'Game of Thrones' Fan Theory Suggests Dead Starks Will Fight Against the Night King in Battle of Winterfell

A Game of Thrones fan theory suggests that, if the Night King raises the dead Starks in the Winterfell crypts, they will fight against, not for his army. The theory says that they would fight to protect their heirs, the living Starks.

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(Image credit: HBO)

  • On this Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones, the characters at Winterfell will finally face off against the Night King and the Army of the Dead. 
  • The characters have already established that the weakest among them will hide for safety in the tombs of Winterfell, which has many fans concerned that the Night King will raise the dead Starks and use them to attack those hiding in the crypts.
  • One theory from a CUNY professor suggests that the dead Starks won't fight for the White Walkers if they're raised from the dead, however.

This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8.

This weekend, the Army of the Dead will descend on Winterfell for one of Game of Thrones' most highly-anticipated battle sequences ever. During the second episode of Season 8, the characters gathered in Winterfell prepared for the showdown and all pretty much agreed that death seemed likely.

At Winterfell, people have been divided into two groups: Those who will face the White Walkers and their zombie army head-on, and those who will be hiding in the safest place in Winterfell, the tunnel-y crypts beneath its ground.

Many fans have been quick to point out that, since the Night King's main power is the ability to raise the dead and control them as part of his massive, terrifying army, putting the weakest and most valuable players down in a cave of dead bodies might not actually be all that safe. One atypically optimist GOT fan theory, however, explains why those crypts might actually be the safest place in Winterfell after all.

Theory comes courtesy of Song of Ice and Fire blogger and CUNY professor Steven Attewell, who responded to a question about this very issue by writing, "I don’t think the Starks of ages past, so focused on the coming of winter, buried their dead with iron swords because they were stupid men."

Translation? The Starks, who have a stronger cultural memory of and belief in the White Walkers and the magic terrors beyond The Wall than anyone in Westeros, have been preparing for this battle for a long time—like, as far back as the tradition to bury their dead with iron swords, for example.

According to this theory, which is shared by many and elaborated on in several Reddit threads, the dead Starks will likely rise when the Night King comes to Winterfell, but they won't be attacking the Starks and their allies. They'll be helping them.

This theory is supported by evidence from the books, as well. As Redditor harpejjist pointed out, Jon Snow actually has a dream about Ned Stark coming back from the dead in A Game Of Thrones, the first book in the A Song Of Ice & Fire series. Here's the relevant passage from the book:

"Last night he had dreamt the Winterfell dream again. He was wandering the empty castle, searching for his father, descending into the crypts. Only this time the dream had gone further than before. In the dark he'd heard the scrape of stone on stone. When he turned he saw the vaults were opening, one after the other. As the dead kings came stumbling from their cold black graves, Jon had woken in pitch dark, his heart hammering."

Another popular part of the theory is that the dead Starks will answer only to their heirs—which would put a nice bow on the whole "there must always be a Stark at Winterfell" refrain.

Finally, if true, this could provide another major storytelling function in the series: Lyanna Stark would be able to confirm Jon's heritage, particularly to Daenerys, who (understandably) is a bit skeptical, considering the current source of the intel about his True Heir to the Iron Throne status is pretty much just a vision his little half brother had and a passage from a book that his BFF read one time.

We'll have to wait and see how the Battle of Winterfell plays out on Sunday night, but personally, we're hoping that at least some of this particular theory pans out.

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Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.