Tywin Lannister

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Tywin Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
Tywin Lannister Profile Charles Dance.jpg
Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byGeorge R. R. Martin
Portrayed byCharles Dance
  • 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 ruthless patriarch of 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's cruelty towards his youngest son Tyrion, whom he has despised since the latter's childhood for being a dwarf, is a primary influence on Tyrion's character arc in both the novels and television show.

Tywin is portrayed by veteran English actor Charles Dance in the HBO television adaptation and has received acclaim from critics for his performance and characterization.[2][3][4][5]

Character description[edit]

Tywin Lannister is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West.

When Lannister bannermen 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]

Tywin eventually married his first cousin Joanna. When she died giving birth to their dwarf son Tyrion, it is said that "the best part of Tywin died with her". He never remarried. There are rumors that Tyrion is not Tywin's son and Tywin holds Tyrion responsible for Joanna's death. When Tywin discovered that the young Tyrion had secretly eloped and married Tysha, a peasant's daughter, 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. Aerys II Targaryen appointed Tywin Hand of the King. The relationship between Aerys and Tywin grew bitter[citation needed] and he resigned as Hand after Aerys appointed Tywin's first son Jaime to the Kingsguard, directly denying him as Tywin's heir. Aerys increasingly engaged in behavior for which he was known as the Mad King.

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 sacked King's Landing. Following the war, Tywin returns to Casterly Rock to rule the Westerlands, and remains there until the beginning of the series.


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.[6]

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 almost 40,000 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 know 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.

Family tree of House Lannister[edit]

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.[7] Dance has received positive reviews for his role as Tywin in the TV series.[4] Clive James described his portrayal as "not only the best role of its kind that Dance has ever had; it is the best role of its kind that anyone has ever had".[5] Dance was cast off of his performance in Alien 3. [8]

Season 1[edit]

After Tyrion Lannister's arrest by Catelyn Stark, Tywin sends Gregor Clegane to raid Catelyn's homeland, the Riverlands.

Later on, Jaime is seen in Tywin's camp reading a royal command issued by Eddard Stark on behalf of the crown summoning Tywin to appear before the court to answer for an attack on the Riverlands by his bannerman Gregor Clegane. Tywin chastises Jaime for openly attacking Eddard Stark, when Jaime states he did so on hearing of Tyrion's arrest. He gives half of his men (30,000) to Jaime Lannister to besiege House Tully's ancestral home of Riverrun. Jaime is surprised that Tywin places such a high value on Tyrions life, but Tywin states that he is merely doing this to protect his family's honor, as allowing an other house to keep a member of Lannister family prisoner would weaken their family's position.

Tywin is tricked by Robb Stark into taking his men to the Trident where he believes Robb Stark intends to fight his army. Instead, Robb Stark leads his forces to Riverrun, where he defeats and captures Jaime Lannister.

When Joffrey Baratheon ascends as king, he executes the former Hand, Eddard Stark and names Tywin as his Hand. Tywin who currently has only half of his army is now engaged in multiple conflicts, with Robb Stark in the North and Stannis & Renly Baratheon in the South.

Tywin cannot make peace with the Baratheon brothers as they are staking for the claim of Kingship of the Seven Kingdoms. Eddard's execution by Joffery on the other hand has prevented Tywin from what would have been the best option of suing for peace with Northern Lord and Riverrun. Realizing this Tywin sends Tyrion to King's Landing as acting Hand, while he decides to regroup at Harrenhal with all his forces and continue the campaign in the Riverlands against Robb Stark who now hold his son captive.

Season 2[edit]

Tywin and the Westermen regroup at Harrenhal, he is disgusted with the lack of order and starts establishing order. Unaware of Arya Stark's true identity he takes her as his cupbearer and is impressed by her quick wit and sharp response. Arya Stark, on the other hand, is seen to be contemplating to kill Tywin but does not proceed due to lack of opportunity. She is, however, able gather's information on the plan of his council members on the next course of their action.

On Petyr Baelish's suggestion, Tywin establishes an alliance with House Tyrell as they have the required army and the largest supply of grain and livestock. His council members advise that his grandson King Joffery and Joffrey's mother Cersei flee the capital as Stannis Baratheon and his forces will be attacking the capital, Tywin overrules his council members, stating that Joffery needs to hold his ground and no one will respect a king who runs away.

Tywin leads his forces along with their new allies of House Tyrell on the city and arrives just in time to defeat Stannis' remaining forces. After the battle, Tywin is named "Savior of the City".

Season 3[edit]

Tywin harshly 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 — though only succeeds with establishing Tyrion's marriage to Sansa. Later on, Tywin lectures Joffrey about how to rule as king when his grandson demands a report on his council meetings. Soon after Tyrion and Sansa's wedding, Tywin forms an alliance with Robb Starks' dissatisfied bannermen — Walder Frey and Roose Bolton — to successfully carry out the slaughtering of the Stark forces at "The Red Wedding"; in the ensuing massacre, Roose kills Robb while his mother Catelyn and wife Talisa are both killed as well. When news of Robb's death reaches the Lannisters, Tyrion quickly deduces that his father masterminded the event; Tywin confirms this and shrewdly observes that this means the Freys will get all the credit, but also all the blame — since the Northerners will never forget nor forgive such a terrible crime. Tywin senses that his son finds the action dishonorable, but insists it was done to protect the family and end the war. He then reminds Tyrion of his duty to impregnate Sansa, explaining that a man who puts family first will always triumph. When Tyrion asks his father whether he has ever put the family's interests ahead of his own, Tywin retorts to have done so from the day Tyrion was born: he wanted to throw his newborn son into the sea, out of rage and grief at the death of his wife, but instead let Tyrion live and ended up raising him as his son — because he is a Lannister.

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.