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‘Game of Thrones’ Loose Ends: Is Tyrion in Love With Daenerys?

The hand of the queen stared longingly when Jon and Dany consummated their flirtation at the end of Season 7. Was Tyrion just thinking about the realm in that moment, or does he desire something more?

Tyrion HBO/Ringer illustration

In 24 days, Game of Thrones will finally return. And 35 days after that, Thrones will end. In less time than it seemingly takes Littlefinger to zip around to every corner of Westeros, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will deliver a conclusion to the story George R.R. Martin first introduced 23 years ago—and in that precious time they’ll have to answer half a hundred pressing questions: Who will live? Who will die? Who will tell Jon he’s doing it with his aunt?

Separate from those series-shaping questions are countless smaller but still crucial details that the show may or may not explore in the final season. These are Thrones’ loose ends: the characters, places, events, prophecies, and more that the story has made audiences wonder about over the past seven seasons but has yet to satisfyingly wrap up. In the run-up to the final season’s April 14 premiere, we’ll be digging through these loose ends, looking at why they matter and how they could affect the endgame as we count down the days to Thrones’ long-awaited conclusion.


The Loose End

Since the back half of Season 5, Tyrion and Dany have enjoyed a happy working relationship full of witty banter, heated philosophical arguments, and terrifying battles. As the hand of the queen, Tyrion functions as the Mother of Dragons’ very caring and reliable work husband. But one scene in the final episode of Season 7 raises the question of whether he wants to be her actual husband. When Tyrion spies Jon entering Dany’s chambers to do the dirty, he is visibly upset.

HBO

But is his apparent dissatisfaction simply because he is (understandably) stressed about the implications of a mid-war romance? Or is it also because he’s secretly in love with Dany and was planning to swing by for the exact same reason as Jon?

Why This Loose End Matters

Unrequited love can derail even the most well-rounded of people. But to understand just how deeply it could hurt Tyrion, it’s helpful to take a tour through his failed romantic relationships. He has loved only two women in his life. He met the first, Tysha, when he was just 16. He and Jaime were riding horses when they encountered a wheelwright’s daughter who was about to be raped. While Jaime chased off her assaulters, Tyrion took her to dinner, then ended up in her bed. One thing led to another, and they had their own little shotgun wedding, which Tyrion had to keep secret; his dear father, Tywin, would never tolerate his son marrying a peasant girl. But when Tywin discovered what had happened, he forced Jaime to admit that Tysha was actually a prostitute and the whole afternoon was an elaborate ruse to make his brother happy. To teach Tyrion a lesson—or, I dunno, just be an enormous dick—Tywin “gave her to his guards” while everyone watched, paying her a silver for each man “until the coins were slipping through her fingers and rolling onto the floor.”

So, yeah. That first love did NOT end well. And though Tyrion became much more comfortable bedding women over the years, he never quite learned from his past mistakes. We saw that with Shae, a feisty prostitute he summoned to his tent before the Battle of the Green Fork. They bonded during an evening of pre-war drinking games. She gave him the nickname “my lion.” Great fun was had by all. And when he returned to King’s Landing to serve as hand of the king, he brought her with him against his father’s orders. They had a cute thing going for a while, and Tyrion even arranged for her to work as Sansa’s handmaiden.

But King’s Landing has a way of rotting things from the inside. After Tyrion was ordered to marry Sansa, Shae became increasingly jealous, begging Tyrion to run away with her. Instead, he broke up with her. Seeking revenge, she appeared at Tyrion’s trial, where she falsely testified that he had plotted to assassinate King Joffrey. When Tyrion finally escaped, he discovered Shae in his father’s bed and weepily strangled her to death. Then he shot his father with a crossbow.

Crucially, when Tyrion is introduced to Dany, he’s not quite done with his post-breakup bender. So it would make sense that the Mother of Dragons—a strong, beautiful, platinum blond who shares his love for politics, dry wit, and wine-fueled gossip sessions—would become his new object of affection. Tyrion promptly convinces her to part with his romantic competition, Daario. And when Dany is torn up about leaving the leader of the Second Sons in Essos, Tyrion comforts her with a cryptic message: “He wasn’t the first to love you and he won’t be the last.”

Tyrion is a very smart dude with a lot of crucial life experience. But he also has daddy issues and plenty of emotional baggage. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much time to heal, and there is no such thing as therapy in Westeros. So a third romantic rejection could send him into yet another drunken bout of depression. Or, at the very least, cause a strained relationship among him, Jon, and Dany, when they should be focusing on the effort to save humankind from a bunch of terrifying ice lords.

How the Show Could Address It

After the Season 7 finale, dedicated Game of Thrones scholars pointed to the original letter that George R.R. Martin sent to his publisher in 1993 as evidence that Tyrion does, in fact, love Dany. In the correspondence, Martin outlined the plot of the book series, at one point writing the following excerpt:

Exiled, Tyrion will change sides, making common cause with the surviving Starks to bring his brother down, and falling helplessly in love with Arya Stark while he’s at it. His passion is, alas, unreciprocated, but no less intense for that, and it will lead to a deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Jon Snow [who Arya loves].

Martin’s rough draft has gone through a few revisions since 1993. But the love triangle could stand in the TV series, only with Dany as the object of affection, not Arya.

Peter Dinklage confirmed as much when he spoke to Entertainment Weekly last fall. Asked why Tyrion was lingering outside Dany’s door, he said he saw an element of jealousy in his character at that moment:

“It’s complicated. … A lot of the time with Tyrion, it’s professional and personal. Obviously, he has feelings for Daenerys. He loves her—or thinks he does. She’s awe-inspiring. He’s questioning that because he doesn’t have a good track record for falling in love. There’s jealousy wrapped up in there. And he loves Jon Snow, too. … He’s wondering how smart of a move [Jon and Dany getting romantically involved is], because passion and politics don’t mix well.”

It appears that Tyrion is both in love with his boss and, for a completely separate reason, stressed the hell out by her romance with a fellow colleague. How this will unfold in the final season is anyone’s guess. But the natural path would be to weave the growing tension of this love triangle into the crew’s strategic summits and high-stakes battles. Perhaps Tyrion will even go the route of Jorah Mormont and do something wild and dangerous to prove himself to his unrequited love. Tyrion may have proved himself a worthy lover and strategist over the past seven seasons, but in both violent rivalries and romance, my money will always be on the brooding, cunnilingus-loving underdog who rose from the dead.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.