Ever since her introduction in Game of Thrones, we as viewers are made to believe that Shae was always in love with Tyrion. We are shown that she gets jealous when Tyrion was forced to marry Sansa, but they still remain together - until Tyrion makes her leave King's Landing for good (mainly to protect her from Cersei and Tywin).

What surprised me is when she testified against him during his trial on charges that he killed Joffrey (I was assuming at that point she was forced to testify on threats to Tyrion's life and to protect him). Even more surprising is when we see her in Tywin's bed before Tyrion kills her. This makes me wonder if Shae was Tywin's pawn right from the beginning, like the sick joke he played with Tyrion's first wedding to Tysha.

Is there an explanation for her behavior - either from the books or from the TV show - that I've missed as to why she betrays Tyrion?

  • 2
    I don't have a quote, so I won't put this as an answer, but in the books it's implied that she cares more about the things Tyrion is giving her (dresses, jewelry), so in the end she was just seduced by greed.
    – Liesmith
    Feb 24, 2015 at 16:24
  • 2
    @Liesmith: This is very very subjective. I myself when reading the books, I was more tending to blame Tyrion's blind rage for killing her. He doesn't know how Tywin got her to bed. the fact that you can't bring up quotes is due to the fact that they don't exist. i strongly believe we will have perhaps an explanation later on.. Or not, GRRM has proven to have a very weird mind. Feb 24, 2015 at 16:52
  • 2
    @yondaime008 you're right that it's very subjective, but the reason I can't bring up quotes is because I don't have the book in front of me. The particular scene I'm thinking of is when Tyrion is trying to convince Shae that she's in danger, and she keeps asking about dresses and jewelry. In the book, I got the sense that she wanted a wealthy life; in the show, I got the sense that she genuinely loved Tyrion.
    – Liesmith
    Feb 24, 2015 at 17:34
  • 1
    @yondaime008 Who cares for friggin canon, give us some insight into her character! ;-) Your interpretation doesn't sound too unlikely if fleshed out a little.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 24, 2015 at 18:05
  • 1
    @yondaime008 to add to what Napolean said i don't care about quote from book, as long as the reasoning is logical from the tv show perspective i am fine with it.
    – Dredd
    Feb 24, 2015 at 20:20

4 Answers 4


TL;DR: It is unclear for how long Shae and Tywin have been involved.

A good question and one which requires an in-depth analysis! This issue has been discussed at length in a few locations:

It is hypothesised and re-butted that Tywin knew Shae all along and planted her with Tyrion. But let's do our own analysis here.

The Facts

Where did she come from?

What we know for sure, is that Shae was found in the tent of an unnamed "knight" and the details seem to be a little bit shady:

“Where did you find her?” Tyrion asked him as he pissed.
“I took her from a knight. The man was loath to give her up, but your name changed his thinking somewhat... that, and my dirk at his throat.”
Did you perchance note the name of this knight you took her from? I’d rather not have him beside me in the battle.”
Bronn rose, cat-quick and cat-graceful, turning his sword in his hand. “You’ll have me beside you in the battle, dwarf.”
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter Sixty-Three (Tyrion VIII).

It's definitely possible that Bronn just doesn't know who this knight actually is, or care.

Before all of this Tyrion mentions that he was given a 'body servant' by Tywin - there's no information on what a 'body servant' actually is or why Tywin has sent them for Tyrion. In the same paragraph, Tyrion meets and describes Shae:

Lord Tywin had sent him a groom and a body servant to see to his needs, and even insisted he take a squire. They were seated around the embers of a small cookfire. A girl was with them; slim, dark-haired, no more than eighteen by the look of her. Tyrion studied her face for a moment, before he spied fishbones in the ashes.
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter Sixty-Three (Tyrion VIII).
[emphases mine]

Tyrion then asks Shae herself about who she was with before him:

He asked her about the man Bronn had taken her from, and she named the minor retainer of an insignificant lordling. “You need not fear his like, m’lord,” the girl said, her fingers busy at his cock. “He is a small man.”
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter Sixty-Three (Tyrion VIII).
[emphases mine]

But if the person was so insignificant, then how and why was she with him? Bronn himself says that he had to fight for Shae because all the pretty ones were taken:

“Splendid,” Tyrion said dryly, shaking off the last drops. “I seem to recall saying find me a whore, not make me an enemy.”
The pretty ones were all claimed,” Bronn said. “I’ll be pleased to take her back if you’d prefer a toothless drab.”
Tyrion limped closer to where he sat. “My lord father would call that insolence, and send you to the mines for impertinence.”
“Good for me you’re not your father,” Bronn replied. “I saw one with boils all over her nose. Would you like her?”
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One - A Game of Thrones, Chapter Sixty-Three (Tyrion VIII).
[emphases mine]

Tywin knows all

Ok, it then becomes a little bit more suspicious when Tywin turns up knowing everything there is to know about Tyrion and Shae, even though Tyrion has done his best to keep her secret.

Tywin's Secrets

Lord Tywin himself is not without his secrets. It is also hypothesised that he frequented brothels himself. If you remember Varys showing Tyrion a secret passage from the Tower of The Hand to Chataya's brothel, he mentioned a 'previous Hand'; well, many people believe this to have been Tywin:

[Tyrion]“How is it a brothel happens to have a secret entrance?”
[Varys]“The tunnel was dug for another King’s Hand, whose honor would not allow him to enter such a house openly. Chataya has closely guarded the knowledge of its existence.”
-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two - A Storm of Swords, Chapter Sixteen (Tyrion III).

Many speculate that Tywin frequented brothels to fill the void of his loss of his wife Joanna. But he only ever did it secretly.

But what does G.R.R.M. say?

The author of the books, George R.R. Martin has been asked about this before, and he says:

I won't comment on the Tyrion / Tywin issue. Perhaps future volumes will throw more light on it.

This most probably means that it is inconsequential to the story.


There's not enough conclusive evidence either way. I'm hoping that since in the TV-Show, they didn't include Tysha's story, that hopefully during Tyrion's time in Pentos and the rest of Essos that he will elaborate whether or not Shae was with Tywin from the beginning or just from after Tyrion's charges.

Tywin certainly didn't seem too fussed that Tyrion killed Shae, both in the show as well as in the books... After all she was only a whor... THRUM!

The crux of it seems to be that Shae saw an opportune moment to dump Tyrion and go straight for the source of the Lannister wealth!

  • 3
    I like the theory of Shae spying on Tyrion for Tywin. It makes a lot of sense. After all, Tywin was tired of his son's whoring around and wanted at least a whore that was under his control to be with him. Moreover, Bron is of a more than questionable honor, he'd sell tyrion away for a couple of dragon coins, and Tywin can do that. It might've been Tywin's play all along. The question remains, why did Tywin of all the whores chose Shae to be in his bed the day he was so gracefully killed? Did he envy his own son for his whore? Feb 25, 2015 at 9:55
  • 1
    I should be able to formulate another answer from Shae's jealousy point of view after Tyrion's wedding to Sansa, if I get rid of this work load anyway ! Feb 25, 2015 at 9:58
  • 2
    That's impressive! Also, unless GRRM is using another definition, "body servant" is just another term for "personal servant". Feb 25, 2015 at 23:49
  • @SystemDown Thanks! Yes, I'm leaning towards 'Body Servant' being the same thing as a Washerwoman.
    – Möoz
    Feb 25, 2015 at 23:54
  • 1
    @Mooz No, a "body servant" is the person who dresses you, shaves you and so on. Men would have a male servant; women would have a female servant.
    – Graham
    Feb 17, 2017 at 12:46

I think the TV show had made several changes in many plots so that the audiences can relate more with the characters.

For example, in the books, Shae is described to be just another gold-digger whore who doesn't genuinely love Tyrion. However, in the show, Tyrion and Shae are shown to be mutually in love. This forces Tyrion to send her away in order to protect her. Calling her whore etc because he knows that if she hates him, she'll no longer have any reason to stay.

Although this action is proven to break both his and Shae's heart, he has eventually done it because that's just a thing you'll do if you truly love someone. Shae, being extremely hurt by Tyrion statements, eventually leaves him.

Somehow, in this moment of sadness, she is summoned by Tywin and asked (or threatened, who knows which) to testify against Tyrion on court. Now this is entirely my own theory, but I think the broken-hearted Shae doesn't take the blow very well until her feelings for Tyrion turns from love to bitterness and -if it's extreme enough- hate and also vengeance. This leads her to agree to testify against Tyrion and even become Tywin's whore. All because she wants to hurt Tyrion for breaking her heart into pieces.

Well, I guess no one can hate you with more intensity than someone who used to love you.

  • I have added paragraph breaks for better readability. Please add references to support your answer.
    – NVZ
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:17
  • Excellent answer. This seems much more along the lines of how I interpreted the show than the existing accepted answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 29, 2016 at 8:16

My understanding, and this is interpretation not close reading, is that she betrays Tyrion "out of love". She feels betrayed herself, pushed aside, replaced by Sansa. Of course Tyrion only wanted to send her away to protect her. I guess my interpretation has her being more impulsive than cunning.


I am thoroughly confused by her character. From what I saw in the show, she seems to be bright at the beginning when meeting Tyrion and sharing stories with games in the tent. It seemed like the reason Tyrion fell in love with her was because she was mysterious and witty.

But her character soon goes into this spiral of jealousy and suspicion. I mean he told her a million times she was in danger, and maybe hearing it so many times she stopped believing it.

But even then, if Tywin came to her threatening to kill her if she did not testify, then doesn't that mean that Tyrion was telling the truth. Shouldn't she have realized at that moment that he truly did love her and was trying to protect her?

Most people say she was in it for the money but if that were so why would she beg Tyrion to leave with her and forget all about Kingslanding. I believe (in the show anyway) they truly are in love. But the writing in the show for her character isn't consistent. They show her wanting to protect Sansa by helping her dicard the bloodied sheets I mean why would she do that if she was just in it for the money? Why should she care?

The only way I see this going down is that she truly was in love with Tyrion but she valued her life more than this love, and out of fear testified against him. Perhaps she asked to leave with her and forget about Kingslanding knowing he wouldn't want to leave. He out of his blind rage killed her, without knowing the whole truth. Perhaps she was forced to sleep with Tywin (doesn't explain why she called Tywin, her lion). Perhaps it's a mixture of love and greed and fear.

But for me it's just one too many perhaps's left to the viewer to assume. I would want the writer to clarify her motive.

  • For what it's worth, Shae seemed to genuinely feel threatened by Sansa. Tyrion was kind to Sansa, after all, and it's very possible that this mirrors how Tyrion and Shae initially met (romantically - not for money) and Shae recognizes (but misreads) Tyrion's kindness to Sansa.
    – Flater
    Nov 14, 2018 at 11:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .