Petyr Baelish–most commonly referred to as Littlefinger–was one of the most cunning characters from Game of Thrones. He sowed chaos and managed to earn the trust of many powerful individuals, all the while growing more powerful himself and getting closer to his goal of sitting on the Iron Throne.
Littlefinger’s sharp-tongued and quick-witted nature led to some of the best dialogue in the show, offering a ruthless, yet wise perspective of how to survive and how to win the game of thrones. Any exchange Littlefinger shared with another character was always a treat to watch, but the best tended to be shared with Sansa Stark, Varys, or Ned Stark.
Updated on October 3rd, 2021 by Matthew Rudoy: Littlefinger continues to be one of Game of Thrones’ most memorable and formidable characters. No one knew how to manipulate and outsmart his enemies quite like Littlefinger. There is no shortage of iconic Littlefinger quotes that show the character’s cutthroat, ambitious, and insightful nature. While many of these quotes show Littlefinger’s strengths, some of them also show weaknesses that would contribute to his eventual downfall at the hands of Sansa and House Stark.
« Ah, The Starks–Quick Tempers, Slow Minds. » (Lord Snow)
Littlefinger’s humorous line about the Starks showed that he actually had a pretty good read on the family, at least when it came to the men. Ever since the duel for Catelyn’s hand that he lost to Brandon Stark many years ago, Littlefinger knew of the Starks’ strength and how easily angered they could be.
Ned Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow were all strong and their sense of honor sometimes made them easily angered. they also trusted others too easily, which allowed their enemies to defeat and kill them. Only Jon Snow got a chance to make things right again and it was the Stark women–siblings Arya and Sansa–who eventually outsmarted Littlefinger.
« Distrusting Me Was The Wisest Thing You’ve Done Since Climbing Off Your Horse. » (Cripples, Bastards, And Broken Things)
This quote showed not only that Littlefinger was untrustworthy and that everyone knew it, but that Littlefinger reveled in getting others to trust him despite this knowledge. Ned Stark knew it was not wise to trust Littlefinger, yet he found himself begrudgingly growing to appreciate what seemed like favors and valuable information from the Master of Coin.
Littlefinger was so confident in his manipulation of Ned that he felt he could still tell Ned that it was wise to distrust him. Littlefinger loved fooling Ned and ultimately throwing Ned’s admission of trust back in his face.
« I Did Warn You Not To Trust Me. » (You Win Or You Die)
In the ultimate « I told you so » moment, Littlefinger was able to gleefully confirm to Ned that he was wrong to trust him. By placing faith in Littlefinger’s influence over the City Watch at King’s Landing, Ned thought he had the soldiers needed to prevent the Lannister from taking control of the Iron Throne after Robert Baratheon’s death. Instead of arresting the Lannisters, the City Watch slaughtered Ned’s men, just as Littlefinger intended.
Littlefinger earned the Lannisters’ trust as he ensured that Ned played right into their hands. He finally got the revenge against House Stark that he’d been craving for years and he made sure to rub it in Ned’s face while holding him at knifepoint.
« Money Buys A Man’s Silence For A Time. A Bolt In The Heart Buys It Forever. » (Breaker Of Chains)
Since he was never truly loyal to anyone but himself, Littlefinger did not trust anyone to be loyal to him. Littlefinger didn’t trust Dontos Hollard to keep silent about the role he played in Joffrey’s death and Sansa’s escape. Instead, Littlefinger offered Dontos money to do what needed to be done and killed Dontos once the job was finished. Littlefinger knew how persuasive money could be while also knowing its limitations.
He was willing to kill the people working for him and had no moral reservations about it. While these tactics helped Littlefinger at the time and in many other instances, the lack of genuine loyalty meant in the end that no one was willing to help or save him in the iconic scene where Sansa and Arya killed him.
« I Don’t Want Friends Like Me. » (Oathkeeper)
Littlefinger revealed to Sansa that he had « new friends » who wanted Joffrey’s death very badly and who worked with him to make it happen. Sansa was skeptical that anyone would choose to trust Littlefinger, to which he assured her that he didn’t want friends like him.
Littlefinger always wanted to be the most conniving and clever individual in his relationships. He liked being allied with Olenna and House Tyrell because he felt they were predictable and he knew what they wanted. He never had any real friends, but he was smart enough to know what kind of allies would work well for him and advancing his interests.
“You Are Now Hand Of The King And Protector Of The Realm. All Of The Power Is Yours. You Only Need Reach Out And Take It.” (You Win Or You Die)
Littlefinger never had any intention of helping Ned Stark, the man who married Catelyn Tully, the woman Littlefinger obsessed over ever since he was a boy. What Littlefinger said to Ned in this quote is a fascinating mix of amusement and frustration. Ned is on the precipice of having the kind of power Littlefinger worked tirelessly to attain, yet all Ned cares about is making sure the Iron Throne goes to the rightful heir of Stannis Baratheon instead of Joffrey.
Littlefinger can’t help but be frustrated and amused that Ned is squandering the kind opportunity Littlefinger would literally kill for. Regardless of how Ned chose to proceed, Littlefinger was always going to betray him and side with the Lannisters for the time being, but that doesn’t diminish what a telling moment it is for both Littlefinger and Ned.
« If Wars Were Arithmetic, The Mathematicians Would Rule The World. » (Garden Of Bones)
Back when she was married to Renly Baratheon, Margaery Tyrell told Littlefinger she expected her husband to defeat his enemies thanks to his massive wealth and the number of soldiers in his army. Littlefinger assured her there was far more to war than such arithmetic and he was absolutely correct. Multiple times throughout Game of Thrones, the largest armies and the wealthiest individuals were defeated despite the considerable odds in their favor.
Renly lost everything thanks to the shadow demon birthed by the hated Melisandre, Stannis lost most of his enormous army and fleet in the Battle of Blackwater, and with no wealth at all the High Sparrow and his zealots took control of King’s Landing from the filthy rich Lannisters and Tyrells. These are just a few examples of how victory in war went far beyond arithmetic. The victories of Littlefinger and other characters tended to have more to do with being wise and clever.
« Look Around You. We’re All Liars Here, And Every One Of Us, Better Than You. » (Valar Morghulis)
When Littlefinger told Sansa he’d bring her home and she replied that King’s Landing was her home now, he called her out on her lie and made her see the truth. It was the first of many lessons that Littlefinger imparted to Sansa. She would never belong in King’s Landing and stand toe-to-toe with the other liars. She would have to get out of King’s Landing and find her own role to play in the game of thrones.
Sansa certainly achieved that by taking what she’d learned in order to become one of the game’s most wise and powerful players. Littlefinger couldn’t foresee everything Sansa would become, but at that moment he did start to earn her trust and become an unexpected mentor who would significantly shape her future.
« Chaos Isn’t A Pit. Chaos Is A Ladder. » (The Climb)
This is the quintessential Littlefinger quote, spoken to Varys in one of the best scenes from all of Game of Thrones. No character created as much chaos or took advantage of it as much as Littlefinger. He and Varys were among the most manipulative and cunning characters, yet this scene highlighted the crucial difference between them.
Varys attempted to stop chaos for the good of the realm while Littlefinger created chaos for his own benefit. How differently they treated Ros epitomized the contrast between them, with Littlefinger treating her like an investment used to line his pockets while Varys treated her like a valuable partner. Nevertheless, it was impressive how long Littlefinger climbed the ladder while countless others like Ros fell beneath him.
“So Many Men, They Risk So Little. They Spend Their Lives Avoiding Danger. And Then They Die. I’d Risk Everything To Get What I Want.” (Oathkeeper)
Risk was essential to Littlefinger’s rise from humble beginnings to eventually becoming one of the most influential figures in Westeros. He made calculated risks that resulted in powerful allies and each time took him a step closer to sitting on the Iron Throne. The assassination of Joffrey Baratheon at the important Purple Wedding followed this formula, as Littlefinger carefully orchestrated it with Olenna Tyrell, ensuring their success and that no one would suspect the real killers.
The risk paid off with the unpredictable and volatile Joffrey out of the way, the Tyrells now an ally of Littlefinger, and Sansa Stark in Littlefinger’s clutches. The power of the Lannisters crumbled from within while Littlefinger grew stronger. These kinds of risks paid off handsomely for years, at least until facing the unified front of Sansa, Arya, and Bran Stark in Winterfell.
“I Have Only Ever Loved One Woman. One Woman, My Entire Life. Your Sister.” (Mockingbird)
Littlefinger’s final, cutting words to Lysa Arryn were among his best because they’re honest and get to the core of his entire character. In her last moments, Littlefinger confirmed the greatest fear of Lysa’s life and his greatest truth. Her face is flushed with relief when Littlefinger said he’s only ever loved one woman, only for her expression to melt into horror with the words « your sister. »
It’s the cruelest thing she could possibly hear, embodying Littlefinger’s ruthlessness and his contempt for Lysa, a woman who was ultimately just a tool for him to become Master of Coin, kill Jon Arryn, sow discord between the Lannisters and Starks, and to take control of the Vale.
“There’s No Justice In This World. Not Unless We Make It.” (High Sparrow)
Littlefinger never had any interest in justice, except perhaps his own warped view of the justice that those who wronged him deserved. Nevertheless, what he said about justice is true. Justice doesn’t happen on its own. It only happens when actively and relentlessly pursued by those who can make it happen.
In the context of convincing Sansa that marrying Ramsay Bolton will eventually help her make justice, Littlefinger’s words rang pretty hollowly. They held much more weight when Sansa later flung them back at Littlefinger, united with her siblings in taking down the man who’d done their family so much wrong, creating the justice that the Stark family deserved.
“Who Should The North Rally Behind? Trueborn Daughter Of Ned And Catelyn Stark, Born Here At Winterfell, Or A Motherless Bastard Born In The South?” (The Winds Of Winter)
Littlefinger uttered these words to Sansa not long after their victory in the Battle of the Bastards. Those words contributed to driving a wedge between Sansa and Jon Snow, which became more pronounced after Jon was named King in the North and Sansa received practically no recognition for her pivotal role in reclaiming the North.
This quote is a classic example of how Littlefinger could be manipulative by bending the truth to his will. The dichotomy he painted between Sansa and Jon is not as simple as he makes it out to be, but there’s truth in the injustice of Jon being given power and responsibility he doesn’t want or completely deserve while Sansa is once again ignored and overlooked.
« Don’t Fight In The North Or The South. Fight Every battle, Everywhere, Always, In Your Mind . . . » (The Queen’s Justice)
The full quote reads: « Don’t fight in the North or the South. Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something you’ve seen before. »
Everyone also wondered how Littlefinger could always be ten steps ahead of everyone else. This piece of advice he offered to Sansa in season 7 was an important ingredient in Littlefinger’s ability to constantly stay ahead of other players in the game of thrones. It explained how he could always be so prepared and have plans upon plans, and how he could treat other characters as an indispensable ally at one moment and as a disposable enemy at the next moment. His ability to adapt gave him an advantage over his many opponents stuck in their rigid thinking.
« Sometimes, When I Try To Understand A Person’s Motives, I Play A Little Game . . . » (The Dragon And The Wolf)
The full quote reads: « Sometimes when I try to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game. I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say, or doing what they do? Then I ask myself, ‘how well does that reason explain what they say and what they do?' »
By playing this « little game » Littlefinger often protected himself from those who meant to undermine him. These words were meant to convince Sansa to kill Arya, but they sounded much better with Sansa spitting them back at Littlefinger, moments before Arya cut his throat and silenced him forever. Every time Littlefinger tried to manipulate Sansa, she learned how to become a more powerful player in the game of thrones. In the end, she was Littlefinger’s downfall and his fatal flaw, and it was fitting for her to end his life partly through his final lesson.
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