- "Anyone who isn't us is an enemy."
- ―Queen Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister, rarely called Cersei Baratheon, is a major character in the first and second seasons. She is played by starring cast member Lena Headey and debuts in the series premiere. Cersei is the Queen Regent of the Seven Kingdoms. She has installed her son Joffrey Baratheon on the Iron Throne. She claims that he is a legitimate son from her marriage to the late King Robert Baratheon but he is actually the product of her incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime Lannister. She is embroiled in a rivalry with House Stark, fearing that they will expose the truth.
Cersei is the only daughter of Joanna Lannister and Lord Tywin Lannister. Tywin is the head of House Lannister, the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms and Lord Paramount of the Westerlands. The Westerlands are one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and House Lannister is one of the Great Houses of the realm. Cersei is the twin sister of Ser Jaime Lannister and the elder sister of Tyrion Lannister. She was raised in privilege in the family seat of Casterly Rock. She is noted for her great beauty.
Cersei's mother died when she was four years old, after giving birth to her younger brother Tyrion. Like her father, Cersei has always blamed Tyrion for her mother's death and deeply resents that her mother died so that Tyrion would be brought into the world. Cersei's father Tywin was constantly away from home during her childhood and teenaged years, serving as Hand of the King at the capital, with only infrequent visits back to his seat at Casterly Rock. Coupled with the death of her mother, this meant that Cersei and her two brothers were primarily raised by servants attached to House Lannister. She began an incestuous relationship with Jaime in her youth which has continued despite her marriage. Cersei has had other partners but Jaime has always been faithful to her.
She is the wife of King Robert Baratheon, a political marriage Robert agreed to in thanks for her father's late switching of sides in the civil war which brought him to power. She was aged 19 when she married Robert and became Queen. She has three children: Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. She claims that they are Robert's although they are actually illegitimate and a result of her relationship with her brother Jaime, which is not common knowledge.
In King's Landing, Queen Cersei watches the silent sisters preparing the body of Lord Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, for burial. She and her twin brother, Jaime, discuss the situation and wonder if Jon told anyone else about what he had discovered. Jaime tells her not to worry, since if the King knew the truth they'd be dead already. She suggests that Jaime could be the next Hand, but Jaime refuses, citing the position as too much responsibility and danger.
King Robert decides to travel to Winterfell and ask his best friend, Lord Eddard Stark, to become the new Hand, as well as proposing that his son Joffrey marry Eddard's eldest daughter, Sansa. Cersei, Jaime, and a retinue of courtiers accompany him. When the royal party arrives at Winterfell (the seat of House Stark) Lord Eddard presents his household to Robert and Cersei. After initial greetings, Robert demands to see the crypts and pay his respects to his former betrothed, Lyanna Stark, stoking Cersei's impatience. After Robert and Eddard depart, Cersei sends Jaime to find their younger brother Tyrion, who has become distracted at the local brothel.
That evening a great feast is held and Cersei and Catelyn Stark exchange cordial words. Cersei seems impressed by Sansa, thinking that she will be a great hit at court. The next morning Eddard and Robert go hunting, leaving the castle largely empty. Cersei and Jaime liaise in derelict tower. Bran Stark climbs the tower and finds them engaged in sexual intercourse. He is caught watching by Cersei, and Jaime grabs him. He asks how old Bran is. When Bran replies "ten", Jaime sighs and pushes him out of the window, musing "the things I do for love."
A month later, at breakfast, Tyrion tells his family that Bran is expected to live and notes his sibling's guarded reactions to the news. Cersei visits Catelyn who is sitting vigil for Bran. Cersei tells Catelyn that her first child, a beautiful, black-haired boy, died because of a fever. She and Robert were grief-stricken and her prayers and tears were for naught. She offers to pray for Bran's survival, hoping that this time the gods will listen. The royal party sets out for King's Landing, now joined by Eddard, Sansa and Arya. However, a minor fracas between Arya's direwolf and Joffrey on the Kingsroad escalates into an argument between Cersei and Eddard. Robert defuses the situation by agreeing that he and Eddard will attend to their own discipline. Cersei insists that the direwolf must be killed. When Nymeria cannot be found (Arya having driven her off to protect her), Cersei has Sansa's wolf, Lady, killed instead. Eddard, furious, attends to the matter himself.Arriving back at court, Cersei talks to Joffrey about the incident on the Kingsroad. She tells him that when he is king, the truth will be whatever he decides it will be. Joffrey tells her that he thinks there will be trouble with the Starks, and that when he is king he'll double their taxes, force them to contribute to a standing army and, if they should object, he'd crush them. Cersei elucidates that the North is too vast and wild to be militarily conquered by outsiders. She cautions Joffrey that he will need to be cleverer as king. She also advises him to be kind to Sansa to avoid storing up trouble for later, and concludes that "anyone who isn't us is an enemy." A raven arrives in King's Landing with news of Bran's recovery. Cersei fears he will expose their secret, but Jaime comforts her.
Cersei and Robert share a drink and discuss the threat from the Dothraki now that Daenerys Targaryen is married and pregnant. Cersei also tells Robert that at the start of their marriage she truly loved him. He says he knows, but could never love her back due to his feelings for Lyanna Stark.
Cersei and King Robert visit Eddard as he recovers from wounds sustained fighting Jaime and his guards. Cersei is furious with Eddard for having her brother Tyrion arrested and for fighting with Jaime, but Eddard is unrepentant.
Eddard confronts Cersei and tells her he knows her children are fathered by Jaime. She does not deny it, instead saying that she and her brother belong together, always. Cersei says she did love Robert, at the start, but on their wedding night he uttered Lyanna's name, which soured their relationship afterwards. Eddard advises her to leave King's Landing before Robert returns from a hunt, as he will then tell Robert the truth. Cersei instead warns him that "In the game of thrones, you win or you die."
Robert is mortally wounded on the hunt. Cersei is concerned that Eddard will tell Robert the truth, but Eddard chooses to spare his friend further pain. Robert names Eddard Protector of the Realm and regent. Upon Robert's death Cersei quickly installs Joffrey on the throne. Eddard tries to reveal the truth with the help of Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish, but Baelish betrays him and sides with Cersei. Eddard is arrested and imprisoned, whilst his guards are killed.
Cersei persuades Sansa to write a letter asking her brother Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey in return for her father's life. Sansa agrees, but the plan backfires, as the letter merely encourages Robb to raise an army and march into the Riverlands to confront the Lannister armies directly. In open court, Cersei encourages Sansa to make a new plea to Joffrey for her father's life. Joffrey agrees to spare him and let him join the Night's Watch, if Eddard recants the claims he has made about Joffrey not being the true king. Sansa is sure he will. Cersei is present at the Sept of Baelor when Eddard Stark 'confesses' his crimes, as per their arrangement brokered by Sansa and Varys. She appears to be genuinely shocked when Joffrey ignores the arrangement and demands Eddard's decapitation. The order is carried out by Ser Ilyn Payne, the royal executioner.
War erupts between the Lannister and Stark armies in the Riverlands and Cersei attempts to secure her son's hold on the Iron Throne. She takes a new lover, her cousin Lancel who was King Robert's squire and gave him the wine that made him too drunk to slay the boar that killed him. She also receives a letter informing her of Jaime's capture by Robb Stark.
Cersei continues to govern from King's Landing as the Queen Regent to Joffrey. She is driven to defend Joffrey's claim in the face of several challengers in the War of the Five Kings. Facing imminent winter she orders the city gates barred to prevent further refugees from entering the city. She is perturbed by the arrival of her brother Tyrion who has been named acting Hand of the King by their father Tywin Lannister. She fears that Tyrion schemes to usurp her power and is frustrated when he tells her that since she failed to prevent the death of Eddard Stark she has been viewed as the disappointing child by Tywin. Tyrion wins her temporary acceptance when he pledges to free Jaime from captivity but insists that they need to recover the escaped Arya Stark to facilitate a prisoner exchange.
Stannis Baratheon sends copies of a letter detailing Cersei's incestuous relationship with Jaime and the illegitimacy of her children to high lords throughout the seven kingdoms fuelling widespread rumors. Cersei tasks Petyr Baelish with recovering Arya and is enraged when Baelish dares to reference the rumors. She asks Joffrey to enlist the aid of Tywin in the search but he refuses to involve his grandfather. He provokes an argument with Cersei about the rumors and threatens her life when she slaps him. He then orders a citywide massacre of Robert Baratheon's bastard children.
Cersei rejects King Robb Stark's peace terms and refuses a request for aid from the Night's Watch, ignoring news of wights attacking the Lord Commander. Tyrion ousts Lord Janos Slynt as commander of the city watch for his part in the massacre. Cersei angrily confronts him for displacing her loyal servant. He warns her to consider the importance of the support of her subjects; she is dismissive of his concerns but becomes upset at the weight of responsibility she has born. Tyrion mocks her relationship with Jaime. She ends the discussion by saying that Tyrion's finest joke was killing their mother when he was born.
Tyrion tests the loyalty of the remaining small council members by feeding each of them a different marriage plan for Myrcella. Pycelle dutifully informs Cersei of Tyrion's plans to marry Myrcella into House Martell of Dorne despite his promise to keep them secret. Cersei confronts Tyrion who insists that the alliance is necessary and that Myrcella will be safer in Dorne. He then has Pycelle arrested for breaking his confidence. Tyrion sends Petyr Baelish to treat with Catelyn Stark leaving Varys as the last member of Cersei's small council in the city.
Robb Stark wins a major victory at the Battle of Oxcross. Joffrey responds by having Sansa Stark publicly beaten, sparing her only because of Cersei's orders. Tyrion intervenes causing further deterioration in his relationship with Joffrey. Cersei issues a warrant demanding the release of Pycelle. She tasks her lover and cousin Lancel Lannister with delivering it to Tyrion. Lancel arrives in the middle of the night, exposing their relationship and unwittingly allowing Tyrion to make Lancel his spy.
Cersei is pleased when she learns of King Renly Baratheon's death. Tyrion considers it a sign of an imminent attack by his brother King Stannis Baratheon, who has assumed control of Renly's army. Cersei refuses to discuss measures for the defense of the city and remains irate about the marriage pact with Dorne. Tyrion learns from Lancel that Cersei is relying on the Alchemists' Guild to supply Wildfire to defend the city and subverts her relationship with the Alchemists' Guild.
Cersei and the court assemble at the shore of the Blackwater Bay for the departure of Princess Myrcella. Cersei remains livid about Tyrion's arrangements for her daughter. She threatens to one day deprive him of someone he loves. As they move through the city to return to the Red Keep they are confronted by angry crowds of starving smallfolk. Joffrey is hit by thrown excrement and triggers a riot by demanding that his guards kill everyone in the crowd. Tyrion marshals the Lannister guards to lead them to safety.
Cersei learns that Sansa has had her first period. She summons Sansa and offers her advice on motherhood. Cersei tells her to love only her children, since love makes you weak, but it is a mother's obligation to love her children. Sansa asks if she should love Joffrey; Cersei replies that she can try.
Cersei meets with Tyrion to discuss the imminent attack of King's Landing by King Stannis Baratheon. She admits her struggles controlling Joffrey and openly references her relationship with Jaime. She confides her fear that Joffrey's madness is the price for her sins, including her incestuous relationship. Tyrion tries to confort her by telling her that Tommen and Myrcella are decent children.
Joffrey is keen to fight in defense of the city. Cersei is furious and suspects Tyrion of trying to kill her son. She mistakenly identifies Ros as his lover because of the Lannister pendant Tyrion gave her and seizes the opportunity to deliver on the threat she made when Myrcella left. Cersei has the prostitute kidnapped as insurance against Tyrion placing Joffrey in harms way. She reveals her ploy over dinner and Tyrion vows to free Ros and take revenge when Cersei least suspects it.
Cersei provides refuge for the women of the court in Maegor's Holdfast during the battle. She prepares for the worst by having Ser Ilyn Payne present and obtaining deadly Essence of Nightshade poison from the reinstated Pycelle. She drinks heavily during the siege and torments Sansa Stark when she tries to keep up the morale of the women by praying. She tells Sansa that the gods have no mercy and that Ser Ilyn is there to kill them should the Red Keep be breached. Lancel is wounded and returns from the walls to report that Stannis has reached the Mud Gate despite Tyrion's ingenious use of Wildfire to destroy a portion of his fleet. Cersei sends Lancel to bring Joffrey back to the Red Keep, ignoring his protests that it will damage morale. Joffrey willingly leaves the field but his exit is a blow to the men. Lancel begs Cersei to let him return Joffrey to the front, believing the battle is lost otherwise. Cersei pushes him into a stone pillar, aggravating his injury, and storms out. Convinced the battle is lost, and not wanting her children to die by Stannis's hand, she takes Tommen to the Iron Throne room and prepares to poison him. She is stopped just in time by the unexpected arrival of Tywin, who reports that they have won the battle. Tyrion is betrayed and wounded by Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard during the fighting. Tyrion's role in defending the city is not acknowledged and he is left to recover from his wounds, stripped of his power. Rumors circulate that Cersei ordered the attack on Tyrion. No longer considering Tyrion a threat, Cersei releases Ros.
Cersei orchestrates a public ceremony rewarding those who aided the city in the battle. Tywin is officially recognized as Hand of the King, Petyr Baelish is named Lord of Harrenhal for brokering the alliance with House Tyrell and Ser Loras is offered a favor of his choosing. He asks Joffrey to marry his sister, Margaery Tyrell. Joffrey says that he is constrained by his betrothal to Sansa but Cersei intervenes to insist that the treachery of House Stark frees him from any obligation. The court welcome the decision with a round of applause.
Cersei is willful, ambitious, and cunning in the sense that she is utterly willing to betray anyone who trusts her, or do anything to protect her own. However, she is also arrogant and self-centered to a fault. While she certainly believes herself to be a master strategist, she is extremely impatient, short-sighted, and displays poor judgement, making her actually not very skilled at manipulating enemies who openly do not trust her. In public, Cersei often tries to exude a sense of calm and regal control over her surroundings. However, when things do not go her own way Cersei's usual response is to become extremely flippant, even when the assembled Small Council is trying to give her advice which would serve her own interests.
Cersei despises the restraints placed on her because she is a woman and is jealous of the freedoms that men have in her society. Several of the noble Houses in the Seven Kingdoms have more liberal attitudes when it comes to involving female members of their family in politics. The women of House Tyrell, for example, are expected to be involved in politics and have thus been trained from a young age in the skills of ruling. Unfortunately, Cersei's father Tywin is a staunch conservative, and never envisioned Cersei playing an active role in politics. Instead, her duty was to cement a marriage alliance and raise royal children, nothing more. The practical result is that, right or wrong, Tywin didn't raise Cersei to be skilled in ruling or in political intrigue. While confronted with these shortfalls, Cersei often blames her father or society in general for not giving her the years of training needed to rule, but complaining about it doesn't change the fact that she simply doesn't possess these skills.
Cersei's lack of a parental relationship growing up is reflected in how poorly she has served as a mother to her own children. While she certainly dotes on them, she does not possess much in the way of wisdom or advice. She is unable to act as a stable moral instructor to them. During the 17 years of Cersei's loveless marriage with Robert, she increasingly fantasized about how her eldest son Joffrey would one day succeed Robert and become a great king himself. Ironically, while Cersei does dote on her children, she is more attached to her own mental constructs of them than the reality. She dreamed about the great king Joffrey would grow into, never acknowledging that he was really a petulant sociopath. After Joffrey was crowned king and began his reign of terror, Cersei's defining characteristic is that she will never admit to any fault in her son, no matter how horrible or simply ridiculous his actions become. Her denial only serves to indulge Joffrey's madness. She considers herself to be obsessed with the welfare of all of her children. However, she has showered so much attention on Joffrey throughout his life that she actually doesn't know her other children very well.
|Season One appearances|
|Winter is Coming||The Kingsroad||Lord Snow||Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things||The Wolf and the Lion|
|A Golden Crown||You Win or You Die||The Pointy End||Baelor||Fire and Blood|
|Season Two appearances|
|The North Remembers||The Night Lands||What is Dead May Never Die||Garden of Bones||The Ghost of Harrenhal|
|The Old Gods and the New||A Man Without Honor||The Prince of Winterfell||Blackwater||Valar Morghulis|
- "That's what ruling is. Lying on a bed of weeds, ripping them out before they strangle you in your sleep."
- ―Cersei Lannister
- "Sometimes I wonder if this is the price, for what we've done, for our sins."
- ―Cersei Lannister
- "When you play the game of thrones you win, or you die. There's no middle ground."
- ―Cersei Lannister
In the books
In the Song of Ice and Fire novels, Cersei is a beautiful but also somewhat cold woman who does not get on with her husband, whom she considers to be a fat oaf. However, she dotes on and loves her three children. She is not politically skilled, and frustrated that her options for power are limited by her gender. Cersei is close to her brother Jaime, but is cowed by her father and despises Tyrion, whom she blames for killing her mother Joanna, who died in childbirth.
According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Cersei Lannister" is pronounced "SER-see LAN-iss-ter".
- Cersei Lannister at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Baratheon of King's Landing - Cersei Baratheon entry
- ↑ "The Night Lands"
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Baratheon of King's Landing - Tyrion Lannister entry
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "A Man Without Honor"
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "The Prince of Winterfell"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Winter is Coming"
- ↑ "The Kingsroad"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 "Lord Snow"
- ↑ "The Wolf and the Lion"
- ↑ "A Golden Crown"
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 "You Win or You Die"
- ↑ "The Pointy End"
- ↑ "Baelor"
- ↑ "Fire and Blood"
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 "The North Remembers"
- ↑ "The Night Lands"
- ↑ "What is Dead May Never Die"
- ↑ "Garden of Bones"
- ↑ "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "The Old Gods and the New"
- ↑ "Blackwater"
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 "Valar Morghulis"
|Lord:||Lord Tywin Lannister||Heir:||Tyrion Lannister (disputed)|
|Seat:||Casterly Rock||Lands:||The Westerlands|
|Title(s):||Lord Paramount of the Westerlands · Lord of Casterly Rock · Warden of the West · King of the Rock (pre-War of Conquest)|
|Ancestors:||Lann the Clever · Loren Lannister|
|Current members:||Kevan Lannister · Cersei Lannister · Jaime Lannister · Dorna Lannister · Lancel Lannister · Cynda Lannister · Sansa Stark|
|Deceased members:||Tytos Lannister · Joanna Lannister · Stafford Lannister · Alton Lannister · Martyn Lannister · Willem Lannister|
|Household:||Podrick Payne · Bronn · Gregor Clegane · Amory Lorch · Polliver · Rorge · Biter|
|Overlord:||House Baratheon of King's Landing|
|Lord:||Prince Tommen Baratheon||Heir:||Princess Myrcella Baratheon|
|Seat:||Red Keep, King's Landing||Lands:||The Crownlands|
|Title(s):||King of the Andals and the First Men · Lord of the Seven Kingdoms · Protector of the Realm|
|Current members:||Queen Regent Cersei Lannister|
|Deceased members:||Robert Baratheon · King Joffrey I|
|Household:||Lord Tywin Lannister · Lady Margaery Tyrell · Ser Loras Tyrell · Lord Tyrion Lannister · Grand Maester Pycelle · Lord Varys · Ser Jaime Lannister · Ser Meryn Trant · Ser Preston Greenfield · Ser Arys Oakheart · Ser Boros Blount · Ser Balon Swann · Ser Ilyn Payne · Lord Gyles Rosby · Ser Lancel Lannister · Ser Aron Santagar · Septa Eglantine · Dontos Hollard|