Did Lord Tywin really believe that Tyrion is guilty of Joffrey's murder?

Some people say yes and Lord Tywin really believe that. I remember Jaime Lannister said:

This is not a trial, it is a show.

I can not believe Tyrion, the most intelligent character in the story, is wrong when he says:

You knew I didn't poison Joffrey, but you sentenced me all the same. Why?.

If we accept that Lord Tywin knew that Tyrion is innocent, why he did try to show him guilty, then execute him?

  1. Because Tyrion is a dwarf and is a shame for Lannisters.

  2. Because Lord Tywin did like (or love) Shae and he wanted to get rid from Tyrion.

  3. Something else.

  • 2
    When did Tywin try to kill Tyrion? Feb 16, 2017 at 13:02
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    Why is Tywin a Lord to you but Tyrion isn't, and King Joffrey is not even worthy of any honorific in your opinion? :-(
    – einpoklum
    Feb 17, 2017 at 12:47
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    When i say Lord Taywin, it not mean that i respect him. If we forget that he is only in story and not in real world, He is a bad man still. So there is no reason to honorific him. But i call him Lord Taywin, because people know him this way. But Tyrion is Tyrion in most of the documents. Feb 17, 2017 at 13:55
  • 6
    @einpoklum - Lord Tywin was the lord of Casterly Rock. Tyrion, while of lord's blood, did not seem to have any titles of his own, that's why we can't formally call him a "lord".
    – Alexander
    Feb 17, 2017 at 18:09
  • I think we'll never know what his intent in this situation really was. But I think there is sufficient enough evidence that Tyrion's life didn't mean a great deal to Tywin, not only because he didn't refute when Tyrion calls him on it, slept with Shea knowing she was with Tyrion before, letting her testify, but also looking back at how Tywin punished Tryrion being captured by Lady Stark, (and then Jaime is caught) by making Tyrion fight in the vanguard during The Battle of Greenfork. Mar 19, 2019 at 15:19

5 Answers 5


He didn't. His original plan was for Tyrion to live - but Tyrion blew it after Shae's testimony.

Remember this dialogue from S04E06 when a concerned Jaime is trying to reason with Tywin (adapted from this article):

JAIME: I’ll leave the Kingsguard. I’ll take my place as your son and heir, if you let Tyrion live.

TYWIN: [no hesitation] Done!

JAIME: [looks flummoxed] ...

TYWIN: When the testimony is concluded, and the guilty verdict rendered, Tyrion will be given the chance to speak. He’ll plead for mercy. I’ll allow him to join the Night’s Watch. In three days time, he’ll depart for Castle Black and live out his days at the wall. You will remove your white cloak immediately. You will leave King’s Landing to assume your rightful place at Casterly Rock. You will marry a suitable woman, and father children named Lannister. And you will never turn your back on your family again.

JAIME: [looks flummoxed] ...

This plan - which Tywin had clearly been working on for a while - was win-win-win for Tywin:

  • His favoured son becomes heir again
  • The family conflict is resolved honourably
  • Justice is seen to be done - and the reputation that you don't mess with Lannisters is sustained by the swift justice
  • No more Lannisters die - and the reputation that Lannisters are untouchable is sustained by the fact Tyrion is still alive despite being found overwhelmingly guilty of king-murder
  • Everyone is where Tywin wants them to be:
    • Cersei returns to raising Lannister-in-all-but-surname royals,
    • Tyrion is far enough away to be no risk of embarrassment or further conflicts with Cersei,
    • Jaime continues the family name and lordship, far enough from Cersei to squash rumours.

Or, it would have been if Tyrion hadn't freaked out during the trial after Shae betrayed him, made that speech, deliberately ruined Tywin's plan and demanded a trial by combat... Once Tywin's work to save Tyrion had been rejected, he wasn't going to bail him out a second time. This Lannister had paid his debt.

Why did the Shae incident happen? Short answer, Tywin seemed to be trying to disgrace Tyrion, teaching him another lesson not to be indiscreet with whores against Tywin's orders. This then backfired because Tywin underestimated how emotionally invested Tyrion had been in his relationship with Shae. For more on that see Why this turn in Shae's character? and Why did Tywin allow Shae to be a witness at the trial?

This isn't necessarily the full story however, there may be more to come. GRRM the author of the original books has said mysteriously: (quoted in that first linked answer)

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

One important unresolved question: Tywin seemed to know that Tyrion was innocent from his (lack of) reaction when Tyrion confronted him:

TYRION: I am your son and you sentenced me to die. You knew I didn't poison Joffrey, but you sentenced me all the same. Why?

TYWIN: Enough. We'll go back to my chambers and speak with some dignity.

Tywin's the kind of realpolitik player who doesn't consider the fact his less-favoured son is innocent any kind of obstacle to using the perception of his guilt to further his own interests - but it's interesting how little he seemed to do to investigate Joffrey's actual killer. Did he believe Tyrion was the killer? Did he know he was innocent? Or did he (perhaps most likely) not care what was true and just acted on what was prudent?

But that's a whole different question (as is the question of, if he had lived long enough to secretly investigate and find Joffrey's real killer, would he prosecute them or thank them?).

  • 1
    I’ll allow him to join the Night’s Watch. It means Tyrion is not in the city any more and could have the relation with Shae. I think it is not important for Taywin that Tyrion is dead or is sent to nights watch for ever. He just wwanted Tyrion to go. Feb 16, 2017 at 14:15
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    @FarzinKanzi actually, by swearing the Night's Watch oath Tyrion "shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children".
    – Luciano
    Feb 17, 2017 at 13:47
  • But there is still an argument of, if sending him to Night's Watch is not just like sending him to his death anyways (considering his size and based on what role he would be get. He could survive as a Stewart, but imagine is some jerk though it would be funny to make him a ranger), except now, Tywin doesn't have to justify that he wasn't the direct the cause. My son died at TNW, oh well, because basically it's excommunication for most anyways. He's already dead to Tywin, but just didn't exactly lie to Jaime, Nov 13, 2018 at 19:55
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    As to why Tywin didn't particularly look for the real killer, consider that Tywin was well aware of Joffrey's flaws and his particular talent at making enemies. Tywin may simply have recognized that there were many suspects. And as you said, he is a realpolitik player who doesn't let the lack of truth stop him from pushing an agenda that gets him what he wants. He could simply have not cared about getting moral justice for Joffrey (who deserved what he got) and instead squeezed it to his own benefit.
    – Flater
    Nov 14, 2018 at 11:37
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    @user568458: Above all else, Tywin absolutely despises weakness. To avert coming across as weak, a guilty party has to be punished, who the public believes to be guilty. In Tywin's agenda, it's better to believably convict a patsy quickly than it is to take longer to convict the true killer (and risk not finding them). While I'm not claiming that Tywin is indifferent to having active threats (you're right about that), nothing stops him from quietly continuing the manhunt and disable the real threat (but he doesn't, because he is too focused on what he considers more important things).
    – Flater
    Nov 15, 2018 at 12:39

Tyrion is accused for the murder of Joffrey.

Every witness that came accuse Tyrion

Meryn Trant recalls when Tyrion slapped Joffrey and reminded him the fate of the Mad King. That is considered as an implicit threat.

Cersei recalls the famous Tyrion's line: "I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid." Again, that is considered as threat.

Varys heard Tyrion warn Joffrey that "just now kings are dying like flies". Again a threat.

Shae lied, but gave specific and credible details because she was Tyrion's secret lover. So for the court, Shae was reliable.

Trial by combat

A trial by combat means

If the accused party is victorious, they are cleared of all charges. If the accused or their champion is defeated, however, then they are considered guilty and condemned to death.

Oberyn Martell was Tyrion's champion and Gregor Glegane was Cersei, the accuser's champion.

As Oberyn died, Tyrion was sentenced to death, so technically, Tywin has not personally decided to kill Tyrion.

  • 1
    Dear @Bebs, I mean lord Taywin has decided to execute Tyrion before the trial by combat. Before trial by combat, there was very artificial evidences to show Tyrion as guilty. Shae's testimony was one of them, Do you believe lord Taywin has not heard the truth from Shae? Feb 16, 2017 at 13:35
  • @FarzinKanzi, could you point us the moment where Tywin "decided to execute Tyrion before the trial by combat"? I don't remember that part. Feb 16, 2017 at 14:05
  • Tyrion sais to Taywin: You knew i didn't poisoned Jaffry, But you sentenced me all the same, Why? and one minute before says: All my life you have wanted me dead. But lord Taywin did not refuse this words. So do you still believe this you said? technically, Tywin has not personally decided to kill Tyrion ? Feb 16, 2017 at 14:08
  • As Oberyn died first*. Despite technically losing due to dying first (due to ridiculous plot armor), Oberyn won the duel and Ser Gregor also died from his poisoned wounds quite shortly after crushing Oberyn's skull.
    – TylerH
    Feb 16, 2017 at 16:15
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    As far as I saw in the show he never died. True, he was poisoned and Pycelle said he can't be healed, but Qyburn told Cersei that he can save him (not resurrect him). As for the way he looks, that's probably because of the poison (it was mentioned that's how this poison works).
    – madmada
    Feb 16, 2017 at 19:24

I don't think he tried/wanted to execute him, but he simply didn't have a reason to help him.

He obliviously could've helped him (He was the "main judge" of the trail and choose the other two judges, one of them is Mace Tyrell who will vote the same as him) but why would he help him at all? He sees him as an embarrassment to the Lannisters name and there's a chance that he actually killed Joffrey. So he simply let the justice takes it course!

Also, remember that when Jaime confronted him, Tywin denied any involvement in the manipulation that happened in the court (he had no reason to lie) and quickly accepted the deal Jaime offered to free Tyrion.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer @madmada, You said: I don't think he tried/wanted to execute him, But if Tyrion remains in the city and alive, How Taywin could resume his relation with Shae? It ws a shame for him if Tyrion see the Shae with his father. Feb 16, 2017 at 14:36
  • Tyrion Would've probably been executed (without Tywin involvement) or send to the wall. As for Shae, He probably didn't care about her, their "relationship" or if any one knew about it including Tyrion (what can he do?!)
    – madmada
    Feb 16, 2017 at 14:49

I think there are a lot of really good answers here that make fantastic arguments to Tywin's line of thinking in this situation. Honestly, I'm not sure if we can ever really know what he truly wanted or rather what was more of a priority for Tywin's interests, considering how he handled the Shae situation, letting her testify against Tyrion and because, there may not have been a lot he could of done anyways outside of removing Shae from the situation (and for me, that does seem like icing on the cake, showing Tywin's true feelings)...

However, I also think there is evidence to suggest that Tywin wasn't particularly interested in saving Tyrion's life even before this situation arose.

In fact during season one after Tyrion escapes from the Eyrie & picking up Bronn as his Champion; rallies the hill tribes to his will by making lavish promises to them, then bringing them before Tywin to fulfill these promises (which ALL were to keep Tyrion alive, by the way). Their conversation starts with Tywin bringing up a rumor of Tyrion's demise...

1.08 The Pointy End - Transcript:

TYRION: Uncle. Father.

[TYRION stands before his father. BRONN, SHAGGA, and two other tribesmen, TIMETT and CHELLA, join him.]

TYWIN: The rumors of your demise were unfounded.

[TYRION looks irked.]

TYRION: Sorry to disappoint you....

Then in the next episode, Tywin seemingly punishes Tyrion for everything Tyrion has put Tywin through and commands Tyrion to lead his hill tribe (and presumably Bronn) in the front of the vanguard!

1.09 Baelor - Transcript:

TYWIN: I do hope your savages are going to be of some use; otherwise we've wasted good steel on them.

KEVAN: The great hairy one insisted he must have two battleaxes. Heavy black steel, double-sided.

TYRION: Shagga likes axes.

ANTHOR DAYNE: That's putting it mildly......

[TYRION turns to face ANTHOR, looking surprised to see him.]

TYRION: Ah, the great Anthor Dayne, the twin brother to the Sword of the Morning. You're a long way from home, Ser; what brings you to the Riverlands?

[ANTHOR raises an eyebrow at TYRION.]

TYWIN: Enough. When the battle commences, you and your wildlings will be in the vanguard.

[TYRION looks surprised and a little apprehensive.]

TYRION: The vanguard? Me and the tribesmen, on the front lines?

[TYWIN nods softly, and has a slight grin on his face. TYRION still looks apprehensive.]

KEVAN: They do seem rather ferocious.....

ANTHOR DAYNE: You have any experience in combat, Lord Tyrion?

TYRION: [annoyed, to ANTHOR] Perhaps you'd be kind enough to join me. [to KEVAN] Ferocious is putting it mildly. A Moon Brother stabbed a Stone Crow over a sausage. Three Stone Crows seized the Moon Brother and opened his throat. Bronn manage to keep Shagga from chopping off the dead man's cock, which was fortunate, but even still, Ulf is demanding blood money, which Shagga and Gunthor refuse to pay.

TYWIN: [sternly, but amused at the same time] When soldiers lack discipline, the fault lies with their commander.

TYRION: [frustrated] Surely there are ways to have me killed that would be less detrimental to the war effort!

TYWIN: There'll be no more discussion on the matter.

Now obviously Tyrion never makes it to front lines, but even seeing how easily he was knocked out and trampled upon, along with Tyrion often acknowledging he is not a good fighter, which is showcased in previous events, making deals and getting people to fight for him, it does imply that Tywin knew there was good chance Tyrion wouldn't make it...

1.10 Fire and Blood - Transcript:

TYWIN LANNISTER: They have my son!

In another scene in the next episode, Fire and Blood, viewers see Tywin get rather distressed when Tywin learns that his other [more treasured] son Jaime was captured and learning how Robb Stark laid a trap. I only included this bit to show Tywin's bias, because he never reacted that way toward's Tyrion.

He's also sends Tryion to King's landing to fill in for Hand of King in his absence, which he knows will irk Tyrion and Cersei alike, but not without threatening or warning him not to take his prostitute [Shae] with him. Almost implying that this was his last chance...


Tywin may know that Tyrion is not his son but the result of a union between Tywin's wife Joanna and Aerys Targaryen II. Tyrion serves as a daily reminder to Tywin of his wife's infidelity which would explain why he hates the very sight of him. It would also explain why dragons Rhaegal and Viserion do not kill Tyrion but seems to "know" him. In Tywin's view his two "real" Lannister children are flawed, Jamie because he lacks the intellect and interest to become a man of power and Cersei because she is a woman. Without actually stating it, Tywin occasionally advises Jaime but knows his line is doomed to mediocrity or less. The incestuous grandchildren are the last hope for his line to "legitimately" be King, as they are accepted as children of King Robert Boratheon.

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