In Season 7 episode 6 we see

Jon Snow and his posse trapped on a rock island, surrounded by the dead within throwing distance.

It seems like the entire situation could have been resolved by just having a few archers in the army. Surely in all the thousands that were killed and turned by the Night King, some were archers? Moreover archers are a staple of any army.

So why don't the dead have archers in their army?

  • 1
    Good question, maybe as they don't have blacksmith they don't make arrows so they run out of ammo quickly
    – Kepotx
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 4:19
  • 2
    @Kepotx we see at the end they somehow have tons of very heavy duty chains (for spoiler reasons), so they do seem to have access to refined metals Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 4:21
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    yes, but it is said that free folk don't use metal ( or only bronze), and the only pieces of metal they had are looted from rangers. I don't know where did the chain come from but probably not done by free folk. Maybe the WW made this chain but don't have time/motivation to make thousands arrows
    – Kepotx
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 4:49
  • 5
    To build bows you need flexible wood that comes from very specific varieties of trees that certainly don't grow in the extreme cold of the far North. Now even if they took bows from fallen rangers or free folk people, I suppose a bow will be dysfunctional if it stayed too long at negative temperatures, as it loses its flexibility and could eventually break?
    – Bebs V
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 8:18
  • 1
    @Flater I'm not saying every guy needs a bow and stock of arrows, but a handful clearly could have been a war ending moment right there. Also it doesn't even need to be a blow. Slings work too. Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 16:55

4 Answers 4


The wights seemed to "use" their edged weapons by flailing them about whilst charging. From what I saw onscreen it looks like they achieved the cuts on the heroes accidentally, rather than deliberately.

I imagine arming and firing a bow is out of their motor control abilities.

  • I was thinking along similar lines, though I had thought that a great many of them might not have the right combination of fingers remaining to fire an arrow, even if they can still crudely grip a sword.
    – recognizer
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:17

I don't think the army of the dead has support personel making bows and arrows somewhere in some fortress. Think of the logistics of production, getting/bringing the material to them, etc.

  • 1
    I've always thought of them as scavenging everything. I presumed they could have scavenged some bow and arrows Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 15:13
  • The wood of arrows are bows are more fragile than the metal of swords and axes. Bows also require a bow string, which would probably decay and break even easier.
    – Luke
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 15:03



These are the undead minions of the White Walkers turned by them for their armies. If you want a common analogy for them they resemble zombies as in they are slow and have their power in numbers and regular means not being able to kill them. If you watch closely most of their kills are actually due to swarming a target where they claw, bite and maul it. They are not adapt fighters. As such it is very unlikely they would be able to use a bow.

White Walkers

White Walkers

The commanders of the undead army, they seem very intelligent with thoughts of their own and are likely a species of their own. However, their weapons are actually made of ice and even though they are very good at manipulating the material I doubt they'll be able to form it into a bow string.

With that said we do see an example of the Night King using a ranged weapon, albeit a spear. He is also very accurate with it considering what he does with it too.

Night King with spear

As for why they didn't use spears to kill the merry men? Well why waste resources on a group of people who are going to die anyway. They were surrounded and freezing to death with no food or supplies, it's likely the undead were just waiting for the inevitable.

There is however, the theory that the Night King lured the group North to get a dragon to come up so he could kill it and turn it. I personally do not buy into this but it is certainly possible until confirmed either way.


Another reason no archers attacked the party is that the Night's King wanted them alive and to send to Daenerys for help so that he could bring down dragons. And that actually worked. Some proof:

  1. Even though the wights themselves weren't archers, we see the White Walkers throwing spears quite well. They could have taken out the party on the rock easily. But they didn't.
  2. They had probably already planned to funnel the party to the lake. If you notice (I didn't but saw it elsewhere), the lake had a boat with chains to pull the dragon out of the lake later.
  3. The Night's King is a greenseer like Bran and knows the moves of the other side.
  • A small boat chain would break under the weight of a dragon.
    – PmanAce
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:26

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