Lannisters are not overly likable. They were all born with silver spoons in their mouths, have despicable airs of entitlement to them and will throw pretty much anyone they come in contact with under the bus–or carriage as it were–provided they are not also a Lannister. In fact, we wouldn’t find ourselves rooting for the half-man known as Tyrion if the rest of his family weren’t irritating blowhards and inbreeders. But we love the little sucker. His personality, which switches constantly and smoothly between condescension, coercion and contempt is unusually attractive to the audience because he is normally plying it against a far more egregious character such as his sister or some other party, which desires his imminent and painful death. He makes us feel a little sorry for him and then, just as quickly, lets us know he never needed our sympathy.
Although they are filled with wisdom less often than scorn, his words give us a very guttural satisfaction. Face it, we’ve all encountered people who either think they’re better than us or actually are better through no effort of their own. Tyrion speaks for all. Here are our 15 favorite quips from the estimable and strangely eloquent Imp.
15. “A mind needs books like a sword needs a wet stone”
One of the most telling quotes from early on in the series. While visiting Winterfell with the rest of his dysfunctional family, Tyrion comes across Jon Snow, a member of the Stark house with whom he shares a rung on the family ladder. Of course it is the bottom rung, where bastards and dwarfs live out their lives. Both men have cultivated a particular attribute for themselves, trying to carve out a place in their family–Jon as a master swordsman and Tyrion as the clever and wise manipulator of people and their emotions. The articulation of his love for books succinctly illustrates a good part of his past: how he has spent a good deal of his time and also that he feels the need to wield his intelligence the way Jon and his brother Jaime wield their blades. It sets a tone for the exposition of his character and plants a seed for the audience that will grow into sympathy as his family history is better revealed.
14. “Why are all the gods such vicious c**ts?”
We all know GoT takes its shots at religion. The myriad of different gods, sets of gods, old gods and new gods makes a statement about the feeling humans get when confronted with so many different worldviews. Tyrion is not in a godly camp. He bows to the different religions when it is required of him but questions like this one make it clear he views religion like many do today: if religions are so great, why are so many of their followers miserable? He wishes out loud for a god of “t**s and wine” which speaks to another basic human question, which is: why can’t we be happy all the time? He blames the gods for human misery instead of blaming humans. That’s pretty curious since he’s related to some of the most vicious cunts in all of Westeros. One in particular has made herself her own god, which, it occurs to us, is just as dangerous as worshiping any other deity could possibly be.
13. “I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew”
Well, they wanted a confession. We can’t think of anything more worthy than planning for your own sister to ingest some of your seed. One of the funniest speeches in the entire show, Tyrion’s use of descriptive language as well as expressive hand gestures have the audience alternately wincing and holding back laughter. Even better were the looks on the faces of the sisters Tully. It’s pretty plain that minus these school-boy antics, Bronn never comes to his defense. And, since we know Tyrion was not guilty of the crime for which he was tried, the lack of a true confession and his eventual release from the sky cells is even more satisfying. “A Lannister always pays his debts. ” His debts were paid above and beyond their need when he threw the gold to the jailer and thumbed his nose at the Tully girls on his way out.
12. “That’s what I liked about you in the first place”
We must admit, Bronn is by far our favorite GoT character. He’s loud and crude and loyal. And above that, he’s honest. That’s what made this exchange in the cells beneath the Red Keep so memorable.
“Why are you sorry? Because you’re an evil bastard with no conscience and no heart? That’s what I liked about you in the first place.”
Tyrion was undoubtedly wishing Bronn would be his champion in a trial by combat a second time. Bronn stays true to his character and lets the little Lord know that it’s simply not worth the risk. Tyrion’s realization that he simply can’t blame his friend, and his acceptance of Bronn’s decision gives us more insight into his true heart. Tyrion Lannister doesn’t hold it against a person when they act according to who they are. On several occasions he even admits that Cersei can’t really help being a deplorable hag. It’s what their father made her.
11. “Tell your people what happened here”
We probably shouldn’t have had any doubts remaining concerning Tyrion’s devotion to Daenerys by the time the final episodes of season six arrived. Still, he is a conniving little rascal and the show has been full of surprises so having an intrigue in the back of our minds should be forgiven. But when Khaleesi arrives back in Mereen and shows the slavers who is really in charge (along with barbecuing most of their sailors) we finally see Tyrion for what he is. He is proud to be part of her ascension.
Greyworm leaves the final master alive and Tyrion instructs him to return to his people and make it clear that this woman is not to be messed with. She, and he, are quite serious that slavery is ending and those that seek to keep it alive will not survive her wrath. He sends the man out with the message and can’t hide his satisfaction. And we can certainly understand if he envisions Cersei’s life coming to an end in similar fashion.
10. “Making honest feelings do dishonest work is one of her many gifts.”
The queen/queen regent/dowager queen/queen mother and any other title which Tyrion’s lovely sister has held got to those positions through her strong sense of purpose. She knows she is better than anyone else–most assuredly her annoying little brother–and seeks to place the rest of the world under her feet. Initially, it was through her children she sought to do this. Their collective demise forced her to take matters into her own hands. By this statement, Tyrion shows that he understands her better than most, including Jaime, whose affections for her often cloud his judgement. And it is of no small importance that she has shown an ability and need to place herself above Jaime at times, using those honest feelings to keep him doing her dishonest bidding.
9. “And on that day, should it ever come, we’ll need more wine than this.”
The initial sit down with Daenerys is incredibly important to the whole of the story. Tyrion has made the lengthy and dangerous journey to offer his allegiance to the Mother of Dragons but has no idea if he’ll be accepted or executed. The subject of terrible fathers was just bound to come up. Daenerys knows something about her own father and Tyrion, brother of the Kingslayer, can fill her in on more. But knowing as little as she does about the Lannisters themselves, she has to wonder about Tyrion’s planting of crossbow bolts into his father’s own chest. She senses it is an important subject to broach.
He indicates he desires to inform her but sees no need if she’s going to kill him. It is a sneaky and brilliant tactic to give her the tiniest reason to keep him alive. Plying her with the hope that they have much in common and might spend future evenings regaling each other over drinks about their complicated families, he wins the victory he needed.
8. “Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”
If you haven’t read the books, you would have no way to know that Tyrion would be able to lead men into combat. As Hand of the King, it was his duty. But how does a man who stand three-foot-nothing inspire men who are being threatened by a huge navy and soldiers trying to break down their gates? He tells them what they do not expect to hear. No bravado, no calls to honor and glory. Just tell them that these guys want to hurt you and you better hurt them first. And even though he has little hope to do much of the hurting himself, it is enough to get his charges inflamed with the fury which men require to enter combat. Of course, with their King hiding with his mother, the King’s Landing defenders were likely looking for just about anything they could hang their helmets on.
7. “Do Dornish girls count?”
Our dear Tyrion has many talents already discussed. This line, however, illustrates one of his greatest. Cock and bull. As he sits in the dining hall at Castle Black with Yoren, the two begin trading stories as men are likely to do when relaxing with a drink. And when has Tyrion ever relaxed without a drink? Yoren has just concluded his tale of eating every ounce of a bear while in the wintery expanse north of the wall, including its testicles. That’s when he asks Tyrion what the strangest thing he ever ate was. Tyrion’s experience in brothels is legendary and his answer further expands on that as he appears to have sampled some feminine delights in Dorn. The Dornish people have a strange reputation amongst the rest of Westeros and apparently their women have earned that reputation honestly.
6. “I’m not questioning your honor, Lord Janos, I’m denying its existence.”
While Hand of the King, Tyrion was finally able to exercise some of the power he had always desired as a member of the Lannister family. Banishing Lord Janos Slynt to the Wall had to have been very satisfying. Janos was the key to Joffrey keeping power after Ned Stark challenged his legitimacy. If Janos and his City Watch had sided with Stark when he made his accusation, Joffrey may have been deposed. Even though Slynt was a benefactor to Tyrion’s own nephew, it was far more pleasing to stick another thorn in the side of sister Cersei. He made it clear to Janos that he knew of his betrayal and wanted no part of having him around the court, where he may make further deals to run Tyrion himself up the river. Once again, Tyrion demonstrated his talent for political gamesmanship and Janos eventually had the honor of being beheaded by Jon Snow himself.
5. It isn’t easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it was easy.”
Where would Lord Tyrion be without his wine? Especially early on, there’s rarely a scene where he is not partaking of the product of the vine. He really seems to see it as a virtue. That’s likely because a drunken spree is the best and fastest method for him to kill the pain he’s in when around his family. It is both remedy and a thorn in his father’s side. What could be better? We have noticed he drinks less now that he is with Daenerys (or at least the scenes of his drinking are greatly reduced) so we could read that as her demanding some discipline out of him as her advisor. We have also seen far fewer trips to the brothel. Perhaps he still sees himself married to Sansa? We still have hope that after Daenerys sacks King’s Landing and regains the Iron Throne there will be a huge party and Tyrion can sip his wine in peace as he dances on Cersei’s remains.
4. “Guess again!”
Never let it be said that Tyrion didn’t defend the size of his manhood. When he an Jorah Mormont are being sold into slavery, they are about to be separated. One of the slavers indicates that a dwarf’s shank is worth money as some kind of magical talisman. Tyrion latches onto this as a way to save his life and convinces them no one would believe it belonged to a dwarf unless they saw it attached. After he is told it would be no problem since it would be a dwarf-sized pork sword, Tyrion admonishes him in the funniest way imaginable. We’re not sure why they couldn’t have killed him and taken his corpse around, not removing the object until it was sold, but, hey, we’re just glad the little bugger survived.
3. “Your queenly prerogative.”
This is the second quote from that monumental meeting of Tyrion and his new Queen. We feel like it was the moment she realized he was for real. Knowing him even as little as she did, she recognized that if he was truly trying to scam her, he would have been using his verbal gymnastics to paint himself as someone who would be indispensable to her. He would have used his elaborate vocabulary to try to make her forget that he was a member of a family which is most assuredly her enemy. Instead he shows her that he is indeed damaged and has little left to hope for except her reported greatness. When she states that it would be in her best interest to have him killed, he just calmly agrees. She seems to recognize how contrite he is at that moment and an incredible alliance is made. She appoints him her advisor and later the Hand of the Queen. King’s Landing should have begun trembling at that moment.
2. “If he forgets, be a good dog and remind him.”
Admit it. The first time you truly loved the littlest Lannister was when he was smacking Joffrey about at Winterfell. This was really our first encounter with the dutiful Tyrion. He was playing the game by the rules when he instructed his nephew to respect appearances and make a trip to give his condolences to the Starks. Joffrey, young as he was, thought he was above such formalities, as young princes are likely to. When Tyrion begins slapping him, it is obviously one of the first times he has been expected to act as an adult. When Joffrey finally realizes he won’t win with mere words and stalks off to do his duty, The Hound tells Tyrion that Joffrey wont forget it. Showing his disdain for young princes and the family watchdog which is Sandor Clegane, he smugly asserts his power over both. It’s one of the funnier and more pointed orders in the first season.
1. “I am guilty of being a dwarf.”
This pretty much summed it all up and might have been a foreshadowing of Tyrion’s eventual murder of Tywin. He’s guilty of being something his father hates through no fault of his own and is now expected to pay for it with his life. And, minus the help of his brother in escaping his cell, he would have. There is a major theme which runs through the show concerning fathers and how poorly they treat their children. Tyrion and Tywin, Lord Tarley and Sam, Walder Frey and his two dottering boys as well as several others. Is this a comment by author George R.R. Martin concerning society’s problems stemming from fathers deserting their own children? Perhaps not but we can certainly glean that as something to consider. Tyrion’s contempt for his father came forth in his tirade about the trumped up charges against him and why they were made in the first place and it is clearly the moment when the old manner in which Westeros was run lost his allegiance. His path to Daenerys was laid and the story is far better for it.
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