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The Night King From 'Game of Thrones' Was Originally Supposed to Look Much Different

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 05:  A cosplayer as The Knight King poses from Game of Thrones during New York Comic Con at the Javits Center on October 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The character of the Night King (Richard Brake/Vladimír Furdík) in Game of Thrones struck fear into millions of fans with his human-like qualities, icy exterior, and otherworldly powers. However, it turns out that the original design was much more reminiscent of a frozen Gandalf the Grey.

IGN reports that the GoT lead production designer, Deborah Riley, recently released a book titled The Art of Game of Thrones. In the text, Riley shares first drafts of concept art for the Emmy-winning series, including a look at the original vision of the Night King.

In the artwork, the leader of the White Walkers is tall, bearded, heavily robed, and has very sunken cheeks. Riley explained to Vanity Fair that her team had no point of reference to base the Westeros villain on. She had to create a temporary character, and then pass it on to makeup artist Barrie Gower. When Gower started working on what would become the series’ version of the Night King, he was told to make it "royal" with "the familiar traits of the White Walkers."

Riley, Gower, and the rest of the team clearly went for a more militaristic model of the cold-hearted threat from the North, versus the more immobile, kingly design. It’s a good thing, too; it probably would have been difficult to ride a zombie dragon in those long robes.