The Big Picture
- The Lannisters have a long history in Westeros and in both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, tracing back to the legendary trickster Lann the Clever. They have retained power through their cunning and the wealth from their mines.
- Tyrion, despite being despised by his family, has proven to be intelligent and skilled in politics. He played a significant role as Hand of the King and ultimately joined Daenerys in her conquest.
- Tywin, the formidable patriarch of House Lannister, restored the family’s wealth and crushed rebellions. He was murdered by his own son, Tyrion. Jaime, Cersei, and Tytos also played important roles in the family’s history.
There are a few houses in the Game of Thrones universe that have stirred as much chaos and political conflicts as the Lannisters. From the Age of Heroes, through the Dance of the Dragons, and up until the end of Game of Thrones, the Lannisters always seem to be around whenever conflict is brewing. Apart from being filthy rich, what’s true about the Lannisters is that they have a knack for attracting the spotlight to themselves, their gold, and their regally blonde hair. You might hate them for their excessive pride, or like them for their witty retorts, but no matter your preference, they’ll always be at the center of crucial events in Westeros history, pouring gold to fuel the dragon’s fire, impossible to ignore and excruciatingly smug about it.
The Lannisters trace back their lineage to Lann the Clever, a legendary trickster from the Age of Heroes, who famously swindled Casterly Rock from its previous owners by deceiving them into believing that the castle was haunted. Ever since, the Lannisters have ruled over the Western parts of the Kingdom, initially as kings, and later as the Warden of the West after Aegon’s conquest. Though the titles changed, the Lannisters retained much of their power, thanks to the abundant supply of gold from the mines underneath their rock. And even after the mines dried, Lannisters continue to command respect and inspire fear thanks to the cunning and strength of its family members. Here’s a brief look into the Lannister family tree.
The youngest born child to Tywin (Charles Dance) and Joanna, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) had been an object of contempt to most of his family members. There are two reasons owing to the contempt, both dating back to the time he was born — Firstly, his birth resulted in the death of his mother, Joanna. And secondly, he was born a dwarf, and as Tyrion himself has said, “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.” Despite the unfavorable environment, though, Tyrion grew up to be as sharp and intelligent as his own father. During the Stark’s rebellion, Tyrion was made the Hand of the King to his nephew Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in Tywin’s absence. During his time as the Hand, he proved his aptitude for ruling and knack for political games.
But his days in the spotlight were soon put to an end after Tywin returned and saved the city from Stannis’ siege during the Battle of the Blackwater. Soon after, he was accused of poisoning and murdering King Joffrey, and was proclaimed guilty after a messy Trial By Combat. Before he could be executed, however, he made an escape with the help of his brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Varys (Conleth Hill), killing his father with a crossbow in the process and joining Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) in her conquest. He serves at her side through the conflict in Mereen, the Long Night, and the battle of King’s Landing. But upon witnessing Daenerys’ heel turn, he resigns as her Hand, and guides Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) into killing her. In the end, he delivers a powerful speech amidst the lords and ladies of Westeros, nominating and later successfully proclaiming Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) as the new King of Westeros, and serving as his Hand, making Tyrion the only Lannister to receive a semblance of a happy ending in Game of Thrones.
Tywin is the formidable patriarch of the house Lannister in Game of Thrones. Born the eldest son to Tytos Lannister, Tywin reestablished the prestige and wealth of his house, which had severely dwindled due to his father’s poor investments and pushover nature. He crushed the rebellion from House Reyne of the Castamere, and in the process inspired the infamous song ‘Rains of Castamere’ which was used to strike fear into enemy’s hearts. During Robert’s Rebellion, Tywin waited out much of the war but swooped in at the very final moment to deliver the winning blow for Robert’s (Mark Addy) party. He led the Lannister’s army during the Northern Rebellion and conspired with the Freys to orchestrate the Red Wedding, thereby crushing yet another rebellion. From then on, he served as the Hand of the King of Joffrey and Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) before getting murdered by his own son, Tyrion.
The eldest child to Tywin, Jaime was intended to inherit the Casterly Rock and rule as its heir. But much to Tywin’s dismay, he was sworn in as the Kingsguard to King Aerys II, popularly known as the Mad King. And it’s the law that members of Kingsguard can’t hold any properties or titles. During Robert’s Rebellion, after Tywin attacked the city, the Mad King ordered Jaime to set King’s Landing ablaze with wildfyre. Realizing that the king was too far gone, Jaime stabbed Ayeris in the back, earning himself the despicable nickname “Kingslayer”. Still Jaime kept serving as the Kingsguard to all future kings — Robert, Joffrey, and Tommen — all the while engaging in an incestuous relationship with his sister, Cersei (Lena Headey). During the royal trip to Winterfell, Jaime pushed Bran off a tower after he saw him having intercourse with Cersei, triggering the events of Game of Thrones. He lost his right hand to Bolton’s men during the Northern Rebellion and later substituted it with the iconic prosthetic hand made out of gold. He remained loyal to Cersei until the very end — apart from the brief change of heart he had during the battle of the long night — and ended up dead in her arms beneath the rubble of the Red Keep.
A twin sibling to Jaime in the womb, Cersei is perhaps the cruelest of the Lannisters, even more so than her father. But she disguises all her cruelty as an extreme measure to protect her children. As a teenager, she was married off to King Robert after he won the rebellion, but their marriage was little more than a loveless political arrangement to keep the two houses strong. Robert constantly neglected Cersei, routinely sleeping with other women, and in turn, Cersei had an incestuous affair with her brother Jaime, birthing three children out of the relationship. Unfortunately, however, all her children died one by one, after which she seized the crown for herself, becoming the last monarch to sit on the iron throne and rule over the seven kingdoms. Her reign comes to an end after Daenerys burns down Kings Landing and the Red Keep, which eventually crumbles and buries her, alongside Jaime.
Tytos Lannister was the father of Tywin, but he could never command fear and respect like his son. In fact, Tytos was so polite and easy-going that his reign made a mockery out of the Lannister house. He afforded massive debts to houses under his rule, but he never so much raised a finger in an attempt to recollect them. In the end, it was his eldest son, Tywin, who had returned battle-hardened from the war of the nine penny kings, who made the tough calls to bring the Lannister name back to its glory days.
A younger brother to Tywin, Kevan Lannister had a very limited presence and impact in Game of Thrones. Kevan was mostly seen beside Tywin during the early seasons, counseling and supporting him through the Northern Rebellion. After Tywin’s death, Kevan joined the Small Council meeting, but he was utterly repulsed by Cersei’s seizure of power, and he chose to leave for Casterly Rock. Kavan returned to Kings Landing at Jaime’s request to rescue Margaery (Natalie Dormer) from the Walk of Atonement. But while attending Cersei’s trial at the Sept of Bailor, he dies alongside his son and other major characters.
The oldest son of Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder), Lancel (Eugene Simon), initially, was an awkward and timid cousin to Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion, who also served as the squire to King Robert. When Jaime was away, he entered a sexual relationship with Cersei. After a close encounter with death, however, he turned his life around, embracing faith and joining a group of religious fanatics called Sparrows. The Sparrows soon rose to power, and they imprisoned Cersei for adultery based on Lancel’s testimony. Cersei gets freed after her notorious walk of atonement and returns thirsty for revenge. With the help of Qyburn (Anton Lesser), she blows up the entire Sept of Baelor and everyone inside it, including Lancel, using wildfyre.
The ancestor to all the Lannisters discussed above, Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) lived and stirred chaos, much like his predecessors, about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Jason was the proud Lord of Casterly Rock who arrogantly tried to win Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy) over as his bride by showering her with gifts and flexing his wealth. But he was unceremoniously dismissed by Rhaenyra, and it’s apparent in his eyes that he held her in contempt. While his role in the upcoming civil war in House of the Dragon is yet to be fleshed out, it’s already become clear where his allegiance would lie.
Born as a younger twin brother to Jason, Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall) hasn’t been seen in House of the Dragon quite as much as his brother. But he is the King’s advisory counselor, and on the night of King Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) death, he is alongside the other members, discussing succession until dawn. He speaks in favor of Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), claiming that many lords who pledged their fealty to Rhaenyra were long dead, and even Tyland himself was only a child, and thus never swore an oath to her. His persuasive speech further edges the question of succession in Aegon’s favor. Not much is known about Tyland up until this point, but if the show follows closely with the books, Tyland will play a big role, much bigger than that of his brother, in the upcoming conflict.