Whether or not Game of Thrones has done Tyrion Lannister dirty — making him far less intelligent onscreen than he is in George R.R. Martin's books — the fact of the matter is that on the show, Tyrion has not lived up to all that hype about his great mind. And of all the candidates left for the Iron Throne, he's perhaps one of the least qualified to occupy it at this point.
Early on in the HBO series, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) was very adept at maneuvering through the sociopolitical facets of Westeros — usually just to save his own skin, but still, he had vision and a deep understanding of the complicated people around him. He also proved to be a surprisingly formidable Hand for Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), especially during the Battle of the Blackwater, and his strength of character and wit separated him from the rest of the Lannisters enough to certify him as a Good Guy worth rooting for. As a result, there was a time on this series when Tyrion was a very viable, if still unlikely, candidate for leadership of the whole shebang. That time has long passed, however.
Tyrion is still a smooth talker, but lately his record has been stacked with one mistake after the next. His terrible advisory skills are to blame for almost every catastrophic event in Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) recent history, up to and including what transpired to make her the Mad Queen.
Let's review just a few of his major mishaps, shall we? Tyrion was responsible for the naive pact with the slavers in Meereen, and it was his idea to sack Casterly Rock, costing Daenerys critical allies and resources and completely overlooking the fact that his grand "impregnate the b----" attack plan would've worked just as well — and kept casualties to a minimum — if they'd taken advantage of that secret entrance to the Red Keep.
We can also thank Tyrion for the disastrous Wight Hunt mission. How it was that he still believed in Cersei's (Lena Headey) capacity for reason or empathy at that point is perhaps the biggest mystery Game of Thrones will ever leave us with. If the Wight Hunt had never happened, the Wall might still be standing. We were all Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) when she responded to Tyrion's inexplicable gullibility in the Season 8 premiere, saying, "I used to think you were the cleverest man alive." (In fairness to Sansa, when she last saw him, he still was a character with discernible sensibilities.)
The final season has presented audiences with an especially dense version of Tyrion Lannister, as he steered Daenerys toward Dragonstone at the expense of Rhaegal and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and gave Dany a front row seat to her best friend's beheading with his second pointless entreaty to Cersei. He also made sure Dany would feel extra isolated by spidering with Varys (Conleth Hill) about Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) lineage and then telling her all about it. Tyrion's inexplicable decision making directly caused almost everything that went wrong for Daenerys ahead of her Mad Queen snap.
Despite saddling him with so many failings, though, Game of Thrones still can't seem to decide what to do with Tyrion Lannister. In one moment, he was rightly pegged for a fool by Sansa, and in another, he was told by Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) that he's still got an intellect worth saving. Daenerys has somehow continued to accept his counsel, but if anyone else on the show still has a brain, they'll know that Tyrion's instincts aren't to be trusted anymore. And yet there's still a very real chance that the show will disregard how much it's dismantled Tyrion's smarts and tell us he's still wise enough to lead.
Tyrion's moral fabric is still intact; he may very well be on a personal journey to self-betterment by cutting out all the "whore-mongering" and sloppy drunkenness, and the best scene of "The Bells" saw him willing to sacrifice himself on the chance that Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) might successfully sound for a surrender. However, the dumbing down of Tyrion Lannister since Season 6 could only be explained away by Tyrion playing some long con on Daenerys — and given how loyal he remained to Dany while alone with Varys, that was clearly not the case.
No matter how much of a "good man" he is, to borrow a phrase from Sansa, Tyrion has proven that he doesn't know how to deal with tyrants, allies, or even his own leaders. He has no business making any more decisions that might affect the masses. The best outcome for the character would be for him to either (1) finally suffer the consequences of the problem he's helped to create with the Mad Queen, or (2) survive it all and revert back to his brothel-and-booze ways so that he can, indeed, fulfill his lifelong dream of dying at the age of 80 with ... well, you know.
Seven save Westeros if they give this guy the keys, though.
Game of Thrones' series finale airs Sunday, May 19 at 9/8c on HBO.