Cersei Lannister is one of the most polarizing characters in Game of Thrones. While some can appreciate the fierce love she has for her children, and the horrible situation she was in when married to the cheating and physically abusive Robert Baratheon; all of the other parts of her personality make it a little difficult for fans to root for her character to persevere.
If you can get beyond the whole incestuous relationship between her and Jaime, there is actually a pretty good love story there. It’s also commendable that she has become such a force to be reckoned with in a society that views women more as property than people of substance. While she has made it to the highest position in the land, her rise to power was made possible through the efforts of her father rather than her own decisions. In fact, many of the decisions she made on her own weren’t exactly the brightest.
In the fantasy world created by George R. R. Martin and his book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, the world is filled with the complicated struggle to obtain and maintain power in the Seven Kingdoms. In order to get through this fantasy world, one must adapt or die. Littlefinger said it best when he spoke about King’s Landing, saying, “We’re all liars here.” If you’re dealing with nothing but liars and manipulators trying to reach higher on the power ladder, it’s crucial to make the right decisions throughout your reign. While Tywin Lannister may have been able to get his daughter to the Red Keep and become the Queen, she didn’t make the best choices once she reached this position.
You’d think after six seasons of the series, she would start learning from her mistakes but it seems like things just keep getting worse for this golden-haired Lannister. Check out our list for the 15 mistakes Cersei Lannister has made in Game of Thrones thus far, and see how quickly she has been able to foul things up through her blunders and poor choices.
15. Sleeping With Jaime At Winterfell
When King Robert Baratheon came to Winterfell to ask Eddard Stark to be the new Hand of the King, he arrived with quite an entourage. Obviously Cersei was there because she was part of the royal family, but Jaime Lannister was also there since he was part of the Kingsguard. Although the secret of their incestuous relationship was known by a handful of insiders, it was Brandon Stark witnessing their sexual encounter that really put the pair in danger. Jaime Lannister pushing him out of the tower window was the start of the huge divide between the Starks and the Lannisters, and in hindsight it wasn’t the best idea for them to engage in sexual activity in a place that they weren’t familiar with. While they probably know all the secret rooms and dark corners in the Red Keep, choosing a tower that is a favorite climbing spot for Bran wasn’t very smart.
14. Not Killing Lancel
When Jaime Lannister was taken captive by Robb Stark, Cersei was left alone in King’s Landing. Rather than waiting for Jaime to return or finding some male prostitute to fulfill her needs, she chose to use her cousin Lancel to warm her bed. This wasn’t the first time she’d used Lancel, since he was also the one to pump extra strong wine into King Robert Baratheon during the boar hunt. Rather than using her cousin to plot against her husband’s death, she should have used someone that was more expendable. Everyone knows that when you plot against the King, you kill all your fellow conspirators so it won’t ever get back to you. While you can argue that she chose someone trustworthy since he was a Lannister, she definitely should have rethought that whole scenario. Lancel became one of the strongest members of the Faith Militant and was an integral part of why the High Sparrow knew so much damaging information about her. Although she couldn’t change the part he played in King Robert’s death or the affair she had with him, she could have definitely had him killed once she realized he had become a religious fanatic.
13. Relieving Ser Barristan From The Kingsguard
The Kingsguard is an honorable service that is similar to The Night’s Watch, in that it is meant for life. Ser Barristan Selmy was famed by his incredible professional career, courage, and skill in combat. Yet, Cersei and King Joffrey pushed to rid themselves of Ser Barristan, claiming he’s “too old.” Not only did Ser Barristan give The Crown legitimacy in the eyes of the common people, but he had a plethora of wisdom to impart from his long career and experiences through numerous reigning kings. After he was made to retire, Ser Barristan fled across The Narrow Sea to seek out Daenerys Targaryen, and saved her life on the first occasion of their meeting. Perhaps that would have been the end to the Dragon Queen if Ser Barristan wouldn’t have been there to save her. He became one of Daenerys’s most experienced and wisest advisors, as well as a skilled swordsman that helped diminish the damage inflicted by The Sons of the Harpy.
12. Cersei Trusted Littlefinger
Littlefinger is an ultra unique character in Game of Thrones, since he managed to reach higher on the power ladder without having the benefits of coming from a great House. Petyr Baelish started off as a lowborn young boy from The Fingers, but managed to work his way to King’s Landing as the Master of Coin. During this time, he made the mistake of revealing the true hostile feelings he had for Cersei. When proclaiming, “knowledge is power,” Cersei had the opportunity to kill him on the spot, but she allowed him to live and ultimately betray her. Once she saw that he would spread the tale of incest between her and Jaime, she should have struck him down on the spot. It seems strange that she would allow someone to live that shows open disdain for her family, but would push away others who swear their fealty to House Lannister.
11. Her Dislike For Grand Maester Pycelle
Grand Maester Pycelle has made a career out of living through manipulation and lies, with even his physical appearance being altered to give the illusion of weakness in the eyes of others. Walking with a feeble stride and a forced hunch, he tries to make himself seem harmless in the ever-growing struggle for power. While Tyrion was able to see beyond his tricks and sent him to the Black Cells, his only crime was that he stayed loyal to Cersei and told her about Tyrion’s plan to marry off Myrcella to Trystane Martell. Rather than Cersei embracing Pycelle for his loyalty, she continued to push him away and express her ever-present disdain. She sent him away during Joffrey’s wedding for no reason other than he was annoying her, and this wasn’t the brightest decision since Joffrey wound up being poisoned to death. Maesters are the closest thing to doctors in Game of Thrones, and there’s no telling if Pycelle might have been able to halt the poison from taking his life if he were still present.
10. Dismantling The Small Council
After Tywin’s death, Cersei had the opportunity to mold her next eldest son to be the King that Joffrey would never be. Instead, she decided to take the seat on her own, and never encouraged him to take a more active part in the Small Council meetings. She took the head seat at the table, and made it seem like she would be the new Hand of the King. Yet, a woman cannot hold the position, so she hid behind the fact that King Tommen hadn’t yet decided on who would serve as Hand. This drove her uncle away, even though Kevan Lannister would have been the best advisor to take the place of his brother Tywin. She also sent Mace Tyrell away to deal with the Iron Bank of Braavos, which also helped to get him out of the city so that she could plot against Margaery and Loras. Maester Pycelle makes a comment saying, “The Small Council grows smaller and smaller,” and Cersei responds, “Not small enough.” Showing her true arrogance that she feels she could rule the Seven Kingdoms all on her own, this was a crucial mistake on behalf of the queen mother.
9. Enlisting Pyromancers To Make Wildfire In The Red Keep
In preparation for Stannis’s attack on King’s Landing, Cersei enlisted the help of pyromancers to make barrels of wildfire. While Tyrion was able to use this knowledge to his advantage during the Battle of Blackwater, she wasn’t exactly on the same route of strategic maneuvers during this preparation. One has to wonder what her bright idea was with all that wildfire if Tyrion hadn’t thought to put it on a ship to destroy Stannis’s ships on the Blackwater. Although audiences can sympathize with Cersei for her fascination with wildfire, since not everyone can have the fire-breathing dragons that belong to Daenerys Targaryen; she doesn’t exactly have the best military mind to use this horribly dangerous weapon in the most efficient manner. The final episode of Season 6 showed that she never forgot about her stockpile, and used it to destroy the Great Sept of Baelor and everyone in it. Further infuriating her enemies and causing her son to commit suicide, the result of her actions probably wasn’t her original plan.
8. Pushing To Have Tyrion Killed
When Joffrey was poisoned at his own wedding, Cersei immediately blamed Tyrion for the death of her child. While the scene did look a little conspicuous, with him holding the poisoned cup and all, she let her emotions take over while Tyrion was awaiting trial. It seems strange that she would spend so much time campaigning for Tyrion’s death, rather than getting down to the truth. While no one’s asking her to go down to the Black Cells and torture him for the truth like Ramsay Bolton, she could have at least entertained the idea that it might have been someone else. Yet, this wasn’t the only time that she wished harm against Tyrion, since she was aware of Joffrey’s plan to kill him in the Battle of the Blackwater, and she didn’t even so much as scold him to not try and kill his uncle. Pushing to have him killed at the trial only showed her stupidity in the eyes of her true enemies, which made her look weak and easily manipulated.
7. Making An Enemy of Lady Olenna
When Lady Olenna first came to King’s Landing, her presence was a bit of fresh air for those looking for more than the same old male dominated storyline. Since House Tyrell is a matriarchal society, Lady Olenna could teach Cersei a thing or two. When Joffrey and Margaery were betrothed, Lady Olenna reached out to Cersei to try and feel out whether or not they could have some semblance of a true alliance. Yet, Cersei showed that she wasn’t open to forming any true dialogue. Once Margaery was married to King Tommen, she made a true enemy out of Lady Olenna once she had her grandchildren arrested by the High Sparrow. Smirking at her when Loras and Margaery were dragged away, she burned a significant bridge with the Tyrells that have added them to the list of Houses that are against the Lannisters. Once Cersei realized she truly did need the help of Lady Olenna to defeat The Faith Militant, the bridge had been burnt beyond measure and there is no way to fix the alliance they once shared.
6. Turning Against Her Brothers
While Cersei is known for fiercely lashing out at her enemies, she isn’t very warm towards those closest to her either. Even though Tyrion had repeatedly proven that he was indeed on the side of House Lannister, she reveled in trying to ridicule and ostracize him at every turn. When Joffrey was poisoned at his own wedding, she became blinded by her hatred for her own brother and chose to blame him without ever considering her true enemies. She did the same thing to Jaime when their father, Twin Lannister, was murdered. When Jaime and Cersei had a moment to speak after their father’s death, Jaime tried to counsel her on the importance of sticking together to protect themselves against all the other Houses hoping to overthrow them as the most powerful House in Westeros. Instead of heeding his counsel, she lashed out to blame him for their father’s death and continued to push him away.
5. Making Her Hatred For Margaery Known
Cersei and Margaery are two very interesting characters in Game of Thrones, since they both come from two very powerful Houses but from different circumstances. While the Lannisters are known for their cunning, strength, and wealth; the women aren’t are often valued beyond the gains that can come from their marital alliances. House Tyrell is completely different since they have a matriarchal society where it’s their women that have the skill and cunning that further their House. Taking after her Grandmother, Lady Olenna, Margaery definitely had a plan in how she would rule as a Queen. While it may not have been the same dream Cersei had for her son, there was no evidence to suggest that Margaery and King Tommen would have had anything but a happy marriage. Rather than letting her son live happily with his new wife, Cersei made her hatred known to her new daughter-in-law early on. Threatening to strangle her in her sleep, this was part of the reason why Margaery began pushing Tommen to persuade Cersei to go back to Casterly Rock.
4. Refusing To Marry Loras Tyrell
Tywin Lannister set up the arranged marriage between Loras Tyrell and Cersei, in another one of his brilliant tactical moves before his death. Intertwining the two most powerful Houses in the Seven Kingdoms, Tywin understood that the Lannisters needed the resources and influence from House Tyrell since Casterly Rock no longer had any working mines. Cersei agreed to this union, but refused to go through with it once Tywin was murdered. Instead, she was set on a path to take down House Tyrell. Arranging for the arrest of Margaery and Loras, she chose to make them her enemies rather than her allies. While Loras wasn’t her ideal match for matrimony, it didn’t really seem like that bad of a match. It was known that Loras was homosexual, and he was aware that her and Jaime had an inappropriate relationship. They could have easily worked something out after they took their vows, so that both of them could keep living their preferred lifestyle.
3. Refusing To Pay The Iron Bank Of Braavos
Cersei has an arrogance that comes from growing up in the richest and most powerful House in the Seven Kingdoms. While it’s good to exude confidence as a woman in a male-dominated society, she often shows her ignorance towards the ways of the world. Her father tried to educate her on the importance of maintaining alliances with other Houses, but she didn’t seem to be able to soak in any of that information. The Tyrells could have been extremely helpful in paying off the debt to The Iron Bank of Braavos, but Cersei chose to forgo this alliance and deny payment altogether. Since she had spent her life being able to manipulate and usurp her responsibilities, she didn’t seem to grasp the fact that “The Iron Bank of Braavos will have its due.” Sending Lord Tyrell to postpone payment, she also sent Ser Meryn Trant to his death since that is where Arya was able to cross him off her list. This also put doubt in the minds of The Iron Bank of Braavos, and they wound up funding her enemy, Stannis Baratheon.
2. Didn’t Spend Enough Time With Tommen
When Cersei made her way back to The Red Keep (after the Walk of Atonement), she seemed to keep her distance from King Tommen. While it was understandable that she would be a bit traumatized from being locked up in a dungeon, stripped naked in public, and made to walk through an angry mob barefooted; her first priority should have been to get King Tommen in line. It’s not like she didn’t have the opportunity, since they wound up having a heart-to-heart and he asked for her help. She should have spent the entire time by his side, rather than wasting time fooling around with Jaime and reaching out to Lady Olenna. Perhaps if she spent more time cultivating the relationship between her and her son, he wouldn’t have been so susceptible to the manipulation by the High Sparrow. What happened to the old Cersei that would have had spies surrounding every corner? Either she lost most of her cunning when they chopped off her hair, or she wasn’t that bright to start off with.
1. Arming The Faith Militant
According to the book series, King Maegor Targaryen disbanded the Faith Militant centuries ago. This was a huge undertaking, since it’s hard enough dealing with religious fanatics, much less armed ones. While many think the Lord of Light has the most ruthless servants, the Faith of the Seven is a religion that definitely isn’t shy about enforcing the word in the Seven-Pointed Star. Trying to gain favor with the High Sparrow, as well as get Margaery and Loras Tyrell arrested, she rearmed the Faith Militant in one of the biggest blunders of the series. They became a monster she was no longer able to control, and ultimately led to her own arrest. The High Sparrow poisoned the mind of her own son against her, made her walk the streets of King’s Landing naked, and became the ruling force in the city. While she was able to rectify her mistake by the mass killing at the Great Sept of Baelor, she would never have been in that predicament in the first place if it weren’t for her notion of arming these religious fanatics.