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Villain Overview

When your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. And any man who must say "I am the king" is no true king at all. Aerys never understood that, but you will. When I’ve won your war for you, we will restore the king’s peace and the king’s justice.
~ Tywin to Joffrey Baratheon.
Why?! You ask that?! You who killed your mother to come into the world? You are an ill-made, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning. Men's laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colors since I cannot prove that you are not mine. And to teach me humility, the gods have condemned me to watch you waddle about wearing that proud lion that was my father's sigil and his father's before him. But neither gods nor men will ever compel me to let you turn Casterly Rock into your whorehouse. Go, now. And speak no more of your rights to Casterly Rock. Go! One more thing, the next whore I catch in your bed, I'll hang.
~ Tywin's hate-filled monologue to Tyrion after Tyrion asked a claim to Casterly Rock.
Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.
~ Tywin to Tyrion Lannister in A Storm of Swords.

Lord Tywin Lannister is one of the main antagonists in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. He is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport and Warden of the West. Tywin is one of the most powerful lords in Westeros. His parents were Tytos Lannister and Jeyne Marbrand, who had other four children: Kevan, Genna, Tygett, and Gerion, the last two being already dead (Tygett) or disappeared without a trace (Gerion) before the events of main series. He is the father of Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion Lannister, and is Joffrey Baratheon's sole grandfather (since Joffrey is a product of incest). He loves his children Jaime and Cersei, but possesses an irrational hatred for Tyrion, which stems from his belief that Tyrion is a shame to his family's name for his deformities, frequent whoring and drinking, and the fact that Tywin's beloved wife and cousin Joanna Lannister died giving birth to Tyrion.

In the novels, Tywin serves as a major antagonist in both A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings before becoming the main antagonist of A Storm of Swords. In the TV series, he serves as the main antagonist of the first half of the show, serving as a major antagonist in Seasons 1 and 2, the main antagonist in Seasons 3 and 4, and a posthumous antagonist for the rest of the series.

He was portrayed by Charles Dance, who also portrayed Sardo Numspa in The Golden Child, Mr. Benedict in Last Action Hero, Alan Jonah in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, David Carlton in Ali G Indahouse and Emhyr var Emreis in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Character and Appearance

It fell to Tywin to restore House Lannister to its proper place. Just as it fell to him to rule this realm, when he was no more than twenty. He bore that heavy burden for twenty years and all it earned him was a mad king's envy. Instead of the honor he deserved, he was made to suffer slights beyond count, yet he gave the Seven Kingdoms peace, plenty and justice. He is a just man.
~ Kevan Lannister, to Tyrion Lannister.

Tywin Lannister is a calculating, intelligent, unpredictable, manipulative, apathetic, politically astute, ruthless and controlling man who dedicated his whole life and all his efforts into maintaining the Lannisters' prestige - thereby ensuring that House Lannister was respected or at least feared. He is also proven to be a knowledgeable battle commander and politician, which evidently exemplifies his truly powerful presence.

Tywin is a tall, slender, broad-shouldered man in his fifties. He has kept his head shaved ever since he started going bald, but grows out bushy golden side-whiskers and has green eyes flecked with gold. In battle, he wears deep crimson armor highlighted with gold, with a cloth-of-gold cape.

One of Tywin's many flaws is that his house was solely dependent on his own intentions and only fear kept the house alive. Without Tywin, House Lannister was no longer the same. Tywin's own bitterness and grudges against Tyrion caused his house to be unprepared for unexpected events following his death. Tywin is also incapable of withholding a grudge under any circumstances; he was unforgiving of the Reynes and Tarbecks for their insults towards House Lannister over decades; he did not forgive debts owed to him by the crown; most importantly, he could not let go of his absolute hatred toward Tyrion for being the child his wife died giving birth to, even though he recognizes that Tyrion is the most intelligent of his children and the most similar to Tywin himself.

In spite of being a intelligent man, Tywin lacked compassion for his children. He claimed that family was the most important thing to him, but he may not have meant it as in taking good care of his children. Only that his house needed as many heirs as possible to further the family name and keep the Lannister house strong and feared, to prevent House Lannister to fall back to the days of his father. Tywin's lack for compassion, moral and understanding what family truly means, ultimately became his own downfall by sentencing his own son to death. In the end Tywin Lannister never cared about family, he only cared about power.


Early life

Tywin was born to Tytos Lannister. Not much is known of Tywin’s childhood, but his early years were formative ones, shaping his mind and resolve for the life that lay ahead of him. Tywin was forced to watch his mighty house nearly brought to ruin through his father's actions. His father while a gentle and amiable man was also weak willed and eager to please, loans went unpaid and his bannermen did what they pleased mocking him in their cups or openly defying him.

Perhaps the most important moment for Tywin was the realization of what power meant, which was driven home when his father, tried to quell Lord Walderan Tarbeck, his most disloyal bannerman, imprisoned him. Lord Tarbeck's wife, Lady Ellyn Reyne, responded by capturing three Lannisters and threatening to harm them if her husband was not returned. Tywin counseled his father to send Lord Tarbeck back to his Lady in three pieces, but Tytos was a gentler man than that, and he caved in to Ellyn's demands further weakening his position of their house.

As a result of his father's follies Ser Tywin Lannister never laughed as he mistrusted laughter, hearing too much of it directed at his father and House Lannister in his youth. Tywin also seldom smiled when he was young and never smiled again after his wife's death. When Tytos finally keeled over of a burst heart while climbing a flight of steps to visit his mistress, Tywin Lannister became the Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West.

During his youth he was friends with Prince Aerys Targaryen and Lord Steffon Baratheon. He served as Hand of the King for 20 years before leaving after being outraged by the King, by making his son and heir, Jaime, a member of the Kingsguard. He met Steffon's son at King's Landing: 5 years old Robert Baratheon and 4 years old Stannis Baratheon, the latter mistaking him for King Aerys.

He remained neutral for most of Robert's Rebellion until the death of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and the defeat of the royal army at the Trident. Then he marched with his vast army of the westerlands to King's Landing. He's helped by Grand Maester Pycelle, who told King Aerys to open the city gates to Lord Tywin. Then, the Sack of King's Landing occured. Ser Jaime killed the King, while the commander of the City Watch, Manly Stokeworth, dies in battle. He ordered Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch to find the rest of the royal family in the Red Keep, and kill them for Robert Baratheon.

Robert was pleased to see the dead bodies of King Aerys, Princess Elia Martell, and her children Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon. He pardoned Tywin and Jaime for their crimes, much to the disapproval of Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn. Lord Tywin gives two choices to Targaryen loyalists Ser Alliser Thorne and Ser Jaremy Rykker: take the black and join the Night's Watch or execution, and they both choose the former. Tywin's daughter, Cersei, becomes the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and wife of King Robert I Baratheon.

Years later Balon Greyjoy rebels against the Iron Throne. Tywin fails to protect the city of Lannisport from the Iron Fleet, during a surprise raid, planned by Euron Greyjoy and commanded by Victarion Greyjoy. After failing King Robert, his younger brother Stannis managed to destroy the Iron Fleet near Fair Isle, and stop the ironborn raidings.

During the years before the events of the actual series, Tywin loses his two youngest brothers, Gerion and Tygett. The two left two children at Casterly Rock: Tyrek Lannister, son of Tygett, and Joy Hill, bastard daughter of Gerion.

A Game of Thrones

Believed to be responsible for hiring an assassin to murder Bran Stark while he lay in a coma, Tywin's son Tyrion is abducted at the inn at the crossroads by Catelyn Tully, the wife of Lord Eddard Stark, current Hand of the King. She takes him to her sister Lysa, at the Eyrie, for trial. Though Tywin does not care about Tyrion's welfare, he sees the arrest and kidnapping as a direct slight on House Lannister's honor which he will not tolerate. In response Tywin sends Ser Gregor Clegane and his men, disguised as brigands, to sack and pillage various villages and hamlets across the Riverlands, Catelyn's homeland. These raids mark one of the seminal points in what is to become the War of the Five Kings.

Tywin's aim is to draw Eddard out of King's Landing, capture him, and exchange him for the freedom of his son. Eddard, however, is injured in a skirmish on the streets of King's Landing with Tywin's son Jaime, who is unaware of Tywin's plans, and Eddard sends Lord Beric Dondarrion after Gregor in his stead. When Beric's forces reach the Mummer's Ford, soldiers of Tywin's and Gregor's attack from all sides, routing Beric's host.

As the war gains momentum, Tywin's forces take the majority of the Riverlands and lay siege to Riverrun before meeting their first real opposition in the Battle of the Green Fork. Just prior to the battle, Tyrion, having won his freedom from the Vale of Arryn via trial by combat and earned the loyalty of many of the mountain clans along the way, meets with his father. Tywin sends Tyrion and his clansmen into the battle on the left flank, believing the undisciplined men likely to rout, but giving the northern commander, which Tywin believed to be the young and inexperienced Robb Stark, a chance to over-commit and be annihilated. The clansmen do not rout, however, and the northern commander is not Robb but instead the more cautious and experienced Lord Roose Bolton. The battle is a Lannister victory, but it buys enough time for a separate northern force under Robb Stark's command to cross the Trident at the Twins. With the Battle of the Whispering Wood and the Battle of the Camps, Robb is able to capture Tywin's other son, Jaime, and lift the siege of Riverrun.

After the death of King Robert, Tywin is named Hand of the King for his grandson, Joffrey Baratheon. After the battle, he sends Tyrion to King's Landing to serve as Hand in his stead, and to prepare the city's defenses in anticipation of an attack from one or both of King Robert Baratheon's brothers, Stannis and Renly, while Tywin manages the war with the North and the Riverlands.

A Clash of Kings

The loss of Riverrun means that Tywin is not able to pursue and destroy Roose Bolton's forces. Instead he marches south to Harrenhal while he ponders his next move. Lannister men in the Riverlands are harassed by Beric Dondarrion's brotherhood, although Beric has been reported as slain several times.

When Robb Stark marches from Riverrun and invades the Westerlands, smashing a new Lannister host being raised and trained by Stafford Lannister at Oxcross and turning his forces loose to scour the Westerlands, Tywin leaves Harrenhal and marches his forces west in pursuit. Robb and Ser Brynden Tully plan to lead Tywin's army on a long chase across the Westerlands, bleeding his forces and living off of their lands. However, Ser Edmure Tully, who has been tasked with holding Riverrun but is unaware of Robb's plan, meets Tywin's army in the field in the Battle of the Fords.

Tywin's forces are bloodied and thrown back, but the delay allows word to reach Tywin that Stannis Baratheon has murdered his brother Renly and laid claim to much of his army, and that he is marching and sailing on King's Landing with an enormous force. Tywin turns his force southeast on a forced march to the headwaters of the Blackwater Rush, where he meets Lords Mathis Rowan and Lord Randyll Tarly of the newly-allied Reach. They then join with the forces of Lord Mace Tyrell at Tumbler's Falls.

Sailing together on barges down the Blackwater Rush, the Lannisters and Tyrells arrive just in time for the waning moments of the Battle of the Blackwater, where they are able to break and drive away the majority of Stannis's army, which had been on the cusp of victory, by taking them in the flank. Tywin commands the host's right flank during the battle. Tywin is declared Savior of the City by King Joffrey. Tywin's son Tyrion, who had done much for the city's defenses, is critically wounded in the fighting.

A Storm of Swords

Tywin atop a horse as he's declared Savior of the City.

Tywin's timely arrival at the Battle of the Blackwater allows him to take the majority of the credit for the Lannister victory. Tywin assumes his official position as King Joffrey's Hand, while giving to his brother Kevan, the position of Master of Laws and to Tyrion, after his recovery, the position of Master of Coin, which Tyrion sees as a demotion and an insult. Also, Tywin reinstates Grand Maester Pycelle in the small council, after receiving a letter from the Citadel, the Conclave being annoyed about Pycelle's removal from his office, threatens to put Mace's uncle, Maester Gormon Tyrell, as Pycelle's replacement.

Tywin arranges for Tyrion to be wed to Sansa Stark before she can be betrothed to Willas Tyrell, giving him claim over Winterfell and directly refusing Tyrion's ambition to inherit Casterly Rock. He also makes plans to find a suitor to marry his widowed daughter, Queen Cersei, though they are never realized. He offers her to Willas Tyrell but Mace Tyrell, after being hectored by his mother, Olenna Redwyne, refuses the match. Tywin demands that Tyrion act as if the offer were never made.

Tywin refuses to leave the North to Balon Greyjoy and plans to deal with him after he's done with Robb and Stannis. After receving a letter from First Steward Bowen Marsh, asking for help to defend the Wall against the wildlings, Tywin ignores it, and replies that he won't send any help until his ally Lord Janos Slynt is made Lord Commander. Tywin wants to use Mance Rayder's army as a distraction for both Robb and Balon. After learning that Robb Stark has unexpectedly wed Jeyne Westerling and that House Westerling has gone over to the Starks, Tywin remains in communication, via raven, with Jeyne's mother Sybell Spicer. He also communicates with Roose Bolton, who has switched sides to the Lannisters after taking Harrenhal, and Lord Walder Frey, who sees Robb's marriage to Jeyne as an insult to House Frey, as it breaks a marriage pact Robb had previously made to wed a Frey girl.

After Balon Greyjoy's death, the Red Wedding is the direct result of Tywin, Walder, Roose, and Rolph Spicer's correspondence, which sees Robb Stark betrayed and murdered along with the vast majority of his host, effectively ending the war with House Lannister the victor. With Robb Stark's death, Lord Tywin plans to deal with Stannis Baratheon, once Joffrey and Margaery are married.

Tywin Lannister has Ice, the Valyrian steel greatsword of Eddard Stark, reforged into two longswords as gifts, one for Joffrey on his wedding day and the other to Jaime. Not long after, King Joffrey is poisoned and dies at the feast following his wedding to Margaery Tyrell. Tywin's son Tyrion is falsely accused of the crime, and Tywin agrees to be one of Tyrion's three judges, alongside Oberyn Martell and Mace Tyrell, at his trial. When it becomes clear that he is going to be found guilty, Tyrion demands trial by combat, and Oberyn surprisingly volunteers to champion him. Cersei, being Tyrion's accuser, selects Ser Gregor Clegane to represent the crown. Despite being poisoned by Oberyn during the trial, Gregor wins the duel, slaying Oberyn, and Tyrion is thus found guilty.

Tywin faces huge political ramifications from the trial. Before slaying Oberyn, Gregor roars his guilt in slaying Elia Martell and her son Aegon for all the realm to hear. Tywin fears Dorne might join Stannis Baratheon, which could prolong the war for years. He plans on having Gregor executed to appease House Martell, but needs it to be seen to be the King's Justice who carries out the deed, not poison. Tywin commands Pycelle to heal Gregor, but Pycelle's efforts prove fruitless.

Awaiting his sentencing, Tyrion is freed from the Red Keep's dungeon by his brother Jaime and a reluctant Varys. During his escape, Jaime reveals the truth about Tyrion's first wife Tysha, saying she was not a whore but a girl just met on the road and Tywin had made Jaime speak the lie to Tyrion. Tyrion is enraged by this and has Varys show him to a ladder that leads directly into the Tower of the Hand, Tywin's residence, Tyrion finds his ex-lover Shae in Tywin's bed, wearing nothing but his father's golden chain of office. Tyrion strangles her to death with it. He then takes a crossbow from the wall and finds Tywin in the privy and confronts him about Tysha. Tywin remains belligerent, repeatedly calling her a whore, which Tyrion sees as the final insult; shooting him through his bowels with the crossbow, mortally wounding him. Tywin dies while seated on the privy, his bowels loosening in the moment of death causing Tyrion to think as he left his father's body.

A Feast for Crows

After Tywin's body is discovered, it is prepared for a state burial. Cersei has the Kettleblacks remove the body of Shae and swears she will have the tongue removed of any man who mentions Shae was ever there. The remains of Lord Tywin are shown for seven days in the Great Sept of Baelor before making its way west with an entourage of knights and lords from the Westerlands. The smell of the body is so bad many of the mourners grow sick or faint from being too near. A drying of the mouth also causes Tywin's lips to curl up and make him appear to smile. This disturbs Jaime and Cersei, because Tywin Lannister seldom smiled.


A Song of Ice and Fire

Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.
~ Tywin to Tyrion in A Storm of Swords.
The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.
~ Tywin to Tyrion in A Storm of Swords.
Joffrey, when your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. And any man who must say 'I am the king' is no true king at all. Aerys never understood that, but you will. When I've won your war for you, we will restore the king's peace and the king's justice.
~ Tywin to Joffrey in A Storm of Swords.
No man is free. Only children and fools think elsewise.
~ Tywin to Tyrion.

TV Series

Lannisters don't act like fools.
~ Tywin Lannister.
A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of the sheep.
~ Tywin to Jaime.
No, that's not an opinion, it's a fact! If another House can seize one of our own and hold him captive with impunity we are no longer a House to be feared. Your mother is dead, before long I'll be dead, and you, and your brother, and your sister, and all of her children. All of us, dead. All of us, rotting in the ground. It's the family name that lives on; it's all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor - but family.
~ Tywin to Jaime.
Any man who must say, 'I am the king' is no true king. I'll make sure you understand that when I've won your war for you.
~ Tywin to Joffrey.
Yes. But you refused to die. I respect that. Even admire it! You fight for what's yours. I'd never let them execute you. Is that what you fear? I'd never let Ilyn Payne take your head. You're a're my son.
~ Tywin to Tyrion.
You are no son of mine.
~ Tywin to Tyrion, his final words.


  • On the Season 1 Blu-ray, Tywin narrates Complete Guide to Westeros videos on "The History of the Night's Watch", "Mad King Aerys" and "The Sack of King's Landing". On the Season 3 Blu-ray, he narrates the Histories & Lore video "The Westerlands".
  • He is one of the most memorable examples of a "Dragon-in-Chief" type of villain, which means that, while he is the subordinate to a higher-ranking villain (in this case, Joffrey Baratheon), he is a much larger threat due to his power and intelligence, occasionally driving the plot more than his nominal superior.
  • Although the same as his television counterpart, Tywin is far for crueler and evil in the books than he was portrayed in the show. This is because of the reveal that Tyrion's first wife, Tysha, was never actually a whore as the former was led to believe; it was a lie concocted by Tywin to punish Tyrion for marrying a common girl, although it's implied that he also did out of enjoyment of seeing his son suffer. This reveal was the man basis of why Tyrion killed Tywin in the books originally; however, they took out this plot element from the show and instead had the reasoning for the killing being because Tywin turned Shae against Tyrion. This change in the show caused a lot of backlash from book readers, due to the plot element being an important factor in Tyrion's character development and many of the book readers accused the writers of "whitewashing" Tyrion's character.


           Thrones.png Villains

Beyond the Wall
Free Folk
Mance Rayder | Tormund Giantsbane | Styr | Rattleshirt | Orell | Craster | Varamyr Sixskins | Harma Dogshead | The Weeper | Ygritte

Night's Watch
Night's King | Alliser Thorne | Bowen Marsh | Olly | Karl Tanner | Rast | Biter | Rorge

The Others
Night King | White Walker Commander | Viserion | Wights

The North
House Bolton
Roose Bolton | Ramsay Bolton | Locke | Myranda | Bastard's Girls | Reek | Smalljon Umber

House Karstark
Harald Karstark | Arnolf Karstark | Arthor Karstark | Cregan Karstark | Rickard Karstark

The Vale of Arryn
House Arryn
Lysa Arryn | Mandon Moore | Mord | Lyn Corbray | Petyr Baelish

House Frey
Walder Frey | Emmon Frey | Aenys Frey | Jared Frey | Hosteen Frey | Merrett Frey | Symond Frey | Raymund Frey | Lothar Frey | Whalen Frey Benfrey Frey | Walder Rivers | Aegor Rivers | Ryman Frey | Rhaegar Frey | Little Walder Frey | Big Walder Frey | Edwyn Frey | Black Walder Frey

Brotherhood without Banners
Lady Stoneheart

Chett | Garse Goodbrook | Harys Haigh | Leslyn Haigh | Shagwell

Iron Islands
House Greyjoy
Balon Greyjoy | Euron Greyjoy | Theon Greyjoy | Dagmer Cleftjaw | Lorren

House Hoare
Harren Hoare

House Lannister
Tywin Lannister | Jaime Lannister | Cersei Lannister | Tyrion Lannister | Lancel Lannister | Amory Lorch | Ilyn Payne | Janos Slynt | Preston Greenfield | Rolph Spicer | Catspaw

House Clegane
Gregor Clegane | Sandor Clegane | Polliver | Rafford | The Tickler | Mountain's Men

Mad Targaryens
Aegon II Targaryen | Aegon IV Targaryen | Aemond Targaryen | Aerys II Targaryen | Aerion Targaryen | Baelor I Targaryen | Boros Blount | Daemon Targaryen | Maegor I Targaryen | Rhaenyra Targaryen | Viserys Targaryen | Daenerys Targaryen

House Blackfyre
Daemon I Blackfyre

House Kettleblack
Osfryd Kettleblack | Osmund Kettleblack | Osney Kettleblack

Faith Militant
High Sparrow | Septa Unella | Lancel Lannister

Hugh Hammer | Smiling Knight | Ulf the White

House Baratheon of Storm's End
Robert I Baratheon | Renly Baratheon | Joffrey Baratheon | Meryn Trant

House Baratheon of Dragonstone
Stannis Baratheon | Melisandre | Richard Horpe | Clayton Suggs | Shadow Assassins

The Reach
House Florent
Axell Florent | Selyse Florent

Mace Tyrell | Pycelle | Qyburn | Randyll Tarly

Ellaria Sand | Nymeria Sand | Obara Sand | Gerold Dayne | Tyene Sand

Brave Companions | Smiling Knight

Free Cities
Belicho Paenymion | Ben Plumm | Bloodbeard | Daario Naharis | Doreah | Illyrio Mopatis | Jaqen H'ghar | Maelys I Blackfyre | Mero | Tyanna of the Tower | Vargo Hoat | Varys | Waif

Dothraki Sea
Drogo | Mago | Moro | Qotho | Viserion | Wine Merchant

Mirri Maz Duur

Slaver's Bay
Hizdahr zo Loraq | Kraznys mo Nakloz | Malko | Old Empire of Ghis | Oznak zo Pahl | Prendahl na Ghezn | Razdal mo Eraz | Reznak mo Reznak | Sons of the Harpy | Vala

The Pureborn | Pyat Pree | Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Far East Essos
Yi Ti
Bloodstone Emperor | Lo Bu

Asshai and Shadow Lands
Melisandre | Shadow Assassins | Viserion

Video Games
Asher Forrester | Andros | Britt Warrick | Damien | Dezhor zo Raza | Valarr HillGared Tuttle | Gryff Whitehill | Harys | Ludd Whitehill | Rickard Morgryn | Tazal