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In S01E01 of Game of Thrones, Eddard passes death sentences on a deserter. In a conversation, the desserter says:

I know I broke my oath, and I'm a deserter. I should have gone back to the wall and warned them, but I saw what I saw.

My understanding is there is only one way to enter Winterfell and it is through the Wall. So how did this guys manage to escape the White Walker without going through/crossing the wall?

Please watch both the videos for the reference:

  • He could have returned to Castle Black and then went south later on. – AKHolland Oct 11 '17 at 15:42
  • Are you serious? watch an entire episode. There is this little conversation between Benjen Stark and Ned Start, regarding this guy. He did not return to castle black. In fact, they suspect that he is the one who killed his partners. – Govinda Sakhare Oct 11 '17 at 16:25
  • It's been a couple of years since I watched it, but I don't remember anything that specifically rules it out. Even from your comment, he could have returned to Castle Black saying his companions were behind him, then left in the middle of the night. – AKHolland Oct 12 '17 at 14:54
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    videos not working anymore – Ankit Sharma Dec 15 '17 at 9:37
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    Related question: How is the Wall bypassed? – Napoleon Wilson Oct 23 '18 at 11:30
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The Wall is sparsely manned and there many places where a living man can get through. We see a few instances in the show, namely:

  1. Jon and the group of Wildings climbing the Wall. S3E6, The Climb
  2. Bran and Co. passing through the Wall at the Nightfort through a secret gate that can only be opened by a man of the Night's Watch. S3E10, Mysha

I would think the second option is likely how Will made it past the Wall without crossing a manned castle.

The White Walkers still need a full on assault or other option as there were magic spells cast into the during its construction that prevent the direct passage of the dead.

  • Then what is the point of having the wall? white walkers, dead (or mighty night king) can go through those areas? I think this is the loophole in a script. – Govinda Sakhare Oct 11 '17 at 8:51
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    @piechuckerr White Walker's can't pass through the Wall due to some magic in it, as Benjen tells Bran. It's also not a loophole you don't have 3 gates on a 300 league wall you have multiple, the theme of the story is that the NW is undermanned. As such they don't have enough men to guard all the passings anymore. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 11 '17 at 11:21
  • Also just because something isn't 100% effective doesn't mean it is 0% effective. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 11 '17 at 11:28
  • Note how Skooba said the gate could "only be opened by a man of the Night's Watch", which Will certainly was. (The magic probably doesn't account for deserters, but even if it did, Will only officially became a deserter when he did not return to Castle Black after having made it to safety.) – Llewellyn Oct 11 '17 at 18:19
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When he says "the wall", he means Castle Black (or one of the other two manned posts). He doesn't mean The Wall proper. So yes, you are correct in that he would have had to cross The Wall to get to Winterfell from where he was, but he likely did this at an unmanned point.

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    But then the question is, are there unmanned points where every little wildling can just pass the wall as he pleases? – Napoleon Wilson Oct 10 '17 at 18:39
  • Exactly, so will the white walker and army. The night king wouldn't even have to use the dragon to take down the wall, he can take the shortcut. – Govinda Sakhare Oct 10 '17 at 18:48

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