Tyrion Lannister’s journey through Game Of Thrones is defined by the trials he goes through and the clever ways he manages to escape them. From episode one of the series, it’s easy to tell that Tyrion will be a key player in the events to come that will shape Westeros for centuries after he has passed on.
Throughout his eight-season run, Tyrion is often referred to as one of the most intelligent men in Westeros. So just what is it that makes Tyrion such an essential and effective player of the big game? Let’s see if we can track his growth throughout the series and find out what it takes to play the Game Of Thrones for as long and effectively as he has while still making it out alive.
8 Cripples, Bastards, And Broken Things - Season 1
Very early on in the series, Game Of Thrones makes it clear to the audience that Tyrion, Dany, and Jon are all connected. In some way, shape, or form, these three are all bastards, crippled (by appearances, gender, and name), and they are all arguably broken when the series begins. It is Tyrion, however, who is, perhaps, the epitome of all of these qualities. Early in the series, it is made abundantly clear that Tyrion is deeply depressed. There’s rarely a moment where he is on screen and there isn't a drink in his hand or somewhere nearby.
While Jon and Dany have been cut off from the finer points of living that comes with holding the name of one of the great houses, Tyrion is left to explore the inner workings of the powers that be while remaining outside those powers or adjacent to them. It is this key attribute that gives Tyrion both the intelligence to see the bigger game that is being played, while also having the capacity to understand and empathize with the cripples, bastards, and broken things of Westeros.
7 A Taste For The Big Game - Season 2
While Tyrion has always had the money and the name to grant him access to almost anywhere he would like to go, becoming the Hand of the King is Tyrion’s first true taste of power. Throughout the course of season two, Tyrion shows that he is a capable and kindhearted force in King’s Landing. However, he also proves himself to be a brilliant tactician when he defends the city during the Battle of Blackwater.
The citizens of King’s Landing, along with Cersei, seem determined to view Tyrion, The Imp as just that. A small manipulative little monster that remains detrimental to their home. Despite all evidence to the contrary. Thanks to Cersei, by the end of the season Tyrion is even more “hideous” on the outside.
6 Wedding Season - Season 3
As season three opens, Tyrion is in a much different position. His face is left disfigured by the attempt on his life during the Battle of Blackwater, and his position as Hand of the King is taken over by his father, Tywin. Tyrion has learned that he is not only capable of standing on his own two feet, but that he thrives in such a situation.
So to have this power stripped from him by people too ignorant to understand that bigger isn’t always better, and forced into the subjugation of his father, Tyrion realizes that he can no longer remain a slave to his father’s ambitions. Tyrion places himself, literally and figuratively, at the opposing end of the table. Directly opposite his father Tywin, and his wishes.
5 “I Am Your Son. I Have Always Been Your Son” AKA Sins Of The Father - Season 4
Throughout the course of the last three seasons, Tyrion has both gained and lost power (as much as any Lannister can lose). He’s gone from his station as a member of one of the great families to the king’s right hand (and backhand whenever necessary) to the fumbling master of coin, desperately trying to pull King’s Landing out of debt.
However, when King Joffrey is murdered at his own wedding after repeatedly embarrassing and abusing him, Tyrion falls further than he ever has before. Not just in station and name, but as he kills Shae, the love of his life, as well as his father, Tywin, Tyrion has truly lost faith in himself. He begins to see himself as the little monster that so many around him have seen.
4 A World Full Of New Places To Be Drunk - Season 5
As Game Of Thrones enters the second half of Tyrion’s story, he gets further down the well than ever before. While Varys does his best to persuade Tyrion to seek out Daenerys and assist her in reclaiming her birthright, Tyrion has little energy left for anything but drinking himself to death. It is through his adventures in captivity with Jorah Mormont that Tyrion begins to gather some perspective.
Traveling through old Valyria, Tyrion catches his first sight of Drogon. This sighting, paired with conversations and traveling with Jorah, begins to shift Tyrion’s perspective. Perhaps the world isn’t quite like he had always assumed it was. And if that happens to be the case, maybe there is a chance for him to redeem himself.
3 “That's What I Do. I Drink And I know things.” Season 6
With Daenerys absent and no one to take her place, Tyrion gets to experience exactly what it is like to be a king. While Daenerys struggled to reconcile her ideology with the realities of Meereen and Slaver’s Bay, Tyrion, among many things, is a realist. He broker’s a deal with the Masters of Slaver’s Bay to phase out slavery over a period of time rather than abolish it outright.
Much like Varys said very early on, Tyrion is not only good at ruling, he does it honorably. As Daenerys returns to a city she left in shambles to see a city that is, surprisingly, still standing, she grants Tyrion the title of Hand of the Queen. It seems that no matter where Tyrion ends up, his intelligence and capacity to rule justly continue to bring him into a place of power.
2 Coming Home - Season 7
Not only has Tyrion found new purpose in life, but he has amassed power and authority solely on the merit of his mind. He has sworn himself to the service of a truly deserving and benevolent queen. But beyond that, he has come back to his home in order to fix a system he’s always known was broken.
While Tyrion remains in service to his queen, he views the budding relationship between her and the former king in the north as a potential problem. As Jon and the member of the search party beyond the wall become trapped, Tyrion advises Daenerys that sometimes the most difficult thing to do is nothing. Advice that she ignores completely as she has many times before.
1 The Final Trials of Tyrion Lannister - Season 8
With the battle for Winterfell over and the truth of Jon’s identity slowly seeping out, Tyrion is forced to betray his longtime friend, Varys. As he watches Varys burn, Tyrion is unsure that he has made the right choice. Before releasing Jaime, in hopes of saving his family and as many lives as possible, Tyrion begs Daenerys to stop the siege if she hears the bells ringing.
As the bells ring and the city burns, Tyrion realizes that he has once again been made a fool. He walks in solitude through the ashes before finding Jaime, arms wrapped around Cersei, buried in the rubble. For Tyrion, this loss of life, this travesty, the weight of it all is on his shoulders. As he tosses his broach away, Tyrion admits to having backed the wrong dragon. Yet in the end, Tyrion finds himself wearing the broach once more, helping to guide the reconstruction of King's landing and the rehabilitation of the six realms.