Cersei Lannister is so bad (and Lena Heady is so good), her character continues to make for great TV. We recently celebrated the incomparable Game of Thrones star, and Lena Heady’s incredible work, with a gallery of our favorite memes and gifs, and now we’re looking back on some of her most memorable quotes. And the queen of plotting and scheming has many.
1. On being king
“A good king knows when to save his strength and when to destroy his enemies.”
When Joffrey complains that he doesn’t want to marry Sansa or be kind to her (because, you know, kindness isn’t his thing), Cersei’s motherly advice to her baby boy is this golden nugget. When pulled out of context, it almost doesn’t sound so diabolical and crazy.
2. Family bonds
“Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy.”
Cersei believes in keeping it in the family (all in the family), and this is her advice to Joffrey regarding allegiance to his in-laws. With a mindset like this, it makes sense that she chose her twin to help produce her offspring. After all, he’s the only one she can trust.
3. How to wear bruises
“I shall wear this as a badge of honor.”
Robert Baratheon might have a boisterous charm, but he’s a terrible wife-beater. He strikes Cersei across the face in anger. But although he can wound her physically, few can wound her pride.
4. On the game for the throne
“When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
Always the honorable gentleman, Ned Stark warns Cersei that he will tell Robert her children are not his, but Jaimie’s. He gives her the opportunity to flee, and she calmly responds with the titular line of the series.
5. This is what ruling is
“You want to be Hand of the King? You want to rule? This is what ruling is; lying on a bed of weeds, ripping them out by the root, one by one, before they strangle you in your sleep!”
In discussing Joffrey’s vicious ways, she backs him up by saying that a ruler needs an iron fist.
6. On religion
“Oh, shut up, you little fool. Praying for the gods to have mercy on us all? The gods have no mercy, that’s why they are gods. My father told me that when he caught me praying. My mother had just died, you see. I didn’t really understand the concept of death. The finality of it. I thought if I prayed very very hard, the gods would return her to me. I was four.”
As the Battle of the Blackwater takes place outside, Cersei and the other ladies in the castle sit inside, seemingly powerless. And when Sansa prays, Cersei mocks her.
7. Cersei’s feminism?
“Tears aren’t a woman’s only weapon. The best one’s between your legs.”
When it looks like they have lost the battle, Cersei imparts this golden nugget of wisdom to Sansa.
8. On fear
“The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy.”
Cersei doesn’t take well to traitors. When some of her subjects flee for their lives during the Battle of the Blackwater, Cersei orders their deaths and for their heads to be put on spikes as a warning to all.
9. On wine and marriage
“An unhappy wife is a wine merchant’s best friend.”
if there’s one thing Cersei and Tyrion share it’s their love of wine.
10. On Tyrion’s intelligence
“You’re a clever man. But you’re not half as clever as you think you are.”
At the beginning of Season Three, Tyrion and Cersei meet for the first time after the Battle of the Blackwater. Any semblance of redeemable friendship is gone, and she is after his throat (especially since his face is already cut).
11. One way to shut people up
“Nobody cares what your father once told you.”
At Sansa and Tyrion’s wedding, Loras tries to approach his not-so-blushing bride-to-be, Cersei. Neither of them is especially pleased about their looming political marriage, but Loras at least puts his best foot forward. True to her character, Cersei stomps on that foot with a single, verbal blow.
12. Little girls, everywhere
“Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.”
When Cersei speaks to Prince Oberyn and expresses concern about her daughter’s well-being in Dorne, he assures her that they don’t hurt little girls in Dorne. And she assures him that he is wrong.
13. Okay, this was just plain mean
“Tyrion may be a monster, but at least he killed our father on purpose. You killed him by mistake with stupidity.”
After Tyrion kills Lord Tywin, Cersei figures out that Jaime freed Tyrion. She might not have fire—but she burns, him, bad.
“Look at me! Look at my face! It’s the last thing you’ll see before you die.”
After having Margaery and Loras imprisoned, Cersei is imprisoned by the high septon as well. But, as we all know by now, she doesn’t cave so easily.
15. On peace, or the lack thereof
“I choose violence.”
In Season Six, Lancel comes to the Red Keep, insisting that Cersei come see the High Priest. He warns her that if she doesn’t come, blood will be shed. As always, Cersei doesn’t mince her words.
Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer, author, and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.