While I think we can all agree that Tyrion is at a low point, bitter and morose, in ADWD, I really just want to take a moment to mention how long it took for him to become that way.
“I don’t know what message to send to Bran. Help him, Tyrion.”
“What help could I give him? I am no maester, to ease his pain. I have no spells to give him back his legs.”
“You gave me help when I needed it,” Jon Snow said.
“I gave you nothing,” Tyrion said. “Words.”
“Then give your words to Bran too.”
“You’re asking a lame man to teach a cripple how to dance,” Tyrion said. “However sincere the lesson, the result is likely to be grotesque. Still, I know what it is to love a brother, Lord Snow. I will give Bran whatever small help is in my power.”
“Thank you, my lord of Lannister.” He pulled off his glove and offered his bare hand. “Friend.” Tyrion found himself oddly touched. “Most of my kin are bastards,” he said with a wry smile, “but you’re the first I’ve had to friend.” He pulled a glove off with his teeth and clasped Snow by the hand, flesh against flesh. AGoT
He was sliding it through his belt when he heard a woman’s scream.
Catelyn Stark was trapped against the stone face of the mountain with three men around her, one still mounted and the other two on foot. She had a dagger clutched awkwardly in her maimed hands, but her back was to the rock now and they had penned her on three sides. Let them have the bitch, Tyrion thought, and welcome to her, yet somehow he was moving. He caught the first man in the back of the knee before they even knew he was there, and the heavy axehead split flesh and bone like rotten wood. AGoT
And Cersei began to cry.
Tyrion Lannister could not have been more astonished if Aegon the Conqueror himself had burst into the room, riding on a dragon and juggling lemon pies. He had not seen his sister weep since they were children together at Casterly Rock. Awkwardly, he took a step toward her. When your sister cries, you were supposed to comfort her… but this was Cersei! He reached a tentative hand for her shoulder.
“Don’t touch me,” she said, wrenching away. It should not have hurt, yet it did, more than any slap. Red-faced, as angry as she was grief stricken, Cersei struggled for breath. “Don’t look at me, not… not like this… not you.”
Politely, Tyrion turned his back. ACoK
He had expected anguish and anger when he told her of her brother’s death, but Sansa’s face had remained so still that for a moment he feared she had not understood. It was only later, with a heavy oaken door between them, that he heard her sobbing. Tyrion had considered going to her then, to offer what comfort he could. No, he had to remind himself, she will not look for solace from a Lannister. The most he could do was to shield her from the uglier details of the Red Wedding as they came down from the Twins. Sansa did not need to hear how her brother’s body had been hacked and mutilated, he decided; nor how her mother’s corpse had been dumped naked into the Green Fork in a savage mockery of House Tully’s funeral customs. The last thing the girl needed was more fodder for her nightmares.
It was not enough, though. ASoS
These are just a few instances in the series (there are a ton of others) and all with different characters that Tyrion should have no reason to really be kind to. From Bran/Jon who he just met and have family bitterness between them to Catelyn who just kidnapped him to Cersei who treated him like a monster his whole life to Sansa who is the newest reason he’s being mocked by everyone, Tyrion wants to help all of them.
That’s not even accurate, multiple times he notes that it’s crazy for him to want to help them- he thinks that he shouldn’t bother because ”it’s Cersei” and that he should just let Catelyn die and he tells Jon there’s nothing her could do for Bran and he thinks that there’s nothing he can do for Sansa. He acknowledges all this and then does try to help as best he can.
Tyrion has been mocked, abused, and ridiculed his entire life. He’s always been treated with scorn at best for things completely out of his control (the death of his mother, his dwarfism, his appearance and lack of fighting ability, ect.) It would have been natural for the Tyrion we’re introduced to in AGoT to have become completely detached and bitter towards most everyone because of 23 years of such treatment.
Instead, we meet a man who, while clearly cynical and self-deprecating and not without his flaws, is oftentimes driven to act compassionately and even heroically. His impulses (such as when he immediately wrote off saving Catelyn but found himself doing so anyway) are towards kindness.
I’m not trying to write off the obvious grey nature of his character’s morality, but I can’t help but feel like this is part of the reason why it’s easy to root for Tyrion. He has no reason to try and help some of these people, knows he won’t get gratitude for it anyway (such as noting Sansa wouldn’t appreciate the help of a Lannister,) and yet he wants to and often does anyway. In fact, he even notes his efforts aren’t enough. He’s not patting himself on the back internally for trying to help people.
Tyrion was born into a world ready to mock him for reasons so far out of his control with nothing he could do about it. He wasn’t even considered a “full” man by many. However, Tyrion still found a way to care, to not let his upset over such facts take away his natural compassion. He knew he would get no rewards for such behavior and would always be considered a monster by most regardless and yet he still did it.
Anyway, I guess all I’m trying to say is that I love this natural strength of mind Tyrion has. While he’s in a dark place right now in ADWD, I think this instinctive aspect of his nature will make a comeback.