At Battle of Hardhome, the slain immediately turned into wights. Yet other dead people, e.g. Jon Snow, didn't become a wight the moment he died1 and had time to be carried indoors.

Other characters at Castle Black talked about burning dead bodies, even when they were on the south side of the Wall2 at the time, as they were inside Castle Black IIRC.

1. This happened perhaps because he was south of the Wall?

2. Castle Black is barely south of the Wall

  • I think the idea is that the magic is more "concentrated" or powerful because the corpses at Hardhome are in the immediate presence of the Night King, so he animates the bodies directly rather than just letting the magic of the North do it's work at the normal pace. Aug 30, 2016 at 22:44
  • Are you safe from zombification long term if you get killed inside Castle Black because it's south of the wall? That is, does the scary magic start immediately north of the wall, or on top of it, or is it unsafe to even be near the wall but on the south side of it?
    – Cecil Ward
    Aug 30, 2016 at 22:50
  • @VapedCrusader - good point!
    – Cecil Ward
    Aug 30, 2016 at 22:51
  • 1
    Good point. We don't see any dead bodies coming alive who were actually_killed_ south of the wall, and where the bodies are later taken by nightfall doesn't seem to be the point. Perhaps they just wanted to get the dead John Snow indoors out of respect, not because they were worried about the time.
    – Cecil Ward
    Aug 30, 2016 at 23:17
  • 1
    Zombie doesn't exist as an in-universe term.
    – Paul
    Aug 31, 2016 at 10:33

1 Answer 1


The Night King hadn't worked his "magic" on Jon Snow

Not all dead immediately become Wights

Remember the scene in Season 5, Episode 9 (Hardhome), where the Night King raises his hands and the dead immediately rose as wights? Well, this didn't happen to Jon Snow, and others who've died - not just in or around Castle Black, but anywhere in the North, or Beyond the Wall.

How does this even work?

We have no idea how the Night King's magic even works:

  • What's its proximity?
  • How long can you be dead for before you can be risen?
  • Is it only the Night King that can raise wights or any White Walker?

The facts

What we do know is that

  • The process is not automatic. Someone or something needs to perform some special magical act to re-animate the corpses.
  • The corpses need to be dead first - we haven't seen anybody who's fully alive be reanimated as a wight. Including show!Coldhands (Benjen Stark).
  • Even animals can be reanimated as wights (but again must be dead first).
  • Those who have died in the vicinity of the Night King can be reanimated immediately, as seen in Hardhome.
  • The Wall has magical wards to protect it, similar to the Cave of the Three-Eyed Raven
    • You will remember that the Night King couldn't penetrate or find Bran and co whilst hidden in the Cave (Season 6, Episode 5 - The Door), since it was protected by some sort of magical ward. Well, the Wall seems to have some similar magical wards; so the Night King might not have been able to get to Jon Snow at that time

Further reading:

  • To talk about the obvious: Maybe the Night King does not feel like performing his magic trick every other minute like some circus animal or annoying yet cute child. Maybe he does it only once every night before going to sleep around midnight. Sep 6, 2016 at 13:43
  • 2
    In addition to what Mooz said, I would also point out that Jon Snow wasn't killed by a wight or white walker. He was stabbed by living, breathing mortal men. All of the bodies we've seen converted to wights were killed by white walkers.
    – RichS
    Jan 1, 2017 at 5:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.