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We could see that Theon Greyjoy helped Sansa Stark escape from Winterfell which was under Ramsay's control by jumping off the wall. The outer wall is said to be about 80 feet high. How did both of them survive jumping from that height? It is highly unlikely to survive that jump even if there was snow.

  • 14
    Snow, really high snow. – Möoz Sep 5 '17 at 5:54
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    Of course, it's not quite clear how they would still be able to trudge through snow that was that deep. – Mateen Ulhaq Sep 5 '17 at 5:58
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    This scene always really bothered me, because (1) we just saw another character die falling from the same wall (albeit without the snow), (2) the snow didn't look particularly deep, (3) the landing and aftermath takes place "off-scene", and (4) the next time we see the characters they are running through the same snow (which clearly isn't deep now) without any problem at all! – JBentley Sep 5 '17 at 8:30
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    Is the premise of this question not disproven by Bran surviving the fall from a tower? Logically, towers are higher than the walls they are built next to, therefore Bran survived an even higher fall. Bran did end up paralyzed, but he fell flat on his back, without any snow, and his landing was not in any way controlled. Theon and Sansa could have been hurt too, but they were running for their lives, which means that they might not even feel it (adrenaline rush can block out the pain) or they could consciously not complain about the pain because they are still running for their lives. – Flater Sep 5 '17 at 9:31
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    People in real life have taken a header off 255 ft cliffs into snow and lived. Depending on the composition of snow at the bottom 80 ft is absolutely survivable. – Erik Sep 6 '17 at 4:13
19

TL;DR: Characters survive their falls from heights due to plot armour.


Looking back over the scene it isn't clear at all how they actually survive the jump. The snow at the bottom of the wall doesn't actually look that deep and you never see them land. The following image is of the look down the wall to the ground before they jump:

View from the top of the wall

The snow also looks quite compact. The two could have injuries but ignore them due to adrenaline taking over. Here's the scene for reference:

Note that in the above scene Theon pushes Myranda from the wall that is less high and has no snow and she is killed on impact. Though she doesn't land feet first but on her side/back.

We next see them in Season 6 Episode 1 with them both still hurriedly running through the snow and it doesn't look much more than ankle deep at best.

Sansa and Theon in the snow

Obviously they are further away from Winterfell so the snow won't be exactly the same but they're still hurrying and looking worried so they can't be too far away.

Here's the scene of them running through the forests:

The snow at Winterfell below the walls will be deeper as snow collects at walls so should help soften the impact.

So it appears they could survive the fall with the snow cushioning it but the amount of snow needed doesn't seem to tally up with what we see on screen.

All the way back in Season 1 Episode 1 we see Bran fall from a tower, of taller height, straight onto his back after being pushed by Jaime.

He is paralysed and put into a coma by this fall but does survive it. So it appears it is possible. Credit to @Flater for this point.

Another character that dies from his fall is Tommen Baratheon though he appears to fall from a much taller height.


From the books the perspective is a little differently. Though in the show the snow doesn't appear to be forty feet high at all.

"I saved her." The outer wall of Winterfell was eighty feet high, but beneath the spot where he had jumped the snows had piled up to a depth of more than forty. A cold white pillow.
Winds of Winter - Theon I

  • 3
    “The snow at the bottom of the wall doesn't actually look that deep” — How are you judging its depth? I can’t see anything to indicate depth. – Paul D. Waite Sep 5 '17 at 10:09
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    @PaulD.Waite Just by eye, it looks shallow. The rocks protrude from the snow and don't look too big, there appear to be footprints in the snow that are only a centimetre or so deep, deeper snow would have deeper marks. With deeper snow it usually comes further up the walls. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 5 '17 at 10:12
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    “The rocks protrude from the snow and don't look too big” — the bits protruding don’t look too big, sure. Given that we can’t see the bits that don’t protrude, we have no idea how big they are. “there appear to be footprints in the snow that are only a centimetre or so deep” — I don’t think anything in the image clearly looks like a footprint. “With deeper snow it usually comes further up the walls” — Given that we can’t see the bottom of the walls, we’ve got no idea how far it comes up. – Paul D. Waite Sep 5 '17 at 11:49
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    @PaulD.Waite No but we can see where the snow meets the walls and it doesn't go up much further than the surrounding snow. Rocks are generally a consistent shape and the bits we can see aren't too big. And okay then not a footprint but other markings in the snow caused by animals by the looks of them. To be honest I think you're splitting hairs, do you have any evidence to suggest that the snow is actually deep? – TheLethalCarrot Sep 5 '17 at 11:52
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    @PaulD.Waite You also see what looks to be tall grass from the right of the picture, that comes out of the snow a long way. That isn't usually that tall. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 5 '17 at 11:54
37

Covered at this Physics.SE question: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/167077/freefall-into-snow

Yes: You can do it.

No: It won't kill you.

It does however depend on factors such as how much snow there is, is it powder or compacted, whether the landing is steep or flat. Falls of 100 feet or more are noted in comments.

  • 13
    Can you provide some more information, and actually use the information it says there? Also merge your accounts. – Edlothiad Sep 5 '17 at 6:12
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    A woman is known to have survived a 330 ft fall (with possible help from her hoop skirt). – T.E.D. Sep 5 '17 at 17:41
  • Feel free to include a reference to the video of Jamie Pierre taking a header off a 255 ft cliff in the Tetons. – Erik Sep 6 '17 at 4:14
  • ... here is a Russian jumping of 9th story into snow. ~ 100ft or 30m youtube.com/watch?v=vZGKDplDKU4 – josh Sep 6 '17 at 12:22
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In World War II, multiple pilots survived falls of not just 100 feet, but over 18,000 feet without a parachute. If my memory serves correctly, the true story Under the Wire by William Ash (and Brendan Foley) tells at one point how William Ash met a Soviet prisoner-of-war who had fallen more than 20,000 feet from his bomber aircraft and survived by plunging into snow.

Additionally:

  • Nicholas Alkemade apparently survived falling 18,000 feet into pine trees and soft snow.
  • Alan Magee fell 22,000 feet and through the glass roof of a railway station, surviving but with many injuries.

There are plenty more examples.

  • 8
    Related: wikipedia list of free fall survivors. – Zanon Sep 5 '17 at 9:07
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    While you're pointing at actual facts, the key reason for why these people survived is terminal velocity (an upper limit to how fast you can travel through the atmosphere unpowered), but terminal velocity doesn't (meaningfully) factor into Theon and Sansa's short fall. Unless they used a parachute (whose terminal velocity is drastically lower) but that is not the case here. – Flater Sep 5 '17 at 9:29
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    Indeed, but Sansa and Theon would not have reached terminal velocity after falling less than 100 feet. Even disregarding air resistance, after 100 feet they would only have reached around 25m/s, which is less than half of a skydiver's terminal velocity. Surely if someone at terminal velocity can survive, then people at a lower velocity could also? – TheGreatCabbage Sep 5 '17 at 9:31
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    Still, the people who survived large falls on to ordinary ground are a tiny fraction compared to the people who didn’t survive their falls, or suffered serious injury. And we’re not talking one lucky fall here, but both Sansa and Theon. If one character wins a lottery, that’s not too implausible, but if two win it in a row, that’s a bit of a stretch — unless the lottery is rigged, or (in this case) the snow was deep enough to improve their chances significantly. – PLL Sep 5 '17 at 12:55
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    @Nij or at the very least, agreeing to play the same numbers on their tickets. (Which is, of course, a terrible strategy for the lottery, but a decent strategy for jumping off a wall - both people will jump in the place most likely to survive the fall... like a big pile of snow...) – corsiKa Sep 5 '17 at 23:49
2

If the snow's deep enough, they could easily survive a fall of 80 feet, regardless of plot armor.

This video shows a guy skiing away from a jump off a 255 foot cliff. He lands head first.

-4

There may have been some water in a moat that's frozen over, so they hit the snow then they hit they hit water too slowing their fall. Would have been very wet though.

  • The water would have been frozen to have snow on top of it like it was so would hurt quite a bit. Also it would have been quite thick as it was pretty cold and had a layer of snow on top. Plus I'm pretty sure Winterfell doesn't have a moat. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 5 '17 at 10:35
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    That would hurt, quite a lot. Falling through ice, ow. – Edlothiad Sep 5 '17 at 10:36
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    Correction Winterfell apparently has a moat, in the books at least, but it is between the inner and outer walls and not on the outside. Sansa and Theon jumped from the outside walls so there would have been no moat. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 5 '17 at 11:00

protected by Edlothiad Sep 6 '17 at 7:15

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