Pycelle was the King's Grand Maester and a member of the small council. He was ousted from the council and imprisoned by Tyrion Lannister for acting as a spy for Queen Regent Cersei Lannister but was later reinstated by Tywin Lannister.
Pycelle has been Grand Maester of the Seven Kingdoms for decades and has served under four kings when the series begins. The Grand Maester is the King's personal maester, a learned man wise in history, science and medicine who also provides counsel. The Grand Maester sits on the King's small council, which runs the realm in the name of the King. He served King Aerys II Targaryen prior to Robert's Rebellion. He remembers Aerys as a great man before his descent into madness. When Tywin Lannister marched to the gates of King's Landing following the rebel victory at the Battle of the Trident and all of the King's advisors told Aerys not to trust the Lord of Casterly Rock, Pycelle gave the opposite counsel and the city gates were opened, allowing the Lannister forces to sack the capital.
Following the rebellion he remained Grand Maester to King Robert Baratheon. He is joined on the small council by the Master of Coin Petyr Baelish, called Littlefinger, the Master of Whisperers Varys, the Master of Ships Stannis Baratheon and the Master of Laws Renly Baratheon. He plays up his age to appear harmless but is actually mentally sharp and dangerous. He is loyal to Queen Cersei Lannister and was involved in the birth of all of her children, assisted by midwives. Pycelle also privately flouts the vow of celibacy taken by maesters, as he enjoys the company of prostitutes such as Ros.
Pycelle calls a small council meeting to greet Lord Eddard Stark upon his arrival from Winterfell to take up the role of King's Hand. Eddard greets him cordially, but cannot help mentioning that Pycelle served under the Mad King. Eddard meets with Pycelle to discuss the death of his predecessor Lord Jon Arryn and suggests that he might have been killed by poison. Pycelle says he thinks it unlikely having treated Jon for a feverish illness. He still cautions Eddard to remember that poison is the weapon of a woman or a eunuch; making sure that Eddard understands that he is implicating Varys. Pycelle also lends Eddard a book about the lineages of the Great Houses that Jon borrowed just before his death.
Pycelle supports the motion to assassinate Daenerys Targaryen before she can provide Khal Drogo with an heir. Pycelle elucidates that he bears her no ill will personally, but fears that a Dothraki invasion of Westeros would be devastating. He argues that though unpleasant, it is preferable to have her killed now rather than have thousands die later. His argument does not convince Eddard.
Pycelle is in court when Eddard dispatches Lord Beric Dondarrion to bring Ser Gregor Clegane to justice for his looting in the Riverlands. Stark also sends word to Casterly Rock, demanding that Lord Tywin Lannister explain his bannerman's actions. Littlefinger and Pycelle object, but Eddard insists on seeking justice.
Pycelle tends to King Robert Baratheon after he is gored by a boar while hunting. He predicts the King's imminent death and manages his pain using milk of the poppy. Following Robert's death Eddard claims that Joffrey is not his son and is arrested for treason. Cersei and Pycelle convince Sansa Stark to write to her brother Robb, imploring him to swear fealty to Joffrey.
Pycelle is present for the trial of Eddard on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor. He counsels mercy after Eddard's confession but Joffrey has Eddard executed. After sleeping with Ros, Pycelle absentmindedly mutters about how King Aerys had begun his reign as a great man before slipping into insanity. He muses about Joffrey's potential for greatness, but his remarks peter out into mumbled nothings. Ros leaves and Pycelle does a series of exercises and stretches, then dresses and walks confidently to his door, before adopting the meek, fragile appearance he usually wears to court. He is much stronger in body and mind than he appears, but hides this from everyone.
Grand Maester Pycelle reports to the small council that the Conclave in Oldtown has announced the end of the longest summer in living memory and shows the white raven sent for this purpose. Varys adds that the smallfolk say that a long summer will be followed by an even longer winter, which Pycelle dismisses this as a peasant superstition.
Tyrion appears at a small council meeting to inform them that he has been made acting Hand of the King by his father. Queen Cersei angrily orders councilors to leave, Pycelle, along with Lord Baelish, Varys, and Lord Slynt, abandon the room.
Cersei reads Robb Stark's peace terms aloud to the small council before tearing them up. Tyrion tells her that she has perfected the art of tearing up papers and suggests that they at least return Eddard's remains as a gesture of good faith. Cersei asks Alton Lannister to deliver their reply and he accepts. Cersei also asks him to tell Jaime that he has not been forgotten, to the consternation of the other council members. Tyrion wishes Alton a safe journey
Pycelle reports a raven from Castle Black and gives its message to Tyrion. Varys interjects that the wildlings are becoming increasingly troublesome. Petyr is sarcastically dismissive. Varys goes on to say that the wildlings are organizing behind the King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder. Cersei jokes that she has lost track of the number of kings. Tyrion says that the message is from Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and that he is asking for more men. Cersei says that they cannot spare any because they are fighting their own war. Tyrion reads a troublesome passage: "the cold winds are rising, and the dead rise with them." Pycelle dismisses it as northern superstition and Cersei makes to leave. Tyrion relays Jeor's encounter with a wight and asserts his reliability. Varys wonders how you kill a dead man and Tyrion reports that Jeor burned the wights. Cersei mocks Tyrion as having become gullible, believing in "grumpkins and snarks" after one trip to the Wall. He says that he is not sure what he believes but reminds Cersei that the Night's Watch is the only thing that separates them from what lies beyond the Wall. Cersei sarcastically claims that she has every confidence in the brave men of the Night's Watch.
Tyrion meets with Pycelle in his dining room. He has complained of constipation and Pycelle gives him a vial of laxatives. Tyrion compliments that Maester's knowledge and then asks him to keep a confidence. He tells him that he is hoping to make a marriage alliance with House Martell in Dorne by offering Myrcella Baratheon's hand to their heir Prince Trystane. Tyrion specifies that Pycelle should not speak to the Queen. Pycelle does so anyway and she later confronts Tyrion about the plans.
Tyrion, Bronn and Timett burst into Pycelle's chamber while he is in bed with the prostitute Daisy. Pycelle denies telling Cersei but Tyrion explains that he has implicated himself because he was the only one aware of the plan to approach the Dornish. Tyrion asks how long Pycelle has been spying for Cersei and Pycelle claims that he has been loyal to House Lannister since the days of the Mad King. Tyrion then tells Bronn to cut of Pycelle's beard because he doesn't like it. Tyrion brings up his betrayals of past Hands of the King and suggests that he poisoned Jon Arryn. Pycelle denies poisoning Arryn, but admits that he was aware that Arryn knew of Cersei's incest. Tyrion accuses him to letting Arryn die as a threat to Lannister and Pycelle does not deny this. Tyrion orders Pycelle confined to the black cells.
Cersei demands that Pycelle is released and reinstated via the newly knighted Lancel Lannister. Tyrion agrees to release Pycelle but refuses to let him take his seat at the small council. Prior to the Battle of the Blackwater Cersei requests a supply of the anxiolytic and poison Essence of Nightshade but will not say why she wants it. She almost uses it to poison her son Tommen when she believes the battle is lost. She is stopped just in time by the arrival of her father Lord Tywin Lannister, who announces that they have won.
Pycelle visits the recovering Tyrion and gloats that he is no longer Acting Hand of the King since his father, Tywin, has returned to the city. Later, during a court session to honor Lord Tywin and Petyr Baelish, Pycelle and Cersei make a show of convincing King Joffrey - who announces his desire to marry Margaery Tyrell - to set aside his betrothal to Sansa Stark. Pycelle informs him that he spoke to the new High Septon and that the latter approves of breaking Joffrey's betrothal to Sansa.
The reinstated Pycelle attends a meeting of the small council, now held at the Tower of the Hand. Lord Tywin tasks Petyr Baelish - recently made Lord of Harrenhal - with offering a marriage proposal to the widow Lysa Arryn. Pycelle adds that such a marriage would make Petyr Acting Lord of the Vale. After Tyrion notes that Petyr's departure would leave the crown without its Master of Coin just when a royal wedding is at hand, Tywin informs his son he will become the new Master of Coin - a "demotion" considering Tyrion's previous post as Acting Hand of the King. Pycelle heartily and mockingly supports the Hand of the King's decision.
Pycelle is present at the wedding between Tyrion and Sansa Stark held at the Great Sept of Baelor, standing along with the "Lannister side" of the attendants. He later attends the wedding feast.
The Grand Maester receives a message from Lord Walder Frey informing of the death of Robb Stark and his family and the imprisonment of Edmure Tully. At a small council meeting, a gleeful King Joffrey orders Pycelle to send a letter thanking Lord Walder for his service and demanding the head of Robb so he can give it to Sansa at his wedding. After Tyrion, whom Joffrey calls a "little monster", notes that monsters are dangerous and Kings are "dropping like flies", Pycelle angrily states that Tyrion should apologize immediately as his comment - which Queen Cersei had dismissed as a "joke" to calm her son - is disrespectful, unacceptable and in bad taste. Tywin dismisses the still angry Joffrey and commands Pycelle to give him some Essence of Nightshade to "help" the King sleep. Pycelle is quick to carry out the Hand's orders.
Pycelle is present during the breakfast before Joffrey and Margaery's wedding, and stands with the Lannisters in the Great Sept of Baelor during the ceremony. At the feast, following Margaery's announcement that all leftovers will be given to the poor of the city, he harasses a young woman but is cut short by Cersei, who commands him to go to the kitchens and make sure all the remaining food is instead given to the dogs in the royal kennels.
He is back in his seat next to Varys when the dwarf mummers do a reenactment of the War of the Five Kings, much to his amusement. Minutes later, he witnesses Joffrey's death by poisoning.
Pycelle is present at the coronation ceremony of his new king, Tommen Baratheon. He is one of the first to bow before his new king.
During the Tyrion Lannister's trial for regicide, Pycelle is called as a witness for the Iron Throne. Pycelle reads a lengthy list of poisons that is kept in the Red Keep and states that they were stolen from him by Tyrion, after he had him imprisoned in the Black Cells. He also concludes that the poison used to assassinate King Joffrey was a rare poison called 'the strangler'. Pycelle reveals his evidence; the necklace that Sansa Stark wore to the wedding, which shows residue of the poison. He concludes that Tyrion conspired with his wife to "strike down the most noble child the Gods ever put on this good earth".
Pycelle is present during Tyrion's trial by combat, and begins delivering an opening speech until Tywin demonstrates his annoyance at Pycelle's verbosity by cuing the horn player to sound out a blast signaling the beginning of the showdown and prematurely cutting Pycelle off, humiliating him and forcing him to shuffle off in silence.
Later, Pycelle and expelled maester Qyburn are in his laboratory tending to Ser Gregor Clegane's body when Cersei comes to visit them. Pycelle informs Cersei that Prince Oberyn had coated his spear with manticore venom, which has poisoned Gregor. The effects are horrific and Ser Gregor's wounds are putrefying and creating a terrible stench. Pycelle says that he is beyond any hope of recovery, but Qyburn insists to Cersei that he can save him using less orthodox methods. Pycelle chaffes at his suggestion, stating that arrogance like that is what led to Qyburn's expulsion from the Citadel, for experiments that were both dangerous and "unnatural". Cersei, who wants to save Mountain from death, orders Qyburn to do whatever is necessary and tells Pycelle that it's no longer his laboratory. Pycelle leaves angered.
At Tywin Lannister's wake, Pycelle offers his condolences to Cersei, who completely ignores him.
At a meeting of the Small Council, Pycelle offers to fill the vacant position of the Hand of the King, but Cersei rejects his offer. He is also outraged when Cersei announces that Qyburn has been named the new Master of Whisperers.
Pycelle is present during the wedding ceremony of Tommen Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell. Later, Pycelle and the rest of the Small Council listen to the High Septon demand the arrest of all members of the Sparrows and execution of the High Sparrow. When it is brought forward that the Septon's demands come from being assaulted in a brothel, Pycelle (due to his own philandering ways) defends the Septon and insists "a man's private affairs ought to remain private.
Pycelle is at the meeting of the Small Council when Mace Tyrell departs to negotiate the crown's debt with the Iron Bank of Braavos. He bitterly remarks that the Small Council is growing smaller everyday.
Following Cersei's arrest by the High Sparrow, Grand Maester Pycelle sends a raven to Casterly Rock to summon Kevan Lannister back to King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King.
After Cersei's walk of penance from the Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep, Pycelle- like her uncle, Kevan- glares sternly at her, in contrast to Qyburn's fawning. His expression of disgust deepens as Qyburn shows unnecessary familiarity in comforting the Queen.
The new Hand of the King Kevan Lannister was conducting a meeting of the Small Council along with Lady Olenna, when Pycelle starts rambling about Qyburn's work on restoring the Mountain as an abomination (referring to him as "the beast") when Cersei and Jaime walk into the room opting to join the proceedings, followed by Ser Gregor himself. After Kevan states his objection to the two of them being there, Jaime counters by saying he has a seat on the council as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Cersei then orders the Grand Maester to vouch for her brother's presence which he reluctantly does so; stating a precedent existed due to Ser Gerold Hightower being on the council in the same position under the Mad King. When Pycelle began to object to Jaime's presence afterwards, the Lord Commander interrupted him by bringing a chair to his side of the table and slammed it down. Kevan, Mace and Olenna quickly leave the hall, whereas Pycelle cowers past Ser Gregor who ominously looks back at the Grand Maester.
Pycelle later counsels Tommen concering the Sparrows and Margaery's imprisonment, but is stopped by Cersei. Despite the Grand Maester's protests, Cersei coldly orders him to leave.
When Tommen outlaws trial by combat, Pycelle is seen advising the King before the announcement, remaining close by during Tommen's speech and exiting quickly afterwards, avoiding Cersei.
Before Cersei's trial, one of the little birds is sent to Pycelle, asking him to come to advise the king. When Pycelle comes, there is only Qyburn waiting for him as the king is being kept in his room. Grand Maester realizes that something is wrong and wants to leave, but Qyburn calls in his little birds. Breaking his act he shows unexpected speed for a man his age knocking the first little bird to reach him aside easily before being overwhelmed by their numbers. They knock him on the ground while stabbing him multiple times and kill him.
Although Pycelle always served Tywin Lannister faithfully, he and Cersei Lannister harbored no love for each other. Pycelle served as grand maester, but Cersei gave his lab to Qyburn, of whom he was openly contemptuous. Qyburn orchestrated the late grand maester's murder at the hands of Qyburn's "Little Birds".