Thereon Lannister. John Snow. Arya Stark. These are just some of the names that people would mention when you say the words Game of thrones hero. However, i’m going to trow another, much less celebrated name into the mix in Jaimie f**king Lannister. From pushing Bran out of a tower window to killing his own cousin Jaimie is certainly no angel. So why do I think hes such a great hero? Precisely because of his pretty evil actions early on in the show.
Hear me out. Jon Snow was always a decent character. He always tried to make the right decision and his honour and loyalty was unquestionable. That’s not to say he’s not a hero. He’s just uncomplicated. Arya went from cheeky tom boy to the hero that killed the nightking. Sansa from innocent naive ‘little dove’ to masterminding the victory at the Battle of the Bastards. These are all great stories and beloved GOT characters but I really think Jaime’s tale of redemption trumps the lot.
I admit it. I hated him starting off and pleaded with Catlyn to cave his head in with the rock way back in season one when he was the Starks prisoner. We get a few hints that Jaimie wasn’t a complete evil maniac early in the show such as his disgust at one of his own soldiers for plunging a spear into the back of Ned Stark’s leg in season 1 but nothing more than that. It’s only really when hes being escorted by Brienne of Tarth to Kings Landing that we get more concrete signs of Jaimes decency. As we know he prevented Brienne from being raped by making up a story about her family and rubys. It was really the first time we seen any real reason to not hate him and led us to question our desire for him to die a brutal death alongside his sister.
This was the start of something greater even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. It wasn’t too long after this untypical act of kindness that we have one of my favourite Game of Thrones scenes ever. I think we all feared the worst when Brienne was in the pit with the giant bear. Then, to the astonishment of many a one handed weaponless Jaimie jumps in and Brienne is saved from certain death. It was a brave and pretty selfless act and is surely the act that swayed peoples views of him. Jaimie’s revelation to Brienne that he pretty much saved a city from destruction furthered his development into a protagonist.
Jaime Lannister also rejects his famous nickname ‘oathbreaker’ by keeping his pledge to protect the Stark girls. He stands in defiance of his father and sister when he frees Thereon and later when he goes to fight against the dead at The Battle of Winterfell. His story is a testament to the increible writing from George R Martin as well as Benioff and Weiss. I’m not sure there’s ever been a TV show where the audience were so swayed by the development of a character.
His last scene with Thereon was a fitting end to a brilliant relationship. Their brotherly love is another reason to admire Jaimie. People cite his return to Kings Landing and Cersei as a betrayal of Brienne but I think it was more a show of loyalty to his sister. I don’t think you could have expected him to remain in Winterfell while his home was being burnt to the ground along with Cersei. His return shouldn’t tarnish his remarkable redemption. It may not have been the ending to his story that many wanted but then heroes don’t do what people want. It was an unpopular decision but one he had to make and that’s what makes him Game of Thrones’ greatest hero.