In the books of A Song of Ice and Fire as well as in the HBO adaptation, A Game of Thrones, whenever the white walkers make an appearance, it suddenly becomes really chilly and cold and everything turns into ice around them (water, trees, etc.). Are they responsible for the low temperature occurrences? Or is it the other way around meaning, that they can only appear when it is already very cold, which would kind of explain why they only appear during the mighty winter.

  • 5
    I think we simply do not know yet :) Given how little all the characters understand about the Others (or White Walkers), I don't think there's an answer for this yet.
    – Andres F.
    Jan 27, 2015 at 19:26
  • 3
    It is frustrating how little we know after coming this far. I mean, we know almost nothing at all. Jan 27, 2015 at 19:36
  • 2
    M. Night Shyamalan thinks the dead bring the cold
    – bburk707
    Jan 27, 2015 at 19:53
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    There's a bit where Sam says "They either bring the cold or they come when it's cold". For me that means that it isn't known yet.
    – sevvack
    Jan 27, 2015 at 21:17

4 Answers 4


In the book A Feast for Crows; Jon Snow and Sam Tarly are talking about 'The Others' (The White Walkers from the show) after Sam has spent some time studying them in the library of Castle Black. This is what he says regarding this topic:

“Long ago,” Jon broke in. “What about the Others?”
“I found mention of dragonglass. The children of the forest used to give the Night’s Watch a hundred obsidian daggers every year, during the Age of Heroes. The Others come when it is cold, most of the tales agree. Or else it gets cold when they come. Sometimes they appear during snowstorms and melt away when the skies clear. They hide from the light of the sun and emerge by night... or else night falls when they emerge.
[emphases mine]
-A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Chapter Five (Samwell I).

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    Good one. I didn't remember where that was from. I swear that there was something more, but I just couldn't find it. Jan 27, 2015 at 22:27
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    Helps that I have the memory of a Goldfish... Wait, is it Elephant? I don't remember... Ahhh!
    – Möoz
    Jan 27, 2015 at 22:58

We don't know for sure, but there is a mention on the World of Ice and Fire concerning the Long Night, where it is mentioned that the Others brought the cold and the dark.

According to these tales, they [The Others] came from the frozen Land of Always Winter, bringing the cold and darkness with them as they sought to extinguish all light and warmth

page 11

But, those are tales that are hard to credit, so the Maesters can't be sure if it is the Others that bring the cold.

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    As you said, this is indeed no firm affirmation. Perhaps however, they need the cold and dark to thrive. My opinion is that the White Walkers are directly related to the lord of darkness the enemy of R'hllor. Or maybe to R'hllor himself. Jan 27, 2015 at 19:52
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    @yondaime008 There is some fan speculation that the Others/White Walkers are the minions of the Great Other, the enemy of the Lord of Light, as explained by Melisandre. It seems reasonable to believe that just as fire is R'hllor's element, so is cold for the Great Other. But this would require believing in the explanations of Meli and other Red Priests, which we have some reasons not to.
    – Andres F.
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:00
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    @AndresF. Why do you say we have some reasons not to. In ADWD, Melisandre POV clearly shows how even though she uses tricks to make some show, some other things she does are real. I am familiar with such theories though, there are theories that even state that R'hllor is the bad god and the great other is the good. Which is foolish if you ask me, GRRM is against such stupid classifications of good and bad. Jan 27, 2015 at 20:16
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    @yondaime008 This is offtopic, but from her POV, we know two things about Meli: some of her powers are real, some are deceptions. She is evidently not telling the full truth to Stannis. The Red Priests may believe in R'hllor, but there is no indication they are right about it (magic is not the same as gods). It may be that they have real powers, but they're wrong about the source of said powers.
    – Andres F.
    Jan 27, 2015 at 20:36
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    The doubt is over whether R'hllor really exists and is the only God, all others being demons aligned with some Great Other against him. The existence of magical fire and cold is clear, but the anthropomorphisms of the various religions are (I presume intentionally) not clearly real or not, and even if real may not be as any one religion thinks they are. And, seriously, check the running title of the books, it seems likely that fire and cold are significant opposed forces ;-) Still, it doesn't follow that Melisandre's stories of the personalities involved are correct. Jan 28, 2015 at 13:24

The TV show actually does give a definite answer to your question in season 5 episode 8: "Hardhome".

When Jon and the wildling Loboda search for the dragonglass daggers in the burning townhall, they encounter a White Walker warrior. The White Walker warrior walks through the fires without paying attention to them and the fires in his vicinity diminish and die out.

There is a clip on YouTube showing what I described here. So it seems that, in the TV show at least,

the White Walkers are responsible for the cold.

  • Also the scene at Hardhome where the Others initially arrive, they are preceded by the fog. Excellent Cath mate!
    – Möoz
    Jun 18, 2015 at 9:27

As per show canon the White Walkers bring the cold with them. This has been explained by the visual effects company that did the work for the Season 2 finale when the White Walkers and their army of wights are marching on the Fist of the First Men.

“On top of that we had to add the zombie makeup to the horse, and our actor had a bit of a belly, so we had to reduce his belly a bit, and we added some cold emitting from his body, so there’s a particle system coming from him. Of course we had to create his blue eyes, and a snow particle pattern on top of everything. We also replaced the green screen with a full CG environment and matte paintings and a dramatic sky and, of course, an atmosphere. The atmosphere was meant to make the shot look more beautiful and fit in with this idea that the White Walkers are bringing the cold with them. At the same time it was meant to hide from all the imperfections that we would get from all of these plates.
Fast Company, Collaboration Isn’t Always Pretty–Behind The Emmy-Winning VFX For “Game Of Thrones”

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