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House Lannister
"Hear Me Roar!"

"A Lannister always pays his debts."

House Lannister of Casterly Rock is renowned across Westeros and all of the known world as the wealthiest and most powerful single family in the Seven Kingdoms. They are also the real power behind the Iron Throne, despite the throne nominally being occupied by House Baratheon of King's Landing. Its lord has the title of Warden of the West, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, and Lord of Casterly Rock.

For the House of the Dragon era Lannisters, see here.

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    In General 
  • Adaptational Heroism: While Cersei or Tywin never exactly make it to 'heroic', Tyrion arguably was there even in the books and Jaime is... Jaime, all of them get somehow polished, or at least made to appear more humane in the show. After all, we get to see them so often that is better if we care about the characters for some degree. To balance it out, Joffrey is made even nastier in the show than he was in the book.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the show, Tyrion and Jaime's relationship doesn't go sour after the latter frees the former from the black cells for being falsely accused of committing regicide. This is because Jaime interacts with Tyrion after arriving in King's Landing and remains supportive of him during his trial. Though he has reserves regarding Tyrion killing their father, Jaime still remains in good terms with him. In the books, Jaime admits to Tyrion that he lied about Tysha being a whore under their father's orders and Tyrion, out of spite, tells him that Cersei is cheating on him, which destroys the relationship between them.
    • For that matter, in the show the story about Tyrion's first wife Tysha being a whore hired by Jaime is presumably true, since it's never revealed to be a lie as it was in the books, so it's ambiguous whether she actually loved Tyrion in the show, whereas in the books she did.
    • In the show, Jaime remains infatuated with Cersei throughout the series, and they die in each other's arms. Although he leaves her temporarily to fight with the Stark-Targaryen forces at Winterfell against the Army of the Dead, this is because the whole world is in danger, and he returns to her afterwards despite sleeping with Brienne of Tarth. In the books, Cersei's dubious actions and (especially) her infidelity lead Jaime to cut it off with her, outright burning the letter where she asks him to be her champion in her trial by the Faith. Then he goes off with Brienne on what the latter claims is a mission to rescue Sansa.
    • In the books, the Lannisters are tied to the Freys via Emmon Frey's marriage to Genna Lannister (both of whom were Adapted Out). In the books, Emmon sides with the Lannisters while the rest of the Freys side with the Starks at the beginning of the war. The show sidesteps this by using Lannister cousins to fill the roles Emmon's son and grandson had in the story.
  • Adapted Out: All of Tywin and Kevan's siblings and the rest of their extended family from the books was removed from the show and were replaced with cousins from cadet branches of House Lannister who are vaguely and distantly related to the main family.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Tywin reveals that the last of Casterly Rock's mines have run dry, meaning the Lannisters have lost their reputed source of power. No such case happened in the books.
  • Aerith and Bob: The mainline branch has Tywin, Cersei and Tyrion as fantastic names. Jaime, Kevan, Willem, Martyn and Lord Tytos are unusually spelt variations of familiar names. While Canon Foreigner like Reginald and Orson have real world common names.
  • Age Lift: Tywin is stated to be sixty seven years old in the fourth season, while he was a decade younger in the books. Jaime and Cersei are aged from early thirties to later ones (and explicitly 40 in Season 4), and Tyrion from being about twenty five years old to a thirty-something (who looks even older). Cersei's kids are aged accordingly, as Joffrey is explicitly stated to be seventeen years old is Season 2 (as opposed to being thirteen in the corresponding book), while Myrcella and Tommen were given about 2-3 years apiece.
  • Animal Motifs: Their sigil is a lion, which they are often called. Cersei outright uses a parable about lions to comfort her son Tommen during the Siege of King's Landing. More subtly, Jaime even starts to physically resemble a shaggy old lion when he gains a full Beard of Sorrow.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • To House Stark. At the beginning of the series the two houses can barely stand to be in the same room together without getting drunk. Joffrey quickly manages to turn the Starks into sworn enemies of the Lannisters. Their differences were initially ideological, since Ned considered them Johnny-come-latelys to Robert's Rebellion with Tywin making a ruthless and opportunistic power grab (True), and Jaime being The Quisling who never protested the Mad King's injustices until it was convenient (Plausible, but ultimately false). The Lannisters for the most part regard the Starks as humorless bores sulking about honor. (Cersei's years-long grudge over King Robert Baratheon's preference of the long-deceased Lyanna Stark over her probably doesn't help matters here, either.)) It breaks into civil war, thanks to mistakes and Hot-Blooded actions on both sides; with the conflict becoming extremely personal and bitter.
    • They are also this to House Martell, at least as far as Oberyn Martell is concerned. The reasons for this is that Tywin made it personal during the Sack of King's Landing by ordering Gregor Clegane to kill the children of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, with Clegane going the distance and raping and murdering Elia For the Evulz. Tyrion being the Token Good Teammate, manages to secure a marriage alliance between Myrcella Baratheon (Cersei's daughter) and the Martells; but this doesn't smooth things over one bit. Oberyn Martell in "Histories and Lore: House Martell" states that despite supporting the Targaryens, the Martells understood that the Rebellion had good reasons to fight against Aerys and that he accepts that Tywin's sack of King's Landing is something that happens in all wars but even accepting all that, brutally killing Elia and her children was beyond the pale.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Cersei, Tyrion, and Jaime. While Jaime does possess beauty as well (and brains, when he actually wants to use them, as is displayed during the siege of Riverrun) and Cersei shows some brains (though half of the time she would be better off in mediocrity), the things each is renowned for is being one of the most beautiful women in Westeros for Cersei, being THE Master Swordsman for Jaime, and being a world-class Chessmaster for Tyrion.
  • Beauty Is Bad:
    • The most kind-hearted adult Lannister is Tyrion, the least attractive. The increasing compassion of Jaime is relative to his increasing filthiness and wretchedness, and back in King's Landing his clean, boyish good looks and hubris never quite return. Cersei, who is considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Westeros, is cruel, treacherous, and occasionally murderous, while her handsome son Joffrey is a horrific psychopath. And then Tywin, The Patriarch, who is getting on in years but can still count as a Silver Fox, is possibly the most ruthless, dispassionate and callous of them all.
    • Averted with Tommen and Myrcella, who combine their good looks with Beauty Equals Goodness. Tommen is a decent boy, if easily swayed by others, and Myrcella is by all accounts a normal, well-adjusted girl.
  • Big Bad: They're the faction most commonly identified as the villainous antagonist of the series outside of the White Walkers.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Neither Tywin nor his descendants would be called well-adjusted, apart from Myrcella and Tommen. A general rule of thumb is that out of the four primary Lannister characters (Tywin and this three children), each of them loathes all of the others — except for Jaime, who gets along well with all of them.
    Tyrion: Let's raise a toast to the proud Lannister children! The Cripple, the Dwarf, and the Mother of Madness.
    • To put this in perspective, the family that has killed the most Lannisters in the series, are Lannisters themselves, Jaime kills his cousin Alton, Cersei murders her uncle Kevan and cousin Lancel, and Tyrion murders his father, Tywin.
  • Bling of War: Tywin, Tyrion, Jaime and Joffrey all wear very elaborate battle armor, with golden lions everywhere. Even the regular soldiers' armor (as modelled here by Jaime in Season 2) is flaunting the Lannisters' wealth, with red enamelled plates and richly decorated helms. While the lower extremities appear consistent with most Westerosi garb, the helmet, shoulders and torso armor design were made by series costumer Michele Clapton to blend influences from both The Renaissance armor schools and Japanese Samurai armor. This makes them stand out among the other houses, especially the Starks, whose soldiers and even lords wear utilitarian armor.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Lannisters don't have warging powers like the Stark children, or dragons like the Targaryens, or even the power of the Lord of Light like Stannis Baratheon. What the Lannisters do have, however, is gold. Gold that they parlay into tremendous military and political power to support their family legacy. Indeed, the Lannisters tend be serious skeptics about all things magical and are not easily intimidated by news of dragons rising in the east. Of course, the problem with gold is that you can only mine so much of it. In Season 4, Tywin reveals that their last mine went dry just before the War of the Five Kings, meaning their primary source of income is gone.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "A Lannister always pays his debts". It's more quoted in universe than their actual family motto, "Hear me roar".
    • "As rich as a Lannister" is another common saying about the family. A more derogative saying is, "The Lannisters shit gold".
  • Cool Sword: Lord Tywin destroys House Stark's own ancestral Valyrian steel Cool Sword, Ice, to create two more for House Lannister, which has no Valyrian sword. Though probably less because he wants two really cool swords and more because he wants to show how completely House Stark has been crushed, and to manufacture legitimacy for Lannister rule of the Seven Kingdoms, since the Targaryens are the only other family known to have possessed more than one Valyrian steel weaponFrom the books... .
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tyrion and Jaime, almost to a fault. Tywin and Cersei also get in on the action occasionally.
  • Decapitated Army:
    • Killing Robb Stark is Tywin's winning move in the War of the Five Kings. Given Stannis' determination, it's not as decisive as he expects.
    • The family owe most of their power and influence to Tywin alone. Ser Davos and Lord Baelish remark that with Tywin and the sheer power of his will gone, all that remains is Jaime, a one-handed, untrustworthy, and isolated man; Tommen, a soft King; and Cersei, an unpopular former Queen whose power diminishes every day in favour of Margaery's.
  • Dysfunctional Family: All of the Lannisters have wildly different personalities and separate range of issues. Tywin is a conservative, cruel, and domineering man who reduces all his children to resentment to seek his approval, Jaime is a Jaded Washout burdened with Conflicting Loyalty, Cersei is resentful of the low status of being a woman despite her high ambitions, and Tyrion gets grief from both family and Westerosi society for being a dwarf. About the only thing keeping them together is enemies attacking their family and power forcing them into Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. Naturally, things fall apart when their enemies have apparently all been defeated. Tywin and Cersei also blame Tyrion for their wife/mother dying while giving birth to him.
  • The Empire: Sort of. They want to bring all the regions under Lannister control or at least influence by marrying into each of the Great Houses or, when not possible, by placing men loyal to them. They come close to pulling this off after winning the War of Five Kings but after Tywin dies their control falls apart very quickly.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: After eight seasons, the once proud and mighty Lannister Army is obliterated beyond repair during the Battle of King's Landing by the combined forces of North-Vale, Dothraki, and the Unsullied. With Cersei and Jaime dead, Tyrion is now de facto Lord of Casterly Rock and the last Lannister alive.
  • Faceless Goons: Lannister uniforms include helmets with somewhat impractical folding visors that cover the wearer's face, making them look more threatening and ruthless in contrast to the Stark soldiers who have visible faces.
  • False Reassurance: The unofficial motto "A Lannister always pays his debts" is used both as a genuine reassurance ("We will always reward those who help us") as well as an implied threat ("We will also always get payback on those who wrong us").
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • To the House of York and medieval English nobility in general and, to some extent, the infamous Borgia family of the Italian Renaissance. Game of Thrones has often been compared to the Borgias and their schemes, mainly because of the Lannister characters. Martin openly said that the story is loosely inspired by the real life War of the Roses in England, which was between the Yorks and Lancasters — his story is a conflict between Starks and Lannisters. Their general personalities, however, were switched: the Lancasters are generally depicted as the "honorable" faction which got deposed by the cunning and ruthless Yorks; unlike their real-life namesakes, it's the Starks who are honorable, and the Lannisters who are ruthless and cunning.
    • Together with the Borgias, the general storyline of the decline of House Lannister shares parallels with the fortunes of the House of Medici in Florence: a clan whose power has been founded in its wealth (Tywin even openly states that the Lannisters have lent credit to other noble houses and the Crown itself), but was ultimately depleted by its engagement in politics, wars and patronage it can't keep up.
    • The HBO show's version of Lannister armor combines features from The Renaissance, Feudal Japan, the Teutonic Knights, and the German men-at-arms of the Russian film Alexander Nevsky, which in turn were a reference to Nazi Germany, as is Tywin's dream about a thousand-year dynasty. The Medieval Japanese style to their armor was to make them look distinct, and is loosely implied to be a holdover from when they were close allies of the Targaryens — who, being from the eastern continent, also dress in very "foreign" looking Asian styles.
  • Fatal Flaw: One trait common to each member of this house is the basic inability to just shut up when they really, really should, and it costs each of them dearly.
    • Cersei's constant barrage of spite and hostility towards those around her immediately set Ned against her and help set in motion events which lead to war, and continually sabotage her other political schemes.
    • Jaime's continued snarky attempts to bribe his way out of Locke's custody end up causing him to lose a hand.
    • Tyrion's repeated calling out of Joffrey and the endless stream of insults he hurls in his direction end up making him the prime suspect when the latter is murdered, and him finally snapping at his trial and hurling insults at everyone in the court seals his fate.
    • Tywin repeatedly dismissing the dead Shae as a "whore" when a very angry and crossbow toting Tyrion has very clearly told him not to ends up leading to his thoroughly undignified death.
  • Fiction 500: They are the wealthiest family in Westeros by far. Or used to be the wealthiest family, until their gold mines ran dry. The second season briefly mentions that House Lannister trades with the Free Cities and as far as Qarth.
  • Fun with Homophones: The Lannisters' song and go-to implied threat, The Rains of Castamere, is about the destruction of House Reyne of Castamere.
  • A House Divided: There has always been tension and dislike between the members of the Lannister family. Once the war is all but won they quickly fall into this with the events of the Purple Wedding being the spark that sets them off against each other.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: At the start of the series, they were by far the most powerful family in Westeros and the true power behind the Iron Throne. By the end, they're all but extinguished save for Tyrion, who's stuck as Hand of the King as punishment for his many mistakes and has declared celibacy, meaning that unless he revokes his vow, House Lannister will die with him. To top it off, their hated enemies, the Starks, have supplanted them as the rulers of Westeros, with the king that Tyrion now serves being Brandon Stark — the same boy Jaime threw out the window at the start of the series, which instigated the Disaster Dominoes that led to his family's downfall. Their goldmines have been run dry, meaning they are impoverished, and at the end, the richest and most powerful High Lord of the Seven Kingdoms is their former employee, Bronn, very much the lowborn cutthroat that the aristocratic Tywin, Cersei, and Jaime loathed.
  • Implied Death Threat: Their creed of "a Lannister always pays his debts" is both a declaration that those who help the Lannisters will be repaid, and a warning that they will have vengeance on those who wrong them. Characters are well-aware that the saying goes both ways and use it as such.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Turns out the Lannister's gold mines ran dry long ago and financing the War of the Five Kings had drained the coffers of what was left. They have to keep it quiet though, as one of the reasons the Lannisters are so feared is because of their wealth. Even then, this is played to the Lannister's advantage when they leave their seat in Casterly Rock unguarded for Daenerys' Unsullied to take it which has no strategic value due to the lack of valuable resources, so they can be trapped by their Greyjoy allies.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Tywin's major political failure is his inability to secure his legacy via a stable heir. Many observers outside the family, note that after Tywin, an undisputed master of the game of thrones, none of his children or grandchildren are near his level to hold onto his gains while the best option, Tyrion Lannister, is repeatedly discredited. This is the main flaw exploited by his enemies. Ser Davos uses it to secure a loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos, noting how Lannister credit is entirely depended on a 67-year-old man, convincing the Braavosi to back Stannis, to better safeguard the return of the loans.
  • Irony: Tywin is obsessed with the idea of family and legacy, but his horrific parenting is one of the primary reasons for his family's downfall.
  • Last of His Kind: Tyrion stands as the sole survivor of House Lannister, or at least its main branch, by the end of Season 8.
  • Leitmotif: The instrumental for The Rains of Castamere is played when a Lannister does something particularly amazing or nefarious, such as Cersei threatening Littlefinger, Tyrion blackmailing Lancel, Tywin executing his men in Harrenhal following Ser Amory's assassination, Tyrion's speech at the Battle of Blackwater, Tywin's cavalry crushing Stannis' force, and Jaime saving Brienne from the bear pit. In the eponymous episode, its diegetic use preludes The Red Wedding. A more ominous version is played at Joffrey's wedding, foreshadowing how his subsequent murder would cause a downward spiral for House Lannister. It also plays at the end of Tyrion's trial, when he demands a trial by combat. And finally, for irony points it plays when Tyrion kills Tywin and again when Cersei is crowned queen and sits on the Iron Throne, signalling the now inevitable and final collapse of the Lannisters.
  • Light Is Not Good: House Lannister characters typically dress themselves in gold and red and have a Noble Lion as their sigil. In a less original story, the Lannisters would be the heroes... instead they're the villains in contrast to House Stark, who dress in black, navy blue, and grey, and have a Savage Wolf as their sigil. and are good people.
  • Massively Numbered Siblings:
    • In sharp contrast to the Starks and the Baratheons, the Lannisters have several siblings, relatives with cousins, and nephews aplenty, with multiple lines to inherit and keep their land and titles. Though Tywin is obsessed with ensuring the main line represented by him remains at the top of the succession ladder.
    • By Season 7, however, it's implied that the Lannister line is coming to an end due to the massive amounts of casualties they've suffered over the years, as Cersei describes herself and Jaime as: "the last Lannisters left. The last ones that matter" (not including Tyrion).
  • Mock Millionaire: Tywin reveals in Season 4 that the gold mines ran dry three years ago and the family has been forced to take loans from the Iron Bank to fight the war and sustain it's image.
  • Nay-Theist: One thing Tywin and his children all agree on is that the Gods (whose existence they don't deny), in Tyrion's words, are vicious cunts. Except Jaime, who's more of a Hollywood Atheist.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: The three Lannister children. Tyrion is the nicest of them and is sympathetic from the start (nice). Cersei is a straight up villain (mean). Jaime is initially an antagonist but is revealed to have Hidden Depths and makes something of a Heel–Face Turn (in-between).
  • Not Me This Time: The Lannisters never wanted the War of the Five Kings or to outright destroy the Starks and the Tullys. They were framed by Littlefinger in the eyes of the Starks for the murder of Jon Arryn, and a series of other misunderstandings he facilitated to stretch their general dislike for each others' values into a bloody vendetta.
  • People of Hair Color: The only blondes in the series. This also tips off Ned about Joffrey's parentage.
  • Pride: The recurring theme of House Lannister.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • While the Lannisters may have won the War of the Five Kings, it came at great cost: the family is bankrupt and in massive debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, their military might has been exhausted, and the Tyrells have stepped in to fill the void that the Lannisters no longer can. It's only their ability to hide just how badly they're hurt that keeps them in power at all. The dire situation becomes unmanageable after the demise of Tywin, the only one able to clean up the mess.
    • At the end of Season 6, House Lannister becomes the current ruling house of Westeros after Cersei blows up the Great Sept of Baelor using wildfire with all of her political rivals inside it. While this action places her on the Iron Throne, it turns what is left of the country against her. The Reach and Dorne have joined forces with Daenerys and her invading armies. The North and Vale have declared independence under the new King in the North, Jon Snow. With the elimination of House Frey, the Riverlands can't be counted on for support. Even the Westerlands are suspicious since one of the people she killed was her uncle Kevan, the ruler of the Westerlands. Come Season 7, even Jaime acknowledges that Daenerys will likely win the coming war, and Jon treats her attempt to cow him into submission as transparent posturing by someone without the means to back it up.
  • Realpolitik:
    • Tywin's guiding principle is extended to the rest of the family whether they like it or not.
      Lord Tywin: The house that puts family first will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first. A good man does everything in his power to better his family's position regardless of his own selfish desires.
    • He further explains this reasoning to Cersei after winning the war, noting that there's only so much the Lannisters can bully and push people around and the space for that is even less when they are broke and in debt. So Tywin has to curry favor with the Tyrells with marriage alliances even if he doesn't trust them at all:
      Tywin: You don't form alliances with people you trust.
  • Redshirt Army: Whilst they start off winning a few series of victories against the Tullys when led by Jaime, the Lannister army starts to lose battles and suffers staggering losses in each engagement once Robb Stark enters the fray. For example, that huge force Tywin musters to pillage the Riverlands? Precisely half of it is destroyed when Robb defeats and captures Jaime. The replacement army at Oxcross? Robb destroys that one, too. By the end of Season 3, Tywin has given up trying to beat Robb conventionally, and does so by playing to his own strengths: politics and intrigue.
  • Riches to Rags: It's revealed in Season 4 that they are completely broke due to the gold mines having long run out.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Kevan is the only Lannister mentioned that doesn't have issues. Tytos had a desire to please that made him a doormat, Tywin sees people as tools for his work, the twins are self-destructive hedonists (on a good day), Tyrion is an alcoholic dwarf with terrible family relation, Lancel is a zealot, and there is one who just smashes beetles while screaming crunk.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Jaime and Tyrion get by on Tywin's and Cersei's reputation as well as their family's gold.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: This is a basic family survival strategy. Virtually all the gold mines in Westeros are in the Westerlands, making the Lannisters (and many of their vassals, to boot) obscenely rich. However, it can and has backfired spectacularly when the target decides that they're insulted by the idea of being bought by some rich snot. See Jaime Lannister below. Come Season 4 though, they're running on the idea that they're still rich...
    • Exaggerated in Season 7, with Cersei's buying the use of the Golden Company. There's a slim chance they'd be effective against Daenerys if she wins the War of Dawn and loses both her remaining dragons and the majority of her forces... yet she seems to think they'll work just fine as a defense against the Night King, trying to buy her own way out of humanity's extinction. Unfortunately for Cersei, the Company gets wiped out very swiftly by Daenerys and Drogon.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Pride. Lannisters clearly think the universe of themselves and believe they must stomp out any form of resistance or insults to their name, especially Tywin and Cersei.
  • Spanner in the Works: When Tyrion is captured, Jaime leads a punitive action against the Starks that ends with Ned incapacitated and unable to meet The Mountain in the Riverlands, which would have likely led to Ned captured or killed by a third-party, the outcome favored by Tywin Lannister. Instead, Ned stays in the capital and the political development leads to a strong casus belli and the insurrection of the North after Ned is executed.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In Season 4. With the Starks essentially wiped out, Tyrion, Cersei, and Jaime receive the largest amount of screen time. "The Laws of Gods and Men", the sixth episode of Season 4, marks the first episode in the show's history that none of the Starks, not even Jon Snow, have appeared. While prior to this season, they were the Big Bad, but they've increasingly received POV scenes. This can even be seen in the title sequence. In the first three seasons, the top billings were generally mixed between the Starks, Lannisters, and Daenerys. In Season 4, the top three billings are all Lannisters (Tyrion, Jaime, and Cersei).
  • Tangled Family Tree: It's not touched on much, but the Lannister family's inbreeding produced such a situation:
    • Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella are Cersei's and Jaime's sons/daughter and nephews/niece, Tyrion's double nephews/niece, Tywin's double grandsons/granddaughter, and each others' brother/sister and cousin... and it only gets more complicated when marriages are arranged with the Tyrells.
    • Tywin's marriage to his first cousin Joanna makes him both father and cousin to Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion.
  • The Unfettered: They tend to be remarkably ruthless in playing the game of thrones.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Like the Starks, they were this to Littlefinger. Despite comprising of schemers and chess-masters, the Lannisters' sense of power and arrogance made it easy for Littlefinger to make them fight an expensive war with the Starks, inherit a debt-ridden Kingdom, and then turn on each other when their Puppet King dies and Tyrion is accused by his own sister with his father's acquiescence.
  • Villain Ball: While many events were beyond their control, there were more than a few times that the Lannisters and friends screwed themselves over. (MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD) Highlights include:
    • Lord Tywin Lannister's and Queen Regent Cersei Lannister's spiteful and, often, rather petty abuse they give to their very competent relative (son and brother, respectively) Tyrion Lannister for the crimes of "murder" and being a supposed Depraved Dwarf. The latter of which is slightly true, but nonetheless exaggerated by the pair (the effect of Tyrion constantly being ostracized and mocked while his often stunning successes are downplayed and dismissed leads to him striking out against the Ungrateful Bastards. This directly leads to the family's downfall.
    • Tywin revealing to Tyrion, for no other reason than to be an asshole, that Tyrion's first wife is actually a former whore who Tywin then gives to his men to be raped/paid for sex while Tyrion watches (leading to Tyrion's eventual cynicism and bitterness, his aforementioned outcast status, and to some very long-term bad blood).
    • Tywin giving Tyrion a Kangaroo Court trial after Cersei accuses him of killing Joffrey because he was at the scene of the crime, which was a blatantly obvious Frame-Up job by some unknown third party (leading to Tyrion's breakdown and setting him up for execution).
    • And finally, Tywin's actions when Tyrion goes to confront him after being set free by his brother, Ser Jaime Lannister, and his friend, Lord "Master of Whisperers" Varys: Upon stumbling across Tyrion's ex-girlfriend Shae (another prostitute), in his father's bed she freaks out and attacks him with a knife which forces him to kill her. Tywin (while taking a shit on the toilet) decides to mock Tyrion (after the aforementioned ex's death) even as Tyrion is pointing a crossbow at his chest. Yeah...
  • Villain Protagonist: See Spotlight-Stealing Squad. House Lannister has gradually became the most prominent one in the story with Tyrion and Cersei ranking the first and the second in terms of speaking lines over the course of four seasons (and Jaime placing within the top 5). And despite the existence of its more sympathetic members, like Tyrion and Jaime, it still serves as the Big Bad of the families of Westeros, with even those characters technically supporting the villainous side. Until Tyrion's exile, anyway.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Season 2, the Lannister cousins from the main house's branch families never show up again and were last mentioned in Season 4.
  • We Have Reserves: They muster 60,000 men when the hostilities begin and every time the Starks and the Tullys shatter a Lannister host (which happens in several battles), they just raise another. When the Tyrells come into the war on the Lannisters' side this is literally true, since the Reach is (in terms of area) the largest region of Westeros after the sparsely-populated North, as well as the most fertile and densely populated. Best summed up by the opposition in Season 3: Edmure Tully tells Robb Stark that they've been inflicting more Lannister casualties than they've taken, but the angry retort is "WE NEED OUR MEN MORE THAN TYWIN NEEDS HIS!" Of course, even though they've won the war, the heavy casualties ended up being proportionately high enough to leave them tapped for manpower and weakened for garrisoning Westeros.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace:
    • The Lannisters came out on top in the War of the Five Kings and they rule Westeros, but they are weaker than ever in the aftermath and have to rely heavily on the Tyrells. The king whose rule they fought to cement has been assassinated and the next king is just an untrained boy. The Crown is millions in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, casting serious doubt on the Lannisters' reputation for repayment. The Riverlands are in ruins and the North is not pacified. Stannis is back in the fight thanks to a loan from the Iron Bank — another result of the Lannisters' mounting debts. Other forces are working to undermine the Lannisters; Littlefinger controls the Vale, the Reach is maneuvering to control the new king, and the Martells hate the Lannisters more then ever after the demise of Oberyn. Their armies are decimated from all the fighting, the gold mines have run dry for years, and most of their money was spent in the war. Making things worse, Tywin, their very capable leader, is killed by Tyrion, who flees to Essos, while Cersei and Jaime are prone to infighting.
    • This reaches is its inevitable conclusion in the last three seasons, where Cersei blows up the Great Sept to eliminate all her political enemies. This made the Tyrells, the Lannisters' most important ally, turn against them and ally with Daenerys, starting yet another war. When Daenerys finally attacks King's Landing in the penultimate episode of the final season, she and her armies brutally slaughter Cersei's forces, with Cersei and Jaime dying after the Red Keep collapses over their heads. Come the series finale, only Tyrion is left, ending House Lannister's hold on the Seven Kingdoms permanently.
  • You Are What You Hate: The two Lannisters who hate each other the most (Tywin and Tyrion) also have the most in common, down to their names.

Character-Specific Pages

    Ser Kevan Lannister 

Ser Kevan Lannister
"I did not return to the capital to serve as your puppet."

Played By: Ian Gelder

"Both Baratheon brothers have taken up against us. Jaime captured, his armies's a catastrophe."

Lord Tywin's younger brother and second in command. Uncle to Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion, and father to Lancel, Martyn, and Willem Lannister.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books, he's described as being a little chubby and having round shoulders.
  • Adaptational Job Change: In the books, he was made Lord Regent upon Cersei's fall from power instead of Hand of the King.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, Kevan is blonde, whereas TV Kevan has Gelder's gray hair. Doesn't help him look like he's younger than Tywin, even though Gelder is actually younger than Charles Dance.
  • Ascended Extra: His scene in 5x02 alone is more memorable than all his previous screentime put together. Many viewers should be excused if they take this as a Remember the New Guy? situation.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: One thing that makes him dislike the Sparrows more than Cersei: they took Lancel and he misses his son.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Considerably more mild mannered than Tywin, he can hold his own in tirades and has actually schooled Cersei when she assumed him as a Yes-Man.
  • The Bus Came Back: After two seasons of being absent, he returns, in an understatedly triumphant fashion, in the first episode of Season 5. He is briefly Put on a Bus again after he storms out from Cersei's puppet council and goes back to Casterly Rock, but returns again to serve as Hand of the King when Cersei falls from grace.
  • The Cassandra: Early in Season 5, he tells Cersei that the Sparrows are dangerous fanatics, and should not be given power or treated lightly. She doesn't listen.
  • Co-Dragons: When Tywin is short one Kingslayer or The Mountain, Kevan is his main man for consulting war strategy regarding Robb Stark.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Usually he's nothing short of a gentleman, but Kevan has no patience for Cersei's bullshit, so he lets the snark fly loose when dealing with her.
    Cersei: There is to be a royal announcement.
    Kevan: There is.
    Cersei: I was not informed.
    Kevan (dryly): There is to be a royal announcement. In the throne Room. At this very moment.
  • Demoted to Extra: Has a single appearance in Season 2. Adapted Out of Season 3, whereas in the books he becomes the Master of Laws following the Battle of the Blackwater. Also in Season 4, his interactions with Tyrion as a Go-Between for Tywin and quasi-lawyer are taken over by Jaime Lannister.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the books, Kevan is shot by Varys and then stabbed by his Little Birds. Here, he is blown up by wildfire.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Refuses to meet Cersei as soon as he returns to the Capital. In the books, Cersei wasn't allowed to meet anyone until they got a forced confession from her. But Qyburn comes and meets her before so apparently she does have visitation rights.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Kevan was killed alongside the High Sparrow, the Faith Militant, the Tyrells, and countless other people in the explosion of Great Sept.
  • Honest Advisor: He often questions his brother Tywin's orders candidly but respectfully. Although he refuses the job, it's clear he would be one for Cersei. Being an experienced soldier and a member of her family, he's no Yes-Man.
    Kevan: I did not return to the capital to serve as your puppet. To watch you stack the Small Council with sycophants.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: His son Lancel was an Extreme Doormat. Kevan, as Cersei sees firsthand, is not.
  • Minor Major Character: A senior officer and member of the family who is given a very limited role, as Tywin employs him all over the kingdom. Late in Season 5, he is appointed Hand of the King, despite having barely appeared since Season 1, except from two episodes at the start of the season.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Kevan is the first Hand since Ned to have this attitude towards his King (rather than manipulate him).
  • Nice Guy: Much more mild-mannered than his elder brother, though definitely not a pushover.
  • Number Two: To his brother, Lord Tywin.
  • Old Soldier: As a veteran of the Ninepenny Kings, Kevan has served at Tywin's side for four decades by the time the series begins.
  • Only Sane Man: In Season 5, Kevan appears to be the only person on the Small Council who seems interested in Tommen learning how to rule.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: He outlives his children Martyn and Willem, who were murdered by Rickard Karstark. He also outlives his eldest son Lancel by a few seconds.
  • Rank Up: Kevan is appointed Hand of the King by Grand Maester Pycelle after Cersei is arrested by the Faith.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Drops an epic one on Cersei in the small council chamber.
    Kevan: I returned to the capital to pay my respects to my brother, and to you, and to serve the King. I did not return to the capital to serve as your puppet. To watch you stack the Small Council with sycophants. Sending your own brother away—
    Cersei: My brother has left the capital to lead a sensitive diplomatic mission.
    Kevan: What mission?
    Cersei: That is not your concern as Master of War.
    Kevan: I do not recognize your authority to dictate what is and is not my concern. You are the Queen Mother. Nothing more.
    Cersei: You would abandon your king in his time of need?
    Kevan: If he wants to send for me, I'll be waiting for him. At Casterly Rock!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • In "Fire and Blood", Kevan is willing to make peace with the Starks since the Lannisters only went to war with the Starks and Tullys because Catelyn humiliated Tywin by kidnapping Tyrion, which pales in comparison to their bigger problem of Robert's brothers challenging Joffrey's claim to the throne. As Tyrion explains, the peace deal would have worked if Joffrey hadn't killed Ned, destroying any chance of Robb stopping his war efforts.
    • In Season 2, he advises Tywin to tell Joffrey and Cersei to flee King's Landing before Stannis attacks, and regroup at Casterly Rock. Tywin completely rejects this idea, and while it would be politically disastrous for the Lannister family if they fled, it is clear that his refusal is largely because of his own pride.
    • In Season 5, he's the only person to speak out against Cersei, pointing out that she is stacking the council with her own sycophants, and refuses to act as her puppet. He states he is loyal to the King, but only to the King, not his mother.
    • In Season 6, he purposefully locks Cersei out of Small Council meetings. Considering Cersei's scheming is the sole cause of the entire Sparrow crisis and one of the primary causes this entire war is occuring, one can see why that'd be a wise move.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Refuses to be a puppet dancing on the strings of Cersei, quits the Small Council the very moment he's appointed Master of War, and returns to Casterly Rock, declaring he's willing to return if the King calls for him.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Is far nicer than his brother, as demonstrated by his relief in seeing Tyrion back safe and sound in "The Pointy End" — a stark contrast to Tywin's own reaction.
  • Spare to the Throne: Is this to his elder brother Tywin.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: In King's Landing most people are utterly terrified of Cersei's monstrous, resurrected henchman. Kevan Lannister, however, is completely unimpressed and treats him more as a nuisance than a threat.
  • Token Good Teammate: Compared to the rest of Tywin's bannermen. He's the brother who inherited some of Lord Tytos' mild traits.
  • Underestimating Badassery: On the receiving end of this. Cersei thinks that he'll be a Yes-Man to her due to his loyal service to Tywin. She's surprised to learn that he ain't a pushover.
  • Undying Loyalty: He follows the King's commands, no matter what they are.

    Ser Lancel Lannister 

Ser Lancel Lannister

Played By: Eugene Simon

See The Faith of the Seven.

    Martyn and Willem Lannister 

Played By: Dean-Charles Chapman & Timothy Gibbons

The younger sons of Ser Kevan Lannister. Taken hostage by the Northern armies and held at Riverrun.

  • Ascended Extra: In the books, they are just mentioned. Now, they have two scenes. In an amusing sense, Dean Charles Chapman is this. He went from one of the Lannister twins to King Tommen himself.
  • Children Are Innocent: They — or at least Martyn — believe the tales that Robb turns into a wolf and devours the flesh of his enemies
    • Robb believed that the twins were completely innocent and condemned Karstark's murder of them.
  • Child Soldiers: Squires, to be exact.
  • Composite Character: Martyn takes the place of his cousin Tion Frey, who is a Lannister on his mother's side.
  • Death by Adaptation: While Willem Lannister meets his end in the books, his twin Martyn is also killed in the show, instead of Tion Frey. This is in keeping with the show's substituting the Frey descendants of Tywin's sister Genna with Lannisters to avoid the explanation of there being Freys both on the Stark and the Lannister side.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Probably the only Lannisters where this trope applies, rather than that other one.
  • I Have Your Wife: Averted, because they are rather worthless hostages when compared to Sansa.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Instead of going through the trouble of finding twin actors or having one actor play the two brothers, they are made into younger and older brother.
  • Revenge by Proxy: In revenge for the deaths of his sons (one in battle, the other at the hands of the Kingslayer) Lord Rickard Karstark and his men murder the twins despite them only being guilty of being born Lannisters.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: They were the most innocent characters on the show, and they end up being murdered by Lord Karstark.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: They are two small, sacrificial characters. Their murders lead to Robb losing the support of House Karstark, to an apparently renewed alliance with House Frey and to the Red Wedding.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Tommen grew up to look identical to his cousin Martyn in the next season. But given how much incest is in their family, can anyone blame them?

    Ser Alton Lannister 

Ser Alton Lannister

Played By: Karl Davies

Another cousin to the main three, captured by Robb Stark and used as a negotiator.

  • Ascended Fanboy: Of Jaime, since he got to squire for him when he was younger.
  • Canon Foreigner: Partly substituting Cleos Frey, to avoid spending time explaining his connection to the Lannisters. Although Cleos didn't get killed by Jaime. Alton winds up dying earlier in the show than Cleos, who managed to last until A Storm of Swords.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Killed by Jaime, his own older cousin, after telling him that he's his number one fan and that he would do anything to help him.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Is not mentioned after his death, neither by his murderer nor his jailers. All we see is his bloodied face. The only reference is vague, when Jaime tells Cersei about how he 'murdered people' in order to make it back to her. Averted in "The Mountain and the Viper"; when talking with Tyrion before the trial by combat, Jaime brings up cousin-killing, and looks rather awkward and guilty while he and Tyrion then chat about another deceased cousin of theirs, called Orson. In "Home", when Jaime lists his sins, he mentions that he killed his own cousin.
  • Hero-Worshipper: The sheer depth of his admiration for Jaime is apparent in nearly his every word, which only makes it more shocking and tragic when Jaime kills him in a bid to escape captivity.
  • Mauve Shirt: He exists mostly as just a device, but he does get some decent character-building prior to his brutal death.
  • Mysterious Past: How he's related to the main three is not explained.
  • Mythology Gag: When Jaime is trying to locate Alton in the family tree, he asks him if his mother is "the fat one", only to correct himself by saying "No, there is only one fat Lannister. If she was your mother, you would know it." The book counterpart to Alton, Cleos Frey, is the son of Genna Lannister, an aunt of Jaime that is notoriously obese.
  • Nice Guy: No wonder he's just a distant cousin.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Killed in the first scene where he is given real dialogue.

    Lady Joanna Lannister 

Lady Joanna Lannister

Played By: N/A

Cersei Lannister: You've always been funny. But none of your jokes will ever match the first one, will they? You remember? Back when you ripped my mother open on your way out of her and she bled to death?
Tyrion Lannister: ...She was my mother, too.

The wife of Tywin Lannister and the mother of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion. She died giving birth to Tyrion before the beginning of the series.

  • Death by Childbirth: She died giving birth to Tyrion. Tywin and Cersei loathe Tyrion, and regard him as some sort of murderer because of it.
  • Kissing Cousins: Joanna was actually Tywin's first cousin, though such marriages actually aren't unusual among the aristocracy of the Seven Kingdoms. The practical result is that her surname was already "Lannister" even before she married Tywin. In part, this also informs how much of a hypocrite Tywin is. He plans to force all three of his children to marry against their will to secure political alliances, demanding that they put the good of the family above their own personal happiness. Problem is, Tywin himself married for love — marrying a first cousin meant he didn't secure a marriage alliance with another powerful Great House.
  • The Lost Lenore: For Lord Tywin; she was the only thing that gave him any real happiness.
  • Missing Mom: For Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion.
  • Morality Chain: She seemed to serve as this for Tywin and Cersei, who both loved her dearly. From the books... 
  • Posthumous Character: She died long before the events of the series.

    Lord Tytos Lannister 

Lord Tytos Lannister

Played By: N/A

"He was a good man. But a weak man... a weak man who nearly destroyed our House and name."
Tywin Lannister

The late father of Tywin and Kevan Lannister. He was a kind and generous lord, but his time as the head of the Lannisters was a period marked by decline for the House due to several poor investments, which nearly bankrupted the family. He also allowed himself to be openly mocked at court, which eventually resulted in the rebellion of the vassal House Reyne of Castamere and Tywin's rise to infamy as he personally put down the rebellion in his father's place, completely eradicating House Reyne in the process.

    Reginald Lannister 

Reginald Lannister

Played By: Patrick Fitzsymons

"We've worked through the night, my lord. Perhaps we'd profit from some sleep."

An officer in the army of House Lannister. He is a distant relative of Lord Tywin and is sent home to the Westerlands for insubordination.

  • Canon Foreigner: There is no such Reginald Lannister in the books, as the Tywin at Harrenhal subplot was entirely original to the series.
  • Get Out!: As told to by Tywin Lannister for his blatant disrespect.
  • Nepotism: As usual in Westeros, but Reginald is a peculiar case that openly annoys his benefactor.
    Reginald: We've worked through the night, my Lord. Perhaps we'd profit from some sleep.
    Tywin: Yes, I think you would, Reginald. And, because you're my cousin, I might even let you wake from that sleep! Go! I'm sure your wife must miss you.
    Reginald: ... My wife's in Lannisport...
    Tywin: Well, then you'd better start riding. (Beat) Go, before I change my mind and send her your head! If your name wasn't Lannister, you'd be scrubbing out pots in the cook's tent. Go.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It's an absolute miracle (aided by the fact that his surname is Lannister) that Reginald is still alive after his ridiculous behavior at Tywin's war council. He begins eating when Tywin hasn't started eating, keeps eating as Tywin speaks (both are signs of disrespect that even Amory Lorch doesn't dare engage in) and then makes a sarcastic comment directly to Tywin's face! Anyone in Westeros with half a brain knows to be afraid of Tywin at the best of times. Reginald is missing half that brain. Tywin outright promises him that he will kill him if he doesn't Get Out!.
  • Upper-Class Twit: It's clear that Reginald has spent his life in easy comfort, acting entitled and irritable to the point of bitching to Tywin.

    Orson Lannister 

Orson Lannister

Played By: N/A

"It filled me with dread. Piles and piles of them, years and years of them. How many countless living, crawling things smashed and dried out and returned to the dirt? In my dreams I found myself standing on a beach filled with beetle husks, stretching as far as the eye could see. I woke up crying, weeping for their shattered little bodies."
Tyrion Lannister

A deceased cousin of Jaime, Tyrion and Cersei, who was brain-damaged from infancy.

  • Almighty Idiot: He was God among the beetles he smashed. A common theory is that Orson is a metaphor for a mindless God/nature/evolution.
  • Animal Motifs: His name Orson means "Bear Cub", which clashes with the Lion theme of the family but also supports his blind, animal-like nature. Tyrion even likens him to a wild animal people would study to gain a better understanding of it.
  • Butt-Monkey: He was the only Lannister even less respected than Tyrion. In fact, Tyrion often picked on Orson and was one of the most vocal bullies, since tormenting the mentally ill was the only time Tyrion could feel like All of the Other Reindeer.
  • Canon Foreigner: There's no counterpart to Orson in the books. The closest thing he has is Tyrion's joking claim that his father locked up "drooling cousins" deep within Casterly Rock for being embarrassments.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: His wet nurse dropped him on his head as an infant.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: According to some interpretations, Orson represents the blind randomness of a world that has no higher purpose. We can try to look for things like "reasons" or "purpose" as much as we want, or we can make up our own. In the end, the world goes on grinding all the little living creatures into the dust while we search for meaning.
  • Foil: To his cousin Tyrion, as they are both Lannisters with disabilities. But while Tyrion is an extremely intelligent dwarf who dislikes killing, Orson was mindless and lived only for senseless violence.
  • Gentle Giant: Subverted. He was apparently quite a large boy and mentally damaged, but instead of being an Animal Lover as many examples of this are, he'd spend all his time smashing insects with rocks and would shove Tyrion away when he got too close.
  • No-Sell: Tyrion attempted to stop Orson's endless beetle massacre once, only for Orson to effortlessly shove Tyrion away and continue killing them.
  • Non-Answer: When Tyrion asked Orson why exactly he was obsessed with killing beetles he only responded with "Smash the beetles! Smash em!"
  • Posthumous Character: He died years ago, when he was kicked in the chest by a mule.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Tyrion has spent several years wondering why Orson was obsessed with smashing beetles in the garden. Fans of the show seem to believe Orson represents either the author George R. R. Martin himself (he senselessly kills his characters while the fans wonder why), or the random cruelty of the Gods, or the meaningless nature of the universe. Jaime and Tyrion spend a few moments pondering why he did what he did just before Tyrion's trial by combat.
  • Seemingly Profound Fool: According to Tyrion, who'd spend his afternoons observing Orson and his senseless murder of beetles, he could see that the cogs in Orson's head were spinning and that he wasn't completely mindless and did have his reasons for it. What drove Tyrion mad was that he couldn't figure out what they were. In fact, the lack of a concrete answer and Orson's downright unknowable motivations seem to have shaped Tyrion to some extent and the memory still haunts him.
  • Shadow Archetype: Orson (the actual character, not what he metaphorically represents) sounds like he was the Lannister equivalent of Hodor, though more tragic and disturbing than everyone's favorite Gentle Giant.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Tyrion spent several years in intellectual contemplation, wondering why Orson killed all those insects, and trying to find a deeper meaning or purpose for their deaths. He couldn't find one.
  • Take That!: His name may be a dig at Orson Scott Card, who wrote a scathing review of the series' first two episodes.

    Ser Stafford Lannister 

Ser Stafford Lannister

Played By: N/A

"Using some vile sorcery, your brother fell on Stafford Lannister with an army of wolves. Thousands of good men were butchered."

An officer of House Lannister, and one of Tywin's many cousins. Killed at the Battle of Oxcross by the Northmen.

  • General Failure: As with most Lannister commanders not named Tywin. Even though the Lannister forces had surrounding Oxcross completely under lockdown, they failed to account for the Stark direwolves, allowing Robb to get the jump on him and his men with the help of Grey Wind. From the books... 
  • In the Back: How he was killed. Rickard Karstark was the one who ended Stafford's life when he personally drove a spear through him.
  • The Ghost: He doesn't even appear onscreen. Not alive, anyways. He's certainly among the many Lannister casualties shown in the battle's aftermath.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Doesn't even get any screen time before being killed. The same is true of the books, as he's only mentioned briefly before and after the battle.