In season 2 episode 7 of Game of Thrones the following conversation takes place between Tywin Lannister and Arya.

Tywin Lannister: You're too smart for your own good, has anyone told you that?
Arya smiles slightly
Arya Stark: Yes
Game of Thrones, Season 2 Episode 7, "A Man Without Honour"

It makes me feel like she's referring to something specific, but I can't remember. Does anyone know who first told Arya that she's too smart for her own good?

  • 1
    I don't recall a specific instance of this being said directly in the show (since that is what you are referencing), but I get the sense that this is something that has just generally been said to her before, likely on multiple locations. It's often said of particularly bright children in general.
    – Irishpanda
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 12:53
  • That scene works so well precisely because every bright child in the history of ever has had exactly that exchange many times. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


I've had a look through the transcripts at Genius and Springfield! Springfield! and can't find a reference to Arya being called "too smart for her own good" before. With that said Yoren has told her she's not a smart boy.

Yoren: Keep your mouth shut, boy.
Arya Stark: l'm not a boy!
Yoren: You're not a smart boy, is that what you're trying to say? Do you want to live, boy?!
Game of Thrones, Season 1 Episode 10, "Fire and Blood"

It could also be a reference to when Maester Luwin says the same thing to Bran Stark.

Maester Luwin: I still can't tell you, but she will be home soon.
Bran Stark: Do you know where she is now? Today?
Maester Luwin: No, I don't.
Bran Stark: Then how can you promise me she'll be home soon?
Maester Luwin: Sometimes I worry you're too smart for your own good.
Game of Thrones, Season 1 Episode 5, "The Wolf and the Lion"

Even if an example is not directly referenced in the show itself it seems likely that Eddard Stark or Jon Snow would say something like that to her given their personalities and relationship to each other.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot! Ned or Jon would also have been my first guess. Especially since Arya sometimes consideres Tywin as some kind of father-figure in the series, it could've been Ned. Maybe I'll look through the books at some point again.
    – Alma
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 12:18
  • 1
    @Alma There is A Search of Ice and Fire but I didn't turn anything up on there either. Except the same Yoren quote though.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 12:50
  • She wasn't asked if she'd been told it in the script ;o) Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:17
  • @WillCrawford Well obviously not but that is clearly what the question is asking.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:36
  • @TheLethalCarrot I've just refreshed the page five times looking for your comment thinking you'd made it on my answer >.< clearly I'm not that smart today :o) but to answer your point ... maybe; I think it's implied that the first person to tell her so probably did so so far in the character's past that it wouldn't have appeared in the books, let alone in the script which starts with the characters ~3-4 years older than does the first book. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:42

tl;dr it's unlikely it's referring to a specific in-universe event, it’s an old gag that GRRMeither the author or screenwriter has adroitly refreshed.

This is almost a trope.

The prototypical joke, often found amongst piles of bones and stone knives, goes something like:

You’re so sharp you’ll cut yourself one day.
So my mother told me when I was two years old.
— Enid Blyton, One of the Famous Five books [1]

There are a number of subtexts to the form of the joke used in GoT:

  • There’s almost a veiled threat [that the speaker could happen to them as the unspecified unfortunate side-effect of that annoying smartness]. A reply suggesting that more than one person has made such a threat in the past, but the respondent is clearly still alive and well, is a subtle defiance of that “threat”. Clearly the “threat” is purely jest, in this context?
  • The respondent is a little pleased with themself [2] for
    • being smart
    • having been told they are smart, repeatedly
  • That the respondent is keenly self-aware, understands the dangers of appearing smug, but simply will not pretend to be less “smart”.
  • That the respondent is not merely smart, but precocious, thus [3] probably encountered this very early in life, though maybe not quite as early as they claim.

Ultimately, though, it’s just a throwaway compliment, accepted with humour.

[1] If anyone can find the actual reference, that would be great. Google only seem to have a compendium, and won’t show me enough pages to see which book it’s in. I no longer have my childhood collection to confirm.
[2] Respondent is singular.
[3] To answer @TheLethalCarrot’s point :o)

  • As per the comment on my answer the episode was actually written by D&D. According to imdb and the wikia anyway.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:57
  • Your comment arrived while I was editing a correction in ;o) Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:58

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