Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” season seven.
Jaime Lannister’s journey is one of the most compelling ones on “Game of Thrones,” and one of the most frustrating.
He’s a complex character. He values honor, but also pushes Bran Stark out of a window in order to keep his affair with his sister Cersei a secret.
As we learn more about Jaime’s past, and his motives, he’s become more of a hero. So for a long time, it’s been “about time” for him to end his toxic relationship with his sister, and fight for the right team.
In the books, Jaime turns on Cersei much sooner than he does in the show. And even for non-book readers, his loyalty to Cersei starts to get a little unbelievable considering what she’s done, and what he’s been through on the show.
After his adventures with Brienne of Tarth in season three, fans began to see the potential that Jaime could turn on Cersei. Their time together opens him up to new perspectives, and humanizes him. His connection to Brienne inspires him to reveal why he murdered the Mad King Aerys: he did it to save the entire city of King’s Landing from exploding in wildfire.
In the seasons since, Jaime’s decision to stay loyal to his sister no matter what (including murdering hundreds of people with wildfire Mad King style) has not been convincing.
To honor Jaime’s brave decision to finally turn his back on his sister in the season finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” we took a look back at all the times Jaime should have turned on Cersei, but didn’t.
When Cersei tortures baby Tyrion.
Cersei has hated Tyrion since he was born, because their mother Joanna died giving birth to him. She would pinch him and twist his flesh until he wailed when he was a baby. In season four, Oberyn Martell tells Tyrion that he saw Cersei do this on a visit to Casterly Rock, and Jaime stopped her.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. But it was really nice of him to tell her to stop torturing a baby.
When Cersei has Jaime join the Kingsguard so they can be together, thus ruining his life.
Before Robert’s Rebellion, Cersei tells Jaime to join the Kingsguard, forfeiting his future inheritance of lands and titles, so he can stay in King’s Landing and they can be together. However, their father Tywin resigns as the Mad King’s Hand of the King and brings her back to Casterly Rock.
Jaime then murders the Mad King, earning the nickname Kingslayer.
After Robert’s Rebellion, his murder of the Mad King is forgiven by King Robert, and he remains on the Kingsguard. Jaime spends majority of his time following his sister’s husband around. Robert treats Jaime poorly and flaunts his affairs with other women to torment Jaime.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. He finds this helpful in some ways, since he and Cersei get to hook up in their free time.
When Cersei has an affair with Lancel Lannister, their cousin.
Cersei sleeps with their cousin Lancel throughout seasons one and two. Lancel does everything she asks him to, including causing the death of King Robert.
In season five, Lancel confesses the affair and the death of Robert to the High Sparrow. Cersei is arrested for her crimes, and has to do the walk of shame to the Red Keep.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? Nope. He’s heard the rumors, but chooses not to believe them. But we do know that Jaime has never been with another woman.
When Cersei lets their monstrous son Joffrey take the Iron Throne.
- HBO / Helen Sloan
Cersei turns a blind eye to Joffrey’s monstrosity his entire life, and even encourages it.
Instead of letting Ned Stark serve as regent, Cersei arrests him and lets Joffrey be king. He is a terrible king and a murderous creep, and Cersei is the one responsible for giving him all this power to play with, knowing full well that he’s a terrible child.
When Joffrey sits on the throne (because of Cersei) he uses his power to order the execution of Ned Stark, starting the War of the Five Kings. Joffrey also orders the murder of all of King Robert’s bastard children. He tortures and murders people for fun. And so much more bad stuff! So much more.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No, though perhaps he’s a bit in denial, since Joffrey is also his son.
When Jaime returns to King’s Landing after being held captive by Robb Stark, and losing a hand, and Cersei is mad at him for being gone too long.
- Neil Davidson / HBO
Seriously. This happened. Cersei is upset that Jaime left King’s Landing to fight in the war for House Lannister. But it was Cersei’s idea to have Jaime become a knight, and fighting in wars is a pretty big part of that gig. Oh, and it was also Cersei who helped start this war by having Ned Stark arrested.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. Jaime is still in love!
When Cersei accuses Tyrion of murder, and plots to ensure he’s found guilty.
Jaime is close to Tyrion, and has always had a connection to him, while Cersei and Tywin refused to love him since birth. Cersei immediately blames Tyrion for Joffrey’s murder. She gets Shae to turn on him and she goes out of her way to ensure that he will lose the trial by combat by getting The Mountain to participate. She also offers Bronn a castle if he refuses to fight for Tyrion, an offer he accepts.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. But he does help Varys set Tyrion free.
When Cersei starts a war with Dorne, resulting in their daughter’s death.
- Helen Sloan/HBO
In season five, Cersei sends Jaime on a secret (and misguided) mission to Dorne to bring Myrcella back to King’s Landing. Things between the Lannisters and the Dornish are already heated, since The Mountain killed Oberyn Martell in Tyrion’s trial by combat. Ellaria Sand wants to kill Myrcella, and Cersei makes things even worse when Jaime is caught in Dorne trying to sneak his daughter back home.
This results in Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes poisoning Myrcella, who dies in Jaime’s arms. This isn’t directly Cersei’s fault, but it is her scheming, and her accusation of Tyrion for murdering Joffrey, that created these enemies in the first place. Tyrion’s arrangement for Myrcella to marry Trystane and live in Dorne provided her safety while eliminating an enemy in the War of the Five Kings. Cersei totally ruins that.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No.
When Cersei blows up the Sept of Baelor with wildfire, resulting in their son Tommen’s suicide
Jaime killed the Mad King Aerys because he threatened to burn all of King’s Landing with wildfire. Cersei sets the Sept of Baelor ablaze with wildfire at the end of season six, which is exactly what Jaime stopped the Mad King from doing.
It’s pretty obvious that Cersei facilitated the explosion herself, though we do see her call it a tragedy in season seven.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? Shockingly, no. Jaime probably tells himself she didn’t do this on purpose, but there has to be a part of him that knows she did.
When Cersei refuses to discuss Tommen’s suicide with Jaime, and says Tommen betrayed her.
In the season seven premiere, Jaime tells Cersei, “We never talked about Tommen,” who committed suicide after seeing the Sept of Baelor exploded. Cersei says that Tommen betrayed her, and basically changes the subject.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No.
When Cersei accepts Euron’s marriage proposal right in front of him.
Yes, Jaime lived through Cersei’s marriage to Robert and made it out alright, but it was certainly painful for him.
When Euron proposes the first time to Cersei, she declines. The second time, when he brings her the gift of Ellaria Sand and Tyene Sand, she accepts it: but says it will only happen after the war is over. If it ever happens, Euron seems a lot more threatening to Jaime and Cersei’s continued romance than Robert was.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. Jaime likely thinks that Cersei will never actually marry Euron.
When Olenna confesses that she murdered Joffrey.
“Your sister has done things I wasn’t capable of imagining,” Olenna says. “She’s a monster, you do know that?”
Jaime, who convinced Cersei to give Olenna a friendly death, gives her poison. She tells Jaime about the things she did to protect her house, how awful Joffrey was and how awful Cersei is, and ends it by admitting that she was the one who poisoned Joffrey.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. He has a look of “Seven Hells what have I done” for a second, but Jaime is driven by love!
When Jaime comes back to King’s Landing after narrowly surviving a brutal battle against Dothraki and a dragon, and Cersei refuses to acknowledge they cannot beat Daenerys.
Cersei’s solution to make up for the men they lost in the Loot Train Attack? Mercenaries!
“I just saw the Dothraki fight,” Jaime says. “They’ll beat any mercenary army. They’ll beat any army I’ve ever seen.” He also mentions the dragons that burned a thousand wagons, and says, “This is a war we cannot win.”
Cersei pretty much ignores his battle experience, and underestimates his input. She does this quite often with Jaime, because she views him as the muscle and herself as the brains.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No, but almost there. Cersei’s ignorance drives Jaime to accept and facilitate the temporary truce Tyrion offers in their surprise meeting in King’s Landing.
When Cersei threatens him right after telling him that she’s pregnant.
After Jaime’s meeting with Tyrion, Cersei tells him that’s she’s pregnant, and she’s keeping it. And she will publicly say he is the father. Right after telling him this wonderful news, she hugs him and says, “Never betray me again.”
That’s definitely a threat.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. They’re having a baby!
When Cersei refuses to help fight the dead because Jon Snow says he will only call Daenerys his queen.
Jon Snow pulls a Ned Stark and instead of lying a bit to help everyone, admits he will only stay loyal to Daenerys. This makes Cersei angry and she refuses to help, so Tyrion tries to convince her.
On their way out of the dragon pit, Brienne takes Jaime aside, screams expletives about loyalty, and tells him to talk to his sister. “F–k loyalty!” Brienne says.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No! But he’s getting there. Although we don’t see it on screen, Jaime does take Brienne’s advice and tries talking to Cersei before Tyrion does.
When Cersei calls him the “stupidest Lannister.”
Cersei tells Jaime, “I always knew you were the stupidest Lannister,” because he was actually planning on riding North to assist in the fight against the dead.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? No. This is really mean and confuses Jaime. But it takes him a few more minutes to leave her for good.
When Cersei admits that she lied to everyone, and will not help defend Westeros against the army of the dead.
Jaime is upset that Cersei’s betrayal would make him look like a liar to Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys. And he doesn’t understand what the game plan is. If Daenerys and company defeat the dead, then Jaime and Cersei will be next. If the dead defeat that army, Jaime and Cersei will soon become zombies.
Does this stop Jaime from turning on Cersei? Yes. He did it! He finally did it. Jaime abandoned Cersei. One big motivation is that Cersei made her plan with Euron Greyjoy, which proves she’s not loyal to anyone, including Jaime.