There comes a time in every Game of Thrones fan’s life when they have to admit how absolutely crucial Cersei Lannister was to everything. She wasn't the person who poisoned Jon Arryn and started the chain of events on Game of Thrones, which would see wild repercussions throughout the series.
For that, we have Petyr Baelish to thank.
However, Cersei was a ruling queen for years and, as such, she left her mark on the show in ways even those who loathed her character have to admire. It's hard not to fangirl when you think about Cersei’s lasting impact on the show overall.
To really appreciate her, though, you need to look back on her greatest hits.
Or, in this case, Cersei’s best moments from Game of Thrones that prove what an absolute boss she was — even if greed, power, and selfishness were the driving forces behind nearly everything she did.
When she refused to take Robert's slap as a demeaning gesture. (Season 1, Episode 6: "A Golden Crown")
For all of Cersei’s faults, she had every right to despise Robert. He spoke out loud about the love he had lost (Ned’s sister) and was a sloppy drunk. He also didn't have as strong of a spine as she believed he should and when Cersei called him out for it, he slapped her. How did she respond? She said she would wear the slap like "a badge of honor."
And then orchestrated Robert's death (Season 1, Episode 7: "You Win or You Die")
Cersei always hated her husband. And when she had the chance to have him killed on his hunt back in Season 1, she used her cousin and sometimes lover to get it done. Of course his death would set off a chain of events that left the throne occupied by Joffrey, and also incited the War of the Five Kings.
The time Cersei reminded Petyr Baelish who the boss is. (Season 2, Episode 1: "The North Remembers")
Petyr always had a tendency to get too big for his britches and needed someone to put him in his place from time to time. So when Cersei pretended to order her guards to kill him and then called them off a second later, she showed Petyr who was really in charge.
Even though, to be honest, Petyr was always a step or two ahead of most of his enemies.
When Cersei told Sansa Stark, "Tears aren't a woman's only weapon..." (Season 2, Episode 9: "Blackwater")
Sansa and Cersei had a complex relationship. There were times when Cersei seemed to almost pity Sansa because she knew what a monster Joffrey was.
So when she gave her sage pieces of advice — "Tears aren't a woman's only weapon... her best weapon is between her legs." — to get what she wants, it made for a touching moment. For Cersei, anyway.
That time Cersei totally put Margaery in her place. (Season 3, Episode 8: "The Second Sons")
Margaery had some good one-liners with Cersei, but the original conniving queen would have never given up her power to any other woman, much less someone she couldn’t control. When Margaery called her "sister," Cersei was quick to discreetly threaten her that if she did so again, Cersei would have her strangled in her sleep. Monster-in-law, much?
"An unhappy wife is a wine merchant’s best friend." (Season 3, Episode 10: "Mhysa")
How timely was Cersei’s quote about unhappy wives drinking a ton of wine? Not only was her off-handed line to Tyrion oh so true in real life, but it also played into the reality of how unhappy our beloved wine-loving Cersei was for most of her life, even after she had her husband killed. Though to be fair, the Lannisters all seemed to adore wine.
When she blew up the Great Sept of Baelor. (Season 6, Episode 10: "The Winds of Winter")
Cersei’s revenge on the Sept was inevitable. Her arc was not going to end by pledging her life to the church and living a wholesome existence by giving up the throne. So when she clapped back at the High Septon for having her imprisoned and tortured, it was only fitting that she do it in a way that lives on in Game of Thrones infamy.
And then got her revenge on Septa Unella. (Season 6, Episode 10 "The Winds of Winter")
After Cersei blew up the Sept, she turned her attention to returning the favor of torture to the woman who had seemed to take pleasure in torturing her, Septa Unella.
Cersei even had some amazing lines during the scene, where she told Septa Unella that she enjoyed lying, sleeping with her brother, giving birth to his children, and essentially doing whatever she wanted.
When she poisoned the last Sand Snake. (Season 7, Episode 3: "The Queen's Justice")
Cersei’s one weakness was her children. She even admitted in one episode that, although she knew Joffrey was evil to the core, he hadn’t always been that way and she still loved him.
So when she confronted Ellaria Sand about killing her daughter and showed a bit of her humanity for a fleeting moment, she also showed how deep losing her kids cut her. Naturally, Cersei got revenge by poisoning Ellaria’s daughter.
"If anything goes wrong, kill the silver-haired b---h first..." (Season 7, Episode 7: "The Dragon and the Wolf")
Cersei was ready for whatever tricks Daenerys or Jon had in store when she agree to the meeting in the Dragonpit. Instead of a battle, however, what ensued was a bunch of talking that almost got them nowhere. Still, it showed how prepared Cersei was to kill whoever got in her way, regardless of who they were and the inevitable consequences.
Bonus: this ICONIC scene. (Season 1, Episode 7: "You Win or You Die")
Or more specifically, when Cersei told Ned, "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
Ned had explained that he had no regrets about not taking the Iron Throne for himself when he had the chance, to which Cersei laughed and let him know that by not taking him for himself, he had already lost.
Cersei made some questionable choices throughout the series and she is still arguably one of the best TV villains ever. Is it any wonder that she survived almost to the very end?