Tywin Lannister

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Tywin Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Tywin Lannister-Charles Dance.jpg
Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byGeorge R. R. Martin
Portrayed byCharles Dance
(Game of Thrones)
  • The Lion of Lannister
  • The Old Lion
  • The Great Lion of the Rock
  • Lord of Casterly Rock
  • Shield of Lannisport
  • Warden of the West
  • Hand of the King
  • Lord Paramount of the Westerlands
  • Savior of the City
FamilyHouse Lannister
SpouseJoanna Lannister (also his cousin)

Tywin Lannister is a fictional character in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by American novelist George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones.[1]

Introduced in A Game of Thrones (1996) and subsequently appeared in A Clash of Kings (1998) and A Storm of Swords (2000), Tywin Lannister is the fearsome patriarch of the House Lannister of Casterly Rock, and father to Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion Lannister. He is the Warden of the West and the lord paramount of Westerlands, the wealthiest region of the Seven Kingdoms, and was twice the Hand of the King, making him one of the most powerful political figures in Westerosi history. Tywin is a prominent antagonist to Tyrion, whom he despises since the latter's childhood for being a dwarf and causing the death of his wife Joanna during labor, and is a primary influencing factor behind Tyrion's story arc.

Tywin is portrayed by veteran English actor Charles Dance in the HBO television adaptation.[2][3]

Character description[edit]

Tywin Lannister is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West. He is a calculating, ruthless, and controlling man.

In his youth, Tywin was dismayed by his father Tytos, who overlooked numerous slights from his bannermen (most notably Houses Reyne and Tarbeck) in order to win their affection. When the Reynes and Tarbecks eventually revolted against the Lannisters' rule, Tywin personally led the Lannister army in exterminating the rebellious vassals, placing the bodies of their entire families on display at Casterly Rock.[citation needed] Impressed with his decisive action in ending the rebellion, Tywin's friend Aerys II Targaryen appointed him as Hand of the King. Despite his ruthlessness, Tywin proved himself a capable leader and his tenure was marked by peace and prosperity. The relationship between Aerys and Tywin grew bitter and he resigned as Hand after Aerys appointed Tywin's first son Jaime to the Kingsguard, directly denying him as Tywin's heir. Aerys grew increasingly insane, for which he was known as the Mad King.

Tywin eventually married his first cousin Joanna. When she died giving birth to their dwarf son Tyrion, he was devastated and it is said that "the best part of Tywin died with her". He never remarried. Tywin loves his children Cersei and Jaime, but despises Tyrion for his dwarfism and blames him for Joanna's death. When Tywin discovered that the young Tyrion had secretly eloped and married Tysha, a peasant's daughter, he fell into a cold rage, believing that a Lannister should never stoop so low as to marry lowborns. He had Tyrion's marriage forcefully annulled, telling him that the entire love affair was a plot by Jaime to get Tyrion to lose his virginity, his love being nothing more than a hired prostitute. Tywin then had his personal guards gang-rape Tysha in front of Tyrion and later forced Tyrion to rape her last. This traumatic experience led Tyrion to adopt the habit of alcoholism and promiscuity with prostitutes, which made Tywin despise him even more for bringing bad reputations to the Lannister name.

During Robert Baratheon's rebellion, Tywin remained neutral until Robert had all but won the war. He then captured King's Landing through treachery and ordered the murder of the royal family before Ned could capture the city. The Mad King then ordered Jaime to kill his father. Instead, Jaime stuck his sword in his back betraying his vow to protect the king. Tywin's army then devastated the city's inhabitants. Following the war, Tywin returns to Casterly Rock to rule the Westerlands, and remains there until the beginning of the series.

Tywin is tall and slender, with greying blonde hair. He has a very powerful presence and easily intimidates those around him.

Family tree of House Lannister[edit]


A coat of arms showing a golden lion on a red field
Coat of arms of House Lannister


Tywin Lannister is not a point of view character in the novels, so his actions are witnessed and interpreted mainly through the eyes of his estranged dwarf son Tyrion Lannister.[4]

A Game of Thrones[edit]

Tyrion is arrested by Catelyn Stark, who suspects him of attempting to assassinate her son Bran. Despite his contempt for Tyrion, Tywin views his kidnapping as a slight against his family and sends Gregor Clegane to raid Catelyn's homeland, the Riverlands. He raises a host of 60,000 men, half of whom are given to Jaime to besiege the Riverlands' capital Riverrun. Tywin's half of the force battle a Northern host led by Roose Bolton at the Battle of the Green Fork, but in the meantime Robb Stark's men rout Jaime's army and take him prisoner. Tywin is named Hand of the King by the new king, his grandson Joffrey Baratheon, but Tywin decides to remain in the Riverlands to continue the campaign against the Starks, sending Tyrion to King's Landing as acting Hand in his stead.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

Tywin retreats to Harrenhal, using it as a base for the war in the Riverlands. When Joffrey's uncle and rival claimant Renly Baratheon is killed and Joffrey's other uncle Stannis Baratheon besieges Storm's End, Tywin decides to use the distraction to march west in pursuit of Robb's army. Robb intends for Tywin's army to be gradually dismantled by the long march, but Robb's uncle Ser Edmure Tully, unaware of the plan, confronts Tywin's forces at the Battle of the Fords. Although Tywin suffers heavy losses, the delay in his march allows him to receive word that Stannis is now marching on King's Landing. Tywin quickly leads the army on King's Landing, joining forces with Renly's former bannermen House Tyrell along the way, and arrives at King's Landing in time to force Stannis to retreat. Joffrey subsequently declares Tywin the "Savior of the City".

A Storm of Swords[edit]

Tywin assumes his role as Hand of the King, demoting Tyrion to Master of Coin. He forces Tyrion to marry Sansa Stark, though his efforts to have Cersei wed to Willas Tyrell are rebuffed. Having learned that Robb has invalidated a marriage proposal to House Frey by marrying Jeyne Westerling, Tywin enters into communications with Lord Walder Frey and Roose Bolton (who has lost faith in Robb after Theon Greyjoy's capture of Robb's castle Winterfell). The three conspire to have Robb and his army slaughtered while camped at The Twins for Edmure Tully's wedding, and the War of Five Kings results in victory for House Lannister. However, Joffrey is poisoned soon after during his own wedding. Tyrion is accused of the murder, ultimately being found guilty and sentenced to death. Jaime and Varys release Tyrion from his cell, Jaime confessing that he felt compelled to do so for lying about Tysha, Tyrion's first wife, who had been wrongly stated by Tywin to be a prostitute and gang-raped by Tywin's guards. Enraged, Tyrion enters Tywin's quarters through a secret tunnel, only to find his former mistress Shae in Tywin's bed. He strangles her with the Hand's necklace, then confronts Tywin with a crossbow while he is on the privy, demanding to known what happened to Tysha. When Tywin repeatedly and scornfully dismisses Tysha as a "whore," Tyrion fatally shoots him with the crossbow.

A Feast for Crows[edit]

Tywin's corpse lies in state for seven days at the Great Sept of Baelor, before being returned to the Westerlands.

TV adaptation[edit]

Charles Dance plays the role of Tywin Lannister in the television series.

Tywin Lannister is played by Charles Dance in the television adaption of the series of books.[5] Dance has received positive reviews for his role as Tywin in the TV series.[6]

Season 1[edit]

After Tyrion Lannister's arrest by Catelyn Stark, Tywin marches on the Riverlands with 60,000 men, giving half to Jaime Lannister to besiege House Tully's ancestral home of Riverrun. Tywin takes his force to the Trident to battle Robb Stark's men, but Robb instead leads his force on Riverrun and captures Jaime. When Joffrey Baratheon ascends as king, he names Tywin as his Hand but also executes the former Hand, Eddard Stark. Realising that Eddard's death prevents any chance of suing for peace, Tywin sends Tyrion to King's Landing as acting Hand, while he continues the campaign in the Riverlands.

Season 2[edit]

Tywin and the Westermen regroup at Harrenhal, with Tywin taking Arya Stark as his cupbearer, whom he treats with respect although he is unaware of her true identity. When Stannis Baratheon sails on King's Landing, Tywin leads his forces and their new allies of House Tyrell on the city and arrives in time to defeat Stannis' remaining forces. After the battle, Tywin is named "Savior of the City".

Season 3[edit]

Tywin furiously denies Tyrion his request to be named as heir to Casterly Rock, but does acquiesce to naming him Master of Coin. When he learns of Olenna Tyrell's plot to have Loras Tyrell wed Sansa Stark, he arranges to have Tyrion and Cersei marry Sansa and Loras respectively. He also allies with Robb Stark's dissatisfied bannermen, Walder Frey and Roose Bolton, conspiring with them to have Robb assassinated at the Red Wedding.

Season 4[edit]

Tywin has the Stark ancestral sword Ice melted down into two swords, one of which he gives to Jaime, though he disowns him after Jaime refuses to resign from the Kingsguard to become Tywin's heir. When Tyrion is accused of poisoning Joffrey, Tywin asks Prince Oberyn Martell to serve as one of the judges in Tyrion's trial. Though Oberyn despises Tywin for ordering the death of his sister, niece and nephew during the sack of King's Landing, he agrees when Tywin offers him justice against their murderer, Ser Gregor Clegane. Tywin also presses Cersei to wed Loras in order to use House Tyrell's wealth to pay off the Crown's debts to the Iron Bank of Braavos, but is forced to back down when Cersei threatens to reveal her incestuous affair with Jaime. Tywin has an affair with the prostitute Shae, formerly Tyrion's mistress. Tyrion discovers this during his escape from King's Landing and strangles Shae before confronting Tywin on the privy. When Tyrion admits that he loved Shae, Tywin repeatedly dismisses her as a whore, prompting Tyrion to shoot him with a crossbow, killing him.

Season 5[edit]

Tywin's body lies in state in the Great Sept of Baelor before his burial, with Jaime and Cersei the first to pay their respects. Tywin's death upsets the balance of power in King's Landing, namely by allowing the rise to power of the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant.