Cersei Lannister is definitely up there as one of Game Of Thrones’s greatest characters, if not the best. Despite being reviled by fans, Cersei is actually quite misunderstood as a character, which is what makes her so nuanced. Like all of George RR Martin’s characters, no one is always who they seem at the surface level.
Throughout the show’s eight seasons, Cersei has proven herself to be a worthy adversary for everyone’s favorite characters, especially her little brother, Tyrion. However, like everyone else, she makes some mistakes along the way. Some of her actions can be seen as amazing strategy in the game of thrones, while others were just downright stupid. Here are five times Cersei Lannister was a genius and five times when she wasn’t.
10 Not A Genius: Having Sex With Jaime At Winterfell
On Game Of Thrones’s pilot episode, it was clear that they weren’t pulling any punches with its graphic subject material. We knew it would be filled with violence, but we weren’t expecting full-on twincest. Bran Stark is climbing the castles of Winterfell, only to discover Queen Cersei Lannister having sex with her twin brother, Jaime.
After this, Jaime pushes Bran out the window. Now, hooking up with your brother is disgusting as is, but it was stupid of them to do it in the halls of Winterfell. They couldn’t have waited until they got back to King’s Landing? Bran’s attempted assassination kicks off the events that would eventually lead to war between the Starks and the Lannisters.
9 Genius: Assassinating Robert Baratheon Via A Hunting Accident
Assassinating a king was never going to be easy as questions would arise automatically. To keep her hands clean, Cersei comes up with a devious plan to kill her husband by making it look like a total accident. Everyone in the kingdom knows that King Robert is an alcoholic. Due to this, having him get killed by a boar on a hunting day would make total sense.
Lancel Lannister, who is Cersei’s cousin and Robert’s squire, is tasked with giving the King his wine that is spiked to become a little too strong. Robert eventually succumbs to his wounds, allowing Cersei to appoint her son, Joffrey, to the throne immediately.
8 Not A Genius: Believing Tyrion Killed Joffrey
The rivalry between Cersei and Tyrion is one of the greatest in television history. That being said, Cersei is fully aware of Tyrion’s intellect and strategic mind. Therefore, Cersei should have surely realized that Tyrion isn’t so dumb that he would poison Joffrey after literally handing him the cup seconds before.
One could argue that she just used Joffrey’s assassination as an attempt to rid herself of Tyrion, but as the seasons progress, it is made clear that Cersei genuinely believes Tyrion did it. She’s so blinded by her hatred for him that she’s willing to accept that as the truth. Meanwhile, the true culprit behind the poisoning, Olenna Tyrell, is able to get the last laugh in her final moments.
7 Genius: Forcing Shae To Testify Against Tyrion
Pretty much the entire trial for Tyrion is orchestrated by Cersei. She’s able to paint a picture so perfectly that makes everyone believe Tyrion was the one who poisoned Joffrey. Still, she knows Tyrion could be up to anything, so she’s able to attack Tyrion on an emotional level by forcing Shae to testify against him. The story she makes Shae tell makes so much sense as it aligns perfectly with Tyrion’s previous actions within the show. She knew this would be the final blow that would make him lose it, which works as he finally erupts directly after Shae’s testimony.
6 Not A Genius: Having Ned Stark Imprisoned
After Ned Stark discovers that all of Cersei’s children are, in fact, Jaime’s, he makes the stupid move of telling Cersei about it. Obviously, Cersei is not going to stand for this. That being said, having the Warden Of The North imprisoned isn’t the smartest play either. As she stated in an earlier episode, the North is too big to conquer. Therefore, there was bound to be some resistance from the northern armies.
To make things even worse, newly appointed King Joffrey is the one who will decide Ned’s fate. Cersei surely knows that Joffrey is an immature psychopath who has no council. In the end, Joffrey orders Ned’s execution, kickstarting the War Of The Five Kings.
5 Genius: Getting The Mountain For The Trial By Combat
After getting Shae to testify, Tyrion loses his cool and demands a trial by combat. As part of the law, Tyrion can either fight himself or get someone to fight for him as a champion. Choosing a champion to fight for the crown is an absolute no-brainer for Cersei. If there’s one warrior feared across Westeros, its Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain.
This monster of a man is freakishly huge and quick. As the trial by combat commences, it seems that Oberyn Martell, Tyrion’s champion, has The Mountain bested, though. His speed is no match for The Mountain. Unfortunately, Martell’s vengeance gets the better of him, which allows Clegane to sweep him down and give him one of Game Of Thrones’s most gruesome deaths.
4 Not A Genius: Giving The High Septon An Army
In an effort to rid herself of Margaery Tyrell, who has King Tommen in the palm of her hand, she decides it is wise to give the former High Sparrow full support from the crown. In an idiotic move, she makes him the High Septon and gives him an army so he can re-establish The Faith Militant. As such, The High Septon is free to do as he pleases and enforces the Faith Of The Seven upon Kings Landing. Giving him complete power ended up working against Cersei as they then imprison her for the sin of incest, forcing her to walk naked in the streets to ask for forgiveness.
3 Genius: Blowing Up The Sept Of Baelor
While re-establishing The Faith Militant was a foolish decision, Cersei was still the one who walked at victorious at the end. The season six finale starts off with a bang (literally). Everyone is in the Sept Of Baelor awaiting Cersei to attend her trial. It seemed Cersei had other plans, though.
In one of the best uses of music and editing the show has ever done, we’re treated a memorable sequence where all the pieces of the puzzle come together in deadly fashion. In just a few seconds, Cersei was able to blow up almost most of her enemies with wildfire. She’s then able to crown herself Queen Of The Seven Kingdoms.
2 Not A Genius: Not Killing Daenerys And Her Entire Army When The Opportunity Arose
In the final season, it seems that Queen Cersei has the battle won against Daenerys and her armies. She’s able to form an alliance with The Iron Fleet, who are then able to take out one of Dany’s dragons. They then take out her ships, while also capturing Missendei as a hostage. At the moment when she executes Missendei, it looks like Dany doesn’t have a huge army with her after The Battle Of Winterfell.
Why didn’t Cersei just kill of Dany’s men right then and there? They even have scorpions aimed at Drogon. She could have easily won the war at that very moment. This is the same character who blew up the Sept of Baelor, killing hundreds.
1 Genius: Paying Off The Iron Bank By Attacking Highgarden
Much of season six is Cersei’s army versus Daenerys’. Fearing that she may not have enough men, Cersei seeks the help of the Iron Bank. However, the kingdom owes a tremendous amount of gold to the Iron Bank. Cersei sees this as a perfect opportunity to attack Highgarden and steal their gold, while also ridding themselves of the Tyrells. The Tyrells were a very wealthy house, but they weren’t known for their skilled warriors. It’s an easy assault for Jaime and his men to win, which allows them to finally pay off the Iron Bank’s debt and hire the Golden Company.