For many viewers of Game of Thrones, the Lannisters are essentially the bad guys. They are the cunning and conniving politicians who stand in huge contrast with the noble and honorable Starks. There is an exception, though: fan-favorite character Tyrion Lannister. He is often an unexpected ally for sympathetic characters, and this ranges from giving words of wisdom to a young Jon Snow to trying to protect Sansa Stark from being devoured by life in King's Landing. Throw in all of his meme-worthy quips, and it's easy to see why Tyrion is so beloved.
However, if you scratch the surface, it's easy to see that Tyrion is more like his family than you think. He is not above torturing his enemies, raping helpless women, and dooming the entire Seven Kingdoms to satisfy his sense of vengeance. Watching the show over a period of several years essentially amounts to watching the rise and fall of Tyrion Lannister, as he goes from being a wise but misunderstood "imp" to one of the most dangerous men in the entire world.
In this sense, he is actually much worse and much more dangerous than his siblings, Jaime and Cersei. Jamie has been given a redemptive arc and Cersei has been punished by her own actions, but Tyrion has repeatedly escaped consequences and continued to wreak havoc on the world around him.
Still don't believe us? Here are 15 Reasons Why Tyrion Is Actually The Worst Lannister!
15 Doesn't realize he is being set up
When it comes to Lannisters, Tyrion is supposed to be the smart one. He's well-read, knows how people think, and generally manages to land on his feet in almost any situation. However, he somehow doesn't realize that he is being set up in the first season, despite some obvious clues.
First off, he makes the bold choice to heavily hint to Jaimie and Cersei that he knows that they tried to murder Bran. Considering Cersei's long history of both abusing Tyrion and exacting bloody revenge, he should have been extra wary from this point on. Despite this, he is set up perfectly by Petyr Baelish and captured by Catlyn Stark.
Speaking of Baelish, he never follows up on the man setting him up, despite knowing Petyr lied about who owned the dagger and Petyr even showing him the dagger later. For being one of the smartest men in Westeros, Tyrion not only let his guard down severely, but let the man who nearly got him killed go without any punishment whatsoever. This Lannister, it seems, is fine with not paying some of his debts.
14 Makes too many enemies
Eventually, Tyrion lands in the most improbable position of becoming Hand of the King. Theoretically, this is going to be his time to shine, as he finally has the raw political power and influence to go along with his famous family name. It's fun for audiences to watch him kick ass and take names as he bosses around the Small Council and tries to put out the various fires burning in King's Landing.
However, Tyrion ends up making way too many enemies in way too short a time. The Small Council doesn't trust him, and he has more hatred from Cersei than ever before after he marries Myrcella off to Dorne. This ends up explaining why his father is able to so thoroughly sweep the rug out from under him when he takes the Hand of the King title away from Tyrion.
If he had played the game of thrones a bit smoother, Tyrion may have had more allies to support him. Instead, most of the people around him were happy to see him taken down a peg.
13 His rape of a Volantene slave girl
One of the things about the Game of Thrones TV show that irks fans of the books is the tendency to whitewash Tyrion. That is, while some of his fouler deeds still make it to the screen, there are some real atrocities from the books that are omitted entirely. And such scene comes from the time that Tyrion, on the run from King's Landing, repeatedly rapes a slave girl.
It occurred when he was visiting a brothel. He is given a young woman known only as the “sunset girl,” and her back is covered from the scars of previous whippings. George R.R. Martin's text provides some pretty icky details here, with Tyrion mentally noting that “she did not prove the liveliest of partners” and that she had eyes that “looked dead.” Knowing she's punished for disobeying her masters, Tyrion grimly thinks he has just had sex with a dead woman. He's filled with shame and thinks “this was a mistake”... which doesn't keep him from raping her again, after which she runs away.
The point of the scene was illustrating how far Tyrion had fallen, but it's tough to reconcile this rapist with the charming acting of Peter Dinklage on screen.
12 He rapes Tysha on his father's command
Another bit of Tyrion whitewashing revolves around the character of Tysha. She is the young woman that Tyrion believes he saves from her assailants, and they eventually marry. Jaimie tells him she was a he hired so that Tyrion could have sex for the first time. When Tyrion's father finds out what happened, he has fifty of his men rape Tysha over and over, paying her for each one.
However, a nasty detail from the books that the series leaves out is that Tyrion participated in this gang rape of his wife. He notes in the book that his penis “betrayed” him, which seems to indicate that he knows how wrong this is.
Nonetheless, he participates and rapes the woman he loves, which is part of why he feels so devastated when he eventually finds out that she was not actually a prostitute and that this was merely a lie encouraged by Tywin.
11 He throws himself into battle
Of course, Tywin Lannister may not have been able to take Tyrion's power and prestige away so easily if Tyrion had not been injured in battle. Tyrion gets injured helping to defend King's Landing during the Battle of Blackwater, and Tywin assumes power while Tyrion recovers. What is oddest about this injury, though, is that it never should have happened in the first place.
Tyrion felt that the men of King's Landing needed more leadership than Joffrey was providing, which is certainly fair enough. However, Tyrion had the option of remaining safely on the ramparts and directing the battle. He still would have been a visible leader inspiring his troops, and his keen mind would have been better directing troops than wading into the fray.
If the so-called smartest Lannister had simply done the smart thing, he would have been able to keep his father from tearing down everything that he had worked so hard to build.
10 Openly insulting Joffrey
The first time that Tyrion became the stuff of meme legends was when he slapped Joffrey. As the boy who would be king became both whinier and more sadistic, audiences always enjoyed seeing Tyrion use a combination of sarcasm and slaps to bring Joffrey down to size. However, this ends up as a huge example of Tyrion's big brain not really thinking about the long game.
Joffrey is able to use his eventual position as king to torment Tyrion in every way, from pouring drinks on him to forcing his marriage to Sansa Stark. While some of this could be attributed to Joffrey's natural cruelty, it seems clear that most of it was motivated by Joffrey's need to get revenge against his uncle... the same uncle who slapped and berated him in public, humiliating Joffrey in front of those he was destined to rule. If Tyrion could have been a bit more diplomatic with his nephew, it would have spared him a world of pain.
9 He relationship with Shae
Shae always represented a danger to Tyrion that he was just too lovestruck to see. It was one thing to enjoy sex and fellowship with her when he expected to die the next day in combat. However, Tyrion bringing her to King's Landing was one of the worst decisions he ever made. It made him vulnerable in entirely new ways and may have actually sealed his fate in court.
First of all, Shae's mere presence in King's Landing put a lot of people in danger. Tywin is already aware of their prior relationship, so every moment in King's Landing puts her life in danger. Her presence also makes some of his later actions even more problematic, such as his forced marriage to Sansa Stark. And when she gets fed up enough about Tyrion, she ends up testifying against him in court and framing him for the murder of Joffrey.
The blame for some of Tyrion's darkest days can be laid directly on his inability to leave Shae far behind him.
8 His trial outburst
Speaking of that trial, there was no time in Tyrion's life that he needed more to keep his wits about him and play it cool. Things were looking pretty bleak for him due to the public's general antipathy towards him after Shae's explosive false testimony. Interestingly, though, he had an unexpected way out if he pleaded guilty.
Specifically, Tyrion was offered the same deal that was once offered to Ned Stark. All he had to do was admit to this crime he did not commit and he could go spend the rest of his days living comfortably (albeit coldly) at The Wall. And he seemed fine with this arrangement, but he eventually lost it in court. He admitted to everything people were accusing him of and then some, ensuring that his reputation in Westeros was forever destroyed.
7 Risking his life Betting against The Mountain
Tyrion compounds the stupidity of his courtroom outburst when he requests trial by combat. To his credit, this stunt had worked for him once before after he was captured by Catelyn Stark. However, Tyrion had a number of clues that his champion, Oberyn Martell, would not have been able to win the battle against Gregor Clegane, better known as The Mountain.
Martell is a very skilled fighter, and he is renowned for his fighting prowess across the entire world. At the same time, this was bound to be the most emotional fight of his life, as his family has long wanted vengeance against Clegane for raping his sister, Elia, and killing her and her children. It is very likely that Martell could have won if his head and heart were not dominated by the need for revenge, and he manages to die gruesomely in combat, sealing Tyrion's fate.
Once more, Tyrion should have simply taken the sweetheart deal to plead guilty, or tried to find a champion less likely to get himself killed.
6 Killing His Father
When Tyrion kills his father, Tywin, it is a dramatic moment for viewers and also a cathartic moment for Tyrion. After all, Tywin is one of the worst parents on the show. Arguably, however, it is the worst possible thing that Tyrion could have done to the people of the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion ultimately chooses himself over the kingdom, which is despicable in its own right, but it also goes against his professed beliefs.
Tyrion talks a really good game about wanting to help restore peace and stability to the increasingly-chaotic kingdom. He expresses similar thoughts to Daenerys later on, which is one of the reasons he is put in a position of prominence in her kingdom.
However, despite what a terrible person he could be, Tywin Lannister was the embodiment of a stable kingdom: he was wise, battle-hardened, and he knew how to keep the king in line. By killing Tywin, Tyrion effectively put Cersei in charge of the Seven Kingdoms. Considering that he knew how terrible she was more than anyone, Tyrion must have known he was dooming countless lives in a single moment. Not that this stopped him, of course.
5 Trusting a deal with slavers
One of the most exciting aspects of the television show outpacing the books is that fans finally got to see the inevitable meeting between Tyrion and Daenerys. Obviously, the two had a lot to talk about, from their contentious family histories to their visions for the kind of leadership the world needs. When she gives him power in Meereen, though, one of the first things he does is screw things up by making a deal with various slavers.
Tyrion seems to be under the odd impression that the slavers will take a shine to his big idea, which basically amounts to giving them extra time to transition away from a slave economy instead of quitting cold turkey. He seems pleased with himself that they agree to his pact, and then absolutely shocked that the slavers return in the absence of Danaersy to try to take over Meereen by force.
For someone so smart, this pact was remarkably stupid: Tyrion assumed people who were completely opposed to giving up slavery would be happy if they only had more time to be forced into change. It was easy for viewers to see this coming, but Tyrion overlooked it entirely.
4 His alcoholism
Tyrion's alcoholism is typically played for laughs in the show. It's amusing to see him commiserate with Pod that it's not easy being drunk all the time, and Tyrion drank himself into the stuff of meme legends with the line “That's what I do: I drink, and I know things.” However, the truth is that his alcoholism has caused him countless problems.
Tyrion pouting into his goblet after his father becomes Hand of the King helps dull his senses while other players skillfully maneuver power around him. And his functional alcoholism likely fueled the sarcastic anger that previously made him the enemy of many, including the Small Council. Lots of wine helped fuel those numerous Joffrey slaps, too, as well as the insane decision to hide Shae in King's Landing. And his tendency to visit brothels and inns keeps getting him in trouble, too, from getting captured by Catelyn Stark to getting captured by Jorahm Mormont.
Sure, he drinks and knows things, but it seems like he'd know a lot more if he drank a lot less!
3 "Where do wh***s go?"
While many fans of the books often lament the elements that are cut from the HBO series, there was one absurd Tyrion element that very few fans were sad to see cut. During his final conversation with Tywin, Tyrion asks him what happened to his first wife, Tysha. Specifically, he asks where she went, and a dismissive Tywin responds that she went “wherever wh***s go.”
It's clearly a sarcastic answer blowing off his son. However, the Tyrion of the books takes this question very seriously: all throughout A Dance With Dragons, he repeats the question “where do wh***s go” over and over again. He asks himself the question, merchants the question, travelers the question, and even a few actual questions.
While the repetition helps underscore how emotionally devastated he is about Tysha, the fact that he seems to genuinely believe that there is a location that all “wh***s” end up at is one of the stupidest things in the entire series, and it seems beneath Tyrion and the Lannisters (not to mention the readers) to ask the question over a dozen times in a single book!
2 He crushes Marillion's hand
One of the slimier characters in Game of Thrones is Marillion. This is a minor singer who tags along with Catelyn when she captures Tyrion and manages to ingratiate himself with her sister in the Eyerie. Before they arrive at the Eyerie, though, the party is attacked by some of the clans who live in the Vale, and in the books, Tyrion takes the opportunity to try to maim the singer.
Marillion has spent the entire trip up to this point composing songs that help to mock Tyrion. So, when the singer panics during the attack, Tyrion tells him to play dead and then violently slams his foot on the man's hand, with Tyrion noting that he “felt a satisfying crunch.”
Tyrion is actually taking time out of a serious life and death battle to try to torture someone because they once made fun of him. Considering how he has been mocked all of his life (and periodically lectures people like Jon Snow about armoring themselves against insults), this is a really strange reason to risk everyone's lives to maim someone: for being mean.
1 His murder of Shae
As mentioned before, Shae is at the center of much of the misery that Tyrion experiences. Her false testimony against him during his trial, along with the fact that she started sleeping with Tywin, was part of why he was so angry with her during their final meeting. When this meeting was shown on television, Shae attacked Tyrion, and he was forced to kill her in self-defense. In the books, however, it was much darker.
In the books, Shae does not attack him or make any aggressive moves towards him. Instead, she accidentally mentions a pet name for him, “my giant of Lannister,” and this enrages him: he chokes her to death using the Hand of the King's chain.
If the cold-blooded murder of someone he claimed to care about wasn't bad enough, Tyrion basically put Shae into a no-win situation: if she didn't betray him to his father, Tywin would likely have had her killed, which is what he had previously threatened to do with any prostitutes he found with his son. Ultimately, Shae did the only thing she could to save her life, and Tyrion murdered her in cold blood because of it.
For more Game of Thrones (and Tyrion being the worst Lannister), be sure to tune in to the HBO premiere on July 16th, 2017!