Petyr Baelish

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Petyr Baelish
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Aidan Gillen playing Petyr Baelish.jpg
Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byGeorge R. R. Martin
Portrayed byAidan Gillen
(Game of Thrones)
  • Master of Coin
  • Lord of Harrenhal
  • Lord Protector of the Vale
  • Novels:
  • Lord Paramount of the Trident
  • Lord Protector of the Eyrie
Spouse(s)Lysa Arryn

Petyr Baelish, nicknamed Littlefinger, is a fictional character created by American author George R. R. Martin. He is a prominent non-point of view character in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and a main character in HBO's adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, where he was portrayed by Aidan Gillen. In A Storm of Swords, it is revealed that several major plot points have hinged on Baelish's intrigues, including the framing of Tyrion Lannister for the attempt on Bran Stark's life, the downfall of Lord Eddard Stark, the deaths of Lord Jon Arryn and King Joffrey Baratheon, and the War of the Five Kings.



Petyr descends from a Braavosi sellsword who served House Corbray. His father befriended Lord Hoster Tully during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, and Tully took the young Petyr as a ward. Petyr grew up at House Tully's castle Riverrun with Hoster's daughters Catelyn and Lysa and his son Edmure, the latter of whom gave Petyr the nickname "Littlefinger" as a reference to his short stature and his family's lands on the smallest of the Fingers. He was a sly, mischievous child with the ability to always look contrite after his mischief.[1] He became infatuated with Catelyn and claims to have lost his virginity to her while drunk; in reality, he lost it to Lysa, who was herself obsessed with him. When Catelyn was betrothed to Brandon Stark (Eddard Stark's elder brother), Petyr brazenly challenged him to a duel for her hand in marriage but lost easily to Brandon. His life was spared at the behest of Catelyn.[2] During his convalescence, he impregnated Lysa but the pregnancy ended in a forced abortion and Petyr was banished from Riverrun.

Even after her marriage to Jon Arryn, Lysa remained in love with Petyr. Her patronage saw Baelish appointed as customs officer at Gulltown, a position he excelled at. In the books it was around this time that Petyr's unnamed father died and passed the unnamed "Baelish Tower" in the Fingers to his son making him a lord. However, in the show it is implied that both Baelish's parents died when Petyr is much younger. Jon Arryn, who was Hand to King Robert Baratheon, eventually brought Baelish to King's Landing as Master of Coin. When Arryn tries to have his and Lysa's son Robert sent to Dragonstone to be fostered by Stannis Baratheon, Baelish gives Lysa poison to kill Jon and convinces her to tell Catelyn that House Lannister was responsible. This subterfuge sets in motion the main events of the series.

Appearance and personality[edit]

Petyr Baelish is a small man, shorter than Catelyn Stark.[1] He is slender and quick with sharp features and laughing gray-green eyes.[1] He has a pointed chin beard and threads of silver in his hair.[1] He often wears a silver mockingbird to fasten his cloak.[1] He clearly enjoys the intrigues of court life at King's Landing.[3] He is dangerously intelligent[4] and cunning enough to hide his machinations.[5] Since Petyr is not a POV character his motivations are somewhat of a mystery. However, his methods have been totally unscrupulous, including lies, treachery, and murder to achieve his goals.[6][7]


Book series[edit]

A Game of Thrones[edit]

Baelish, the "master of coin" in charge of the realm's finances on King Robert's Small Council, is disliked by the Hand, Ned Stark, whom initially considers him as flippant as he is untrustworthy. Baelish hides Catelyn at one of his brothels when she brings the news of the attempt on Bran's life, and tells her the dagger used was won from him by Tyrion Lannister.[1] This leads to Catelyn's capture of Tyrion; but this information is later identified as a lie.[8] Tyrion mentions during his captivity at the Eyerie that Baelish has frequently claimed to had a sexual relationship with Lady Catelyn during their youth together at Riverrun, a claim she indigently rejects. Petyr helps Eddard expose the secret parentage of the royal children,[9][10][11] but advises him to abet Joffrey's rise to power in order to consolidate their own. Ned insists that Stannis must be king and asks Baelish to secure the help of the City Watch when he moves against the Lannisters, but Petyr betrays Lord Stark[12] and aids his arrest.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

After the death of Renly Baratheon, Petyr arranges an alliance between the Lannisters and the powerful House Tyrell, which leads to Stannis Baratheon's defeat. When Joffrey is convinced to marry Renly's widow, Margaery, in A Storm of Swords, Petyr is named Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount of the Trident in place of Edmure Tully.

A Storm of Swords[edit]

Baelish is given charge to marry Lysa Arryn and bring the Vale under the control of the Lannisters;[13] before departing he reveals Olenna Tyrell's plan to marry Sansa Stark to Willas Tyrell,[13] leading to Sansa's forced marriage to Tyrion. When Joffrey is poisoned at his wedding feast, Petyr has Sansa taken from King's Landing in the confusion and takes her to his holdings on The Fingers disguised as his illegitimate daughter.[6] During the voyage, Petyr reveals that he had conspired with Olenna Tyrell to poison Joffrey and blame Tyrion for the murder. Lysa arrives at Petyr's keep and the two are promptly married at Lysa's insistence, though Petyr would prefer a court wedding.[14] After the wedding Baelish and Sansa travel to the Eyrie, where he spends much of the time asserting his new authority over the lords of the Vale. While alone with Sansa, he notes her physical similarity to Catelyn and kisses Sansa. Witnessing the encounter, Lysa tries to kill Sansa a short time later. Petyr rushes to comfort Lysa, but reveals that he had only ever loved Catelyn and pushes Lysa to her death.[7] He immediately implicates the only other witness, the minstrel Marillion.[7]

A Feast for Crows[edit]

Petyr names himself Lord Protector and claims Lysa's son Robert as his ward. The Lords of the Vale try to claim Robert, but Petyr bribes Lyn Corbray to help Petyr obtain leverage to keep Robert. Petyr later reveals to Sansa that he plans to either eliminate the lords or win them to his side, and to help Sansa regain the North. He also tells her that he has arranged for her to marry Robert Arryn's cousin and heir, Harrold Hardyng, and that on Robert's death she will reveal herself and use the Knights of the Vale to recover the North.

Television series[edit]

A coat of arms showing a white falcon flying out of a white moon on a sky blue field
Coat of arms of House Arryn

Seasons 1 & 2[edit]

Baelish's storyline remains much the same as in the books for the first few seasons of the television series, with only minor details changed. In later seasons, however, his story is significantly different.

Season 3[edit]

Having become Lord of Harrenhal, Petyr plans to sail to the Eyrie to offer Lysa Arryn a marriage proposal, taking Sansa with him. One of his prostitutes, Ros, learns of his plan and warns Varys, who arranges with Olenna Tyrell to have Sansa wed to Loras Tyrell. Baelish's spy Olyvar, who is posing as Loras' squire and lover, tips Baelish off to the plot; Baelish in turn gives this information to Tywin Lannister, who has Sansa wed to Tyrion instead. Realising that Ros has betrayed him, Baelish hands her over to Joffrey to kill for his entertainment.

Season 4[edit]

In the aftermath of Lysa Arryn's death, Baelish is questioned by several lords of the Vale. Baelish maintains that Lysa committed suicide, and Sansa corroborates this assertion. Baelish decides to take Robin Arryn on a tour of his domain, with Sansa accompanying them.

Season 5[edit]

Baelish brokers a marriage alliance between Sansa and Ramsay Bolton, the sadistic son of the new Warden of the North Roose Bolton. Baelish mentions to Roose Bolton in a conversation how the alliance of the North and the Vale brought down the Targaryens, the "mightiest dynasty" in Westerosi history with the implication that a new alliance might have similar effects. Although Baelish assures Roose that the marriage alliance will strengthen their respective positions, Baelish privately tells Sansa that Stannis Baratheon is marching on Winterfell and will likely defeat the Boltons in battle. However, before Sansa and Ramsay's wedding, Cersei summons Baelish to King's Landing to ascertain his loyalties. Baelish reassures Cersei of the Vale's allegiance to the Lannisters and tells her of Sansa's marriage to Ramsay, neglecting to reveal his role in arranging the marriage. Cersei is outraged, and Baelish offers to use the Vale's forces to defeat whoever is left of the Bolton and Baratheon armies following the battle, revealing that his true plan all along was to be named Warden of the North, a request Cersei grants. Before his departure Baelish meets with Olenna Tyrell, who is furious that testimony from Olyvar has led to the arrest of Margaery and Loras Tyrell. When Olenna threatens to reveal Baelish's role in Joffrey's murder, Baelish arranges for Lancel Lannister to tell religious leader the High Sparrow of Cersei's crimes, leading to her arrest.

Season 6[edit]

Baelish reunites with Robin Arryn at Runestone and claims that Sansa was abducted by the Boltons, before manipulating him into sending the Vale's forces to defend her. Baelish later meets Sansa in Mole's Town, insisting that he was unaware of Ramsay's cruelty. He offers the support of the knights of the Vale in retaking Winterfell and mentions that Sansa's great-uncle Brynden "Blackfish" Tully has seized Riverrun from the Freys; Sansa refuses his offer and declares that she never wants to see him again. However, after Sansa and Jon Snow are unable to gather enough men to match the Boltons, Sansa sends a raven to Baelish asking for his aid. Baelish leads the men on Winterfell, and they arrive in time to destroy the unsuspecting Bolton army before they can slaughter the Starks. After the battle, Baelish reveals to Sansa that his ambition is to take the Iron Throne with her at his side, but she rebuffs his advances. Baelish is present when the Northmen and Valemen declare Jon King in the North, but instead of cheering for Jon, he glares at Sansa.[15]

Season 7[edit]

Throughout the season, after Jon Snow threatens him to stay away from Sansa, Baelish attempts to turn Sansa and her sister Arya against each other following the latter's return to Winterfell. To add further incentive, Baelish arranges for Arya to find Sansa's letter to Robb asking him to surrender while she was held by the Lannisters. Baelish continues his manipulation of Sansa, seemingly convincing her that Arya intends to murder her and take her role as Lady of Winterfell. However, after Sansa seemingly puts Arya on trial, they reveal that they are aware of Baelish's lies and treason. They reveal his numerous crimes, including his murder of Lysa Arryn, his orchestrating the murders of both Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark, and his manipulating the Starks and Lannisters into war. Baelish denies the accusations until Bran Stark reveals that he has seen Baelish's betrayal of Eddard Stark himself due to his ability to see events in the past and around him. Baelish then tries convince Sansa to listen to his side of the story, but Sansa refuses, which then causes Baelish to ask his banner man Yohn Royce to escort him back to the Vale, which is also refused. With nowhere left to run, Baelish gets down on his knees and pleads with Sansa to spare him, only for Sansa to allow Arya to kill him. Arya then executes Baelish by slitting his throat with his own Valyrian dagger.


Aidan Gillen plays the role of Petyr Baelish in the television series

Gillen's performance has received praise. Huw Fullerton of Radio Times praised his performance on the show.[16] Writing for The Huffington Post, Gil Kidron described the character as "gross...creepy...evil" and stated "you should root for him to win." Kidron claims "in Westeros he's a 99 percenter." Kidron writes Petyr is "doing it for himself", but "he's working tirelessly to destroy an old and decaying world that none of us would want to live in."[17] In an article published in the National Review, Grant Starrett claimed that every red-blooded American should root for Littlefinger. Starrett praised Baelish's rags-to-riches story, saying that "He epitomizes what could soon be called the Westerosi Dream." Meritocracy, social mobility, and an end to failing system are all reasons to support Petyr Baelish for the Iron Throne according to Starrett.[18]

Recognition and awards[edit]

Aidan Gillen has received award nominations for his portrayal. His nominations include Portal Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2012,[19] and Irish Film & Television Awards for Best Supporting Actor on Television in 2012 and 2014.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 18, Catelyn IV".
  2. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 40, Catelyn VII".
  3. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 20, Eddard IV".
  4. ^ "A Clash of Kings: Chapter 15, Tyrion III".
  5. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 32, Arya III".
  6. ^ a b "A Storm of Swords: Chapter 80, Sansa V".
  7. ^ a b c "A Storm of Swords: Chapter 80, Sansa VII".
  8. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 31, Tyrion IV".
  9. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 25, Eddard V".
  10. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 33, Eddard VIII".
  11. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 35, Eddard IX".
  12. ^ "A Game of Thrones: Chapter 49, Eddard XIV".
  13. ^ a b "A Storm of Swords: Chapter 19, Tyrion III".
  14. ^ "A Storm of Swords: Chapter 68, Sansa VI".
  15. ^ Fowler, Matt (June 27, 2016). "Game of Thrones: "The Winds of Winter" Review". IGN. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  16. ^ Fullerton, Huw (May 29, 2016). "Game of Thrones season 6 episode 5 - as it happened". Radio Times. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  17. ^ Kidron, Gil (May 4, 2015). "Why You Should Root for Littlefinger to Win". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  18. ^ Starrett, Grant (2017-07-15). "Every Red-Blooded American Should Root For Littlefinger To Claim The Iron Throne". The National Review.
  19. ^ "'Game of Thrones' Conquers With 4 Portal Awards". September 17, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  20. ^ "IFTA 2012 Winners Announced – The Irish Film & Television Network". Irish Film & Television Academy. February 11, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  21. ^ "IFTA Award Winners". Irish Film & Television Academy. Retrieved January 31, 2017.