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What Are Littlefinger’s Motives? (No Spoilers)

Updated on May 30, 2014

Petyr Baelish aka "Littlefinger"

Petyr Baelish in the Game of Thrones Television series played by Aiden Gillen
Petyr Baelish in the Game of Thrones Television series played by Aiden Gillen

The following post has no spoilers to both book readers and up-to-date television watchers.

Petyr Baelish also known as Littlefinger has to be one of the most interesting characters in the Game Of Thrones/A Song Of Ice And Fire series. Through season 4 (which is the last part of A Storm of Swords book) we’ve seen how strongly he has control over the greater families of Westerors. Littlefinger has control without those families even realizing it. He, for lack of a better term is a “bad guy”. He uses people as a means to an end to benefit only himself.

He is a master puppeteer, but what are his motivations? There are many theories and analysis that are going around the internet which only lead to more questions.

It’s harder to get inside Petyr Baelish’s head, partly because he isn’t a point of view character in the books, and also because he works through other people. Here are some of the questions that frequently pop-up in the fandom.

Did Littlefinger kiss Sansa knowing that Lysa Arryn was watching?

This is a theory that many television watchers go back and forth on. Fans believe that Littlefinger knew that Lysa was watching and wanted her to know so he would have the perfect opportunity to kill Lysa. It would appear that Littlefinger was saving Sansa which would make her in debt to him.

I think it’s a pretty far stretch. If he did know Lysa was watching, what’s to say that Lysa wouldn’t immediately push Sansa through the moon door instead of threating her? That would’ve put Sansa in a very dangerous position, and I think Littlefinger needs Sansa. There is a reason why Littlefinger saved Sansa, which we will get to in the end.

I’m not saying the Littlefinger was never planning to kill Lysa, It’s pretty obvious she was going to die either way. Lysa was just a tool to bring the Lannisters and Starks against each other. Lysa was too much of an obstacle to Littlefinger’s future goals. Now with Lysa gone he has more control of the Vale.

Petyr Baelish With Lysa Arryn

Did he truly love Cat, and were all his motivations because of her?

Sansa straight out ask Petyr Baelish why he killed Joffery. Petyr tells her that given the opportunity what do we do that hurt the ones we love, implying that Joffery was responsible for Catelyn Stark’s death. Either that or killing Joffery would distress the ones responsible for Catelyn’s death. I’m sure the Frey’s and Tywin don’t give two shits about Joffery. Petyr was telling Sansa what she wanted to hear. The real reason he killed Joffery to make the Tyrells happy, and take away Sansa.

I don’t doubt he really did love Catelyn though. Petyr nearly got killed when he was a young man, fighting against Brandon Stark for Catelyn’s affections. When Brandon got killed in King’s Landing, Petyr tried to reach Catelyn, and again when Ned was beheaded. Now that he can’t have Catelyn, he’ll try for her daughter. Shudder.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Petyr is in love with Sansa. Sansa looks like a more beautiful Cat, but she isn’t Cat. Before killing Lysa he tells her the only woman he’s ever loved was Cat. Only Cat. Doesn’t really have any benefit to lie to someone you’re about to kill. What he feels for Sansa is most likely lust due to her physical appearance.

His main motivation is to have power over others. He came from a not-so-respected house. He was always a small guy, and never really knew how to fight. Even his own adoptive family ridiculed him, giving him the name Littlefinger because his family had so little and they live in the fingers. He basically has a napoleon complex. His only strength comes from his mind, and that is the weapon he’s been using to bring chaos to the other houses. Nobody suspects him because he came from nothing, and doesn’t have armies. That is why he currently has the advantage.

Petyr Baelish Fan Video That Perfectly Describes His Thought Process And Motivations

Does Baelish want to sit on the Iron Throne?

Yes and no. I’ve learned a few things from observing Baelish. He wants power but he doesn’t want to be out in the open at the same time. He works in the shadows, he doesn’t want to be a target. He would have to put someone else that he can easily control on the throne. I have a theory, he could have Sansa as queen and train her to play the game of thrones well enough to rule while still being able to control her.


So far in the series, everything seems to be working in Petyr Baelish’s favour. Do you think that will last? We will see. He is clearly one of the biggest assholes in Westeros, but he knows how to play the game better than anyone else. Watching an unpredictable character do what he does best is entertaining.


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