Cersei Lannister is currently a front-runner for the most despised character on Game of Thrones. Though, now that Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton are dead, there isn’t much competition in the awful character division. There’s, of course, the Night King and Euron Greyjoy, who have both proven to be evil. However, those big bad characters lack the depth of Cersei Lannister, which may be why audience members hate her so much.
Audiences were introduced to Cersei Lannister in the very first episode of Game of Thrones. She was the cold queen, married to Robert Baratheon but banging her twin brother on the side. So not the easiest character to love right off the bat. In the following seasons, Cersei's motives, psychology, and desires have become clearer. Throughout the seasons, we've learned Cersei Lannister is a victim of her family, her arranged marriage, the expectations placed on her, and her role as a woman in this world. Though, it seems this particular depth is the very thing that makes Cersei so despicable. More so than the other villains, audience members understand and maybe even connect to Cersei, which is why they are so disgusted when she does something evil.
One clear reason why audiences hate Cersei Lannister, now in season seven, is because she’s sitting on the Iron Throne. There are quite a few reasons Cersei's taking of the Iron Throne left audiences with a bitter taste in their mouths, like the fact that she pretty much shrugged her shoulders at Tommen's death and the fact that fan-favorite Daenerys Targaryen is the "rightful heir." But the thing is, Cersei Lannister does actually deserve the Iron Throne. I KNOW, I KNOW! I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but Cersei Lannister really does deserve the Iron Throne. Don’t believe me? Below are 17 legitimate reasons why Cersei Lannister not only deserves the Iron Throne, but is also fit to rule on the Iron Throne. So get ready to bend the knee to Queen Cersei Lannister, people.
17 She's Learned Strategy From Watching Rulers All Her Life
On Game of Thrones, there are very few characters who have been in the presence of leaders their entire lives and Cersei is one of them. Though, one can be a good leader without having seen too many examples of leadership. For example, Jon Snow is surprisingly talented at leading people, for not having been around too many leaders throughout his life. Though, he did definitely learn a thing or two from watching Ned Stark keep Winterfell in line. Daenerys Targaryen was raised by Viserys, who had some of the worst ideas about leadership ever. However, her moral code seems to be guiding her leadership to the right place.
Daenerys and Jon Snow both have true talent for leading groups of people, despite the fact they haven’t been exposed to too many leadership examples in their upbringings. Cersei Lannister, on the other hand, has taken the backseat for years and years, watching leaders make both great decisions and horrible decisions. Girlfriend has seen it all. First, Cersei watched her father be Hand to the Mad King, learning a great deal from both Tywin Lannister's and the Mad King's mistakes. After that, Cersei married Robert Baratheon, who had won the Iron Throne through force. Despite having the title of queen, Cersei wasn’t necessarily in a position of power herself. During that time of being a fairly powerless queen, Cersei was privy to Robert Baratheon’s decision-making processes, as we saw her discuss tactics with him during his short time on the show. After Robert's death, Cersei had a front row seat to watch Joffrey’s piss poor rule and Tommen’s too-soft rule.
Of all the remaining characters, Cersei Lannister has had the most intimate view of the past few kings. Quite frankly, in this time she basically learned everything a king shouldn't do. But hey, it's still learning.
16 And She Really Does Have Strategy
From watching the past rulers, Cersei Lannister has developed some wicked war strategy. Or perhaps Cersei's war strategy comes from her innate understanding of power and diplomacy. Whatever it may be, Cersei seems to understand how to win wars. I mean, she didn't have that big ass map painted on the floor for nothing, folks.
As far back as season one, audiences saw Cersei Lannister discussing war strategy with Robert Baratheon, as they were, at the time, concerned with Daenerys' Dothraki army. (Um, maybe everyone should have stayed concerned, huh?) After that, Cersei lectured Joffrey on the North. Joffrey stated that he would punish the North, by taking their soldiers and food, but Cersei explained that the North is too big and too wild to be won by an outsider. While Cersei was in a backseat at these points in the series, she understood war and diplomacy.
Unlike maybe Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister knows a thing or two about fighting a war in Westeros. This is not to say Daenerys is completely without war tactics, though she seems to get them from her council, as opposed to having a natural understanding of war in Westeros like Cersei. Yes, Cersei may rely on Jaime's battle skills and Euron's naval fleet, but she knows her sh*t. Again, you've seen her map. Girlfriend is committed to winning if she redid her floors like that.
15 She Doesn't Just Win Wars With Dragons
Speaking of war strategy, one of the weakest parts of the show is how Daenerys always, always, always leans on her dragons when her back is against the wall. Yes, the scenes are hot – both figuratively and literally. But other than the entertainment factor, relying on your dragon power is essentially not very interesting or diplomatic. Daenerys doesn't outwit, out-maneuver, or manipulate her enemies. Nope, she just burns them alive each and every time. It doesn’t require Daenerys to do much more than say, "Dracarys." It’s not that I think Daenerys doesn’t deserve the Iron Throne just because she has dragons. That certainly shouldn’t just disqualify her. Though, I definitely think Daenerys wouldn’t have gotten this far (or past season one) had she not birthed dragons.
Cersei Lannister, on the other hand, has had to outsmart one enemy after another, all without the help of scaly fire babies. Cersei Lannister's survival instinct is the real fire.
14 She's Lived In Westeros Her Whole Life
Who knows more about Westeros than Cersei Lannister? Probably no one. Well, that’s not true. Tyrion is a well of knowledge, so he probably knows the most about Westeros. Also, after Samwell taught Gilly to read, she apparently started retaining every single fact ever so she probably knows a lot about Westeros. Though, I’m not sure if knowing the number of steps and windows in Westeros really helps anyone, Gilly. Let that info go, girl.
That said, Cersei Lannister had spent most of her life in Casterly Rock and King’s Landing. By doing so, she’s learned a great deal about the laws, economy, religions, culture, and everything else unique to Westeros. The other people vying for the throne cannot say the same, especially Daenerys who has never lived in Westeros. Guys, Daenerys has never actually lived in Westeros, and yet she wants to rule. Do we all see a problem here? Jon Snow, of course, lived in Winterfell and Castle Black, though it’s not clear he’s learned about the Seven Kingdoms from doing that. Instead, it seems Jon Snow is well-versed in Northern culture.
I’m just saying that you may want a ruler who - oh, I don't know - actually knows a thing or two about the place they’re ruling.
13 She's The Rightful Heir Of The Throne In One Way
Cersei Lannister is the rightful heir, so there's that. Let me repeat that, Cersei Lannister is the RIGHTFUL heir. So sit down and shut up, Daenerys Targaryen.
This is to say that Daenerys Targaryen’s claim to the Iron Throne rests solely on the fact that the Mad King’s succession should still have some merit. But we should all remember Mad King lost the war, ladies and gentlemen. Robert Baratheon won, and so there was a new linage. Daenerys, of course, refuses to accept this simple fact, which is odd because she often takes over leadership in cities through battle. When Daenerys forcefully takes over a new city, she then demands this city accept her leadership… y'know just as Robert Baratheon did. Oh, there’s also the fact that the Targaryen rule began because they won a battle. Like, that’s what happens, Daenerys.
Okay, but back to Robert Baratheon. Because Robert and Cersei's children were never officially proven to be incest bastards, even though they totally were, the line of succession would still go from Robert Baratheon to the children. All of the children are dead, so the succession would go to Robert's brothers. Oh, and they are all dead too. At this point, one can assume the line of succession would go to Cersei Lannister. I mean, that's just what I'm guessing because I don't fully know how the succession works when literally everyone is dead.
12 There's Another Way She's The Rightful Heir
I know what you’re thinking: “But Robert Baratheon’s kids weren’t his kids!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Let’s all calm down.
Now, if we were really going to get picky about it, the crown would not go to Robert Baratheon’s "children." Instead, it would go to his two brothers, who, as I said, are also dead. Because of that, we’d have to go back to Robert Baratheon’s lineage to find a living heir. Robert’s grandmother was a Targaryen so, hilariously enough, this would send the crown back to – you guessed it – Daenerys Targaryen, or really Jon Snow.
Though, one could argue that Robert’s Rebellion has voided any Targaryen claim to the throne. Because of this, some amazing minds of the Internet have traced Robert Baratheon’s lineage ever further. It turns out one of the only living lines is Elyanna Baratheon who married Lord Mathin Lannister. Yes, Lannister. Following this Lannister family tree line, the crown would go to Tywin, who is dead. After that, Jaime Lannister is the first-born son, so he would inherit the throne. As a member of the Kingsguard, Jaime could not inherit the throne, though Tommen did release Jaime from the Kingsguard. That said, technically Jaime would have the most claim to the throne, but I just feel like he would just give it to Cersei, right?
Also yes, Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister were distantly related, which is so very typical for Game of Thrones.
11 Also, She Very Well May Be A Targaryen
Once upon a time, we all thought Daenerys Targaryen was the last living Targaryen, but nope. Ol’ Jon Snow is actually a Targaryen and, as the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen, the actual heir of the throne. Daenerys is just going to love finding that out… especially after boning him, right? That said, there are theories that there may be more low-key Targaryens hanging around. Specifically some of the Lannister children.
In the books, it’s well-known that the Mad King had a thing for Joanna Lannister, the wife of Tywin Lannister. It’s believed Tywin, in order to gain more power and influence, may have let the Mad King bed his wife. That seems like a Tywin thing to do. Also, it seems like the Mad King pretty much did whatever he wanted regardless.
If Joanna conceived any children from her supposed trysts with the Mad King, it’s widely theorized Tyrion Lannister would be the Targaryen of the group. One red flag is that, just like Daenerys and Jon Snow, his mother died in childbirth. There’s also the fact that Tywin last words to Tyrion were, “You’re no son of mine.”
However, Cersei and Jaime could very well be Targaryen too. There’s the fact that Cersei loves herself some firepower. That has Targaryen written all over it. Oh, there's also the fact that Cersei and Jaime engaged in the age old Targaryen tradition of bedding their sibling. So, who knows?
Of course, Cersei would not be a legitimate Targaryen, therefore not having as strong a claim as maybe Daenerys or Jon Snow. But it’s still interesting that Cersei could technically have the same blood claim as Daenerys.
10 She Almost Married Into The Targaryen Family
This point doesn’t technically mean Cersei Lannister SHOULD be on the Iron Throne right now but it is an interesting factor to talk about, so we're going to talk about it.
When Cersei was young, she was obsessed with Rhaegar Targaryen, which is why she asked Maggy the Frog if she would marry the prince. At this point, Tywin Lannister served as Hand to the King. So Tywin, thinking the Mad King had some respect for him, proposed a marriage between Cersei Lannister and Rhaegar Targaryen to unite their houses. The Mad King rejected this proposal, as he believe the Lannister to be beneath the Targaryens. The Mad King then went one step further and made Jaime a Kingsguard, which meant Jaime wouldn’t be able to marry and carry on the Lannister name. And we all know the Lannister name was Tywin's biggest concern.
After this gut-punch, Tywin resigned as Hand to the King. Tywin then waited to see that Robert Baratheon's side was winning the rebellion, y’know because Tywin would NEVER be on a losing side. At this point, Tywin marched to King’s Landing to sack the city and abolish the family line. This was when the Mountain did all that horrible stuff to Oberyn Martell's sister, Elia.
However, had Rhaegar and Cersei been married, everything we now know to be true in Game of Thrones may be different. Like, everything would be different. Cersei would have been Daenerys' sister-in-law, y'all. That's how different everything would be.
9 She Didn't Want To Behead Ned Stark
The beheading of Ned Stark is something Game of Thrones fans are still not over, because Ned Stark, guys! He was so good, so honest, so moral, so perfect. It was easy to root for Ned Stark up until Joffrey ordered he be beheaded, which nope. Big nope. Bye, Joffrey. Hate you forever.
In Ned's final scene, you can very clearly see Cersei tell Joffrey to stop it. Cersei even pleads with Joffrey until a guard pushes her away. This is because Cersei knew what a horrible choice beheading Ned Stark was. It was one of the choices that put everything into gear. I mean, just imagine a Game of Thrones in which Ned Stark is still alive and went to the Wall like he was promised? Jon may have found out about his true parentage. Robb may have never engaged in battle, thus never dying at the Red Wedding. Ned may have already defeated the Night King, just because Ned is that perfect. Everything would be different, and by different I mean better.
Had Ned never lost his head, tensions between the different houses would never have escalated in the way in which they did. Cersei Lannister understood that. Also, you could argue other rulers would understand diplomacy, but Daenerys Targaryen just burned down what is assumed to be the last of Tarly men, so... yeah.
8 She Is Willing To Take Down All Her Enemies
While Cersei Lannister intended to have mercy on Ned Stark after he confessed to his crimes, she also intended to take him out as an enemy. If you remember all the way back to season one, Ned Stark’s downfall was that he found out Robert’s children were actually Cersei and Jaime's children. ("The seed is strong.") Ned Stark knew that upon finding out, Robert would slaughter Cersei, Jaime and the children. So instead of going straight to Robert Baratheon with this information, Ned went to Cersei and warned her that he intended to tell Robert.
Wrong choice, Ned. At this point, Cersei had Robert killed off, planted Joffrey on the throne, and accused Ned of treason, all at break-neck speed. While Cersei didn’t want Ned to die per se, she did eliminate her enemy in that she took away his power over her.
Since season one, Cersei has taken down every single person she’s seen as a threat to her livelihood. In fact, Maggy the Frog’s prophecy told Cersei she would meet her death at the hand of her younger brother. Cersei always assumed this would be Tyrion Lannister, so Cersei went to great lengths to take down Tyrion, even positioning him to fight the Mountain. Likewise, Cersei's prophecy also said a new, younger, more beautiful queen would take everything she holds dear. Cersei assumed this would be Sansa Stark and, later, Margaery Tyrell. In both situations, Cersei worked hard to eliminate or dull both potential enemies. Whether you are seen as an immediately enemy or a long-term foe, Cersei will take you out.
Oh, and there was also the time Cersei blew up the Sept, y'know, because enemies.
7 She's Not Overly Trusting, Like Other Rulers
We’ve seen quite a few rulers be all too welcoming to new council, which isn’t recommended in Game of Thrones. I think the Game of Thrones rule of thumb is something like "trust no one, not even your own mom."
Seriously, trust no one.
That said, welcoming people into your council doesn’t always end up being the wrong thing, as it's worked out to Daenerys' advantage. But it is wise to keep some distance, which Cersei does more than any other character. Cersei has seemingly closed herself off from almost everyone. At this point, she's not even completely trusting of Jaime, her twin brother/lover. The only person Cersei seems to currently trust is Qyburn and, honestly, she probably doesn’t fully trust him either.
In comparison, Daenerys has had, and banished, and welcomed back Jorah Mormont to her council. Daenerys also welcomed Ser Barristan Selmy into her inner circle, after he failed to protect her family and served the Lannisters. There's also Varys and Tyrion Lannister, two members of her council who seem to question her actions. Of course, these men have proven to be loyal to Daenerys, but Cersei's tighter circle may prove to be the smarter way of running a council.
6 Her Alliance With Qyburn Is Helpful AF
Speaking of Cersei Lannister’s inner circle, Qyburn is probably the most helpful (and creepiest) dude on the show. Yeah, he performs illegal experiments on humans, which is not honorable. In fact, his dude is so dishonorable that he was kicked out of the maesters club or whatever they call themselves.
Dishonor aside, Qyburn’s odd (and creepy) medical knowledge led to Jaime’s new and arguably improved hand, and the Mountain’s new and arguably improved life. Qyburn’s ruthless medical advancements have helped Cersei's case in many ways. I mean, have you seen the Mountain? He is the world’s best bodyguard ever. On top of his medical knowledge, Qyburn also knows everything and anything because of his little birds. So he can bring the Mountain back from the dead AND gossip with Cersei over wine. It's a win win.
On top of all of this, Qyburn helped Cersei pull off the Wildfire plot, which not only kept her alive but also propelled her onto the throne. Yes, Qyburn's a total weirdo, but you can't deny how helpful he is. While Daenerys or Jon Snow may have been turned off by Qyburn’s nature, Cersei saw him for what a real asset he is.
5 Her Other Alliances Are Also Helpful AF
Furthermore, all of Cersei’s allies seem to be helpful AF. Sure, Cersei may have had to make alliances with the creepiest creeps in Westeros, but she's game. And Cersei will also go to any length necessary to secure said allies. In Euron Greyjoy’s case, Cersei literally promised him her vagina in exchange for his help, because that's how Cersei does it, y'all.
And boy, did Euron Greyjoy help her. Euron took down a great deal of the ships Daenerys secured with her alliance to Yara and Theon. Euron also brought Cersei a very generous gift in the form of Ellaria Sand, the women responsible for murdering Mrycella, who was way too sweet to ever survive in Game of Thrones.
Jaime was also able to talk the House Tarly into switching sides, using racial differences with Daenerys' army as a reason for aligning with House Lannister, which, hats off for the persuasive chit chat. In having House Tarly as allies, Cersei took down Highgarden and repaid the Iron Bank of Braavos.
Despite being cold as ice, Cersei Lannister gets the right people on her side.
4 Um, She's STILL Alive
Do I think Cersei Lannister deserves the Iron Throne simply because she’s still alive? Um, yeah.
Cersei Lannister is one of the only – possibly the only – character to have survived King’s Landing this long. And King’s Landing has proven to be a hard place to stay alive, as many who come there - Ned Stark, Oberyn Martell, Margaery Tyrell - have met their end. In retrospect, it's actually superbly impressive that young Sansa Stark got out of King’s Landing alive. Even the smartest minds in King’s Landing – Varys, Littlefinger, Tyrion – fled King’s Landing, at one point or another, for their own safety. Cersei Lannister, on the other hand, has survived seven long seasons in King’s Landing, where the survival rate is pretty low. The fact that Cersei not only survived, but was also able to strive in that environment shows what a keen mind she has.
If Cersei can apply the same survivalist instinct and tactful moves to her rule, she’ll be a great ruler. Though, her ability to do that remains to be seen.
3 She's The Best Westeros Ruler As Of Yet
Maybe you’re on Team Daenerys or Team Jon Snow. That’s cool. There’s certainly reasons to be on said teams, but you’ve also never actually seen them on the Iron Throne. Yes, you’ve seen them rule their specific areas, but you haven’t seen them attempt to rule the Seven Kingdoms, which is a whole other playing field.
That said, we’ve seen Cersei Lannister rule and it’s not horrible. In fact, she’s game. I mean, we all saw that map on her floor. Girlfriend is here for it. In comparison to Robert Baratheon, Cersei probably drinks about as much wine as him, but she definitely cares about ruling much more than him. Robert Baratheon seemed completely checked out by the time we got to meet him. He only cared about wine and prostitutes, so much so that it was hard to imagine a time when Robert cared about the Seven Kingdoms. On top of that, Robert also drowned King's Landing in debt, which Cersei just managed to pay off.
Next was Joffrey, and do I even need to tell you why he failed as a king? Tommen was too young, too week, and too soft to be king. He used as a pawn by too many people. Finally, Cersei Lannister took the throne. Of the four rulers we've seen, she stands out as the most fit. Do I think she’s a perfect ruler? No, but she’s better than anyone else we’ve seen on the Iron Throne yet and that's worth something.
2 It Was (Kind Of) Part Of Her Prophecy
Prophecies can be interpreted in many different ways, because y’know that’s the thing about prophecies. In Cersei's prophecy told to her by Maggy the Frog, it was said that Cersei would not marry the prince, but she would indeed become the queen. And Cersei did become queen, as she was queen when we met her all the way back in season one.
However, maybe Maggy meant queen in her own right. Maybe Maggy, all along, had been predicting Cersei’s rule. This could be true, especially considering the fact that Maggy goes on to say a new, younger, more beautiful queen will come and cast Cersei down. Since Cersei wasn’t cast down while she was the queen by marriage, Maggy could have been predicting Cersei being cast down while being queen in her own right... right?
It's a stretch but, like I said, that's the thing about prophecies. You can interpret them many different ways.
1 The Only Reason That Matters: She Friggin' Took It
Some characters (um, Daenerys Targaryen) seem so very obsessed with the rightful succession of the Iron Throne, but those characters (again, Daenerys Targaryen) fail to see that the rightful succession doesn’t really matter. That's right, the rightful succession is shot to hell.
In looking at the beginning of the Iron Throne, the Targaryens took the throne by force 300 years prior to the events taking place on Game of Thrones now. So the Targaryen rule started because they simply TOOK the Iron Throne. After winning Robert's Rebellion, Robert Baratheon TOOK the Iron Throne. You see the pattern here. It's more about having the balls to take the Iron Throne, rather than having the actual claim to the throne.
On this note, way back in season one, Cersei Lannister talked to Ned Stark about taking the Iron Throne saying, "You should have taken the realm for yourself. It was there for the taking. Jaime told me how you found him on the Iron Throne the day King’s Landing fell, and made him yield it up. That was your moment. All you needed to do was climb those steps, and sit. Such a sad mistake."
You have it right there. Since season one, we've been told that the Iron Throne is to be taken, not claimed. And yet, for whatever reason, some audience members (and Daenerys Targaryen) still think a rightful claim to the throne means anything in this world. It doesn't, as the first king to whom we were introduced, Robert Baratheon, had just taken the Iron Throne himself, despite no claim.
Likewise, Cersei Lannister saw her chance and took the Iron Throne, which is all that really matters right now. That's why Cersei Lannister has the Iron Throne and that's why Cersei Lannister deserves the Iron Throne. She took it.