In Game of Thrones S08E04 we see a face-off between Cersei and Dany. She could have killed Dany during the first meet before the great war also, but possibly didn't because she was terrified of her dragons.

But now as we know she has a weapon to kill the dragons and the backing of the people of the King's Landing, why didn't she kill them all?

  • 4
    similar question in sci-fi.SE: Why didn't she end the war during the meeting of hands?
    – Kepotx
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 17:12
  • 7
    GoT has become a fan service. Had it been GRRM's version, Bronn's crossbow would have gone past Jaime's throat, Cersei would have killed at least Tyrion as he was well within the range. Commented May 6, 2019 at 17:53
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    This scene was really jaw-dropping stupid IMHO. Dany & Co had everything to lose (including the only surviving dragon) and no leverage at all, against one of the most reckless and treacherous person in the show. Commented May 6, 2019 at 21:37
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    @DarthLocke this looked like it, yes. Commented May 7, 2019 at 0:56
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    Cersei wants to get her money's worth of the Golden Company ;)
    – Charles
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 1:59

7 Answers 7


When Tyrion and Qyburn walked out to talk, they both stopped at a very specific point, further apart than was comfortable to talk. Then, when Tyrion walked a certain distance past this point, Cersei's archers all responded and took aim, while his allies appeared shocked and concerned at the risk he was taking.

This suggests that the intention is supposed to be, that we (the audience) are supposed to understand that everyone is carefully standing outside of the other side's range. Then, Cersei's archers responded to Tyrion dangerously walking within range, giving Cersei the option of quickly killing him if she gave the order, which she chose not to (many good reasons here - not least that Cersei has observed that Tyrion's squeamish good nature can be manipulated and appears to be restraining or weakening Dany's wrath).

This is what you'd expect people in such a meeting to do. It's what we saw Dany do before outside of Mereen, where they all stood just outside of the range of Mereen's archers:

enter image description here

But they're not out of range??!

Of course it doesn't come across that way - and people are therefore asking questions like this - because they appear to be far, far closer than what we've seen before:

  • Much closer than they were to the walls of Mereen, which was nearly within archer range, so this should be within archer range
  • Much, much closer than Euron's ship-mounted scorpions / ballistae were when they took down a dragon then blasted chunks out of the sides of ships - so this should be easily within range for these.

How do we explain this inconsistency?

Probably the same way we explain the presence of a modern coffee cup on a table - a mistake in a big, complex season where different episodes are directed by different people, different scenes are worked on by different teams at different times, and the scale has got so big, attention to detail has (presumably) started to slip.

One possibility is, the producers wanted Dany and Grey Worm to be clearly close enough to hear Missandei's last words and see what happens to her - and they felt it to be a worthwhile tradeoff, to sacrifice some consistency for a very powerful end-of-episode kick.

I don't know what I'd have done in their shoes, but I can imagine that if they'd had the distance similar to the earlier Mereen scene, we'd get questions like "How did Dany hear what Missandei said?" and "How did they know the prisoner was really Missandei?", with comments like "Plot megaphone and plot binoculars. Terrible writing".

(I'm not going to try to defend the inconsistency of the scorpion ballista things being overpowered, devastating long-range howitzers when mounted on a ship, but shorter range than an archer when not mounted on a ship, in the same episode... I can only guess that was a case of the director not managing the CGI team closely enough and letting them get carried away on the dragon-felling scene)

  • One thing to consider though is that Cersei's public image is already frail (as evidenced by the Qyburn propaganda scene). Killing people during peace talks is likely going to be seen as abhorrently violent. All the guards would see it, and word would get out. On top of that, Cersei needed Dany to attack KL to prove Cersei's point that Dany is a conqueror and pillager. Executing Missandei was very much goading Dany into combat, rather than Cersei stupidly forgetting she could kill Dany instead.
    – Flater
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 10:58

During the wide shot from the top of the ramparts, you can see that the dragon is much further than the rest of the Dani's guard.
enter image description here

Presumably it's outside of the reach of the scorpions. The show doesn't make it clear how intelligent dragons are. When they are allowed to roam, they seem to behave like cats (they come and go as they please). It's not clear if they are less intelligent, more intelligent, or as intelligent as humans. Certainly, Cersei would not know this.

For all she knew, if she killed Dani, the dragon would wait for his chance.. maybe for weeks or months. But then it would attack, at night, and burn down the city.

This may also answer the question why Cersei had to kill Missandei. Just like in the Battle of the Bastards (when Ramsey killed Rickon), she needed to kill someone Dani cared about. This was done to draw the strongest forces into the fight.

Cersei can take on a dragon when she is prepared for it and has all the strongest defenses with her. She is not likely to fare so well if she is unprepared and the attack can come anywhere, at any moment, from a being which travels much faster than any of Cersei's own forces.

The look on Cersei's face after Missandei says "dracarys" is that of a self-satisfied smile. Her plan is working. She would much rather fight the fight where she is the strongest than have to fight against a guerrilla force with a dragon.

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    The dragon is present at the meet. Further back from Dani's squad, but easily in the range we've seen the giant crossbows shoot.
    – user9110
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 23:08
  • @BroSlow, I just looked at the shot from the top of the ramparts, and you are right. The dragon is there, but staying back, seemingly outside of the range of the scorpios.
    – grovkin
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 23:24
  • I'd agree with you that this could be out of range; if we hadn't seen those things take down a dragon and blast whole chunks out of ships from at least double that distance, in the very same episode. I guess the team that set up this scene didn't talk to the team that CGIed that scene... Commented May 7, 2019 at 21:42
  • @user568458 it's definitely meant to look out of range. But you maybe right that it's not giving that impression as well as it could.
    – grovkin
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 21:45
  • @user568458 (and grovkin): "Out of range" may be irrelevant if you consider that the distance is probably far enough to Drogon to see it coming and reliably dodge it. Even if in range, the distance gives Drogon time to respond.
    – Flater
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 11:01


Some attribute it to "poor writing".

And yet, Cersei did not open fire on anyone. The most ruthless character in Game of Thrones acted with inconceivable honor, refusing to surrender, killing only Missandei, and agreeing to engage with Dany’s army on formal terms.

Considering we’re at the point where Starbucks cups are appearing on screen, we must acknowledge that things likely went this way because of careless planning and poor writing. There are more episodes to come—another major battle in the cards—and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss merely were not ready to end the war, even though victory seemed within Cersei’s grasp. For the sake of argument, though, perhaps we can be a bit more forgiving and at least attempt to explain Cersei’s actions.
Perhaps Cersei doesn’t shoot an arrow Dany’s way because she wants to win the right way? (Ya know, classic Cersei.)

Why Didn’t Cersei Just Kill Everyone? - TheRinger

There has been no official word on why she didn't, but it may be that she did indeed want to win the honorable way.

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    * fans are skeptical if it was intended or not after the"Starbucks incident"* What does accidentally leaving a coffee cup in a shot have to do with the writing? This doesn't make any sense. Clearly the writers intended for Cersei not to kill Dany at that time. How can that even be a question? Commented May 7, 2019 at 2:20
  • " Perhaps Cersei doesn’t shoot an arrow Dany’s way because she wants to win the right way? (Ya know, classic Cersei.)" - That still doesn't answer how Dany, Tyrion, Varys and others are thick enough to go stand in front of the scorpions in the first place. Don't they know what kind of person Cercei is?
    – kevin
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 3:46
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    I agree with @user1118321. The people who oversee props and the set are a whole different department as the writers. Generally, I think it is unwise to accuse the writers of laziness before the plot has been fully revealed.
    – Ian
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 6:06
  • After the events of the red wedding (outrageously breaking the of the guest right) and what happened afterwards, maybe Cersei just didn‘t want to stain her image like that.
    – Sefe
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 19:17
  • Cersei never did cruel things in public!!!
    – ashveli
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 10:32

Possibly because Cersei wants to make Dany look like a villain by forcing her to kill innocent civilians and burn down King's Landing. This was a point of interest presented through various dialogue in three scenes. (Emphasis Mine)

8.04 Transcript - Group Meeting - Tyrion pleads with Dany

Missandei: When the people find out what we have done for them, how we saved them-

Daenerys Targaryen: Cersei will make sure they don't believe it. We will hit her hard. We will rip her out, root and stem.

Tyrion Lannister: The objective here is to remove Cersei, without destroying King's Landing.

Varys: Thankfully, she's losing allies by the day. Yara Greyjoy has retaken the Iron Islands in her Queen's name. The new Prince of Dorne pledges his support-

Daenerys Targaryen: No matter how many Lords turn against her, as long as she sits on the Iron Throne, she can call herself Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. We need the capital.

Tyrion Lannister: I watched the people of King's Landing rebel against their King when they were hungry, and that was before winter began. Give them the opportunity, and they will cast Cersei aside.

Jon Snow: We'll surround the city. If the Iron Fleet tries to ferry in more food, the dragons will destroy them. If the Lannisters and the Golden Company attack, we'll defeat them in the field.

Tyrion Lannister: Once the people see that Cersei is our only enemy, her reign is over.

8.04 Transcript - Cersei, Qyburn, and Euron - Cersei reveals her intent

Cersei: Our message was well received then?

Qyburn: Your people would of heard the usurper is coming. They are grateful for your protection within the walls of the red keep.

Cersei: You're certain about the dragon?

Euron: I saw it sink beneath the waves.

Cersei: that must of been glorious.

Euron: The glory is yours, my Queen.

Cersei: When the war is one the Lion shall rule the land, the Kraken, the sea, and one day our child shall rule them all.

Euron: She's coming for you.

Cersie: Of course she is. Keep the gates open. If she wants to take the castle she'll have to murder thousands of innocent people first.

8.04 Transcript - Tyrion trying to persuade Qyburn to persuade Cersei not to force Dany's hand

Qyburn: My Lord.

Tyrion: Queen Daenerys demands Cersei's unconditional surrender and the immediate relase of Messandie of Narth.

Qyburn: Queen Cersei demands Deanerys unconditional surrender. If she refuses Messandie of Narth will die here and now.

Tyrion: Qyburn, you're a rational man.

Qyburn: Or so I flatter myself, my Lord.

Tyrion: We have a chance here, perhaps our last chance to avoid carnage.

Qyburn: Yes.

Tyrion: Help me. I don't want to see this city burn. i don't want to hear the screams of children burning alive.

Qyburn: No, it is not a pleasant sound.

Tyrion: I, I don't want to hear it. Help me save this city.

Qyburn: My Lord, I am only a mouth-piece for our Queen.


I'm not sure what the official word for it is, but rulers will not fight when they meet to negotiate terms of surrender or anything of the sort, and it seems that it's one of the rare things that Cersei respects in terms of tradition. We saw the same meeting happen when Jon Snow met with Ramsay Snow, earlier when Stannis met with Renly. Then it happens when Jon asks for Lannister support against the Night King. In any one of those meetings, one could have attacked the other, but they didn't. It just happens to be one of those traditions where no one attacks to negotiate or demand surrender.


Succinctly explained by a Redditor u/Drummles

To my understanding, Cersei is fighting two wars. The first is against Dany, and the other is against the people of King’s Landing who could reject her sovereignty at any moment. By killing Messandei, she’s trying to provoke Dany because she sees potential for her to become like her father and burn innocent people. This is also why she’s bringing innocent people to the Red Keep. She’s not betting that the presence of the people in the Red Keep is going to stop a vengeful Dany from attacking King’s Landing, in fact she’s betting on the opposite. I think that Cersei wants Dany to take innocent lives, so that when Cersei defeats her the people will remember who saved them against “The Mad Queen.” I think she hopes that it will compensate for her evil acts such as blowing up the Sept. By waiting to kill Dany then rather than killing her now, she’s trying to maximize her gains. It’s certainly dangerous, but Cersei doesn’t really care about anyone but herself anyways.

We already see that Cersei is bringing people inside the Red Keep as bait/shield against Dany's Mad Queen tendencies. We also see Tyrion & Varys advice several times to Dany to be cautious & not use dragons & kill innocent people. Because if she does she will not break the wheel but simply turn it. She will not be better than those that came before her.

Tyrion also mentions how people of the city hate Cersei's rule & will try to overthrow her the 1st opportunity they get. So, Cersei is planning to save the day.

Cersei is playing the long Game of Thrones which you either win or die.


The only thing that makes sense to me, is that Cersei want's to make Dany look like the real villain and have her attack. This way she can manipulate the people to think that she saved them all from the evil dragon queen.

This would also explain why they did not finish them off while they were in the water earlier in the episode.

Sure it's a big risk, but she wouldn't mind that I guess.

It could also just be attributed to bad writing, however it's not very clear so for now it's a "we can only speculate".

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