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In Game of Thrones, there are two noteworthy things about Winterfell from Littlefinger's perspective. First of all, it's going to be one of the first places in Westeros that are going to have to defend themselves from the Night King's march. Secondly, it is currently ruled by Sansa Stark, whom he is trying to marry.

Sansa has no interest in him. In fact, she openly shows dislike and distrust of him. And of course, Littlefinger should have no interest in sacrificing himself or his Vale soldiers against the Night King either.

So, why is he still in Winterfell by the end of season 7? Why doesn't he just leave with the Vale soldiers? From his perspective, the best action seems to be to get the hell out of dodge, no? Maybe hope to survive the war, and then take advantage of post-war instability to gain more power?

  • I feel like we need stock text at this point for GoT's questions. I voted to close as opinion based. At the moment there is no canon answer, and so any answer will be speculation. This has the potential to be unanswerable now and trivial after the next episode... – kuhl Aug 27 '17 at 0:52
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    Littlefinger's intentions are as obvious as possible: he doesn't really want Sansa, he said himself he only loved Cat. So he stays there to plot, to turn lords against each other so Night King can win. Then he will willingly submit to Night King, become White Walker and reanimate Cat and she will be his mindless worshipping slave. And then he will start to plot among White Walkers, because it is his nature :D – Marko Stanojevic Aug 27 '17 at 1:16
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    But while we're sure all exhausted at the immense influx of GoT questions of questionable merit at this point, we should still try to judge each of them on their own and make a difference between speculation about future events we don't know anything about and the analysis of the current situation and the characters' current actions based on what we know about the current state of events. This question seems to be the latter to me, neither does it really seem to become trivial with the next episode. We don't just answer things here by pointing at the specific episode that answers it to 100%. – Napoleon Wilson Aug 27 '17 at 1:31
  • related: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/78945/… – Federico Aug 28 '17 at 5:22
  • @Jaood - to die ;) ;) ;) – ashveli Aug 29 '17 at 6:34
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At this point, we can't know for sure why he stays in Winterfell so this is mostly speculation. I think he has two reasons for staying.

  1. Sansa: Littlefinger still wants to marry/have sex with Sansa. She is at Winterfell so he also has to be at Winterfell to get her to want to be with him.

  2. Power: More than anything else, Littlefinger wants power and Winterfell is the place where he is most likely to get it. I think he wants to make a deal with Jon where Jon supports his claim for the Iron Throne in exchange for Littlefinger letting the North secede. He has to be at Winterfell to keep the knights of the Vale out of the war between Cersei and Dany, and to make the deal with Jon. Once Cersei and Dany weaken each other, Littlefinger thinks he will be in a better position to try and take the throne with the knights of the Vale and armies of the north.

  • This doesn't really address the issues raised in the question. You mentioned Sansa, but I already argued that since she dislikes him, it seems silly for him to pursue this part of his plan. Secondly you mention power and a deal with Jon, but that sounds nonsensical. Why should Jon agree to any of that? You also mention that he wants to stay away from the war between Daenerys and Cersei ... I agree that sounds like a smart plan, but likewise, he should also stay away from the war against Night King, hence Winterfell isn't where he should want to be. – Jaood Aug 27 '17 at 19:53
  • Watch season 7 episode 7 to know more :) – ABcDexter Aug 28 '17 at 3:49
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    @Jaood I didn't say it's logical or that I think it'll work. I just said that's what I think he wants. Littlefinger has always been irrational when it comes to Catlin or Sansa, and he thinks Jon is just like his "father" (an honorable idiot who Littlefinger can easily deceive). He thought he was regaining Sansa's trust and Winterfell was the best place for him to be. – Bryan Schwimmer Sep 9 '17 at 12:48
  • @Jaood --Littlefinger is a guy that also likes a challenge and he's grown accustomed to getting his way for most of his adult life (one could argue that one actual virtue of Littlefinger is that he is a self-made man climbing a ladder among the elite)---staying with Sansa, which I do think he's feelings were genuine, despite that he still had plans, I think was logical or true to the character. The heart wants what the heart wants--Littlefinger just thought he could have his cake and eat it too. – Darth Locke Nov 10 '17 at 20:41
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Because he is Lord Protector of the Vale, and the Knights of the Vale are in Winterfell.

Littlefinger finally brought the Knights of the Vale into the fray at the Battle of the Bastards. As such he was declaring his allegiance to the North and to House Stark. This puts him in a good position to obtain his goal of "sitting on the Iron Throne with you [Sansa] by my side".

If Littlefinger were to leave Winterfell with the Knights this would likely raise some serious questions about his true loyalty. He had just betrayed the Crown by ousting the Boltons (who were given Winterfell and the title of Warden of the North by the Crown for their part in the Red Wedding). If he were to leave it would be suspicious because it means there are two options; 1. The Vale is to become neutral again or 2. The Vale was still acting on behalf of the Crown (the Crown might want the Boltons ousted because they took Sansa for their own rather than turning her back over to Cersei).

If Littefinger were to leave Winterfell without the Knights it would give an opportunity for the truth to come out. Without being there Sansa would likely take on the counsel of Lord Royce who was not a big fan of Littlefinger. There is a good the truth about Lysa's death would come out since Sansa is not as trusting of LF since he gave her to the Boltons.

So Littlefinger MUST stay to make sure his plans come to fruition!

  • Politically, this is also a good point. Nice post! – Darth Locke Nov 10 '17 at 20:43
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I think it's pretty clear that he's staying at Winterfell in order to manipulate Sansa. His intent is to marry her - to gain the power that he's always wanted, and maybe because he has some affection for her? That part is less clear.

What we know is that he's been trying to isolate Sansa. He's attempted to pit her against Arya with that note. Ever time he advises Sansa he's manipulating her, putting the worst motives onto other people - he even explicitly says this in the last episode.

In a prior episode this season he put it into her head that she would be a good queen of Winterfell and he was putting doubts into her head about Jon.

He doesn't think he's in any danger in Winterfell and he thinks that he can only gain power there through manipulation. Going back to the vale would garner him nothing. If he stays in Winterfell, convinces Sansa to overthrow Jon and to have her sister killed, then he's practically her hand, he's going to be the only person she can trust.

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    Further to this, I think his ultimate goal was convince her to overthrow Jon as Queen in the North, convince her to distrust Arya as she's threatening his plans, and eventually marry her to be King in the North with her. (Maybe eventually killing her to keep that title himself, who knows). – IronSean Aug 28 '17 at 18:10

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