Over the course of eight seasons, Jaime Lannister emerged as a fan favourite on Game of Thrones. His character encapsulates the show at its very best – and its worst.
At the start of the show, Jaime seems to be an incredibly bad guy. He’s arrogant, obnoxious and… oh yeah, has sex with his sister and pushes a 10-year-old out a window.
But then a funny thing happens. Jaime goes to war and is captured by Robb Stark, and he’s away from Cersei’s influence and their toxic co-dependence. And his character begins to grow.
He gets really interesting around the time he’s paired with Brienne. Their chemistry is incredible, and in amongst all the banter, Jaime shows some real moments of vulnerability.
When Jaime and Brienne are captured by the Boltons and Jaime manages to prevent Brienne for being raped – at the cost of his own hand – it’s the first time we see him do something truly unselfish.
This arc builds until it reaches its peak – the bath scene, in which Jaime confesses the truth about why he killed the Mad King to Brienne.
This moment is followed up by Brienne calling Jaime “Ser Jaime”. It clearly means a lot to him – it’s the first time someone has seen and acknowledged the honourable part of himself.
All in all, the fact that Jaime managed to save the population of King’s Landing is important to him. He even mentions it to Qyburn later.
Jaime’s redemption arc continues with him jumping into an actual bear pit to save Brienne…
And then, even when he’s back in King’s Landing, the tension between him and Cersei led many fans to believe he’d eventually be free of her poisonous influence forever.
Jaime also leans into his honour when he sends Brienne on a mission to find and save Sansa Stark, fulfilling his oath to Lady Catelyn – something Brienne acknowledges in the name for the sword Jaime gives her.
Unfortunately, this is also when Jaime’s plot goes way off track. Starting with the awful scene in Season 4 when he rapes Cersei in front of Joffrey’s body.
Jaime’s plot then fell victim to Season 5 – the worst season of Game of Thrones, in no small part thanks to the almost universally-derided Dorne storyline, which Jaime was a central part of.
Aside from the mess of Dorne itself, Seasons 5 and 6 also place Jaime pretty firmly at Cersei’s side (emotionally, if not always physically). Which felt like a regression of the journey he’d been, and a dip back down into the worst aspects of himself.
A lot of fans thought Cersei blowing up the sept (killing a bunch of people with wildfire – the very act Jaime sacrificed his honour to prevent the Mad King doing) would lead to Jaime finally abandoning her and getting back on the path to redemption.
But it took a whole extra season before he finally broke away from Cersei – after Brienne came back into his life and reminded him of what was most important.
Jaime rode North, at great personal risk, to keep his oath, embrace his honour, and fight alongside Brienne to save innocent lives.
The fact that Jaime and Brienne finally acted on their long-simmering chemistry in the next episode felt like the icing on the cake – and for Jaime, the final clean break away from Cersei, and the darker side of him she represents.
BUT THEN! Jaime hears Cersei is in danger…and he goes running straight back to her.
He says he doesn’t care about the people of King’s Landing and he doesn’t even react to the horror unfolding around him (you know, the Mad King’s plan – that Jaime sacrificed so much to avoid – actually coming to fruition, right down to the wildfire). All he’s focused on is Cersei.
All that potential…utterly wasted.
RIP Jaime Lannister. You’re dead now – and so is your interesting character arc.