Developing a Hero: The Character Development of Jaime Lannister

When you saw the title of this post, the last person you probably thought would end the title would be Jaime Lannister. But sure enough, here I am writing about how I do consider Jaime Lannister a hero in Game of Thrones. While it was by no means an easy road, Jaime went from full on villain to saving grace in a matter of three seasons really. And if I had to point to one person responsible for this change in the Kingslayer’s heart, I would look no further than Brienne of Tarth. However, this isn’t a love story between Brienne and Jaime; no, this is how Jaime went from arguably one of the most vile characters to grace our television sets, to a man that we can’t help rooting for in the upcoming season 8.

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When we first meet Jaime Lannister, it’s in season 1, he’s talking with sister Cersei Lannister about something clearly involving Jon Arryn. Later, we’d find out that these two were behind the death of the Hand of the King. Then we’re shown one of the biggest secrets and scandals in Westeros: Jaime and Cersei are not just twins, but they’re lovers as well. And then Jaime did one of the most despicable things in Game of Thrones history: threw 10 year old Bran Stark from the window of one of the towers, resulting in his paralysis, and he didn’t even feel bad about it. Then, later on in season 1, Jaime and his guards kill Ned’s men in King’s Landing and drive a spear through Ned’s leg. After harming the Hand of the King, Jaime flees the city to his father, Tywin Lannister, where he is later captured by Robb Stark. While imprisoned, in an attempt to escape, he kills his own cousin, and former squire, and chokes the life out of Torrhen Karstark.

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However, it’s not until season 3 where things begin to turn for Jaime and we see his character really become broken. On the way to being escorted to King’s Landing by Brienne of Tarth, the two are captured by a small force of Bolton soldiers. It’s here that Jaime begins to show compassion towards Brienne, warning her that the Bolton’s will rape her that evening; however, he’s the reason they don’t as he tells a lie to save his new friend. It’s here that Jaime the Kingslayer really turns into a compassionate and good character to root for. However, after running his mouth too much, Locke cuts his sword hand off. This is where we really see Jaime broken, knowing his one best weapon, his sword, is forever neutralized.

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Upon Jaime and Brienne’s arrival at Harrenhal, we finally see Jaime really opening up to Brienne, and the audience. We learn that he stabbed the Mad King in the back because he was ordered to kill his own father, and then burn the entire city, and it’s inhabitants to the ground with wildfire. While Jaime is called the Kingslayer, this is the first time we learn the origin of the nickname and the story behind it, and it begins to make us feel sorry for Jaime. Imagine being in the position Jaime was in; either keep your vows to the King and commit mass murder, including killing your own father, or break your vows, lose all trust around the Realm, but save your family and King’s Landing. And because he chose to save instead of kill, he’s forever mocked by being called the Kingslayer, or Oathbreaker. After Jaime and Qyburn are allowed to leave Harrenhal to return to King’s Landing, Jaime feels the guilt of his lie he told Locke and returns to Harrenhal, sacrificing his own well being to save Brienne from being killed by a bear. The two return to King’s Landing, along with Qybrun, who will later fit Jaime for a golden hand to replace his severed one.

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At this point, we’re hoping that Jaime will realize his relationship with Cersei can be a big point that started this war, and will not return to it…but we’re wrong. As soon as he arrives, Jaime goes straight for his sister; however, since he’s been gone for so long and has lost a hand, her feelings seem to have changed. It’s here, in season 4, that we’re shown yet another one of Jaime’s character traits: his love for his little brother Tyrion. We’re also shown another look for Jaime: a nice clean haircut that he will keep for the foreseeable future it appears. Tywin and Cersei both hate Tyrion, but Jaime feels sorry for his little brother and comes to his defense whenever he can. When Tyrion is accused of killing Joffrey, it’s Jaime that goes to Cersei to speak on behalf of their brother, risking his and Cersei’s relationship. When she turns him away, Jaime then strikes a deal with Tywin that will result in Jaime leaving King’s Landing, and his family, behind to head to Casterly Rock and Tyrion’s life will be spared as he will go join the Night’s Watch. However, when Tyrion lashes out, Jaime’s deal falls through. It’s Jaime that Tyrion wants to fight for him in Tyrion’s trial by combat, but they both know Jaime is nowhere near the swordsman he once was. After Oberyn Martell loses to the Mountain, Tyrion’s fate is decided and his execution date is set, much to Jaime’s dismay. He tries to get Cersei to let Tyrion live one last time, but when she refuses, Jaime is left with no other choice than to help his little brother escape. Jaime, frees Tyrion and organizes a ship for him and Varys to escape to Essos on, not knowing that Tyrion will kill Tywin before he leaves, something Jaime will not forgive him for.

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After Cersei puts Tywin’s death on Jaime, Jaime tells her that he and Bronn will go rescue Myrcella from the Dornes and bring their daughter back to King’s Landing, providing us with yet another glimpse into Jaime’s character as we see his fatherly instincts on saving his children. Jaime and Bronn go to arguably one of the most dangerous places in the world and goes one on one with some of the Sand Snakes in order to save Myrcella. Once in the audience of Prince Doran Martell, Jaime and Doran come to an agreement in a civilized, kind of diplomatic manner, something we’ve never seen Jaime be before. Ultimately, the Sand Snakes poison Myrcella, and after revealing to Jaime that she’s proud to be his daughter, she dies in his arms. So, in the course of just 3 seasons, Jaime has lost his sword hand, lost his eldest son, lost his daughter, lost his father, freed his brother to possibly never see him again, and went through a rough patch in his relationship with his sister, so one could say life is a little rough for Ser Jaime Lannister at this point.

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Season 6 was kind of a dud season for our pal Jaime. Unlike past seasons, there’s really no different character developments that we haven’t seen before. Instead, the writers chose to combine all of his past traits together for this season. He has a nice moment with Brienne where they share a nice moment of reunion and strategy, he has diplomatic moments with the Small Council and King Tommen, he has a moment of intimidation when he confronts the High Sparrow and threatens to kill him on the spot, and we’re shown his military expertise when he forces Edmure and the Blackfish to surrender Riverrun. Another thing Season 6 Jaime gives us is the foundation of his breakup with Cersei. Upon arriving back in King’s Landing, Jaime sees the Sept destroyed and Cersei being crowned Queen; meaning Tommen is dead, and the deed that Jaime killed the Mad King to prevent from happening, was caused by his sister turned lover. The disappointment is seen very clearly on Jaime’s face, and it could be assumed that season 7 would be the last time the Lannister twins laid together.

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Season 7 brought us arguably my favorite version of Jaime Lannister, mainly for the finale. However, there is more to Jaime in this season than just him leaving Cersei. We see Jaime’s will to help his sister out by bribing Randyll Tarley to betray Olenna Tyrell and join forces with the Lannisters, saying he will make Tarley Warden of the South should they win the war against Daenerys Targaryen. We then are treated to an amazing scene between Olenna and Jaime, in which we are shown the kindness and compassion Jaime has in his heart. He tells Olenna that Cersei wanted to give her a long, painful death, but he was able to talk Cersei into just giving Olenna a quick poison that won’t hurt at all. It’s here that Olenna reveals she’s the one who poisoned Joffrey and killed Jaime’s firstborn son, something that floors Jaime. We also get some more scenes showcasing Jaime’s military prowess in The Spoils of War where Jaime leads the Lannister armies away from Highgarden before they are ambushed by Daenerys Targaryen and her 3 dragons. Even though Bronn tells him repeatedly to ride back to King’s Landing, Jaime refuses to leave his troops behind, showing his loyalty to his men. After Drogon fires through most of the army, Jaime is shown rallying his remaining troops and focusing the archer’s fire on Daenerys, in hopes of hitting her. After Bronn harms Drogon,  Jaime has a chance to end the war, with Daenerys grounded and tending to her wounded dragon, and in the process, possibly putting his Kingslayer nickname to rest, as he would be the Savior of the Realm. However, Drogon sees Jaime coming, and if Bronn had not thrown Jaime into the river, would have killed Jaime before letting him touch Daenerys. Jaime comes to the realization that they can’t be the Targaryen armies, especially with 3 dragons. After they return to King’s Landing, Bronn sets up a meeting between Jaime and Tyrion, in which Tyrion explains that Jaime needs to get Cersei to agree to meet with Daenerys in a summit to pause the war between them. Obviously, Jaime showcases his persuasion because Cersei agrees to it. Following Cersei’s agreement to help in the war against the White Walkers, Jaime immediately preps to march North to help the Targaryen and Stark armies; however, Cersei informs him that she and Euron Greyjoy lied to Daenerys and will use this time to strike and defeat her enemies. Jaime feels betrayed by Cersei that she would do this without informing him, the Lord Commander of her armies, and her lover, and you can begin to see he is just about done with Cersei. After Cersei reveals she would kill Jaime if he stood in her way, he decides to finally turn away from his evil sister and marches North alone, in hopes to help the Targaryen and Stark armies in any way he can, upholding his honor.

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So that is where we leave Jaime Lannister at the end of season 7, riding North to keep his honor. The big question regarding Jaime is will this move cost him his head, as his sister said she would kill anyone who turned their back on her. Personally, I don’t think Cersei will be the one to kill Jaime, but I also don’t think Jaime makes it out of season 8 alive. Either way, Jaime Lannister is the one character who has changed the most from season 1 to season 7, and I can’t wait to see what the writers do with his character in this upcoming season.