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The Cersei Lannister Scene In Game Of Thrones That Went Too Far

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is arguably the most reviled character throughout the entire run of "Game of Thrones." On a series filled with villains who take many forms, from religious zealots to bastards with a fondness for flaying, to royals who incinerate entire cities, Cersei remains a standout, at least in part due to her complexity. Cersei endures as much torment as she inflicts throughout the show's eight seasons, but fans still find it hard to view Cersei as someone who deserves sympathy — despite the fact that she is raised by a cruel man, married to one who treats her indifferently, and destined to lose everything she loves. That's because, truthfully, it's not Cersei's ambition, her love for her children, or survival instincts that resonate with viewers, but her unrepentant cruelty.

As both a victim and a villain, Cersei provides numerous watercooler-worthy moments on "Game of Thrones" that fans continue to debate today, years after the show's conclusion. What's the worst thing she's ever done? Does she deserve to suffer? What event or moment defines her to this day, pushing boundaries and even crossing them? While Cersei's most immoral action is another debate entirely, though, there's one scene involving her that went too far in a different way.

A disturbing scene between Cersei and Jaime goes too far

The Cersei Lannister scene that went too far on "Game of Thrones" was the sex scene between Cersei and her brother Jaime Lannister ( Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) on Season 4, Episode 3, "Breaker of Chains." The scene depicts a sexual encounter that, by all onscreen accounts, is non-consensual. As Cersei grieves the loss of her child Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), Jaime initiates sex in the sept beside their son's body, with an unwilling Cersei. She very clearly tells him to stop, but Jaime doesn't listen. As if their incestuous relationship isn't taboo enough, Jaime's actions take their relationship to an even more disturbing place. 

The scene caused an uproar, leading to debates about what constitutes rape, how the scene jumped the shark in character development, and whether the show's creators did a disservice to the source material. Fans and critics alike had strong reactions to the rape scene on multiple levels. 

Among many, one sticking point was how differently the sexual encounter plays out in George R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords." The A.V. Club published a passage from the book, and although Cersei voices objections to the time and place, ultimately, she gives in. The Daily Beast ran a piece full of evidence about how the scene was supposed to appear consensual and blamed the false perception of rape on the filmmakers. The article cites interviews with Headey and Coster-Waldau, and while both actors discuss the push-pull of the exchange being born out of grief, anger, and loss, neither used the word rape.

The scene sparked a debate about consent

Fans on Reddit were both conflicted and confused by the Cersei Lannister rape scene on "Game of Thrones." One Redditor blamed the director. "I don't think they wanted the scene to come across as rape, but they executed it so badly that it only wound up confusing viewers on the whole and they didn't really ever get to a point where Cersei clearly and unambiguously consented, and that shows a real lack of forethought and awareness [...]" wrote badgersprite. Others felt there was no room for interpretation. "There was nothing ambiguous about the show version. It's a full on rape. Cersei was a victim in this," stated ReducedtoRubble.

On a show that regularly dealt with backlash regarding its hyper-sexualization of female characters, it seems an odd choice to invite criticism unnecessarily and dangerous to introduce this kind of brutality into what is supposed to be a loving albeit highly dysfunctional relationship. " ... there are legitimate complexities in how things like this are portrayed in media, and that can affect people in real life," wrote badgersprite. In the HBO series, Jaime and Cersei's relationship continues without resolution, further minimizing Cersei's trauma.

Other viewers felt the scene's purpose was to throw a wrench in Jaime's redemption story arc. "He's not a 'good guy.' And it shouldn't surprise anybody that an incestuous relationship which has been ongoing since childhood isn't entirely healthy or consensual," stated funkalunatic