SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses HBO’s Game of Thrones. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
It could be said that Joffrey was the worst leader in Game of Thrones with his conceited attitude and disregard for the common people. But his younger brother, King Tommen, in comparison, was too soft with his love for his wife and his complete lack of problem solving skills. So who really was the worst leader in Westeros over six seasons of Game of Thrones?
The Mad King Aerys II Targaryen
While fans of the TV series never got to see the mad king in action, it was his behavior that got the ball rolling in Game of Thrones, so that’s why he gets a mention here. If he wasn’t crazy enough to think everyone a traitor, burning those he could catch with wildfire, then Game of Thrones would just be another show about how kings rule. It could be argued that if the mad king wasn’t quite so mad, then all of the terrible rulers who followed would never have happened. However, considering the Targaryen way of marrying siblings in order to keep the bloodline pure, it is a surprise this sort of insanity didn’t occur earlier in Game of Thrones.
After Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) brought down the mad king, he went on to rule over Westeros. Really, though, it was his Hand, Jon Arryn (John Standing), that truly ruled; Robert instead spent most of his time drinking, eating, and whoring. He also married Cersei Lannister, a woman who maintained an incestuous relationship with her brother, bearing her brother’s children and calling them Robert’s offspring. While her husband ruled, she paved the way for her own eventual reign, both through her children and then on her own. It is argued Robert should have paid closer attention to Cersei and ruling Westeros in Game of Thrones in order to see the threat right under his nose.
After Robert Baratheon is killed in a “hunting accident”, his “son” Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) takes over as ruler of Westeros. As the heir apparent, Cersei has trained Joffrey since birth to rule. However, Joffrey has a twisted sense of what that really means thanks to Cersei being an enabler who can never say no to her son. As Tyrion Lannister said in the sixth episode of Season 2 of Game of Thrones, Joffrey was a special sort of leader. “We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king,” Tyrion famously said to Joffrey.
Joffrey had no reasoning skills beyond his own wants and desires, much like Robert Baratheon. However, Robert was not mean like Joffrey was. At every turn of his reign, Joffrey was throwing his weight around merely because he was king. As a result of this, he caused significant unrest among the common folk and nobility alike. When Joffrey is poisoned at his own wedding, it is a relief to the majority of Westeros and proof that incest never works when it comes to ruling in Game of Thrones.
While Joffrey was mean, he was at least prepared for becoming a king. Cersei’s next son in line to the throne, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is, arguably, the worst-prepared king ever to set foot in Westeros. And this makes him nearly as bad as his brother. While Joffrey was arrogant and impulsive, at least people got punished for their actions. Tommen, instead, was so passive his mother blew up King’s Landing rather than have the High Septon punish her for incest and regicide.
Even when Tommen was trying to rule, he was still being dominated by everyone around him. As Dean-Charles Chapman said in a recent interview with Vulture, Tommen was doomed from the start. “He was a little too gullible,” Chapman explains. “And I blame Cersei for that, because she always shielded him, but she was really shielding him from politics, and the world, and how cruel people really are. He didn’t get the life lessons he should have had. He just thought, ‘Okay, I’ll shut up and do as they say.'” And, it is because of this, Tommen is a terrible ruler. However, given some time and a less explosive situation, Tommen may have been the best ruler Westeros had ever seen.
Score: 6/10 (but that’s only for his potential to be a good ruler.)
Game of Thrones has come full circle now. Robert Baratheon came into power because of a Mad King, and now a Mad Queen has taken over Westeros. Once more, wildfire has been used by a crazy leader. For Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), she has had her eye on the Iron Throne since the very beginning. Ever since Season 1 of Game of Thrones, it has been evident Cersei was determined to rule Westeros one way or another. When using her husband and sons as puppets proved a failure, she blew up part of King’s Landing. While Cersei was expecting to save King Tommen and continue to use him to her own gain, that turned out also a failure when Tommen jumped to his death rather than be a puppet any longer.
So now, Cersei rules alone. Lena Headey has little faith in Cersei being on the Iron Throne for long though. When Entertainment Weekly asked how long Cersei’s rule would last, Headey revealed, “It’s a moment of punctuation in the madness.” Considering Daenerys has just set sail for Westeros, it seems Cersei may not rule for long before a Targaryen tries once more to claim the Iron Throne. However, this Targaryen might just be the very thing Westeros needs.
Who do think was the worst ruler so far in Game of Thrones? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!
According to a recent interview with Deadline, Game of Thrones will return to HBO with a shortened Season 7 in 2017.
[Image via HBO]