Cersei Lannister

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Cersei Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
First appearance Novel:
A Game of Thrones (1996)
"Winter Is Coming" (2011)
Video game:
"Iron From Ice" (2014)
Created by George R. R. Martin
Portrayed by Lena Headey
Nell Williams (young)
(Game of Thrones)
Aliases Light of the West
Gender Female
Title Queen Regent
Lady Paramount of the Westerlands
Lady of Casterly Rock
Family House Lannister
House Baratheon
Spouse(s) Robert Baratheon
Children Joffrey Baratheon
Myrcella Baratheon
Tommen Baratheon
(with Jaime)
Relatives Tywin Lannister (father)
Joanna Lannister (mother)
Jaime Lannister (twin brother)
Tyrion Lannister (brother)
Kingdom The Westerlands
The Crownlands

Cersei Lannister is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. She becomes a prominent point of view character in the novels beginning with the 2005 fourth installment A Feast for Crows.

Cersei is portrayed by Lena Headey on the HBO series Game of Thrones. In 2014, she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance.[1][2] In season 5, a young version of the character is portrayed by Nell Williams in flashbacks.

Character description[edit]

Introduced in 1996's A Game of Thrones, Cersei is the politically ambitious, manipulative and sadistic eldest child of Lord Tywin Lannister and Lady Joanna. She is the twin sister of Ser Jaime Lannister, with whom she shares an incestuous relationship. Fifteen years before the events of the series, Cersei married King Robert Baratheon and became Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but she neither loves nor respects Robert. She has three children, but all three are fathered by Jaime rather than Robert. In her role, Cersei proves herself to be cunning in handling political turmoil, however, as the series progresses, her incompetencies become more conspicuous. Cersei grows increasingly paranoid and unstable, believing her younger dwarf brother to be the center of all of her problems after being haunted by a prophecy in her childhood.


A Game of Thrones[edit]

At the beginning of the novel, King Robert Baratheon, his queen Cersei and most of the court visit The North to appoint Ned Stark Hand of the King. During the royal visit to Winterfell, the young Bran Stark finds the queen committing incest with her brother Jaime Lannister. To prevent her adultery from being revealed, her brother attempts to kill Bran but is unsuccessful.

Cersei and Robert have a loveless marriage, their union being a marriage of state to bind two wealthy houses together. Both Cersei and Robert repeadedly cheat on each other, with Robert fathering twenty bastard children, and Cersei pretending that her children are Robert's. In reality, all of Robert's presumed heirs with Cersei have been fathered by Jaime. Ned Stark eventually discovers the truth of Cersei's infidelity and confronts her, giving her the opportunity to flee into exile and thus spare her innocent children certain execution at the hands of Robert. However unbeknownst to Ned, Cersei had already arranged Robert's death in a hunting accident. With the help of Petyr Baelish and Sansa Stark (unknowingly), Cersei foils Ned's attempted coup and becomes Regent, gaining complete control of the capitol.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

Frustrated with Cersei's many political blunders as well as her failure to control her son, King Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei's father, Tywin Lannister appoints his son Tyrion Lannister Hand of the King with explicit instructions to control Cersei and Joffrey. Once at the capitol, Tyrion enters into a bitter power struggle with Cersei, methodically removing her supporters from positions of power and isolating her on the Small Council of the king's advisers.

Over the course of the novel, Cersei torments, humiliates, and abuses the captive Sansa Stark at every opportunity. When Stannis Baratheon, Robert's younger brother, marches on King's Landing, Cersei and Joffrey hide in a fortified tower, leaving Tyrion to mastermind the defense of the city. Just as Stannis is about to breach the gates, Tywin arrives and drives Stannis from the city. There, Tywin formally assumes his position as Hand of the King once, again marginalizing Cersei and depriving her of her power to rule as Joffrey's regent.

A Storm of Swords[edit]

After formally assuming his position as Hand of the King, Tywin makes it clear to Cersei that she is no longer welcome on Small Council meetings, de-facto stripping her of the last vestiges of her political authority. Furthermore, as a condition of their alliance with House Tyrell, Joffrey is to marry the conniving Margaery Tyrell with Cersei being shipped off to the Tyrell seat of Highgarden to marry Wilas Tyrell. Cersei is incensed by these developments, frustrated that not only has she lost her power of the capitol, but also lost control over her own life by a succession of forced marriages.

This state of affairs is shaken when Joffrey is poisoned at his wedding feast. Maddened with grief at the loss of her eldest son, Cersei lashes out against Tyrion, accusing him of poisoning the king out of revenge. Cersei manipulates Tyrion's trial to ensure a guilty verdict, bribing and intimidating witnesses. When Tyrion demands a trial by combat, Cersei selects the imposing Gregor Clegane, "The Mountain," as the Crown's champion. The Mountain prevails, killing Tyrion's champion. Tywin then pronounces Tyrion guilty and sentences him to death, but Tyrion escapes prison with the help of Cersei's erstwhile lover Jaime and kills Tywin. Cersei is once again in complete control of the kingdom.

A Feast for Crows[edit]

Cersei is awoken to the news of her father's death, and is filled with rage upon learning that the deed was done by none other than Tyrion. She meets Jaime in Tywin's chambers, demanding that the vast network of tunnels under the Red Keep be searched for any signs of her imp brother. Cersei orders the Kettleback brothers to dispose of Shae's corpse, and keep her location in Tywin's bed a secret. Upon sending informants to search Tyrion's cell, only a Tyrell coin is found, prompting suspicion and a hunch that the Tyrell's may have been behind Tywin's murder. Cersei considers her uncle Kevan Lannister for the role of the new Hand of the King, distrustful of Lords Mathis Rowan and Paxter Redwyne, and angry of Jaime's refusal to take up the position. During Tywin's funeral, in which she accompanies Tommen, Cersei is frustrated by Lady Olenna Tyrell's underhand remarks. She is, however, attracted to Lady Taena Merryweather's offers to help bring Tyrion to justice. Cersei later meets with Kevan, proposing that he become the new hand, and is infuriated when he refuses, throwing wine in his face.

Cersei begins to hire out mercenaries with the task of finding and killing her convicted brother, but is only further disappointed when they return with the severed heads of random dwarves, none bearing any resemblance to Tyrion. During the wedding of her son, Tommen, to Margaery Tyrell, Cersei has the ceremony under close supervision in order to prevent any danger from reaching her son. She remains passive and coldly isolated for much of the wedding, finding solace only in Lady Taena, who gives her information regarding one of Margaery's maids spying on the Queen for her. That night, Cersei sets the Tower of the Hand on fire and watches it burn with satisfaction.

Cersei eventually settles on Harys Swift as her new hand and assembles an entirely new Small Council consisting of new additions like Aurane Waters and Orton Merryweather. Her hatred for Margaery also grows due to her influence over Tommen, and Cersei plots to overthrow her. She seduces Osney Kettleback and commands him to try to initiate sexual interaction with the young queen, in order to expose her as a harlot and ruin her image with the public. She sends her brother, Loras Tyrell, to try to take Dragonstone from Stannis, to Margaery's horror. After she and Qyburn torture the Blue Bard, a known companion of Margaery, for information (though lacking validity) concerning Margaery's various "partners", they are able to compile a list of names including Osney, Jalabhar Xho, Bayard Norcross, Ser Tallad the Tall, Hugh Clifton, Hamish the Harper, Lambert Turnberry, and Mark Mullendore. Cersei then frames Margaery, who is imprisoned by the Faith shortly afterwards.

When Cersei visits Margaery in her cell, they engage in a heated confrontation, before Cersei herself is arrested and charged with treason by the High Septon after Osney is interrogated, revealing the Queen's plans. She is forbidden from having visitors and is furious with rage. She writes a letter to Jaime, pleading for help, but Jaime abandons her to her fate, having learned the truth of her infidelity from Tyrion.

A Dance with Dragons[edit]

Cersei still remains a prisoner of the Faith. To try and gain access to visitors, Cersei decides to confess to the High Septon that she did have relations with her cousin Lancel Lannister and all three of the Kettleblack brothers, knowing that such sins would not earn her an execution. She continues to deny having ordered Osney Kettleblack to kill the previous High Septon, or that she was involved in King Robert's death. The High Septon agrees to allow her one visitor a day. Cersei then learns about Myrcella's injury and of Arys Oakheart's death, which leaves a vacancy in the Kingsguard. Cersei then sends word to Lord Qyburn that the time has come. Before her trial, the Faith requires Cersei to submit to a penance walk from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep. Cersei is shaved of hair from her entire body, then stripped naked. Just prior to the walk, at the Great Sept of Baelor she realizes that no Lannisters are there to support her, and this ordeal is hers alone.

Cersei eventually breaks down in tears just before finishing and entering the Keep. Upon her entrance, Jocelyn Swyft has her body covered. Cersei is then carried into the castle by a silent eight-foot-tall knight covered head to heel in thick enamelled white plate, with a great helm concealing his face. Qyburn then appears and introduces Cersei to the newest member of the Kingsguard, "Ser Robert Strong," her champion. Cersei dines with her uncle, Ser Kevan, on the night of his death. She requests that Lady Taena Merryweather attend again once her innocence is proven. When Kevan has no news of Jaime, Cersei seems certain of his safety. She believes that if he were dead, she would know it.

Family tree of House Lannister[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobs, Matthew (July 10, 2014). "Emmy Nominations 2014: Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black Among Top Nominees". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ Brown, Tracy (July 10, 2014). "Emmys 2014: Complete list of nominees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 10, 2014.