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At the end of season 5:

We see the Night King raise all the dead soldiers of Hardholme into wights. This seems to be done through the Night Kings proximity to the dead soliders.

In the most recent episode of season 7:

We see one of the dragons turn into a wight dragon. I assume this was done by the Night King felling the dragon with his spear.

However, in season 1:

The corpses of two members of Benjen Stark's scouting party are found near the Wall. They are taken back through the Wall to Castle Black where they eventually reanimate as wights, and they attack Jon Snow and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont.

So my main question is, how are wights reanimated?

The events in season 1 seems to contradict the idea of the Night King needing to be in proximity to turn the dead into wights. If wights can be reanimated beyond the wall why doesnt the Night King reanimate all the dead he can beyond the wall? Or was something done to those two corpses (perhaps in the way they were killed) that made them eventually turn into wights?

  • The newest recruit was reanimated by touch, the same way the baby humans are shown to be turned into white walkers. I assume the two beyond the wall were turned into wights the same was as at Hardholme. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 22 '17 at 12:23
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    I am actually curious about the season 1 reanimations as well. But the Dragon was reanimated by touch. – LeonX Aug 22 '17 at 12:26
  • I always figured that the Rangers' bodies found in season 1 were wights from the start (i.e. reanimated previously) and just pretending to be dead. They're undead, how hard can it be to lie still and not breathe? – Llewellyn Aug 22 '17 at 19:43
  • apparently the wall has magics in it that prevent wights from crossing, according to the answers i was given here: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/79180/… – Jimmery Aug 23 '17 at 8:28
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We see two ways of reanimating the dead:

  • The Nights King touches the dead to turn them into a White Walker. This is shown with him touching Crastors babies. This also happens in Season 7 Episode 6 with the Viserion, not by the spear as you seem to think, however, it is unclear as to whether the dragon is a white walker or a wight.
  • The Nights King does it remotely. We see this at Hardholme when he raises his hands to turn all the dead into wights.

Note I have only said the Nights King in the above examples because although from the latest episode we know other White Walkers can create wights we have not seen how this can be done.

We know that no White Walker was beyond the wall in Season 1 to turn those two corpses so it must have been done remotely. We have no information on the range of this or any other specific details so how exactly it was done is a mystery. It would stand to reason though that the WW's do not have to see the dead they are turning as the Nights King couldn't have seen every single wight he turned at Hardholme as there were structures and other things obscuring parts of the battlefield.

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    I'm not 100% sure the Dragon became a White Walker instead of a Wight. Most theories point that for one to become a White Walker he must be alive. And we most also think it must be a human male to become one. – LeonX Aug 22 '17 at 12:34
  • @LeonX My personal opinion is that it would be a white walker due to the way it was reanimated and the colour of it's eyes. However, I have edited to clarify on the uncertainty of this point. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 22 '17 at 12:36
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    The Wights also have deep blue eyes. – LeonX Aug 22 '17 at 12:38
  • @LeonX They have cloudy blue/white eyes. The white walkers have more of a clear normal looking eye with a very sharp blue colour. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 22 '17 at 12:52
  • @LeonX - I don't think the touch was necessary to re-animate the dragon, and saw it more as a "my Precious" or "I have an awesome new toy" kind of a thing. Think of a sad, middle-aged guy before he gets into his middle-aged crisis sports car he just bought, for the first time. :D – PoloHoleSet Aug 22 '17 at 16:25

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