Chaos is a ladder; Littlefinger climbed it—and fell hard. Born as “Petyr Baelish” to a very minor noble family, this Master of Coin rose to be one of the most dangerous—and creepy—players on Game of Thrones. Considering this show has actual ice zombies, that’s an impressive feat. From his undying obsession with Tully/Stark ladies to his sketchy financial history, turn a cloak to these 42 creepy facts about Littlefinger.
1. Not Everyone Likes an Upstart
Littlefinger was born to foreign mercenary family. His great-grandfather was a Braavosi who worked as a sellsword to House Corbray in the Vale. As a result, Petyr Baelish is only two generations removed from landless commoners. Among the Westerosi nobles, these humble origins make him (dangerously) underestimated.
2. Remember Where You Came From (or Not)
The official sigil of House Baelish pays homage to their foreign origins. When Littlefinger’s grandfather became a hedge knight, he took the Titan of Braavos as a coat of arms. The gigantic grey stone head upon a green field with flame eyes sounds more at home on a rock album, no?
3. Check Underneath the Feathers
In contrast to his official house sigil—a stone giant’s head with fiery eyes—Littlefinger affects the personal sigil of a mockingbird. How fitting for a small man whose delicate words hide big ambitions.
4. No Place Like Home…Thank the Gods
Littlefinger has no hometown pride. He mockingly refers to his own inherited holding on the Fingers as the “Drearfort.” More of a three-story tower than a formal castle, the Drearfort holds dominion over just a few dozen peasant families and some stony acres of bog. Needless to say, Littlefinger does not look forward to trips back home.
5. The War on Art
According to the actor who plays him, Aidan Gillen, Littlefinger’s strategies are generally inspired by Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise. What a tribute to his sellsword roots!
6. My Father Will Hear About This
Littlefinger’s father was the first landed lord of House Baelish. More importantly, he became good friends with Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun during War of the Ninepenny Kings. The older Baelish managed to leverage this friendship, getting the young Petyr Baelish being fostered as a ward by House Tully. It was a decision House Tully would come to regret…
7. Chewing On Too Much From an Early Age
Raised alongside the Tully children—Catelyn, Lysa, and Edmure—the young Baelish grew up close to them all…but of course, there was a pecking order. Catelyn has fond memories of making mud pieces with Lysa and Baelish. Of course, The latter actually ate them and got himself sick for a week.
8. Four out of Five Dentists Approve
In the books, Littlefinger is consistently described with “minty” fresh breath. Where is he getting toothpaste in Westeros?
9. Spin the Bottle, But Bottle Your Feelings
As kids, Catelyn and Lysa Tully would “play” at kissing Petyr Baelish—even then, he had minty breath. Taking turns, this game got more serious as Petyr started using tongue. Catelyn still thought of it as a game; Lysa did not.
10. Three’s Not Company
Littlefinger loved Catelyn Tully from the time that they were children. Unfortunately, Catelyn never saw him as more than a brother. It was her younger sister Lysa who fell hard for Littlefinger, creating an awkward family love triangle that lasted into adulthood.
11. Petyr of the Ponzi Scheme
Did Littlefinger embezzle Westeros into early civil war? According to a few avid fans-come-economic-researchers, this looks to be the case. Littlefinger has “gift for rubbing two golden dragons together and breeding a third,” to quote Tyrion. As Master of Coin, he manages to grow Crown revenues to ten times what they were under Mad King Aerys.
Of course, the Crown also got into bigger debt under him. What happened? According to one fan essay, “All [Littlefinger] would have to do is leak accurate financial data, and the Lannisters would march to ensure that their debts were paid, or, if not them, the Faith of the Seven would stir up an insurrection against the crown, or, if not it, the Iron Bank of Braavos would finance an army to topple the king and replace him with someone more committed to loan repayment. Instead, he stumbled onto a ploy that would allow him to create a civil war and maintain the illusion of financial competency until he was safe in the Vale. By that point, it would be too late.”
12. Left On Read
Not for the last time, a young Littlefinger tried to spin Catelyn Tully’s romantic loss into his own gain. On the eve of Robert’s Rebellion against Aerys “the Mad King” Targaryen, Brandon Stark (and his father) were brutally murdered by the unstable ruler. Not one to waste time, the exiled Littlefinger wrote Catelyn a letter upon learning about her re-entry into the dating scene. Understandably, Catelyn burned his note without reading it and went on to marry Brandon’s brother, Ned Stark.
13. Taking Cold Comfort in Your Misery
Littlefinger liked to imagine Winterfell as a “dark and cold” exile for Catelyn. His beloved had married Ned Stark during Robert’s Rebellion and gone to live happily ever after (for a while…) in the North. If Catelyn had to be with someone else, other than Littlefinger, it had better be in dank conditions.
14. Turn A Crush into Cash
Littlefinger owes his career to Lysa Tully and her lifelong love for him. After she married Jon Arryn and became Lady of the Vale, Lysa pushed for her husband to make Littlefinger the customs controller for Gulltown. From there, Littlefinger turned the city into a profit center, multiplying the city’s profits by a margin of 10 times.
15. Spare Change?
Littlefinger knew how to leverage his contacts. Three years after being invited to Jon Arryn’s entourage at court, Littlefinger surpassed his Vale patron to become the king’s own Master of Coin. As part of the small council, Littlefinger pushed his own people into city positions, developing a twisted web of investment contacts over King’s Landing.
16. In the Business of Love and War
Littlefinger used his position as Master of Coin to enrich his personal brand. While at King’s Landing, he bought several businesses for himself, including brothels. That could come in handy…
17. Is He Laying Eggs in Someone Else’s Nest?
As Master of Coin at King’s Landing, Littlefinger kept up his relationship with Lysa Tully, who was also living at court to as wife of the King’s Hand. This feeds a popular—but unlikely—fan theory that Littlefinger is Robert “Sweetrobin” Arryn’s biological father.
18. Captain My Captain
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger, but he almost missed out on the part. The role was first offered to Tom Hollander, a British actor best remembered for playing Lord Cutler Beckett in The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
19. You Can’t Change the Past, Gatsby
According to George R.R. Martin, Littlefinger’s character is heavily modeled after Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. A self-made rich dude who is undone by his obsession with a moneyed woman, who’ll never love him back in the same way? Sounds familiar.
20. Swiped Left by the Crown
Before Sansa married Tyrion, Littlefinger put in a request to marry the Stark heiress/Catelyn clone for himself. Luckily for Sansa, Cersei Lannister turned him down for being too lowborn.
21. Real Estate Hell
We all know that Littlefinger was made Lord of Harrenhaal after he secured an alliance between the Lannister and Tyrells. Fewer people remember that Harrenhaal is officially cursed. While immense, the castle has seen the social and physical destruction every person who has ruled it. While Littlefinger has never stepped foot in the holding, its place in his portfolio doesn’t bode too well for his fate.
22. Get Me My Stunt Double!
Is Littlefinger a Faceless Man? According to a fan theory, the Master of Coin has been replaced by a shapeshifting assassin since the middle of the seventh season. Note a scene where a young girl tells him, “Your time is up,” before she is handed a coin. Some eager fans attributed his later strangeness—i.e. his begging Sansa for his life, when he’s usually so chill—as a sign he’d been replaced! I don’t know, I think even the most skilled players could break under pressure like that…
23. Who Has Time To Groom When You’re Courting Chaos?
In the books, Baelish is described as short and slender with sharp features, greying black hair, grey-green eyes, and a pointed beard. To be fair, this fairly sums up Aidan Gillen…except for the pointy beard. Instead, Gillen has opted for a faded 24/7 stubble. No word on why this super-important production change was made…
24. Thrifty Going on 30
Like many characters, Littlefinger was significantly aged up for the show. Aidan Gillen was in his 40s when he embodied the creepy schemer. However, in the books, Littlefinger was just “still shy of 30” when the main action starts. I guess political pressure is that bad for the skin.
25. King of the Jungle
In the books, Baelish is partial to clothes lined with black fox fur and capes patterned with his signature mockingbirds. Subtle.
26. Caught Between Stone and a Hard Place
We all remember that Baelish disguised Sansa as a member of his family after Joffrey’s murder. Of course, in the books, Sansa’s hair is darkened to pass as her Baelish’s so-called bastard daughter, Alayne Stone—not his niece, like in the show. Does this make it any less creepy?
27. Illegal Guardian
Littlefinger masterminded the abuse of one of Sansa’s best friends (in the books), Jeyne Poole. In the chaos of Ned’s arrest, Cersei gives custody of Jeyne to Littlefinger. After the Red Wedding, Jeyne is sent to “pass” as Arya Stark and marry Ramsay Bolton. In the books, it’s Jeyne who endures the abuse that Sansa does in the show.
It’s implied that she was likewise abused and “trained” in Littlefinger’s brothels.
28. Every Plan Needs a Fall Guy
Littlefinger makes Sansa complicit in framing a man for murder. In A Feast for Crows, Lysa Arryn’s murder is pinned on her singer, Marillion, who was present as Lysa tried to kill Sansa. Petyr coerces Marillion into confessing to the murder, for which he loses his eyes and a few fingers, dying in the sky cells.
29. Make Me a Match
In A Feast for Crows, Petyr reveals his so-called endgame to Sansa: marry her to the Vale’s heir, Harrold Hardyng, and use this match reclaim Winterfell. Let’s see how it goes for him!
30. The Right to Climb to the Top
Littlefinger’s “upstart” roots have endeared him to certain audiences. One American journalist praised Littlefinger as an epitomizing “the Westerosi dream” of social mobility and the end of hierarchy. Hmmm, some of Littlefinger’s employees/victims might say something different.
31. The King of Queens
According to one fan, Littlefinger’s show-plan wasn’t to get himself on the throne…it was to get Sansa crowned. After Cersei and Daenerys finished tearing each other apart, Sansa would have made the ideal savior to parachute onto the Iron Throne. From there, Littlefinger would either marry Sansa himself or simply control her from behind the scenes. Unfortunately, the survival of Sansa’s supportive family threw a monkey wrench in that.
32. I Guess Size Does Matter…
The nickname “Littlefinger” was given to him by Edmure Tully as a child. It has a two-fold origin: (1) Littlefinger was always short of stature, and (2) his family’s holdings rest on the “littlest” of the “finger” land formations in the Vale. Baelish owned his humbling name into adulthood.
33. If You Wish Hard Enough, It Still Won’t Be True
Littlefinger willed himself into believing he lost his virginity to Catelyn Tully. At the betrothal celebrations for Catelyn and Brandon Stark (Ned’s older brother), Petyr danced with the bride-to-be six times—but she pushed him away and laughed when he tried to kiss her, probably thinking him drunk. Well, he did get drunk than night and need to be carried to bed. Lysa crawled in after him. To this day, he’ll insist it was the older Tully sister who deflowered him.
34. I Want to Believe
According to Tyrion, Littlefinger openly bragged while at King’s Landing about deflowering Catelyn. She refused to believe Tyrion, still having faith that her childhood friend’s intentions were no more than a crush.
35. Cat Got This Tongue (and Other Parts)
While losing their virginities together, a drunk Baelish called out the name “Cat”…as he laid with Catelyn’s younger sister, Lysa. In any case, Lysa’s flame for Petyr never died out.
36. Love Hurts
When he was barely 15 years old, Baelish challenged Catelyn’s fiancé, Brandon Stark, to a duel for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, Baelish did not inherit his forefather’s sellsword strength, and got utterly brutalized by a Stark—and not for the last time!
37. Color Me Rejected
Before dueling Brandon Stark for Catelyn’s hand, Littlefinger asked to wear her favors. To express her disapproval in this whole thing, Catelyn outright refused and gave them to Brandon instead.
38. Just Quit While You’re Behind
Brandon Stark was initially reluctant to fight Baelish—I mean, look at the little guy. It was hardly a fair fight. In fact, Stark gave him multiple chances to yield. Powered by “true love,” or whatever, Baelish refused to back down until he was practically bleeding to death. In the end, Baelish was knocked out with a brutal armored backhand that Catelyn was sure should’ve killed him. Catelyn convinced Stark to at least spare her friend’s life.
39. So Much for Friendship
Baelish grew up close to Edmure Tully, but he refused to see the future fish lord as he healed from the duel with Brandon Stark. Edmure had served as squire to Baelish’s opponent, which must have hurt almost as much as the armored backhand.
40. Better Off Dead
So, is Littlefinger actually still alive? Aidan Gillen had this to say in response to the fan theory: “I’ve heard a lot of that recently, but no. What can you say other than no? To kind of utilize that as I might be able to would be a lie. I’d had enough of that guy. I loved doing it but when it’s done, it’s done.” Wow, everyone is sick of Petyr Baelish.
41. Second Time is the Charm, Unfortunately
It took Baelish two weeks to recover from his near-fatal battle against Brandon Stark. During that time, Catelyn refused to see him. Lysa was the only Tully who dared to go near him, and the two ended up sleeping together again.
42. From Dad’s Arms to His
For meddling with Brandon Stark and Catelyn Tully’s engagement, Littlefinger was kicked out of Riverrun. Catelyn refused to say goodbye, but Lysa was left with a “parting gift”; she had gotten pregnant with his child. To avoid scandal, Lord Hoster Tully slipped an abortifacient—moon tea—into Lysa’s drink against her will. This act caused a schism between father and daughter—and romanticization of Littlefinger in Lysa’s mind—that would never mend.