House of the Dragon will premiere on August 21, taking fans back to the brutal world of Westeros. The series will feature multiple fascinating characters, but it’s unlikely that any will match the villainous heights set by the Game of Thrones baddies, especially Cersei Lannister.
Played by five-time Emmy nominee Lena Headey, Cersei was Westeros’s cruel and cunning queen. The character was complex and full of unique traits that made her a television icon. And while not all of her qualities were positive — quite the opposite, in fact — they all made her tremendously compelling.
Cersei Is Cunning
Deceitful and evasive, Cersei Lannister is the embodiment of cunning. She is one of the smartest villains in Game of Thrones, a master manipulator who excels at getting what she wants by using others to do her dirty work. Cersei never speaks the truth; instead, she uses lies to get what she wants, never revealing her plans unless necessary.
Cersei shows her cunning multiple times throughout Game of Thrones, particularly after becoming Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Her successful plan to kill Robert and plot to outmaneuver the Sparrows and the Tyrells are also perfect examples of how crafty and devious she was, working from the shadows and striking when her enemies least expect it.
Cersei Is Loyal
According to Tyrion Lannister, arguably the smartest character in Game of Thrones, Cersei’s one redeeming quality was her love for her children. Well, that and her cheekbones. Indeed, Cersei adores her offspring and is willing to lie, steal, and kill for them. However, she is willfully ignorant of her children’s flaws, making her vulnerable to their whims, especially Joffrey’s.
Cersei is also devoted to her brother/lover, Jaime, whom she also protects against everyone. However, the same loyalty doesn’t translate for her father, Tywin, or her younger brother, Tyrion, who, she hates above everyone. Cersei actively tries to kill Tyrion several times, and while she respects and fears her father, she doesn’t exactly love him.
Cersei Is Willful
Everything Cersei does is deliberate and self-serving. She never does or says anything by accident; each of her words has a firm purpose, even if they’re spoken in the heat of an argument. Cersei is willful to a fault, to the point where she gets into trouble because of her misguided determination.
When cornered by her father and the possibility of her affair with Jaime becoming public knowledge, Cersei chooses to reveal their incestuous relationship on her terms. She doesn’t care about the consequences or what the revelation will do to her relationship with Tywin; all she cares about is having the last word, and she does, leaving Tywin baffled, speechless, and vulnerable for the first time.
Cersei Is Insecure
For all her strength and power, Cersei is also a deeply insecure character. She learns from a prophecy that a younger and more beautiful queen will replace her before the Valonqar “wraps his hands about (her) pale white throat and choke the life from (her).”
The prospect of her doom is too much for Cersei to bear. She spends her life looking around corners, distrustful of any woman who comes close to her or her children and hating Tyrion with every fiber of her being. Cersei’s insecurities drive her to solitude; she pushes away all those who could help her, burning bridges until she’s alone with nothing but an ancient Maester and a zombie soldier.
Cersei Is Proud
The Lannisters were among the best characters in Game of Thrones. They were intelligent, intriguing, and complex. Above all, they were proud to a fault, but none out-prided Cersei. Whereas Tyrion and Jaime got humbled down by the traumatic events they live throughout the show, Cersei goes the opposite way.
It’s not like Cersei doesn’t go through her fair share of pain. However, her trauma only makes her angrier and more brutal, increasing her pride to the point where she thinks herself untouchable. It takes Daenerys’ dragon burning King’s Landing for Cersei’s pride to shatter, but it’s already too late by that point.
Cersei Is Impatient
Patience is a virtue, and all good things come to those who wait, which might explain why Cersei loses the game. She is impatient beyond belief. Haughty and impertinent, Cersei wants everything, and she wants it now. Unlike other, more politically astute characters, Cersei’s impatience leads her to make serious mistakes by acting before all the variables become clear.
Her imprisonment by the Sparrows is the perfect example. Cersei is desperate to get rid of Margaery, and empowers the Sparrows to do so. However, she miscalculates their intentions and influence, inadvertently turning them into the strongest force in King’s Landing. Cersei suffers a great deal under the Sparrows yet learns nothing from her mistakes. Indeed, she remains as impatient as ever.
Cersei Is Ambitious
Like every other member of her wretched family — except for Jaime — Cersei is ambitious. She has wanted to be queen since childhood, knowing that a woman can only have a voice in Westeros through a position of great power. Cersei’s ambitions only become greater as the show progresses, eventually leading her to become the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Cersei’s ambition would’ve probably spun out of control had she remained on the Iron Throne. Her desire to triumph over her enemies would’ve led her to attack the North and Dorne, and with Euron Greyjoy’s seemingly unstoppable fleet, she might’ve even won.
Cersei Is Narcissistic
Cersei Lannister delivers unforgettable quotes in Game of Thrones, and each perfectly captures her narcissism. She once famously declares how “everyone who isn’t us is an enemy,” showing how she often sees herself as the center of everything. Anyone that isn’t beside her is, by definition, against her.
Profoundly self-absorbed, Cersei is enamored with herself. An argument could be made about how her intense love for her twin and children comes from seeing them as extensions of herself. Cersei cares only about the things that directly concern her; she would burn King’s Landing and everyone in it if that ensured her safety.
Cersei Is Stubborn
Despite having counselors preoccupied with safeguarding her interests, Cersei ignores their advice because she believes herself superior to them. In her mind, she knows best and always has the right answer to everything. She refuses to admit to and own her mistakes.
Cersei knows treating Sansa Stark with kindness is in her best interests yet refuses to do so. She does the same with Margaery and won’t listen to anyone when they tell her she needs to control Joffrey’s savage ways. Once she makes up her mind about something, Cersei refuses to back down, and that stubbornness eventually leads to her demise.
Cersei Is Short-Sighted
Perhaps Cersei’s worst yet most distinctive character trait is her short-sightedness. Although ambitious and cunning, Cersei shows a remarkable lack of understanding of how Westeros works. She does a terrible job at maintaining alliances and refuses to make new ones. Cersei chooses the easy way out without thinking of the long-term consequences.
Empowering the Sparrows proves an astounding mistake that backfires spectacularly. Cersei also refuses to cooperate with the alliance to deal with the threat in the North, believing she can hold on to the Iron Throne by letting the Starks, their allies, and the dead kill each other. Cersei’s short-sightedness ultimately costs her everything, proving that players must think ahead to win the game of thrones.