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Welcome to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Everything to Know” series. Starting with Game of Thrones, THR’s Westeros guru Josh Wigler will offer an in-depth guide about, well, everything there is to know about one particular topic within the complex universe.
He’s a man who requires almost no introduction at all, but let’s give him one anyway: Tyrion Lannister, mockingly termed throughout the Seven Kingdoms as “the Imp” and “the Half-Man,” well known for his gifts as an orator and strategist, perhaps even better known for his act of patricide and his prolific alcohol consumption, and better known still for being brought to Emmy-winning life by actor Peter Dinklage.
If Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) represent two of the proverbial dragon’s three heads, then there’s little doubt that Tyrion represents the third — perhaps in a more meaningful way than even he realizes. More on that soon. First, let’s go through the highlights, as called out in our “Everything to Know” video.
Tyrion hails from House Lannister, the richest family in Westeros, and also the effective ruling party throughout the Seven Kingdoms — a position they’ve won with gold, fire and blood, and plenty of it. Look no further than the Lannisters‘ role in the end of Robert’s Rebellion for proof, or the recent wildfire explosion in King’s Landing for even more. There isn’t a lot of love lost between the audience and the Lannisters, with the exception of Tyrion, someone who emerges in Thrones with sharp wit and a gentle heart in equal measure.
Sadly, within the world of Thrones, there isn’t quite as much affection for Tyrion, not even within his own family. He’s reviled by his father Tywin (Charles Dance) and his sister Cersei (Lena Headey), even if he’s viewed fondly by his brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The vitriol comes from a few different factors, including the fact that Tyrion’s mother died during his birth. Throughout the series, Tywin repeatedly distances himself from Tyrion, even saying at one point: “You are no son of mine.” Potentially loaded words, based on one theory. Again, we’re getting there.
Tyrion lacks his older brother’s warrior spirit: He’s not much of a fighter, even if he’s laid eyes on some epic battles, including the one at Blackwater Bay, which earned him a wicked scar across his face. But what he lacks in swordsmanship, Tyrion more than compensates for with his gift of gab. At multiple points throughout Thrones, Tyrion manipulates others into action, including recruiting the sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and the Red Viper (Pedro Pascal) into fighting in death matches on his behalf — with very different results. There are very few characters on Game of Thrones better at wheeling and dealing than Tyrion, with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) and Varys (Conleth Hill) coming to mind as the most direct competition.
Although he certainly knows his way around an argument, Tyrion earned his combative nature thanks to a lifetime of weathering insults and cruel tricks, including one involving a woman named Tysha many moons ago. “I’m guilty of being a dwarf,” he bellows at one memorable point in the series, summarizing the way he’s been viewed and treated throughout his life. As much as Tyrion provides some of the show’s lighter moments, he’s also filled with immense darkness, leading to a lifetime of bad drunken decisions, including the night he murdered his lover Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and his own father with nothing more than a chain, an arrow and the element of surprise.
Following those murders (as well as false accusations that he assassinated King Joffrey), Tyrion escaped Westeros as a fugitive and headed east to Essos in order to meet the Mother of Dragons. After a few misadventures, including a trip through Old Valyria, Tyrion and Daenerys finally linked up and became fast friends. As of the end of season six, the two are united along with several other allies, sailing back to Westeros to defeat Cersei and claim the Iron Throne.
Where do things go next for Tyrion? Well, some of that potentially depends on his past. There’s a persistent theory that Tyrion, much like Jon Snow, is a secret member of House Targaryen. The theory goes that the late Mad King Aerys is his father, having raped Tyrion’s mother Joanna Lannister during her final visit to King’s Landing. If true, it lends literal meaning to Tywin’s assertion that Tyrion is “no son of mine.” Those who subscribe to the Tyrion Targaryen theory point to The World of Ice and Fire, a massive in-universe history book written by George R.R. Martin and co-authored by Westeros.org’s Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson, as further proof. The chapter that chronicles the Mad King pays close attention to Aerys‘ fixation on Tyrion’s late mother, and the resulting tension it created in his relationship with Tywin. If it turns out that Tyrion is indeed a Targaryen, then it’s worth looking at his relationship with Daenerys‘ dragons in a different light.
It’s certainly not an ironclad theory — it’s much more far-fetched than the theory built around Jon Snow’s parentage — but if season seven rolls around and we learn that Tyrion shares blood in common with both Jon and Dany, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Check in with THR.com/GameOfThrones for everything else you need to know about the show, and keep the conversation going with me on Twitter @roundhoward. We’ll return in two weeks with a closer look at another corner of the world of ice and fire. In the meantime, check out our previous “Everything to Know” Game of Thrones coverage:
1. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: A Guide for New Viewers
2. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: An Overview of Westeros
3. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: An Overview of Jon Snow
4. ‘Game of Thrones’ Everything to Know: The Rise of Daenerys Targaryen
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