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Why do White Walkers spare members of the Night's Watch such as Will from the pilot episode and Samwell Tarly, although they don't seem like a merciful species?

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See also: Did the White Walkers spare Sam? on Movies & TV SE. –  unor Jun 6 '13 at 19:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

They don't

Will's case: In the first episode, he managed to escape. He just ran. Fast. In the books, although it is not the same character, he also escapes.

Samwell Tarly: In the scene you refer to, it did not clearly appear that there was more than one White Walker. So once Samwell

kills him with the obsidian blade

they are safe. They run "just in case", in my opinion. Spoiler alert: I describe what happens in the books and what will probably happen in the remaining episodes:

In the books, Samwell and Vere are surrounded by Others (books equivalent to White Walkers) and they are rescued by "Coldhands", a mysterious character.

EDIT after evilsoup comment about the events at the very end of the second season:

At the very end of the second season, Sam is surrounded by a bunch of wights, and the White Walker which looks at him doesn't kill him. It does not happen this way in the books. I can't explain this part. Maybe the White Walker looked at the rock which Sam was hiding behind, and not directly at Sam.

Craster: He is safe because he is a "godful man" (these are his words) : he gives them his own baby boys to satisfy them. It appears giving them a baby boy once in a while is enough to ensure your safety.

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It will be interesting to see what drives the white walkers, maybe some more context on why they like the babies will be forthcoming. –  Matt May 23 '13 at 12:44
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At the end of the second season, Sam is surrounded by an army of Wights and at least one White Walker - it looks him in the eye and sneers at him. For some reason, they didn't kill him - there was a battle soon after that, but it seems like there was more than enough time to kill Sam, and they don't. –  evilsoup May 23 '13 at 13:14
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In the books, Sam and Gilly is surrounded by wights, not Others. If they had been surrounded by Others, I doubt Coldhands would have been able to save them. –  TLP May 23 '13 at 16:39

Some say that the Others are really trying to protect the world from the destruction that the fire breathing dragons will bring this world and someone said that George Martin hinted at that by saying, they are misunderstood creatures. That is why they spared some characters.


Of course that doesn't seem to stay true to the books events where they killed a lot of people. But if it is true, the white walkers would need to kill their most devoted enemy (the nights watch) to be able to help the rest of the world undistracted.

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Wow... can you find a reference from GRRM for this? It would completely change my (and I suspect, our) understanding of the book series! –  Andres F. Jan 15 at 23:14

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