It’s safe to say that Tywin Lannister is one of the most imposing villains of the series A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones. As the patriarch of one of the wealthiest clans in Westeros, Tywin is pitiless towards friends, foes, and even family members. Tywin has been brought to life on the series by actor Charles Dance, and he has been a fan favorite ever since he first appeared.
But how faithful to the books is this TV adaptation? What went into the creation of Tywin? What his backstory? Here are 42 ruthless facts about Tywin Lannister.
Facts About Tywin Lannister:
1. Quite the Mouthful!
As lord of the Westerlands, Tywin’s full title is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West.
2. The Lion Cub is Born
Tywin was born in 242 AC (After the Conquest of Aegon the Conqueror). He was the firstborn son of Tytos Lannister and Jeyne Marbrand.
3. Good Old Days
As has been mentioned several times in the books and the show, Tywin served many years as Hand of the King to King Aerys II Targaryen, better known as the Mad King. However, what’s less known is that they used to be the best of friends. When Tywin was young, he served as a cupbearer in King’s Landing. It was there that he befriended Aerys, as well as Steffon Baratheon, who would go on to be Lord of Storm’s End and the father of Robert, Stannis, and Renly Baratheon.
4. Tytos the Unlikely
Tywin’s father, Lord Tytos, was never meant to be Warden of the West. The role of lordship fell onto Tytos when both his elder brothers were no longer alive. It was broadly recognized that he was not adequately prepared for such a role.
5. Nobody Makes My Decisions Except Me!
Tywin’s insistence on control in his life is such that he shaved his head when he started going bald. This only occurs in the books, but it’s a great indication of how Tywin will even fight Mother Nature to do things his way!
6. Old Timer
While Tywin is 58 at the start of the Song of Ice and Fire series, the show upped his age to make him in his late 60s instead. This was most likely done to synchronize Tywin’s age proportion to the rest of the cast, all of whom had their ages upped for the series.
7. Tywin Longshanks?
A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin frequently draws from the well of history to create his characters and stories. In the case of Tywin, Martin hasn’t said anything specifically, but fans have eagerly brought up the various historical figures that share traits with Tywin. Among the foremost people who are named are Pope Alexander VI, the ruthless patriarch of the Borgia family, and King Edward I of England, an equally vicious figure who was famous for his battles with his enemies to the north as well as his disappointment in how his offspring turned out.
8. Brothers in Arms
During the Conflict of the Ninepenny Kings, a teenaged Tywin fought in the retinue of Prince Aerys, who was the same age as him and was not yet mad. The two of them became so close during this time period that when Aerys earned his knighthood, he insisted that it was Tywin who dubbed him a knight.
9. King of the Mountain
Those of you who watch Game of Thrones might remember that we saw a bit of Casterly Rock in season 7. However, Tywin’s ancestral home is very different in the books. According to George R.R. Martin, Casterly Rock is a colossal natural rock formation shaped like a lion in repose. It is supposedly three times the height of the Wall and two leagues across. We can see why the showrunners didn’t bother breaking the budget over such a structure!
10. Royal Meet Cute
While Tywin was still serving the Targaryen family as a cupbearer, he made the acquaintance of his cousin, Joanna Lannister. She was serving Princess Rhaella Targaryen as one of her ladies-in-waiting. Tywin and Joanna would later marry and have three children together—three guesses as to what their names are.
11. Starting Early
Much has been made about the fact that Tywin was Hand of the King during the reign of Aerys II Targaryen. Incredibly, Tywin was only 20 years old when he first took the office of the King’s Hand. That made him the youngest man to ever sit on the Small Council in King’s Landing.
12. That’s Our Tywin!
Reportedly, the showrunners of Game of Thrones were first aware of Charles Dance when they saw him in a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House which aired in 15 parts during 2005. In case you’re a curious Dickens fan, Dance played the role of Mr. Tulkinghorn in the mini-series.
13. Lost Kin
While we've encountered Tywin's younger brother, Kevan, in both the books and the TV series, Tywin originally had two other brothers who are either unaccounted for or no longer alive by the time the main story commences. Tygett succumbed to the pox, while Gerion embarked eastward to the Doom of Valyria in search of any treasures he might discover. He was never seen again.
Charles Dance was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006.
15. Little Sis
Aside from his brothers, Tywin also had a sister named Genna. Like Tywin, Genna was a shrewd and dominating figure, and following Joanna Lannister's departure from life, she assumed a motherly role to Tywin's three children. She has never appeared on Game of Thrones.
16. Happiness is a New Concept for Him
Known to be a very stern and humorless man, Tywin’s cold demeanor was nonetheless softened and warmed somewhat by Joanna Lannister, the love of his life. When they were wed in a ceremony overseen in the Sept of Baelor by King Aerys II himself, Tywin gave one of the only smiles in his entire life.
17. The King Without a Crown
In the books, Stannis Baratheon has a monologue where he reflects on the first time he ever went to the royal court at King’s Landing. At just four years old, Stannis witnessed the king sitting on the Iron Throne and was awed by his regal authority and seeming nobility. However, he was later informed by his father that he hadn’t seen the king, he’d seen Tywin. King Aerys had cut himself on the Iron Throne so he sat out of his duties and bade Tywin to sit on the throne instead.
18. Bad Blood
Tywin’s relationships with his brothers, particularly Tygett and Gerion, was very bad. Tygett despised being overshadowed by Tywin in every regard, and constantly tried to make his own way. Gerion, meanwhile, refused to take the game seriously and would prefer to make jokes or laugh where Tywin was serious. Interestingly, another big difference between Tywin and his youngest brothers was that both of them were always kind to Tyrion, where Tywin…well, we’ll get into that.
19. Motherless Child
One other possible reason why Tywin had a bad relationship with his youngest brother, Gerion, is because of a tragedy which occurred due to Gerion’s birth. Tywin's mother, Jeyne Marbrand, never recovered from the birth of her youngest child, and she departed from this life soon after.
According to George R.R. Martin, when Tywin was just an infant, his grandfather fondly ruffled his hair, only to be bitten by Tywin in response!
21. Where Were You When You Heard…
People will remember how Tywin and his army, as well as the forces of House Tyrell, arrived just in time to King’s Landing to take the forces of Stannis Baratheon in the rear, leading to the Battle of the Blackwater turning into a victory for House Lannister and their new allies. However, Tywin wasn’t meant to be there at all and certainly wasn’t there in the books. Before he got word of what was happening down south, Tywin initially marched west to chase after Robb Stark, only for his way to be blocked by Edmure Tully at Riverrun.
22. Six to One, Half a Dozen to the Other
Speaking of that battle, it doesn’t really appear in the series, but the Battle of the Fords is both a victory and a disaster for House Tully and House Stark. On the one hand, Edmure Tully is the only person in the series to successfully defeat Tywin in battle, or at least keep him in a stalemate. On the other hand, Tywin is able to turn back and stop Stannis rather than being caught too far away in the west. So while the Battle of the Fords is a short-term triumph, it leads to Stannis’s defeat, the alliance between Tyrell and Lannister, and the decline of Houses Tully and Stark.
23. Debt Collecting
During his father’s lordship, he was very generous with the house fortunes, lending money to anyone who asked and never having the nerve to demand repayments. When Tywin returned to Casterly Rock from the Conflict of the Ninepenny Kings, he determined to show his father’s bannermen that he expected immediate repayments of any money they’d ever taken. One of them famously stated “The lion has awoken,” when he received Tywin’s command.
24. Finally in Charge
Tywin assumed the role of Warden of the West at age 25. His father, Tytos, suffered a heart attack in 267 AC as he was ascending the stairs within Casterly Rock, which led to his demise.
25. What Happens to Me?
Before he was cast as Tywin in Game of Thrones, Charles Dance had never read the books that the show was based on. This was revealed when he was informed by a fan about an upcoming intense exit scene in the show. Intrigued, Dance actually asked the fan to give it away, since he hadn’t read the books and the show hadn’t gotten that far in the story yet.
26. Marrying Beneath You
When Tywin was 12 and his sister, Genna, was seven, their father was talked into betrothing Genna to one of Lord Walder Frey’s sons. This was seen as a great humiliation to House Lannister, since the Freys were widely disliked as being an upstart House, and Genna wasn’t even engaged to Walder’s heir. Even Tywin was enraged at his father’s inability to refuse Walder Frey and was the only one to openly say it to Tytos’ face when the news was announced.
27. How Dare You!
Reportedly, Tywin was so angry at his father for engaging Genna to a Frey boy that the two were allegedly heard having a shouting match while in private. It was whispered but never proven that the 12-year-old struck his father out of fury. While the truth was never known, Tywin was soon sent out of Casterly Rock to be a cupbearer in the royal court at King’s Landing.
28. Dire Consequences
We won’t go too deeply into the details that George R.R. Martin has offered us on the Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion which cemented Tywin’s legacy. We will, however, point out the fates of those involved. Walderan Tarbeck and most of his sons were executed after being defeated in battle, while Ellen Reyne and her son, Tion, were hanged from the highest tower of Tarbeck Hall.
Ellen’s brothers, Roger and Reynard Reyne, took shelter in the mines of Castamere, their castle, only for Tywin and his men to divert a nearby river so that the mines were completely flooded, drowning all those who went underground.
29. Unworthy Matches!
In the books, Oberyn Martell mentions that he and his sister, Elia, were taken to Casterly Rock shortly after Joanna Lannister ceased to be. Before she left the world, she had been friends with Oberyn and Elia’s mother, and it was assumed that a match could be made between Tywin’s children and the Martell siblings. However, Tywin outright refused to consider marrying Jaime to Elia or Oberyn to Cersei, claiming that Cersei would marry Rhaegar Targaryen. Ironically, Rhaegar would marry Elia instead.
30. Seriously, Bro?
Given how Elia Martell managed to do what Cersei Lannister couldn’t do, it’s long been suspected that Elia’s grisly fate at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane (the Mountain) was at least partially ordered by Tywin out of petty revenge. Given how ruthlessly he defended House Lannister in his lifetime and given how he knew exactly what sort of man Ser Gregor was, it wouldn’t surprise us at all!
31. Wait, What?!
In one of the most bizarre coincidences that pop culture’s seen in a while, both Tywin and the actor who portrays him, Charles Dance, have a wife named Joanna.
32. Beware the Giggles
Tywin’s father was known as the Laughing Lion because he never took offense at any jokes or insults. He wanted to be liked, and so he waved off any insults sent his way. As a result, people made a game out of insulting him as hard as they could, knowing that he would just take it and pretend that they were just joking around. Because of this, Tywin would never laugh, nor would he ever trust laughter.
33. Showdown at the Rock
One figure who wouldn’t have any of Tywin’s debt collecting was Lord Walderan Tarbeck. He had been foremost among the lords who had grown rich and powerful during the years of Lord Tytos’ rule. When he heard of Tywin’s demands, he rode to Casterly Rock, confident that he could cow Tytos in overruling his heir. However, when Walderan arrived, Tywin was holding court. Walderan ended up imprisoned within the massive castle.
34. The Gold and Red Lions
If Tywin thought that imprisoning Walderan Tarbeck would reassert the power of House Lannister, he was mistaken. Walderan’s wife was Ellen Reyne, whose brothers were renowned figures in the Westerlands. In response to her husband’s capture, Ellen captured three members of House Lannister, one of them being Tywin’s own cousin, Stafford. A standoff then ensued.
35. Didn’t You Hire Him?
Such was Tywin’s efficiency as Hand of the King that people began to whisper that he was the real ruler of Westeros. Aerys II Targaryen grew more and more jealous of these rumors, as well as his Hand’s competence. As a result, a game began in the royal court, where Aerys bestowed his favor on anyone who could mock Tywin the best.
36. We’re Friends, Right?
The crisis involving captured individuals between Walderan Tarbeck and the Lannister captives finally prompted Tywin's father, Tytos, to cease his hesitation and take decisive action for once in his life. However, it wasn’t the action that Tywin wanted his father to take. Tytos was dismayed by his son's suggestion to dismember Walderan and send him home in three parts as retribution for each captive. Instead, he let Walderan go, extended apologies to him, and forgave any outstanding debts that House Tarbeck owed House Lannister. This smoothed things over for a bit, until the infamous uprising by House Reyne and House Tarbeck.
37. I Said I Quit!
Several times during his run as Hand of the King, Tywin tried to resign his position due to the various insults that Aerys threw his way. One of the first instances occurred after Aerys insulted Tywin’s wife, Joanna, when she first presented Jaime and Cersei at the royal court. On another occasion, Aerys famously refused Tywin’s suggestion that Cersei marry Aerys’ son, Rhaegar Targaryen. It wasn’t until Aerys made Jaime a member of the Kingsguard, however, that Tywin well and truly had enough of Aerys and left his service.
38. Shame! Shame! Shame!
When Tywin became Warden of the West, one of the first things that he had to deal with was his father’s former mistress. Tytos had turned to a common-born woman for comfort in his final years. While Tywin was in King's Landing, Tytos would yield to his mistress on Westerland's state matters and permit her to evaluate the clothing and jewelry that once belonged to Tywin's late mother. As soon as Tywin assumed control, however, he had the mistress disrobed and publicly humiliated by having her paraded for two weeks through Lannisport.
39. What Goes Around Comes Around
If the above point sounds familiar to you, know that this was more than intentional on George R.R. Martin’s part. Tywin’s daughter Cersei being forced to go on a penance walk of her own in the series is meant as a bit of irony or poetic justice, depending on how much you hate Tywin.
40. False Happiness
One of the most sinister acts that Tywin ever committed in his life was his actions after his youngest son had fallen in love and married a woman named Tysha. Meeting her on the road after Jaime saved her from bandits, Tyrion and Tysha eloped and spent a few days together. Ultimately, Tywin compelled Jaime to disclose the truth to Tyrion: Tysha was not actually a crofter's daughter, but merely a woman of the night whom Jaime had compensated to play a part in order to give Tyrion a taste of joy with a woman.
41. Not Cool, Man
As if this shocking revelation wasn't enough for Tyrion to process, Tywin also thrust his youngest son into a hall in Casterly Rock, where Tysha was used by House Lannister's guards while Tyrion was forced to watch. Tywin made sure that Tysha was paid a silver coin for every man that used her. To make it even worse, the books included the detail that Tywin then made Tyrion use her after all the guards, whereupon Tywin paid Tysha a gold coin since a Lannister was worth more. It was the last time that Tyrion ever saw Tysha.
42. What a Twist!
As distressing as Tyrion's disgrace seems, the televised series excluded the gravest revelation detailed in the books. Viewers will recollect that Jaime was the one who aided Tyrion's escape at the close of the fourth season, when he faced execution on accusations of causing Joffrey's demise. In the books, Jaime explains to Tyrion that he owed him a serious debt.
It turns out that Tysha wasn't a woman of the night at all! She truly was a crofter's daughter and she genuinely did love Tyrion. Tywin had made Jaime lie because he wanted to teach Tyrion a sharp lesson. We can’t blame Tyrion for murdering Tywin after that revelation!
43. Let’s Put a Smile on That Face!
In the books, Tywin's funeral isn't so much a moment of somberness as it is a scene of his humiliation. The stench from Tywin's decaying body is so potent in the sept that it causes the mourners to sway and fall unconscious. Moreover, Tywin’s rotting lips curl upward to make it look like he’s smiling, much to the disturbance of Jaime and Cersei.