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The moral grey area in which the Targaryen characters roam through House of the Dragon’s first season is something that Game of Thrones expertly showed with multiple houses during its peak, not least of all House Lannister. If House Stark were the good guys, House Lannister were the villains and have at least two of the show’s most evil characters.
However, not every person in House Lannister is evil. Despite the pompous idiots and the power-hungry villains, there are several innocent children and a few complex heroes who managed to save their family’s legacy from being tarnished by showing that their house is capable of showing the best parts of humanity too.
Least – Myrcella Baratheon
Arguably the most tragic figure in the Lannister family is the daughter of Cersei and Jaime, Myrcella. She is shown to be nothing but a kind soul and a genuinely decent, innocent person, far removed from her mother.
To be killed so undeservedly and in such a brutal way is unfair for Myrcella, who was happy living her life in Dorne, away from the dramas of the Seven Kingdoms. She was not exactly the most fleshed-out character on the show, but whenever fans met her, she was sweet and displayed zero cruelty, self-interest, or hatred for anyone, setting her apart from most others in her family.
Undoubtedly the kindest and the least evil of the Lannister monarchs (or even just Lannisters in positions of power in general) is Tommen – a young man thrust into power and manipulated by everybody around him.
Tommen’s suicide is one of the most shocking and saddening deaths in the entire show. While he did side with the pretty abhorrent Faith Militant, Tommen was young, and everybody used him for their own gain, so he cannot really be blamed. Tommen never had that Lannister ruthlessness, that ambition to climb over anybody to grasp more power however necessary; he was just a boy.
For the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister is arguably the show’s most fascinating individual. A big part of that is that he is not evil, despite the public opinion in Westeros.
Tyrion is definitely capable of evil, for example, when he choked Shae to death and fought for the wrong side on multiple occasions. However, he had a moral compass missing from others in his family. Look at the kindness he shows Sansa after they wed or the compassion he shows to Jon Snow, or even something as simple as how he treats his younger niece and nephew. Tyrion showcases bravery when fighting for others, and while he makes a lot of mistakes, he also proves himself less evil than every other Lannister adult.
Up until the moment he left to run back into Cersei’s arms, Jaime Lannister could well have been the most layered and complex character in Game of Thrones, constantly walking the line between good and bad. Deep down, he is far from evil.
Jaime may have done some heinous things and been a pompous jerk for most of his life, but he was also burdened by expectations and reputation, which did not fairly respect the man he could be. Whether it be his selflessness in fighting with the North against the Night King, his protection of Brienne, or his treatment of Tyrion, Jaime just about makes up for his brutally murdering his cousin or attacking Ned Stark.
House of the Dragon does have some Lannister influence through the twins, with Jason being an especially unlikable addition to the show and an ally to the Greens. They have yet to showcase proper, Game of Thrones-Lannister-level evil, though.
The unabashed pride and cockiness of the Lannister are there for everyone to see from moment one, and there is no debate that he is a bad guy. Outside conspiring against Rhaenyra and trying to further his family’s standing, though, neither of the twins has done enough to deem them more evil than Thrones’ worst Lannisters. Although, Tyland has already claimed for Aegon II, so to Black supporters, he is automatically evil.
One of, if not the least memorable, Lannister in Game of Thrones is Kevan, who did not reside in power for long but made the most of his short time on the Small Council, proving himself a competent but not hugely powerful Hand of the King.
Outside of being a Lannister, putting any modicum of trust and power into the Faith Militant, and just generally fighting for Lannister causes, Kevan does not do a lot of evil in the series. He is hardly the most likable guy, but he does nothing wild like murder/torture people, nor is he shown to be wholly insufferable like others in his family.
It is impressive that, despite being among the company of cunning hands, idiot boy kings, and one of the most hated characters in TV history, Lancel Lannister is capable of being so unbearble.
To call him evil is harsh, especially early in the show, he is just a tool used by the likes of Cersei. He does play a role in Robert Baratheon’s death, though, as well as be a prominent member of the Faith Militant when they caused religiously-fuelled chaos in the capital. His self-righteousness was intolerable, and even if he was not as deliberately evil as other Lannisters, he was far from good, especially in the end.
Arguably the best Hand of the King/Queen seen on-screen so far and one of Game of Thrones’ most gripping characters is Tywin Lannister, patriarch of House Lannister and a deplorable mastermind of a man.
Tywin cares about nothing outside the legacy and standing of his family and will even be utterly horrible to his family to achieve these goals. His treatment of Tyrion is abhorrent, his opinion of Jaime is unjust, and the way in which he operates is so wholly selfish – albeit genius. He will do anything, no matter how disgusting or evil it may be, to create a lasting dynasty for House Lannister. All that stops him from being the evilest is his intelligence and superior political ability; he knows the right moves to make and examines the possible consequences. Rarely is he cruel the way in which Joffrey or Cersei is.
Cersei Lannister could so easily be considered not only the evilest Lannister, but the evilest Game of Thrones character period. Her cruelty and selfishness were unwavering, and with these traits and more she crafted a legacy as one of TV’s greatest villains.
Whether it be in her viciousness when dealing with enemies – such as everybody in the Sept of Baelor – or in her constantly doing everything out of self-interest – such as not helping the North during the Battle of Winterfell – Cersei is rarely anything but evil in the show.
Joffrey Baratheon may not have had as much time as his mother to show just how evil he could be, yet he still manages to be one of the most detestable figures in pop culture with three and a bit seasons to work with.
It is not just that Joffrey is evil (as seen by his never-ending bitterness, violence towards his ‘subjects’ like Sansa, and general viciousness), but it is that he is a total coward; a whiny mess of a boy who has audiences screaming at their screens in frustration. In the eyes of many, Joffrey is the evilest Game of Thrones character, and the only other contenders are his mother and Ramsay Bolton.
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