The Long History Of Littlefinger’s Many Game Of Thrones Schemes

If there’s one thing you should know about Game Of Thrones, the number one rule is: You win or you die. No character has been playing this game longer, better, or more confusingly than one Mr. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (A iden Gillan). He’s the shadowy puppet master controlling even Westeros’ most uncontrollable players.

When we first meet Petyr in Thrones season 1, he’s a member of the King’s small council and a childhood friend of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). Littlefinger grew up completely, 200 percent in love with Hoster Tully’s eldest daughter, but was humiliated in a duel for her heart decades ago. That led to Littlefinger becoming the greatest behind-the-scenes manipulator in Westeros and Essos combined.

Littlefinger has been intricately plotting for so long, it’s impossible to remember each and every one one of his mind-boggling schemes. So, ahead of the Thrones season 7 finale, we’ve explained the many, many, many conspiracies Petyr has put into action over the years. Scroll through the gallery for the Littlefinger refresher course you definitely need.

The Murder Of Jon Arryn

Littlefinger has told a lot of lies to a lot of people since Game Of Thrones season 1, but this often-forgotten deception may be his most monumental, since it led to all of the wars, deaths, and general chaos we’ve seen in Westeros since 2011.

Jon Arryn was the original Hand Of The King, and his “death” is what began the series. King Robert Baratheon traveled to Winterfell to ask Ned Stark (Sean Bean) to take the open position. While we’re led to believe Cersei is the one who killed Jon, since he figured out her incestuous secret, it was Jon’s wife — and Catelyn Stark’s sister — Lysa Arryn who did the murdering. Lysa poisoned Jon at Littlefinger’s request and then sent a letter to her sister blaming the Lannisters. We don’t find all of this out until season 4 episode “The First Of His Name.”

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Catspaw Assassin Lie

In episode 2, “The Kingsroad,” a shabby-looking assassin attempts to kill a newly crippled Bran using a very recognizable dagger, which has a jeweled hilt made out of dragon bone. The would-be murderer is thwarted by Catelyn — whose hands he cuts open as she tries to protect her son — and Bran’s wolf Summer, who rips the man’s throat out. Catelyn realizes she must tell her husband Ned about the assassination attempt, and rides to King’s Landing to tell him.

There, she’s intercepted by Littlefinger, who claims the blade’s owner is Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), hinting Tyrion is the one who ordered the hit on Bran. That leads to an impulsive Catelyn kidnapping Tyrion, which leads to increased tensions between the Lannisters and the Starks, which leads to war, which leads to the entire War Of Five Kings, and we all know what happened from there.

And it’s completely possible Littlefinger had no idea who actually ordered the assassination (It’s still a mystery, although most fans believe the culprit is Joffrey.), but he knew naming Tyrion would be the great destabilizing force it proved to be.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Double Cross

Despite the fact Littlefinger repeatedly told Ned throughout season 1 not to trust him, the Stark lord ignored Petyr. He learns how fatal this mistake is in “You Win Or You Die,” when he tells Littlefinger the truth about Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), and Myrcella’s incestuous parentage as King Robert is on his deathbed. Ned wants the throne to pass to Robert’s brother Stannis (Stephen Dillane), while Littlefinger floats the idea of letting Joffrey become king until he becomes too bothersome. Then they can rule Westeros together.

Obviously, the honorable Ned Stark couldn’t go for such a “treasonous” plot and asks Littlefinger to get the Red Keep’s guards on their side. In the end, Littlefinger double crosses Ned, tricking him into thinking the Gold Cloaks are loyal to him, until they end up slaughtering all the Stark men moments after Ned publicly refuses to bend the knee to Joffrey. As the fighting breaks out, Petyr comes up from behind Ned and holds a dagger up to this throat. “I did warn you not to trust me,” he whispers.

Soon enough, Ned is being executed for treason in front of the Sept of Baelor.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Arya Lie

Back when there were still five “kings” at war, Littlefinger arrived at Renly Baratheon’s camp to parlay with both Margaery Tyrell’s first royal husband and Catelyn. While speaking to Catelyn, he tells her both Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) are being held “healthy and safe” in King’s Landing. Of course, Arya hasn’t been in the capital since her father was killed. And, yet, Littlefinger offers Catelyn both of her daughters in exchange for King In The North Robb’s release of Jaime Lannister.

While the plan never comes to fruition, Littlefinger would’ve ended up in Tyrion Lannister’s good graces if it had.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Tyrell-Lannister Peace Accord

While Littlefinger is staying at the Tyrell-Baratheon encampment, Renly is murdered by Stannis’ smoke monster baby. This means Margaery is now without a kingly husband. Littlefinger brokers a deal to marry the Tyrell daughter to King Joffrey, uniting the two most wealthy houses in all of Westeros. Although a still-alive Tywin (Charles Dance) was originally wary of the idea — the Tyrells did commit treason after all — the alliance is what helps the Lannister win the Battle Of The Blackwater.

For all of Littlefinger’s good work, he’s named the Lord Of Harrenhal, elevating his status considerably.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Sansa Game

For Littlefinger, the game has always been about Sansa Stark, since the moment he laid eyes are her. In season 3, the newly named Lord Of Harrenhal nearly manages to smuggle her onto a ship with him, as Petyr heads to the Vale with a proposal for Sansa’s aunt, the unhinged widow Lysa Arryn. He’s thwarted by Olenna “The Queen of Thornes” Tyrell (Diana Riggs), who instead brokers a betrothal between Sansa and Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones).

Since Littlefinger refuses to lose Sansa in such a way, it’s hinted he spilled the secret engagement news to the Lannisters as a way to stop the wedding. The Lannisters convene and Tywin explains Sansa will marry Tyrion, and Cersei (Lena Headey) will marry Loras. This way, the family officially has possession of “the key to north” and are bound to the Tyrells forever.

Only one of these schemes ends up coming to fruition, and it’s the one Littlefinger actually cared about.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Purple Wedding

This might just be Petyr’s greatest scheme in Game Of Thrones history. Littlefinger leaves King’s Landing after season 3 to woo Lysa Arryn once again. Then, in season 4, he has Joffrey assassinated at his own wedding using a necklace he had given to Sansa.

Weeks before the wedding, Littlefinger had a necklace made; its charms were filled with a poison called The Strangler. Petyr then had Dontos, a fool whose life Sansa saved earlier in Game Of Thrones, give the necklace to the Stark daughter, claiming it was a priceless family heirloom. Co-conspirator Olenna Tyrell then broke off one of the stones in the necklace and dropped it in Joffrey’s drink during the royal wedding, killing him. Littlefinger pulled off the murder of a king with only a well-executed long game and a piece of jewelry.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Marrying (And Killing) Lysa

Lysa couldn’t be more excited to see Petyr the moment he arrives at The Vale with Sansa. But, it’s not because her niece is finally out of the Lannister clutches. Instead, Lysa wants to marry Petyr immediately. He only agrees so she stops talking about that whole Murdering Jon Arryn Thing. The marriage also makes Petyr the technical Lord Of The Vale, as Lysa’s sickly son Robin Arryn is still too young to rule.

But, the newlyweds’ happiness is short-lived, as Petyr kisses Sansa essentially hours after saying “I do.” Lysa catches the moment and doesn’t take it well. She calls Sansa a bunch of slut-shaming names, grabs her by the nape of the neck, and holds her over the Moon Door, which is hundreds of feet above a mountain.

Petyr stops Lysa from throwing her niece to her death by swearing to “all the Gods” he’ll send Sansa away. Instead, he sends Lysa away, by confirming Catelyn Stark is the only woman he’s ever loved and then tossing his wife through the moon door.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Marrying Sansa Off To Ramsay Bolton

Littlefinger may be Westeros’ greatest puppet master, but he seriously messed up by marrying Sansa to Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). He convinced Sansa to accept the match as a way to “stop being a bystander” and avenge her family. Even Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) mentions how bizarre Littlefinger’s plot to marry Sansa, the young woman the crown believes killed the king, to Ramsay, effectively “undermining” the family that made him rich.

Roose was correct to be suspicious of Littlefinger, since he heads to King’s Landing and tells Cersei of the upcoming Stark-Bolton wedding, conspicuously leaving his involvement out. Littlefinger then lets Cersei convince herself to send the Knights Of The Vale to Winterfell, giving himself an explanation for being in the area and the possibility of being named Warden Of The North.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Using The Knights Of The Vale To Give Sansa The North

In a complex manipulation, Littlefinger lies to Robin’s current guardian, Yohn Royce, and claims he and Sansa were captured by the Boltons, falsely explaining that’s why the young woman is married once more. He insinuates Yohn may have tipped off the Boltons to their whereabouts, which would make him a traitor. Robin becomes furious and wants to throw Yohn through the moon door. Littlefinger uses the tense situation to “save” Yohn by getting him to agree to take the Knights Of The Vale to defend Sansa. And boom, his favorite young woman’s got an army.

Yet, Sansa refuses Petyr’s offer to use the Knights, since Littlefinger’s brokered engagement left her married to a sadist. But, when it becomes clear Sansa and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) don’t have a large enough army to win the Battle Of The Bastards, she caves and requests their help. The shrewd military decision is the only reason a direwolf banner hangs above Winterfell again.

After all of this, Littlefinger is now one step closer into convincing Sansa to be his bride, as he confesses to dreaming of at in the season 6 finale. But, considering Sansa is growing into a master political operator in her own right, this is seeming less and less likely for Littlefinger. Yes, even after all of these machinations.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Wedge Between Sansa & Arya

Littlefinger aims to keep Sansa under his manipulative thumb, and allowing her to grow close to her family once again isn’t a part of that scheme. From the moment Arya returns to Winterfell in “The Spoils Of War,” Littlefinger begins trying to drive the sisters apart. That isn’t particularly difficult, since they’re wildly different people whose childhood animosity has only deepened after nearly a decade separated.

Littlefinger exploits this weakness in the siblings’ relationship, leading Arya right to the note a young Sansa wrote to Robb Stark (Richard Madden) way back in season 1. The letter asked Robb to come to King’s Landing and bend the knee to King Joffrey “Baratheon” (Jack Gleeson) following Ned Stark’s so called “treasonous” behavior.

What Arya doesn’t know is Cersei convinced Sansa her father would be saved from execution if Robb agreed to come to King’s Landing and swear fealty to King Joffrey. Littlefinger is even the one who urges Cersei to let Sansa “prove” her and her family’s loyalty to the crown. A still-naive and Joffrey-loving Sansa, believing she is literally saving her father’s life, agrees. Sansa’s pout when she is handed the quill to write the letter proves she doesn’t believe her father is a traitor, or enjoys the hand she’s been dealt, but is desperate to protect her family.

Yet, just as a season 7 Littlefinger predicts, Arya isn’t interested in any of this backstory and quickly turns on her older sister over it. By the end of “Beyond The Wall,” Arya confronts Sansa over the letter and throws a thinly-veiled threat of murder at the new Lady Of Winterfell.

Littlefinger: 1; Star sisters: 0.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

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