December 22, 2023 | Christine Tran

Roaring Facts About House Lannister

“The Lannisters never declined, graciously or otherwise. The Lannisters took what was offered". –Tyrion Lannister, A Game of Thrones

Thanks to HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series, House Lannister has become a pop culture shorthand for schemes, corruption, wealth, and families too close for comfort. But what lies beneath the gold hair and gold mines of Westeros’s most notorious noble dynasty? George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, and their supplementary texts, offer no shortage of Lannister backstory and scandal that can’t be found in the show. With this information, the motivations of Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion, and many other Lannisters become clear as gold. Having ruled over the Westerlands for hundreds of years—even before the Targaryen conquest—the Lannisters were familiar with power and wealth. But they weren’t always feared; before the reign of Tywin Lannister, the Lannisters were on the decline. Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t ensure success. How did they get to where they are today? Pay those debts and explore 43 golden facts about House Lannister.

1. Iberian Inspiration

Martin styled Casterly Rock after Gibraltar, a territory on the Iberian Peninsula that was the site of conflict of in Europe for years. The Moorish Castle there does deeply resemble the aesthetic of the Lannister home base.

House Lannister

2. Glo-Up!

It’s said the Lannisters inherited their iconic gold hair from their ancestor, Lann the Clever, who took gold from the Sun itself to put in his locks. Now that’s a highlight!

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO

3. Hair or Nothing

In the books, Twyin Lannister has kept his head shaved ever since his scalp decided to go bad. Because if Tywin Lannister has to go bald, it’s gonna be because of Tywin Lannister!

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2017, HBO

4. A Bad Start

When Tywin inherited Casterly Rock from his father, he discovered his dad’s mistress trying on his late mother’s gowns and jewels. Furious that his father let a common woman rule the family roost for so long, Tywin ordered the unnamed woman to be stripped uncovered, marched through the streets, and forced to admit to every man she passed that she was a “harlot” and a “thief". Note the parallels between this and his daughter Cersei’s own future “Walk of Shame".

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2017, HBO

5. Was This Lion Whipped?

Tywin was married to his first cousin, Joanna Lannister (wow, it’s almost like this family looks within itself for romantic partners). Joanna was his most trusted advisor and, of course, she was the mother of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion. It was said that while Tywin ruled Westeros as the King’s Hand, Tywin “was ruled at home by his lady wife".

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

6. Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Tywin almost definitely married his wife for love. As his cousin, Joanna Lannister brought no extra family alliances or army support the Lord of Casterly Rock didn’t already have. Still, his own happy marriage did not stop Tywin from forcing his kids into loveless political matches—he clearly considered himself the exception to the rule.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2013, HBO

7. McMansion of the West

Did the show impart how huge Casterly Rock is supposed to be? According to canon sources, the Lannister family seat is three times taller than the Wall and two leagues long.

The LnnistersGame of Thrones, 2017, HBO

8. For Want of a Sword

House Lannister was known as one of the few Great Westerosi houses to not own a Valyrian steel weapon, but they did once have one long ago. Hundreds of years before the series started, a Lannister King of the Rock, Tommen II, brought his Valyrian sword named Brightroar out to sea with the intention of plundering the ruins of Valyria. Neither the fleet, nor King Tommen, nor Brightroar were ever seen again.

Jaime Lannister factsGame of Thrones, HBO

9. Brother, Where Art Thou?

As a young man, Tywin's youngest brother Gerion embarked on an adventure to find the family Valyrian sword Brightroar. Just like the sword, Gerion left for the high seas on a magnificent ship…but disappeared without a trace. Another rich kid backpacking trip goes awry.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2016, HBO

10. Toddlers & Dissent

Genna Lannister is Tywin’s only sister and the wife of Walder Frey’s second son. It was not considered an equal match—Tywin’s father was a weak ruler who was desperate to be liked. Walder Frey exploited that weakness to get a Lannister bride for his son. Although he was a child, Tywin spoke out against the union right at the betrothal dinner. Genna would admit that while she would not approve of who Tywin became, she loved her brother for being the only person to stand up against his sister’s lackluster future.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2013, HBO

11. Why Are You Booing Her? She’s Right!

Genna Lannister once told her brother Tywin that out of all his children, Tyrion was the most like his father. Tywin got so angry, he did not speak to Genna for some time.

Robert Baratheon factsGame of Thrones, HBO

12. Guess Who

As children, Jaime and Cersei looked so much alike, they would often switch clothes and take each other’s place. Cersei would sometimes dress as Jaime to take sword lessons, with no one being the wiser.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2014, HBO

13. The Cowardly Lion

The Lannister kids’ grandfather Tytos was known as “the Laughing Lion". Too trusting, too incompetent, and too eager to please, Tytos ruled the Westerlands with a soft paw. Lords borrowed Lannister money without paying it back and “japed of toothless lions” at court. In response, his son Tywin would dedicate his life to making sure people had nothing to laugh at.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2012, HBO

14. Not That’s Prime Real Estate

Casterly Rock literally sits on top of a gold mine. From that high and mighty position, the Lannisters are easily the most cash-wealthy family in Westeros.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2017, HBO

15. Kitten Love

When Cersei was a child, Tywin had lofty plans to marry her to the Targaryen heir, Rhaegar. Cersei was smitten by the Prince, whose memory outshines even Jaime. She once remembers how “[n]ext to Rhaegar, even her beautiful Jaime had seemed no more than a callow boy".

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO

16. Application Denied

Aerys “the Mad King” Targaryen turned down Tywin’s proposal that his son Prince Rhaegar should wed Cersei. As Aerys was wont to do, he turned Tywin down without grace, saying that Tywin was only a servant, and no servant's daughter should aspire to marry a Prince. Not a wise way to reject the richest man in the country, Aerys.

Aerys II Targaryen, The Mad King factsGame of thrones, HBO

17. Golden Army

The Lannisters own the second largest army in Westeros—second only to their rivals in The Reach.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO 

18. Sidekicks From the Sea

The alliteratively named “House Lannister of Lannisport” is a cadet branch of the Lannisters of the Rock. They reside in the port city of, you guessed it, Lannisport. They sport the same gold hair as the “main” Lannisters, but without the showboating curls, as befits their humbler station.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO

19. Almost as Good as the Real Thing

As a “cadet” branch, the Lannisters of Lannisport live to assist their main Lannisters of the Rock. When Myrcella Baratheon was sent to be married in Dorne, her Lannisport cousin Rosamund served as her body double in order to ward off potential kidnappers. Rosamund curled her straight blond hair to better resemble Myrcella, which is nice of her but definitely establishes which Lannisters are more “valuable".

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2016, HBO

20. Cash Vs. Crops: Tyrells Win

One article used economic analysis to argue that the Lannisters are not the richest family in Westeros, the Tyrells are (were?). It’s hard to buy at first: the Lannisters literally produce gold and the Tyrells simply sell crops. But the article argues that if the Tyrells ran out of gold, they could curtail spending and keep selling their primary good—food—to keep afloat. If the Lannisters ran out of food, the laws of scarcity would skyrocket the price of food, depleting their gold supplies too! To put it simply, resources are more inherently valuable than money, which puts the Tyrells on top.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2017, HBO

21. Too Many Cubs

Both Tywin and his Lannister wife Joanna had many siblings, so Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion have many, many, Lannister cousins. It’s understandably hard to keep track. For example, in the books, they have a young cousin at court named Tyrek Lannister, who disappears at the riot of King’s Landing, presumably liquidated in the chaos. But did he though? A popular fan theory is that Tyrek was swept away either by Littlefinger or Varys, just in case they needed a pliable Lannister.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

22. Author’s Pet

George R. R. Martin has consistently stated that Tyrion Lannister is his favorite character to write. We’ll see how that helps his survival odds.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

23. Tyrion Defies Gravity

Dragons? Acceptable. Backflips? That’s where fans draw the logic card. In the show, Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow’s first meeting is quiet, understated, but powerful as the older man tells the young inpure to just own his outsider status. It plays out pretty much the same in the books…except on the page, Tyrion does a random, super-high vault off the fence and walks away for no reason. Obviously, this wasn’t added to the show. People came forth to remind Martin that Tyrion’s dwarfism would prevent him from doing this Spiderman-like feat. In future books, Tyrion’s supernatural gymnastic powers are promptly forgotten, never be seen again.

LannistersGame of Thrones,

24. Nursing His Grief

Maybe public womanizing skips a generation? Tyrion’s grandfather, Tytos, liked the ladies too. When his wife Jeyne passed within a month of giving birth to her last child, Tytos legitimately grieved for her, and his capabilities as a leader notably declined upon her demise. But He got over his woes by taking up with his infant son’s wet nurse, who became “his” wet nurse. Those Lannisters.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

25. Lessons Not Learnt

Originally Martin planned it so that Sansa doesn’t go on a journey to empathize with her own family, instead opting to willingly marry Joffrey and have his Lannister babies. It's cold comfort, but she does regret her decision.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO

26. Blond Ambition

While pitching the series, Martin placed Jaime Lannister as the real driving force behind Joffrey’s reign. The uncle-father seizes the throne for himself and blames Tyrion for Joffrey’s passing.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

27. Just a Golden Notch on Her Bed Stand

In the prequel novellas of A Song of Ice and Fire, we meet Tywin’s grandmother, Rohanne Weber. She was married a total of six times, and her Lannister husband, Tywin’s grandfather, Gerold, was her last match.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2011, HBO

28. Femme Fatales on the Rock

Shocker: another Lannister pseudo-forbiden story is instrumental to the Lannister house history. The Rains of Castamere arguably began when Tytos Lannister became heir to the Rock after his older brother passed childless. This brother’s widow was the very powerful Ellyn Reyne, who did not care to lose her status as heir to the Lady of the Rock. She tried to seduce her young brother-in-law. Unfortunately, Tytos chickened out, ran to his wife, and begged her for forgiveness. Lady Reyne was quickly married off, but this started the infamous Reyne/Lannister Feud.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2014, HBO

29. Disturbing Meet-Cute

Kevan Lannister met his wife when she was a child captive for House Lannister. When Dorna Swyft’s father couldn’t pay his debts to House Lannister, he gave over his young daughter to Kevan for ransom. What happens in the years after is ambiguous, but Kevan and Dorna were eventually married. According to his last thoughts in A Dance of Dragons, Kevan truly loved his wife, but it’s still a greasy way to start a romance. But that’s Game of Thrones for you.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2016, HBO

30. Drown Your Sorrows

Tywin won the Lannister vs. Reyne feud with waterworks. After army defeat by the Lannisters, the Reynes of Castamere offered Tywin peace terms. Instead, Tywin ordered all the entrances of Castamere to be sealed and for water to be diverted into where the family and folk were hiding. Every person within drowned, and a catchy bummer of a song called “The Rains of Castamere” was born to grace Red Weddings and Spotify playlists the world over.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

31. Unwanted Attention

The “Mad King” Aerys wasn’t good at ruling, but he was good at offending Lannisters. This skill was on particular display regarding Aerys’s “involvement” with Tywin and Joanna’s marriage. During the bedding ceremony, the King took “unwonted liberties” with Joanna. We aren’t privy to exactly what happened, but it can’t have been good, since Joanna was dismissed from court soon after.

Robert Baratheon factsGame of Thrones, HBO

32. Not the Father?

When Tyrion told Jon “All dwarves are bastards in their fathers’ eyes,” was this literal foreshadowing? Does “Joanna + Aerys = Tyrion”? Some fans have interpreted Tywin’s derision for Tyrion as rooted in his paternity; in this popular fan theory, Tyrion is not Tywin’s son, but a Secret Targaryen impure that is the result of Aerys’s lust for Joanna.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO

33. Changing Spaces

During the reign of King Aerys, the Lannister power was so great, court followed them. In 267 AC, the royal court temporarily moved from King’s Landing to Casterly Rock. Aerys wanted to see the Lannister twins as soon as they were old enough to travel, but their grandfather’s passing postponed those plans. So, instead, Aerys just moved court to their house—which testifies both to the Lannisters' importance and Aerys’s ability to be a hassle to everyone around him.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2017, HBO

34. Apply Mercy to Burn

Before the conquest of Aegon Targaryen, the Lannisters ruled the Westerlands as “Kings of the Rock". This ended with the “Field of Fire,” a battle that pitted the dragon-led Targaryen forces against the combined defenses of the Westerlands and The Reach. Seeing as it was called the “Field of Fire,” how the Targaryens won is pretty self-explanatory. The Lannister King Loren I survived, living to bend the knee to Aegon. In exchange, he was named “Warden of the West".

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2018, HBO

35. Love It or List It

In 2012, Forbes ranked Tywin Lannister as #12 on their Forbes Fictional 15 List of wealthiest fictional characters. At just one slot above Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $2.1 billion dollars, and called him “richest man north of Dorne". Of course, that’s just one opinion…

Aerys II Targaryen, The Mad King factsGame of thrones, HBO

36. Smell Ya Later

Tywin Lannister left a stinky body. You might attribute this to his “ended while on the toilet” cause of demsie , but his body continued to reek at his funeral. This led to a popular, and well-founded, fan-theory that Oberyn Martell had managed to poison Tywin before their trial by combat just to be safe—Tyrion’s liquidation of his father simply put Oberyn’s game plan ahead of schedule.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2015, HBO

37. Settle Down, Son

Tywin showed a preternatural talent for Machiavellian brutality. During one feud, a vassal named Lord Tarbeck was captured by Lord Tytos Lannister. Tarbeck's wife responded by capturing three Lannisters. The young Tywin advised his dad to send Lord Tarbeck back in three pieces—a single piece for each precious Lannister. To the presumed chagrin of his son, gentle Tytos did not listen and simply sent back his rival in peace, not in pieces.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2015, HBO

38. Started From the Bottom

According to Westerosi legend, House Lannister descends from a Loki-like trickster character named “Lann the Clever". Lann scammed the family seat, Casterly Rock, from the original owners. In some of these tales, he brouhgt lions into the Rock, which then devoured all the Casterly men, leaving all the women for Lann himself. In other tales, Lann spirited himself into the stronghold and simply whispered threats into the Casterly men’s ears while they slept, caused havoc, and generally let the dynasty tear itself apart. Is this an unsubtle omen for the fate of our current Lannisters?

LannistersGame of Thrones

39. Rescue Pups

Tytos Lannister’s klutzy leadership gave birth to House Clegane. One day, the lord somehow got between a lioness and its prey. The lioness was about to eat Lord Tytos when Casterly Rock’s kennel master saved his lord’s skin. Of course, the kennel master lost his leg and three dogs in the process. For his sacrifice, Tytos promoted the man to the gentry, granting him lands and taking his son as his squire. For better or worse, that act created House Clegane.

LannistersGame of Thrones

40. Two Is Gross, Three Is Grosser

In Martin’s 1993 pitch letter for the A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion’s love life was somehow even more messed up. Tyrion would have found himself falling “helplessly in love with Arya Stark” (emphasis ours). Not only that, Tyrion’s infatuation with Arya would pit him in a deadly love triangle against Jon Snow, who, in this twisted universe, also realizes he is in love with his half-sister, Arya. Have you ever been more grateful for second-drafts?

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2012, HBO

41. Missed Encounters

Before he joined the Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister was almost set to marry Lysa Tully. As a teenager, he spent some time in the Riverrun, where Hoster Tully made sure to seat Jaime next to Lysa at every meal. Jaime thought Lysa was pretty, although he found her “fits of giggles” to be off-putting; incidentally, he found her sister Catelyn to be “much more interesting". Tywin even invited Hoster over to discuss her dowry, but Jaime joined the Kingsguard and threw a wrench in what would have been an…interesting marriage.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2011, HBO

42. Not Letting Him Down Easy

After Jaime joined the Kingsguard and could no longer marry Lysa, Twyin offered Tyrion as a groom in his stead. Hoster gruffly rebuffed him, stating he wanted a “whole man” for his young daughter. Ouch.

LannistersGame of Thrones, 2019, HBO

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31


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