Tyrion Lannister is the youngest of Tywin Lannister’s three children and easily the most popular character in Game of Thrones. Played by Peter Dinklage, who won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2011 and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 2012, Tyrion is also regularly rated as the fan’s favorite from readers of the original fantasy novel series.
Tyrion is in many ways a classic underdog. He is a dwarf who is regularly mocked by everyone around him, including members of his own family, especially his older sister Cersei. At the same time, his difficult birth resulted in the death of his mother, Joanna, an event that has meant his father never treated him with affection. Tywin’s coldness to Tyrion is exacerbated by Tyrion’s fondness for wine and women, which ironically has grown the more he is scorned.
Tywin’s opposition to Tyrion’s lifestyle stems from his own early life. Tywin’s father, while a lord, was also fond of the good life, which meant that the Lannisters lost respect around the kingdom, even from their own bannermen. The elder Lannister even replaced Tywin’s mother with his mistress, giving her the same jewels that Tywin’s mother had worn. Tywin resolved that he would restore the family to its former position using a mixture of cold brutality and realpolitik. His hard work and perseverance did indeed restore the family to greatness; the Lannisters now stand as one of the most powerful families of the Seven Kingdoms and easily the richest.
Tyrion, for his part, has worked hard to gain his father’s respect in any way he can. He remarks early in Game of Thrones that while his brother Jaime has his sword, Tyrion’s weapon is his mind, which he keeps sharp by voracious reading. This knowledge is something he puts to good use throughout Game of Thrones, first by escaping the Vale when he was arrested and tried by the Tully sisters and then captured by wild mountain clans, and later still leading the defense of King’s Landing when it was attacked by the forces of Stannis Baratheon. Tyrion’s successful outwitting of both his sister and his nephew King Joffrey and employment of a giant chain to trap the enemy ships and then setting them alight with wildfire undoubtedly swung the battle for the Lannisters. He showed his own bravery in the battle by leading a sortie out of the city gates to confront Stannis’ forces battering at the gates. He rallied the Lannister forces with the cry, “Those are brave men knocking on our door. Let’s go kill them!”
Despite these heroics, and the grievous injury he suffered in the battle, his father still does not concede that Tyrion has ability. Instead, he ignores Tyrion while he is lying injured and then admonishes him for his continued relationship with his “whore” once he has recovered. Indeed, the only member of Tyrion’s immediate family who gives him affection and respect is his brother Jaime. Despite these continued snubs and insults, Tyrion maintains his wit and humor, as well as his humanity when many around him are losing theirs. He helps Sansa Stark when she is abused by his nephew Joffrey and then refuses to consummate their subsequent forced marriage against her will.
It is these qualities, along with Dinklage’s masterful portrayal that make Tyrion the fan favorite, which was will inevitably continue into the fourth season which is now being filmed.
Carolyn Clayton writes for Brit Movie Tours who offer a new Game of Thrones Tour which will be running in 2014.