|A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones character
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
|Created by||George R. R. Martin|
|Portrayed by||Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
(Game of Thrones)
The Young Lion
|Title||Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
Warden of the East (formerly)
Jaime 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. He becomes a prominent point of view character in the novels beginning in A Storm of Swords (2000).
Introduced in A Game of Thrones (1996), Jaime is a knight of the Kingsguard and a member of House Lannister, one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the fictional kingdom of Westeros. Although he first appears to be unscrupulous and amoral,[clarification needed] he later proves to be far more complex, honorable and sympathetic.
Jaime is portrayed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on the HBO series Game of Thrones. He was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television, a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a People Choice Awards Favorite TV Anti-Hero for his performance in the show's third season. He and the rest of the cast were nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
- 1 Character
- 2 Storylines
- 3 TV adaptation
- 4 References
Jaime was born shortly after the birth of his twin sister Cersei. The two were inseparable as children, and at an early age began an incestuous affair that continued into adulthood and even after Cersei's marriage to Robert Baratheon. At the age of fifteen he participated in the battle against the Kingswood Brotherhood, squiring for Lord Sumner Crakehall, and was subsequently knighted by Ser Arthur Dayne. While returning to Casterly Rock, he visited Cersei at King's Landing, who persuaded him to join the Kingsguard in order to be close to her. Jaime was accepted into the Kingsguard, but Tywin resigned as Hand of the King, taking Cersei with him back to Casterly Rock. Jaime quickly realises that Aerys named him to the Kingsguard solely to strip Tywin of his heir. Jaime becomes further disillusioned after witnessing Aerys burn Rickard and Brandon Stark alive and overhearing him raping his sister-wife Rhaella. When Tywin begins sacking King's Landing at the climax of Robert's Rebellion, Jaime realises that Aerys intends to burn King's Landing with wildfire and kills him, almost immediately being discovered by Tywin's men. Robert Baratheon later pardons Jaime for breaking his vows and names him to his own Kingsguard. Although Jaime considers his assassination of Aerys as his greatest act, his motives for killing him remain unknown to the rest of the realm and he is given the insulting moniker "Kingslayer".
Several years later, he and Tyrion rescue a young woman, Tysha, from outlaws, and Tyrion secretly marries her. When Tywin finds out he orders Jaime to tell Tyrion that he staged the incident in order for Tyrion to lose his virginity. Though it is unknown if Jaime was aware that Tywin subsequently forced Tyrion to watch Tysha be gang-raped by his guards, Jaime carries a great amount of guilt for his unkindness to Tyrion in his later years.
In A Game of Thrones (1996), Jaime is introduced as one of the Kingsguard, the royal security detail, and the son of wealthy and powerful Tywin Lannister, the former Hand of the King. Jaime's twin is Cersei, the Queen of Westeros by virtue of her marriage to King Robert Baratheon. Perhaps the greatest swordsman in the kingdom, Jaime is sometimes derisively called "the Kingslayer" because he killed the "Mad King" Aerys Targaryen in the coup that put Robert on the Iron Throne.
Eric Dodds of Time described Jaime as "handsome, an incomparably skilled fighter and disarmingly witty", with The New Yorker calling the Lannisters "a crowd of high-cheekboned beauties ... who form a family constellation so twisted, charismatic, and cruel that it rivals Flowers in the Attic for blond dysfunction". Lev Grossman wrote for Time that while Jaime and Cersei's younger brother Tyrion is a grotesque dwarf, "the rest of the Lannisters are stunted too, but on the inside." The Los Angeles Times called Jaime "handsome and unscrupulous", though Dodds noted in 2014:
Sure, he's done some of the most despicable things on a show full of despicable things—including but not limited to fathering children by incest, attempting to murder a boy who discovered said incest, and the cold-blooded murder of one of his own cousins—but despite all that, the Kingslayer remains one of Game of Thrones' most popular characters.
Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly noted that in the novels, "[Jaime is] a vaguely villainous minor character in Game of Thrones, then is basically absent from Clash of Kings, and suddenly he becomes a tragic hero in Storm of Swords." In A Game of Thrones, Jaime is not only carrying on an incestuous affair with his twin sister, but he pushes a young Bran Stark out a high window to his likely death after the boy witnesses them in the act. Jaime admits these crimes to Catelyn Stark in A Clash of Kings (1998), and tells her a horrific story of Aerys Targaryen's cruelty. In A Storm of Swords (2000), Jaime initially loathes the female warrior Brienne of Tarth, but both his honor and his reluctant respect for Brienne compel him to lie to their captors to prevent her from being raped. He later explains to Brienne that he killed Aerys because the king had planned to incinerate all of King's Landing and its inhabitants rather than let it fall into Robert's hands. When Jaime is released to be sent back to King's Landing in deference to his father, he first saves Brienne, who has been thrown into a bear pit for the mercenaries' amusement. Martin told Rolling Stone in 2014:
One of the things I wanted to explore with Jaime, and with so many of the characters, is the whole issue of redemption. When can we be redeemed? Is redemption even possible? ... When do we forgive people? ... Our society is full of people who have fallen in one way or another ... How many good acts make up for a bad act? ... I don't know the answer, but these are questions worth thinking about. I want there to be a possibility of redemption for us, because we all do terrible things. We should be able to be forgiven. Because if there is no possibility of redemption, what's the answer then?
Specifically addressing Jaime's attempted murder of Bran, Martin said:
[What] Jaime did [to Bran] is interesting ... Remember, Jaime isn't just trying to kill Bran because he's an annoying little kid. Bran has seen something that is basically a death sentence for Jaime, for Cersei, and their children ... So I've asked people who do have children, "Well, what would you do in Jaime's situation?" They say, "Well, I'm not a bad guy—I wouldn't kill." Are you sure? Never? If Bran tells King Robert, he's going to kill you and your sister-lover, and your three children ... Then many of them hesitate. Probably more people than not would say, "Yeah, I would kill someone else's child to save my own child, even if that other child was innocent." These are the difficult decisions people make, and they're worth examining.
A Game of Thrones
Jaime Lannister accompanies the royal family to Winterfell, where King Robert Baratheon hopes to persuade his old friend Ned Stark to serve as Hand of the King. During the visit, Ned's young son Bran inadvertently spies Jaime and Cersei having sex in a remote tower, at which point Jaime pushes the boy out a window, intending to kill Bran to keep their relationship secret. Bran managed to survive, though crippled, and when an assassin later tries to kill Bran, Catelyn Stark accuses and arrests Tyrion. In revenge, Jaime instigates a brawl with Ned and his men in the streets of King's Landing, killing many on both sides. Ned later discovers that Robert's three children are actually the products of Jaime and Cersei's affair, but is executed by the oldest child, Joffrey Baratheon, upon the latter's ascension as king. He then rides for the Riverlands to aid Tywin in his campaign against the Riverlands, taking command of half the Lannister host. Jaime captures the Riverlands' capital of Riverrun, but his army is waylaid by Robb Stark's army in the Battle of the Whispering Wood. Jaime is taken prisoner and incarcerated in Riverrun. Despite his capture Joffrey names Jaime as commander of his Kingsguard.
Hillary Busis of Entertainment Weekly called the twist of Jaime and Cersei in the tower "lurid and shocking, exactly what I needed to jolt me awake and make me start paying closer attention ... By the end of the chapter — 'The things I do for love' — I was totally hooked on Thrones". Mikal Gilmore of Rolling Stone noted in 2014 that the moment in which Jaime pushes Bran to his likely death "grabs you by the throat". Martin commented in the interview:
I've had a million people tell me that was the moment that hooked them, where they said, "Well, this is just not the same story I read a million times before."
A Clash of Kings
Tyrion makes several attempts to free Jaime, first by having disguised Lannister guards attempt to break him out and then by offering to swap Arya and Sansa Stark for Jaime. After hearing of the supposed deaths of Bran and Rickon Stark, Catelyn interrogates Jaime. Jaime admits to pushing Bran out the tower window, to his incest with Cersei and to fathering her children. Jaime then mocks Ned for having tarnished his own honour by fathering a bastard, prompting Catelyn to call her bodyguard Brienne of Tarth for her sword.
A Storm of Swords
Jaime is freed by Catelyn and sent to King's Landing to exchange for Sansa and Arya, escorted by Brienne of Tarth and Jaime's cousin Ser Cleos Frey. Cleos is killed by bandits and Jaime and Brienne are captured by the Brave Companions, who were formerly in service to Tywin but have defected to Roose Bolton. Their leader, Vargo Hoat, cuts off Jaime's sword hand in the hope that Tywin will blame Roose and prevent the Boltons defecting to the Lannisters. While held captive at Harrenhal, Jaime reveals to Brienne the circumstances surrounding his murder of King Aerys. Roose Bolton releases Jaime but keeps Brienne hostage. While returning to King's Landing, Jaime has a dream about Brienne and decides to return to Harrenhal to rescue her from Hoat.
Jaime returns to King's Landing to discover that Joffrey has been poisoned and Tyrion on trial for the murder, though Jaime refuses to believe Tyrion is guilty. He gifts Brienne a Valyrian steel sword forged from House Stark's ancestral sword Ice and tasks her with finding and protecting the fugitive Sansa Stark. He then forces Varys into helping Tyrion escape, confessing to Tyrion that he owed him a debt for his role in Tysha's fare. Outraged, Tyrion spitefully reveals to Jaime Cersei's affairs during his imprisonment, and lies that he did indeed kill Joffrey, before killing Tywin.
A Feast for Crows
Cersei orders Jaime to go to Riverrun and oust Ser Brynden "Blackfish" Tully. Before his departure, Jaime has an armorer forge him a prosthetic hand. He takes the tongueless Ser Ilyn Payne with him to teach him to spar with his left hand, using the lessons to confess to his numerous crimes. During the march, he encounters his cousin Lancel, who admits to his affair with Cersei. Jaime persuades Edmure Tully to force the Blackfish's surrender by threatening to sack the castle and kill Edmure's child when it is born. Jaime later receives a letter from Cersei, who has been imprisoned by the High Sparrow and is awaiting trial and begs Jaime to be her champion in her trial by combat, but Jaime has the letter burned without reply.
A Dance with Dragons
Jaime travels to Raventree Hall and manages to have Lord Tytos Blackwood surrender, officially ending House Stark's insurrection. In the aftermath, he is approached by Brienne, who claims that Sansa is in danger from Sandor "The Hound" Clegane. It is unknown how much of this is true, as Brienne was previously seen as a prisoner of a reanimated Catelyn Stark and the anti-Lannister Brotherhood Without Banners.
Family tree of House Lannister
Descendants of Tytos Lannister
|References and notes:
In October 2014, Caster-Waldau and several other key cast members, all contracted for six seasons of the series, renegotiated their deals to include a potential seventh season and salary increases for seasons five, six, and seven. The Hollywood Reporter called the raises "huge", noting that the deal would make the performers "among the highest-paid actors on cable TV". Deadline.com put the number for season five at "close to $300,000 an episode" for each actor, and The Hollywood Reporter wrote in June 2016 that the performers would each be paid "upward of $500,000 per episode" for seasons seven and the potential eight. In 2017, He became one of the highest paid actor on television and will earn £2 million per episode for the show.
Matt Fowler of IGN noted in 2013 that "the people who do seem to get redemption arcs on this show are the villains". Over the course of the first three seasons, the series has transitioned Jaime from an obvious villain to an antihero of sorts. Eric Dodds of Time wrote that Jaime had become "a complex, bizarrely likable character". Andrew Romano of The Daily Beast explained:
But Jaime wasn't a black-and-white baddie for long. In fact, GoT spent the next three seasons transforming him into a pretty sympathetic character. The turning point was when Jaime was captured and chained up by the Starks—an ordeal that humbled him, humanized him, and eventually left him without a sword hand, struggling to find a new, post-Kingslayer identity for himself. Sure, Jaime could still slaughter his own cousin to escape captivity. But he could also rescue his sidekick Brienne of Tarth from a bear. And pledge to return the Stark girls to their mother, Catelyn. And refuse to kill his brother Tyrion on Cersei's behalf. And so on. He was a compromised, conflicted asshole—but he was basically trying to do the right thing.
Jaime's apparent rape of Cersei in the fourth season episode "Breaker of Chains" created controversy among fans and journalists, who debated the show's depiction of sexual violence against women as well as Jaime's character development. The showrunners never commented on what their intention with the scene actually was. The cast members involved initially gave only vague comments, but after the fourth season was released on Blu-ray and the showrunners avoided making any comment about the scene in it (it is conspicuously the only episode which has no commentary track), both Coster-Waldau and Headey publicly stated that the scene was never intended to portray rape at all - they were given no instructions to this effect (such as in the script) nor did they play it that way, and apparently the scene was just edited very confusingly.
In the source novel A Storm of Swords, the sex between Jaime and Cersei in the equivalent scene is consensual. Several critics argued that the TV series' change damaged Jaime's redemption arc. Dodds noted that the episode "irreparably changes the way we see Jaime Lannister". Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post wrote:
What happens next dramatically complicates the work Game of Thrones has done to make Jaime a more explicable, even sympathetic character, given what we learned of his reasons for killing the king he was sworn to protect. Jaime has experienced profound losses over the last two seasons. His hand and his identity as a fighter have been taken from him. His son has been murdered. His father, a toxic, commanding man has returned to his life. And what Cersei is asking of Jaime is that he remove one of the few remaining things that gives him happiness, the little brother who makes him feel better about his hand, from existence. To assuage her pain and grief, Cersei is asking Jaime to inflict more pain on himself ... But his response is not to stop loving her, not to stop believing that he is victim to the gods. Instead, Jaime rapes his sister, passing that sense of unendurable pain on to her. He must know that this is the worst possible way that he could hurt her. Jaime knew that Robert raped Cersei ... Not only does raping Cersei remind his sister of her repeated, humiliating violation, Jaime is poisoning their own relationship, the thing that had been Cersei’s antidote to the miseries of her marriage. It is an exceptionally cruel thing for Jaime to do.
Coster-Waldau said, "If you look closer there are those moments where she—well, I haven't seen the finished edit, of course—but we tried to have it where she goes into it then she pulls away, she goes in then she pulls away, but of course he is forcing himself." Later he and his co-star Lena Headey (Cersei) spoke with Entertainment Weekly during the filming of season 5, admitting that they were never directed or intended to film a rape scene. Headey stated:
It’s that terrible thing as a women—talking about something as horrendous as rape and dismissing it, which I’m not. But we never discussed it as that. It was a woman in grief for her dead child, and the father of the child—who happens to be her brother—who never really acknowledged the children is standing with her. We’ve all experienced grief. There’s a moment of wanting to fill a void, and that is often very visceral, physical. That, for me, is where she was at. There was an emotional block, and [her brother] was just a bit of a drug for her.
The Jaime-Cersei scene was subsequently ignored for the rest of Season 4 and the rest of the series. TheMarySue.com concluded that not really referring to the scene again, instead of as a long and developed subplot, trivializes rape—if, in fact, it was ever their actual intention to portray it as a rape scene. In real life a woman would be traumatized by being raped, not act as if nothing had happened immediately afterwards. TheMarySue.com was also critical that even if they didn't intend it as a rape scene, ignoring all questions about the scene and simply hoping they would go away over time was very insensitive to the audience.
In 2016, Christopher Hooton wrote for The Independent:
Game of Thrones is full of characters who are very sure of themselves ... Except Jaime Lannister, who was given a considerable amount of screen time this week in order to establish a little more complexity in his character. Thus far in the show his character arc has gone from "massive jerk", to "still a massive jerk but admirable in how he withstands imprisonment" to "maybe he's starting to redeem himself". This third strand had waned a little in season 6 as he returned to Cersei's side, but showed glimpses of returning in episode 8 as he was reunited with Brienne, about the only character who can appeal to his sense of guilt and honour.
Jaime's storyline in the first season remains, for the most part, identical to his book storyline, with only minor details altered. In the aftermath of Jaime's capture, he confesses to Catelyn that he tried to kill Bran, but refuses to reveal why.
Robb brings a captive Jaime with his camp as they march through the Westerlands, as Robb fears Tywin may coerce one of his bannerman into freeing Jaime. At one point Jaime attempts to escape by beating his cousin and fellow inmate Alton Lannister to death and strangling his guard Torrhen Karstark when he comes to investigate; though unsuccessfully, the anger of Torrhen's father Rickard proves fatal for Robb's campaign in the coming months. After Jaime goads Catelyn by mentioning Ned's infidelity, she releases him and has Brienne of Tarth escort him to King's Landing to trade for Sansa and Arya.
Jaime and Brienne are captured by a squad of Bolton soldiers. Jaime manages to convince them not to rape Brienne, but their leader Locke takes umbrage when Jaime tries to use his status to secure own his release and chops off Jaime's sword hand. The two are taken to Harrenhal, where the former maester Qyburn treats Jaime's wound and Jaime reveals to Brienne why he killed Aerys. Roose Bolton lets Jaime return to King's Landing but insists on keeping Brienne prisoner for abetting treason, though Jaime ultimately returns to rescue Brienne from being killed by a bear for Locke's amusement. The two return to King's Landing and Jaime is reunited with Cersei.
Tywin gifts Jaime a sword forged from Ice and asks him to resign from the Kingsguard and rule Casterly Rock, disowning him when he refuses. Qyburn fits Jaime with a gilded steel hand and Tyrion arranges for Jaime to have sword lessons with his bodyguard Bronn. Cersei initially refuses to resume their relationship, but ultimately relents and has sex with Jaime in front of Joffrey's body, lying in state. Jaime gifts Brienne Tywin's sword and the services of Tyrion's squire Podrick Payne, asking her to find Arya and Sansa and take them to safety. With Tyrion accused of Joffrey's murder, Jaime convinces Tywin to spare Tyrion in return for leaving the Kingsguard, though Tyrion later chooses trial by combat. Tyrion loses the trial and is sentenced to death, but Jaime releases him from his cell and helps him escape to Essos.
Cersei guilts Jaime for releasing Tyrion, and Jaime later admits to Bronn that he will kill Tyrion the next time they meet. When a message arrives from the Martells subtly threatening Myrcella as revenge for Prince Oberyn Martell's death in Tyrion's trial by combat, Jaime and Bronn travel to Dorne in secret to retrieve her. As they make their escape they are accosted by Oberyn's bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes, and engage in a fight before all five are arrested by the Water Gardens' palace guards. Doran Martell realises that the message was sent by Oberyn's paramour Ellaria Sand and decides to send Myrcella and his own son Trystane back to King's Landing with Jaime. As the ship sets sail, Myrcella admits to Jaime that she knows and is happy that he is her father. The two share a brief embrace before Myrcella suddenly collapses and dies, having been poisoned by Ellaria.
Jaime returns to King's Landing with Myrcella's corpse. He orders Trystane to stay on the boat outside the city to protect him from Cersei's wrath, and sends word to Doran naming Ellaria as Myrcella's killer, though Ellaria promptly kills Doran, has Obara and Nymeria kill Trystane and seizes control of Dorne. At Myrcella's funeral, Jaime confronts the religious leader, the High Sparrow, for having forced Cersei to walk naked through the streets of King's Landing as punishment for adultery, but is forced to stand down at the arrival of the Faith Militant. Jaime enlists the Tyrell army to march on the Sept of Baelor to secure the release of Margaery and Loras Tyrell. However, they find that Margaery has seemingly become a follower of the High Sparrow and that Tommen has forged an alliance with the Faith Militant. As punishment for taking up arms against the Faith, Jaime is removed from the Kingsguard. He is sent to Riverrun with Bronn to assist House Frey in ousting Brynden "Blackfish" Tully and the occupying Tully forces. After a failed parlay, Brienne arrives and beseeches Jaime to end the siege without bloodshed, so the Tully rebels can help Sansa Stark retake Winterfell. Brienne also fails, so Jaime manipulates the captured Edmure Tully into thinking his infant son will be killed if Edmure does not order a surrender. Edmure is released and promptly opens the gates to the Lannisters. Jaime sees Brienne and Podrick fleeing by boat from the castle walls, but only waves a discreet farewell and does not alert his men.
After traveling to House Frey's fortress The Twins for a feast celebrating their victory, Jaime returns to King's Landing, and is horrified to discover that the Great Sept has been destroyed as a result of Cersei's plotting. He returns to the Red Keep in time to witness Cersei being crowned as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, immediately realizing that Cersei essentially murdered the Faith Militant, the Tyrells, Grand Maester Pycelle and their uncle Kevan to acquire her new power.
Matt Roush wrote for TV Guide that Coster-Waldau plays "dastardly" Jaime "with malevolent charisma", and Dodds noted that, despite the "despicable things" he has done, "the Kingslayer remains one of Game of Thrones' most popular characters". Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe wrote:
The most riveting characters are the most self-serving, notably the queen, Cersei ... and her twin brother Jaime Lannister ... with whom she is having an incestuous affair. They have gorgeous, aristocratic features, but they are pure, compelling evil.
Recognition and awards
Coster-Waldau was nominated for a 2014 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television for his performance in the show's third season. He and the rest of the cast were nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
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