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Benjen was stabbed by a White Walker with an ice sword and left "to turn" but was saved with dragongalss by the Children of the Forest.

Benjen: I led a ranging party deep into the North to find White Walkers. They found us. A White Walker stabbed me in the gut with a sword of ice. Left me there to die. To turn. The Children found me. Stopped the Walker’s magic from taking hold.

Bran: How?

Benjen: The same way they made the Walkers in the first place. You saw it yourself.

Bran: Dragonglass. A shard of dragonglass plunged into your heart.

Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 6, "Blood of my Blood"

I always assumed that he would have turned into a White Walker, he still seems to have conscious thought and in my opinion looks more like a White Walker than a wight. However, it's unclear how much of this is down to what the White Walkers did and what the Children of the Forest did.

Benjen does state he is not fully living anymore and implies that he is "dead" which would put him more into the category of would have been a wight.

Benjen: The Wall is not just ice and stone. Ancient spells were carved into its foundations. Strong magic to protect men from what lies beyond. And while it stands, the dead cannot pass. I cannot pass.

Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 10, "The Winds of Winter"

However, later on Benioff states that he wasn't really dead or alive but somewhere in between which could put him into either camp. We don't know enough to state if it was the White Walker's or the Children of the Forest's magic which put him more into the "dead" side.

Benioff: For Coldhands, it’s almost kind of a relief in a way because he’s been trapped in this kind of purgatory state between life and death for quite some time and, like so many in the show, waiting to find out what his purpose is. Why is he still alive when he should be dead?

Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 6 - Inside the Episode, "Beyond the Wall"

Is there any official statement as to whether Benjen would have been a White Walker or a wight had the Children of the Forest not intervened? I am not looking for speculation from implicit comments as they seem to be slightly contradictory and unclear due to multiple events having occurred but rather something explicit. That could be from a comment in the show, a comment from one of the supplementary materials or from an interview with someone in the show.

  • I am not sure I understand. The Children made sure he didn't fully die, but is there any indication the White Walkers were trying to do anything other than simply kill him? And then turn him into a wight, same as any other dead guy? – Misha R Apr 26 at 5:47
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In answer to your question no, there is no clear information on why or how Coldhands is different however some answers seem clear from the information that is already available.

From all we have seen only the Night King has the ability to create White Walkers, the Night King was brought Craster's last son by another White Walker and we see him turn him with a touch. Now while at that point the alter was thought to be an important part of this, we have since also seen him turn the dragon, the writers have confirmed that Viserion is a White Walker dragon, not a wight. Therefore based on these "rules" as defined by the series a normal White Walker cannot turn another person into one of their own. Benjen was talking about turning into a wight, being reanimated like many of the Crows have been. (Remember the rest of his party also became wights), in fact this phrase "being turned" has been used in different forms by other characters throughout the series in relation to wights.

The Children found him and have prevented him him from dying by not making him truly alive. They did this using the same technique as was used to make the Night King, but it is clear something was different as Benjen did not change in the same way. Maybe after thousands of years the spell has been perfected to prevent the mistakes that happened, maybe it's to do with the subject of the spell there is no clear information at this moment in time. What is clear is that the spell is different in some way as Benjen did not become a new Night King.

However as different as the spell is the fact is that Benjen is still undead and so is bound by the same rules as the White Walkers and the wights, he can't pass the Wall while it is whole and so can't leave. He also can't die from natural causes and so is forced to live in his own purgatory alone beyond the Wall. He may also be bound to the Three Eyed Raven in some way. The original Night King "Broke away" from the control of the Children of the Forest and so was bound in someway to them. If the same magic was used for Benjen it is likely he was also bound to the Children/Raven. With the death of the Children that created him, and the changing of the Raven he may now be free to do as he wishes even die (this is supposition which I know you did not want).

  • "remember the rest of his party also became Wights" This actually seems to be the most important part and something I had somehow forgotten. I'm still looking for something more explicit but this is some good reasoning for why he would have been a wight. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 25 at 10:09
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I understand we're speaking strictly from the point of view of HBO's show.

Coldhands would have turned into a Wight, not a White Walker. White Walkers aren't reanimated corpses. It's not even clear they are undead at all, though possibly they become undead. White Walkers are created by the Night King (that we know of) using living people; in the show we see him turning one of Craster's babies, who is still alive at that point. He doesn't kill the baby; he seems to touch him and "turn" him. Note this implies the baby later somehow grows up into a mature White Walker, something we don't commonly associate with the undead.

A reanimated corpse in the TV series is always a Wight (more or less fleshy; we've seen reanimated skeletons for example).

So Coldhands, if left to die without help from the Children, would have turned into a Wight.

  • The exception here is of course Viserion so this isn’t necessarily correct. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 25 at 17:51
  • @TheLethalCarrot I'm not even sure what Viserion is. I always assumed it became a zombie ice dragon. It never occured to me to consider it a White Walker ;) We do know humanoid White Walkers are created out of living humans though. They don't even look like Wights. – Andres F. Apr 25 at 17:54
  • Viserion is a White Walker, there’s a question on it round here somewhere I answered. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 25 at 17:55
  • @TheLethalCarrot Interesting! And good answer. I do think, like one of the commenters said, that this is the writers being inconsistent with their own lore, but ok: let's say Viserion is a White Walker, created through death rather than magical touch (a mistake in my opinion, like I said). Still, the creator is the NK. Do we know if the NK attacked the human later known as Coldhands? Does the NK even try to convert any other grown men into Walkers? Because this is magic, all bets are off, but I think without special intervention, corpses turn into Wights. – Andres F. Apr 25 at 18:01
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    That’s the main problem with speculation on the White Walkers, we know so little about them that most stuff is speculation. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 25 at 18:05

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