Death is inevitable on Game of Thrones, and there’s perhaps no death in Season 8 more anticipated than Cersei Lannister’s. We’ve known for some time that Cersei would die at the hands of the “valonqar” (High Valyrian for “little brother”) thanks to its inclusion in the prophecy that Maggy the Frog delivered to her when she was a teenager. The rest of that prophecy already came true — she became queen and her children died — but there’s still two important details that need to be fulfilled. Her throne must be usurped, Snow White-style, by a younger, more beautiful woman, and she must be killed by the valonqar.
Ever since this prophecy was revealed, Game of Thrones fans have speculated just who the valonqar could be. Interpretations of the word vary greatly and nearly all of them apply to Cersei in a particular way. We learned in Season 7 that the High Valyrian language doesn’t recognize gender in a binary sense (thanks, Missandei), so not only could “little brother” refer to someone younger or shorter, it could potentially refer to a woman or, further, a younger, shorter woman. This has made characters like Tyrion, Jaime, and even Arya Stark prime valonqar candidates. But given the fact that Cersei has always had a special hatred for Tyrion, the idea that he is the valonqar seems especially likely.
Ahead of the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere this Sunday, April 14, let’s take a look at any and all clues we have to support the belief that Tyrion is actually the valonqar.
Clue 1: He’s Literally Cersei’s Little Brother
You’re probably going to say “Yeah, no kidding” as you read this, but it bears repeating: Tyrion is the little brother of both Cersei and Jaime Lannister. This is not only true in the sense that he’s the youngest of his siblings (and he will still technically be the youngest Lannister when Season 8 premieres) but also in reference to his height. Wordplay is big on Game of Thrones, so it’s not entirely unreasonable that the interpretation of the word “valonqar” could refer to age, actual height, or both.
Tyrion’s age and his dwarfism have been two of the many factors in Cersei’s hatred of him for the entirety of his life. The fact that it fits in perfectly with the literal definition of “valonqar” only helps support the belief that he will fulfill Maggy the Frog’s prophecy and kill Cersei.
Clue 2: He’s Got Some Bad Blood With the Rest of His Family
Not only has Tyrion been punished, demeaned, or picked on by his family for most of his life because he is a dwarf, but he’s had to bear the burden of being the cause of his mother Joanna Lannister’s death. The Lannisters were quick to blame Tyrion for Joanna’s death-by-childbirth, and it’s negatively affected his relationships with his family for most of his life.
Cersei, in particular, has often held their mother’s death over Tyrion’s head. So it’s understandable that Cersei’s hatred for this reason alone would make Tyrion want to kill her.
Clue 3: Cersei’s Already Tried to Kill Him … Twice (That He Knows Of)
Tyrion’s been nursing the idea of revenge for quite some time, even if he doesn’t like to show it. In Season 7, we saw him take on his siblings directly as Dany’s Hand of the Queen, though his plan to invade Casterly Rock totally backfired. And when Tyrion and Cersei reunited at the end of Season 7, it didn’t exactly feel like a family reunion.
Before going in to meet with Cersei privately, Tyrion sees Jaime. As the brothers commiserate, with Jaime revealing he’s been cast off by Cersei and branded an “idiot” for trusting their younger brother, Tyrion sympathizes with him. He goes on to tell Jaime, “I’m about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world who’s already tried to kill me twice — that I know of. Who’s an idiot?”
Tyrion managed to win Cersei over and broker a truce between the Lannisters and Daenerys — at least, that’s what he thinks. As Cersei later revealed, she’s already hired an army of assassins to crush her enemies. So assuming Tyrion survives long enough to do anything about it, he’ll definitely want some revenge for that latest betrayal.
Clue 4: He’s Already Admitted He’s Thought About Killing Her
In that same clip, Tyrion reveals he’s already thought about killing Cersei more times than he can count. At one point during their meeting in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” Tyrion tells her, “You love your family, and I have destroyed it. I will always be a threat, so put an end to me.”
When Cersei doesn’t respond or, at the very least, order the Mountain to kill Tyrion right then and there, Tyrion continues. As he does, he whips himself into anger over the years of hatred that have built between himself and his sister.
“If it weren’t for me, you’d have a mother,” Tyrion says to her. “If it weren’t for me, you’d have a father. If it weren’t for me, you’d have two beautiful children. I’ve thought about killing you more times than I can count. Do it. Say the word.”
It’s one of the few times we see Tyrion turn on Cersei to her face, and that’s a big deal. Even though he’s threatened her in the past, this latest one reminds us that even though Tyrion may have changed as a person since we first met him, he is still holding onto the idea of killing his sister for all of the pain she’s caused him.
Clue 5: Oh, and He Has Actually Threatened to Kill Her
It’s been nearly seven years since we first watched this scene from Season 2, Episode 8, which focuses on Cersei threatening Tyrion not to send Joffrey into battle. Over the course of the argument, we watch as Tyrion calls out Cersei for protecting Joffrey from danger even though it’s bad optics for the young king to hide in fear rather than lead his troops on the battlefield.
Cersei then reveals that she imprisoned one of Tyrion’s favorite prostitutes, implying that if Tyrion does send Joffrey into battle, every injury Joffrey suffers will be inflicted on the prostitute. After showing him the torture the prostitute has already undergone, Tyrion tells Cersei the following: “I will hurt you for this. The day will come when you think you are safe and happy and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you’ll know the debt is paid.”
It’s one of the rare moments early on in Game of Thrones where Tyrion isn’t just sucking up to his family members or, at minimum, going along with them just to fly under their radar. Tyrion will eventually evolve over the course of the show, but this moment from early in the series is proof that Tyrion has always been capable of turning on his family when he or someone he loves is threatened.
Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres April 14 on HBO.