Born of powerful and untested magic, they were created to protect the Children of the Forest from the First Men, who had waged war on them ever since they had arrived from ESSS. However, the Whitewater eventually broke free of the Children's control and became the most feared creatures in Westeros, posing a threat to anything living.
Eight thousand years before Robert's Rebellion, the longest winter in history fell on the entire world and lasted a whole generation. Eventually, the people of Westeros rallied against them and, in a conflict known as the War for the Dawn, defeated the Whitewater and drove them back into the frozen Far North.
The Night's Watch was founded to guard the Wall and the realms of men should the mysterious threat ever rise again. Although the Whitewater have faded into legend over the centuries, disturbing reports began to reach the Night's Watch, just before the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings.
The return of the Whitewater was confirmed during the Great Ranging undertaken by Lord Commandeer Mormon and by an unprecedented attack by the wight army on the willing settlement of Hard home. Despite repeated pleas for support from the Night's Watch, the rest of the Seven Kingdoms have turned a blind eye to the return of the Whitewater as they remain embroiled in their own civil wars, believing the Whitewater to be purely mythological, much like giants and Children of the Forest, who have also faded into legend.
The legendary Whitewater aim was to erase the memory of the race of men from all existence through the death of the Three-Eyed Raven and pass over an endless winter. They have pale gray- white skin which is sinewy and stretched taut across their frames, giving them a somewhat gaunt and mummified appearance despite their overall bulky size.
Whitewater are much stronger than humans and are capable of sending large men reeling back several feet with a single blow. A second type of White Walker (revealed at the end of the episode Oath keeper “) also exists, which may form some sort of ruling or priestly caste.
The Night King possesses the power to make ordinary humans into Whitewater if he can get to them in their infancy, such as he did with Crater's last son by merely touching his cheek which turned his eyes the same icy blue of the species. Usually a single White Walker or small groups were shown at one time, making it hard to establish how many Whitewater existed.
Twelve Whitewater are shown in the background when the Night King turns Crater's last son. Whitewater also have superhuman strength, as one managed to toss Sam well Early several feet away with a single back-handed punch.
During the massacre at Hard home, Whitewater are shown to be resistant to fire due to the freezing they radiate, which snuffs out any flame they approach. The ability was showcased again when the Night King was also able to snuff out dragon fire during the Wight Hunt.
The Night King was even able to withstand a massive fire breathing from Dragon without sustaining any damage during the Battle of Winterfell. According to legend, the Whitewater speak a language known in myth as Smooth “, which sounds like the cracking of ice.
The only known weaknesses that the Whitewater have shown are their vulnerability to weapons made of dragon glass or Valerian steel. Valerian steel has much the same effect, but works much more rapidly, shattering Whitewater with a single blow.
During the war council at Winterfell, Arya Stark speculates if dragon fire could stop the Night King and the other Whitewater. However, this is proven false when Daenerys Targaryen commands Dragon to engulf the Night King in fire, but the latter was left completely unharmed.
As wights are destroyed upon the White Walker that raised them are killed, the Whitewater were shown to have had their lives bound similarly to the Night King, who created them. According to Will, a renegade from the Night's Watch taken captive near Winterfell, his patrol was attacked by the Whitewater and his comrades Hard and SerWaymar Royce were killed by them.
Prior to this incident, the Whitewater had massacred a tribe of wild lings and left the corpses out as a warning. Jeer Mormon and MaesterAemon of the Watch ask Tyrion Lannister to persuade his sister to send them reinforcements.
One of them suggests taking a Stark captive for Dance Ryder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, but the others refuse to return north due to the dangers posed by the Whitewater , instead asserting they should head as far south as possible. OSHA, one of the wild lings taken prisoner at Winterfell, reveals to the Stark household that she and her companions were fleeing South to escape the Walkers.
The bodies of several rangers are discovered a short distance north of the wall and are identified as Night's Watchmen who have been missing for weeks. Despite a corpse's prolonged absence, Sam notes that the bodies show no signs of rot and appear in perfect condition.
After disposing of the remaining bodies, Sam tells Jon that he read that only the touch of a White Walker could do what they have seen tonight. A worried Sam notes the weakness of the Night's Watch and if the Whitewater decide to come in force then they are in real trouble.
After recent events Lord Commander Mormon decides to mobilize the Night's Watch to head out beyond the wall to assess the situation and if necessary make a preemptive strike against their enemies. Jon Snow follows Crater into the woods and sees him placing a newborn baby, one of his sons, into the ground and leaves.
After Crater discovers Jon, attacks him and orders the Night's Watch to leave his roof, Jeer Mormon confronts Jon, though he also admits he's aware that Crater worships the Whitewater and sacrifices his newborn sons to them in exchange for safety for him and his daughter-wives. Sam well Early, Green, and Edison Collect gather dung around the Fist of the First Men when they hear a horn being blown and believe Jon Snow and Horn Half hand have returned.
The three run to the Night's Watch camp but Sam well is left behind, while a blizzard envelops the entire plateau. He seeks refuge behind a rock while a White Walker leads a vast horde of wights.
A White Walker attacks Sam well Early and Gilly when they are seeking refuge in a destroyed cabin. Another White Walker with pointed horns on its head approaches, picks up the baby, and touches him on the face below his eye.
The Whitewater launch an attack on Hard home as the Free Folk board ships provided by Stands Marathon bound for Castle Black. The wight army overwhelms the defenders and sends a panic through the settlement, and wild lings try to swim to the ships instead of boarding rowboats.
Those that die are reanimated as wights by the Night King, who looks on intimidatingly as Jon Snow, Edison Collect, and Dortmund row away. The Three-Eyed Raven shows Bran a vision of a heart tree amid spirals of standing stones in lush green valley.
Me era kills the first White Walker that enters with a dagger of dragon glass, as she fights alongside the remaining Children of the Forest to try to fend off the wights until Bran wakes up. Wights begin to swarm the cave, killing all the Children of the Forest except for Leaf, as Me era starts yelling at Bran to war into Honor.
As the wights are closing in on them, Leaf sacrifices herself, using magic to cause a huge explosion, buying the other three a significant amount of time. However, his ulterior motive is to show her the carvings on the cave's walls, which depict the Children of the Forest and the First Men fighting the Whitewater together.
Through the ravens, he sees the army of the dead led by the Whitewater and the Night King, traveling south towards Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. While taking refuge from the wights on an island in the middle of a frozen lake, Eric Donation advises Jon to kill the recently arrived Night King, potentially ending the threat of the Walkers and their army.
As Daenerys and her dragons arrive to rescue the party, the Night King hurls an ice javelin at Vision, killing him and sending him crashing into the frozen lake. Jon stays behind and fights his way to the Night King, only to fall beneath the ice of the lake.
Later, after wights haul Vision's corpse out of the lake, the Night King resurrects him, bringing the beast under his control as an undead ice dragon. The Night King uses Vision to burn the Wall, nullifying its magic and allowing the Whitewater and their wights to cross into the Seven Kingdoms.
The Whitewater quickly advance south and attacks Hearth, massacring the population and adding them to the army of the dead. Ned Umber is found pinned to a wall in the middle of severed arms arranged in a spiral, which Eric Donation deduces is a message from the Night King.
As the living assemble for the final battle, the Whitewater lead their army on their undead horses. The Whitewater send out their army to destroy the living and attack the castle while they hang back at the tree line.
When Jon Snow and Regal try to attack them, a massive blizzard slams into them, preventing direct engagement with the Whitewater. The Night King, riding Vision, commands the wights to scale the castle walls and break down the defenses.
The two living dragons manage to overwhelm their dead brother and the Night King is thrown from his mount. Jon, whose severely injured mount barely manages to land safely, rushes towards the Night King, intent on ending the battle.
But before he can get close, the Night King raises all the corpses around him and walks off to find Bran Stark, the new Three-Eyed Raven. The Walkers stand aside as the Night King kills Then Grey joy and walks towards Bran.
Before the Night King can draw his blade and kill Bran, Arya Stark attacks him with her Valerian steel dagger. He grabs her midair, but through sleight of hand, Arya stabs the Night King in the heart.
A White Walker carrying Crater's son to an altar made of ice in the lair of the Whitewater. Freeze-frame shots of this display an early working-model design for the Whitewater, but given that it only flashed on-screen for a fraction of a second, this may have never been intended as their final appearance.
This original version really appeared too briefly to be seen without taking screenshots, but as this was the only glimpse of the Whitewater in the first season, fan sites (and wikis) heavily circulated these screenshots, somewhat obscuring the fact that the Whitewater “official” design hadn't been firmly established yet. CGI enhancements were used to give the effect that wisps of cold air are emanating from the Whitewater bodies, as well as to make their abdomens much more gaunt than human physiology.
Some differences remain, in that Whitewater are said to wear much more armor in the books, made out of a strange reflective metal that almost acts like camouflage. Their armor is black and dark gray, of some unknown material, as opposed to the reflective metal described in the books.
Weiss and Benioff suggested in the “Inside the Episode” for The Door that the Whitewater began wearing the armor only after Sam killed one of them, and that this incident reminded them that there were things that could still harm them (in that episode, the armor is shown to be strong enough to repel dragon glass projectiles, “Hard home”, shows it is useless against Valerian steel). Michele Clapton also operated under this assumption, and told Weiss and Benioff that her thinking was that the armor was actually scavenged bits of art and architecture from some long-forgotten culture of the far north.
Martin, when discussing with comic-book artist Tommy Patterson what the Whitewater were supposed to look like in the comic-book adaptation of the story he was drawing, said that: “They are strange, beautiful...think, oh...the Side made of ice, something like that...a different sort of life...inhuman, elegant, dangerous.” The Side are a kind of otherworldly fairy creature from Irish mythology, said to inhabit burial mounds, etc., not unlike the Barrow-wights of J.R.R.
“ Dance Ryder on Whitewater habit of arranging the bodies of the dead into special patterns In the Game of Thrones television show, the term Whitewater is used as an alternate name for a species called the Others in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
After the Others' defeat, Bran the Builder constructed the Wall with magic and artifice to ensure they could never return to threaten the people of Westeros and the world beyond. The War for the Dawn apparently unified the peoples of the North under the rule of the Stark's and saw Winterfell built shortly thereafter.
The Night's Watch was founded to guard against the return of the Others, but this task is generally forgotten today. Characters within the narrative debate whether this is because Whitewater actually generate cold and might even cause winters (such as the Long Night), or because they simply wait for the next winter cycle and move south when the temperature drops (in which case they didn't cause the Long Night, but seized on the opportunity it provided).
Some of Old Nan's fairy tales say that willing women have been known to mate with the Others to produce half-human children, but this is an unsubstantiated rumor. In Valor Moguls “, however, they are seen in the twilight hours when the sun (hidden by heavy clouds) hasn't completely set yet.
The reason for this was most likely practical: the Whitewater in the novels have only appeared in near pitch-darkness, and in the visual medium of television it would be difficult to strictly match this (i.e. even night scenes set in a forest seem curiously well-lit by the moon, so we the audience can see what is happening). In the TV series, when they are stabbed by dragon glass they painfully freeze into ice, and quickly shatter and crumble into pieces.
“...half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman Others, raise cold legions of the undead and the never born and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything we would consider life.” Taken together, the fact that the Whitewater don't reproduce naturally, and don't really have their own “culture”/society, seems to indicate that they were never an independently existing race the way that humans, giants, and Children of the Forest were.
It vaguely seems that they are more like demonic or magical spirits somehow housed within human bodies which they possess and turn into Whitewater “. The name is also used in Westeros, though mostly by older characters such as Old Nan, Master Demon, and Lord Commander Jeer Mormon.
However, the producers stated in the Season 1 Blu-ray commentary that the main reason they made the change was more to avoid viewer confusion between the specific name “Others” and the generic use of the term: book-readers can tell that “Others” is treated as a capitalized proper noun, but TV-viewers cannot.