Lord Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, has told so many lies, half-truths, distortions of the truth, and lies of omission that it can be somewhat difficult to ever believe him, even when he’s being genuinely sincere. Then again, Lord Petyr Baelish has certainly given us plenty of clues all along that he is not a man to be trusted; this is the same guy, after all, who told Ned Stark back in season one that “distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed off your horse.” He even deceived his lifelong, unrequited love, the late Catelyn Stark. (Ever notice how many people who trust him end up dead?) Now that Lysa Arryn has revealed that some dastardly deeds originally attributed to the Lannisters — most notably, the murder of the late Hand of the King Jon Arryn, which set into motion a series of events that led to the War of the Five Kings — were actually schemes cooked up by her ambitious fiancée, we figured it was time to look back and assess other Littlefinger lies.
The Lie: [To Ned] “I’ve hoped to meet you for some time, Lord Stark.”
The Truth: “I’ve hoped to kill you for some time, Lord Stark” would be more like it. When Littlefinger first met Ned Stark back in season one, he reminded him that he had always coveted his wife Catelyn, “a woman worth fighting for.” Some of Littlefinger’s earliest schemes could be attributed to his unrequited love for Catelyn, her rejection of him, and his settling for her sister Lysa instead. (He may have told her that he loves her instead, but we know and she suspects that this isn’t true, as her heart-to-heart with Sansa revealed.)
The Lie: [To Catelyn and Varys] “There’s only one dagger like this in all the seven kingdoms. It’s mine. Or at least it was … I lost this dagger [to] Tyrion Lannister, the Imp.”
The Truth: When Catelyn questioned Littlefinger about the dagger used in a murder attempt on her son Bran’s life, he directed her to another suspect, under the guise of helpfulness. He cautioned her not to spread this information, because it would be considered treason. (More likely that he didn’t want his lie to unravel.) He then promised to help her find “the truth,” and promised to try to help keep Ned Stark alive, “for her sake.” This lie led to Catelyn arresting Tyrion for a crime he didn’t commit, and to Jaime Lannister accosting Ned Stark and killing his men for the arrest of his brother. Stark-Lannister tensions hit an all-time high accordingly, and Littlefinger played both sides.
The Lie: [To Ned] “Do you know Ser Hugh of the Vale? … Send [someone you trust] to question Ser Hugh. After that, you might want him to visit a certain armorer in the city.” (See also: “I’ll take you to the last person Jon Arryn spoke with before falling ill.”)
The Truth: This is one of those half-truths Littlefinger loves to tell, where he seems to provide useful information but it’s actually misdirection and part of a larger scheme. Offering to help retrace Lord Arryn’s steps to solve a murder he helped commit sets Ned Stark down a path towards a different truth.
The Lie: [To Ned, about Lord Arryn visiting King Robert’s bastards] “Perhaps Robert wanted them looked after. He was overcome with fatherly love.”
The Truth: Littlefinger knew full well why Lord Arryn was searching for all of King Robert’s bastards, and it wasn’t to set up a brothel day-care. He knew full well about Cersei and Jaime’s twincest, as he alluded to in a discussion with her, but he wasn’t about to reveal all to everyone else. His larger game needed a man as honorable as Ned Stark to discover this truth on his own, so he couldn’t ignore it.
The Lie: [To Ned] “The City’s Watch is yours.”
The Truth: Littlefinger had no intention of letting Ned Stark have the backup he’d promised to finance, even though Lord Baelish could have afforded it. “I did warn you not to trust me,” said Petyr, as he puts a blade to Ned’s throat.
The Lie: “A dear friend,” referring to Lord Varys.
The Truth: A worthy adversary. Most of Littlefinger’s and Varys’ conversations involved Littlefinger’s obsession with Varys’ castration, and his insults about his lack of manhood, while staring at the Iron Throne. “Tell me, does someone somewhere keep your balls in a little box? I’ve often wondered,” he taunted him. “I have a hard time trusting eunuchs,” he told Cersei. “Who knows what they want?” And what does Littlefinger want? As he keeps saying, “Everything.”
The Lie: [To Catelyn] “Do you want to see your girls again? Sansa, more beautiful than ever, and Arya, just as wild as ever… Both girls are healthy and safe, for now.”
The Truth: Sure, Sansa was somewhat safe, if suffering, at King’s Landing, and Arya was able to fend for herself on the road — but Littlefinger didn’t know anything about the safety, health, or whereabouts of the littlest Stark daughter. In making their worried mother believe that he could deliver both girls, he brokered a deal to trade the one Lannister for two Starks. Of course, he probably shouldn’t also have denied that he hadn’t betrayed the Starks at all — which somewhat undermined his credibility. (“False reports!” he proclaimed).
The Lie: [To Renly] “You still have many friends at court, many who believed Ned Stark erred in not supporting your claim.”
The Truth: Although this could have been true, we never saw anything that indicated that this would be true, and only seems to serve Renly’s belief that he could have easily taken King’s Landing, even though he didn’t have as good of a claim or as many troops as his older brother, Stannis. Littlefinger, hedging his bets.
The Lie: [To Margaery and Loras Tyrell, about Stannis after Renly’s death] “Renly’s bannermen will flock to him, and your former companions will fight for the privilege of selling you to their new king.”
The Truth: Littlefinger, hedging his bets again. He doesn’t want the Tyrells to declare for Stannis — his army and their riches would be an unbeatable force. By sowing mistrust about Team Renly, he provides a window in which they will trust him as he suggests they play a long game to get their justice and revenge, and make Margaery a queen (again).
The Lie: [To Lord Tywin, about the Tyrells] “They did rebel, and perhaps that treason should be punished — after Stannis and Robb are defeated.”
The Truth: Playing all sides! To the Tyrells, Littlefinger says he will help them get revenge against Stannis and make Margaery queen. To the Lannisters, Littlefinger says he’s playing the Tyrells so the Lannisters can share their wealth for now, and discard them later. He brokers a deal to unite the houses, and makes each side believe he’s on its side.
The Lie: [To Sansa] “I’ll help get you home.”
The Truth: “Home” doesn’t exist anymore for Sansa. She thinks he means Winterfell, but he means the Vale. In a way, she does have relatives there, so it’s kind of a home — but what relatives! An aunt who killed her own husband and lied to her own sister about it, a cousin who wants to kill Sansa’s husband, and an “uncle” who has a curious interest in her. And at this point in the game, Littlefinger isn’t truly offering to take Sansa anywhere, but testing whether or not she’ll leave King’s Landing right now. He’s already learned that Loras Tyrell is engaged, thanks to his fruitful scheming to have Olyvar seduce Loras and get intel, and Littlefinger is confirming whether the bride-to-be is Sansa, as he suspects. When she declines his offer to leave, he spills the news to the Lannisters, which leads to her forced marriage to Tyrion instead.
The Lie: [To Dontos] “First you’ll want your pay. $10,000, was it?”
The Truth: Dontos followed Littlefinger’s orders to help deliver the poison to the wedding and steal Sansa away from the scene of the crime, and paid with his life. As so many people who trust Littlefinger do. Who will be next?