Game of Thrones has never shied away from altering its source material, but according to George R.R. Martin, this character might be the biggest change of all.
Martin is well known for his ruthless plotting of the fantasy series in which almost everyone seems to die, and that ruthlessness led him to be interviewed for a recent BBC documentary on legendary Renaissance writer and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli, best known today for his ruthless real-life politcical strategies. During the interview, Martin discussed both Machiavelli's influence on his own work, and which characters in his A Song of Ice and Fire novels are the most Machiavellian. He named Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish "the most Machiavellian character in Game of Thrones," but also took time to note that Baelish is the character who seems to have changed the most from book to screen as he transitioned from a pure Martin creation to a character portrayed by Aidan Gillen on the hit HBO series.
"Book Littlefinger and television show Littlefinger are very different characters. They're probably the character that's most different from the book to the television show," Martain said. "There was a a line in a recent episode of the show where, he's not even present, but two people are talking about him and someone says 'Well, no one trusts Littlefinger' and 'Littlefinger has no friends.' And that's true of television show Littlefinger, but it's certainly not true of book Littlefinger. Book Littlefinger, in the book, everybody trusts him. Everybody trusts him because he seems powerless, and he's very friendly, and he's very helpful. He helps Ned Stark when he comes to town, he helps Tyrion, you know, he helps the Lannisters. He's always ready to help, to raise money. He helps Robert, Robert depends on him to finance all of his banquets and tournaments and his other follies, because Littelfinger can always raise money. So, he's everybody's friend. But of course there's the Machiavellian thing. He's, you know, everybody trusts him, everybody depends on him. He's not a threat. He's just this helpful, funny guy, who you can call upon to do whatever you want, and to raise money, and he ingratiaties himself with people and rises higher and higher as a result."
In contrast, the TV version of Littlefinger has proved much more adept at setting up the downfalls of various characters, including Ned Stark. It's not the only deviation from Martin's novels, but it's among the most striking. What do you think? Is Littlefinger really the Thrones character that's most different from his book persona, or does someone else hold that title?
Watch the full interview with Martin below.