I’m not tagging this with ‘Petyr Baelish’ because sometimes my derision comes through and I can’t help it—I love to hate this guy. but this is mostly for show watchers, or people wondering what the f is going on with that irish dude who seems to like Sansa so much. or maybe people wondering why some fans want Sansa to off him so, so badly. here are some potential reasons as to why (a few have been highlighted in the show; most have not—tw for discussion of abuse, sexual abuse):
1.) Littlefinger is hugely responsible for the war that resulted in the deaths of Catelyn and Robb Stark—
—among countless others, of course, but this is going to be about Littlefinger’s atrocities wrt Sansa/the Starks/Jeyne Poole.
I’ve seen the main difference between Varys and LF described this way: that Varys is an architect while LF destroys. And there’s really no act of destruction greater than a full-scale war. Littlefinger wanted the Wo5K more badly than anyone.
It started with the manipulation of a vulnerable woman, because manipulating the vulnerable is p much LF’s M.O. And that woman was Sansa’s aunt: Catelyn’s sister. Those who claim that Petyr Baelish worked his way up by his bootstraps are forgetting that he piggybacked on the shoulders of Lysa Arryn a good deal of the way, using her position and influence for his own gain.
Littlefinger wanted Stark-Lannister conflict, and obviously he got it. He persuaded Lysa to poison Jon Arryn, her husband and the current Hand (LF has a habit of taking out Hands of the King), and then instructed her to tell Catelyn that the Lannisters had done the deed. Combine this with sowing doubt in the mind of Ned Stark wrt Lannister loyalty, pinning the assassination attempt of Bran on Tyrion Lannister, and then double-crossing Ned, and you’ve got the ingredients for some p serious inter-House conflict. When Ned went to Cersei and revealed that he knew the truth of her children’s parentage, it was over.
Through his machinations Littlefinger is easily the single person most responsible for the WO5K, but because he’s pretty damn ambitious, he didn’t stop there: LF decided to top it all off by signing Ned Stark’s death warrant. So that leads me to point number two:
2.) Littlefinger was probably the one who provoked Joffrey into killing Ned Stark.
Littlefinger’s responsibility in the death of Ned Stark is never outright stated, only implied. But it’s implied fairly heavily and really, who else would be responsible? Who else has such a specific combination of influence and motive?
Someone wanted Ned to die. And it makes perfect sense for it to be the guy who has an obsession with Ned’s wife and who also thrives on chaos, already worked to set a major conflict into motion, and desires revenge on the Starks. Not to mention the fact that the rest of the Small Council was urging Joffrey to allow Ned to take the black. Cersei, Varys, et al— they wanted the King to pardon Ned. But for some reason, Joffrey didn’t—because apparently, someone whispered in his ear.
“Who truly killed Eddard Stark, do you think? Joffrey, who gave the command? Ser Ilyn Payne, who swung the sword? Or… another?” —Varys
Ned’s death was designed to look like an impulsive act on Joffrey’s part, but someone left a dangling thread:
“I does seem my sister was telling the truth about Stark’s death. We have my nephew to thank for that madness.”
“King Joffrey gave he command. Janos Slynt and Ser Ilyn Payne carried it out, swiftly, without hesitation…”
“Almost as if they had expected it.” —Tyrion and Varys
Varys is certain that someone else was behind the death of Ned; Tyrion also believes it, and they seem to have established that Joffrey’s choice was likely not an impulsive one. When you combine all of this with Sansa’s reflection that during her father’s execution, Littlefinger was the only one who remained calm while everyone else was panicked and confused—well, it sounds like another perfect example of LF’s “clean hands” philosophy in action. He neither had to give the command nor swing the sword: all he had to do was whisper in the ear of an already-volatile boy king. And within this chaotic time frame he also managed to set into motion an even more reprehensible—and frequently overlooked—series of events:
3.) Littlefinger took Jeyne Poole, had her horribly abused, and then delivered her into the hands of Ramsay Bolton.
What Littlefinger did to Jeyne Poole is sort of the cherry on a really, really terrible sundae. Jeyne Poole, Sansa’s best friend, lost her father to the conflict in King’s Landing and was left with no one. And so Cersei handed her over to Littlefinger:
"What shall we do with this little friend of hers, my lords?"
Lord Petyr leaned forward. “I’ll find a place for her.” AGOT
Littlefinger then subjects her to “training” and later delivers her to Ramsay Bolton—probably the most sadistic character in the entire series— as an imposter bride. And by the time Jeyne reaches Ramsay, she is already fearful, joyless, and terribly abused:
What was it the girl had said, before the godswood? They all said that I was pretty. She was not pretty now. He could see a spiderweb of faint thin lines across her back where someone had whipped her. ADWD
Ramsay pulled his hand free and slapped her face. “I was told that you’d know how to please a man. Was that a lie?”
"N-no, my lord. I was t-trained." ADWD
What Littlefinger did to Jeyne Poole is one of the clearest examples of his total lack of conscience and utter ruthlessness. Jeyne Poole suffered the fate that Arya and Sansa managed to escape due to luck and circumstances of birth: she was discarded, treated like an object, and then given to the second-biggest psychopath in the series as an unwilling bride. So if you ever start to think that Littlefinger might not be THAT bad, remember the girl who he had used, abused, and treated as less than human.
4.) Littlefinger tried to forcefully marry Sansa shortly after her father’s death.
Because getting Ned killed wasn’t enough, LF went to Cersei shortly after the execution and actually asked her for permission to marry Sansa, cementing proof of his bizarre obsession with auburn-haired Stark women (as if it weren’t obvious already):
Petyr Baelish had offered to wed the girl himself, she recalled, but of course that was impossible; he was much too .lowborn. ADWD
Sansa felt an acute mistrust for Littlefinger almost from the first moment of meeting: being entered into marriage with him would be a pretty cruel fate. And in the end Cersei’s refusal didn’t really deter LF: he found another method by which to successfully isolate Sansa and take her under his wing. That solution was Dontos, the Purple Wedding and the assassination of Joffrey, which profited LF in more than one way. And that leads me to my next point:
5.) Littlefinger framed Sansa for regicide.
Of course the penalty for regicide is death, so if you still have any illusions about LF somehow harboring selfless, loving feelings for Sansa at this point, the fact that he falsely implicated her in the King’s murder and had the murder weapon planted on her person might hopefully shatter those. (And yeah, that goes for the Tyrells too.)
The PW was a plot hatched mostly between Littlefinger and Olenna Tyrell. Similarly, I’ve heard in the past that it was Olenna who did the physical act of the poisoning, but I don’t know for certain who did the actual deed. Dontos the fool, Sansa’s “knight”, passed on a hairnet for Sansa to wear at the wedding feast of King Joffrey. The hairnet contained the Strangler, the poison used to kill him. Not too long before Joffrey’s murder, this occurs:
"You do look quite exquisite, child," Lady Olenna Tyrell told Sansa when she tottered up to them in a cloth-of-gold gown that must have weighed more than she did. "The wind has been at your hair, though." The little old woman reached up and fussed at the loose strands, tucking them back into place and straightening Sansa’s hair net. "I was very sorry to hear about your losses," she said as she tugged and fiddled. ASOS
It’s clever, but obviously not good news for Sansa (or Tyrion, who is also falsely implicated.)
After Joffrey is poisoned, Sansa flees and finds herself underneath Littlefinger’s protection, and is whisked away from KL (but not before LF puts a crossbow bolt into Dontos, effectively “silencing him forever”.) Littlefinger tells her of the Tyrell plot and also assures her, “Widowhood will become you”, revealing that he’s pretty okay with an innocent man (Tyrion) dying for his own crime.
6.) Lastly, Littlefinger is currently grooming Sansa in a thoroughly predatory fashion, along with doing his best to keep her utterly reliant on him.
So at this point Sansa is almost completely under LF’s control and that’s really no accident. He helped ignite the war, he probably sparked Joffrey into killing her father, he put a halt to the Sansa/Willas marriage plan by informing on the Tyrells to Tywin, and he engineered both the PW and Sansa’s escape from KL. Obviously, most of these things were not done with the sole intent of taking Sansa under his control—LF has other bigger plans as well, though the ultimate point of these machinations are not always revealed to the reader: LF likes to try and stay mysterious when he’s not bragging to Sansa about his exploits. And yeah, he’s pretty good at what he does.
But LF isn’t content with merely treating Sansa as a pupil: she becomes a mixture of daughter/potential lover/Catelyn stand-in/student/asset./hostage.
LF is a predator: that’s his core. He preys on the vulnerable and also on those who are just plain old weaker than he is. He makes Sansa p much reliant on him (she is forming relationships with potential new allies, but he’s her main caregiver/support), he manipulates Sansa’s mentally ill aunt, he has young Jeyne Poole horribly abused, he delivers “young boys”, we come to find, to Lyn Corbray—I mean, he’s basically all about taking advantage of those who are unable to adequately or fully defend themselves. He’s a genial, well-dressed parasite who preys on those around him.
And currently Sansa is his main target.
I disagree with those who think that LF is trying to make a genuine protege out of Sansa: he merely feeds her scraps. And sure, he slips up and brags to her about some of his exploits, but if he really valued her he wouldn’t have made her isolated and reliant on him, or taken away a potential true chance at happiness with Willas, or tried to get her father killed, or forced unwanted sexual attention on her, or… you get the point. He even says to her:
You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow.” She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say. “Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?”
“Almost everyone. Save you and I, of course.” He smiled. ASOS
If you can’t see that this is LF taking advantage of Sansa, then I’m not sure what to say. He’s trying to make her reliant on him, to feel as though he’s her only ally. And at this point he pretty much is, thanks to events he helped set into motion.
As of her most recent chapter, Sansa has donned the Alayne guise and is acting as LF’s daughter. Sansa’s last scene is one with LF, in which he continues to cross boundaries by touching her in inappropriate ways and drawing her down into his lap.
"I did not expect you back so soon," she said. "I am glad you’ve come."
"I would not have known it from the kiss you gave me." He pulled her closer, caught her face between his hands, and kissed her on the lips for a long time. "Now that’s the sort of kiss that says welcome home. See that you do better next time." AFFC
So he’s combining inappropriate sexual attention with gently-spoken, threatening grooming techniques. Also remember how young Sansa is, but that’s never stopped LF from being a major creep: she was only eleven when he made her feel “ill at ease”, as if he “could see under her clothes.”
Littlefinger is the biggest villain in the game, imo, and this was an attempt to highlight why some Sansa fans want her to be his downfall so badly. While Littlefinger was indeed a victim of the system himself, he responded to hardship and suffering by turning into a ruthless predator and taking advantage of the innocent and vulnerable. His game may be effective (so far, at least), but it’s not one to be proud of.