Tyrion Lannister, also referred to as "the Imp" or "the Halfman" and later by the alias Hugor Hill during exile, is a fictional character in A Song of Ice and Fire series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. He is a prominent point of view character. Based on an idea that came to Martin while writing the 1981 novel Windhaven, Tyrion has been called one of the author's finest creations and most popular characters by The New York Times. Martin has named the character as his favorite in the series.
Introduced in A Game of Thrones (1996) and subsequently in A Clash of Kings (1998) and A Storm of Swords (2000), Tyrion was one of a few prominent characters that were not included in A Feast for Crows (2005) but returned in the next novel A Dance with Dragons (2011). The character will also appear in the forthcoming volume The Winds of Winter. The popularity of the character led Martin and Bantam Books to publish The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister, an illustrated collection of Tyrion quotes from the novels, in 2013.
Tyrion is a dwarf and member of House Lannister of Casterly Rock, one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the fictional kingdom of Westeros. In the story, Tyrion uses his status as a Lannister to mitigate the prejudice he has received all of his life, even from his family. Knowing that no one will ever take him seriously, he soothes his inadequacies with wine, wit and self-indulgence. As the peaceful rule of King Robert Baratheon begins to decay, Tyrion sees how ill-equipped his family are to hold everything together. He first saves his own neck from the vengeful Catelyn Stark and her sister Lysa Arryn, then is sent by his father Tywin to impose order on the capital of King's Landing, as well as his nephew Joffrey, the new king, as civil war begins. Tyrion struggles to strengthen and protect the city and family who hate him and refuse to see the peril they are in; when his father returns, Tyrion becomes vulnerable to the wrath and machinations of the self-serving courtiers who surround Joffrey, including Tyrion's own scheming sister Cersei. Tyrion escapes death again but at great cost and in fleeing Westeros finds himself in even more danger and without the Lannister resources.
The character is portrayed by American actor Peter Dinklage in the HBO television adaptation Game of Thrones. In 2011, Dinklage received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and later the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film for his portrayal of Tyrion in the HBO series. He won the Emmy again in 2015. Among other accolades, Dinklage has been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
In A Game of Thrones (1996), Tyrion is introduced as the third and youngest child of wealthy and powerful Tywin Lannister, the former Hand of the King, and Joanna Lannister, who dies giving birth to him. Tyrion's elder sister Cersei is the Queen of Westeros by virtue of her marriage to King Robert Baratheon, and Cersei's male twin Jaime is one of the Kingsguard, the royal bodyguard. Described as an ugly ("for all the world like a gargoyle"), malformed dwarf with different colored eyes, green and black, Tyrion possesses the golden blond hair of a Lannister but has a complicated relationship with the rest of them. While he is afforded the privilege and luxuries of his family, he is treated as a "second class noble" because of his stature. Tyrion's mother Joanna died giving birth to him and Tywin and Cersei loathe him because they blame him for her death. While Tywin bears no affection for Tyrion, he nevertheless feels a sense of duty to his son, raising him in the Lannister fold and extending Tyrion a share of the family wealth. In contrast to Tywin and Cersei, Jaime has great affection for Tyrion and treats him with kindness, respect, friendship and love. Lev Grossman of Time wrote in 2011:
Tyrion Lannister [is] the brilliant, black-witted dwarf whose family has had the firmest grip on power for much of the series, though that's not saying much. Tyrion is another good example of what separates Tolkien and Martin. Tyrion isn't a hearty, ax-wielding, gold-mining member of a noble dwarven race. He's not Gimli. Tyrion is an actual dwarf, achondroplastic and stubby-limbed, a joke to passersby and an embarrassment to his family.
Tyrion is intelligent, witty, well-read, and shares his father's skill for business and political maneuvering. Grossman describes the character as "a bitter, cynical, high-born dwarf", calling him "Martin's Falstaff". David Orr of The New York Times notes Tyrion to be "a cynic, a drinker, an outcast and conspicuously the novels' most intelligent presence". As an outcast, he displays sympathy for other outcasts and the otherwise mistreated; the TV series version of the character commiserates with the illegitimate son of Ned Stark by saying "All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes." Still, he is usually seen for his deformities and vices, rather than his virtues and good deeds. Tom Shippey of the Wall Street Journal points out that other characters underestimate Tyrion: "His dwarf-status acts as a kind of protection, because—though he is probably the most intelligent character in the whole cast list—no one takes him seriously." Acknowledging that Tyrion's wit, humor and cunning are his survival mechanism, actor Dinklage told The New York Times that "He knows he has no skills with the sword and this is a world that is really deeply violent. Military rules. He would not be able to survive in that world, given his own strength. So he beats people to the punchline—he's entertaining."
So while we were writing the books we thought about a dwarf who would have been the Lord of one of the islands. He had to be the ugliest person in the world but the most intelligent too. I kept that idea in my mind and it reappeared to me when I was starting to write Game of Thrones. So ... That's Tyrion Lannister.
Tyrion is a prominent point of view character in the novels, and both David Orr of The New York Times and Lev Grossman of Time called him one of Martin's "finest creations." Noting the character to be one of Martin's most popular, Dana Jennings of The New York Times called Tyrion "a bitter but brilliant dwarf whose humor, swagger and utter humanity make him the (often drunken) star of the series". Thomas M. Wagner wrote in 2001 that the character "may very well be the strongest antihero in all of contemporary fantasy". Dan Kois of The New York Times also noted in 2012 that "for fans of the novels, Tyrion is among the most beloved among the scores of kings, warriors, wenches, slaves, queens and monsters that populate George R. R. Martin's world". Martin said, "My readers identify with the outcast, with the underdog, with the person who's struggling rather than the golden boy".
I think his wit is appealing. He gets off a lot of good iconoclastic, cynical one-liners, and those are fun to write. He's also a very gray character. All my characters are gray to a greater or lesser extent, but Tyrion is perhaps the deepest shade of gray, with the black and white in him most thoroughly mixed, and I find that very appealing. I've always liked gray characters more than black-and-white characters ... I look for ways to make my characters real and to make them human, characters who have good and bad, noble and selfish, well-mixed in their natures. Yes, I do certainly want people to think about the characters, and not just react with a knee-jerk. I read too much fiction myself in which you encounter characters who are very stereotyped. They're heroic-hero and dastardly-villain, and they're completely black or completely white. And that's boring, so far as I'm concerned.
Tyrion appears first in A Game of Thrones (1996), and then in A Clash of Kings (1998) and A Storm of Swords (2000). He is one of a handful of "sorely missed" major characters that do not appear in 2005's A Feast for Crows, but on his website in 2006 Martin released a sample chapter featuring Tyrion from his next novel A Dance with Dragons. In advance of the publication of A Dance with Dragons in 2011, Martin confirmed Tyrion's presence in the novel and called him one of "the characters people have been waiting for". Grossman concurred, writing of A Dance with Dragons, "Now the camera has swung back to the main characters: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister." James Poniewozik of Time added that the return of these "favorite characters" gave A Dance with Dragons a "narrative edge" over A Feast for Crows. In April 2012, Martin read a Tyrion chapter from his forthcoming The Winds of Winter at Eastercon; a second Tyrion chapter was read at Worldcon in August 2013 and later released in the official A World of Ice and Fire iOS application on March 20, 2014.
As A Game of Thrones begins, Tyrion is a witty, hedonistic curiosity, protected by his family status but still the object of subtle derision. He is perhaps the most intelligent member of his family but is consistently underestimated and marginalized. Tyrion embraces the advantages of being a Lannister but at the same time is all too aware of its negative aspects and his own place as the embarrassment of the family. Initially he is the one Lannister remotely sympathetic to the Starks but he is soon caught in the middle of the conflict between the two Houses. Taken prisoner and put on trial for his life, "all of his skills at conniving must be brought to bear simply to stay alive". With the Starks and Lannisters fully at war, Tywin tasks Tyrion to manage affairs at King's Landing, recognizing that his son is intelligent and has inherited his skills with statecraft. In A Clash of Kings, Tyrion relishes his new power but finds that his sincere efforts to stabilize his nephew Joffrey's rule are being undermined and thwarted by the misguided and self-serving machinations of everyone around him. He plots to nullify the counterproductive whims of Joffrey and Cersei but the "much-maligned dwarf" finds himself "teetering between order and disaster as he tries to keep the Lannisters from losing absolutely everything". Thomas M. Wagner calls it a "defining moment" when Tyrion comments that he is all that keeps chaos from overwhelming the family and population who both despise him. Roberta Johnson of Booklist likens Tyrion to the calculating title character of Robert Graves' I, Claudius.
In A Storm of Swords, Tywin reclaims the office of Hand of the King and gives Tyrion the seemingly-impossible task of reforming the royal finances. Tyrion's previous efforts, crucial in keeping Joffrey in power and saving King's Landing from invasion are all but forgotten. Joffrey, emboldened by Tywin's return, publicly humiliates Tyrion; when Joffrey is murdered, everyone eagerly points the finger at Tyrion. Cersei does everything in her power to assure that he is declared guilty at trial. Innocent but condemned to death and hated more than ever, Tyrion takes a dark turn. Martin explains:
[Tyrion]'s lost everything ... He's lost his position in House Lannister, he's lost his position in court, he's lost all of his gold – which is the one thing that's kind of sustained him throughout his life ... and he's also found out that Jaime – the one blood relation that he loved unreservedly and has his back, and was always on his side – played a part in this traumatic event of his life, the ultimate betrayal ... He's so hurt that he wants to hurt other people ... and he knows that just up this ladder is a chamber that was once his that now his father has usurped from him ... And I don't think he knows what he's gonna say or do when he gets up there but he – some part of him feels compelled to do it. And of course then we find Shae there, that's an additional shock to him, an additional knife in his belly. I think sometimes people just get pushed too far, sometimes people break. And I think Tyrion has reached his point. He's been through hell, he's faced death over and over again, and he's been betrayed, as he sees it, by all the people that he's tried to take care of, that he's tried to win the approval of. He's been trying to win his father's approval all his life.
Finding his former lover Shae in his father's bed, Tyrion strangles her. Confronting Tywin with a crossbow soon after, he murders him too. To Martin, "the two actions are quite different, although they occur within moments of each other". The author continues, "He's furious at Lord Tywin because he found out the truth about his first wife and what happened to her, and ... Lord Tywin is convinced that since he doesn't love Tyrion, then no one can possibly love Tyrion." As Tywin repeatedly calls Tyrion's tragic first wife Tysha a "whore," Tyrion warns him to stop. Tywin has always taught his son that you must follow through on your threats if you are defied, so when he fails to heed Tyrion's warning, the dwarf kills him. "And it will haunt him. Tywin was his father and that will continue to haunt him, probably for the rest of his life," says the author. To Martin, Shae's murder is something else:
With Shae, it's a much more deliberate and in some ways a crueler thing. It's not the action of a second, because he's strangling her slowly and she's fighting, trying to get free. He could let go at any time. But his anger and his sense of betrayal is so strong that he doesn't stop until it's done and that's probably the blackest deed that he's ever done. It's the great crime of his soul along with what he did with his first wife by abandoning her after the little demonstration Lord Tywin put on ... it's again something that's going to haunt him, while the act of killing his father is something of enormous consequence that would be forever beyond the pale, for no man is as cursed as a kinslayer.
"Fan-favorite" Tyrion returns to the narrative in A Dance with Dragons, as he flees Westeros following the murders of Shae and Tywin "in a state of shock at his own actions". Across the narrow sea in Pentos and Slaver's Bay he soon finds himself "in just about the most humiliating and dire circumstances in a life that has seen more than its share of such". Cut off from his family's wealth and influence, he must use his wits to survive. As Booklist notes, "his astonishing adaptability evident as he goes from captive to conspirator to slave to mercenary without losing his tactical influence". Still in possession of the "cruel wit that has seen him through in the past", Tyrion provides, according to Thomas M. Wagner, the "warmest and most sympathetic moments" in the novel.
In A Game of Thrones (1996), Tyrion visits the Stark stronghold of Winterfell with King Robert Baratheon's entourage. While there, Tyrion tries to befriend Ned Stark's bastard son Jon Snow, and provides Ned's recently crippled son Bran with a saddle design to help him ride a horse. On the road home, Tyrion is taken prisoner by Ned's wife Catelyn, who believes he ordered the attempted murder of Bran. Taken to Catelyn's sister Lysa Arryn at the Eyrie, Tyrion demands a trial by combat and is championed by the mercenary Bronn, who wins his freedom. Using his wit and the promise of a reward, Tyrion wins over the hill tribes of the Vale while on his way to the Lannister army camp. Finally impressed with Tyrion's political instincts, his father Tywin appoints Tyrion acting Hand of the King in an attempt to control Joffrey. While at the camp, Tyrion beds a prostitute named Shae and takes her with him to the capital.
Tyrion arrives at King's Landing in A Clash of Kings (1998) and immediately recognizes the chaos created by Joffrey and Cersei. Seeking to consolidate power and preserve order in the capital, Tyrion methodically removes Cersei's supporters from positions of power. Disgusted by Joffrey's behavior and Cersei's failure to control him, Tyrion openly opposes the young king and tries to keep royal captive Sansa Stark out of harm's way. Tyrion masterminds the defense of King's Landing against Stannis Baratheon, even leading a sortie that drives Stannis from the gates. Afterwards, Tyrion is attacked and is grievously injured by one of the Kingsguard on orders to kill him. Tyrion suspects Joffrey or Cersei, but is unable to get revenge on either.
Upon his recovery in A Storm of Swords (2000), Tyrion finds that he has lost most of his nose, and a returned Tywin has assumed the position of Hand himself. Tyrion is appointed Master of Coin, the treasurer, as a reward for his successful leadership. After learning of a Tyrell plot to claim Winterfell through marriage to Sansa, Tywin forces Tyrion to marry her instead. Sympathetic to Sansa's situation, Tyrion leaves their marriage unconsummated, despite his father's orders to conceive a child with her as soon as possible. At the celebration of his wedding to Margaery Tyrell, Joffrey is poisoned. Cersei promptly accuses Tyrion, who is arrested. His previous good deeds forgotten, Tyrion is put on trial as Cersei manipulates the proceedings to ensure a guilty verdict. He is heartbroken to find that even Shae has turned against him. In his grief, Tyrion demands a trial by combat, to which Cersei responds by naming the virtually unbeatable Gregor Clegane as her champion. Oberyn Martell agrees to fight for Tyrion but dies in the attempt. Pronounced guilty, Tyrion is taken to the dungeon to await his execution. Jaime frees him with the help of Varys, eventually confessing his complicity in Tywin's ruin of Tyrion's first wife Tysha. Furious, Tyrion swears revenge on his family for a lifetime of cruelty and lies to Jaime that he did murder Joffrey. Before escaping the palace, Tyrion goes to confront his father, and finds Shae in Tywin's bed. After strangling her in a rage, Tyrion murders Tywin as well when he speaks ill of Tysha, and flees Westeros.
In A Dance with Dragons (2011), Tyrion travels to Pentos, where he finds himself under the protection of wealthy Magister Illyrio Mopatis. There he learns that Varys and Illyrio have secretly plotted to return the Targaryens to power since the murder of the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. On Illyrio's advice, Tyrion decides to seek out and join Aerys' surviving daughter Daenerys at Meereen and help her reclaim the Iron Throne. He eventually realizes that two of his traveling companions are not what they seem. One is Jon Connington, disgraced former Hand of the King; the other claims to be Aegon VI Targaryen, Aerys' grandson, whom Varys had spirited away and replaced with another baby that was then killed during the Lannisters' sack of King's Landing. While in Volantis, Tyrion visits a brothel and is recognized and captured by Jorah Mormont who believes that delivering a Lannister to Daenerys will return Jorah to her good graces. Before they can reach Meereen, they are captured by the slavers currently besieging the city. When a plague strikes the slaver's siege camps, Tyrion engineers their escape by joining a mercenary company, the Second Sons. In exchange for membership, Tyrion promises the company the wealth of the Lannister ancestral seat of Casterly Rock, his birthright since Tywin is dead and Jaime has renounced it. Tyrion quickly realizes the slavers are on the losing side, and attempts to convince the Second Sons to change their allegiance.
Descendants of Tytos Lannister
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Executive producers/writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss had pitched the idea of adapting Martin's series for television to HBO in March 2006, and the network secured the rights in January 2007. The first actor cast was Peter Dinklage as Tyrion in May 2009. Benioff and Weiss later noted that the funny and "incredibly smart" Dinklage was their first choice for the role, as the actor's "core of humanity, covered by a shell of sardonic dry wit, is pretty well in keeping with the character." Unfamiliar with the source material, Dinklage was cautious in his first meeting with the producers; as a dwarf, "he wouldn't play elves or leprechauns" and – choosy about genre roles – he had just come from portraying the dwarf Trumpkin in 2008's The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Benioff and Weiss told Dinklage that the character was "a different kind of fantasy little person," or in the actor's words, "No beard, no pointy shoes, a romantic, real human being." Dinklage signed on to play Tyrion before the meeting was half over, in part because "They told me how popular he was." Martin said of Dinklage's casting, "If he hadn't accepted the part, oh, boy, I don't know what we would have done." Benioff added, "When I read George's books, I decided Tyrion Lannister was one of the great characters in literature. Not just fantasy literature – literature! A brilliant, caustic, horny, drunken, self-flagellating mess of a man. And there was only one choice to play him."
In October 2014, Dinklage and several other key cast members, all contracted for six seasons of the series, renegotiated their deals to include a potential seventh season and salary increases for seasons five, six, and seven. The Hollywood Reporter called the raises "huge", noting that the deal would make the performers "among the highest-paid actors on cable TV". Deadline Hollywood put the number for season five at "close to $300,000 an episode" for each actor, and The Hollywood Reporter wrote in June 2016 that the performers would each be paid "upward of $500,000 per episode" for seasons seven and the potential eight. In 2017, Dinklage became one of the highest paid actors on television and will earn £2 million per episode for the show.
Seasons 1 and 2 (2011–12) follow the events of A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, respectively. The plot of A Storm of Swords was split into seasons 3 and 4 (2013–14). Both season 5 and season 6 adapt material from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, novels whose plots run concurrently and each contain different characters. Though the HBO series has alternately extended, abbreviated, conflated and diverged from the novels' plot lines, Tyrion's character and story arc have remained mostly consistent with Martin's writing.
Calling the character the "black sheep" of the Lannister family, TV Guide wrote as the show premiered in 2011 that "Tyrion sees through all the chicanery and decides the best option is to drink and bed his way through the Seven Kingdoms." The Boston Globe added that he is "a hedonistic intellectual who can talk his way out of anything." According to the Los Angeles Times, "brilliant but low-living" Tyrion is "so well acquainted with the workings of the world he can hardly bear it, the Imp is ... debauched, perhaps, but a truth-teller nonetheless, fighting for his own survival with as much mercy as he can spare." The New York Times went as far as to name Tyrion "the closest thing to a hero" in the HBO series.
As in A Game of Thrones, Tyrion travels to Winterfell with the royal family, and accompanies Ned Stark's bastard son Jon Snow on his journey to the Wall. On his way back to King's Landing, Tyrion is seized by Catelyn Stark, who suspects him of having plotted to assassinate her son Bran. Taken to the Eyrie, where Catelyn's sister Lysa Arryn rules as regent, Tyrion is put to trial. Tyrion demands trial by combat, naming as his champion the sellsword Bronn, who is victorious. The two meet up with Tyrion's father Tywin, whose forces are fighting Robb Stark's army as retaliation for his capture. Tyrion is accidentally knocked unconscious as the battle begins. Tywin sends Tyrion to King's Landing to act as Hand of the King. Disobeying Tywin's orders, Tyrion takes the prostitute Shae with him.
During the second season, Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times wrote that "Tyrion is just about the only character developing any complexity. Maybe even a glimmer of a conscience." Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker noted, "If the show has a hero, it's Tyrion (Dinklage), who is capable of cruelty but also possesses insight and empathy, concealed beneath a carapace of Wildean wit." The Hollywood Reporter called Tyrion "the one to watch, as he's the smartest Lannister and knows that having a brat for a king – who mistreats all those around him – could cause major backlash." Willa Paskin of Salon called the character's increased prominence in Season 2 "a trade up in entertainment value, and a trade-off in morality." She added, "Tyrion is more cynical, more manipulative and much better suited to surviving. He's not so keen to be made into meat, and that makes him the kind of man characters in the show and audience members alike should be investing in." Praising Dinklage, Dan Kois of The New York Times wrote, "He plays Tyrion as the only modern man in a muddy, violent, primal world. He loves good food, good conversation and a good book. Unlike the warmongering lords and knights of Westeros, but like most HBO subscribers, he would prefer to stay out of battle." Kois adds that, "Dinklage's bravado masks Tyrion's deep well of melancholy." Of the Season 2 storyline, Dinklage noted that Tyrion enjoys not only his foray into battle, but also his new and unprecedented power at court. He said, "This is a character that's been shit upon his whole life. I mean, he comes from great wealth, but he's treated very poorly, so now there's a newfound respect where if somebody calls him a name, he can have them killed. He never had that before. Tyrion definitely enjoys that part and he's trying desperately to hold onto it. He's enjoying it while it lasts 'cause he's not sure it's gonna last very long." As Varys the Spymaster tells Tyrion, power is "a trick, a shadow on the wall ... and a very small man can cast a very large shadow."
As Hand of the King, Tyrion attempts to control his cruel and incompetent nephew Joffrey, and defend Kings Landing from Stannis Baratheon, the rival claimant to the Iron Throne. Tyrion destroys much of Stannis' attacking fleet with wildfire, but is almost assassinated during the battle, presumably at Joffrey's or Cersei's command. Tyrion recovers to find himself stripped of power by his returned father, and without recognition for his heroics. Shae implores Tyrion to move to Pentos with her, but he opts to remain in Kings Landing.
Season 2 leaves Tyrion "broke, beaten, scarred for life and stripped of his power," despite having been instrumental in saving King's Landing from invasion. It is his chance to escape the sordid and deadly "game of thrones," but he cannot bring himself to, confessing, "Bad people are what I'm good at." So Tyrion finds he must submit to Tywin's plan of marrying him to Sansa Stark; despite being drunk in order to soothe his many woes, Tyrion manages to save Sansa from being publicly stripped and likely raped by Joffrey, and later "chooses decency over filial loyalty and elects not to consummate the marriage after all." Tyrion is also now powerless against Joffrey's malice, but Tywin has asserted his control over the young king, if only when it serves his own desires; he stops Joffrey from presenting Sansa with her brother's head, but not because he cares about Sansa or Tyrion's outrage. Despite Tywin's continuous determination to make Tyrion feel "miserable and unloved," he believes he is a good father – because he resisted the urge to cast Tyrion into the sea at birth. Though he should not be surprised by his father's coldblooded machinations, Tyrion is horrified by Tywin's involvement in the Red Wedding; Todd VanDerWerff writes, "only Tyrion seems to understand that the blood they spilled will eventually be avenged. The North may have calmed for now, but it won't be calm always." Of that storyline, Matt Fowler of IGN notes, "Only an event that powerful could keep series-favorite Tyrion out of an episode for the first time."
Tyrion asks Tywin to be named heir to House Lannister's ancestral home Casterly Rock. Tywin angrily refuses and threatens to hang Shae if she is found in his bed again, but does have Tyrion named as Master of Coin, the treasurer. He also forces Tyrion to marry Sansa Stark against his will, though both decide not to consummate the marriage. Tyrion and Sansa begin to bond as they are both outcasts in King's Landing, until Sansa discovers that her mother Catelyn and brother Robb have been murdered as a result of Tywin's scheming.
In March 2014, Dinklage confirmed that Season 4 would "stick fairly closely" to Tyrion's plot line in A Storm of Swords, adding that "those reversals of fortune really send [Tyrion] down the rabbit hole." He notes that the character changes in Season 4, and "really ends up in a different place than he thought he was going to. It's fueled a bit by anger towards his family, and trying to find his place in the world. You see that some people rely on drunk, funny Tyrion. I think funny and drunk lasts only so long. He sobers up in many ways. And love is in his life [with Shae], and that causes a tremendous amount of damage – because he's vulnerable and he doesn't like to be vulnerable. He's completely stripped of his defense mechanisms." Of Tyrion's relationship with his brother Jaime, Dinklage said, "If you're raised together, you have an unspoken dialogue many times, and it's very easy, especially between Jaime and Tyrion. They have a real friendship, a good brotherhood. They look after each other." As in the novels, Tyrion is (unfairly) found guilty of Joffrey's murder and condemned to death; the HBO series does not use the reveal that his first wife was not really a prostitute to motivate Tyrion to kill his father, and he does not lie to Jaime that he is guilty of killing Joffrey.
Fearing for Shae's safety, Tyrion breaks up with her and orders her to leave for Pentos. She refuses until he calls her a whore, and declares that she cannot have his children. Joffrey is poisoned to death at his wedding feast, and Cersei immediately accuses Tyrion. At his trial, Shae appears to testify against him, falsely claiming that Sansa refused to bed Tyrion unless he killed Joffrey. Outraged at her betrayal and finally snapping from years of mockery for his dwarfism, Tyrion demands a trial by combat. Cersei names the virtually undefeatable Gregor Clegane as her champion. Tyrion is defended by Oberyn Martell, who believes that his sister, niece, and nephew were murdered by Gregor. Oberyn is nearly victorious, but his refusal to kill Gregor without obtaining a confession gives Gregor the opportunity to kill him, and Tyrion is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Tyrion is released by Jaime to be smuggled out of Westeros by Varys. Tyrion decides to confront Tywin before his flight, and finds Shae in his father's bed. Tyrion strangles her to death, and then confronts Tywin on the privy. Tyrion kills his father with a crossbow bolt, and then leaves for Pentos with Varys.
In 2015, James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly called Tyrion's meeting with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) an "iconic meetup" that "delighted fans, who were universally enthusiastic (for once!) about the showrunners making a narrative move not yet found in George R.R. Martin’s novels." Dinklage said in the interview, "That’s the great thing about my character: He’s been everywhere. He’s the only character that goes searching. He’s been to The Wall and now he has to find the dragons." Benioff and Weiss said that the conversation between Tyrion and Daenerys focused on the parallels between their lives, as Tyrion had a "lot of empathy" toward Daenerys for being an orphan, like himself, and both had "terrible fathers". Tyrion realized that Varys might be right about Daenerys being the "last hope for Westeros". Benioff and Weiss also suggested that Tyrion believes that Daenerys could bring him "back into power".
Tyrion arrives in Pentos, where Varys reveals that he has been conspiring to restore House Targaryen to power, and asks Tyrion to journey with him to meet Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen. During their journey, Tyrion is kidnapped by Daenerys' former advisor Jorah Mormont, who aims to redeem himself to Daenerys by bringing her the dwarf. However, Tyrion and Jorah are captured by slavers, whom Tyrion convinces to sell them to the fighting pits in Meereen. During a demonstration of pit fighters, Tyrion and Jorah encounter Daenerys; she decides to take Tyrion into her service, but orders Jorah exiled again. At the re-opening of Meereen's fighting pits, the insurgency known as the Sons of the Harpy launch a massive attack, which is only thwarted when Daenerys' dragon Drogon appears and scares off the Sons, before riding off with Daenerys on his back. Although Tyrion wishes to join Jorah and Daario Naharis in their search for Daenerys, Daario points out that his skills are best suited to governing Meereen in Daenerys' absence. Varys later arrives in Meereen, and offers Tyrion the use of his spy network to maintain order in the city.
Tyrion discovers that the Sons of the Harpy are funded by the slavers of Yunkai, Astapor, and Volantis, and arranges a meeting with representatives of those cities to give them seven years to abolish slavery. Despite Tyrion's insistence that compromise is necessary, this solution is met with disapproval by Daenerys' other advisors and the freedmen of Meereen. Tyrion also enlists the assistance of the red priestess Kinvara, who believes that Daenerys is a messianic figure prophesied by her faith and offers the support of the followers of R'hllor. Meereen begins to prosper, but the city's success attracts the ire of the slavers, who fear it will undermine the legitimacy of slavery, and so launch a massive naval attack against the city. Daenerys returns in the chaos, and though she is displeased with Tyrion's failure, she is persuaded by him to obliterate the slavers' fleet and force their ultimate surrender rather than destroy them outright. Soon after, Theon and Yara Greyjoy arrive in Meereen offering Daenerys the Iron Fleet; they are joined by the fleets of Dorne and the Reach, who have defected from the Lannisters. Daenerys names an honored Tyrion as her Hand of the Queen. Tyrion then joins her, the dragons, and her army as they sail to Westeros.
Plotting their conquest of Westeros from Dragonstone, the ancestral Targaryen fortress, Daenerys and Tyrion learn that Jon Snow has been named King in the North. Tyrion suggests that Jon would make a valuable ally; Daenerys and Jon are impressed with each other, but she is annoyed when he declines to swear his allegiance to her. Daenerys and her allies discuss their strategy for the war against the Lannisters. Tyrion advises against a direct attack on King's Landing, and Daenerys agrees to his nuanced series of attacks. However, Cersei and Jaime outmaneuver him, neutralizing Daenerys' Greyjoy and Dornish support. A furious Daenerys ignores Tyrion's continued arguments for caution, and decimates a Lannister caravan with her dragons. He is also unable to stop her from executing Randyll and Dickon Tarly, who refuse to swear fealty to her even after their defeat. In "Eastwatch", Tyrion meets with Jaime in secret to broker a meeting between Cersei and Daenerys. In "The Dragon and the Wolf", he helps convince Cersei that the advancing undead are a more immediate threat than the war with Daenerys for control of Westeros.
From the beginning, Dinklage's performance received much critical praise. The Boston Globe called his Tyrion one of the show's "highlights," adding that Dinklage "gives a winning performance that is charming, morally ambiguous, and self-aware." Matt Roush of TV Guide told viewers to "rejoice in the scene-stealing bravado of Peter Dinklage as the wry 'imp' Tyrion Lannister." The Los Angeles Times wrote "In many ways, Game of Thrones belongs to Dinklage" even before, in Season 2, the "scene-stealing actor's" character became the series' most central figure. The New York Times noted that as beloved as the character of Tyrion is to the novels' fans, "Dinklage's sly performance has made Tyrion all the more popular." The Huffington Post called Tyrion the "most quotable" character on the HBO series, as well as one of the most beloved.
In April 2011 both the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly pronounced Dinklage worthy of an Emmy Award for his performance in Season 1. He subsequently received one for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. He also earned a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film and a Scream Award for Best Supporting Actor for Season 1 of Game of Thrones. Dinklage won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor again in 2015.
Dinklage has been nominated for the Emmy four other times for playing Tyrion, in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016. He has received several other award nominations for his performance in the series, including the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2012 and 2016; the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film in 2012, 2015, and 2016; the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017; the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama in 2011 and 2012; and in 2011 both the IGN Award and the IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Actor.
Among the various lines of Game of Thrones collectible figurines licensed by HBO, Tyrion has featured prominently, being dubbed one of the "heavy hitters", "fan favorites", "most-liked" and "most popular" characters.
Funko has produced two Tyrion figures as part of their POP! Television line. They are 4.5 inch vinyl figures in the Japanese super deformed style, one in an early series look, and a post-Season 2 version with a facial scar, "Battle Armor" and an axe. The company also produced a Mystery Mini Blind Box figurine of a stylized Tyrion. As part of their Legacy Collection line of action figures, Funko released a "Hand of the King" Tyrion, a Tyrion in armor with axe, as well as a Limited Edition "2014 San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive" armor version with a helmet. Threezero released a 1/6 scale 8 5/8 inch figure, and Dark Horse produced both a 6-inch figurine, and a 10 inch high-end statue for which the series' producers chose Tyrion as the subject.