Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Game of Thrones theories: Night King symbol in season 8 might unlock clue to his real identity

This would take the spotlight away from the popular Bran Stark theory

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 20 April 2019 09:37 BST
Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 Preview

One of the most terrifying moments in the Game of Thrones season eight premiere could unlock the true identity of the Night King.

The opening instalment, the first to have aired on HBO since August 2017, may have been low on deaths, but this didn’t save the life of 10-year-old Ned Umber who met his maker at the hands of the White Walkers.

He was discovered by Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and was nailed to a wall surrounded by severed body parts that were arranged in a spiral shape around him.

“It’s a message from the Night King,” Beric announced, leaving fans to wonder: what message is he sending?

The first glimpse of such a symbol was spotted in the very first scene of the series where we see a group of wildlings’ bodies that are placed in a pattern very similar to the one seen here.

Jump forward a few seasons and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is among a group of individuals who find the severed body parts of horses arranged in another version of the pattern. Later in the series, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) sees the symbol when he’s being told about the Night King by the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow).

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this symbol left behind by the Night King (HBO)

Now, a particular theory doing the rounds, highlighted by Digital Spy, is that the symbols hint at a large connection with the Targaryens.

Cast your mind back to season seven’s fourth episode, “The Spoils of War”, where Jon shows Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) carvings in the caves beneath Dragonstone. We learn they were placed there by the Children of the Forest to symbolise their union with the First Men, with whom they teamed up in a bid to defeat the White Walkers.

Speaking to TIME about these symbols, co-showrunner David Benioff said: “One of the things we learn from these cave paintings is that the White Walkers didn’t come up with those images, they derived them from their creators, the Children of the Forest. These are patterns that have mystical significance for the Children of the Forest.”

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free
Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

The theory, though, highlights a similarity between the symbol and... the sigil of House Targaryen.

With this in mind, could the Night King actually be a Targaryen? If he is, this would make him the true heir to the Iron Throne and the forthcoming battle with the White Walkers wouldn’t be too far removed from the overarching game of thrones than viewers first thought.

The House Targaryen sigil (HBO)

Plus, he has essentially become the third dragon rider now he’s claimed Viserion as one of his own. According to Twitter user @DavidScottHicks, a behind-the-scenes clip of the season eight premiere saw one of the show’s creators say: ”Only a Targaryen can ride a dragon.”

There are other fans who aren’t so convinced by the theory and believe the Night King’s symbols to merely be a warning that they’re an intelligent army to be feared.

Elsewhere, the reunion-heavy episode featured a hilarious reference to last season’s controversial Ed Sheeran cameo as well as the moment that saw Snow learn of his true Tagaryen heritage.

The final season of Game of Thrones continues every Sunday. You can watch the brand new season eight opening title sequence here.

You can find our extensive ranking of every episode – from worst to best – below.

The show will be available on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in