Oberyn Martell

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Oberyn Martell
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Oberyn Martell-Pedro Pascal.jpg
Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell
First appearance Novel:
A Storm of Swords (2000)
"Two Swords" (2014)
Last appearance Novel:
A Storm of Swords (2000)
"The Mountain and the Viper" (2014)
Created by George R. R. Martin
Portrayed by Pedro Pascal
Game of Thrones
Aliases The Red Viper of Dorne
Gender Male
Title Prince
Family House Martell
Significant other(s) Ellaria Sand (paramour)
Children Obara Sand
Nymeria Sand
Tyene Sand
Sarella Sand
Elia Sand
Obella Sand
Dorea Sand
Loreza Sand
Relatives Doran Martell (brother)
Mors Martell (brother)
Olyvar Martell (brother)
Elia Martell (sister)
Arianne Martell (niece)
Quentyn Martell (nephew)
Trystane Martell (nephew)
Rhaenys Targaryen (niece)
Aegon Targaryen (nephew)
Kingdom Dorne

Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell, nicknamed the Red Viper, is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones.

Introduced in 2000's A Storm of Swords, Oberyn is the younger brother of Doran Martell, from the fictional kingdom of Westeros. He is subsequently sporadically mentioned in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.

Oberyn is portrayed by Chilean-born American actor Pedro Pascal in the HBO television adaptation.[1][2][3]

Character description[edit]

Oberyn Martell is the youngest brother of Prince Doran Martell, the ruler of the southern principality of Dorne. He is a hot-headed, forceful, and lustful man with a quick wit and a barbed tongue. He is a formidable fighter, and is nicknamed "the Red Viper" due to his preference for red clothing, as well as the rumor of him using poisoned weapons in duels. He has travelled the world, served in the famous mercenary company Second Sons before founding a company of his own, and briefly studied poisons and dark arts as a novice at the Citadel, managing to obtain six links of the maester's chain before quitting due to boredom. He is bisexual and has eight illegitimate daughters, collectively known as the "Sand Snakes". He was very close to his older sister Elia, and seeks revenge for her death.


Oberyn Martell is not a point of view character in the novels, so his actions are witnessed and interpreted through the eyes of other people, such as Tyrion Lannister. Oberyn is mostly a background character in the novels.[4]


A coat of arms showing a yellow spear piercing a red sun on a field of orange
Coat of arms of House Martell

A Game of Thrones[edit]

Oberyn is mentioned in A Game of Thrones (1996).

A Clash of Kings[edit]

Oberyn is mentioned in A Clash of Kings (1998).

A Storm of Swords[edit]

In A Storm of Swords, he goes to King's Landing to claim the seat on the small council on Prince Doran Martell's behalf and obtain justice for his sister Elia Martell's murderer, as was agreed with the acting Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister. When Tyrion is accused of murdering King Joffrey Baratheon, Oberyn volunteers to champion for Tyrion in the trial by combat, so he can fight and seek revenge from the rival champion, Ser Gregor Clegane, who is Elia's murderer. Though Oberyn manages to gain upper hand in the contest and critically wounds Clegane, Clegane manages to surprise him by bear-hugging then gouging his eyes, and kills him by pounding in his face.[5] However, it is later revealed that Oberyn has coated his spear in manticore venom to ensure that Clegane will die a slow and agonizing death.

Later novels[edit]

Oberyn is mentioned a few times in the later novels.

Family tree of House Martell[edit]

TV adaptation[edit]

Pedro Pascal plays the role of Oberyn Martell in the television series.

Oberyn Martell is played by Pedro Pascal in the television adaption of the series of books.[6][7]


In season 4, Oberyn arrives in King's Landing with his paramour, Ellaria Sand, to attend Joffrey's wedding in his brother's stead, and his meeting with Tyrion makes it clear that he has actually come to take revenge against the Lannisters for their role in the deaths of his sister, nephew and niece. At the wedding, Joffrey dies after being poisoned, and Tywin initially suspects Oberyn of having a hand in the murder since Oberyn has a past with poison chemistry, while Oberyn denies involvement and accuses Tywin of ordering Gregor Clegane to rape and murder Elia. The two reach a settlement when Tywin promises Oberyn a meeting with Clegane in exchange for Oberyn serving as one of the three judges at Tyrion's trial. At the trial, Oberyn implies that he is not convinced of Tyrion's guilt, and openly questions Cersei's testimony and asks Shae why Tyrion would tell her about all of his plans to murder Joffrey if he was the perpetrator.

When Tyrion demands a trial by combat and Gregor Clegane is chosen as Cersei's champion, Oberyn volunteers to fight for Tyrion, proclaiming that he will exact his vengeance, starting with Ser Gregor. Martell valiantly fights Clegane, his superior speed making up for Clegane's size, and manages to wound him in the shoulder and the leg, flooring him. Refusing to kill him immediately, Oberyn furiously demands that Clegane admit to raping and killing Elia and her children, and that the order came from Tywin himself. Distracted for a moment, Oberyn is floored by Clegane, who – in a manner self-admittedly paraphrasing the murder of Elia – knocks out his teeth, straddles him and slowly gouges out his eyes, admitting to the rape and murder of Elia before crushing his skull. Tyrion is subsequently sentenced to death, but Oberyn's objective of vengeance was not in vain, since his spear is revealed to have been laced with the deadly venom of the manticore, which is slowly killing Clegane.


The Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal has garnered positive reviews for his role as Oberyn Martell in the television show.[8] For his performance, Pascal was awarded the Ewwy Award for Best Guest Actor - Drama, and was nominated for the Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series, the NewNowNext Award for Best New Television Actor, and, as part of the ensemble cast, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.[9]