the Forest who actually had magic that could affect him. Humans, by comparison, are easy pickings, if he can get past the Wall. Whether he pursues them with great vigor or not, when he sweeps over the entire continent and destroys all of humanity, they will fall to him, one way or the other. Perhaps that confidence causes him to not feel any sense of urgency for a particular individual human. We may think of these individuals as humanity's only hope. He probably does not view them as anything other than eventual new recruits for his army.

  • The Night King and his army lives in the brutal winter. Perhaps the cold helps to keep his dead minions from rotting away into nothing, perhaps his power is linked to the winter and night, somehow. In any case, we see that the first few flakes of snow are just starting to fall in King's Landing at the end of Season 7. If the Night King's powers or army's capabilities are in any way linked to winter, it does no good, at all, to rush south ahead of the real winter, which has not hit yet. By the same token, eliminating individual targets that will eventually fall to him anyway, now, is does not improve or alter his plans.

  • As I mentioned earlier, he's been waiting for over a thousand years, apparently, for his opportunity to mount another assault. He's been building up and gathering his strength the entire time since then. He's clearly not a creature that is bound by what we think of as a lifespan. As such, to him, who has waited this long and has plans that, once in place, will probably unfold over years or decades, this might not seem like delaying or taking his time.


This is sort of a side step and just a theory, so I apologize if this doesn't help, but in the last episode (7x06) there are a lot people upset about the time-factor regarding Gendry sending a raven to Dragonstone, how long it appeared Jon, Jorah, Sandor, Thoros, Beric, Tormund, etc stood on the mound vs how long it would take for Dany to get a raven and make it to where they were...

Also, I know the EPs acknowledged the pacing in regards to this and other time-jumps this season, but these particular scenes made me wonder if it was actually mythos related??

Blockquote “We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy,” episode director Alan Taylor told Variety."..."So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff."

Night King Being Made

Ok, so we know that The Night King was once a human and was turned by the Children of the Forest and allegedly some of the other White Walkers were also human and turned after a betrayal. From there we know they can make "dead" wights (and each can control those they made suggesting kinetic link), animal wights, and human babies that can be made into more White Walkers (how fast do they age??)...


So we know that Bran, now also the Three-Eyed Raven, is a very powerful greenseer and that most of the children of the forest were also greenseers and greenseers are basically like "time travelers" and "astral projectors". Then Hodor's paradox let's us understand that not only this is somewhat predetermined universe in cycle cosmology, but that any two points in time can be inextricably linked (cause and effect from one event to another). And lastly we know that the mark on Bran's hand allows for the Knight's King to become aware when Bran is in his presence and can establish a kinetic link and know where Bran "really" is.

So I had wondered if there is a radius around the Night King that "slows down time"? ---If that would be true, then it would give new meaning to " A Long Night" ---Maybe this also ties into why it takes them so long to move across the "real" North, because time is slower for them? But at any rate the mythology that is featured in the northern part of the story tends to play with space-time, so it doesn't seem irrational to me that this could be another way to do that.

The bigger picture with this being a cycle cosmological story is that the White Walkers are a metaphor for people having to deal with "the sins of the father" --stemming all the way back to the betrayal of the First Men and the Children of the Forest--essentially a battle between man, his family, and nature (magic) itself and so we're witnessing a cycle breaking into a new one. And picking up many of the dead (especially the wildlings via social exclusion) and wanting a dead army plays into the concept of everyone dealing with many many generations of wrong-doing (including the monarchy of the Iron Throne)...

On a more micro level, it's hard to understand what is really behind the motivations of Night King--if there is something more personal there?? The books get more into the reincarnation aspect of everything, than the TV series, but I really like the theory that Cersei could end up becoming the Night Queen--and that perhaps the Night King recognizes her as an incarnate of his former love interest, because it would reconfirm the human aspect of the White Walkers origin, put a more definite human face on them (another love story), and it would also better explain Cersei, as like many characters, by not being in control of themselves--not entirely human...

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