Thanos vs. Game of Thrones Night King: Here's who'd win

What if the villains from the biggest movie and biggest TV show faced off?

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
4 min read

If you're a fan of Marvel and Game of Thrones, this past weekend was insane. After seeing the 3-hour Avengers: Endgame and then the hour-and-a-half Battle of Winterfell GoT episode, I couldn't help but compare their fantastic villains, Thanos and the Night King. OK, in GoT there are many villains and Cersei is probably the worst one. But the Night King and Thanos are more interesting to compare because there are so many similarities between them. Plus, I just want to see that fight.

Warning: Many spoilers lie ahead.

Apparently, I'm not the only one wondering how muscular Grimace would hold up against the world's best ice spear thrower. Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed Endgame, tweeted a picture of Thanos and the Night King standing face-to-face as if they might fight.

They wrote, "Whoever created this... it's awesome. #WeWannaSeeThisFight"

The mashup artwork was from digital artist Jeff Cole who founded Ikonick, the canvas art store. The picture shows the massive Thanos standing on the right behind his double-bladed sword -- so big it could sub in as a helicopter rotor. On the left is the human-sized Night King, standing behind his dragon-killing ice blade spear.

Thanos and the Night King actually have a lot in common, from their hive-minded armies to wanting to wipeout humanity. Both are supremely intelligent, often anticipating their foes several moves in advance, and both are immortal -- well, until they meet a Stark.

These similarities would make any fight between the two quite balanced. But there is one big difference between the two: Thanos is alive and the Night King is dead. So Thanos' infamous snap in Avengers: Infinity War wouldn't have any effect on the Night King. Below are several scenarios where I think Thanos would win and and a few where the Night King would win.

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Both have an impressive range of powers, though the ones Thanos possesses (in both the films and comics ) seem more useful. He has many ways to prevail against the Night King and wights -- with or without the Infinity Stones.

Night King:

  • Strength
  • Fire resistant (even dragon fire)
  • Turns metal weapons into ice dust (except Valyrian steel)
  • Reanimates dead people and animals, creating wights
  • Creates White Walkers from baby boys
  • Weaponizes weather
  • Marksmanship (see: throwing an ice spear to kill Daenerys' dragon Viserion)
  • Rides a zombie dragon


  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Psychic abilities
  • Manipulates matter
  • Controls cosmic energy
  • Can use all the Infinity Stones

Winner: Thanos

Wights vs. Chitauri and Outriders

The Night King creates his army from the dead. Those killed in battle, like at the Battle of Winterfell, can be reanimated into wights by the Night King. In theory his zombie army could grow indefinitely.

Wights are connected to each other and the White Walkers like a bee hive. This hive connection is also their weakness. If a White Walker or the Night King is killed, all those wights lose their animating force and revert to death.

Thanos has an army of Chitauri and Outriders (think Chitauri 2.0), which also have a hive mind and can attack and swarm strategically during battle. However, if their command ship is destroyed they die instantly.

In a fight between these two armies, I think Thanos would initially have the advantage because his army has vehicles that can fly and rip through the ground. It's easy to imagine the Outriders' Threshers plowing through hordes of wights in an instant.

However, if the Night King is able to survive long enough to raise the Chitauri dead, he would be able to replenish his losses and eventually overwhelm Thanos. That would give the dried-Elmer's-glue-for-a-crown king the perfect opening for an ice spear kill shot on Thanos.

Winner: Night King

Watch this: Avengers: Endgame is a thrilling sequel to every MCU movie

Thanos vs. Night King, no armies

We haven't seen the Night King fight in close combat on GoT. In season 8, episode 3 he quickly disarms and stabs a charging Theon Greyjoy. So he has some moves, but he was also outdone by Arya Stark, which speaks more to her abilities and quick thinking than a lack in his.

Thanos is an absolute machine when it comes to fighting close. He can take hits from the Hulk, Captain Marvel or Captain America wielding a shield and Thor's  hammer Mjolnir. When Thanos is overwhelmed, he finds a way to regain his ground. And if he has Infinity Stones, he's an expert at using them to overpower his enemies, like when he pulled a moon out of orbit to hit Iron Man or when he used the power stone to slug Captain Marvel.

If Thanos and the Night King met in a cage fight, my money would be on Thanos. But this wouldn't be an easy knockout. The fight would likely start off as sword combat. I don't think Thanos' sword would crumble when it struck the Night King's ice blade. Thanos' sword seems to be made out of a highly durable material -- in Endgame he was able to damage Captain America's vibranium shield.

Thanos is an accomplished fighter and without weapons he would definitely overtake the Night King. At 8 feet tall he is huge compared to the Night King and the fight could go down like the one in Rocky III between Thunderlips (aka Hulk Hogan) and Rocky Balboa.

If the fight was out in the open, however, the Night King could produce a blizzard to obscure his attacks against Thanos. Then, the Night King could use his powerful and accurate long-distance ice spear throws to weaken Thanos. But I don't think the Night King would ever be able to create a zombie Thanos, because the Mad Titan is immortal.

Look, no matter who would win in these different scenarios, a Thanos versus Night King matchup would be entertaining as hell. Perhaps if Marvel and HBO need money in 10 years there will be an AVP: Alien vs. Predator style film that will properly address this fictional throwdown.

Originally published April 29 at 2 p.m. PT