The Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones brought back many familiar faces and gave fans a whole lot of characters reunions. But, amidst all the siblings reconnecting and new romances, there was another pretty dark scene with an image that you may have recognized. The Night King's symbol on Game of Thrones returned in a big and fiery way, but many fans are still scratching their heads over it. What does the symbol mean? It turns out that there's a lot of mythology behind it.
In the first episode of Game of Thrones' Season 8, Tormund, Beric, and Edd journey to Last Hearth, which is the home of House Umber and also the castle that is closest to the Wall – and the Night King's army. Earlier in the episode, the Lord of the house, Ned Umber (who's a young kid) returned to Last Hearth to prepare for the White Walkers. Unfortunately, Tormund, Beric, and Edd discover that the White Walkers got to him before Ned had a chance to properly prepare. When they arrived at Last Hearth, they found the pretty terrifying image of Ned staked to a wall with a spiral of human limbs surrounding him. If that isn't scary enough, there's the fact that with this symbol, the Night King was leaving a foreboding message.
The circular spiral imagery the Night King created with Ned is not new to the series. In fact, the White Walkers often leave messages involving this symbol. It showed up in the show's very first cold open in the pilot episode, after the White Walkers slaughtered a group of horses in Season 3, in a flashback to the Children of the Forest in Season 6, and in cave paintings at Dragonstone that fans saw in Season 7. Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff explained the spiral symbol after that Season 7 episode. He said:
It's supposed to be something that's very evocative of the thousands of years that have passed since these caves were first explored and the paintings were first made. And also obviously something that’s quite relevant to the current storyline because it’s about how these two disparate peoples united to defeat the common enemy. 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. We're not sure exactly what they signify, but spiral patterns are important in a lot of different cultures in our world, and it makes sense that they would be in this world as well.
Benioff doesn't provide a lot of specific details about the meaning of the spiral symbol, but the connection between the White Walkers and the Children of the Forest is a really important one. The Night King's symbol could be a message that points to the White Walkers' connection to the ancient race that created them generations ago.
While the Children of the Forest symbolism is definitely present, some other fans have noticed that the burning Night King symbol looks a lot like the sigil of House Targaryen.
So there's also the possibility that the symbol points to a Targaryen connection to the Night King. That might complicate things even more for Jon Snow, who just found out that he's the son of Aegon Targaryen.
Season 8 of Game of Thrones continues at 9PM/ET on April 21 on HBO.