Tyrion Lannister is among the most popular characters in both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, but GRRM’s original plan was very different.
Tyrion Lannister is one of the most popular characters in both Game of Thrones and the book series that it’s based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, but author George R.R. Martin’s original plans for the character would’ve made fans hate him. Tyrion is generally seen as one of the smartest and wittiest characters in Game of Thrones: in its early seasons in particular, he received all the best lines and was involved in many of its strongest storylines. Martin himself has long had a particular affection for the character, and TV fans took to him thanks to the great writing and the excellent performance of Peter Dinklage.
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As with many things with A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, though, it could’ve been quite different. While the show ended up spanning eight seasons, and the books have reached five and counting, Martin originally envisaged the series as a trilogy. Book one, A Game of Thrones, would’ve been the Starks vs. the Lannisters; book two, A Dance with Dragons, had Daenerys Targaryen ready to invade Westeros; and finally book three, The Winds of Winter (a novel still awaiting release), would’ve brought down the threat of the Others (the White Walkers in Game of Thrones). All of this was part of Martin’s initial outline, which would obviously change drastically as he started writing and building his world, and that includes the character of Tyrion.
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Part of Tyrion’s character arc would have been similar to what viewers saw in Game of Thrones: the black sheep of the Lannister family who grows disillusioned with their ways as they wage war with the Starks; he would also strike up close relationships with Sansa and Arya Stark. However, Tyrion wouldn’t be able to fully betray his family. While Robb Stark would win victories against Joffrey Baratheon, he would ultimately fall to the forces of Tyrion and Jaime Lannister. What’s more, Tyrion would also lay siege to Winterfell, eventually burning the castle down. Although the Tyrion of Game of Thrones is no stranger to murder and other abhorrent crimes, committing such an act against the main heroic family would’ve painted him in a very different light.
It’s true that the shades of gray and complexities of its characters is a reason why A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones both proved so compelling, but this would have likely turned viewers against Tyrion, at least for a time. With him burning Winterfell down, Catelyn Stark and the children who remained with her – Bran and Arya – would flee to the Wall. Unable to find safety there, they’d head beyond it, where Catelyn would end up being killed by one of the Others. That would mean Tyrion had been involved in the deaths of both Robb and Catelyn (both of whom ending up dying in the Red Wedding instead), as well as the destruction of Winterfell. Combined, they’re events that would make it very difficult, although perhaps not impossible, for him to become the beloved protagonist he does.
There was some hope for redemption in Tyrion’s original story, as he’d kill Joffrey and be exiled for it, trying to find some peace with the Starks. But matters would then be complicated further by the emergence of a new romance, as Tyrion was to realize he was in love with Arya who, in turn, loved Jon Snow. The Tyrion/Arya/Jon love triangle is a plot idea that sounds so weird it makes all the rest of the incest seem perfectly normal, and since it would lead to a rivalry with Jon, it would once again but Tyrion on the opposing side to the story’s great hero.
Tyrion is seemingly headed down a dark path in Martin’s books – one that Game of Thrones shied away from – following the murder of Tywin and Shae, and it’s likely readers will see a much more cruel side to him as things progress. But when that does happen, it’ll be with years of strong character development behind it. If GRRM’s original plan had happened, and then Game of Thrones had a Tyrion who waged war on the Starks, burned down Winterfell, and was partly responsible for killing Robb and Catelyn, then no matter how much wine he drank or words of wit and wisdom he espoused, it’s likely viewers would’ve had a very different take on the character, and not for the better.
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