Why the rise of Petyr Baelish would be great TV

Rise of Peyr Baelish

One of the first articles posted on Stranger Views was on how we believed the TV show Firefly could be resurrected by basing the series around the character of the Operative from Serenity. In a vague continuation from that piece, this article looks at how the backstory of Petyr Baelish (AKA Littlefinger) would work as a spin off show from Game of Thrones. We certainly believe it would be a great show and hope we can convince you below.

I’ve tried to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but in an article like this it is impossible not to give something away, so read on at your own peril.

The world George R R Martin has created in A Song of Ice and Fire is probably the single greatest imaginative achievement in literature. That may be a big statement but I’m struggling to think of any other world so steeped in its own mythology and history. This means that there are countless options when it comes to deciding on spin off material from the show Game of Thrones. Most of the fandom have already said why Robert’s Rebellion needs to be done and the other half  would die happy if they could see the Dunk and Egg tales brought to the screen. These would all be great, but the rise of Littlefinger would be better, and here’s why:

From lovestruck boy to cold hearted man

Petyr Baelish makes Gordon Gekko look like a small minded underachiever who loves puppies. He also has a surprising backstory.

A young Petyr Baelish  was  part of a rather sad little love triangle with Catelyn Tully (who he loved) and Lysa Tully (who loved him). When Cat was betrothed to Brynden Stark, Littlefinger decided to challenge Brynden Stark to a duel, which he lost. At a later time he was sent to Gulltown as Master of Customs, where he worked his financial wizardry, leading him to become Master of Coin.

While elements of Petyr Baelish’s career look about as exciting as the career of any other taxman, if you delve deeper I think you’ll find some pretty interesting material to work with.

Contrast the Petyr Baelish we first meet with the type of boy that would challenge a much older, stronger and possibly psychotic man to a duel. In the TV show Littlefinger gives a bit of exposition that he learned that day how he would have to beat ‘them’ with his mind. While this may be true, it is unlikely that it was a snap change into the cold schemer Petyr Baelish is in the books and TV series. Watching as Petyr Baelish turns from this lovestruck, and by Cat’s account fun, young man turn into someone who would do this:
Petyr Baelish betrayal of Stark
would be the best type of tragedy. In this case, like in Romeo & Juliet, knowing the outcome would only add to the pathos.

Littlefinger is Michael Corleone

This story has actually been done before, with the Godfather. Like Michael Corleone, Littlefinger would start off as a bit of an idealist but his need for power would gradually erode his soul until he becomes the schemer we all love to hate. Watching Petyr Baelish go through this change could have the same emotional impact as seeing Michael Corleone go from a soldier boy looking to be a politician into a cold blooded killer able to mastermind the ruthless assassination of his enemies. Except hopefully without any of the mess that was the Godfather 3.

Petyr Baelish the romantic

Every TV show needs a bit of romance. Okay, that isn’t entirely true, but Petyr Baelish’s backstory could have some as he is somewhat of a romantic character. I don’t mean romantic in the Barry Manilow sense of the word, rather that his actions are often guided in some way by romantic feelings. He doesn’t have to involve Catelyn Tully, but he can’t help himself. Neither does he have to focus on Sansa to help him with his own goals. True, she has a certain diplomatic value but it is clear that his  interest in Sansa goes beyond that.

In fact, it would be quite easy to argue that he is simply looking to replace his lost childhood love with the nearest facsimiles he can find (namely her sister and daughter), and you can certainly see from his actions towards Lysa how if there is one thing he is not lying about, it’s his love for Caetlyn. Remember, romantic feelings do not necessarily equal nice feelings.

As a bonus, I came across this cool clip from YouTuber nodinitiative while researching (i.e dicking about on YouTube), which also suggests that perhaps tactical advantage wasn’t the only reason he betrayed Ned, although I admit it was probably the main reason.

*Off topic- but how dumb does Cat Stark seem in that scene? Or just in general?

The point is that there could be romantic subplots in the Rise of Littlefinger. All of these subplots would be tinged with tragedy from the outset, increasing their poignancy. Can’t you just imagine hoping for a young Petyr Baelish to settle down and not turn into the man he will become, while at the same time knowing it can never happen?

Everyone loves a schemer

While seeing Littlefinger slowly lose his innocence would be the heart of the show, what would keep you watching is the schemes. We are told that he increases the profits from customs in Gulltown tenfold, which is pretty much only possible if something dodgy is going on. Littlefinger would have been conning people from the off. We could have his schemes start small and be mostly harmless, but gradually grow in complexity and importance until they are all he has going. Admit it people: there is something about watching conmen in action that makes undeniably great TV.

It would expand the World of Ice and Fire

Choosing Petyr Baelish’s back story would expand the world of Ice and Fire in a way that doing a prequel based on Robert’s rebellion or the Dunk and Egg Stories would not. I’m not saying they wouldn’t be cool too, but they would be more similar to the current Game of Thrones series whereas a story based on Littlefinger would let us explore completely different aspects of the world Martin has created. There would also be more scope to bring in new characters and storylines and at the same time have less chance of creating a contradiction with what happens in the Game of Thrones.

So these are the reasons why a prequel based on the rise of Petyr Baelish would be an awesome spin-off show from the Game of Thrones. I only hope whoever played Petyr Baelish wouldn’t speak in that weird gravelly voice.

I’m sure many of you will have some views on this, so feel free to leave comments below saying why this idea was stupid.

If you’re still reading this, then chances are you would be interested in our piece on the Dangers of Reading a Song of Ice and Fir, or you may  fancy taking a look at that Firefly article we mentioned at the start of this article.

Or, if you are looking for a new fantasy book to read, why don’t you take a look at our reviews for Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree and The Copper Promise.

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3 Comments

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  1. Good points here, I’ve wanted to touch more on Baelish due to his role in the series seeming so prominent, yet still remaining so mysterious. Considering that Baelish still has the potential of being one of the biggest players and possibly one of the biggest villains (or even possibly, less possibly i believe, but still possibly, a hero) then a spin off would make total sense. He’s always seemed like on of those great super villains without super powers, just an evil, maniacal and clever mind, like the Lex Luther or Joker of the ASoIaF Universe.

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