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Oberyn Martell

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"Tell your father I am here, and tell him the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts."
―Oberyn Martell to Tyrion Lannister.[src]

Prince Oberyn Martell was a recurring character in the fourth season[1]. He is portrayed by Pedro Pascal and first appears in "Two Swords".[2] Known as the Red Viper of Dorne, Oberyn was a member of House Martell, the ruling family of Dorne, and the younger brother of Doran Martell and the late Elia Martell, and the father of eight bastard girls known as the Sand Snakes. He was well known for his fighting skills, passionate temper, and sexual appetites.



Prince Oberyn was the younger brother of Prince Doran Martell and Princess Elia Martell; like most members of House Martell, he was styled "Prince" instead of "Lord". He was nicknamed "the Red Viper" for his knowledge of poisons and for his unusual, deadly style of combat. Oberyn was known for being an accomplished warrior, but he was just as infamous for his sexual appetite, which extends to both men and women; Tyrion Lannister tells Bronn that Oberyn is "famous for fucking half of Westeros"[3]. Oberyn's paramour was Ellaria Sand; she is his wife in all but name, and Doran once noted that Ellaria made Oberyn very happy. She was also the mother of five of Oberyn's infamous eight bastard daughters, all of whom he has acknowledged and given his love and care. He named the fifth one, Elia Sand, after his late sister.[4][5]

Young Oberyn

Oberyn in his youth.

When he was a teenager, Oberyn was accompianed by his big sister Elia on a visit to Casterly Rock. While there, Oberyn and Elia were eager to see the "monster" that had just been born. Cersei finally showed them Tyrion, but the Martell siblings were somewhat disappointed to see that he was just a baby, and somewhat disturbed by Cersei's already strong hatred of him.[6]

Prince Oberyn trained at the Citadel in his youth, in order to become a maester. Although he ultimately grew bored and abandoned his studies, he managed to forge several links in a maester's chain, and became well versed in the use of poisons in the process. When he was sixteen, an older nobleman caught Oberyn in bed with his mistress and challenged Oberyn to a duel to first blood; Oberyn won the duel, and several days later the man died from festering wounds, likely because Oberyn had poisoned his blade.[7] Oberyn also travelled to Essos in his youth; for a time, he served in the mercenary company known as the Second Sons. He once went to the city of Astapor there and saw the Unsullied, whom he jokingly remarked were impressive on the battlefield, but less so in the bedroom. He lived in Essos for a total of five years.[8] It is implied that Oberyn fought duels in the infamous fighting pits of Meereen, as he mentions to Tyrion that he learned some of his combat techniques "during his years in the fighting pits".[9]

Despite his wayward ways and liberal attitude towards sexuality, Oberyn was very devoted to his family, telling his lover Ellaria that any other person would always have to wait behind her for his affection. He was very close with his sister, Elia, and took her death very hard. As a result, he had a strong and fierce hatred for House Lannister, especially towards Tywin Lannister, whom he believed ordered his sister's murder. He was also close to his older brother, Doran, despite their very different personalities.

Season 4

Oberyn Martell

Prince Oberyn confronts the two Lannister soldiers.

Tyrion Lannister meets the lords of Dorne outside King's Landing, only to find out that Oberyn will be representing House Martell at the king's wedding, and not his brother, the ruling Prince Doran. The Dornish lords tell Tyrion that Oberyn in fact arrived in the city before dawn. It doesn't take Tyrion long to realize that Oberyn is in one of Littlefinger's brothels. Oberyn assists his paramour Ellaria in choosing a whore for her own enjoyment before selecting Olyvar to satisfy himself. Oberyn's fun is cut short when he hears Lannister men singing "The Rains of Castamere", which sends Oberyn into a quiet rage. Before one of them can draw his sword, Oberyn drives his dagger through the man's wrist, though he assures the man's compatriot that he can be saved, if his injury is treated immediately. Tyrion arrives, and interrupts the fight. Leaving the brothel, Tyrion asks Oberyn why he came to the capital. Oberyn, much to Tyrion's discomfort, relates the story of how Gregor Clegane, Tywin's bannerman, raped and murdered Elia Martell and slaughtered her children. He then warns Tyrion that the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts.[4]

Cercei Tywin and Oberyn

Cersei and Tywin greet Oberyn Martell.

Later, Oberyn attends Joffrey's wedding, where he meets Tywin Lannister and Cersei Lannister. When he introduces Ellaria to them, Tywin is tactfully polite but Cersei hypocritically mocks Ellaria's baseborn origins, instigating a debate over the cultural differences between the Dornish and the rest of Westeros - and prompting Oberyn to smugly remind her that her daughter Myrcella is essentially a hostage of the Martells. Oberyn also gives Loras Tyrell a very flirtatious look, which leaves Loras blushing.[10]

In the days following Joffrey's death, Oberyn and Ellaria visit the brothel again. Oberyn grows angry with Olyvar when the prostitute rejects Ellaria's advances (as he doesn't have the taste with women), but Ellaria calms him down. Oberyn then discusses his approach to sexuality (not restricting himself to intimacy with one gender and having as much sex as possible before old age) with Olyvar.

Oberyn confronts Tywin over his sister's murder.

The small orgy is broken up by the sudden arrival of Tywin. After briefly discussing Oberyn's experience studying poisons at the Citadel, the Hand asks Oberyn to be the third judge at Tyrion's trial. Oberyn initially refuses, confirming that he blames Tywin for Elia's death. However, he reconsiders when Tywin offers Oberyn in particular and Dorne in general a seat on the Small Council. Tywin explains that he wants to reunify the realms because he knows that one day, Daenerys Targaryen will return, and the last time dragons assaulted Westeros, only Dorne successfully resisted them. Oberyn is pleased that Tywin has, in a roundabout fashion, admitted that he needs Dorne. He is also placated by Tywin's promise to arrange for him to confront Gregor Clegane privately.[7]
Oberyn Martell 6

Oberyn writes a poem for his daughter, Elia.

Following the coronation of Tommen Baratheon, Oberyn takes some time to write a bit of poetry in the gardens to his fifth daughter Elia, named after his dead sister. Cersei visits him and asks for a word. They discuss their children and Oberyn reveals he has eight daughters. Cersei asks after her daughter Myrcella, and Oberyn tells her that she is doing well and last he had seen her, she was playing with two of his daughters in the Water Gardens back in Dorne. Cersei asks Oberyn to deliver a gift to Myrcella, a ship, and then departs, leaving the prince trying to decide if he is to sympathize with a Lannister, though he promises to have it sent to Sunspear.[5]

Oberyn - The Laws of Gods and Men

Oberyn at the small council, complaining about the early meeting.

Oberyn later takes up his seat on the Small Council. In typical fashion, he complains loudly about the early meeting, pretends to be more concerned about the fancy title he will receive than matters of state, and refuses to rise when Lord Tywin enters the room. In spite of this, Tywin seems more interested in his opinion than that of Mace Tyrell, the new Master of Ships. Oberyn also warns the Small Council not to discount the danger that the Unsullied pose on the battlefield.[8]

After the meeting, Oberyn approaches Varys in the Throne Room, with the Dornishman surprising him with his knowledge of Essos. Oberyn shares that he spent several years in Essos, and spots that Varys is originally from Lys, unsettling Varys who believes he has no noticeable accent. The men exchange uneasy banter, and Varys makes it clear that unlike Oberyn with his thirst for pleasures, his interest lies only with the Iron Throne.[8]
Oberyn Martell in The Laws of Gods and Men

Oberyn serving as one of the three judges at Tyrion's trial.

Later on, Tyrion's trial begins. King Tommen recuses himself from the trial, appointing his grandfather Lord Tywin, along with Lord Mace and Prince Oberyn, as judges. Several witnesses are called for the prosecution, all of whom give testimony backing the accusations against Tyrion. Oberyn occasionally questions the witnesses, sometimes insightfully and sometimes (as with Shae) for his own amusement.  Oberyn's face suggests interest when Tyrion demands trial by combat.[8]

Oberyn visits Tyrion - Mockingbird

Oberyn declares that he will be Tyrion's champion.

Some days after his demands for a trial by combat, Oberyn visits Tyrion in the dungeons and relates the story of his disappointment in their first encounter. As children, Oberyn and Elia were told stories of the "Lannister Monster" and his extreme deformities. During a childhood visit to Casterly Rock, Cersei showed Tyrion, with great ceremony, to Oberyn and Elia. Oberyn tells Tyrion that he saw no monster, just a baby. Cersei told Oberyn and his sister that Tyrion killed her mother, and then cruelly assaulted Tyrion until Jaime stopped her. Oberyn tells Tyrion that he seeks justice for the death of his sister, and Tyrion replies that he will find none in King's Landing. Oberyn counters that he is in the perfect place; all those he means to bring to justice for his sister's murder are close at hand. Intending to start his revenge with Gregor Clegane, Oberyn offers his service as Tyrion's champion in the coming trial by combat.[6]

The Viper vs the Mountain3

Oberyn fights against the Mountain in the trial by combat.

Oberyn enters the trial wearing simple light armor and wielding a light spear with a heavy blade. Upon seeing his opponent, Ellaria grows concerned for his chances at besting the mountainous beast, but Oberyn remains confident. Tyrion is additionally worried by Oberyn's lack of a helmet and his light armor, and witnessing Oberyn drinking before the match does nothing to assuage his fears, but Oberyn claims that he drinks before every battle and that armor hinders his preferred fighting style. Before he faces Clegane, he promises Ellaria that he will survive.[11]

As the battle commences, the Red Viper manages to impress the crowd with a dazzling display of spear twirling before engaging Clegane, whom he taunts. Clegane ignores his words and launches a furious attack. Although the latter wears heavier armor and wields a massive broadsword, Oberyn is able to swiftly duck and avoid his swings, poking and prodding at him with his spear, demanding him to admit to the rape and murder of Elia Martell and her children, vengefully chanting in an ever-louder voice: "You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children!". Clegane knocks Oberyn off his feet twice and manages to cut his spear in half, but fails to wound him; Oberyn simply evades his swings again and walks over to his squire, who tosses him a replacement spear. Meanwhile, he wears Clegane down, knocking off his helmet and inflicting minor wounds through gaps in the huge knights' armor.[11]


Oberyn's brutal death at the hands of Gregor Clegane.

Oberyn eventually stabs ​Clegane in the stomach and severs his hamstring. The knight falls to his knees, outmaneuvered by the Dornish prince's quick movement and skill with a spear. The Red Viper then lunges and stabs him through his breastplate, causing Clegane to cough blood and fall on his back. With Clegane incapacitated, Oberyn once again demands that he admit to Elia's death and reveal who orchestrated it, pointing accusingly at Tywin. However, Oberyn -stalking aggressively around his unmoving opponent- is caught unexpectedly when Clegane trips him and pulls him to the ground, grasping him around the neck and slamming his fist squarely into his face, knocking most of his teeth out in the process. Clegane proceeds to gouge out Oberyn's eyeballs with his thumbs, and while Oberyn screams in agony, Clegane sadistically confesses to raping Elia, killing her children and then killing Elia herself. He brutally crushes Oberyn's skull, killing him instantly, as Ellaria screams in horror. Thus, through the rules of trial by combat, the fate of Tyrion Lannister is sealed.

​While the Mountain is being treated for his injuries, Pycelle and Qyburn discover that before the duel Oberyn had his spearblade coated with Manticore venom, which has caused Clegane's already severe wounds to putrefy horribly, leaving him in a catatonic, decaying and agonized state.[12]

Season 5

Oberyn's body is returned to Dorne, where Doran intends to bury and mourn for him. Despite his grief and anger at losing another sibling (his last one in fact) at the hands of the Mountain, Doran recognizes that Oberyn died fighting voluntarily in a trial by combat, which by law is not considered murder. However, Oberyn's popularity among the people of Dorne lead many to demand war against the Lannisters as retribution for his death. Most vocal in support of war are his paramour Ellaria, and his daughters, the Sand Snakes. However, Doran refuses to inflict war on his people, espacially a war he doesn't believe Dorne can win.[13][14]


Oberyn Martell was a forceful, lusty man with a quick wit and barbed tongue. He was renowned for his duels, his temper, his keen intellect, and his carnality, all of which made him extremely popular in Dorne. Oberyn traveled the world in his youth, and even fought in a mercenary company in Essos - his skill with a spear was enough to face off evenly against the feared Gregor Clegane in a duel. He had a very close relationship with his sister Elia and they were inseparable as children. Oberyn was also close to his older brother Doran, although their temperaments were very different. While Doran had been raised to be the heir to the Dornish throne, Oberyn was able to indulge in the wayward ways common among the Dornishmen.

Oberyn was also a very intelligent man: he studied at the Citadel for several years before deciding he was simply bored with a future as a maester and left. During that time he studied poisons extensively, which he frequently coated his weapons with.

Above all Oberyn was a deeply passionate man, with a hot temper that often leads him into duels and grudges, but in equal measure this also made him deeply loyal to those he cares about, such as his siblings, his paramour Ellaria, and his daughters.

Oberyn's overall attitude was that life is short, and one must enjoy all of life's pleasures while one can - thus his sexual adventures had become infamous, and popular rumor has it that he must have had sex with half of the people he had ever met on both sides of the Narrow Sea. Oberyn was a deeply honorable man, but his philosophy in life was that he didn't care about the negative opinions of others - he would rather live life on his own terms, openly challenging his enemies and risk destruction rather than live by someone else's rules.


Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children

Family Tree

Ruling Princess Martell of Dorne
Consort of the Princess of Dorne
Lewyn Martell familytree
Lewyn MartellKingsguard mini shield
Doran Martell family tree
Doran Martell
Mellario of Norvos
Elia Martell
Rhaegar Targaryen House-Targaryen-Shield-Icon
Unknown tree
Various women
Oberyn Martell
Ellaria Sand Sand mini shield
of House Uller
Trystane Martell family tree
Trystane Martell
Mycella Season 5 family tree pic

Myrcella Baratheon KL Baratheon shield icon

Rhaenys tree
Rhaenys Targaryen House-Targaryen-Shield-Icon
Aegon Targaryen Targaryen-small
Obara Sand familytree
Obara Sand Sand mini shield
1st Sand Snake
Fathered on a Dornish peasant
Nymeria Sand familytree
Nymeria Sand Sand mini shield
2nd Sand Snake
Fathered on an Eastern noblewoman
Martell bastard
Sarella Sand Martell bastard
4th Sand Snake
Fathered on a Summer Islander ship captain
Tyene Sand familytree
Tyene Sand Sand mini shield
3rd Sand Snake
Eldest of Ellaria's daughters
Martell bastard
Four youngest Sand Snakes Sand mini shield
(Elia, Obella, Dorea, Loreza)


"May I tell you a secret? You're not a golden lion. You're just a pink little man who's far too slow on the draw."
―Oberyn to a Lannister soldier[src]
"If the Mountain killed my sister, then your father gave the order. Tell your father I'm here. And tell him the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts."
―Oberyn to Tyrion Lannister[src]
"In some places, the high-born frown upon those of low birth and in others the rape and murder of women and children is considered distasteful. How fortunate for you, former Queen Regent, that your daughter, Myrcella, has been sent to live in the latter sort of place."
―Oberyn to Cersei Lannister[src]
Olyvar: "Everyone has a preference."
Oberyn: "Then everyone is missing half the world's pleasure. The Gods made that, and it delights me. The Gods made this... and it delights me. When it comes to war I fight for Dorne, when it comes to love... I don't choose sides."
Olyvar and Oberyn Martell[src]
"I have been to Essos and seen the Unsullied firsthand. They are very impressive on the battlefield. Less so in the bedroom."
Oberyn at a meeting of the Small Council.[src]
"It is a big and beautiful world. Most of us live and die in the same corner where we were born and never get to see any of it. I don't want to be most of us.'"
―Oberyn to Varys regarding his years in Essos.[src]
Oberyn Martell: "And what about what I want? Justice for my sister and her children."
Tyrion Lannister: "If you want justice, you've come to the wrong place."
Oberyn Martell: "I disagree. I've come to the perfect place. I want to bring those who have wronged me to justice, and all those who have wronged me are right here. I will begin with Ser Gregor Clegane, who killed my sister's children and then raped her with their blood still on his hands before killing her too. I will be your champion."
— Oberyn Martell promises to fight Gregor Clegane for Tyrion in his trial by combat.[src]
Tyrion Lannister: "Looks like very light armor."
Oberyn Martell: "I like to move around."
Tyrion Lannister: "You could at least wear a helmet. (Oberyn takes a sip of wine) You shouldn't drink before a fight."
Oberyn Martell: "You learned this during your years in the fighting pits? I always drink before a fight."
Tyrion Lannister: "It could get you killed! It could get ME killed!"
— Oberyn shows his unorthodox methods to an unconvinced Tyrion.[src]
"I am the brother of Elia Martell, and do you know why I have come all the way to this stinking shit pile of a city? For you."
―Oberyn to Gregor Clegane[src]
"I'm going to hear you confess before you die. You raped my sister, you murdered her, you killed her children. Say it now and we can make this quick."
―Oberyn to Gregor Clegane[src]
"The Targaryens talk of fire and blood. In Dorne, our blood is fire."
―Oberyn on Dorne and its people.[src]

Image gallery

Behind the scenes

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Prince Oberyn is the hot-headed younger brother of Prince Doran Martell. He has eight bastard daughters, called the Sand Snakes, the four youngest of them by his current paramour, Ellaria Sand

Oberyn has a lined face with thin eyebrows, black "viper" eyes and a sharp nose. His hair is lustrous and black with only a few silver streaks and recedes from his brow into a widow's peak. It is rumored that he has sexual relations with his squires when Ellaria is unavailable. It is not unusual for lords and ladies in Dorne to be openly bisexual, due to the relaxed attitude towards sexuality among the Dornish.

Oberyn is called "the Red Viper" by friend and foe alike due to his penchant for coating his weapons in lethal poisons, so that even a glancing wound will prove fatal.

Oberyn was the youngest of the three Martell siblings: Elia was born nine years after Doran, and Oberyn one year after Elia.

During a tourney, Oberyn jousted against Willas Tyrell, eldest son of Mace Tyrell and heir to Highgarden. Oberyn knocked Willas from his horse, but Willas's foot got caught in the stirrup and the horse fell on him, crushing his leg and leaving him crippled. Though Willas does not personally bear any ill-will towards Oberyn for the incident and they continue a friendly correspondence, it becomes a new source of friction in the ancient feud between Dorne and the Reach.

Although Oberyn is known to have studied to become a maester in his youth - successfully forging several links of his chain - he is noted to have studied the poisoner's art while travelling the Free Cities, not at the Citadel, as the show specifies. When Oberyn visits Tyrion Lannister in his cell following Joffrey's murder, he jokes that he owes Cersei his gratitude for accusing her brother of the deed. Had she not, Oberyn himself may soon have come under suspicion, because "who knows more of poison than the Red Viper of Dorne, after all?” Due to their shared hatred for House Lannister, Oberyn and Tyrion form a bond of sorts, and after Tyrion demands a trial by combat, Oberyn volunteers to fight for him, and offers to take Tyrion to live in Sunspear with the Martells should he win and gain Tyrion his freedom, in order to get him away from Cersei, who may still have him killed. Oberyn loses the duel against Gregor Clegane, however, and is killed, though he manages to poison him with manticore venom in the process.

When treating Clegane, Qyburn theorizes that Oberyn had adulterated the manticore venom on his spear with sorcery; thickening it in order to slow it's progress through the veins towards the heart, dragging out Gregor's agony.

See also


v  d  e
Lord: Heir:
Martell mini flag
Seat: Sunspear Lands: Dorne
Title(s): Prince of Dorne · Lord of Sunspear
Ancestors:Princess Nymeria · Prince Mors Martell · Prince Maron Martell · Princess Daenerys Martell · Queen Myriah Martell
Current members:Ellaria Sand · Obara Sand · Nymeria Sand · Tyene Sand · Sarella Sand · Elia Sand · Obella Sand · Dorea Sand · Loreza Sand
Deceased members:Prince Lewyn Martell · Princess Elia Martell · Prince Oberyn Martell · Prince Doran Martell · Prince Trystane Martell
Household:{Areo Hotah} · {Caleotte}
Overlord:House Baratheon of King's Landing

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