- Olenna Tyrell: "Loras is young and very good at knocking men off horses with a stick. That does not make him wise. As for your fathead father..."
- Margaery Tyrell: "Grandmother! What will Sansa think of us?"
- Olenna Tyrell: "She might think we have some wits about us, one of us at any rate."
- — Margaery Tyrell introduces her grandmother Olenna to Sansa Stark.[src]
The elderly matriarch of House Tyrell, Lady Olenna has been a master of court politics and intrigue par excellence throughout her life. She's also known for her wit and sarcasm. As a result, Lady Olenna is popularly nicknamed the the Queen of Thorns, in reference to her house's sigil and her cutting barbs. In many ways she is the de facto head of House Tyrell at the time of the War of the Five Kings and appears to hold a great deal of influence over the Reach.
Olenna Tyrell is the widow of Lord Luthor Tyrell and the mother of Mace Tyrell, the current Lord of Highgarden, Warden of the South, Lord Paramount of the Reach, and head of House Tyrell. She is the grandmother of his children Loras and Margaery. She was born into House Redwyne, one of the most prominent and powerful vassals of House Tyrell.
In her youth, Olenna Redwyne was engaged to a member of House Targaryen, as it was "all the rage" at the time; it was her sister Viola whom Luthor Tyrell was expected to marry. The night before Luthor was to propose to Viola, Olenna snuck into his chamber and seduced him, leaving him "unable to walk downstairs" the next day to propose to Viola. Olenna did this because the thought of marrying a Targaryen and his "ludicrous silver hair" did not appeal to her.
Although Olenna consistently referred to Luthor as an oaf, she was genuinely fond of him, and confided to Margaery that she had some difficulty accepting his death after his body was delivered to her.
At some point following her granddaughter's engagement to Joffrey Baratheon, Lady Olenna moved to King's Landing, most likely to work behind the scenes to cement the Tyrells' position. Reasoning that Sansa Stark is the best person to ask about Joffrey, Olenna invites her to a lunch of lemon cakes (Sansa's favorite) and cheese (her own favorite). Sansa is initially too scared to speak, but after much prodding from Olenna, Sansa breaks down and confesses that Joffery is a monster. Lady Olenna is disappointed but unsurprised at the revelation.
A few days later, Lady Olenna is sought out by Varys, who finds her chastising her handmaidens over their unimaginative veneration of House Tyrell's dull sigil. Olenna throws a mild barb or two at him before demanding his reasons for seeking her, aware of the Spider's reputation. They discuss Sansa and Littlefinger's interest in her. Varys warns her just how dangerous Littlefinger really is, and Olenna agrees that Sansa must be kept away from him. When Varys is about to offer a solution, Olenna dismisses him, saying that the solution is rather obvious. 
Hoping to mitigate the potential costs of an extravagant royal wedding, Tyrion Lannister meets with Lady Olenna. She lectures him on the importance of an extravagant royal wedding, particularly if it, along with the large amounts of grain and livestock brought to King's Landing from the Reach, prevents the Smallfolk from ripping the nobles apart. Lady Olenna also reminds Tyrion of the thousands of Tyrell troops now assisting the Lannisters in the current war, and that the royal house traditionally pays for a royal wedding. Nonetheless, she agrees to pay half the costs of the wedding itself provided the celebrations are not cut short. Lady Olenna expresses disappointment in Tyrion's character– she had hoped to encounter the lecherous, mischievous imp of legend, and not a "browbeaten bookkeeper"– and in Podrick Payne's serving abilities before departing.
After he finds out about the plan to wed Loras to Sansa, Tywin Lannister, determined to thwart this plan, which would hand control of the North to the Tyrells, meets with Lady Olenna. He instead offers to marry Loras to Cersei (both of them pretend that there is no outstanding plot). Olenna, claiming herself an expert on the subject, declares Cersei too old, and will soon be undergoing "the change". Tywin counters by mentioning Loras's homosexuality. Olenna bluntly confirms that her grandson is a "sword swallower", and cheekily asks whether Tywin ever experimented in his youth, a suggestion the Hand adamantly refutes. Olenna makes light of what amounts to "a discreet bit of buggery", and hints at the rumors of incest between Cersei and Jaime, which, she notes, currently have Westeros at war. Tywin says that neither he nor Olenna care what other people think of them (an assertion she refutes). He proceeds to call her bluff by threatening to name Loras to the Kingsguard, thereby exchanging the uncertainty of Cersei's childbearing status for the certainty of House Tyrell's extinction. Olenna snaps Tywin's quill in half and graciously concedes defeat. 
Lady Olenna attends the wedding of Tyrion Lannister in the Great Sept of Baelor. She stands near the feet of the Mother's statue with her grandchildren and is not amused when Joffrey embarrasses Tyrion by removing his footstool. At the wedding feast, Olenna muses on now-extremely complicated in-law relationships between Margaery, Loras, Cersei, and Tyrion, prompting Loras to storm out and Margaery to give her a withering look. Later on, she regards Tywin and Tyrion's latest argument with amusement.
Olenna assists Margaery in picking out a necklace for her upcoming wedding. She selects the finest of those on offer, noting affectionately that it is similar to one she received from her husband on her 51st name day. Olenna chucks the piece over the rampart and into Blackwater Bay and orders the Tyrell handmaidens to canvass every jeweler in King's Landing; the girl who brings her the best necklace can keep the next best for herself. After they are left alone, Margaery sardonically suggests letting Joffrey pick out the necklace which, knowing him, will likely consist of severed sparrow's heads. Olenna cautions Margaery to mind what she says, even with her. They are shortly interrupted by Brienne of Tarth, whose appearance prompts a rather melodramatic reaction from Olenna.
At Joffrey's wedding, Olenna speaks with Sansa, expressing her condolences for the fate of her family and inviting her and Tyrion to visit Highgarden. She toys with Sansa's hair in a grandmotherly fashion during the exchange. She chides Tywin Lannister that the Tyrells are paying half of the cost of the extravagant wedding, and that the Lannisters may need to turn to the Tyrells for financial support again, due to the crown's increasing war debts, particularly to the Iron Bank of Braavos. She later witnesses the poisoning of King Joffrey, and is the first among those who call for help.
When Margaery questions as to whether or not she is actually the queen now since she is also a widow, Olenna advises her not to press the issue for a while. Olenna is optimistic that she is closer to being Queen now than she ever was when she was with Renly Baratheon. She is also relieved that Margaery is now free from Joffrey's torture and opines that Tommen Baratheon will be a better match – one the Lannisters can't afford not to make.
Some time later, Olenna and Margaery discuss Olenna's impending departure, and whether the Lannisters will consent to Margaery's match with Tommen. Olenna tells her how she seduced Luthor, and says Margaery she must do the same with Tommen, or else Cersei will turn the boy against her. Luckily for Margaery, Cersei is distracted by Joffrey's recent death and accusing her innocent brother of the crime. Margaery states that Olenna cannot know Tyrion's innocence for sure, to which Olenna claims she can. Olenna explains to a shocked Margaery that she could not bear to leave her granddaughter in the hands of "that beast", leading Margaery to realize that it was Olenna who poisoned Joffrey.
Olenna departs King's Landing some time soon after Joffrey's funeral, but conveniently before Tommen's coronation. She claims that she has grown to hate the long walks through the Red Keep's gardens that seem to take up much of her time in the capital.
Olenna arrives at the Red Keep some time later and immediately sees Cersei, who is pretending to be quite busy running the realm, something Olenna calls her out on. This leads to Cersei mocking Olenna's infamous tart-tongue. The Queen of Thorns responds in turn calling Cersei "the famous tart". Cersei continues to feign ignorance about Loras's arrest. Olenna explains that while she and Tywin didn't like each other, they both understood the need for rivals to work together, particularly given that the Reach is needed to supply most of the capital's food. Cersei ignores everything Olenna says, only saying that House Lannister has no rivals. She then invites Olenna to the inquest into the charges about Loras (as there isn't yet enough evidence for a trial). Olenna watches as her grandchildren refute Loras's sexuality, but things take a turn for the worse when Olyvar's testimony damns them both. As Loras and Margaery are arrested, Olenna looks threateningly at Cersei.
Olenna goes to the Sept of Baelor and finds the High Sparrow washing the floors. She first tries to bribe him to release her grandchildren before repeating her previous threat to Cersei that House Tyrell will stop feeding the capital if she doesn't get Margaery and Loras back. The High Sparrow is not impressed and asks her if anyone in her House has ever harvested any of the food they own. When Olenna fails to answer, he tells her that he speaks for the many and they are learning to stop fearing the few. After she leaves the Sept, a messenger gives her a message from Petyr Baelish.
She goes to Baelish's ravaged brothel, where they trade barbs before Olenna accuses him of helping Cersei bring down Loras. Although Baelish denies it, she warns him that, should House Tyrell fall, she will no longer have anything to lose and she will reveal their joint involvement in Joffrey's murder. She also warns him that, should she meet a premature end, he will meet an unfortunate end as well. Conceding the point, Baelish reveals that Cersei summoned him to King's Landing for "a piece of information he had", his prostitute Olyvar, and he tells Olenna that he will give her the same thing he gave Cersei: "a handsome young man" —implied, in this instance, to be Lancel. Subsequently Olenna confronts Lancel about the adulterous affair off-screen, and he is forced to give up Cersei to the High Sparrow, who has her arrested.
Ser Kevan Lannister, the new Hand of the King, has invited Olenna to sit on the Small Council – which officially now consists of Kevan, Grand Maester Pycelle, and Mace – at least to deal with the situation of Margaery and Loras's imprisonment. Barging into a Council meeting, Cersei expresses irritation that Olenna was invited while she was not, to which Olenna counters that Cersei is not the queen anymore – Margaery is, being married to the current king. Kevan refuses to deal with Cersei and, conceding that he can't force her to leave thanks to the reanimated Gregor Clegane, has the Councilors, including Olenna, leave instead.
At another "meeting" of the Small Council, Olenna and Kevan are surprised when Cersei and Jaime actually come to parlay. Cersei explains that she and Olenna played right into the High Sparrow's hands by continuing to squabble instead of presenting a united front, and now the High Sparrow is planning to have Margaery do the Walk of atonement just like she did. The Lannister twins explain their plan: Olenna will have Tyrell troops liberate Margaery and Loras, and turn them over to the Crown's Justice (in this case, Kevan), for a civil trial. Kevan, in turn, will keep royal and Lannister troops away from the incident, in keeping with Tommen's orders not to antagonize the Faith. Olenna doesn't think it's a particularly good plan, but agrees that at this point it's their only option, and if blood is spilt, better it be the Sparrows' and not theirs. 
Olenna accompanies Mace and his his column of Tyrell troops to the Great Sept to watch the proceedings herself. She and Jaime exchange worried glances when the realize that the High Sparrow is up to something. As the High Sparrow announces there would be no Walk of Atonement for Margaery, Olenna signals to her son for the Tyrell Army to stand down. She moves closer to Jaime and Mace when Tommen appears and announces the new alliance between the Crown and the Faith. When Mace asks her what just happened, Olenna gruffly replies that they've been beaten.
Following the alliance between the Iron Throne and the Faith Militant and the conversion of King Tommen Baratheon and Queen Margaery Tyrell, Olenna meets with Margaery, pressuring her to turn away and stand against the Faith Militant. She reminds Margaery that they have her brother Loras, though in the presence of Septa Unella, Margaery says he must atone for his sins. Before leaving with Unella, Margaery discretely slips Olenna a folded note. Realizing that Margaery might not actually be brainwashed, Olenna puts on a show but leaves quickly. As soon as she is alone, she unfolds the note. It contains a drawing of a rose, the House Tyrell sigil, which leads Olenna to smile: Margaery is still a Tyrell at heart, and has wrapped the Sparrows around her finger.
Later, Olenna is visited by Cersei Lannister, who urges her to fight against the Faith Militant, but Olenna says that she is leaving for Highgarden. Trying to convince Olenna, Cersei tells her they have a common enemy, and that they should unite and defeat him. Olenna, however, reminds Cersei that the rise of the Faith Militant, the imprisonment of her grandchildren and the compromised future of both the Lannisters and the Tyrells are all due to Cersei's stupidity. Cersei tries to win Olenna over by comparing her love for Tommen with Olenna's love for her grandchildren, to which Olenna reminds her of the smug look she gave her when Loras and Margaery were dragged away by the Faith Militant, pondering that Cersei is possibly the worst person she has ever met. Olenna bluntly tells Cersei the truth of the matter: Cersei has no friends and is surrounded by enemies with absolutely no support. She then adds that her only joy comes from the fact that Cersei has truly lost.
Olenna's most prominent traits are her sharp wit, high cunning and intelligence. A politically astute woman, Olenna has been a master of court politics and intrigue her entire life. She appears to have a very dark sense of humour and likes to mock those around her, including her own family. Despite this, Olenna clearly loves her family dearly, especially her grand-children. Furthermore, she reveals to her grand-daughter that even though she considered her husband Lord Luthor Tyrell an oaf, she really did love him and struggled to accept his death. Olenna clearly is a staunch supporter of House Tyrell, despite being born and raised a Redwyne. In this regard, she is very similar to Tywin Lannister, who also places the power and prestige of his House above all else. Olenna, however, is wise to not be as ruthless or as cold as he was. She strikes a much healthier balance between loyalty to her House and affection for her family than Tywin ever did: whereas all three of his children grew to bitterly resent him, Olenna's grandchildren dote on her, and even her exasperation for Mace's oafishness is affectionate.
Olenna's strength and competence in politics has made her the de facto head of House Tyrell and, by extension, the Reach itself. A very impatient woman with a bad temper, she is unafraid of using her power as head of House Tyrell to threaten her enemies. Olenna is a secretive, cunning woman with the ability to manipulate those around her with huge amounts of power. Olenna never shies from stating her opinion (unless it is more advantageous to mask it) and truly hates Cersei Lannister for her cruelty, incompetence, and deep selfishness. She also admits that she finds Sansa Stark rather dull and is interested in her political potential and not her personality. Olenna states that she did not especially like Tywin Lannister as a person or trust him, but she did respect him for his steadfast diligence, ambition and intellect - she almost praised him for the fact that he lived up to his reputation. Olenna is incredibly intelligent, wise enough to understand that sometimes people must work with their enemies rather than constantly compete against them which also explains why she respected Lord Tywin. On the darker side like Tywin, Olenna has no problem harming children such as poisoning Joffrey leading to his death in his mother's arms proving she can be just as ruthless as him or Littlefinger when necessary.
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
|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|
|Season Five appearances|
|The Wars to Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother’s Mercy|
|Season Six appearances|
|The Red Woman||Home||Oathbreaker||Book of the Stranger||The Door|
|Blood of My Blood||The Broken Man||No One||Battle of the Bastards||The Winds of Winter|
|Mace Tyrell||Alerie Tyrell|
|Joffrey Baratheon |
Margaery's 2nd husband
|Margaery Tyrell||Renly Baratheon |
Margaery's 1st husband
|Tommen Baratheon |
Joffrey's younger brother
Margaery's 3rd husband
- Olenna Tyrell: "Loras is young and very good at knocking men off horses with a stick. That does not make him wise. As to your fathead father..."
- Margaery Tyrell: "Grandmother! What will Sansa think of us?"
- Olenna Tyrell: "She might think we have some wits about us, one of us at any rate."
- — Margaery Tyrell introduces her grandmother Olenna to Sansa Stark[src]
- ""Growing Strong". Ha! The dullest words of any house! "Winter is Coming"! Now, that's memorable. "We Do Not Sow"! Strong! Strong, those houses, you watch out for them! Direwolves and Krakens, fierce beasts. But a golden rose, growing strong? Oh, yes, that strikes fear in the heart!"
- ―Olenna Tyrell to Tyrell lady
- "I was told you were drunk, impertinent and thoroughly debauched. You can imagine my disappointment at finding nothing but a browbeaten bookkeeper."
- ―Olenna Tyrell to Tyrion Lannister
- Tyrion Lannister: "We're at war, Lady Olenna."
- Olenna Tyrell: "Oh, I'd nearly forgotten."
- Tyrion Lannister: "Yes, and maintaining supply lines..."
- Olenna Tyrell: "I can't think how it slipped my mind. What is it, 12,000 infantrymen the Tyrell family has supplied? 1,800 mounted lances. 2,000 in support. Provisions so this city might survive the winter. A million bushels of wheat. Half a million bushels each of barley, oats, and rye. 20,000 head of cattle. 50,000 sheep. You don't have to lecture me about wartime expenses. I'm quite familiar with them."
- — Olenna Tyrell lectures Tyrion Lannister when he thinks of siphoning money from the royal wedding to maintain the war effort.[src]
- Cersei Lannister: "Ah yes, the famously tart-tongued Queen of Thorns."
- Olenna Tyrell: "And the famous tart, Queen Cersei."
- — Olenna spars with Cersei.[src]
- Olenna Tyrell: "You've always been rather impressed with yourself, haven't you?"
- Littlefinger: "The past is the past. The future is all that's worth discussing. The future of House Tyrell."
- Olenna Tyrell: "Don't pretend to have any concern for my House, my grandchildren, or me. I should have known you'd return to the capital as soon as things started to go wrong."
- Littlefinger: "I promise you..."
- Olenna Tyrell: "I promise you, Lord Baelish, that our fates are joined. Together, we murdered a King. If my House should fall, I will have nothing to hide. And if I should meet with some 'accident' here at your broken little flesh-market, they'll never even find what's left of you."
- — Lady Olenna warns Littlefinger.[src]
- "Many will die no matter what we do. Better them than us."
- ―Olenna to the Lannisters.
- "Our two ancient houses face collapse because of your stupidity."
- ―Olenna to Cersei
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, her family remains the same. She was born Olenna Redwyne, daughter of Lord Runceford Redwyne. She is described as a wizened, cunning old woman with a wicked wit and a sharp tongue. She is known as the "Queen of Thorns" for her sarcasm and the rose thorns in the sigil of House Tyrell. In many ways, the cunning Olenna is the true leader of House Tyrell, masterminding political intrigues which her son, Lord Mace Tyrell, then follows. Despite this she has a loving relationship with her family, including her grandchildren. Olenna is particularly close with her granddaughter Margaery Tyrell, whom she has mentored in the skills of court intrigue.
Olenna is older than Hoster Tully, who was in his mid-sixties when he died, but remains in good health (though she has lost her teeth). While she walks with a cane, several characters believe that she feigns to be more frail than she actually is, in order to lull her enemies into thinking she is harmless. Members of House Redwyne tend to have bright orange hair. Olenna's hair has turned completely white due to old age, but it hasn't been established what her hair color was in her youth.
In her youth she almost married Daeron Targaryen, the son of King Aegon V Targaryen, but Daeron refused to marry after his brothers successfully convinced their father to let them marry who they wanted and he let Daeron forgo his marriage to Olenna. Olenna also did everything she could to make sure it never came to fruition. Daeron was actually homosexual, and did not want to marry a woman at all. Aegon V was succeeded by Daeron's older brother Jaehaerys II, who was the father of Aerys II the Mad King. However, Jaehaerys II has been officially cut from the TV continuity - which would imply that his entire generation of siblings doesn't exist either. One of the "ripple effects" of this change may be that Olenna's backstory is officially different in the TV continuity. Olenna actually has no sister named "Viola" in the novels, who was originally going to marry Luthor Tyrell. Instead, it was actually Daeron's sister who was supposed to marry Luthor, Shaera Targaryen. Luthor didn't need to be seduced away from her, because Shaera actually didn't want to marry him either - instead wanting to marry her brother Jaehaerys II, as per incestuous Targaryen marriage customs. Olenna did not need to seduce Luthor away from someone else - though once both marriage betrothals were broken and Luthor was available again, it isn't said how Olenna then managed to secure a marriage betrothal with him, so she could plausibly have had to seduce him.
In the books, Olenna remains in King's Landing until after Tommen's coronation, as she hadn't yet finished thrashing out the details of his marriage to Margaery. Although she is of course nowhere near the proceedings, she is still in the Red Keep during Tywin's murder. She goes back to Highgarden after Tommen and Margaery's wedding and has not as of yet reappeared, since it is her son Mace and not her who comes back to the capital to free Margaery.
Like Margaery, Olenna's role in the TV series has been greatly expanded from her appearances in the novels - though simply because none of the Tyrells are POV characters in the books, and thus most of their actions and internal discussions (such as between Olenna and Margaery) occur "off-screen". Olenna also serves as a foil for Tywin – indeed, Charles Dance himself referred to Olenna as "the anti-Tywin Lannister" in a promotional interview for Season 3.
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 1 guide to houses, House Tyrell entry
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Tyrell entry
- ↑ "Oathkeeper"
- ↑ "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
- ↑ "Breaker of Chains"
- ↑ "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
- ↑ "And Now His Watch is Ended"
- ↑ "Kissed by Fire"
- ↑ "The Climb"
- ↑ "Second Sons (episode)"
- ↑ "Two Swords"
- ↑ "The Lion and the Rose"
- ↑ "Breaker of Chains"
- ↑ "Oathkeeper"
- ↑ "Oathkeeper"
- ↑ Sons of the Harpy
- ↑ Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
- ↑ "The Gift (episode)"
- ↑ "Oathbreaker"
- ↑ "Book of the Stranger"
- ↑ "Blood of My Blood"
- ↑ "The Broken Man"
- ↑ The Citadel: So Spake Martin – Westeros.org
|Lord:||Lord Mace Tyrell||Heir:||Ser Loras Tyrell|
|Title(s):||Lord Paramount of the Reach · Lord of Highgarden · Warden of the South|
|Ancestors:||Garth Gardener · Harlen Tyrell · Lyonel Tyrell|
|Current members:||Olenna Tyrell · Alerie Tyrell · Margaery Tyrell · Tyrell lady|
|Deceased members:||Luthor Tyrell|
|Household:||Mira Forrester · Sera Durwell|
|Overlord:||House Baratheon of King's Landing|
|Lord:||Lord Paxter Redwyne||Heir:|
|Seat:||The Arbor||Lands:||The Reach|
|Title(s):||Lord of the Arbor|
|Current members:||Olenna Redwyne · Bethany Redwyne · Viola Redwyne|