After four seasons of watching Charles Dance’s Tywin Lannister torment and berate his son – Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones fans finally got to see Tyrion enact his revenge in the season 4 finale. Tyrion kills his father with a crossbow while he’s on the privy – a humiliating end for a man who spent his life humiliating his son at every opportunity.
Tyrion’s main motivations for the murder in the Game of Thrones series are quite different from his motivations in the books. In the series, Tywin has framed his son for the murder of Tyrion’s nephew Joffrey, and the final nail in the coffin is Tywin sleeping with Tyrion’s lover Shae.
However, in the books that the fantasy series is based on, Tywin’s deep-seated resentment towards his father is much more more closely tied to a backstory involving Tyrion’s first wife Tysha. She is mentioned in the series, and screenwriter Bryan Cogman believes that Dinklage won his first Emmy for a season one scene in which he talks to Bronn and Shae about her. Controversially, Dinklage was the only Game of Thrones cast member to win any Emmy awards.
However, when the crucial murder scene happens – Tyrion does not bring Tysha up with his father at all. In the books, Tyrion challenges his father about Tysha and says that if Tywin calls his wife a whore one more time, he will kill him. Tywin cannot help himself, so Tyrion pulls the trigger – cementing him as the best Games of Thrones character.
In true Game of Thrones style, Tysha’s backstory is extremely bleak and grim – and for adults only. When Tywin discovers that Tyrion has married a commoner, he and his guards gang rape her, forcing Tyrion to watch and then join in at the end. Tywin sends Tysha away and has the marriage annulled. Tywin also concocts a story that she was a ‘whore’ and was paid to show interest in Tyrion in the first place, and that she only married him for money.
The Game of Thrones showrunners Benioff and Weiss claimed that they didn’t have time for Tysha to be referenced in season 4, even though she was mentioned in all three of the previous seasons. They also didn’t think the audience would remember her, if she was brought up in the death scene. It’s a shame, because Tysha is a huge presence in Tyrion’s life and explains a lot about his motivations and character arc.