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Be Eunuch: Lord Varys' 10 Most Prolific Quotes

Game of Thrones had no shortage of incredible quotes over the years, but many of the best came from Lord Varys. Brilliantly portrayed by Conleth Hill, Varys has a knack for delivering particularly wise and pithy quotes. His quotes reveal a great deal about the true nature of his often ambiguous character and how he plays the game of thrones so well.

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Such words also provided tremendous insight into key relationships with other characters like Ned Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Littlefinger, Daenerys Targaryen, and how he helped or prevented them whilst playing the game of thrones. Throughout the entire series, there was always a certain consistency to Varys and his motives, which these upcoming quotes highlight while also showing his progression as a character, particularly in his relationships with Tyrion and Daenerys.

Join the Master of Whisperers and his little birds as we explore Be Eunuch: Lord Varys' 10 Most Prolific Quotes.

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10 "It was your mercy that killed the king."

Varys proved himself Ned Stark's last friend in King's Landing, visiting the imprisoned Lord Stark and informing him of what was happening when everyone else had betrayed or forsaken him. Serving as a lesson for both Ned and the audience, this quote shows mercy has no place in the game of thrones.

The Lannisters and many others would always play the game dirty. In the face of this and now with Sansa's life on the line, Ned needed to own his mistake. He needed to realize that showing Cersei mercy was the greatest mistake of all, one that cost Robert Baratheon his life and triggered much of the destruction that followed. The audience realized Ned has lost the game for good and the rest of the players could not afford to show mercy if they hoped to survive or win.

9 "Power resides where men believe it resides. It's a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow."

Game-Of-Thrones-Books-Tyrion

Few knew how to play the game of thrones as well as Varys, and even fewer played the game to try and make the world a better place. Such a dangerous and noble pursuit was made more challenging in the aftermath of Robert Baratheon's demise. Shortly after Tyrion Lannister's arrival in King's Landing, Varys quickly realized that Tyrion could be a resourceful and like-minded ally in his rare pursuit. Tyrion could play the game just as well as Varys and play for the right reasons.

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Varys thus helped Tyrion play the game even better, making him understand that power doesn't come from who wears a crown on their head. Power comes from the perception of the people, and shaping who they believe holds the real power, a tactic Varys and Tyrion would frequently use to their advantage.

8 "Influence grows like a weed. I tended mine patiently until its tendrils reached from the Red Keep, all the way across to the far side of the world ..."

Influence grows like a weed. I tended mine patiently until its tendrils reached from the Red Keep, all the way across to the far side of the world . . . where I managed to wrap them around something very special.

Much of Varys' power came from his extensive influence. From his little birds to an ever-growing pool of allies, Varys was always playing the long game. He seemed to know what was going on everywhere and had his hand in an endless string of plots. When revealing essentially his origin story to Tyrion and that he'd finally captured the sorcerer who made him suffer so many years ago, Varys demonstrated his unparalleled patience and extensive influence across the world.

At the moment it was delivered this quote applied to Varys locating the sorcerer so he could finally have his vengeance, but the quote also works in the context of Daenerys Targaryen. Varys believed Daenerys was special and also used his extensive influence and resources to help her rise to power, cross the Narrow Sea with a massive army, and take the Iron Throne--at least until she betrayed the ideals Vary held dear.

7 "Actually, I rather enjoy him. But he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes."

In a delightful scene with Olenna Tyrell, Varys captured the true essence of his relationship with Littlefinger amidst all their sharp-tongued and quick-witted exchanges. Varys communicated to Olenna that he respected and admired Littlefinger to a certain extent. Yet, Varys recognized Littlefinger's ruthlessness and that he sowed anarchy and destruction for the sake of power, making him someone Varys had to stop at all costs.

It's a cruel twist of fate that Varys poured so much into preventing Littlefinger from becoming "king of the ashes," only to end up serving Daenerys who did become a queen of the ashes in season 8.

6 "Besides, the absence of desire leads one free to do other things."

The full quote reads: "When I see what desire has done to people, what it's done to this country, I am very glad to have no part in it. Besides, the absence of desire leads one free to do other things."

There's a great deal of subtext to be mined from Varys and Oberyn Martell's conversation when the two men stand before the Iron Throne in season 4. Varys' quote about desire is one of the best moments of their conversation, a quote that spoke to Varys' strengths as a character and why he was consistently one of the best players in the game of thrones. His absence of romantic and sexual desire allowed him to remain clearly focused on putting the best person possible on the Iron Throne.

By following their own romantic and sexual desires, powerful figures like Rhaegar Targaryen and Robb Stark doomed themselves, members of their families, and subjected the country to a great deal of distress. Being a eunuch made Varys the butt of many jokes, but it also made him stronger and unable to be compromised, part of which allowed him to remain a powerful player in the game for so long.

5 "You can stay here at Illyrio's palace and drink yourself to death or you can ride with me to Meereen, meet Daenerys Targaryen"

Varys and Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones

The full quote reads: "You can stay here at Illyrio's palace and drink yourself to death or you can ride with me to Meereen, meet Daenerys Targaryen and decide if the world is worth fighting for."

Tyrion Lannister was at his lowest point possible at the beginning of season 5. His father Tywin Lannister sentenced him to death for a crime he didn't commit. Tyrion escaped with the help of Varys, but at the cost of killing Shae and Tywin. Everything had been taken away from him. In this dark time, Varys forced Tyrion to make a choice to either give up or find purpose.

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This push from Varys changed everything as he put Tyrion on a path to Daenerys where Tyrion decided the world was worth fighting for and became her Hand. Even after Daenerys became the Mad Queen and shattered Tyrion's relentless faith in her, Tyrion was still dedicated to finding a way to save Westeros. If not for Varys, Tyrion would never have been in such a position or mindset that allowed him to ultimately make the world a better place.

4 "You wish to know where my true loyalties lie? Not with any king or queen, but with the people. "

Varys and Dany

The full quote reads: "You wish to know where my true loyalties lie? Not with any king or queen, but with the people. The people who suffer under despots and prosper under just rule, the people whose hearts you aim to win."

Given how Varys had betrayed and secretly undermined past monarchs he'd served, Daenerys was wise to question his loyalty. At that moment, Varys was more honest than he'd ever been with Robert Baratheon, Joffrey, Cersei, or Tywin. He made it clear that he never was and never would be blindly loyal to any king or queen. His loyalties would always be to the people whose lives are saved or condemned by the actions of rulers.

Varys served Daenerys because he thought she would be best for the people, not because of any love or admiration he held for her as an individual, and not because of how it would advance his own career or power. That is an incredibly rare thing in Westeros, something that Varys stayed true to until the very end.

3 "Do not destroy the city you came to save. Do not become what you have always struggled to defeat."

Varys and Daenerys in Game of Thrones Season 8

As Master of Whisperers, Varys officially served the Mad King Aerys Targaryen II, Robert Baratheon, Joffrey, and Tommen. He'd served insane, foolish, sadistic, and clueless rulers, all the while working to put someone better on the Iron Throne. Daenerys Targaryen seemed to be that person, someone who worked hard to save others and fought those who ruled the same way Varys' past kings ruled.

Devastated to see Daenerys on the brink of becoming a worse version of the leaders he once conspired against, Varys fulfilled the promise he once made. He put a target on his back by questioning Daenerys and bluntly cautioning her in this way, but he stayed true to the promise he would remain loyal to the people, and not blindly loyal to her.

2 "They say, every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath."

Varys was not the first character in the books or the show to reference this quote, but the timing was most powerful in season 8, episode 5. Following the deaths of Jorah Mormont, Rhaegal, Missandei, and many of her Dothraki and Unsullied, Daenerys was at the precipice of breaking and becoming the Mad Queen. The tragedy is that Varys dedicated much of his life to Daenerys, believing she her coin fell on the side of greatness.

Only now was Varys turning toward Jon Snow when believing Daenerys' coin had fallen on madness instead. Be it Rhaegar and the Mad King, or Daenerys and Jon, and the many ancestors that preceded them, Varys was right about the impact Targaryens had on the world. He was wrong to think of it in such mutually exclusive terms, though, as Daenerys' descent into madness didn't negate the greatness in her past and how the horrific actions ahead of her would ultimately be the breaking point needed to help shape a better future for Westeros.

1 "I hope I deserve this. Truly, I do. I hope I'm wrong. Goodbye, old friend."

Varys was always adamant that he was no hero, which he memorably told Ned Stark back in season 1. Yet, even in death, Varys stood by his ideals. In his final moments, his greatest fear was not the loss of his own life, but that he'd helped doom Westeros to its worst dictator yet, and that he hadn't done enough, in the end, to try and stop it from happening. Varys hoped he was wrong but was wise enough to know that was not the case.

His final words are powerful not only for himself, but also for Tyrion, as those words and Varys' final sacrifice are essential to Tyrion making the difficult, yet essential choices that had to be made in the series finale. It also spoke volumes about Varys that he still respected Tyrion deeply and saw him as his truest friend, even though he easily could've been consumed by resentment in his final moments. Despite all his sneakiness and cunning, Varys ended up being one of the most selfless and honorable characters.

What is your favorite Varys' quote from Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments!

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