A comment by user568458 to another question got me thinking about whether the White Walkers knew Samwell Tarly killed one.

My other question was why White Walkers were nearly naked in the first two seasons but wore clothes in armor in the later seasons.

And this is what user568458 said.

I'm not 100% sure but I think the first time we see white walkers wearing armour is also the first time we see them after Sam kills one with an obsidian dagger. I think before this, they were always sporting the "winter casual" skirts-and-bracers look. Maybe there was an off-screen "This s*** just got real. Put your obsidian-proof vests on, lads, and meet me by the baby-sacrificing table"

I never assumed the White Walkers knew Sam killed one of their brothers.

When Sam killed him, the White Walker was all alone. He wasn't traveling with his brothers, or else his brothers would have attacked Sam too. Since the walker was all alone, I don't think word got back to any of his brothers.

I also assumed the White Walkers did not know dragon glass or Valyrian steel could shatter them. Just look at the expression on the walker's face when Jon Snow blocked his attack with a Valyrian steel sword. That's when the Walkers realized "Shit just got real!"

Did they know Samwell Tarly killed one?

And a related question is whether they knew about their vulnerability to dragon glass and Valyrian steel.

I prefer answers from the books (with citations) over answers from the tv series.

Edit: I think that many of the White Walkers are biological brothers because answers to multiple questions mention that they are the children of Craster and his daughters.

  • 1
    It seems as if there might be two questions here.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 7:35
  • 1
    If you're looking for a books answer, then It didn't happen quite like that in Books. Sam did kill a Walker but that was on his way back from the Fist of the first men. The event which happened when he was with Gilly involved Wights who were former member of NW. Sam killed one of them with fire and was rescued by Coldhands.
    – Aegon
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 7:46
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    Knowing Sam killed him isn't really required just that he never came back and was presumably killed
    – user20310
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 8:36
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    Hahaha, happy to see my comment provoked some thought! I think we probably don't know yet, but I think it might not be coincidence that they launch an attack on the Fist of First Men immediately after the cache of obsidian weapons was found, then attack Hardhome immediately after it is taken there. Makes sense to me that they'd know about obsidian from the last war (when the cache was presumably buried) but would not yet know about Valyrian steel? (until Darth Maul watches his buddy explode in this scene) But I don't think there's enough evidence for an answer yet Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:49
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    Probably the simplest explanation for the armour thing, on reflection, is that the nudist who led the attack on the Fist of the First Men continued marching north and reported back to the Night's King "We destroyed this new encampment, but some of the pink walkers appear to have escaped with the ancient weapons that make us explode in a shower of CGI", and then that was the "S*** got real, armour up lads" moment (meanwhile the guy still far south on baby-collecting duty who Sam met didn't get the memo in time). No proof, but it seems the simplest coherent explanation Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:54

3 Answers 3


Glad you asked for the book rather than the TV show. In the books they are never naked and wore armor that camouflaged them and my guess is that the TV-show producers just tried to make them look as zombie like as possible while the Wights looked just like humans with blue eyes.

The more the show progressed the more obvious it became that they had to show Wights in different states of decay (like zombies) and that the White Walkers needed to stand out somehow and be easily distinguishable from Wights so I think they figured out that giving the Walkers armor is a great way to do so.

Also at the beginning of the show they didn't have the budget they have now and creating these things (and/or the CGI) is pretty expensive.

From the books (AGOT Prologue):

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.

I don't believe the shows producers didn't give the Walkers armor for any other reason but visuals, there was no storytelling reason behind it.

That being said: The other White Walkers might know that one of them died, but it has nothing to do with the changed appearance. It is not clarified neither in the books nor in the TV show if they do know it as of now.

  • Thank you :-) And yes, I meant to answer this, because the OPs question was if the Walkers now if Sam killed the other Walker based on the fact that they start wearing armor after one of them got stabbed so OP drew a connection between Walker getting stabbed --> other Walkers wear armor. With the point I'm making I can erase that connection.
    – Broco
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 10:35
  • As it is right now, your post isn't answering the question "Did the White Walkers know Sam killed their brother", and would be better received if you moved your answer to the other post.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 10:43
  • @Edlothiad Which other post? I edited my answer to fit the question better though I thought my point was clear since I responsed to the argumentation structure of the OP.
    – Broco
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 10:52
  • Hi Broco, just revisted this post as it was bumped to the homepage, your question still majorly references the question I linked you to. Although the OP mentions the change in costume that is purely to set the basis for this question, and any answers as such should go under that post. You've said one line about whether they new Sam Tarly killed one of them or not: "The other White Walkers might have known that one of them died..." Which isn't sufficient to answering a question.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 9:27

We Do Not Know

At the moment we don't know a lot about the White Walkers so we don't know if they're connected in some way to each other. We do know they can communicate with each other, in some form or another, from the scream as it passes Sam:

And also from the descriptions in the books:

The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.
A Game of Thrones, Prologue

We know they are an intelligent species, with some powers, so it makes sense for them to deduce that their missing White Walker was either killed and abducted. As such they could be wearing armour because of this.

However, the next time we see the White Walkers after Sam kills one in Season 3 Episode 8 is in Season 4 Episode 4 where the Night King performs some kind of ritual to turn Crasters baby into a White Crawler. So they could be armoured here for two reasons:

  • The Night King is around "Look your best".
  • We're performing a ritual I don't want you half naked.

The next time we see them is at Hardhome when they are getting ready for battle, as one goes to the ground to fight Jon. So it's safe to assume that they are wearing armour for the same reason we wear armour, protection in battle.

Again when Bran sees them in his vision the wights are assembled in ranks with the White Walkers as captains so it makes sense to be in armour, such as military personnel wear their uniform in drill.

Lastly, the next few times we see them again is all for battle purposes so it makes sense that they would be armoured.

  • Attacking the Three Eyed Ravens Cave.
  • Attacking the merry men on the capture the wight party.
  • Attacking the Wall.

So while we do not know if they know Sam killed one of them there are other reasons that they could have been wearing their armour for all the subsequent times we see them.

Also I'm sure that they could deduce that the lost White Walker was killed seeing as they've seen a few of them be killed by Jon since then. However, I doubt they'd know who actually killed him.


The Night King knows, the rest do not. It seems that the undead in the series has a couple of rules. The first-The King can raise, control, order his minions, so he has some kind of connection to them all. Since thus far, every single undead has either attacked mindlessly, or performed tasks which could always be argued in favor of orders coming from the King. Did the Others/Wight Walkers know Sam killed someone? Possibly...If they sat around talking to one another about who they killed that day. Unlikely, but possible. The King on the other hand would have known one of his Walkers was killed, since the connection would have been severed. Was the Walker who Jon Snow killed trying to prevent him from getting Dragonglass back at Hardholme because he knew of what Sam did? It really seemed he was just trying to kill everyone, since he went after the other warrior once engaged. I would say no. They don't know what Sam did. They don't really need to know, and what good would it be even if they did? They've been fighting Dragonglass and Valaryian steel for 10,000 or so years, Sam wouldn't have even been a footnote in their history.

  • Do you have quotes from the books to support your answer? :-)
    – RichS
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:04

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