When Thoros of Myr brings Beric Dondarrion back to life again, Beric has lost "something" but is still essentially Beric Dondarrion: he has not forgotten who he was and he remains the leader of the Brotherhood.

In the books, there is an example of a character who is dead for three days before being resurrected:

Catelyn Stark is resurrected by Beric Dondarion three days after the Red Wedding and remains partly mutilated. Another consequence of this late resurrection is that she has lost much of her older personality.

Does this also apply to the wights in the Night King's army? Many of the wights we see in Game of Thrones have been dead for quite some time. However, after the massacre at Hardhome, the Night King resurrects many wildlings who died less than an hour earlier (if we ignore time compression in the tv series). Is there any evidence from the tv series or the books that they retain some of their personality and therefore also their fighting skills? What we've seen so far seems to suggest that they just wildly slash at their victims, possibly relying more on numbers than skills.

  • 1
    Both Beric and Catelyn were resurrected through the power of R'hllor (or so Thoros believes anyway). The Night King's wights are not necessarily comparable. Oct 10, 2017 at 17:24
  • @TheMathemagician The comparison may not go beyond the resurrection itself. Still, I'd like to know if there are more parallels.
    – user89356
    Oct 10, 2017 at 17:25
  • @ReginaldBlue I have done that now. The problem with spoiler markup is that it is inaccessible to keyboard users; it only appears if you can use a pointing device (typically a mouse).
    – user89356
    Oct 11, 2017 at 14:18
  • @ReginaldBlue This new meta question describes the accessibility issue with spoiler markup.
    – user89356
    Oct 11, 2017 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


It seems likely that the wights remember somethings about their previous life, as dead rangers that were brought through the Wall and subsequently attack the Lord Commander Mormont know where to find him.

Certainly Ser Alliser Thorne thinks this...

You would like me to refuse. Then you could hack off my head, same as you did for Slynt. I'll not give you that pleasure, bastard. You'd best pray that it's a wildling blade that kills me, though. The ones the Others kill don't stay dead ... and they remember. I'm coming back, Lord Snow.

A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 28, Jon VI

Jon's experiences have led him to believe they remember things as well...

[Cellador] Wights are monstrous, unnatural creatures. Abominations before the eyes of the gods. You ... you cannot mean to try to talk with them?

[Jon] Monsters they may be, but they were men before they died. How much remains? The one I slew was intent on killing Lord Commander Mormont. Plainly he remembered who he was and where to find him ... My lord father used to tell me that a man must know his enemies. We understand little of the wights and less about the Others. We need to learn.

A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII

So yes, some of their personality remains. So it is likely that a bit of their skills with weapons remains as well; we do see them wield weapons.

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    Although they wield weapons, and it could be different in the books, in the show when they attack they just seem to swing aimlessly. I'm sure some of their personality remains though, good finds on the quotes. Also worth noting that wights are probably brought back through the power of ice and Jon/Berric through fire...
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 11, 2017 at 7:58
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    Actually see my answer for a more detailed explanation of show-verse wights. When he opened his mouth to scream, the wight jammed its black corpse fingers into Jon's mouth. Gagging, he tried to shove it off, but the dead man was too heavy. Its hand forced itself farther down his throat, icy cold, choking him. Its face was against his own, filling the world. - A Game of Thrones, Jon VII. This also seems to suggest the wights have decent fighting abilities through I don't have my books handy to check the passage properly.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 11, 2017 at 10:32

It appears as though there is a slight inconsistency in the show with how wights are shown to fight. Most of the time, such as at Hardhome and the battle on the lake in Season 7 Episode 6, "Beyond the Wall", they are shown to be more zombie-esque with power coming from the masses not individuals. They are shown to swing weapons aimlessly and tear into their victims on the ground rather than hand to hand combat.

However, in Season 1 Episode 8, "The Pointy End", the wight that attacks Jon and is going to attack the Lord Commander shows some skill with using his hands. Firstly he can open and close doors, knows where to go and who to look for and even hides when Jon comes in so he can get the upper hand. His fighting also appears to be pretty damn good even going to strangle Jon and lifting him up rather than tearing into him.

The captured wight in Season 7 Episode 6 also appears to use restraint when it is the last one left of the group. It looks round looking for a possible attack/escape route rather than going zombie mode onto one person i.e. it is thinking.

So we know wights can remember and even seem to think to some extent and they also appear to be able to fight to some extent too. There appears to be an inconsistency with how they are shown to fight though this could be explained away that the differences are when a wight is alone and when they are en mass.

Lastly, it's worth pointing out that Jon and Berric are brought back through the power of R'hllor or fire, and that the wights are brought back by the White Walkers or Ice. There seems to be some differences with how their magic works.


Given that we now know that when a White Walker dies, the Wights he raised perish too, it's likely that the skills and will to fight are something more akin to a "warg-en-masse" situation. So the corpses must have "memories" contained within them and when the WW wargs into those corpses, at least some of their previous skill set and memories are available to the WW to take advantage of. Similar case in point; Bran wargs into a crow and retains the crow's ability to fly, but is in control of WHERE the crow flies. Also explored more in the books (because it can't translate to film), when the Stark children warg into their wolves, they have access to what the wolves know and remember. Granted, the difference is that the crows and wolves are still alive, I'm just thinking that the White Walker's warging ability is different in that it can extend beyond the death of the subject and can be done for a large group, kind of like a hive mind.

That would mean it is totally separate from what takes place with Dundarrion and John Snow being resurrected from the dead on their own, still needing to eat, sleep and apparently father children...

  • This answer seems to take the assumption that the White Walkers warg into the wights and so are permanently controlling multiple at once. However, there appears to be no evidence to support this so far.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 11, 2017 at 10:18
  • Yes, it is conjecture, but based on the known evidence that when a White Walker dies, all of his wights immediately cease activity. In other words they are not self-sentient, they are extensions OF the White Walker who raised them.
    – JRaef
    Oct 12, 2017 at 0:03
  • I feel like that's a big step to take but as there's no evidence either way, even if it does look like not to be the case,we'll have to leave it at that.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 12, 2017 at 8:28

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