The Children of the Forest were one of the most fascinating species featured in Game of Thrones. Along with dragons, giants, and various alchemists among the realm, the Children of the Forest helped bring the fantasy element to life in the series. For generations before the show began, their existence was hidden, the subject of stories and imagination for those residing in Westeros. As revealed in Game of Thrones, the Children of the Forest were indeed real, and they had more to do with the universe's tumultuous history than first thought.
The human-like species was small in stature but their wit and magical powers made up for their size. They were resourceful creatures, wearing woven moss and twigs rather than clothes. This added to their nature-themed aesthetic in the eyes of outsiders. The Children of the Forest often lived in clans, each serving a different purpose and had a lifespan that lasted centuries.
The Children of the Forest weren't introduced until the middle of Game of Thrones' eight-season run but they ended up playing a key role in the show's overall narrative. A lot of their early story has been left untold but that could soon change. For now, here's a breakdown of the Children of the Forest and how their role has played into Game of Thrones' most interesting mysteries.
The Children of the Forest's Game of Thrones Origin
The Children of the Forest were one of the first inhabitants of Westeros who ruled the continent for thousands of years before the arrival of the First Men. They looked like humans, expect for only growing to the height of children and having light green skin that was almost plant-like. The species contained a number of Greenseers, wise men that possessed an increased amount of magical abilities.
The Children were an intellectual species that was faithful to the Old Gods of the Forest. They carved faces into sacred weirwood trees which they used as shrines. When the First Men arrived in Westeros, they began cutting down the trees which incredibly angered the Children of the Forest. The two sides fought one another for the following two thousand years. And, during that time, the Children did something dangerous that would go on to change the course of Westeros' history...
The Children of the Forest Created The White Walkers
The fight against the First Men was at a standstill, so the Children of the Forest took matters into their own hands. They captured a First Man and tied him to a tree before driving a dragonglass dagger into his chest. The man's eyes turned ice blue and he transformed into the first White Walker, also known as the Night King. The Children had hoped to get help from the White Walkers to defend their land from the First Men. Instead, their plan backfired and brought destruction to Westeros.
The Night King turned on his creators, leading to the Long Night; a near-endless winter where the White Walkers invaded Westeros and buried it in snow. The Long Night eventually led to the War for the Dawn which made the Children and the First Men put their difference aside to drive out the White Walkers from controlling the continent. The Children of the Forest subsequently used their intense magic to assist Bran the Builder construct the Wall, a fortified ice structure that stood hundreds of feet tall. To further protect the north, the First Men instituted the Night's Watch to oversee the Wall's protection.
The Children of the Forest's Role in Game of Thrones
Before the magical species made their live-action debut on Game of Thrones, the Children of the Forest were just a piece of the Westeros mythos. In fact, in season 2, Master Luwin specifically told Bran Stark that he thought the Children existed in ancient times but have long been extinct. He hinted that the more recent stories of the sapient species are just chapters of the long-told legend.
In Game of Thrones season 4, Bran goes north of the Wall in search of the Three-Eyed Raven. He was accompanied by Hodor, Summer, Meera, and Jojen at the time. The group eventually found the giant weirwood tree before being attacked by a group of wights. One of the Children of the Forest emerged from the Three-Eyed Raven's cave to help fight off the wights using the magic of explosive fireballs. The member of the Children, Leaf, then brought them deep inside the cave where the wights can't enter. During the attack, Jojen was killed so Leaf burned his body so the wights couldn't reanimate him.
In the cave, Bran learned that the Three-Eyed Raven is a very old man who was rooted in the weirwood tree. Bran trained with the man through season 6 and also learned how the Children were responsible for the creation of the White Walkers. Leaf tried to explain but Bran's visions gave notice of the group's location to the Night King, who sent his forces to the cave. The army broke into the cave, killing many of the Children, Hodor, Summer and Leaf.
Do the Children of the Forest Have a Future in Game of Thrones?
The forthcoming Game of Thrones prequel series is said to be set thousands of years before the events of the original series. Considering they were present in Westeros during that time, it seems extremely likely that the Children of the Forest will be featured in the show. It's possible that the series could focus more on the Children's origins and their decision-making when it came to using magic to spawn the first White Walker. It would also be interesting to witness the Children's involvement in the War for the Dawn alongside the First Men and Azor Ahai. The prequel series is rumored to be titled The Long Night, after all.
There's also a possibility that the death of the Children during the attack on the Three-Eyed Raven's cave didn't completely wipe out the species. It was insinuated that the Leaf and the other Children were the last of their kind but that fact was never confirmed. There could very well be other groups of Children still living deep in forests of Westeros. If any kind of sequel series comes into fruition centering on the events after Game of Thrones, an appearance by the Children of the Forest is a strong likelihood.