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Characters / Game of Thrones - Petyr Baelish

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Lord Petyr Baelish a.k.a "Littlefinger"

Played By: Aidan Gillen

"I did warn you not to trust me."

The sole member of House Baelish, one of the lowest noble houses. After serving as Master of Coin on King Robert's and King Joffrey's Small Councils, he's appointed Lord of Harrenhal. Littlefinger presents an affable mask to his fellows and betters, but he is unashamedly one of the most ambitious and talented schemers in Westeros, with an information network to rival that of Varys. He is one of the few characters within the series to gain in stature and power over time, rather than lose it.

Despite having been formally granted the Lordship of Harrenhal and the Lordship Paramount of the Trident, Baelish apparently has no interest in either, and so those titles remain unclaimed (and the latter exercised de facto by Walder Frey). Instead, he went to the Vale to "serve" his new wife, Lady Lysa Arryn. After Baelish murdered Lysa, he became guardian to Lysa's son, Robin, the new Lord Paramount of the Vale of Arryn, and the leading figure in the Vale's regency council, along with Lord Yohn Royce. Royce and Baelish then made the decision to aid Sansa Stark and Jon Snow in retaking Winterfell from House Bolton. Baelish has since resided in Winterfell as an advisor to Jon and Sansa.

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  • 0% Approval Rating: Littlefinger has this reputation with the houses of The Vale. Many see him for the slimy, manipulative weasel that he is who only married Lysa Arryn for power and Lord Yohn Royce in particular (rightly) suspects that Baelish killed Lysa in order to take over as the main power of the Vale. In fact, if not for Sansa defending him during his trial, it's entirely possible that Littlefinger would have been killed soon after Lysa. By the end of Season 7 this comes back to bite him hard once Sansa turns the tables on Baelish and reveals his crimes to the Lords of the Vale, including the murder of their liegelord and lady. After Sansa reveals his crimes the Lords of the Vale are more than happy to leave Littlefinger to his fate and don't lift a finger to help him.
  • Adaptational Dumbass:
    • Littlefinger's plan to take over the Eyrie in the books had a lot more layers to it than just "push Lysa Arryn out of the moondoor". In particular, his plan involved using the minstrel Marillion, the one who got his tongue cut off by Joffery in season 1, as a scapegoat in Lysa's murder. Since these elements were condensed or removed for the show Littlefinger has no excuse for how Lysa died other than suicide, and the Vale Lords would have almost certainly turned against him if not for Sansa's intervention. Unlike in the books where he manages to pull off Crocodile Tears so successfully that he almost convinced Sansa, TV Littlefinger didn't even bother to try to look broken up about Lysa's death which makes it all the more suspicious to the Vale Lords.
    • His plan to take over the North has more glaring flaws in the show than in the book. In the books Baelish gives Jeyne Poole, a Stark steward, to the Boltons as Arya to marry Ramsay, and plans to marry Sansa to Harrold Hardyng, the heir to the Vale "if" Robert/Robin dies. He directly explains to Sansa that he will reveal her true identity as the Stark heir during the wedding and rally the Vale lords to march on the North in her name. In the show these plots are merged and he gives Sansa herself to the Boltons. Sansa marries Ramsay, an infamously violent and unstable maniac, and is left to his devices while Baelish heads back to the Vale to prepare to march on the North once the time is right. This act destroys any trust and loyalty Sansa had for him before the deed.
    • His part in the plan to kill Joffrey. In the books Ser Dontos makes contact with Sansa very soon after becoming a fool and spends much of the second and third books manipulating her on Baelish's behalf, until he's ready to make his play to get Sansa into his grasp. In the show this entire subplot is condensed to a single interaction shortly before the royal wedding, leaving the viewer to presume that Baelish had no plans for Sansa until the Tyrells approached him about getting rid of Joffrey.
  • Adaptational Intelligence:
    • Thanks to having less players around in his quest for power than in the books, he climbs the social ladder way faster than his book counterpart, having a more active role in establishing the Lannister-Tyrell alliance.
    • Played with for his financial skills. His book counterpart was an economic genius who used loans to fund a successful investment plan to boost the crown's income and gain control over the dock trade, plans which fell apart because his successors weren't as good as him. The show version just used those loans to finance things directly, gambling he'd be out of town when it collapsed. The "played with" is that it's hinted in the books (and speculated by fans) that Baelish did the same thing there, just more subtly; Tyrion points out that the simple math of things would show there's no way Robert could have racked up that much debt with just lavish tournaments, and suspects Baelish was secretly robbing the crown.
    • While both counterparts seem to thrive in chaos, in the books Baelish is more of an opportunist who would take advantage of any existing forms of chaos and exploit it in a way that would benefit him. In the show, Baelish deliberately sows said discord himself. For example, Book!Baelish reveals that he had to alter his plans due to the chaos in King's Landing, but in the show he actively takes part in the derailment of King's Landing, including the imprisonment of Margaery and Cersei.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: It's implied in the books that Littlefinger was having Sweetrobin poisoned by overdosing his medication so he could install Harrold Hardying (with Sansa as his bride) as the next heir to the Eyrie. Since Harry is Adapted Out in the show, no such thing happens. Petyr still sees the boy as an Unwitting Pawn, but at least he doesn't try to have the boy who saw him as a surrogate father killed. On the other hand...
  • Adaptational Villainy: To the point that George Martin considers him the character most altered, noting that book Littlefinger is much more friendly and better at keeping his true motives ambiguous than TV Littlefinger.
    • Multiple show characters comment on how utterly untrustworthy he is, whilst in the books most of King's Landing see him as weak and reliable.
    • He also lacks the book counterpart's Freudian Excuse, where he was traumatized by Lysa raping him twice while he was drunk or drugged, although it's subtly implied in "The First of His Name".
    • In "The Dragon and The Wolf" it's implied he was the one that sent the assassin after Bran in Season 1, whereas in the books, Tyrion believes Joffrey tried to as a Mercy Kill to get some twisted respect from Robert.
    • There is also his decision to pawn off Sansa to the Boltons, something that he doesn't do in the books. GRR Martin states that Book!Littlefinger would never sell Sansa out, much less to the Boltons, because he loved her too much (in his own twisted way, of course). In Show!Littlefinger's case, it's ambiguous whether he knew what sort of person Ramsay is, but the fact that he sold Sansa off to be wed to the Boltons shows that he ultimately cares more about power than her well-being.
    • While Book!Littlefinger is responsible for turning Jeyne Poole into a Sex Slave, it's unclear how Littlefinger was involved given that brothels weren't his only key investment in King's Landing. Show!Littlefinger would punish the prostitutes who he considers to be "bad investments", and at times would serve them up to be abused or killed in order to satiate his more sadistic clients' fetishes.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • This Littlefinger is much less careful and more obvious with his scheming than the original book version, who's more subtle. For a while, it's not apparent, until the end of Season 7. Littlefinger of the show also has a bad habit of overestimating his own powers at times and underestimating the threat of other people. The biggest example of this is giving Sansa over to marry to Ramsey Bolton, apparently not realising how much of a violent lunatic the Bastard of Bolton really is. This act comes to bite Baelish hard as the trauma Sansa experiences at Ramsey's hands destroys any trust she had in Littlefinger, making it easier for her to execute him later on in the series.
    • While Book!Littlefinger is far from a master swordsman, it's heavily implied that he's still dangerous with a dagger. Show!Littlefinger in contrast doesn't display such skills, other than holding one to Ned's throat (while he's injured no less).
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • Littlefinger's relationship with everyone is changed between book and show. In the books Littlefinger has given himself Vetinari Job Security by always making sure there is enough coin flowing through the royal coffers to keep the nobles happy. This has, in turn, made him a very popular person at court, being as nonthreatening as possible to disguise potential ulterior motives. In the show he's The Friend Nobody Likes and no one trusts, only kept around because he's good at finance.
    • Ironically, the opposite happens with his relationship with Sweetrobin. In the books, Sweetrobin is wisely fearful of Littlefinger. In the show, Baelish is a Cool Uncle and surrogate father to him, though Baelish still sees him as a pawn nonetheless.
  • All for Nothing: So many plans, so many schemes, he orchestrated almost every conflict in the show, from the death of Jon Arryn, the feud between Stark and Lannister, the War of the Five Kings, and so much more. All of it with the sole goal of ending with himself sitting at the Iron Throne. After all that planning, all that scheming, in the end all he gets out of it is getting his throat slit, by the very woman he saw as nothing more than a pawn to realize his ambitions.
  • Ambition Is Evil: He was born without wealth, influence or a great title. By Season 3, he's got all of those, and gained them by being a scheming backstabber.
    Varys: A man with great ambition and no morals. I wouldn't bet against you.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Sansa Stark. Littlefinger has been directly and indirectly responsible for all the misery that had befallen her, whether it be the death of her family because of a war he helped instigate or pawning her off to Ramsay Bolton. It is fitting that Littlefinger's downfall is caused by Sansa herself.
  • Asshole Victim: Absolutely nobody mourns him when he is executed by Arya for his countless crimes such as arranging the assassination of Jon Arryn, triggering and escalating a war that claimed thousands of victims and brought Westeros to the brink of destruction, betraying House Stark and arranging for Sansa to be abused by the Boltons. Even his own bannermen desert him on the spot.
  • Authority in Name Only: Varys mocks him because despite being named Lord of Harrenhal, he's ruling no land as long as the Northern army occupies the Riverlands. Varys' pun aside, the designation elevates Baelish' rank and position to the extent that he can marry Lysa Arryn and gain control of the Vale by marriage, becoming a de facto High Lord especially after killing her. On the other hand, Baelish overestimates his own bannermen's loyalty to him as shown on Season 7 they don't lift a finger to defend him when he is accused of all the crimes he is guilty of, making it clear they are loyal to the King in the North and his family, not to Littlefinger.
  • Bad Boss: Once an employee is no longer useful or profitable, Baelish has them murdered or subjected to A Fate Worse Than Death. For example, he handed Ros over to Joffrey so he could use her as target practice with a crossbow.
  • Badass Boast: "The Eyrie is mine", he says to his fellow schemer Roose Bolton, Lord of Winterfell, and that the last time the Vale and the North were in league, they brought down the greatest dynasty the world has ever known. Ironically, Littlefinger would be instrumental in the extinguishing of House Bolton down the road...
  • Badass Bookworm: Like Tyrion and Varys, he's dangerous because of his knowledge instead of his fighting prowess. His power as Master of Coin lies in his logbooks. Though Tyrion on examining the logbooks notes that Petyr's claim to being a financial wizard is slightly hollow since he's been borrowing debts from the Iron Bank of Braavos, a dangerous source of income if the Crown is not able to pay debts. Knowing Littlefinger however, this was probably not entirely unintentional. Later revelations, in fact, make it a near-certainty it was absolutely intended.
  • Bait the Dog: At first he seems to be behind Sansa. Then, he frames her for regicide and traps her with him so he can keep hitting on someone half his age. He does get one moment where he privately tells Sansa that Arya is still alive, seemingly to comfort her. Later after Sansa fully rejects him, even refusing to let the Vale's army help her retake Winterfell just because he's associated with them, he advises her where she can get another army, with no benefit to him at all.
  • Beard of Evil: His goatee. It leads Bronn to derisively nickname him "Twatbeard".
  • Beneath the Mask: Littlefinger is an opportunistic sociopath, who only rarely lets slip just how ambitious he is, and how little he cares for others. Allowing Ros to be brutally killed by Joffrey is a stark example of just how bad he really is. Unlike Joffrey or Ramsay, who delight in sadism itself, Littlefinger loves power, and he gives as much thought to the people he hurts along the way as he does to stepping on ants.
  • Big Bad: One of the main contenders of the title, at least for the War of the Five Kings storyline, since he is the one that secretly started it. With the death of King Joffrey and the murder of Tywin Lannister and later Roose Bolton, Littlefinger is this in all but name. He's won the complete favor of the Vale Lords, he's in charge of a terrain free of war and an army, and he's effectively become one of the most powerful men in Westeros with the only ones who can stop him — Varys and Tyrion — exiled to Essos, giving him a clean playing field. Though this changed as Varys and Tyrion return to Westeros alongside Daenerys. He goes down on Season 7's finale.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: With Cersei and the Night King in Season 7, acting as the main antagonist of the Winterfell storyline as he seeks to drive the Starks apart again so he can take Sansa for himself. He is the only Big Bad to kick the bucket on Season 7.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Season 7 sees him falling into this trope. After six seasons of being at the top of his game, here he gets overshadowed by Cersei's new regime and the approaching White Walker threat. His nation-wide scheme to claim power has been reduced to a relatively small-scale plot to sow dissent among the Starks. In the end, he is Out-Gambitted by a group of kids and dies pathetically, begging for his life.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Whatever his motives, Littlefinger's arrives with the Knights of the Vale during the Second Battle of Winterfell and the timely intervention saves the Stark army from complete annihilation and utterly turns the tide against Ramsay Bolton.
  • Bullying a Dragon: In "The North Remembers", Littlefinger learns how much power he really has after he alludes smugly to and attempts to lord over the queen with the "rumor" of Twincest going around about her and her brother. Cersei then showcases her own when, seemingly on a whim, she tells her guards to cut his throat before rescinding the order just before they follow through. In retrospect, it also worked in reverse, considering the look of hatred Littlefinger gives her. It more than likely put Cersei on his special shit-list which compounded by his anger at the Lannisters for enabling Catelyn's death at the Red Wedding makes him more than a little enthusiastic to help the Tyrells screw them over and have Joffrey die in his mother's arms.
    • Before that in "The Pointy End", he makes a nasty dig at Barristan Selmy's expense following the latter's forced retirement from the Kingsguard, causing the court to laugh maliciously...only for the laughter to stop when a furious Selmy draws his sword. Littlefinger seems clearly mentally kicking himself for provoking a man considered the greatest swordsmen in living memory who now has nothing left to lose, and looks ready to use Varys as a human shield should Selmy try to charge the dais.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: He invokes this a lot and people believing him is how he is able to keep getting away with obvious act of treason. He also indirectly does it to Royce when he shows that he could have him killed by lord Robin's orders but doesn't since he is a good military mind for the wars to come. Turns out in Season 7 that whatever advantage he might have had over others was lost after the Knights of the Vale pledged themselves to the North, since his formal position was arranged by the Iron Throne and they are in open rebellion against it, he has no actual control over them and when he tries to turn Sansa and Arya against each other to get more power for himself, despite the imminent threat of the White Walkers, Sansa decides she doesn't need Littlefinger anymore and has him executed for his crimes.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • When someone mentions seeing a knight decapitate a horse, he tells Ned, "That sounds like someone we know... the Mountain!" While he is being deliberately condescending and provocative at the time, did he really think anyone could forget that? He also notes "Fish, the sigil of house Tully... isn't that your wife's house, Tully, my lord Hand?" Given that he spent his childhood with the Tullys and is madly in love with Catelyn, something both he and Ned know, he's being blatantly willfully obtuse.
    • Tywin angrily interrupts Baelish in the middle of one of his As You Know circumlocutions.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Two times (both in "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" and in "You Win or You Die"), Littlefinger proudly admits to Ned that he is not someone to be trusted.
  • Chaos Is Evil: Unlike Varys, Littlefinger espouses the belief that "chaos is a ladder", and indeed he's the worse of the two chessmasters, willing to engineer the War of the Five Kings not in the pursuit of the Seven Kingdoms' betterment but solely in pursuit of his own power.
  • Character Death: Arya slashes his throat on Sansa's orders when it becomes clear that he's been blindsided and can't manipulate his way out of his trial.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The necklace Ser Dontos gives Sansa, which he claims is an heirloom of House Hollard, but was in fact a cheap imitation made by Littlefinger. When Sansa arrives aboard Littlefinger's ship after being secreted out of King's Landing by Ser Dontos, he takes off the necklace. One of the fake gems is missing. In the next episode, he confirms to Sansa that he hid the poison that Olenna Tyrell dropped into Joffrey's wine in the missing stone.
    • The Valyrian steel knife an assassin tried to kill Bran with in Season 1. Littlefinger lies to Catelyn and tells her it belonged to Tyrion, to further cause tensions between the Starks and the Lannisters. Littlefinger holds on to it and eventually gives it to Bran who gives it to Arya. Bran reveals the knife belonged to Petyr all along as further proof of his treason, and Arya uses it to execute him.
  • The Chessmaster: Unfortunately for Ned Stark, he's very skilled at navigating and manipulating the politics surrounding the Iron Throne to his own ends. "The First of His Name" reveals his Chessmastery goes all the way to instigating the War of the Five Kings by having Lysa poison Jon Arryn and then write to Catelyn and blame the Lannisters. He also orchestrates Joffrey's assassination with Olenna Tyrell.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: With other characters, you should keep an eye on them if you decide to trust him/her. With Baelish, it's not a matter of if he'll betray you, but when and to whom, because he will sell out anyone, anytime, to anyone, to further his aspirations of power. The list of people he has conned and betrayed is perversely impressive, Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, Catelyn Tully, Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon, Ser Dontos Hollard, Lysa Arryn, and Roose Bolton.
  • Comforting the Widow: Attempts this on Catelyn, even bringing Ned's bones to her as an offering. She goes for her knife and tells him to get the hell out.
  • The Conspiracy:
    • Is part of one with Olenna Tyrell, Ser Dontos Hollard, and (unwittingly) Sansa, and which orchestrated Joffrey's poisoning.
    • Is part of an even bigger one with Lysa Arryn, arranging for the death of Jon Arryn and the framing of the Lannisters, triggering the entire plot of the show.
  • Consummate Liar: Lying comes as easily to him as breathing. He often mixes his lies with half truths, just for good measure.
  • Contemplative Boss: He's fascinated by the Iron Throne and is shown a number of times from behind, standing still and looking at it before being engaged in conversation.
  • The Corrupter: While much of Sansa's idealism had already been broken due to her miserable experience at King's Landing, it was Littlefinger who moulded Sansa into another underhanded player in the game of thrones.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Medieval version. His idea of raising money for King Robert's tourneys and the Kingdom is borrowing money and sinking the Royal Treasury deeply into debt, as noted by Tyrion Lannister. It's bad enough that he borrows from the Lannisters, giving them disproportionate influence on the throne (as noted by Ned in alarm) but he's also borrowing from the dangerous Iron Bank of Braavos, which makes Tyrion worried that if and when they default, the Bank will support their enemies. When he quits as Master of Coin, the Crown is so deeply in debt that it cannot afford to pay for the King's wedding on its own, requiring the Tyrells to foot half the bill. He also makes it clear to his prostitutes, especially Ros, that he regards them as "investments" and regards any human feelings, like trauma from seeing a baby killed in front of you, as bad for business.
  • Corrupt Politician: Baelish stands out among his fellow schemers thanks to his financial legerdemain, his moustache twirling backstabbing and his murderous nature.
  • Creepy Monotone: At his most disturbing, Petyr's voice becomes completely flat and emotionless.
  • Creepy Uncle: He's a close family friend to Sansa's mother, and openly attracted to Catelyn. Eventually, he announces plans to wed Sansa's aunt (which would make him a literal uncle, rather than Honorary Uncle) and he just gets even touchier, eventually going so far as to kiss Sansa.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Petyr is a truly masterful player of the Game, but he is not rich, he is not respected and he is not a fighter. He is entirely reliant on manipulating people who are those things to do his dirty work for him, and then he can betray or discard them as necessary. When he goes North, the rules have changed (and the show has shifted genre from medieval courtly politics to grim supernatural fantasy) and he has no allies, so he ends up as toast when he tries his old tricks.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Oh-so-subtly implied in "The First of His Name", when Lysa reminds him of their "wedding night" many years ago. His face and eyes just go hollow, like he's having a post-traumatic episode.note  He also got the crap beaten out of him as a kid when he foolishly challenged Brandon Stark for Catelyn's hand and generally spent most of his childhood being mocked and looked down upon for his social standing.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It often leads to him and Varys having verbal sparring matches.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "She was a ba-ad investment".
  • Death by Irony: He is responsible for Ned Stark's death and is killed by one of Ned's daughters, using the very dagger he used to frame the Lannisters in Bran's attempt. Also, he spent his whole life spreading lies and talking his way out of trouble. Arya slits his throat and he drowns in his own blood, unable to speak. He also died the same way Ned Stark did - alone, on foreign soil with no real allies. And it happens after he is betrayed by someone he trusted, despite warning signs beforehand. His betrayal of Catelyn Stark additionally ended with her throat being slit, which is exactly how he goes out himself. Oh, he spent his life manipulating others into gruesome ends they never saw coming; Ned, Ros, Jon Arryn, Lysa, Robb and Catelyn, Joffrey, Ser Dantos, etc., and is himself manipulated into a gruesome end he never saw coming by Sansa. Who, as the final cherry on top of this trope, makes a point of thanking him for teaching her the skills and awareness she subsequently used against him.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Of the traditional underdog hero. Him dueling Brandon Stark for Cat was straight out of the old storybooks, the weakling childhood friend challenging the brutish knight to win a fair maiden's hand... and then Brandon kicked his ass and Petyr was only spared from death because Catlyn pleaded on his behalf. When expositing this backstory to Ros, he pretty much lampshades that the experience taught him that reality doesn't follow the stories, and neither can he if he wants to get ahead in life.
    • Of the Treacherous Advisor with a Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. While Littlefinger's shifting allegiances to wherever the wind blows enabled him to stay a key player in the game of thrones, it was only a matter of time that his treacherousness catches up with him, alienating any remaining allies he had. This leads up to the finale of Season 7, where Sansa turns on him by revealing the full extent of his treachery and sentences him to death, with none in the Vale lifting a finger.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Varys comments of him "He would see this kingdom burn if he could be king of the ashes."
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Is very obviously up-to-no-good, and is quite honest about this. People rely on him anyway. George Martin noted that this was a major change in adaptation since the book Littlefinger was better at keeping himself in check and was more likable. In the books, he even had Villain with Good Publicity with Robert Baratheon, Tywin, Jaimenote , Cersei and even Edmure Tully. The only one who distrusted Littlefinger is Tyrion.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Is completely stunned when it turns out Sansa and Arya's entire "tense feud" was all an act to lull him into a false sense of security and trick him to his ultimate death.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • He dies pathetically, crying and begging for mercy.
    • Even before, there's a reason he tends to rely on manipulation and underhanded sneakiness; he's clearly afraid of direct confrontation. This is well illustrated on the occasion where he makes a snide crack about the recently Kicked Upstairs Ser Barristan Selmy... only to be clearly regretting it and visibly about to use Varys as a human shield if necessary when Selmy reminds everyone present that he's the most feared swordsman in Westeros for a reason.
  • Dissonant Serenity: During Ned's execution, everyone else seems genuinely surprised and shocked by Joffrey's decision and try to coerce him out of it. Littlefinger doesn't move an inch, just standing there wearing that same damn smile as always! Possibly because he realized that it might benefit him, as seen in the next season where he attempts Comforting the Widow on Catelyn. It might be a call-back to his book-counterpart, whose doesn't have the widest range of facial expressions beyond smiling.
  • Double Meaning: When Lysa asks him if he remembers their "wedding night" many years ago, he replies, "Like it was yesterday." Lysa doesn't notice, because she's so obsessed, but it's clear from his face that it's not a happy memory.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Of the Vale. Technically, he's only Robin Arryn's regent, but he effectively runs the place through a combination of his usual politicking and threatening to sic Robin and his Moon Door on anyone who resists him.
  • Entitled to Have You: This in huge amounts towards Catelyn Stark, as he doesn't seem to notice or care that she never actually returned his affection and has taken on squicky shades of this in his relationship with Sansa.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Deconstructed. He has been in love with Catelyn since childhood to the point of obsession, eventually orchestrating the War of the Five Kings and helping kill her husband out of spite at not being able to be with her and in the hopes of winning her affections. He is also very fond of her daughter Sansa, going to great lengths to protect her and even claiming he wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms with her, but his affection for her comes off as creepy more than anything and he's not above manipulating her and putting her in harm's way to further his own ambitions.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Downplayed, but while Petyr is a callous, treacherous snake, there are things even he finds too much.
    • Subtle, but in "A Golden Crown", a Riverlands peasant gives an eyewitness account on Ser Gregor Clegane's most recent war crimes, which ended with him tarring the children and setting them on fire. He never openly says it, but his expression and manner suggests even he found such brutality to be disgusting. In fact, the Mountain seems to be someone he has nothing positive to say about other than he was "born with a talent for violence".
    • When speaking with a despondent Ros about the recent slaughter of all the newborns in King's Landing, Littlefinger mostly uses it as an avenue to threaten her into staying professional and putting such things aside, a rare occurence of outwardly showing his cold indifference to the suffering of others. However, he does quietly admit that such a thing was "poorly handled" and gives her the day to mourn the loss of the babies, if only to stop her from disrupting his business. To his credit, he does have this to say about the whole incident:
      Petyr: Sometimes those with the most power have the least grace.
    • Despite her Undying Loyalty to him, he shows nothing but contempt for Lysa Arryn and was all too happy to kill her once she proved too much of a hindrance to him. While it's partially his Manipulative Bastard tendencies coming into play, it's important to remember that not only was she a cruel, delusional, smothering, possessive bitch, but she was heavily implied (and outright confirmed in the books) to have raped Petyr when he was young. Unlike most other examples of his callousness, Petyr had a legitimate reason to hate her.
    • His involvement in Joffrey's murder was out of both ambition (for the Iron Throne) and because even he found the young king and the actions of the Red Wedding to be disgraceful (the fact that Catelyn was murdered definitely compounds this).
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Part of the reason that leads to his downfall. He believes that other people are just like him and will do anything they do to gain power for themselves and they are willing to backstab anyone to get it, including their loved ones. This is why he tries to convince Sansa that Arya is trying to usurp her as Lady of Winterfell, never mind that Arya never cared about gaining power and would be more upset at Sansa trying to subvert Jon's rule and seemingly betraying their family than anything else. Sansa knew this too, and faked her feud with Arya into tricking Baelish that executing Arya was her intention all along.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • To Lord Renly Baratheon. Renly wants to help Ned survive the imminent power struggle that will break out after Robert dies, whereas Baelish is quick to betray Lord Stark once he no longer finds the latter to be useful in his schemes.
    • To Varys. While Varys isn't exactly "heroic", he is oriented toward maintaining the kingdom and preventing breakdown, regardless of who is in charge. Littlefinger, on the other hand, would unhesitatingly destroy everything to gain power for himself. As Varys memorably puts it, "He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes."
    • To Ser Davos Seaworth. Both men came from almost nothing to having a great deal of power and influence, though are still mocked for their initial positions. While Davos takes the mockery in stride, is grateful for what he has and rewards the man who gave him his power with Undying Loyalty, Littlefinger is resentful of the mockery and rewards the people who gave him power with treachery in order to get more.
  • Evil Genius: Littlefinger is incredibly sophisticated about politics and how it actually works, shrewdly judging strengths and weaknesses, flaws and fatal errors in the History and Lore Extra videos. He has a knack for financial management and an obscure talent finding money for the crown. From the books...  In Season 3, Tyrion is appointed Master of Coin after Littlefinger notes that his "secret" is borrowing money from the Iron Bank of Braavos, indebting the kingdom to a dangerous source.
  • Evil Is Petty: Littlefinger caused a devastating continent-wide civil war simply because he didnít get the girl he wanted.
  • Evil Mentor: In Season 4, he starts revealing a few of his tricks to Sansa and appears to be coaching her how to play the Game of Thrones.
  • Evil Wears Black: Littlefinger likes to wear dark clothes and caused most of the problems in the series out of malice.
  • Exact Words: When Lysa asks if he remembers their "wedding night," he gives her both a confirmation and a Kubrick Stare.
  • False Reassurance: Before Moon Door-ing Lysa, he soothes her by telling he has only loved one woman in his life... "Your sister". In the books... 
  • Familial Foe: Littlefinger remorselessly arranges for the downfall of Ned Stark (whose wife he lusts after and whose brother once injured Littlefinger in a duel) during the first seasons. In seasons 5-7, he puts one of Ned's daughters in an Arranged Marriage with an abusive rapist and later tries to turn her and her siblings against each other with his manipulations after she escapes and has to accept him as an ally.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • His infatuation for Sansa and the belief she was his pawn proved to be his downfall. He believed that despite everything Sansa went through (and her not truly reciprocating his feelings), she would never turn on him and always be dependent on him due to his resources. He never had a back-up plan in case she chose to kill, he merely hoped she wouldn't do it just to not lose any advantage he could happily provide. As such, when his crimes are exposed before the Northern and Vale lords, he is out of exits.
    • Also, Petyr believes in his own ability to manipulate and control people, overestimating his own ability and reach. It was this belief and certainty in his manipulative abilities that left him blindsided when Sansa and Arya tricked him into attending his own trial and execution.
  • Faux Affably Evil: His politeness becomes gradually less genuine as the series goes on. See also Adaptational Villainy.
  • First-Name Basis: He keeps insisting to Sansa that she call him "Petyr" but she keeps calling him, "Lord Baelish" which considering that most people call him Littlefinger is something he should be grateful for.
  • Fish out of Water: In season 7, he's this at Winterfell. It's clear that the same devious personality that allowed him to thrive in King's Landing is out of place in The North.
    • His own realization of this probably came when Bran parrots his own words to Varys ("Chaos is a ladder") back to him, and for once the cool, calculating Baelish is utterly freaked out: his money, spies and masterful navigation of medieval politics make him untouchable in the Decadent Court of the South, but in the cold North where an omniscient boy knows all his dirty secrets, he has nothing.
  • Forceful Kiss: He gives one to a stunned Sansa in "Mockingbird."
  • Frame-Up:
    • Frames Tyrion and Sansa for Joffrey's murder. Sansa's actually pretty okay with it, after Littlefinger reveals her role in Joffrey's death, mainly since she's out from under his and Cersei's thumbs.
    • It's revealed that he and Lysa Arryn conspired to frame the Lannisters for Jon Arryn's murder, goading the Starks and the Lannisters into a civil war, that ultimately will consume them both.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The necklace Ser Dontos gives Sansa is missing one of its fake gems when Littlefinger takes it off Sansa aboard his boat, and which Littlefinger confirms contained the poison used to kill Joffrey.
  • Freudian Excuse: He claims that when he tried to win Catelyn's hand honorably against her original betrothed Brandon Stark, not only did he lose badly, but Catelyn asked him to be spared because "He's only a boy." He realized then that the only way to win in life was to simply not do things honorably, to not play it their way. Though because of his sociopathy, it's obvious he might be embellishing a tad.
  • Friendly Enemy: Varys loathes him, but they call each other friend with a veiled, sardonic emphasis and frequently trade barbs in a polite and subtle manner. This is reinforced in their commentary on Robert's Rebellion in the Season 3 DVD where they politely trade barbs on their observations of history and how vaunting Varys' role was in the event.
    Varys: I rather enjoy him, but he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Came from a very minor noble family, became Master of Coin, then Lord of Harrenhal and then he marries the widow of the Lord Paramount of the Vale. From his humble position, he has entrapped the Kingdom into debt with the Iron Bank of Braavos and conspired with Olenna Tyrell to murder King Joffrey and further destabilize the realm in the wake of a devastating war. A war which he made happen by murdering and betraying the right people at the right time. As he explains to Sansa: "Know your strengths, use them wisely, and one man can be worth 10,000."

  • The Heavy: His actions from behind the scenes sparked the War of the Five Kings and therefore the main storyline.
  • HeelĖFace Revolving Door: He's loyal to no one except himself and most factions have been both helped and betrayed by him. He engineered the downfall of both one of the most purely good characters (Ned) and one of the most purely evil characters (Joffrey). Though this is a case of Pragmatic Villainy.
  • He's Back!: After spending the first four episodes of Season 7 as a Butt-Monkey by getting dissed, he's starting to make a comeback in "Eastwatch" and "Beyond the Wall" as he plays the Stark sisters against each other to have Sansa all to himself. Only for the finale to Yank the Dog's Chain and reveals he was being played all along.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: As Varys says to Illyrio, "The Gods alone know what Littlefinger is up to!". Whether it's selling Ned Stark to the Lannisters, or killing Joffrey for the Tyrells what Littlefinger hopes to get out of this is anybody's guess. The only answer he gives regarding what he really wants is, "Everything". In the last episode of Season 6 he finally reveals what his end goal is: To sit on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Little Finger deciding to take Naive Every Girl Sansa as his student to teach the cruel realities of the world and how to survive in it back fires when Sansa uses what he taught her against him during the Season 7 Finale, leading to him being executed by the very girl he thought he had complete control over.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Littlefinger did not realise how horrible Ramsay Bolton was as a person when he decided to arrange a marriage between the Bolton scion and Sansa. Or at the very least, he underestimated Ramsay's tendency to torment valuable political hostages which even Ramsay's sociopathic father Roose disapproved of.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Watch him avoiding a Right Behind Me situation in "Fire and Blood", and that's just one of the times he shows it.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Littlefinger", and he resents it as unbecoming. Bronn suggests "Lord Twatbeard" would be more appropriate.
  • Ironic Echo: In the Season 7 finale, Littlefinger tells Sansa that he plays a game where he assumes the worst in people and ask what their motives for their actions are. Sansa repeats the same thing back to him, exposing how he plays people against each other while he sits back and benefits. She then has him executed as a traitor of the North.
  • Jerkass: Not great at hiding it, either. Varys even calls Baelish out for not being able to insult him in a polite, subtle manner.
  • Karmic Butt-Monkey: Every episode since Jon and Ramsey's battle, Littlefinger is getting dissed by every other person (including Jon, Sansa, Arya, Pod, Brienne and even Bran). Doesn't stop him from being dangerous or manipulative.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: After spending the whole series undermining those around him and then grooming Sansa to be his protege, it's only natural that one of his schemes would inevitably blow up in his face. When he tries the same exact scheme to create dissent between her and Arya the same way he did Catelyn and Lysa, Sansa immediately sees
  • Kick the Dog: His treatment of Ros and Ser Dontos. Not to mention the time he sold out Ned Stark to Cersei. Also framing Tyrion and Sansa. It'd be easier to list the moments when he hasn't kicked the dog...
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: His throat is cut as he tries to make one last plea to Sansa for his life, and he briefly struggles to speak even as he bleeds out.
  • Knowledge Broker: Seems to know everything about everyone, and in "The Wolf and the Lion", he proves his information gathering to be almost equal to that of Varys.
  • Lack of Empathy: For everyone except Catelyn and her daughters. Even then he isn't above plotting the death of Catelyn's husband and marrying Sansa to Ramsay, who at best only saw as the son of her brother's murderer and at worst saw him as Ramsay, telling her to suck it up for the sake of revenge and his own scheme.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Has greeted both Catelyn and Ned seated on a couch with two prostitutes he employs on either side of him.
  • Large Ham: As the master manipulator he is, he's always acting in some way or another and keeps a creepy theatricality in his mannerisms, with an emphasis on his speech akin to grandstanding.
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: Littlefinger's life philosophy. Take a drink every time he uses a crisis to acquire more power, do get an ambulance as alcohol-poisoning will set in soon.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: For a man that backstabbed anyone he could when it was convenient, he never seemed to keep an eye out for the young woman he was attracted to, specially after he sold her out to a psychopath as a bargaining chip. He was certain that Sansa would never turn on him and he made clear that his grand plan was to rule Westeros with her at his side. Baelish made a calculated risk, but he was bad at math.
  • Love Makes You Evil: At least according to the man himself, the root cause of his evil actions was never being able to get with Catelyn Tully because of their difference in station.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Littlefinger is the single greatest Aversion, often to Lord Varys' displeasure. Indeed, he demonstrates the virtues and rewards of cold-blooded social climbing and carefully timed political assassination and murder. He does fall victim to Machiavelli's warning to avoid being hated, which is what happens when he's betrayed far too many people - especially Sansa - to where he ends up without allies or protection.
  • The Man Behind the Man: It's been said, but he quite literally set the entire plot in motion. He's the one who killed Jon Arryn, he's the one who got the Starks wound up and paranoid, he's the one who assassinated Joffrey too — his actions were the catalyst for basically all the misery in the entire series outside of Daenerys' plotline. And only a tiny handful of people even know about it.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Petyr always dresses in a dapper manner befitting his station as Master of Coin. It being a Medieval Fantasy series, this tends to get him underestimated rather than respected, which is likely all part of the plan.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Just ask Eddard Stark. And for that matter Sansa, who as a result of Joffrey's assassination and going on the lam, both of which was arranged by Baelish, has no choice but to rely on him for basic survival, since Cersei has put a large bounty on her head. It is further revealed, that he conspired with Lysa to murder Jon Arryn, the former Hand of the King. He then had her send a letter to Catelyn falsely implicating the Lannisters. Add his manipulation of Ned Stark, his sinking the Crown into debt with the Iron Bank of Braavos, Baelish willingly plunged the realm into a civil war and a vast debt, while he walks out of it as the de-facto ruler of the Vale, the only part of the realm to be stable and unaffected by the war. King of the Ashes, indeed. So, by the midpoint of Season 4, Littlefinger has successfully played three of the Great Houses of Westeros — the Starks, Tullys and Lannisters — off against each other to his advantage, and then manipulates two more — the Tyrells (who have already served their purpose) and the Arryns (who are almost literally dancing to his tune). The only families he hasn't played like a fiddle are the Martells, Greyjoy and Baratheons, and the latter he used to set up the Lannisters' downfall via the Iron Bank by borrowing huge amounts of money the Lannisters wouldn't be able to pay back after inevitably (the Tyrells made the Lannisters effectively unbeatable, and remember that Littlefinger brought them over) "winning" the war he started.
  • Morality Pet: Catelyn Stark and her daughter Sansa initially seem to be this for him. He claims to love and protect them, and acts as if his motivations stem from his unrequited love for Catelyn. But looking a little deeper, it's averted. Littlefinger engineers the fall of Catelyn's house and the death of Eddard Stark. To Littlefinger, it doesn't matter how much pain Catelyn goes through; he'll put her through hell if it means the path leads to him as the last viable option. As for Sansa, he frames her for regicide and alienates everyone else who could possibly help her just so she's trapped with him. And now he's forcing kisses on her and trying to seduce her while making her a Replacement Goldfish for Catelyn (whose death he showed no grief for). He's basically transferred his affections from Catelyn to Sansa.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: While he didn't do it personally, his betrayal of Ned directly led to his death.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Sansa makes sure to tell him in his last moments that his lessons and molding her into a schemer have paid off, and she now used them to make him pay for all the suffering he inflicted in her family and to Westeros.
    • He wound up playing his own part in ending the Long Night when he gives Bran the catspaw dagger, which Bran gives to Arya. If he hadn't, Arya wouldn't have been able to kill the Night King and stop his conquest in its tracks.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
    • Some comparisons have been brought up between him and Alexander Hamilton. Both were poor growing up, with a wealthy benefactor (Hoster Tully, then Jon Arryn for Littlefinger, the merchant for Hamilton), then became valuable officials in the country's government in the realm of finance. This article is one of them.
    • He also has similarities to Sejanus, prefect of the Roman Empire's Praetorian Guard and a close confidant of Emperor Tiberius. Both were born from petty nobility but quickly rose to the top due to their skills (the military for Sejanus, economics for Littlefinger), with ambitions to garner more political power for themselves through friendships, marriage alliances, and seducing a member of the royal family. Littlefinger's downfall even has similarities to Sejanus's in I, Claudius, in which they were both tricked into attending their own death sentences.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Indeed, unlike most of the lords with wealth and power to rival or exceed his, he doesn't carry a sword, just a small dagger. Almost every time he involves himself in murder, it's always someone else who pulls the trigger, whether it's Lysa Arryn killing her husband Jon, Joffrey killing Ros, Olenna poisoning Joffrey or his personal mooks shooting Ser Dontos. The only time he has killed someone on-screen (so far), is when he shoves Lysa out of the Moon Door.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Only towards Sansa, but he seems incapable of interacting with her without getting really close to or touching her somehow.
  • No, You: When Yohn Royce rightly accuses him of marrying Sansa to Ramsay Bolton, Baelish claims that she was captured and that the only one he told of their departure was Royce, retorting that he must be the traitor. This actually works out for him, despite its obviously false nature, because he's got Robin Arryn wrapped around his finger.
  • Not-So-Badass Longcoat: While Baelish may enjoy wearing longcoats of varying finery and style, he is nothing close to being called "badass" in that sense.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: With the exception of his intellectual equal Varys, barely any characters in the series see him as a threat at all, let alone a serious one. Every time, he proves them wrong, with extreme prejudice, often without any of them even realizing it, letting him keep up his facade. In Season 4, he has murdered King Joffrey, in conspiracy with Olenna Tyrell, in broad daylight and is not even close to being suspected, or absconding with Sansa Stark moreover. It is also revealed that he was the one who instigated the War of the Five Kings from behind the scenes, leading to the near destruction of House Stark, ousting of House Tully, the (secret) bankruptcy of House Lannister, his ascension to Lord of the Vale, Westeros tearing itself apart and thousands of deaths and destroyed lives.

  • Obviously Evil: In contrast to his book counterpart who appears harmless and trustworthy, Littlefinger in the show shows himself to be far more malicious. Aiden Gillen's dark portrayal and raspy snake-like voice makes it even more obvious that he's not to be trusted.
  • Oh, Crap!: Littlefinger conveys this with just his expressions when he realizes in rapid succession that Sansa manipulated him into an inescapable trap, that Bran can discover his secrets, and that Arya is an incredibly deadly assassin. Together they have the means and motivation to expose all his crimes and then kill him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • The one time Littlefinger appears completely off-kilter is when Bran quotes "Chaos is a ladder", proving that he has genuine magical talents and that all of Littlefinger's betrayals could be revealed. All he can do is stare silently while his eye slightly twitches.
    • When Sansa begins telling everyone all the crimes he committed, he is in full-blown panic mode since nobody is going to intercede for him and he is out of exits. He gets down to his knees and pleads for his life, even declaring his love for Sansa before Arya slits his throat.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Gillen seems to have stopped suppressing his Irish accent sometime after Season 2. The reveal in Season 4 that he has Braavosi ancestry may be an attempt to mitigate this, indicating that when we first met him he hid his real accent to get ahead in King's Landing, but he reaches a point where he no longer has to.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: While the book version is adept at seizing opportunities that come his way, he predominantly relies on long-term plans to get what he wants. The show version of Littlefinger puts much more emphasis on sowing chaos explicitly for the purpose of reaping any opportunities that arise in the fallout, with the nebulous end goal of sitting on the Iron Throne with Sansa Stark as his queen. His constant betrayals and warmongering gain him substantial power in the short-term but ultimately end up coming back to bite him, first by arranging Sansa's marriage to the psychotic Ramsay Bolton he destroys any goodwill he'd earned from her, and second, trying to turn Sansa against Arya results in the exposure of his crimes and subsequent execution.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Firmly on the side of Chaos, compared to Varys' Order. He even encourages disorder, viewing chaos not as a hopeless pit, but as a ladder to allow ambitious people like him to seize opportunities and rise beyond their meager stations.
  • Ornamental Weapon: He wears a dagger on his hip as an up-and-coming lord and merchant from a minor House, but doesn't use it except when taking Ned hostage.
  • Out-Gambitted: His plan to pit Sansa and Arya against each other backfires and he ends up facing justice for all the crimes he committed in his lifelong "Chaos is a ladder" game.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Falls victim to this come Season 7. Littlefinger spends most of the show as a legitimate Big Bad contender, instigating the main conflicts that drive the plot and gradually gaining more power over time. Later, however, he has the likes of the Night King and a more dangerous Cersei Lannister as his competition, rendering him and his schemes insignificant by comparison.
  • Playing Both Sides: He has a gift, if it can be called that, for this. He plays the Starks against the Lannisters, the Tyrells against the Baratheons and then helps the Tyrells screw over the Lannisters by killing their Puppet King and framing his Uncle for it. He also played the Crown against the Iron Bank, poisoning the regime of anyone who comes out on top of the game of thrones. Sansa calls him out for this when he tells her that this time he has totally cut off ties with everyone and is firmly Team Stark (or at least Team Sansa).
  • The Plot Reaper: In Season 7, his ambitions to rule the Iron Throne turn completely irrelevant as the Night King and his Army of the Dead approach to kill everyone indiscriminately and Cersei's hold in the throne is still stronger than ever. He is disposed of since there is nothing else that could be done about his plot.
  • Poorly Timed Confession: He somehow thinks it's a good idea to tell Catelyn that he's always loved her and thinks now is a great time to get together...while she's grieving for her recently killed husband. Whose corpse is sitting in a box in the same room. And who is only dead because Littlefinger betrayed him. She responds by drawing a knife on him and essentially telling him to get the fuck out.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: A high-functioning one. Highly intelligent and prestigious, with a mature execution of schemes, but has been obsessed with Catelyn since he was a young boy and his entire plan is essentially a giant tantrum because he couldn't have her for his wife.
  • Put on a Bus: He takes a boat to the Eyrie at the end of "The Climb", and doesn't appear for the rest of the third season and parts of the fourth. He reappears aboard his ship in "Breaker of Chains".
  • Rags to Riches: He is the third-generation descendant of a Braavosi immigrant to Westeros and when he was fostered in Riverrun with the Tullys, he arrived with a bundle containing all his possessions. He has since gone on to acquire wealth, connections, influence and titles. He becomes the de-facto overlord of a fertile region with a large army. Not surprisingly, other nobles resent him as an upstart for his rather brazen climb, while Varys is appalled at his mercenary ambition.
    • Rags to Royalty: Being king is his ultimate goal and wants to prove it can be done with minimal effort but maximum effect.
  • Realpolitik: The History and Lore videos on The Vale and Robert's Rebellion has him embody this perspective, mocking sentiment and mythical explanations as rationalizations for defeat. He also criticizes the notion that it was Robert's Targaryen blood that validated his claim to the throne.
    Baelish: A pretty dress for an ugly truth. It was war and Robert could swing the hammer harder than his opponent.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gets a long delayed one from Sansa who calls him out for his hare-brained plot in Season 5 about engaging her to Ramsay. Littlefinger defends himself by insisting he didn't know:
    Sansa: If you didn't know, you're an idiot. If you did know, you're my enemy.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When Littlefinger returns to the Vale announcing his intent to "rescue" Sansa from the Boltons, Lord Royce accuses him (completely accurately) of selling her out in the first place. Littlefinger's rebuttal boils down to No, You, and it's such a brazen bit of Baelish bullshit that it really shouldn't work, but it does, backed by an Implied Death Threat.
  • Replacement Goldfish: His relationship with Sansa in a nutshell, is a result of his confused obsession with Catelyn. He follows this confession with a Forceful Kiss.
    Littlefinger: In a better world, where love can overcome strength and duty, you might have been my child. But we don't live in that world. [Beat] You are far more beautiful than she ever was.
  • The Resenter: Being a petty noble without lineage or combat skill, he has great resentment and ill-intent toward those who possess both of these. In the history and lore videos, he has barely restrained contempt for feudal virtues and obsessions for valour, chivalry and pretentions of honor regarding them as excuses for maintaining un-merited power and position. Some of this resentment is justified since Yohn Royce brings up his Braavosi ancestry as a point of contention during his inquiry, rather than his own actions.
  • Revenge:
    • His stated motive for murdering Joffrey is that he wanted revenge on the Lannisters for killing Catelyn at the Red Wedding. However, it seems unlikely that this was his sole motivation. Had he wanted to genuinely get revenge for Catelyn's death, he would have aimed his sights at Tywin, Walder Frey and Roose Bolton.
      Littlefinger: Given the chance, what do we do to those who hurt the ones we love?
    • His conversation with Sansa hints that he orchestrated the War of the Five Kings and the resulting downfall and weakening of several Great Houses of Westeros, as a way to spite the entire feudal order that kept low-born Lords like him from the woman he loved. He finally admits as much to her in the Season 6 finale where he admits that he sees himself on the Iron Throne with Sansa as his Hot Consort.
  • The Rival: He and Varys regularly try outwitting the other during their time at the small council.
  • Rule of Symbolism: He may be a behind-the scenes schemer, but he personally holds a knife to Ned's throat to underscore his backstabbing.
  • Secret-Keeper: In Season 2, he recognizes Arya Stark as Tywin Lannister's cupbearer but tells no one about this, mentioning it to Sansa.
  • Self-Deprecation: At least he's honest about how dishonest he is. Ned Stark should have listened.
    Littlefinger: I did warn you not to trust me.
  • Self-Made Man: Varys notes it arguably makes him even more dangerous, as it means his ambition is less restrained than most people.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: One of the tricks he uses to get Ned Stark on his side, as a dishonest person can make people think they're trustworthy by admitting they aren't.
  • Settle for Sibling: Varys mocks Petyr for settling for Lysa Arryn despite carrying a torch for Catelyn all his life. Of course, everyone knows that his real interest is in Sansa, even Lysa and Sansa herself.
  • Shame If Something Happened: After finding Ros crying over Mhaegen's murdered baby he tells her she reminds him of a girl he purchased from a Lyseni pleasure house, who was very expensive and beautiful but constantly sad. Since she was a bad investment he sold her to a Lord who wanted to transform her and who derived pleasure from stuff most men would consider unthinkable. In "The Climb", he follows through on the threat by delivering her to Joffrey, who shoots her multiple times with a crossbow.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: It's becoming a pattern for Littlefinger to have his attempts to win someone over, threaten them and/or gloat be quite rudely interrupted. Ned, Cersei and Catelyn have all separately pulled this on him, and all three have gone for his throat or threatened to do so, and Ned even chokeslams him into a wall.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Ros at least seems to think he's this in regards to Catelyn, since when asked about who or what he's into, she responds that despite running a whorehouse, he's never seemed particularly interested in the other women there. Varys taunts him with this after he announces plans to marry Lysa Arryn, referring to her as having always been his "second choice" after Catelyn. Eventually, the interest is seemingly transferred to Sansa. He clarifies to Sansa and later, to Lysa that Catelyn Tully is the only woman he ever loved.
  • Slashed Throat: He's executed on Sansa's orders by Arya slitting his throat with his own Valyrian steel dagger.
  • Sleazy Politician: He openly advertises that he's a weasel.
  • Slimeball: Overtly-sycophantic when he needs to be, but also sneaky, manipulative, creepy, and occasionally hammy.
  • Smug Snake: Littlefinger is a genuinely clever man, and his machinations are indeed responsible for the War of the Five Kings; however, he often seems to believe that, as he is so intelligent, he can casually control anyone he wants. This is shown early on in season 2 when he tries to smugly manipulate Cersei by threatening to reveal the true parentage of her children whilst saying that "knowledge is power". Cersei promptly turns the tables on him by almost having her guards execute him before "casually" calling them off. She then promptly tells Baelish that "power is power". Indeed, Baelish's inability to learn this lesson leads to his death as Sansa is able to turn his latest game against him and, since Baelish has no allies in the North, he promptly gets executed for his misdeeds.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: With Renly and Varys. Since neither man possesses any talent for fighting, this is the only form of combat that they excel at.
  • Social Climber: To the point of forming an entire philosophy revolving around it. Along with Bronn, a character who has consistently gone from strength to strength. At the start, he was "Master of Coin" and a petty Lord, but by Season 3, he's Lord Paramount of the Trident and Harrenhal, and is given leave by the Crown to marry Lysa Arryn, the widow of an entire region, which by marriage would make him one of the High Lords of Westeros, and there's no indication that he plans to stop there. At least, until his death.
  • The Sociopath: According to Varys. Littlefinger proves him right by delivering Ros to be used by Joffrey for target practice. While he's not outright sadistic, violent or outwardly cruel like Ramsay Bolton or Gregor Clegane, nor does he have the Pride or detrimental ego like Cersei or Tywin have (and he is capable of caring about others... to an extent), human life means very little to him and those who no longer serve a purpose to him are as good as dead. Otherwise, he's an entirely self-motivated snake of a man who is indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands just so he can become more like the people he hates. He even sent one of the few people he genuinely cares about in the hand of her family's murderer in a strategic move and expects her to forgive him when he comes back. He's a Manipulative Bastard to end all who sees others as pawns for his very own game of thrones. His infamous speech about chaos being "a ladder" also alludes to his complete lack of morals and his willingness to do anything to keep climbing it.
  • Sssssnake Talk: More subtle than most examples, but yes. He has a tendency to drag syllables out that becomes much more pronounced with time, especially in his talks with Sansa, when he borders on Large Ham.
  • Straw Nihilist: He believes that life is essentially chaotic and there is nothing but 'the climb'.
  • The Svengali: He's taking over this role over Sansa. Despite knowing that he's murderous and treacherous, Sansa defends his life to her accusers and former friends of her father and then steps down dressed in black to become his Number Two.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Sansa actually seems to pity him on some level despite all his monstrous deeds. Even though she has him executed, not only does she sound sad while talking about him post-mortem, but looking closely at her face during his death, you can see a tear running down her face.
  • Token Evil Teammate: To King Jon Snow. He is nominally sworn along with the other Vale forces to House Stark, but its clear evident that he has his own ambitions and will serve Jon... For the time being. Perfectly illustrated in the coronation scene, where the crowd is chanting "King in the North", Baelish is the only one quiet and very unhappy at this development.
  • Too Clever by Half: Baelish spends the majority of Season 7 hanging around Winterfell, trying to spread seeds of dissent amongst the Stark siblings. He is so engrossed in his own schemes that he doesn't account for the fact that he has no actual allies in the North. As Baelish himself had previously put it, the North, and even the Knights from the Vale, have Undying Loyalty towards Sansa, not him. Baelish realizes this too late when Sansa has him tried and executed.
  • Tranquil Fury: He gives Olenna a very nasty glare when she notes that he cannot plot against the Tyrells, since if she falls, she'll reveal his part in arranging Joffrey's death.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: More obvious than with other characters, as Littlefinger is a very mobile negotiator, acting in his own and the crown's interests. In Season 2, he travels from King's Landing to Storm's End (in the Stormlands), then from there to Harrenhal (in the Riverlands), and then from there to Highgarden (in the Reach), and then finally back to King's Landing. Thanks to the exact length of time Season 2 takes place over being unclear, many fans joke he has a jetpack. His rapid travel in Seasons 5 and 6 resurrects this trend. Between Season 5 Episode 4 and Season 6 Episode 5, he has bounced between the Vale, Winterfell, Kings Landing, the Vale again, and finally lands in Mole's Town.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Littlefinger tends to betray everyone. He betrays Ned. which ultimately results in the latter's death. And if you think he did it out of loyalty to the Lannisters, think again. He betrays Joffrey and conspires with Lady Olenna to kill him. And if you think he did it out of loyalty to the Tyrells, think again.
    • Too Dumb to Live: For all his cleverness, selling Sansa to a monster like Ramsay Bolton was a silly move in hindsight as it breaches the trust of what could have been his closest ally, which leads to his Undignified Death.
  • Underestimating Badassery: One reason why Littlefinger is able to get away with so much is that the feudal values of the aristocrats prevent them from taking the "grubby work" of finance seriously. Only Varys and Tyrion, who does think that Littlefinger's logbooks contain the "secret history of Westeros", think otherwise. Littlefinger for his part encourages this trope for all its worth.
  • Undignified Death: After seven seasons and years of building his personal reserves of independent wealth and power, Littlefinger dies begging and bending the knee.
  • The Unfettered:
    • Although he verges on outright sociopathy like his book counterpart.
      Varys: He would see this kingdom burn if he could be king of the ashes.
    • He openly admits this to Sansa, when the latter is appalled at his audacity in committing regicide:
      Littlefinger: So many men, they risk so little, they spend their lives avoiding danger and they die. I'd risk everything to get what I want.
      Sansa: And what do you want?
      Littlefinger: (Beat) Everything.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: To Catelyn.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: A very dark example. His love for Catelyn Stark has never died and he sure as hell makes a lot of other people die for it. When Catelyn dies, he still doesn't give up his affection for her, instead moving onto her eldest daughter who bears a Strong Family Resemblance to her.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Averted. Despite the sexual connotations of his nickname, its origins are completely mundane (at least, according to him): he was a small kid, and he came from a place in the Vale called 'The Fingers;' thus, "Littlefinger."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By no means did he "unwittingly" instigate the War of the Five Kings. That was his intentions. But his scheming also indirectly causes the death of Cat - the woman he loved - during the Red Wedding. Not getting the woman he wanted is one of the reasons he instigated the war in the first place.
  • Villain Ball: Probably his biggest mistake was to pawn Sansa off to the Boltons, to be married to Ramsay. This destoys whatever trust Sansa had in him, which ultimately cost him his life.
  • Villain Decay: By Season 7, Littlefinger has gone from being a shadowy puppet master responsible for instigating a multi-theater conflict to a small-time schemer and Token Evil Teammate for House Stark, who's presence mostly consists of standing around in dark corners and staring creepily at people. His final plot is pretty underwhelming compared to his previous ambitions, being reserved to creating a rift between the Starks. And as it turns out, he was never in control of it to begin with.
  • Villain Has a Point: The man who engineers the bloody War of the Five Kings has madde several accurate points.
    • He delivers a neat summation of Robert Rebellion's calling out Rhaegar:
      'Littlefinger:"How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt [Lyanna Stark]?"''
    • He also raises a point that Jon owes him for saving him and his army from death at the hands of Ramsay Bolton when Jon makes his contempt for Littlefinger plain.
      Jon Snow: I have nothing to say to you.
      Littlefinger: Not even "Thank you?" If it weren't for me, you'd have been slaughtered on that battlefield.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Played with, at least in relation to his book counterpart who presents a convincing likable front to most people. TV Littlefinger is known as a pimp and smarmy suck-up, regarded as a useful Knowledge Broker and harmless creep by the Lannisters who underestimate how dangerous he actually is and disliked by everybody else for being a toady. He gets this finally, thanks to Sansa, who presents him as the protector of Ned Stark's eldest daughter from the Lannisters in front of the Vale Lords who otherwise disliked him.
  • Villainous Crush: On Catelyn, obviously. It's been stated by the actor and implied in the show that he has this for Sansa too, whom he says reminds him of Catelyn.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In "The Dragon & The Wolf", all of Littlefinger's scheming and sins are brought before trial in court. Realizing he's been led straight into this by the Stark sisters, Petyr actually gets down on his knees begging for his life. Before he can even complete his plea, Arya slices his throat with the very dagger he may tried to kill Bran with.
  • Villainous Rescue: He is ultimately behind Sansa's evacuation of the capital following the events of the royal wedding. Given his creepiness towards her, in some ways it's presented as if she's out of the frying pan and into the fire.
  • Villainous Underdog: When compared to other key players in the game of thrones, Littlefinger falls behind many of them. He lacks the wealth and resources of the Lannisters and Tyrells, doesn't have a large army at his beck and call like Renly or Tywin, nor is he a military genius like Stannis or Robb. All Littlefinger has are his wits and cunning opportunism, which allowed him to crawl up the ladder amidst all the chaos he helped sow.
  • Villains Want Mercy: He begs for his life, just before Arya executes him.
  • War for Fun and Profit: He repeatedly talks of chaos and crisis creating opportunities. In the History and Lore videos, he talks about how the Targaryen conquest by unifying the Seven Kingdoms "made it boring" and he regards peacetime rule as a "lie". Naturally, he started the War of the Five Kings with a few choice assassinations and calculated treachery just so he could propel himself to the literal heights of the Vale.
  • We Can Rule Together: More or less makes this offer to Sansa in Season 6, telling her that his ultimate ambition is to take the Iron Throne for himself and rule with her at his side. She rejects him.
  • Wife Husbandry: His creeping on Sansa seems like the beginning of this. When Sansa lands up on his boat, he drops any pretensions, leering at her more than usual but keeping himself relatively in check for the time being. In "Mockingbird", he kisses her. She later exploits his obvious interest to ensure her own survival.
  • Wild Card: His only true loyalty is to himself. Stark, Lannister, Tyrell, he doesn't really care. When discussing his planning and involvement in Joffrey's assassination, Sansa questions why he would betray the Lannisters and murder a King who rewarded him so well:
    Littlefinger: A man with no motive is a man no one suspects. Always keep your foes confused. If they don't know who you are and what you want, they can't know what you plan to do next.
  • Worthy Opponent: He sees Varys, his Foil as this when it comes to being a player in the game of thrones.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Originally, when he decided to fight Brandon Stark for Catelyn's hand, and got utterly decimated. However, he learned his lesson, and realized that if he was going to get ahead, he would have to play by his own rules.
  • Yandere: Littlefinger claims that he loved Catelyn and loves Sansa even more. One of the reasons he started the War of Five Kings was because he never got over Catelyn, and when he transferred his love for her over to Sansa, he planned on marrying her even as he kept using her as a pawn in his manipulations, to the extent that he tries to get Sansa to murder her sister. Sansa even admits to Arya after having Littlefinger executed that she believes in his own twisted way, he did love her like he claimed.