Spoilers ahead. While many Game of Thrones fans presumed the show's series finale would consist of an epic battle between the living and the dead, the defeat of the Night King back in Season 8's third episode stopped that theory in its tracks. Now, the series seems more likely to climax with a heart-wrenching showdown between Daenerys Targaryen, the once-beloved Mother of Dragons, and the last remaining Starks of Winterfell. That said, don't rule out the zombie-like villains just yet, as some fans are theorizing that the White Walker babies from Season 4 could make a surprising reappearance in the show's final episode.
As the series moves its last few surviving players into place, it’s hard to shake the idea that despite the Night King and many White Walkers (including Viserion, the ice dragon) being shattered into ice shavings during the Battle of Winterfell, the army might not actually be gone. After all, many fans found it strange that GoT seemed to wipe out the massive mystical threat that’d been looming since the opening scene of the pilot episode with several episodes left to go in the final season. As some viewers have noted, there is one dangling thread that GoT set up several seasons ago that hasn’t yet gone anywhere but might now make a return: the sons of Craster that were supposedly turned into White Walkers.
Back in Season 2, we learned that Craster had been leaving his newborn sons — products of his incestuous coupling with his daughters — out in the woods after they were born for the White Walkers to take, presumably in exchange for the creatures allowing him and his daughters to live, well, not exactly in peace, but undisturbed by the dead. The plot thickened in Season 3, after Sam and Gilly escaped Craster’s Keep with Gilly’s baby (fathered by Craster), and a White Walker came to claim the infant. Viewers focused on Sam killing the White Walker with dragonglass, but the event possibly overshadowed an important question: why were the White Walkers so intent on collecting Craster's babies that they sent out scouts to retrieve them?
Midway through GoT Season 4, things began to make sense. The fourth episode, “Oathkeeper,” ended on a scene of a White Walker taking the newest Craster son on a trek north through the Land of Always Winter, where the baby was placed on a frosty pedestal in the center of a circle of ice pillars, visited by the Night King, and turned into a White Walker with a touch of the leader's pointy-nailed finger. Most likely, this was the fate of all of Craster's other sons, too.
Considering that Craster said in one episode that he had 99 sons, it seems very likely that he was indirectly responsible for creating dozens of White Walkers. This means that many, if not nearly all, of the most recent White Walkers were actually brothers. (Little Sam might be the only son of Craster’s undiluted bloodline who is still human.) This also means that the adult White Walkers the Night King brought with him to the Battle of Winterfell were probably not all of the White Walkers in existence.
Keep in mind, the only White Walkers we actually saw perish were the ones present at the battle. We have no idea whether the ones still in the Land of Always Winter fell victim to the same fate. Somewhere up there, there could be a daycare full of electric-blue-eyed children being babysat by shrivel-faced, white-haired teenagers, just waiting until the day they’re old enough to go rain terror down upon the world of the living. Perhaps the magic of their home protected them from dying, or perhaps proximity to the Night King matters, or perhaps only the White Walkers of older bloodlines shattered and Craster's sons were left intact. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been curiously cagey about confirming that the White Walkers were indeed wiped out at the Battle of Winterfell, so anything is still possible.
Even though GoT hasn’t made much mention of Craster's sons since Season 4, there have been some recent signs that young boys still have significance to the White Walkers. Remember the grotesque display the Night King arranged at the Last Hearth, with poor little Ned Umber pinned in the middle? That doesn't necessarily mean that the Night King’s plan for Westeros involved children — if it had, he probably would’ve made more of an effort to get to Little Sam from down in the crypts — but it does seem to imply that GoT doesn't want us to forget that a younger generation of frost-white beings exist and might return for the series finale.
There are a number of ways the finale might either allude to or explicitly confirm the continued existence of the White Walker children. Some fans speculate that Jon may conclude the series back at the Wall, and that when he gets there, he'll find evidence that the White Walkers weren't entirely destroyed. Others wonder whether the Night King touching both Bran and Arya in past seasons may prove to be significant, since everyone else the Night King touched were turned into White Walkers. Could it be that in the closing moments of the GoT finale, we learn that the Stark siblings are now linked to the sons of Craster?
Of course, given the series' love of subverting expectations, we can't rule out the possibility that right when the struggle for the Iron Throne is at its most intense and dramatic, an army of White Walker youths shows up and wipes everyone out. It'd certainly prove Jon and Daenerys' argument to Cersei in Season 7 — that they really are all doomed because they couldn't find a way to work together — right, as depressing as it'd be.
Back in Season 6, Daenerys said that she intended not to stop the wheel of repeating events, but to break it — and yet if there is one thing GoT has made clear time and time again, it’s that try as these characters may, there is no breaking the wheel. Sons will become their fathers, daughters will become their mothers, and species will go extinct, only to rise again from the ashes.
Long ago, the White Walkers tried to overtake the world of men during the Long Night, only to be driven back to the far north by the armies of the living, including the legendary hero Azor Ahai. Yet even after their defeat, humans feared their return, and so they constructed the Wall to keep them out. The living may have won the War for the Dawn, but they didn’t take it for granted that their victory was permanent. They knew that, someday, winter would come again.
It did just that in the Battle of Winterfell, and the White Walkers might once again return in the GoT series finale. Whether the battle for the Iron Throne culminates with a Stark, a Targaryen, a mix of the two, or neither in its prickly seat is anyone’s guess, but what seems inevitable is that whatever ending occurs will likely only be temporary. Even if the White Walker babies come back and are somehow defeated, what better way for GoT to drive home the point that the wheel is still turning than by having the camera pan north, track across the map, and end on a shot of a child with bright blue eyes?