This is a listing of members of House Baelish who appear in A Song of Ice and Fire.
For the main character index, see here
For the main Vale entry, see here
House Baelish of the Fingers
One of the most minor of houses in Westeros, begun by a sellsword from Braavos, who was granted land on the smallest of the Fingers after being employed by one of the Lords Corbray five generations before. Its holdings consists of a small towerhouse with no name and a small village. The house's sigil is the head of the Titan of Braavos on a green field, though Lord Petyr Baelish changed it to mockingbirds on a green field, his own personal motif; their house words have not been revealed. Thanks to Littlefinger's plotting, House Baelish now holds rights to the Lordship of Harrenhal and the role of Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, titles he has yet to claim.
House Baelish has been traditionally sworn to the Lords of the Vale of House Arryn, and as of A Feast for Crows Littlefinger himself became the temporary Lord Protector of the Vale because of his protectorate over his step-son, the young Lord Robert Arryn.
Tropes related to House Baelish:
- Animal Motifs: Littlefinger's father made the rather ostentatious Titan of Braavos his House's sigil, but Littlefinger states outright that he swapped it for a much more humble mockingbird, which helps maintain his harmless façade. That, or he has other motives. It's Petyr: he probably has another one or two.
- Culture Clash/ Child of Two Worlds: A few ways. Petyr's grandfather was, from all evidence, a Bravo from Braavos who upped sticks to the Seven Kingdoms to be a sellsword for whatever reason. Then won himself holdings that are... as close as you can get to Braavos while still being within the Seven Kingdoms. So, right there, you have "cultural Fish out of Water syndrome" for the family on three counts — easy access to outside influences, apparent isolation from centralized power blocs and relative poverty on paper putting barriers up between you and your so-called peers in the Seven Kingdoms (can we say "smuggling" or "spying" loud enough, here?). You don't get or pick a place that out-of-the-way, yet that close to your old home by boat, without maintaining some links to your old life (and any ties you might still have to it). Added to that, the family definitely looks incredibly poor for his and his son's (also nifty with a sword, given his rise in Hoster Tully's esteem during the War of the Ninepenny Kings) generations. Yet... you don't simply acquire decent physical, tactical, bookkeeping or political skills without paying for the equipment, experience and education to use them. And, every Baelish we've heard of has had some pretty decent skills that do need both time and money to get. Even if the Seven Kingdoms' culture hasn't always judged them to have much of either. Because they and it may not always be using the same metrics, nor does it follow that all of House Baelish's inherited wealth and influence must reside in the Fingers.
- tl;dr: It's likely the Baelishes, although not great players in either the Seven Kingdom's or Braavos' Game, already had rather more of a role in both than the Tullys understood when they kicked that particular anthill by returning a newly-mangled Petyr to his kin after, frankly, allowing him to be abused under their care. They just expected the lesser House to suck it up according to Westerosi class-based norms. But, the family isn't just Westerosi: their Braavosi side has been advertised since the beginning.
- Impoverished Patrician: Both this and Nouveau Riche in a single package. As far as more established Houses are concerned, the Baelishes are up-jumped newcomers... who never really managed the whole "actually having loads of money" thing, what with their very minor title and keep. Until Petyr.
- Old Retainer: Littlfinger relies on several old servants of his family when he returns to the Vale.
- Small Town Boredom: The Fingers are so tiny and out of the way, it's pushing it to call most of the settlements on the collected peninsulas "villages", let alone any one of them a proper "town" by most standards: and, Petyr has inherited the least populated of any of them, with only about a dozen families living on his land. Sansa stays there briefly and there's just about nothing to do.
Lord Petyr Baelish
- "I did warn you not to trust me, you know."
Son of the most minor lord in Westeros, Petyr is a man of pure ambition. He was fostered at Riverrun among his social betters, and fell in love with Catelyn Tully, who did not return his affection. His impropriety got him humiliated in a duel with Brandon Stark and thrown out of Riverrun. Determined to climb the social ladder, Petyr used his financial brilliance to become King Robert's Master of Coin actually, he got the job from Lysa Tully. He manipulated her into making Jon Arryn hire him in his first job at court! and acquired a substantial personal fortune as well. Not content with mere riches, Petyr has become quite the Chess Master. He works as the Man Behind the Man for many powerful players, but few seem to grasp the full scope of his own ambitions, and even then they might be incorrect. In-world, Petyr is called "Littlefinger" due to his short stature and the small strip of land he inherited in the Fingers.
For the Royal Court of King's Landing, see here.
- Ambition Is Evil: Petyr's ambition to raise his station has made him utterly ruthless.
- Animal Motif: Petyr's mockingbird, a harmless little bird.
- Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Almost everybody looks at his relatively impoverished background, the lack of sworn swords and other inherited resources, and assumes he's relatively harmless, desperately needing their patronage just to survive. Boy, does he play that to the hilt, or what?
- Despite not winning the duel against Brandon, Littlefinger is shown to be good with daggers. Particularly the one Catelyn brings him, 'He grasped the blade between thumb and forefinger, drew it back over his shoulder, and threw it across the room with a practiced flick of his wrist. It struck the door and buried itself deep in the oak, quivering.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Although lacking a prestigious lineage, Petyr is technically high-born, as well as wealthy, powerful in ways others don't usually consider socially relevant, and ruthless.
- Badass Bookworm: What makes Petyr dangerous is his knowledge, not his fighting prowess. He's good with knives and rather quick on his feet, though.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Although skill in finances and business are not favored by the Westerosi martial culture he's in, Petyr nevertheless shows how useful it can be in the gladiatorial arena that is politics.
- Beard of Evil: Of the sinister goatee sort.
- Berserk Button: Ironically, one of the only things sure to really piss him off is when he himself is manipulated. This might explain his apparent rivalry with fellow Manipulative Bastard, Varys. Not to mention just how hot Tyrion found his situation well after having used Petyr in his game of three-way whack-a-mole.
- People who do harm to Sansa Stark tend to meet unpleasant ends when they are in Littlefinger's vicinity. Just ask Joffrey Baratheon, Lysa Arryn, and Marillion. Having said that, anybody who gets close enough to her, and would be willing to extend positive emotional support that'd leave her less isolated and vulnerable, also tends to get it rough (but not always the dead kind). Just ask Jeyne Poole, Tyrion (again) and possibly even Ser Dontos Hollard. Arguably, leaving the Tyrells to diminish themselves dealing with the Lannisters when he did could be seen as a little passive-aggressive payback on his part for their being her crutches for a time, on top of other reasons.
- Best Served Cold: Was willing to wait roughly fifteen years before getting his revenge on the Starks, Tullys, and Arryns.
- Big Bad: If anyone were to be classified as such in this series. He's either directly or indirectly responsible for the actions starting the War of Five Kings, those being goading Lysa into poisoning Jon Arryn and blaming the Lannisters, feeding half-truths to Catelyn to make her move against Tyrion, and betraying Ned Stark and quite likely influencing Joffrey into executing him. Then eventually, when the time is right, he swiftly turns against the Lannisters by masterminding Joffrey's death and abandons the crown to the massive debt to the Iron Bank he's racked up for them over the years.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Happy to back-stab you either verbally or actually. After having been of loyal service to you just before—or even during.
- Card-Carrying Villain: He flat-out tells people they are wise not to trust him. This tends to make him underestimated, which he counts on.
- The Chessmaster: One of the biggest in the series, and that's saying a lot, as he's only out for himself and not for a cause, so he doesn't have many, if any at all, sure allies to fall back on. However, he is arguably more of a gambler than an outright chessmaster, one example being when he had no idea his dagger had been used to try and kill Bran until Cat showed it to him. He took an awful risk saying it belonged to Tyrion, which is shown when Tyrion himself points a big plothole in his story, amomgest numerous others.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: And he'll cheerfully say so, too. Just look at the list of people he's screwed over throughout the years: Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, Catelyn, Joffrey, Dontos, Lysa...
- Conflict Ball: Petyr manages to both find and collect these. He gives them a new lick of paint, a little money injection and/or a nudge or two... and, then hands them over to carefully selected people to play with. All to benefit him.
- Confusion Fu: He extols the use of this as a tactic when handing out tips to his protégé. After all, if you do random things that even seem counter your best interests, nobody can be sure what in the seven hells you're aiming for. Even Varys is on record admitting that he hasn't got a flipping clue what Petyr's up to, so he's got a point.
- Color-Coded Eyes: His eyes are a mix of green and gray. Which fits, considering he seems to be a mix of the character types associated with each: green eyes for an untrustworthy Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette and The Trickster; gray eyes for his being cold, dangerous, and strong-willed.
- Consummate Liar: Littlefinger is a truly amazing liar, who succeeds because everyone takes his mischievous personality as the extent of his subterfuge, and boy are they wrong. It's worth noting that, even when supposedly drunk, emotional and/or bragging, he is very unlikely to be spilling any more truth than usual. Possibly more reckless lies, perhaps. Well, maybe.
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: Petyr is the banker of the Seven Kingdoms for a number of years, but has amassed his own personal fortune over the years as well. He obviously used his official position to his own nefarious ends during that time. No one even questioned when the finance department was filled exclusively by people he appointed.
- Creepy Uncle: What he technically is. Of the step-uncle variety.
- Crocodile Tears: Is able to get appropriately choked-up and even feign a Guilt Complex when discussing Lysa's death with Nestor Royce. Even Sansa is convinced, and fears for one moment that Littlefinger was going to confess to being Lysa's killer instead of the singer, Marillion.
- Curbstomp Battle: Petyr infamously got his ass kicked in a duel with Brandon Stark when he was younger.
- The Dandy: Like Varys, is prone to dressing quite flamboyantly and is described as well-kept and fashionable. At one point in book two he has a conversation with Tyrion where they both talk about what he's wearing for a while and he mentions how boring it is just to stick to your house colours all the time.
- Deadpan Snarker: Whether it's to play the role of the cheeky chappy or just because he does actually feel like it, he pulls few verbal punches. Even when alone with his latest victim.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of the stereotypical underdog Weak, but Skilled hero, not physically impressive but cunning and intelligent. Littlefinger is a taste of what kind of person a hero like that will become after Reality Ensues and he begins to learn just how underhanded and devious he has to be to really outsmart thouse higher in the social pyramid.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Look at his character quote, for crying out loud. The other characters know how selfish and untrustworthy he is, but his low birth and high charisma often cause them to underestimate just how ruthless he can be while pursuing his goals. Even those who don't trust him tend to assume that he's just a craven opportunist with simple, predictable aims. The only people who doesn't make this mistake are Varys the Spider, who's all too familiar himself of how powerful the "powerless" can truly be, and Tyrion Lannister, who Littlefinger has been trying to constantly kill over the series.
- Disproportionate Retribution: He essentially has set the entirety of Westeros against itself because he couldn't have Catelyn as his girlfriend because of the way the system works—and Catelyn saw him more as a friend but he won't accept that as a reason. This later shows signs of extending towards those who would try harming Sansa. Marillion lived to regret his Attempted Rape, for example (even if he wasn't entirely aware of that being one of the likely reasons behind what happened to him). Petyr believes in cold dinners probably more than hot ones.
- Dissonant Serenity: Littlefinger's cheerful, joking nature sticks out very prominently amongst the other characters, and as disturbing as this is by itself, the few times when his temperament alters ie: the moment before he threw Lysa out of the moon door, he becomes downright terrifying!
- Divide and Conquer: This is what he's doing to all of Westeros; pitting all of the houses against each other, then take power for himself.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Describes himself as one of these when Tyrion threatens to send him to The Wall, complaining that the black Night's Watch uniform would only enhance this.
- Evil Chancellor: Via Sleazy Politician and Lovable Traitor. All are combined and played with as he uses all the moves you'd expect of an Evil Chancellor, yet conceals himself as overtly being the more mundane, lesser and entirely necessary small 'e' evil than the great danger he actually is. There is no way he means well for the Kingdom as a whole and isn't skimming off the top and/or otherwise abusing his position for his own goals. But, he's actually a rather good Master of Coin and a cheerful wheeler-dealer, palm-greaser like you wouldn't believe, so it is easily tolerated as him merely being a general sleaze. How good he is can be noticed when everything starts to unravel when he's not in that position for completely innocent reasons... honest. But, still: what's coming is going to make what suffering he's already made happen look like small potatoes.
- Evil Gloating: Oh, usually not but cannot resist the urge when next to a person that won't/can't expose him. Just ask Eddard Stark ("I did warn you not to trust me"). Or Sansa, whos willing or not has became The Confidant to him. That one could bite him in the ass should she decide to take matters in her hand.
- Evil Is Petty: He started the War of the Five Kings out of pure spite for not getting the girl he wanted.
- Eviler Than Thou: His hand in the poisoning of King Joffrey proves that even the Lannisters are at his mercy as figures in the Game of Thrones.
- Evil Mentor: To Sansa, teaching her to play the game of thrones.
- False Friend: To Catelyn, Ned, Sansa, and even to Cersei and Joffrey. The only one who realizes how false is Tyrion, but nobody listens to his warnings.
- Faux Affably Evil: Petyr is charming and sociable at first glance, but is a chronic backstabber and schemer with few emotional ties to anybody. The veneer can slip quickly in private.
- To Varys. Over the series, they have proven themselves to be two the greatest players working behind the scenes in the game of thrones. They are both Chessmasters who come from humble beginnings and are valued but nevertheless looked down upon at the royal court by their social betters. They both dress very well, take on small, discrete Animal Motifs (a mockingbird for Littlefinger and a spider for Varys, respectively) and do all they can to present themselves in a nonthreatening manner. Both have Beneath the Mask moments that reveal their startling personalities. However, while Varys is simply a foreigner from Essos, Littlefinger is a lord of Westeros, albeit a minor one. Varys claims to act solely for the good of the realm, wanting peace and order; Littlefinger is an Opportunistic Bastard who thrives on sowing chaos. Littlefinger is a well-known owner of brothels who lusts after a 13-year old girl, while Varys is a eunuch who has no real use for sex.
- To Sansa. She, like Petyr, starts out as a Wide-Eyed Idealist who believed in the tales of fair ladies, knightly chivalry, and heroes overcoming villains. And Sansa, like Petyr, was brutally disabused of this with a Cynicism Catalyst that changed their entire worldview forever. The two seem to have caught on to their similarities, making her his perfect Bastard Understudy. Though, Petyr has clearly become The Sociopath, Sansa still maintains some of her honor and idealism. She also seems to be more aware than Baelish of how unhealthy her relationship with him is.
- To Sandor Clegane. As men who used to believe in heroism and nobility when they were young but have since become embittered monsters who reject the status quo of the Crapsack World they live in. They both also harbor a barely-concealed desire for Sansa Stark, a Distaff Counterpart of their former, untainted selves. Both received scars that forever reminded them of the cruel, unforgiving nature of life. The key difference here is clearly that Petyr is not a warrior by any stretch of the imagination, and Sandor is The Hound. It should also be noted that while Sandor is a massively fucked up individual who has slain the innocent along with the guilty he's nowhere near as monstrous as Baelish. And while Baelish was merely beaten and cut a few times by Brandon Stark, Sandor had his face pressed into a flaming brazier by his psychotic brother; so where Littlefinger is merely a two-faced person, The Hound is quite literally Two-Faced.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: From the poorest and smallest of the Fingers to the Eyrie on a pile of overly opportune corpses, and he is aiming for more. Like, maybe, the "dancing on the ashes" kind of "more"; for the moment he is thoroughly accomplishing it by becoming the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, the Lord Protector of the Vale and the Lord of the castle of Harrenhal, being land-wise the most powerful man in Westeros.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Littlefinger was subjected to this as a child, as Lysa decided to sleep with him when he was passed out from having drunk too much at a feast (and thought his partner was Catelyn), and again when he was recovering from a feverish wound gained from his duel with Brandon Stark for Catelyn's love. He was in no state to consent either time.
- The Good King: In spite of all his misgivings, Baelish is much appreciated in his little keep at the Fingers, however humble it might be. Though he's not fond of the place, there doesn't seem to be any bad things in his petite parcel of land; as a matter of fact, it's way too small for anything whatsoever to happen there. It helps that he is rarely there and it can rule itself fairly easily.
- Good with Numbers: Well, you'd kind of hope so, given his position of Master of Coin (he's so good, he doesn't even have to hide his fraud behind convoluted smokescreens — most lords and maesters wouldn't be able to spot the patterns yelling "it's a Ponzi scheme!" even after it has bitten them). In fact, he's so good, everybody in King's Landing, even those who hate his guts, really start missing him when he's not there to magic the finances. Of course, there are strong hints he set them up to fail; Tyrion finds evidence the books have been falsified during his brief stint as hand, and while Littlefinger might not be running things personally anymore he'd spent the last decade ensuring every treasury office was staffed with his own men.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: It's unclear just what exactly Littlefinger's ultimate goal is, or if he even has one set down. He clearly wants power and wealth. He wants to give Sansa power as well. He also seems to sexually desire Sansa.
- Hypocrite: He is not shy about bragging to Sansa about his mastery of the game of thrones versus the failings of his socially superior foes. Perhaps it is cockiness or his growing love of wine, but Littlefinger doesn't seem to realize that slowly revealing all of his secrets to a girl whose family he had a major hand in destroying while trying to cop a feel on her is not the best move, strategically.
Littlefinger: I do not like being lied to.
- There's also this line to Tyrion in A Clash of Kings:
- In-Series Nickname: "Littlefinger", as his (rather humble) family holdings are on the smallest of the peninsulas called the Fingers. He is also shorter than average.
- In Vino Veritas: Is clearly drunk in Sansa's last chapter in A Feast For Crows, being much less controlled around her and bragging about his scheme to help Sansa reclaim Winterfell and the North.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: A likely reason why he's still popular with a lot of fans, despite his pettiness and backstabbing. Whatever sympathy he lost for betraying Eddard, and however selfish his motives, it's hard not to applaud when he orchestrates Joffrey's poisoning or shoves Lysa Arryn off a mountain.
- Lack of Empathy: This is becoming a lot more evident, as he has absolutely no qualms about plotting to kill a sickly young boy under his protection in his own home and selling a young girl into sexual slavery. At the very least he is emotionally repressed or immature as he seems to have genuine (albeit twisted) feelings for Sansa. What's scary is how well he usually covers it up.
- Let No Crisis Go to Waste: Petyr admits that he does things simply to create chaos, which will open up opportunities to make power plays.
- Lovable Rogue: He isn't this. Well, not anymore. But, as a kid, he probably was a lovable scamp, given how Jaime and the Tully family recall him as being. And, people in-world can still easily mistake him for this.
- Lovable Traitor: Oh, he plays this part so well, you'd be forgiven for thinking that that's all there is to him.
- Love Makes You Evil: Petyr was apparently a very nice boy when growing up with Catelyn, but the humiliating rejection he received after falling in love with her turned him into a ruthless criminal genius.
- Mad Love: He's on the receiving end of Lysa Arryn's very misplaced, head-over-heels and very blind attraction. What he has going on for other females of the Tully persuasion? Might be something akin to this, as well. Well, as far as "very questionable obsession with" goes, at least.
- The Man Behind the Man: He was this to Queen Cersei and King Joffrey. He was also behind Jon Arryn's and King Joffrey's assassination. He likes to be the advisor rather than the advised. And, it'd have nothing to do with anybody else being stuck with the can, at all.Petyr Baelish: You could turn King's Landing upside down and not find a single man with a mockingbird sewn over his heart but that does not mean I am friendless.
- Manipulative Bastard: The amount of chaos and plot he's caused definitely qualifies him for this trope, and he usually operates at Magnificent Bastard levels of deceptiveness.
- Mask of Sanity: Petyr is clearly not at all as stable as he seems and is, in fact, homicidally deranged.
- Master Poisoner: He may not have the depth of knowledge of one fully trained at the Citadel, but he knows far more about medicines and poisons than a Lord really should. And, a rising number of plots we find out about have involved him supplying just the right poison to proxies to do his dirty work for him. Or to nudge a Maester to overprescribe a specific sedative. His mastery lies in the getting-away-with-it part of the course.
- Meaningful Name: Height and place of birth aside, Petyr does have a knack for wrapping people around his little finger.
- Mistaken for Object of Affection: Littlefinger crudely and repeatedly claims that he was the one to take Catelyn's virginity, when she supposedly sneaked into his room in the dark of night. The joke is on him, as it was actually Lysa.
- Mixed Ancestry: His grandfather was a sellsword from Braavos, making him 3/4 Westerosi and 1/4 Braavosi.
- Mood-Swinger: Sansa notices this as she spends more and more time with him, even going so far to refer to 'Petyr' and 'Littlefinger' as separate entities. The 'Petyr' persona is "her protector, warm, funny and gentle" whilst 'Littlefinger' is "the lord she'd known at King's Landing, smiling slyly and stroking his beard whilst he whispered in Queen Cersei's ear" and the one Sansa frequently describes as asking her for kisses.
- Motive Decay: Littlefinger was clearly motivated to start scheming because of his desire to get Catelyn, but his schemes ultimately cause Catelyn's death. He's transferred his affections over to Sansa, but ultimately his plans seem to have progressed beyond simply getting a Stark girl.
- Mr. Exposition: In AFFC he's the one who provides Sansa (and the reader) some insight about the Vale's political scheme and House Arryn genealogic tree, making us to realize why Harry the Heir is called so.
- Mundane Utility: His silver tongue, audacity, unconventional thinking, and knack for long-range schemes have the side effect of making him very good at finances. His skill in finances would be considered a mundane utility itself by members of the aristocracy, who earn their station with blood lineage and martial skill rather than business.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: His closest historical parallel is Thomas Cromwell, who also went From Nobody to Nightmare, became a genius at politicking and serving as a virtually indispensable Knowledge Broker for most of his life.
- Not So Above It All: He certainly does not find it pleasant that Tyrion used him as a pawn to fish out Grand Maester Pycelle as the mole to Cersei and their father. Tyrion even promised him Harrenhall and the Riverlands, which would have made him tremendously rich at the time; however, he does get Harrenhall and the Riverlands from the Lannisters in the long run for gaining the alliance with the Tyrells.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Underestimate him at your peril. And, trust him not an inch.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In a way. He leads people to believe he's just a self-satisfied schemer, when he's really far more cunning and dangerous.
- Old Friend: To Catelyn Stark.
- Opportunistic Bastard: He won't summarily turn down any opportunity that comes his way whatever form it takes, that's certain. However, he doesn't just sit around waiting for things to turn up, either. Very, very proactive — and very, very dangerous. He's always ahead of where he started by the end of every book so far: he gains better titles, lands and links to people and places to garner more influence from. And, notably: useful bolt-holes to escape some of the economic nightmare he knows is coming. He helped create it, after all.
- Oral Fixation: He chews mint leaves to keep his breath fresh.
- Perpetual Smiler: Unlike the HBO portrayal who usually sports a smug smirk, Book!Littlefinger's smile is either described as being quite friendly or rather sad, indicating that in reality, he's a Stepford Smiler.
- Pining After Protagonist's Parent: The Stark children are- for the most part- the closest thing A Song of Ice and Fire has to Protagonists, and their mother is Catelyn Tully. Littlefinger loved Catelyn since they were children, and he never grows out of it.
- Playing Both Sides: Oh, he plays all sides of the conflict, then happily betrays any one side at the point when they get a little too powerful, show a little too much weakness and/or snub his no-strings-attached-honest-who-am-I-kidding aid.
- Prematurely Grey-Haired: He is around thirty-two when the series starts, but his black hair already has streaks of grey going through it.
- Professional Gambler: Another way of seeing what he does. His game, however, involves the wheeling and dealings of the financial markets and the political shark tank rather than cards, dice, the roulette wheel or chips. The game of thrones is certainly a high stakes game he's grown rich off by treating it as poker or backgammon while others are busy playing chess. He does the best he can to skew the probabilities his way using any method going — from being damn good at counting the cards to stacking the deck to knowing who to lean on the floor (or how much to pay them to look the other way). In Vegas, he'd face the possibility of a shallow grave if he got himself openly caught doing half of what he does. In Westeros, it's the more exhibitionist head, pike, walls. So far, his head remains attached to his shoulders, meaning he has to be pretty good at this game.
- Rags to Riches: While nominally a lord, Petyr's holdings are less valuable than most knight's keeps. He has no bannermen, and his grandfather was a landless sellsword from Braavos, for which he's looked down on with contempt by the more ancient Houses. However, Petyr is a wizard with finance, and has acquired quite a lot of money for himself before and while acting as the Master of Coin. His aid to King Joffrey gets him named not only Lord of Harrenhal but also Lord Paramount of the Riverlands. And by his marriage to Lysa Tully he is now Lord Protector of the Vale.
- Reality Ensues:
- Challenged Brandon Stark for the hand of Catelyn, believing himself to be the plucky hero. The experienced and trained Brandon beat him handily.
- Plans to inflict this on Harrenhal, once things settle down a bit. Raise venture-capital, quarry it to the base, sell most of it off (probably at a profit — wars mean a sudden demand for dressed stone afterwards) and build something more reasonable with the remainder. Arguably, this should have happened a good hundred years ago. But, people kept trying to hang on to the elephant.
- Replacement Goldfish: Though his motivations and ultimate objectives are inscrutable his interest in and actions to take control of Sansa spike hard after Catelyn's death.
- Troubled, but Cute: How the rather delusional Lysa Arryn perceives him. With "genius, driven and worth more than any High Lord" thrown in for good measure. How he actually treats her? Is closer to Meal Ticket via Bastard Boyfriend.
- Self-Made Man: From a poor noble to one of the puppeteers in the Westerosi court and one of the Great Lords of Westeros.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: It's couched in terms of him serving as an envoy of the Iron Throne to try to convince the Arryns to take the crown's side in its ongoing conflicts, but the real reason Petyr leaves King's Landing is simply because the royal court has turned into a den of vipers (more so than usual), especially with Joffrey the psychopath on the prowl without anyone who can effectively keep him on a leash. Being out of town also makes for a convenient alibi in case anyone tries to link him to Joffrey's murder, especially after he cleans up his loose ends.
- Shmuck Bait: One of the few examples of human Shmuck Bait, since at least a few people know he is untrustworthy but still rely on him anyway. It works because everyone's convinced they've got him figured out, and thus can keep him under control — which he plays into so that he can get what he wants.
- Simple, yet Opulent: Petyr mixes Braavos with Westeros in how he presents himself. He steers clear of the martial displays and clashing patterns most social climbers and lords in the Seven Kingdoms go for by dressing as a fairly conservative, if stylishly expensive, "Financial Services" look you'd almost expect to see in and around the Iron Bank. Yet, he doesn't stick to the Braavosi pallet of neutrals, either; he hits a wider (yet still carefully coordinated) colour scheme that most there would likely find terribly scandalous, nonetheless.
- Single-Target Sexuality: The only woman Petyr has ever held any real affection for is Catelyn. Even after her death he is still completely unable to get over her and has instead transferred his feelings for her onto Sansa.
- Sleeping Their Way to the Top: He holds more unofficial power than most people in the kingdom realize. Instrumental in his rise was Lysa Tully, a noblewoman who has been in love with him since childhood. Petyr strung Lysa along for over a decade, using her status and connections to become Master of Coin and eventually convincing her to murder her husband so he could gain even more power by turning the high lords against each other.
- Smug Snake: Petyr plays this role as a façade, playing the slightly slimy, always smiling wisecracker so that everyone thinks he's just a self-satisfied schemer who, although doing well, is probably in over his head; but, in reality his ambitions and capabilities are much more extensive.
- Social Climber: Fits the trope perfectly. He has used charm, wits, treachery and flattery to climb as high up the ladder of Westerosi politics as he can. By of A Dance with Dragons he has gone from one of the lowest lords in the realm and glorified counter of coins to one of the most powerful High Lords in the realm, being both Lord Paramount of the Trident and Lord Protector of the Vale. He's had to leave a substantial trail of bodies in his wake to get to that point, though.
- Spanner in the Works: Although not a huge one, it appeared Littlefinger was as surprised as everyone else when Joffrey decided to execute Eddard Stark instead of sending him to the Wall. Considering though that it wasn't just another part of his plan, and that he was the one to persuade Joffrey to kill Eddard, as is frequently implied. Cersei is another one, due to her excessive stupidity and paranoia causing events to move much faster than he'd intended. However, there's another possible big one: if Tyrion was his actual target at the Purple Wedding, Joffrey accidentally killed himself by scarfing down Tyrion's portion of pie because of the burning need to be a dick. Littlefinger rolls with the punches he gets, though, and generally finds a way to use them. Mostly, he's a very busy spanner aimed at other people's plots.
- The Starscream: Has a penchant for betraying his benefactors and superiors: first having Lysa kill Jon Arryn, who had brought Petyr to court, then Ned Stark, then Joffrey, plotting his death with Lady Olenna, and ultimately Lysa Tully herself.
- Start of Darkness: Probably when he was a child, after being raped by Lysa, almost killed by Brandon Stark, rejected by Catelyn and exiled back to his dreary home on The Fingers.
- Stepford Smiler: Petyr is perhaps the most cheerful and upbeat person in Westeros, and people view him as quite harmless because of his 'smiling and genial' nature. All the evidence suggests that behind the smiles and jokes, lies a bitter, cynical and rather unhinged person.
- Take Over the World: While all of the houses are planning to do this, Petyr has been having an almost one-man crusade to take over Westeros for himself. And by pitting the houses against each other, he's succeeding. Currently, he's Lord of the Riverlands (though he hasn't claimed the title), acting Lord of the Vale, and has Sansa, the heir to the North, as his accomplice in his plans.
- Talking Your Way Out: Is extremely accomplished at this, as lampshaded by Ser Lyn Corbray. Sansa works out later that Petyr had arranged for him to say this as part of his plan to talk his way out of the Lords Declarent's demands.Lyn Corbray: All this talk makes me ill. Littlefinger will talk you out of your small clothes if you listen long enough.
- Technically a Smile: On her first meeting with Littlefinger, Sansa notes that his eyes "did not smile with his mouth". Ties into his Stepford Smiler personality.
- The Trickster: Unfettered, clever (sometimes too clever), (multiple) mask-wearing, ironic or downright sarcastic, chaos-fermenting, mercurial, always busy, vindictive or generous by turns, taking the convoluted route over the quick and simple one and usually all smiles even after the bomb goes off (but, not a pretty picture when the smile does occasionally drop)? Oh, hell, yes.
- Trickster Mentor: He is training his new protégé Sansa Stark (renamed Alayne Stone, masquerading as Littlefinger's illegitimate daughter) to start following in his manipulative footsteps. "Unconventional", "out of the box" and "hands-on" doesn't begin to cover it. "Creepy", too, as he's most definitely got less than squeaky clean motives for using her. Seven help the poor fool who aims to harm the kid more than he intends to, though.
- Unbalanced by Rival's Kid: Not that he wasn't already thoroughly unbalanced before he met Sansa, but this trope is in full effect.
- Underestimating Badassery: To be fair, he's drunk at the time, but he brags to Sansa/Alayne about his plans to take the North, Vale, and Riverlands while not taking into account how perceptive Sansa has become over the course of the series.
- The Unfettered: He has no qualms about doing anything to achieve his goals.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: To Catelyn. It messed him up a lot. Lysa was this to him.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Catelyn's narration and some of Edmure's comments indicate that as a child, Petyr was rather sweet, with a mischievous, bold and idealistic personality. Lysa's story outrightly portrays him as a Woobie.
- Vetinari Job Security: Set this up so he'd be indispensable on the Council as the Master of Coin you can't do without, Mad King or not. Tyrion Lannister, who rightly suspects Littlefinger of duplicity after the Valyrian Dagger fiasco (where Littlefinger had lied to Catelyn by fingering Tyrion), still finds he cannot move against him while King's Landing is in the middle of a siege as he needs him too much to keep things together at the time. Worse, Petyr has deliberately built a financial house of cards over years that's designed to fall splat when he's not around so he could take advantage of the resulting disaster. Poor Cersei is currently in Financial Meltdown Ground Zero with a target on her chest... and, has managed to totally alienate the only person in King's Landing who could see it coming besides Littlefinger... and Varys. Yup, that'd be Tyrion, again. He'd only just started to work out that something was up when he got hold of the books as the new Master of Coin, only to get completely derailed thanks to Joffery's timely demise and getting the blame pinned on him. Funny, that... Even ignoring the preceding spoiler, the simple fact is that he's apparently the only noble in Westoros who understands finances more complicated than collecting taxes and keeping records.
- Villain with Good Publicity: A slight variation on this in that the general opinion (with a few exceptions such as Tyrion or Varys) of Petyr is that he's funny, clever and a financial wizard but completely harmless. Throughout A Feast For Crows, Cersei and Jaime both recall some of his jokes and Edmure remembers growing up with Littlefinger with fondness. And whilst he is doing well with settling the tension with the Lord's Declarant, he understands that they won't fully come to love him.
- War for Fun and Profit: Other people get nudged to fight and wear themselves out or just wipe themselves out; he benefits. And, so far, he's doing really well. Cha-ching!
- Wham Line: He got one indirectly from Catelyn early on when trying to defend him from Brandon Stark:Spare him, my Lord! Please! Please, spare his life. He is just a boy. Please!
I did warn you not to trust me, you know, when he betrays Ned.orOnly Cat, said right before he pushes Lysa to her death.
- He's got a few of his own in the series as well.
- Who's Laughing Now?: A large whack of his probable motivation. He'll show them. He'll show them all!
- Wife Husbandry: He seems to be engaging in a little of this on the side with Sansa.
- Withholding the Cure: So very inverted. Poor Sweetrobin.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: If you look at his backstory. He was born poor (for a noble), raised among people who looked down on him, given a mean-spirited nickname, raped twice by Lysa (to most likely get blamed by her father for getting her pregnant), publicly humiliated in a duel, openly rejected by the girl he loved, then completely rejected by everyone he'd grown up with, and sent back to his tiny, dreary home where he now barely knew anyone. He went on to destroy the lives of literally millions of people through a brutally violent civil war. But, you can rather see why he'd have a few chips on his shoulder.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He challenged Brandon Stark to a duel because he thought Catelyn loved him and had slept with him and believed in all the songs and stories he'd heard of the "plucky little hero triumphing against the odds". However Brandon, being a master swordsman and experienced soldier, kicked his ass.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Petyr works to foment chaos and flux, trusting in his ability to capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves.
- Yandere: Although he is more on the ruthlessly intelligent and subtle side, this has become the only indication of how truly unhinged he really is.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
- He does it more than once to other people. Littlefinger is the mastermind behind the assassination of King Joffrey, in conjunction with Lady Olenna. He also pulls it on Ser Dontos Hollard, whom he used in order to pretty much kidnap Sansa. His dispatch of Lysa Tully is much more on the fly and he was doing it at least partly to keep Sansa safe, but the sentiment is definitely there. And he's implied to be poisoning young Robert Arryn too. Oh, and while he's not managed to get Tyrion dead (not for lack of trying), that potential danger to his plans, and useful scapegoat, has had to scarper to Essos rather sharpish or face decapitation thanks to one irate sister. Not that Tyrion is totally safe there, either, thanks to the bounty.
- In hindsight, Baelish never lied to Ned Stark and indeed gave him sound advice as to his handling of the Lannisters, attempting to dissuade him from antagonizing them and just become an exemplary regent for Joffrey to follow. However, Ned could not let go of the fact that the throne rightfully belonged to Stannis, the one person Littlefinger absolutely did not want to end up in charge. Littlefinger even gave Ned a chance to Take a Third Option by proposing that Renly be handed the crown in lieu of Stannis, but Ned insisted on a course of action that was clearly a losing proposition. This complete lack of acumen, the fact that Stark could not be manipulated to do even a task that would benefit everyone including himself, contributed to Littlefinger's betrayal.
Alayne Stone, Princess Sansa Stark
Bastard daughter of Lord Petyr Baelish, raised in a Sept for most of her life, and brought to the Eyrie by her father to informally assume both the Ladyship of the Eyrie and the care of the young Lord Robert Arryn; in reality, she's the assumed identity of Princess Sansa Stark.
See the House Stark character page.
Petyr Baelish's Captain of the Guards at his keep in the Fingers.
Ser Lothor Brune
The Apple Eater
A knight and former freerider in service to Littlefinger. He is a distant relation of the main branch of House Brune of Brownhollow.
- Ascended Extra: He was a minor character in the first two books who was mentioned to be participating in some tournaments in King's Landing. A Storm of Swords reveals that he is in the employ of Littlefinger and he becames a supporting character in Sansa's POV.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He is a pretty nice and quiet individual, but is also an extremely dangerous man.
- The Captain: He is appointed captain of the Eyrie's guard after Littlefinger marries Lysa Arryn.
- Dark and Troubled Past: After his father died he had tried to make a connection with House Brune's main line, but was shunned and chased away. He won't speak of what happened after that, but hints that it was very bloody.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Is very attracted to Mya Stone, but she won't even give him the time of day. After her ill-fated affair with Mychel Redfort this is understandable, but Brune is also about fifteen years older than her.
- The Dragon: To Littlefinger.
- In-Series Nickname: Lothor the Apple-Eater, which he got for cutting his way through House Fossoway men-at-arms and knights at the Battle of the Blackwater, since their sigil was an apple.
- Kill It with Fire: Burns Ser Dontos' body after having him shot full of crossbow bolts.
- Nice Guy: Oddly enough, considering who he is in service to. He certainly doesn't go out of his way to be a jerk, is generally very polite and will put himself out to help somebody in trouble, explicit instructions or not. Seems to be a Cracklaw Point thing: look rather less nice on the surface than you are. And, be much more handy than you look, too.
- The Nondescript: Another likely reason Littlefinger employs him. He is eminently blendable and can suddenly pop up from the background to surprise the readers with sudden acts of usefulness, let alone anybody in-universe (Sansa has certainly welcomed jumping out of her skin when he suddenly intervenes from nowhere). Even dolled-up in his best armour, emblazoned with his own colours and making minimal efforts to hide... he somehow manages to fade.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Works for Littlefinger, making this trope pretty much a given, but so far the worst thing he is known to have done is order some crossbowmen to shoot Ser Dontos, a fairly unsympathetic character who had outlived his usefulness to Littlefinger. Most of the time he is carrying out pretty normal tasks, and even stops Marillion from raping Sansa.
- This is admittedly tinfoil, but; he might have had some part to play in the food riots in King's Landing, if some suspicions about his employer's role in that whole mess pan out. But, given his characterisation, it's hard to say what he would've been doing. It's very unlikely to have involved Lollys, though.
- One-Man Army: He kills around fifty soldiers single-handedly during the Battle of the Blackwater, including killing two knights and capturing a third.
- The Quiet One: He doesn't speak much, which is one of the reasons Littlefinger employs him.
- Secret Keeper: Knows about several of the plots Littlefinger has going, the most important of which is Sansa Stark hiding in the Vale as Alayne Stone.
- Spell My Name with an "S": A common mistake is writing his name as Lothar. Not even the author is spared of this.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Well, yes-no. He was there the whole time, even outright mentioned. You (and most characters) just didn't really notice that until he stepped forward and did something. There's no telling exactly how many scenes he's actually quietly lurked in.
Ser Morgarth the Merry
A hedge knight who swears his sword to Littlefinger.
- Badass Beard: He sports a thick salt-and-pepper beard.
- The Big Guy: He's described as being "burly" and as having "large, gnarled hands".
- Gag Nose: Sansa notices his nose is bulbous with many broken veins.
- Hired Guns: For Littlefinger, along with Ser Byron the Beautiful and Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen.
- Ironic Name: Has a similar name to Morgoth, the Big Bad of the Tolkien Legendarium. However he is just a Hedge Knight and, well... merry.
- Nice Guy: He is polite and congenial with Alayne.
Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen
The Mad Mouse
- "Your common mouse will run from blood and battle. The mad mouse seeks them out."
A hedge knight who fought for Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of the Blackwater but was captured. He ruined himself financially to buy his freedom, and is seeking to restore his fortune by finding Sansa Stark and bringing her back to King's Landing. His coat of arms is a large white mouse with red eyes on a bendy brown and blue pattern.
- Animal Motifs: It's in his name and arms. Rather confusingly, he's also described as "fox faced" and had red hair, which points more towards foxes than mice. However, if what some fans speculate is true, the cunning of a fox in a mouse's guise would fit: a not-so-mad, trained, ex-little-mouse of Varys'... against the not-so-harmless mockingbird that is Petyr.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Brienne of Tarth notes that he has "the sort of easy arrogance that comes with skill at arms".
- Bounty Hunter: Straightforward case.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Reappears at the end of A Feast For Crows in Littlefinger's employ, briefly meeting Sansa herself. Time will tell if he's cottoned on to who she is.
- Hired Guns: For Littlefinger, along with Ser Byron the Beautiful and Ser Morgarth the Merry.
- Jerkass: He could use a few lessons in charm school, yes.
- Knight Errant: One of the series' deconstructed ones, yes. He's an anointed knight (not a shining one), he's errant (because of a chain of screw-ups), he hunts criminals (because he needs the bounties) and he might be in the position to aid a damsel in some form of complicated distess (or, could just make things more complicated for Sansa "I-Have-A-Huge-Bounty-On-My-Head" Stark) should he so choose to (it's not a given, depending on how well Littlefinger bribes him, or if he should he see some another use or payout for her)... But, he's mainly a mecenary jerk trying to look out for Number One in difficult times.
- Sherlock Scan: Immediately sees through Brienne's admittedly very flimsy cover story, so quickly works out exactly who she is and what she's most likely doing.
- Wild Card: Who knows what he might decide is in his best interests at any given point?