In "The Dragon and the Wolf" (Game of Thrones, S07E07), Westerosi armies are seen marching towards Winterfell in order to stop the army of the Night King.

But why would they march there in the middle of the winter? It's already been established that regular armies don't fare well in winter conditions while the army of the dead doesn't care about the cold. Couldn't they simply evacuate their population down to the south and deal with the dead around the region of The Neck?

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    Except that it's winter everywhere now.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 21:05
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    Also, they have (they think) a wall to defend...
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 21:07
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    ...but this is now officially winter...a GoT winter....it's gonna be cold everywhere. Regardless, you advance to the enemy and defend you strongholds...that's standard tactics in my limited experience.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 21:10
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    @Jaood The show does show snow in King's Landing in the Jaime scene in this last episode.
    – DariM
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 22:04
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    @Jaood In the last episode of season 6, white ravens were sent out by the masters in the Citadel, as the official notification that Winter had begun. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 2:02

3 Answers 3


There would be nothing "simple" about evacuating the entirety of the North during winter, when the land is even less able to sustain the population. Furthermore, Jon wants to defend the North, not strategically cede it to the Night King.

Even if the entire North could be evacuated, there is no reason to believe that the White Walkers cannot raise all corpses, including those that died long ago. This means that their army may grow exponentially as they travel through the North - a place they have not been for many thousands of years.

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    A pet peeve of mine: There is nothing exponential about the growth of the army. It might be fast, but not exponential (i.e. growing faster and faster).
    – svick
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:59
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    @svick - Its exponential if it uses the enemies it kills to grow, and can kill more the bigger it gets. (In math terms, its growth is proportional to its current size. That's the definition of exponential growth). However, that has nothing to do with the argument in this answer, which is talking about a one-time (huge) boon from taking over existing cemeteries.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:49
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    it's not exponential, it's linear. If each corpse you raised allowed you raise more corpses, it'd be exponential. But your "corpse raising" pace is instead controlled by the availability of corpses and the availability of White Walkers. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_growth
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:26
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    Exponential doesn't simply mean "a lot". The number of possible corpses is exactly equal to the number of people living in Westeros. The population certainly increases as you go south, but there is no reason to believe the population is an exponential mathematical function of "miles south of the Wall".
    – chepner
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:14
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    The growth of the Wight Army is a piece-wise function defined in different intervals by availability of living people to kill and convert, and fresh and not-so-fresh corpses. Not a fun thing to write mathematically but I'm sure in certain intervals, it could be described as exponentially growing :)
    – m1gp0z
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 17:47

Because the further south the Night King comes, the bigger his army gets. He raises people he kills, so if they were to wait for him in King's Landing, he'd have millions of soldiers by the time he reached them. He'd kill everyone that he would pass and then raised them to fight in his army. If they want to stand a chance, they need to defeat him asap, as far north as possible.

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    To be fair, I'm not sure Cercei "gets" that part. But yeah. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 2:06
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    Based on prior episodes, there are indications the Night King can raise people that have been dead for a considerable time. There's 8,000 years worth of dead and burred people in the North. A significant number of those will still be viable to be animated. Depending on how old a corpse the Night King can raise, that's a few to 100+ times as many people as are currently living in any particular area.
    – Makyen
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 4:22
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    @Makyen, all the dead Starks (even headless Ned) from under the Winterfell vs the living Starks.
    – user28434
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 12:05
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    Fighting against a headless Ned would be super cool!!
    – Elerium115
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:05
  • @Makyen we see the Night King animate people but I believe they are always at surface level. Surely anyone dead and buried, even if brought to life, would remain buried.
    – DasBeasto
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 18:14

I think, as @Paulie_D mentioned in the comments, the main reason is that (as far as anyone knows) they have a giant impregnable wall to the North. This wall gives them a single fortified position where their armies will have strategic high ground. Just like you would defend a castle by getting up on the castle walls and using the ramparts as a defense, the south is their castle and they will use The Wall the same way.

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