The difference between Game of Thrones’ White Walkers and wights

Game of Thrones logoWarning: this post contains Game of Thrones‘ spoilers.

Who is the real villain in Game of Thrones? Could it be Cersei, who wants her brother dead, and would do anything to remain in power in King’s Landing? Or is it Peter Baelish, whose schemes and machinations are known only to himself. Or perhaps it’s Melisandre, who has no problem convincing her “King” to burn his own daughter alive. Or just maybe, it’s that stable boy we only see for about three seconds in season two, episode five (I’m on to you!)? If I was a betting man, I would say it’s the terrifying White Walkers, and their army of wights.

Why the distinction? Aren’t they all just the White Walkers?


I’ve noticed there is confusion amongst some fans on which is which, so I thought I’d put together this article to help people differentiate the two.

First off: White Walkers.

White Walker

Iggy Pop has seen better days.

That lovely looking fellow is an actual White Walker. Notice the extra-wrinkly skin, and the somewhat distorted face. It’s close to a human face, but is slightly different in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on (the jaw maybe?). He looks like someone who was in a swimming pool for too long, and then the second he got out, was frozen solid. All of the White Walkers have this distinct look to them.

It’s more than looks that separate White Walkers and wights though. White Walkers are clearly intelligent. What their level of intelligence is, is unknown, but they appear to be at least as smart as humans. They’re also extremely powerful and resistant to many things. So far, the only things we’ve seen that can actually kill a White Walker are dragon glass and Valryian steel.

The other thing about White Walkers, is that their King can turn human babies into White Walkers. Perhaps all White Walkers have this ability, but we’ve only ever seen their king do it. And it’s unknown whether or not they can turn anybody into a White Walker, or if it’s just babies. I theorize they can change whomever, but they prefer to change babies into White Walkers, as infants are easily controlled, and can be raised as Walkers.

Now, let’s take a closer look at wights.

Game of Thrones' Wight

Don’t let her looks fool you. She wants to eat your face.

Wights, quite simply put, are corpses that are reanimated by the White Walkers. Think zombies. They all have those glowing blue eyes. However, they won’t all look as human-like as the girl in the picture above. They will look like whatever their corpse looked like when it was reanimated. The wight above looks fairly human because she wasn’t dead for very long. Others may look much more zombie-like if they’ve had time to decompose, or if their wounds leave them seriously disfigured. They also seem to lack the intelligence that White Walkers have. This makes them perfect, obedient zombie soldiers.

The ability to create wights make the White Walkers more terrifying than they already are. From what we’ve seen in the show, unless a corpse is burned, it can be reanimated. With this ability, every person a White Walker kills can theoretically become part of their army.

So now that you know the difference between White Walkers and wights, I’m going to end this article with a test. Of the three pictures below, can you identify which one is a White Walker, which one is a wight, and which one is Iggy Pop?

WhiteWalker2Wight2iggypopThe correct answers from top to bottom are: White Walker, wight, Iggy Pop. Though I wouldn’t hold it against you if you confused the top and bottom photos.

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