Follow TV Tropes


Characters / A Song of Ice And Fire - Cersei Lannister

Go To

For the main House Lannister entry, see here

For the main House Baratheon entry, see here

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, Light of the West, Protector of the Realm
"The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy."

Wife and Queen of King Robert. Twin sister of Jaime, older than him by perhaps a minute. A very ambitious and cunning woman, she hates the restrictions put on her because of her gender. She is a physically beautiful but morally repulsive Mama Bear/Evil Matriarch combination, and fiercely protective of her children. She staunchly refuses to become a dowager to Joffrey's (and latter Tommen's) wife and queen Margaery Tyrell.

For the main House Lannister entry, see here.

    open/close all folders 

  • 0% Approval Rating: The smallfolk despise her for her incestuous relationship with her brother and her wanton cruelty, particularly after the incident where she orders all of Robert's bastard children (including a baby) publicly murdered. When she makes her naked walk of shame through King's Landing, the peasants pelt her with garbage, dung and rotten food while calling her "whore", "cunt", "abomination", and "brotherfucker".
  • Abusive Parent: When Tommen stands up for himself for possibly the first time in his life, Cersei... doesn't beat his whipping boy, Pate. Oh no. Instead she orders Boros Blount to force her eight year old son to beat Pate himself, until both cheeks bleed, and lets Tommen know that if he refuses or protests at all, the boy's tongue will be cut out in front of him.
  • Adult Fear: Her only daughter Myrcella is sent to Dorne to secure an alliance with the Martells, without her knowledge or consent. Although Tyrion assures her that Doran Martell would never harm a child under his protection, Cersei has reason to fear for Myrcella's safety, as the Martells haven't forgiven their family for the crimes committed against Elia and her children by Gregor Clegane, a Lannister bannerman, during the Sack of King's Landing. Later, although it has nothing to do with revenge for Elia, Myrcella gets her ear and part of her face slashed off in an attack by Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne.
  • The Alcoholic: Her downward spiral coincides with her increased reliance on liquid courage as more than just the occasional pick-me-up. The more she uses wine as a prop, the greater her contacts with both the Villain and Idiot Balls get. By the fourth book, to find a scene without her having a goblet in hand is an increasing rarity. Not that she didn't beforehand, of course.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: She shows a lot of signs of borderline, paranoid and narcissistic personality disorders, seeing people as either completely good and on her side or completely bad and against her, only really managing to care about people who she sees as extensions of herself, thinking that acts of either planned or spontaneous bullying, murder, and war are "bold" decisions and make for good politics, etc. This combo of behaviors makes her a terrible ruler.
  • Ambiguously Bi: She does keep Taena Merryweather in her bed and they HAVE fooled around. For Cersei's part however, she was very drunk and attempting to feel what her late husband would feel when abusing a woman. Cersei did not enjoy the act, so bisexuality is unlikely.
  • Arch-Enemy: She thinks that Tyrion is her worst enemy thanks to a prophecy stating that her she would be strangled to death by the hands of a younger brother. She is utterly convinced in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons that everything going wrong in her life is Tyrion's work.
    • Margaery Tyrell and Eddard Stark also fall into this rank, though in a lesser degree than Tyrion.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: She's both queen and a high ranking member of House Lannister.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Pretty much a Running Gag—Eddard Stark, Tyrion and later Jaime all end up on the receiving end. Maybe once a chapter she'll at least contemplate doing this to someone for slights small or large, imagined or real.
  • Arranged Marriage: To Robert.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Cersei is accused by the Faith of the crime of fornication. What they don't know is that she has orchestrated a regicide, she may have murdered her childhood friend, and her children are products of incest (the Faith does accuse her of incest but she vehemently and successfully denies it). In hindsight, that sex charge isn't as bad and she knows it.
    • The faith has suspicions of the incest, but lets it slide out of self interest, since Cersei's kids being illegitimate would make Stannis, an atheist who isn't terribly opposed to letting his heretic supporters burn down septs, the rightful king.
  • Avenging the Villain: Her search for Tyrion, still believing him to be Joffrey's murderer.
  • Bald of Evil: Following her stint as a prisoner of the Faith Militant, Cersei is shaved hairless and left with a smoldering desire for homicidal vengeance. Although given the way time passes in this series, she might have Boyish Short Hair before long.
  • Battle of Wits: By anybody's measure, she's not all that bad at using words and people to get whatever she wants whenever she wants it — she knows exactly how to use her looks, money and connections to plan three moves ahead. She also rarely needs to resort to open displays of violence (but, when she does, boy... howdy). However, she's just a bit out-classed by other players in both the available resources and knowledge stakes, often lets her temper and paranoia get the better of her, all too often overplays her hand and is simply just not as good as her overinflated ego thinks she is. She badly needs constructive criticism and grounding to up her mastery of the game, but actively avoids both as if they have greyscale.
  • Beauty Is Bad: She's drop-dead gorgeous and one of the most villainous characters in the entire saga.
  • Because Destiny Says So: At a young age, Cersei received a prophecy: her children would all be crowned and all die before she did, a younger woman would replace her, and "the valonqar"—a younger brother, in this case—would kill her. She has always deemed Tyrion to be this valonqar, and this is one of the main reasons she has always hated him. The thing is, this younger brother might be also Jaime, who is minutes younger than her. Also, the prophecy doesn't say that it has to be her younger brother, as for instance, Loras Tyrell is the youngest Tyrell brother as well as the one often compared to a younger Jaime, making him another possibility maybe within striking distance. Stannis Baratheon, Robert's younger brother and one of the Lannister regime's primary rivals, is another contender. As is Tommen, for another, more closely-related option (granted, one rather less likely to use a sword, but she has begun physically and emotionally abusing the growing boy since her Tyrion-shaped stress-ball is not within reach). Complicating matters even further is the fact that "valonqar" is, in its direct translation from Valyrian, gender neutral and more accurately means "younger sibling." This means that Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaegar and Viserys' youngest sibling, and her dragons could do her in. As could an increasingly politically savvy Sansa Stark, the late King in the North's younger sister, or even Margaery Tyrell, who has two elder brothers and every reason to hate and resent Cersei.
  • Betty and Veronica: Considers herself the Veronica to Lyanna Stark’s Betty. She once said that if Rhaegar married her like Tywin wanted, he would never have given “the wolf girl” a second look. Similarly, in her marriage with Robert she is the glamorous trophy wife in a loveless marriage to a man who still pines for his best friend’s sister.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: True to her ignorance, she thinks being Queen Regent makes her the most dangerous and cunning person in the realm, while the actual big plotters and schemers of the series regard her variably as a pawn or a distraction.
  • Big Sister Bully: Was a nasty sibling to young Tyrion, who she used to treat as her little punching bag. Shortly after Tyrion's birth, when Oberyn and Elia Martell were visiting the Lannisters with their mother, Cersei took the siblings to see her baby brother. Cersei removed Tyrion's swaddling clothes to fully expose him and twisted his penis so hard Tyrion cried out in pain, and only stopped when Jaime forced her to. Cersei dismissed Tyrion as the monster that killed her mother and who wouldn't live much longer himself. Another time in Tyrion's infancy, upon hearing of the story of Baelor the Blessed and the Maidenvault, Cersei was so taken at the injustice of punishing girls for their beauty that she went to Tyrion's crib and "pinched him till he cried." Even as adults, Cersei still bullies Tyrion.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Poor Sansa and Ned find out the hard way.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: Cersei thinks in an incredibly extreme With Us or Against Us mentality, regarding grovelling lickspittles who tell her what she wants to hear as loyal advisers (therefore "Good"), while anyone who questions or defies her is an enemy plotting against her and must be destroyed before they take action (therefore "Evil"). After the events of A Storm Of Swords, she becomes convinced that Tyrion is still leading plots against the crown, and everything that goes amiss and anyone who disagrees with her is his doing. It's this type of paranoia that leads to her downfall in A Feast For Crows. As Tyrion notes in his exile:
    Tyrion: Cersei is as gentle as King Maegor [The Cruel], as selfless as Aegon the Unworthy, as wise as Mad Aerys. She never forgets a slight, real or imagined. She takes caution for cowardice and dissent for defiance. And she is greedy. Greedy for power, for honor, for love.
  • Book Dumb: Played with. She has had perhaps one of the best educations a lady of a Great House could get — on paper. In practice, her mother died too soon to give her a more in-depth one into being an effective political animal as a woman. Besides which, Cersei wants to wield the power of a lord and king. Which is altogether another role entirely. She doesn't seem to have tried to educate herself out of her gaps.
  • Brainless Beauty: Subverted, yet invoked. Cersei is very intelligent and conniving, and has used her beauty as a weapon most of her life. However, this does not make her a good ruler by any means, mainly due to her Lack of Empathy and self-reflection, and her inability to adapt when faced with someone more intelligent than her who is Not Distracted by the Sexy. Tyrion in particular is very good at exploiting these faults in Cersei, who sees her as a Brainless Beauty and horribly predictable besides.
  • Break the Haughty: After her ordeal while being held captive by the Faith, to say nothing of being forced to walk naked through King's Landing, Cersei appears to be well and truly broken. Though if she's just biding her time, a lot of people need to be constantly looking over their shoulders.
  • Broken Pedestal: Sansa initially sees her as The High Queen, and admires her. This doesn't last very long.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: With Jaime.
  • Buxom Is Better: She seems to think so while comparing herself to Elia Martell, who was chosen to be Rhaegar Targaryen's wife.
    "It must have been the madness that led Aerys to refuse Lord Tywin's daughter and take his son instead, whilst marrying his own son to a feeble Dornish princess with black eyes and a flat chest."
  • The Chain of Harm: Hypocritical Female Misogynist that she is, the reason Cersei gives for not standing up for Sansa when she's held captive by the Lannisters and constantly beaten and terrorized by her fiance Joffrey is that Cersei herself suffered worse under Robert, and no one ever helped her (Westeros society expected her to graciously accept being abused with a smile), so Sansa can live with it too.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Becomes this out of paranoia in the fourth book, plotting even against her only allies because she doesn't trust them.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: An apparent consistent tendency of Cersei, especially once we reach her POV. To list some ways:
    • At the very start of the series, Cersei perceives Eddard Stark's Handship as a threat and insists to Jaime that the Lord of Winterfell would only leave his seat "for power" and, well, Eddard was a threat to her and her children... puppeteered by the power-hungry Petyr Baelish.
    • Not moments after Joffrey's murder, as the Tyrells begin their cover story that he choked, Cersei accurately and instantly accuses a poisoning instead... with Tyrion as the poisoner. If not for Cersei seeing Tyrion as the explicitly lethal valonqar, seeing Margaery as her younger, more beautiful replacement may have led her to sussing them out then and there.
    • A blink and you miss it one happens in Cersei VI, A Feast For Crows but astonishingly she is the only POV character, and less than a handful of general characters, to figure out that the Tyrell's had a hand in Joffery's death. She even guesses the motive correctly!
    • Cersei also suspects Taena's initial informing on Team Tyrell as potentially provocation to sew discord between the royal families... and this after discovering Rugen's coin in the dungeons, conveniently confirming her suspicions of the Tyrells. Combine with her musings that Varys plays them all including her once she came to court, Cersei is in all likelihood one step away from realising just who is (still) puppeteering her.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: Her green eyes perfectly fit her avid and envious personality. She often wears emerald jewelry to bring them out.
  • Color Motif: In addition to Lannister red and gold, Cersei is often associated with green. She has beautiful green eyes and a penchant for emerald jewelry, many green dresses, a liking for jade-green wildfire starting from A Feast for Crows, and her greatest allies-cum-rivals the Tyrells have for their sigil a gold rose on a green banner. Not to mention the out-of-universe comparisons to Alicent Hightower, whose side in the Dance of the Dragons was called the Greens. Green in silk and green with envy—of everyone smarter, richer or more beautiful than she is.
  • Come to Gawk: She is imprisoned by the Faith in A Feast For Crows. In A Dance With Dragons, to avoid a trial in which she would almost certainly be found guilty of treason, she confesses to certain sins, and consents to undertake a "walk of penance", where she is shaved completely bald (as in, total removal of all hair from her body) and forced to walk naked from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep. She's escorted by armed guards, so no one can actually harm her, but the smallfolk of King's Landing hurl insults and refuse at her the whole way.
  • The Corrupter: Seen as such by the High Sparrow. When Kevan visits Cersei, she is guarded by four handmaidens and a septa who are rotated out every seven days to prevent Cersei from gaining any influence over them. And from the Faith's perspective, this makes perfect sense considering Lancel's confessions.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Cersei's so paranoid about imagined plots and so unpleasant and vindictive that eventually people start plotting for real. Her incest with Jaime is one of the triggers of the War of the Five Kings; her abuse of Tyrion, and her insults to Kevan and Jaime drive away potential allies. Her poor parenting of Joffrey and inability to contain him drive Olenna Tyrell to murder the King with Littlefinger's help so as to protect her grand-daughter. Finally her rearming of the Poor Fellows and increasing their powers for a petty scheme against Margaery leads the Faith to turn on her and humiliate her far worse than any of her real enemies actually planned on doing.
  • Daddy's Girl: Not anymore. When she was a child, she was one of the two people Lord Tywin ever smiled at (the other being his beloved wife), and he would share some of his plans with her and trust her to keep silent. However, she could never forgive him for failing to fulfill his promise to get her married to Rhaegar Targaryen, instead landing her with the (eventually) fat, lecherous, alcoholic Robert Baratheon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She's a Lannister and sister to two of the funniest POV to read, so she ought to be this. She even says it herself:
    Cersei: I assure you, when I make a jest, men laugh.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of the evil queen of fairy tales. Cersei is beautiful, vain, selfish, sexually loose, and actively makes people fear her as a way to control them. But all these make her a terrible ruler who fails at controlling others effectively and makes her blind to her real enemies that are using her.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Though Cersei has never been fond of Tyrion, she didn't quite see him as a threat until Tywin made him acting Hand of the King. Cersei is one of the few people that see how conniving Tyrion really is, though she doesn't appreciate him for it and sees him as a rival. At first it seems that even Cersei is enjoying their battle of wits until Joffrey gets killed; this makes her think that Tyrion is still conspiring against her even after he has fled.
    • Cersei arms the Faith Militant, not realizing that as agents of a higher calling they do not heed to the authority of kings. When Margaery is charged with fornication, suspicions of Cersei arise in the Faith about the latter's own bouts of fornication and later evidence is given by Osney Kettleblack about his affair with Cersei. The last time she meets with the High Sparrow she doesn't even have a single grasp that she is going to get arrested until everything is dropped on top of her head.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: She has a habit of abusing and killing people over minor slights, which she's done from a young age.
  • Dissonant Serenity: At first. Cersei is a paragon of beauty and courtesy; in contrast, she is manipulative, vindictive, paranoid and remarkably bitter on the inside. When Tyrion kills Tywin all degrees of demure go out the window.
  • Distaff Counterpart: It is strongly suggested that this is where much of her attraction to Jaime comes from, which even he begins to catch on to. She is very disappointed when he returns from captivity and they no longer look identical.
    • This may also be why Joffrey was her favorite child: he shared her tendencies towards cruelty, pettiness, and arrogance.
  • Domestic Abuse: Both a victim and a perpetrator. Robert hits her and uses his Marital Rape License. Cersei herself is physically and emotionally abusive to her lover Jaime.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Cersei might as well be leading the trope as a prime example:
    • Cersei initially thinks that Kevan is mad at her for throwing wine at his face back when she denied him the regency; he's actually mad because she slept with his son Lancel.
    • Cersei gives the Admiralty of the Royal Fleet to Aurane Waters simply due to his resemblance to Rhaegar, only for him to turn pirate at the first opportunity.
    • Cersei thinks that backstabbing and conspiring are most of what governing consists of. When it comes time, she is completely lost on what it means to govern, so she resorts to what she knows best.
  • Early Personality Signs: Some of the behavior Cersei displayed as a child is repeated in adulthood. Notably, at seven years old she physically hurt a newborn Tyrion because she considered him responsible for their mother's death. This is the first sign of both her lifelong cruelty toward him and her Disproportionate Retribution toward people she believes have wronged her.
  • Elemental Eye Colors: Some characters have noted that Cersei has "wildfire eyes", bright green and beautiful, yet dangerous and possibly unstable. She develops a liking for using wildfire after the Battle of the Blackwater and she has a knack for destruction, but can rarely control the damage.
  • Enemies Equals Greatness: Part of Cersei's problem is that she sees power as simply the ability to ruin one's enemies at a stroke, and that making any sort of concessions to an identified enemy can only be a sign of weakness. Ironically, by acting on that belief, she's been alienating what few supporters she might have had.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Used deliberately. Cersei always dresses in a regal manner, always looks stunning and is somewhat aware that her looks will eventually fade (just as she warns Sansa), only that her overall behavior doesn't quite match this statement; when she takes her Walk of Shame and is completely naked, she realizes that she is not nearly as buxom as she used to be and that she is beginning to sag, as childbirth and her frequent drinking have taken a toll on her, adding even more to the humiliation.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Her rant to Jaime about her suspicions that Ned Stark is planning to move against her. It shows her hunger for power and belief that everyone is out to get her. Also an interesting look into her mindset: she's convinced Ned is preparing to overthrow them, because why else would he leave his seat of power? Meanwhile, the reader sees that the only thing Ned sees Winterfell as is home. This scene also establishes her affair with Jaime.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ultimately subverted. She is in love with the idea of what her kids could be, but she refuses to acknowledge them as they are, and before Joff's death she mostly ignores Tommen and Myrcella. She endlessly fantasizes about how Joffrey would be a fantastic king, while dismissing Joffrey's cruel actions as being bold as well as anyone's concerns or outright ignores what a monster he is. She gets mad when Tyrion talks about sending Myrcella off to Dorne (partially for the girl's own safety) and only seems concerned about her daughter being taken from her. Later books reveal a prophecy where she was told that her three children would all die before her. So, part of the concern for her children's well-being could very well be self-motivated.
    • She is in love with a satellite image of Jaime that gets marred from the moment he leaves to fight in the war against Robb Stark. When they reunite, they see how much the events have changed them both, ultimately splitting up.
    • She very much idolizes and tries to emulate Tywin, but falls hilariously short. It doesn't help that her father sees her as furniture of his property.
      • As Tywin's creature, Cersei doesn't seem to have had the same motherly relationship with her aunt Genna that Tyrion and Jaime had (though a flashback of her's implies they were once closer). Kevan seems to have been fond of Cersei when she was unencumbered with the woes of power and argues that she was a much happier person in her youth. Other than that, Cersei is not shown to have been particularly close to her other uncles, as she does not mention them.
  • Evil Aunt: She has Littlefinger spread rumors about her niece Shireen being a bastard and a fool's daughter, in order to counter the whispers that her own children are products of incest and adultery (which they are).
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • She greatly mistakes Ned Stark's reasons for leaving Winterfell.
    • Like Joffrey, she can't see the advantages in courting positive publicity with the smallfolk.
    • She also misjudges how far Mace Tyrell will go to defend Margaery when she assumes he wouldn't dare lift the siege at Storm's End to hare off to King's Landing.
    • She also fails to see Jaime's growth towards a healthier attitude.
    • She cannot understand why Catelyn would put up with her husband's bastard in the castle, when she would happily just kill any of Robert's bastards.
    • She can't understand why Robert wouldn't commit genocide against the Ironborn.
    • She thinks the High Sparrow is a madman for selling the Most Devout's treasures and valuables to buy food for the poor.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Sansa (both grew up as highborn ladies with high dreams, only to become disenchanted). Also to Catelyn.
  • Evil Is Petty: Why, yes, framing your younger, more beautiful daughter-in-law for adultery and high treason and trying to get her executed, even though your family desperately needs her family's financial backing and political support, is quite petty, no?
  • Evil Matriarch: While she loves her children, she makes for a terrible mother. Jaime suggests that she is responsible for much of Joffrey's horrible personality, and when Tommen becomes king at age eight, she uses him as an anchor to power and disciplines him very harshly when he stands up to her, while at the same time criticizes him for being soft unlike Joffrey.
  • Fairest of Them All: Becomes obsessed with bringing about the downfall of Margaery Tyrell, convinced she's the younger and more beautiful one who is prophesied to take her place.
  • A Family Affair: After her husband dies she ends up sleeping with her lover Jaime's cousin (and her own), despite supposedly only loving Jaime.
  • False Flag Operation: Cersei plans to stage an ambush on a Dornish party to kill Prince Trystane Martell just to end his engagement to Myrcella by a group claiming to belong to Tyrion.
  • Female Misogynist: She holds femininity in contempt and wishes she had been born a boy instead. That said, Cersei hates (or at the very least disregards) every woman she interacts with in this series. Despite rightfully pointing out several sexist facets of society that have unfairly restricted her, she doesn't bat an eyelash when those very same things are imposed on other women. For example, she complains about not having any choice in who she was supposed to marry, but actively participates in forcing Sansa to marry a man she doesn't love. In her mind, misogyny is only a problem when it's directed at her.
  • Femme Fatale: She's a smoking hot, worldly and very dangerous plotter, in spite of her flaws. In a hard-boiled detective novel, you'd be safe putting money on her having paid somebody else to have done it.
  • Fille Fatale: In her early teens, she arranged her brother's entry into the Kingsguard in order to keep her lover entirely for herself.
  • Foil: To Alicent Hightower. They were both married to a fat jovial king that they weren't particularly fond of (while Cersei openly hated Robert Baratheon, Alicent's lack of affection for Viserys I Targaryen is only implied) They both crowned their sons as kings, bypassing the chain of succession once their husbands died (and both were implied to have had a hand in their husband's deaths), angering an awful lot of people; they are both in dispute over the title of Queen with a younger contender (Rhaenyra Targaryen and Margaery Tyrell) and with their husband's younger brother (Daemon Targaryen and Stannis Baratheon) over the succession; they staunchly want to avoid ever becoming dowagers or regents; they both are the daughters of the on/off and extremely influential Hands of the King, who are at the time the most powerful men in Westeros (Otto Hightower and Tywin Lannister); they are the mothers of two of the most replusive people that ever sat in the Iron Throne (Prince Regent Aemond Targaryen and King Joffrey I Baratheon) and another son of each also sat in the throne (Kings Aegon II and Tommen I); Cersei belongs to the most powerful lordly house in Westeros while Alicent belongs to the most powerful vassal house in Westeros, both houses that opportunistically jumped the gun; they are made prisoners and they both survive the killing of their Throne-sitting sons; they both are considered still very lean and beautiful even after giving birth to their children. In addition, Cersei and Alicent completely overindulging and failing to discipline their children led to Aegon II and Joffrey being assassinated by their own courtiers when it became apparent they were an out of control tyrant. Unlike Cersei, however, Alicent was not a narcissistic idiot, but an adept politician - which makes her much more effective and dangerous. Alicent also genuinely loved her family and losing them left her a broken shell of a woman, lamenting that her ambitions cost her children their lives, while Cersei only cared about her children as extensions of herself and her losses have only made her crueller and more determined to cling onto power.
  • Forgot About His Powers: As Queen Regent, she is effectively the main ruling power in Westeros until her son reaches adulthood. If she had ordered Ilyn Payne to stand down after Joffrey ordered Ned Stark's execution then the War of the Five Kings might have been avoided. Her power also outclasses the Hand of the King, meaning she could have countermanded any decision made by Tyrion that she doesn't like or even strip him of the position. It's only after Joffrey and Tywin die and Tommen becomes king does she start abusing her position to do whatever she wants.
    • There are some important factors involved with this. She very likely did not know about the full power-set of a regent vs the much more limited one of a dowager queen (Cersei's education wasn't primarily in the whole of statecraft; just in "how to look awesome, be witty and trophy wife it as queen"): knowledge about your power is power. No maester could react in time to educate her on the spot. Contradicting Joffrey in public also held political risks for and messages about a new ruler, even if she were not habitually inclined to indulge her "bold boy" generally; terrorizing the sheep into shocked inaction is also a display power. Last, but not least, a instinctual lean towards revenge. Ned had threatened her son and her not that long ago. Visceral payback via Joffrey, just be a bit too slow to stop it.
  • Formerly Fit: In A Feast for Crows, she starts to put on weight due to constant stress-drinking, to the point that several of her old gowns no longer fit. Of course, she assumes that the washerwomen must have shrunk them. Or because she became pregnant after her tryst with Jaime.
  • Freudian Excuse: Her twisted personality and fierce protectiveness of her children are partly the result of the prophecy she received as a child, and her vindictiveness comes from being the daughter of Tywin Lannister. Her bitterness and resentment stem from her father a) believing in the Stay in the Kitchen philosophy b) not fulfilling his promise to wed her to Rhaegar, and c) sending her into an Awful Wedded Life with Robert instead.
    • Since her own mother Joanna "ruled Tywin at home while Tywin ruled the Seven Kingdoms as Aerys's Hand", Joanna's death meant that she missed out on much-needed lessons on what Silk Hiding Steel really is.

  • Generation Xerox: Tywin (quite likely) ordered the deaths of Elia Martell and her children in retaliation for Elia's marriage to Rhaegar. Sixteen years later, his daughter Cersei orders the deaths of Robert's bastards, which also results in the death of the mother of Barra.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: As soon as her father is no longer around to manage the power, Cersei rules cruelly with an iron fist, growing increasingly paranoid and stumbling from one folly to the next.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: She has a particularly jealous personality, and especially resents men that exclude her from power, and women she envies for their youth and looks.
    • A great element of her incestuous relationship with Jaime is that she wants to be him. When as a child she sneaked in Jaime's clothes she witnessed her father's favoritism towards him, and resented to be only a little girl to be used as a political pawn, while her twin was the golden son and the heir of Casterly Rock;
    • She grows to be jealous of her daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell as she is young, beautiful and popular among the court and smallfolk (thanks to her and her grandmother's good PR, while Cersei is terrible at that), and that's why Cersei fears she is the younger and more beautiful queen destined to overthrow her;
    • She's also jealous of Lyanna Stark because the men Cersei was set to marry cared more for Lyanna than her. While Cersei did not love Robert, she at least liked him enough to want to be loyal to him and to want his affection but Robert made the great affront of spurning her in favor of his late fiancee's memory, making their already ill-matched marriage even worse. Lyanna was also the object of Rhaegar Targaryen's affection, for whom Cersei harboured a powerful infatuation since childhood stoked by her father promising that she would marry the prince. Even in the present, Cersei broods over Lyanna ruining the realm and insults the memory of a girl she never even met.
  • Half-Identical Twins: She is described as identical to her brother Jaime, saying she couldn't feel complete without him, but they end up becoming very different people. The similarity is at least justified by the fact that her mother and father are first cousins.
  • Heel Realisation: A minor example and one that possibly didn't last beyond the moment, but during her Walk of Shame she has a Villainous BSoD that seems to include a realization of exactly how wrong her actions have been.
    This is my penance, Cersei told herself. I have sinned most grievously, this is my atonement.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Her reinstatement of the Faith Militant and plot to remove Margaery backfires spectacularly. Two of her confidants of House Kettleblack get arrested for sleeping with her, she gets accused of murder (which she organised) of both her late husband and the High Septon that replaced the one killed in the second book, then detained by the Faith Militant, then forced through a Humiliation Conga and told that she will be stripped of power, regardless of the trial's outcome.
  • Hidden Depths: It's subtle, but there are a few implications that Cersei may not feel as secure and confident in herself as she seems to be on the surface and that she may have self worth problems.
    Cersei's thoughts: Her father's eyes had always been unsettling; pale green, almost luminous, flecked with gold. His eyes could see inside you, could see how weak and worthless and ugly you were down deep. When he looked at you, you knew.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Can find no wrong in Joffrey, despite him clearly being a sadistic little monster. Finds Tommen disappointing, despite him being infinitely kinder and nobler than Joffrey. Really screws up when she chooses a new Master of Ships for the small council in A Feast For Crows, selecting the young and handsome bastard Aurane Waters over a more experienced man, only for him to betray her and steal the entire fleet of ships she'd commissioned (at kingdom-crippling cost) in order to set himself up as a pirate prince the moment she is taken prisoner by the Faith.
    • Her paranoia against the Tyrells has been nicely ramped up... by her totally underestimating the feats that The Queen of Thorns is capable of.
    • The first good look we get of her is ranting how Ned Stark must be plotting against their family, because there's no other reason he would leave his "seat of power"; it's clear to everyone else, especially the reader, that Stark detests leaving his home and would never think of it as his "seat of power".
    • During her reign of terror in Feast, she gives positions of power to several men who haven't proven themselves to be loyal, trustworthy, experienced, or even capable of doing their jobs, including Harys Swyft (who she makes her Hand of the King to use as a hostage and ensure her uncle Kevan's obedience), Aurane Waters (mentioned above), the Kettleblack brothers (sellswords who work for the highest bidder), and Orton Merryweather (who has no real qualifications for being on the Small Council, other than being married to Cersei's friend Taena). This comes back to bite her when she's imprisoned by the Faith for her crimes and none of them lift a finger to help her. In her absence, the Kettleblacks do nothing since she can't bribe them from her prison cell, Waters takes advantage of her imprisonment to abscond with the royal fleet, and Merryweather runs back to Longtable, taking his wife with him.
  • Hot-Blooded: The one thing she has in common with her husband, brother and eldest son. It doesn't go very well for her.
  • Humiliation Conga: In A Dance With Dragons she is shaved all over, then forced to walk naked through King's Landing while spectators throw abuse and rubbish at her. She doesn't let it get to her until the very end.
  • Hypocrite: The only trait Cersei seems to have genuinely inherited from her father.
    • She claims she and Jaime are born to be together, yet has sex with many others, either for pleasure or persuasion.
    • She despises Robert for being a drunk, yet later on she becomes an alcoholic herself and sees nothing wrong with her own drinking.
    • She criticizes men in general and Tyrion in particular for thinking with their penises, yet she names Aurane Waters (a young man with no experience) as Grand Admiral—thus giving him command of the royal fleet—because he reminds her of Rhaegar.
    • When Robert wants to bring one of his bastards to be raised at the Red Keep, Cersei threatens to have her killed if he does. Cersei has been passing off her bastards as legitimate heirs to the thrones.
    • Complains to anybody who will listen that she's just as good as (if not better than) her brothers, husband or father and shouldn't be pushed to the side thanks to being female, yet ignores her daughter in favor of her reigning son. Probably thanks to Myrcella not being able to giving Mummy a hold on power through a strong claim to the throne.
    • Speaking of which, she utterly detests Robert for (among other things) his Domestic Abuse, and often complains about the injustices and indignities she was expected to suffer under her lord husband, especially since she had no choice in marrying him. However, after Ned Stark is executed and Sansa is bound to her engagement to Joffrey against her will and is constantly beaten and terrorized by him, Cersei's answer is to basically tell Sansa to just grin and bear it.
    • How she treats Tommen after he becomes King. She berates and threatens him anytime he tries to show independence, and yet she also states that she dislikes Tommen for not being "strong" like Joffrey.
    • She resents Robert's Wrong Name Outburst on their wedding night, even though she slept with Jaime that very morning.
    • Doesn't want Tommen consorting with Loras, fearing he might catch the gay, yet never owns up to her incest and even experiments with another woman.
    • She accuses Margaery of having affairs with several men and even thinks that she might be sleeping with her brother. While Margaery may or may not be guilty of these things, Cersei definitely is.
  • I Just Want to Be You!: She resents the fact that she and Jaime, despite being "the same," were raised in different ways because of their gender and she received the short end of the stick. She also seems to think that if she was a man she would make a better Jaime than Jaime.
  • Idiot Ball: While she does have a brain in her head, when given the Idiot Ball she tends to hug the damned thing for all it's worth. It, and/or the Villain Ball.
  • Improperly Paranoid: She does indeed have many enemies. The problem is, she thinks everyone who isn't her loyal unquestioning toady is out to get her. And she's particularly obsessed with Tyrion, who she believes is destined to kill her; while the prophecy she heard as a child at least gives her a reason to be wary of him, she automatically assumes he's behind every bad thing that happens to her, and provokes conflict with him to the point that she's makes him into her enemy.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: There are hints showing that Tywin tried to make Cersei the carrier of the family legacy mainly because he lost Jaime as an heir and he doesn't want Tyrion to be linked to anything Lannister-related. Cersei certainly thinks herself the carrier of the legacy until Tywin realizes just how unprepared she is to take the reins. According to her uncle Kevan, up until his assassination, Tywin intended to send Cersei back to the Rock where she wouldn't cause any more trouble.
  • I Reject Your Reality: She will staunchly refuse to accept any truth that does not fit her twisted worldview.
    Tyrion's thoughts: It was astonishing to see how angry Cersei could wax over accusations she knew perfectly well to be truenote . If we lose the war, she ought to take up mummery, she has a gift for it.
    • There's a degree of situational Insane Troll Logic involved here, too. Even before she hits the drink. Take her reaction to Tyrion: because she thinks he's prophesied to end her, she fears and hates him... buuuut, because he's younger, uglier and Dad hates him, he's simultaneously not truly all that threatening. So, she bullies him mercilessly. Until he really is a major threat given real power as acting Hand; suddenly, she can't not see him in every shadow.
  • Insistent Terminology: Cersei always refers to her daughter-in-law as Lady Margaery, never Queen Margaery. She doesn't like being reminded that she's not the only Queen of the Seven Kingdoms anymore.
  • Irony: Despite her negative qualities, Cersei is brave, fierce, charming and passionate. Had she been born a man (like she wishes) she would resemble Jaime to some extent, sure... but, more so the man she hates most: Robert.
  • It's All About Me: She claims to love her children, twin and father, but her actions say otherwise. She's petty enough to never forgive her father for not giving her Rhaegar, uses her children as her claim to power, and snaps at Jaime when he doesn't do as she pleases.
    • She also arranged for Jaime to enter the Kingsguard—this not only scotched her father's plans to marry Jaime off to the Tully's, but prevented Jaime from inheriting the richest and most powerful House in the Seven Kingdoms—solely to keep him as a lover.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Well, she still thinks she is, but during her naked walk of shame through the streets of King's Landing, she realizes that her beauty is beginning to fade due to age and the strain of bearing three children, not to mention from lots of drinking. She's still quite pretty, just not as striking as she thinks she is.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Warns Tyrion that Varys is playing both of them.
    • After spending some time with Mace, Kevan starts understanding why Cersei despises the Tyrells so much, though of course he also realizes how foolish Cersei throwing away all her power in order to be able to get petty revenge on them was.
    • She insists to Jaime that he should exert more influence with King Robert. While she points it out for a different reason, Jaime should have done that very thing much earlier in order to prevent the decay in quality in the office of the Kingsguard when Robert took office, as no one else could have.
    • Her "instructing" Sansa on how to be a Queen (and the inevitable consequences of the sack of King's Landing) might be mainly to torment Sansa, but she's undoubtedly telling the truth to somebody who's sometimes painfully naive.
    • When the High Sparrow is exalting the virtues of King Baelor, she remembers that Baelor imprisoned his own sisters in the name of preserving his virtue.
  • Kick the Dog: Her specialty, but by A Feast For Crows she gives Qyburn a maid (who she suspects has been spying on her) to torture and experiment on. Then she starts turning over prisoners, enemies and Falyse Stokeworth when she becomes inconvenient.
  • Kissing Cousins: Had an affair with her cousin Lancel, who was squire to the King.
  • Lady Drunk: She seems to be on her way to becoming one.
  • Lady Macbeth: To Jaime most prominently; every major accomplishment in his life was at her behest. Also to her lovers and husband, King Robert.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sends her brother to cut off Arya Stark's hand because it's the traditional punishment for striking the Royal blood. The Kingslayer fails to find Arya Stark but later gets his hand cut off, the same one he used to kill Aerys II. This along with Brienne's presence is what helps Jaime rediscover his honor and morality which is one of the factors that pushes the twins apart. Cersei then tries to frame Queen Margaery for adultery, and ends up being imprisoned for her own fornications.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Subverted. Cersei appears to be a cunning Lannister like Tywin, but her acts as regent and her POV reveal that she utterly lacks her father's patience, judgement, or forethought.
  • Love Is a Weakness
    Cersei (to Sansa): Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.
  • Maiden Mother And Crone: Of the three Baratheon wives, she is the Mother while Margaery is the Maiden and Selyse is the Crone.
  • Maiden Name Debate: Apparently nobody ever has called her a Baratheon. Granted, in Westeros such things appear to depend on who's speaking (Cersei once refers to Catelyn as 'Catelyn Tully' in her narration, for example), and the huge weight behind Tywin's name and the fact that Cersei's husband is the one who most strongly considered her 'a Lannister woman' do contribute to favoring her maiden name. It seems common for highborn and married Westerosi women to invoke their birth names on occasion, or have them invoked on their behalf, if their birth families have sufficient clout. It's however taken a step further in Cersei's case, as the royal banner is combined from her and Robert's respective Houses', not his, solidifying the input of her family name into the marriage.
    • This appears to be a royal custom. All Queens that were not Targaryens did not change their maiden names (Alicent Hightower, Alyssa Velaryon, Aemma Arryn, Myriah Martell, Daenaera Velaryon and Dyanna Dayne). This seems to be not actually to not undermine the Queen's family name, but to point out that they are royal consorts and not "Targaryens" proper (or Baratheons, for that matter), just as Margaery Tyrell and Selyse Florent are not subject to being called Baratheons because they simply are not. One thing is the Royal Family name and another is the other family names, which are beneath it.
  • Mama Bear: Her love for her children is one of her few redeeming features. Alas, even that goes overboard. Cersei often recalls an incident when Robert struck his son over "some nonsense over a cat." The nonsense was that the cat was pregnant and Joffrey wanted to see the unborn kittens, so he slit the cat open to dig them out. She threatens to kill Robert, the king, in his sleep if he ever touches Joffrey again. Her uncle Kevan even tells her point-blank that she made a complete hash of raising Joffrey.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Since she can't fight on the field or rule directly, Cersei's arsenal involves manipulation, spies and misdirection, often using her beauty and sexuality or promising riches to those who do her bidding. A Clash of Kings has many instances of her and Tyrion trying to outwit each other.
  • Meaningful Echo: We're told how every time Targaryens wed brother and sister, the gods flip a coin on how insane that kid will be. Seeing as herself and Jaime are noted to be two sides of the same coin, it makes a lot more sense as to how insane Joffrey ends up being.
  • Meaningful Name: "Cersei" is a homophone of "Circe," a sorceress famous for turning men into beasts.
  • Might Makes Right: Subscribes to Machiavelli's "being feared is better than being loved" philosophy, using her position as queen to get her enemies killed left and right. However, she forgets the second part of it: "...but being hated is worse than being feared". Her murders of innocent people, including Robert's bastard children and the High Septon, earn her the enmity of the smallfolk and the Faith, which eventually results in her being imprisoned by the Sparrows for crimes of incest and adultery and forced to walk naked from the Great Sept to the Red Keep through a jeering crowd who throw garbage at her every step of the way.
  • The Millstone: She doesn't start off as one, but as the books progress, her inadequacies start to pile up and drag everybody around her into a downwards spiral.
  • My Beloved Smother: Part of how Joffrey turned out, as noted by many characters. Later, she's so determined to protect Tommen from the tricks and wiles of his new wife that she tries to prevent practically anyone having access to him at all. Myrcella... is probably lucky that her mother focuses on playing favorites with the boys.

  • Narcissist: When Jaime gets his head shaved but keeps his beard, he reflects that this will upset Cersei because it will make him look less like her. See also Screw Yourself, below.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: The fact that Cersei has no power that is truly her own is occasionally brought up during the series. Her wealth and authority as a Lannister comes from her father, her power as Queen Consort comes from her husband, and her power as Queen Regent comes from her sons and will be taken from her as soon as they reach adulthood.
    Petyr Baelish: [Cersei’s] strength rests on her beauty, birth, and riches. Only the first of those is truly her own, and it will soon desert her. I pity her then.
  • Never My Fault: She rationalizes nearly every cruel thing she does by saying that either her victims deserved it or she's just trying to protect herself and her children. If something goes wrong, she always puts the blame on someone else. This is most prominent when she orders Qyburn to torture the Blue Bard, a minstrel in Margaery's circle. Despite being sickened by the violence, she blames it on Margaery for forcing her to torture a helpless man.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
    • Margaret of Anjou. A beautiful, ruthless and ambitious queen, whose fierce desire to rule the realm of England paved the way for disaster. She was wife to an ineffective king, her son was a cruel boy of questionable descent, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband's right hand man helped draw their Feuding Families into a bloody civil war (The War of the Five Kings/War of the Roses). She eventually becomes the leader of her respective faction, the Lancasters; although, Margaret actually commands her army and participates in battle at some point. After the death of her son and a devastating defeat, she is held in captivity and effectively declawed; although, Cersei actually has a way out of this predicament.
    • Isabella of France, daughter of King Philip IV "the Fair" of France (who incidentally is one of the inspiration for Tywin Lannister), she was married off to Edward II King of England. Isabella was soon trapped in an unhappy marriage as she was constantly humiliated Isabella by the king's favorites, who were also granted a higher position at court than Isabella herself. For both queens, the actions of their husbands lead to disdain towards them and as result both queens eventually look lovers and plotted against their terrible spouses. Isabella had an affair with English nobleman Roger Mortimer and together they have King Edward disposed from the throne and assumed power of her son Edward III due to his young age, but their Regent for Life plans were thrown off a cliff as soon as Edward III grew up, who wanting to avoid the same fate as his father, executed Roger Mortimer and exiled his mother Isabella. Incidentally Isabella was the instigator of the Tour de Nesle Affair, a scandal among the French royal family in 1314, during which the three daughters-in-law of King Philip IV of France were accused of adultery, which inspired the "Fawlty Towers" Plot (of framing Margaery Tyrell and her cousins for adultery) schemed by Cersei in A Feast for Crows.
    • Queen Ælfthryth of England. Both are famous for, at one point, being the World's Most Beautiful Woman and the wives of Kings known for licentious behavior. &A Elig;lfthryth is believed to have played a part in poisoning her step-son Edward to pave the way for her son &A Elig;thelred to become King, not unlike Cersei's treatment of Robert's bastards. Both women served as Queen Regents when their sons were too young to rule and had domineering presences through their child's reign despite their poor advising (to the point that &A Elig;thelred is known to history as "the Unworthy", meaning "ill-advised").
  • Not Me This Time: She is widely believed to have killed Jon Arryn. When Cersei is asked by Tyrion about it, she denies it point-blank. It is later revealed, that despite all the other killings and murders she is involved in, Jon Arryn was actually killed by Lysa Arryn at Littlefinger's instigation.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • She is utterly terrified at losing Tommen the same way she lost Joffrey. At one instance, it leaves her a lump of tears.
    • Her whole character arc is an example of the trope. At the beginning it's shown that she is a player in the game of thrones; later in the story, it becomes clear that she's just another pawn of greater and more capable forces.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The text has lately been drawing comparisons between her and her husband. She's not winning. She turns to be as terrible ruler as he was, and while her cheating on her husband could be excused (considering what he was), she eventually starts cheating on the man she loves as well.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Cersei's relationships with her in-laws are about as functional as with her actual relatives.
    • She hates her new daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell, and the feeling turns out to be mutual.
    • Her loathing extends to the Tyrells as a whole, but besides Margaery, she seems to personally hate Mace and Olenna. Admittedly, The Queen Of Thorns while awesome is a tad difficult socially (and crossed Cersei on several occasions) and Mace is thought to be obnoxious even by the much better mentally balanced Kevan.
    • She didn't seem to be particularly fond of Stannis and Renly as well, even before they went on war with her, associating Renly with mockery and Stannis with teeth-grinding.
    • The Starks ultimately didn't become her family-in-law, but those who had relationships with her could tell a tale, especially Sansa. Ordering your future daughter-in-law's pet wolf killed doesn't exactly make for great family memories.
  • Older Than They Look: She's in her 30s during the Battle of the Blackwater but Sansa describes her as looking "maidenly" (i.e., a never-been-married girl or very young woman).
  • One Bad Mother: She becomes Queen Mother once Robert dies and Joffrey inherits. She isn't particularly fond of it, as being a Queen Mother and/or a Dowager strips her of all power in all but name. Her main conflict with Margaery stems in the fact that they both are queens.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: There's a moment in the second book when she actually takes a second to thank Tyrion for all of his hard work and even gives him a kiss on the cheek. He takes about sixteen seconds to enjoy it before immediately flying into a panic and sending spies out to find out what horrible thing she's plotting to do to him now. This is proved to be in no way an overreaction.
  • Open Secret: By A Clash of Kings, pretty much all of Westeros is aware (or at least suspects) that her "Baratheon" children are the result of an incestuous affair with her own brother. Not helping is the fact that all three of them are blond with green eyes, like Cersei herself and her twin, while trueborn Baratheons always have black hair and blue eyes.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: After her naked walk of shame through King's Landing and her return to the Red Keep, she reportedly spends a third of her time in the bath, scrubbing herself vigorously with horsehair brushes and strong lye soap.
    Kevan: She will never wash the stain away, no matter how hard she scrubs.
  • The Paranoiac: Cersei believes that her younger brother Tyrion is behind every bad thing that ever happens to her and is prophesied to murder her, and murdered her "best friend" to conceal this "fact", and thought it was bold of herself. She is proud of her son Joffrey because he acts like a psychopath, and ashamed of her son Tommen because he isn't and whom she therefore views as weak. In later books she starts seeing conspiracies everywhere and stupidly recruits the local fundamentalists to her cause in order to better control the kingdom and enforce her will, only to predictably be turned on by them as they recognize her for the lunatic she is. The only person she trusts is her twin brother Jaime and she ends up repelling even him with her arrogant, callous, and paranoid behavior.
  • The Peter Principle: As a scheming support of others' long-term plans, she's actually pretty good. In charge as a ruling queen? Not so much.
  • Pet the Dog: She tells Joffrey to stop beating Sansa because it's improper for a king to strike a woman. Unfortunately Joffrey just loopholes the rule by having the Kingsguard beat her instead, but it's one of the only times in the series Cersei does something genuinely altruistic. It's also likely that this one standard she has came as a result of Robert's Domestic Abuse towards her.
  • Poisonous Friend :Even if Cersei starts by genuinely liking you, she'll all too often find a reason to backstab you, let alone those around you, herself down the line. Or, will somehow mess your life up some other way either directly or indirectly thanks to other things she's done (or neglected to do). Even though, in her mind, she was trying to help or protect you... until you turned on her. Obviously you did. She just can't do healthy relationships: see Lady Macbeth, My Beloved Smother and Toxic Friend Influence.
  • Pragmatic Pansexuality: Cersei sleeps with some of her underlings to gain more control over them. This mostly includes men, but also the Lady Taena Merryweather. However, Cersei specifically thinks that she is not attracted to Lady Taena and isn't getting any pleasure from sleeping with her, so she is most likely fully hetrosexual.
  • Pride Before a Fall: After she loses her regency.
  • Properly Paranoid: Zig-zagged. Cersei is utterly paranoid, to the point of regarding nearly everyone as an actual or potential threat. However, this is Westeros: as often as not, Cersei's paranoia and amorality allow her to get the drop on her enemies before they can properly deal with her. The only problem is that her paranoia (and her odious personality) creates as many enemies as it neutralizes, and seems to have finally backfired on her. A serious inversion of this trope comes after Tywin's death; when things start going wrong or backfiring, she's quick to blame Tyrion for all of it, even though several people point out that the possibility of him being behind any of it is slim at best.
    • In particular, she's right to fear that the Tyrells are trying to use Margaery's influence as the future Queen over Joffrey and later Tommen to expand their own power within Westeros at her expense, as it's basically exactly what she had already done with Robert before the war. The way she goes about handling that situation, however, is singularly counterproductive.
  • Proud Beauty: Is well aware of her status as the World's Most Beautiful Woman, and what she can do with it. Her pride on this issue is highlighted in her fear of the prophesied "another, younger and more beautiful" that will take her place, which emphasizes how much she cares about her own beauty and power.
  • Psychological Projection: Cersei believes Margaery Tyrell is guilty of things Cersei herself has committed, namely scheming, manipulation, incest, and adultery.
  • Questionable Consent: She invokes it during her fling with Taena, wondering how it would feel to be the 'man' in the intercourse for once, and outright comparing it with her nights with Robert. The other woman claims she's enjoyed the experience, but it's not known if she really did or just was smart enough to act so.
  • Really Gets Around: Cersei literally sees sex as a weapon she can use to defend or support herself. Meaning, Cersei will usually resort to screwing her way out of a jam when diplomatic persuasion becomes too time consuming. Tyrion eventually lampshades this when he becomes frustrated with Jaime, who thinks Cersei is completely faithful to him. Despite what she claims, she also sleeps around just because she wants to.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: She thinks of herself as a female counterpart to her father, but she couldn't be more wrong. He is calm, collected, strategic, pragmatic, and acts for the good of the family (more or less), while she is arrogant, hotheaded and makes rash decisions based on her own impulses, mostly to benefit herself.
    Jaime's thoughts: Their father had been as relentless and implacable as a glacier, where Cersei was all wildfire.
  • Regent for Life: She seems determined to stay in power even when her son/young King grows up, but it isn't quite working out.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Invoked, but averted. She feared becoming Robert's substitute of Lyanna, but ultimately that didn't happen.
  • The Resenter: She's made quite a list.
    Cersei's narration: I waited, and so can [Tommen]. I waited half my life. She had played the dutiful daughter, the blushing bride, the pliant wife. She had suffered Robert’s drunken groping, Jaime’s jealousy, Renly’s mockery, Varys with his titters, Stannis endlessly grinding his teeth. She had contended with Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, and her vile, treacherous, murderous dwarf brother, all the while promising herself that one day it would be her turn. If Margaery Tyrell thinks to cheat me of my hour in the sun, she had bloody well think again.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Not that Cersei has figured it out yet.
  • Sanity Slippage: Following Joffrey's death, Cersei gradually becomes more and more paranoid and cruel, believing that everybody is conspiring against her.
  • Screw Destiny: Her attempts against Tyrion are meant to avert the prophecy she so fears, but her paranoia about it makes it more of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Deconstructed, like everything else about Cersei. She's always been a stunner, and she knows how to use it. Trouble is, it can only get her so far, and she never seems to realize how far it can actually get her. It certainly doesn't work on everybody, those it does work on don't always prove the safest tools to use, and it crashes headlong into Stay in the Kitchen, whatever she tries. Worse, she's terrified she's losing even this tool as she ages...
  • Screw Yourself: It is rather heavily implied that her attraction to Jaime stems from the fact that he is the closest she can get to actually realizing this trope. Jaime notes at one point that she will probably get upset by seeing him with a beard, as it makes him look less like her.
  • Secret Relationship: As the queen, she can't afford to have her affairs become public. She sleeps with one of the Kettleblacks and her cousin Lancel to further her own ends, but her biggest secret is her incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime. That's also the only relationship she seems to value (though even this is debatable), but things between them go sour.
  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • The main reason even her Mama Bear tendencies don't do much to redeem her. She adores Joffrey beyond any reasonable measure, making excuses for even his most appalling atrocities and never admitting to him having any faults other than being "willful". She's also bizarrely disappointed with her far more admirable and gentle younger son Tommen, considering him "weak" and criticizing him for it but also punishing him for standing up to her.
    • She hates Tyrion even when it's evident that he is trying to save her and King's Landing from Stannis' attack. She sees nothing but fault on Tyrion for reasons beyond his control and tries to hurt him at every opportunity she has.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • Her attempts to Screw Destiny about the prophecy she received when she was young only seem to bring it closer.
    • Her performance as a ruler is implied to be this to some degree. While she demonstrated some talent to scheme and she is a Lannister, so it's even more safe to assume that she has some, she was never taught how to use it, as she was kept out of "manly business" like most women in Westeros' patriarchal society. Cue Cersei finally coming to power with her lack of preparation for ruling making her incompetent, and the years of resentment about being looked down at causing her to becoming paranoid and unable to trust or even listen to any person offering her sensible advice.
  • Self-Serving Memory: As part of her Never My Fault portfolio. In A Feast for Crows, she rants about how she made Sansa part of her own household, fed and clothed her, and had her "kindness" thrown back in her face when Sansa supposedly helped poison Joffrey. She conveniently forgets that she 1) engineered the death of Sansa's beloved wolf, 2) allowed her son to have Sansa's father killed, 3) then told the girl to suck regular beatings and humiliation by him, her and the Kingsguard up and smile, and 4) that she doesn't have any concrete proof that Sansa did the poisoning at all.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Tries to act as this for Sansa, though likely it's also an excuse for her to vent over how life sucks when you're female in No Woman's Land.
  • Shadow Archetype: She embodies traits present in her hostage, Sansa, such as great beauty and powerlessness largely due to her gender. However, they are portrayed from a far darker angle in Cersei's case.
  • Shameful Strip: The Faith demands Cersei perform a walk of penance, sheared and naked, through the streets of King's Landing before her trial by champion.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Cersei, the beautiful queen, is even more ruthless, brutal and power-hungry than most of the high lords of the realm, but she usually maintains a cold, dignified and ladylike facade in public.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You:
    • Tyrion complains, at one point, that he's about the only guy she won't sleep with, and that it's totally unfair that she'll "open her legs for one brother and not the other." He doesn't actually want to sleep with her; he's actually just bitching about his own status within the family.
    • Jaime feels this in A Feast for Crows especially after Tyrion's revelation, that "She's been fucking Lancel, Osmund Kettleblack and Moon Boy for all I know." and Cersei spurning him and insulting him and his "stump" constantly. Eventually, he abandons her when she cries to him for help.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Her overconfidence in her own abilities as a ruler is Played for Drama, with suitably horrific consequences.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: She fell instantly for the charming, melancholic Rhaegar Targaryen and even took to drawing pictures of her and Rhaegar flying dragons. Even now, she still hasn't completely gotten over it, often wondering how things would have been for her and the kingdom, had Aerys agreed to the match Tywin had proposed.
  • Smug Snake: Shown clearly in her POV chapters. She thinks she was born to rule, but while she's good at plotting, backstabbing and treachery, as a ruler she's extremely incompetent. Even in the former three activities, she also eventually proves to be outmatched by individuals with a better grasp of long-term consequences.
  • Stepford Snarker: Like all good little lions, Cersei can battle with words. But, in her case, they seem to come from her intense bitterness and dissatisfaction (not to mention her fear of the aforementioned prophecy) and comes across as both armor and as a weapon to get even with.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: She laments this, unaware that the reason why is she's driven away or ignored everyone who could give her good advice. By the middle of A Feast for Crows she seems to have forgotten that she intentionally replaced the entire council with her own people, several specifically chosen for being easily-manipulated fools, and she blames them for everything.
  • The Svengali: Towards Sansa Stark. Cersei sees herself as somewhat a mentor to Sansa in the ways of appearing before court and being a good consort to her king; the only problem is that Cersei thinks that her own example is something to be followed... she's even proud of herself.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Averted; readers finally get a glimpse inside her head in A Feast For Crows, but she remains as villainous as ever. She has one degree lower in cunning than it's initially thought from AGOT. One could even say it is actually an Inverted Trope: her POV makes her come across as more pathetic and less sympathetic.
  • Too Clever by Half: Runs in the family. Cersei does have some smarts and a talent for plotting, but she lacks common sense and mental stability. So while she proves to be dangerous, she ultimately is dangerous for herself as well and ends up imprisoned.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Jaime's life might well have been a lot less eventful if she hadn't been born his sister. Not to mention Tyrion's. And, should Cersei ever suggest going to have your palm read, the wise choice is to back out.
  • Traumatic Haircut: The Faith Militant shave her entire body as part of her Humiliation Conga.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: She began an incestuous relationship with her own twin at the age of nine, and by the time she was a teen, it's strongly implied she murdered her best friend Melara Hetherspoon by pushing her down a well, partly because Melara had a crush on Jaime, partly because she suggested that as long as nobody speaks about the prophecy, it wouldn't come true.
  • Twincest/Brother–Sister Incest: She began "experimenting" with Jaime when they both were nine.
  • The Unfettered: Cersei's main purpose in life is to rule unopposed and to see all other houses to bow to the power of House Lannister. The problem is that she sees her allies not as equals towards a common goal, but as subservient lackeys; in other words, she wants to have the cake and eat it too.
  • Unstable Powered Woman: After her husband King Robert's death, Cersei Lannister rules Westeros as Queen Regent for her son. While never the best person, she is at first kept in check by her father Tywin and brother Tyrion, who are both noted for their intelligence and strategic skill, as much as she resents it. After Tywin dies and Tyrion goes on the run, Cersei is left unrestrained and quickly goes downhill — she starts stress-drinking and becomes more overtly paranoid, cruel, and incompetent in her determination to keep the crown.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: According to Kevan, in her youth she was bright, cheerful, and optimistic, before her Awful Wedded Life to Robert and life as a Lannister embittered her. Tyrion, on the other hand, remembers her as a Big Sister Bully and just as cruel in her childhood as she is now.
  • The Vamp: "Tears are not a woman's only weapon. You've another one between your legs. Best learn to use it." and unfortunately for her as she's aging it's being deconstructed. After all, you can't be The Vamp forever.
  • Villain Decay: Introduced as a very ruthless and competent chessmaster; grief and anger and paranoia help drive home that by the fourth book, she isn't.
    • The main issue seems to be that while Cersei is effective at gaining power, her inability to wield said power effectively means she has difficulty keeping it. This is due to her father handling the political side, but after his death Cersei takes charge and shows she hasn't inherited his political cunning.
  • Villainous Glutton: Throughout A Feast For Crows, she spends ostentatiously on pleasure barges, clothes, and jewelry, and is constantly gulping wine, to the point she she actually starts to gain a noticeable amount of weight.
  • Villainous Incest: While Catelyn's and Ned's narration already paints the Lannisters in a negative light at the beginning, the first definite sign we get that they're bad news is the reveal that Cersei and Jaime are having an affair.
  • Villain Protagonist: She first becomes a POV character in A Feast For Crows, acting as the driving force at the capital while all other characters are wandering about. Her thought process is just as twisted as her actions in previous books.
  • Villainous Valor: When subject to the humiliating ritual of the Walk of Shame for charges of adultery, a punishment no King would ever have to submit to, Cersei braves it with considerable resolve and despite the ritual's purpose to break her pride, she retains it largely to spite the High Septon and at seeing her Ace in the Hole, Ser Robert Strong, clad in the Kingsguard White Cloak.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In Essos, she is believed to be a brave, beautiful, good and gentle queen who suffered tragically the loss of her father and eldest son. In Westeros, where her crimes are more widely known, it's a different story.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Female example; she hates how she feels undervalued by her father due to her gender, and when she does have power she desperately tries to emulate him, despite him already being dead.
  • When She Smiles:
    • One time Tyrion was giving her some good news that put her in a good mood he notes that he is possibly getting an insight into what Jaime sees in her.
    • This is one of the reasons her uncle Kevan is fond of her much in spite of what has transpired between them, as he remembers her being a considerably happier person when she was younger.
  • Wicked Stepmother:
    • Though she isn't a stepmother to them by the standards and values of Westeros, she does have most of her husband's illegitimate offspring killed after her son takes over the throne. Ned Stark is also appalled to hear rumors of children getting killed because her husband dared to sleep with a woman in Casterly Rock.
    • She also actively plots to destroy her "daughter" by marriage, Margaery, not to mention her treatment of (then betrothed to Joffrey) Sansa.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The second all checks on her power are removed, she runs herself into the ground.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Whatever Cersei hasn't gained from her father's influence or her own scheming, she has achieved through her beauty. Though by no means good or kind or tactful, Cersei is and always has been a remarkably beautiful woman. Nevertheless, she knows that her looks will fade eventually and tries to counsel Sansa about this. This eventually comes to roundly bite her in the rear end when the High Septon forces her to take a walk of shame buck naked through King's Landing due to her sin of fornication; only then she begins to fully realize that she is beginning to get saggy and show some age.
  • Would Hurt a Child: She wanted Jaime to cut off Arya's hand for attacking Joffrey. She threatens to harm Mya Stone if Robert brought her to court, had twins Robert fathered on a servant woman at Casterly Rock killed (and their mother sold into slavery) according to rumours, and later she orders the deaths of all of Robert Baratheon's bastards, succeeding in killing all but a few. Freaks out the small council when speaking of her intention to have Sansa tortured to death. She's also verbally and mentally abusive toward her son Tommen, disgusted by his gentle nature after Joffrey dies. Let's not even get into how she got along with kids when she was a child.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: After what he got up to in A Clash of Kings, it's hard to blame her for seeing Tyrion plotting against her behind every defiance and sleight she suffers after A Storm of Swords. However, he's not even in Westeros anymore and she has little evidence he's involved; she's just too paranoid and focused on him to see this.
  • Wrong Name Outburst:
    Ned: I remember Robert as he was the day he took the throne, every inch a king. A thousand other women might have loved him with all their hearts. What did he do to make you hate him so?
    Cersei: The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: