Jaime Lannister's Evolution Through Game Of Thrones

Jaime Lannister. The Oathbreaker. The King Slayer. And a truly complex character, with one of the biggest arcs in the series. Jaime Lannister is one of the most flawed and difficult to read characters throughout the entirety of Game Of Thrones. His character arc takes him from one of the most truly despised characters to have ever hit television screens to one of the most tragic and sorrowful characters. There are many parallels between Jaime Lannister and the hero of Game Of Thrones, Jon Snow. So let’s explore what happens when an honorable man chooses love rather than duty. Let’s take a look into how choosing love over duty can lead a man down a hateful path.

RELATED: Jon Snow: An Honorable Man's Journey Through The Game Of Thrones

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8 The Things I Do For Love - Season 1

Jaime Lannister Ned Stark Game of Thrones

When Audiences are first introduced to the Lannister twins, there is an immediate sense of suspicion around them. What secret do these siblings know that has already cost a man, a high ranking one at that, his life? And why would it cost the queen and her twin brother their lives? Very early on Jaime is presented as a gleaming example of the knight in shining armor trope. His golden hair and armor symbolize his wealth and position in the king’s guard. However, beauty in Game of Thrones often hides a more insidious and corrupted nature as audiences soon discover as he sends Bran Stark flying out of a tower window in order to hide his incestuous relationship with his twin sister. Fans do, however, get a small glimpse at Jaime’s humanity as he recounts his story about killing the mad king to King Robert. As he repeats the final words of the mad king, “Burn them all.” Robert, as well as the audience, gets a clearer picture of who Jaime Lannister is.

7 A Man Without Honor - Season 2

Jaime Lannister in season two of Game of Thrones

As season two begins, audiences find the once proud first son of Tywin Lannister in a very different place than when the series premiered. He is the captive of King in the North Robb Stark, and as his situation begins to look more and more desperate, Jaime, much like any cornered animal, begins to lash out. Catelyn Stark calls Jaime ‘A man without honor’, and as audiences have seen time and time again by this point, Jaime retorts that his honor is found in his willingness to do anything for the woman he loves. Even if that means killing his own cousin. Fans also begin to see how the dishonorable knight reacts in relation to the truly honorable knight, albeit in action only, Brienne of Tarth.

6 The Sound Of One Hand Clapping - Season 3

As Jaime and Brienne continue to make their way towards King’s Landing, audiences begin to learn more about who Jaime is outside of his relationship with Cersei. As Brienne and Jaime clash over both the theory and practice of knighthood for the first time, fans get to take a peek inside of Jaime Lannister’s head, at who he is when all joking is left aside. While Jaime is resistant to Brienne and her persistent idealism, when the Bolton men capture them, it is Jaime who calls for them to halt their assault on her. At the cost of his sword hand. And in a much larger sense, at the cost of who he had always believed himself to be. This season is when Jaime, away from Cersei, really starts to reveal his sense of honor and fair play, and the better side of his character, as well as his fears. 

5 Cursed To Love A Hateful Woman - Season 4

Having returned to King’s Landing after years of captivity, Jaime is not greeted with the love and affection he had assumed would be waiting for him. Instead, Cersei is almost disgusted by the sight of him. He has gone through a lot, changed as a human being, both physically and emotionally. He has done horrible things in order to find his way back, yet he is met with contempt. Cersei is withholding and hateful. 

RELATED: The Many Trials Of Tyrion Lannister (And His Journey Through Game Of Thrones)

After the twins watch as the first of their children are murdered before their eyes, Jaime reached his breaking point. He assaults Cersei over the body of their firstborn son. With Tyrion set to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit, Jaime has to make a choice, not just between his siblings, but between the conflicting sides of himself. Jaime chooses to save his brother rather than support his sister. For perhaps the first time, Jaime chooses to make his love for Cersei an afterthought.

4 I’m Glad That You’re My Father - Season 5

With the responsibility of his father’s death falling square on his shoulders, at least in Cersei’s eyes, Jaime heads to Dorne in hope of reuniting with his daughter and bringing her home. It's clear that although Jaime has started to change and see who Cersei truly is, he is also still driven by a need for her approval. While Jaime is successful in his attempt, he is far too late. Many horrible things have happened in King’s Landing since he left, Cersei is not the same woman that left when he went to the Dorne. As he makes his way back to King’s Landing, for the first time Jaime is honest with one of his children. As Myrcella admits to having known all along, Jaime is granted just one moment, one brief moment, to live as a father with his child before she is taken from him. 

3 The Broken Man - Season 6

Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau Jaime Lannister Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale

With two of his three children dead, the High Septon and his followers running rampant through the streets, and Riverrun lost to the Freys, the sixth season is marked with chaos for Jaime Lannister. As Jaime travels across Westeros it’s hard to escape the feeling that he is cleaning up after the many messes he and his family have created. Jaime is finding it harder and harder to reconcile his moral compass with the actions and atrocities that he and his family have committed.

RELATED: Game Of Thrones: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Episodes According To Rotten Tomatoes

As Walder Frey sits beside Jaime reflecting how similar they are. Two Kingslayers each alike in deed and action. Jaime is shown a reflection he finds hard to stomach. With his arrival at King’s Landing, Jaime witnesses Cersei’s coronation while struggling to come to terms with what that means for the last of their children. Jaime may have seen his reflection in Walder Frey, but it is who he sees in Cersei’s reflection that truly terrifies him.   

2 The Spoils Of War - Season 7

Now that the last of his children are dead, Jaime is left with no one but Cersei. A woman who has seemingly given up on anything but amassing and staying in power. As Jaime is sent to sack High Garden in order to secure enough gold to assure the iron bank’s support, Olenna tells him what a fool he is for loving such a monster. A monster that will no doubt be the death of him. Jaime denies none of this. But as Cersei feigns support of the upcoming war in the north Jaime has seemingly had enough. He leaves King’s Landing and Cersei behind him. There are many things that Jaime would do for love, but letting the world fall to the dead is something he cannot participate. For the first time in their history, Jaime chooses to walk out on Cersei. Regardless of the consequences.

1 The Bells - Season 8

Jaime has come a long way since the last time he was at Winterfell, something that Bran is well aware of when he meets Jaime as he enters the gates. Cersei may represent the hateful man inside Jaime, constantly coaxing out his darker impulses, but Brienne is the angel on his shoulder. She is the woman who shows Jaime who he is capable of becoming. Cersei, however, shows him who he is. Before heading back to King’s Landing Jaime takes care to grant Brienne her biggest dream. He makes Brienne of Tarth a Knight of the seven kingdoms. Jaime has grown, changed, and suffered greatly, but when it comes right down to it, he’ll always be that hateful man who only wishes to die in the arms of the woman he loves.  

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