In the final episode of GOT's season 6, Grand Maester Pycelle is killed by Qyburn's little birds in a very cruel way.

I never quite understood why Cersei wanted to get rid of him. In the end he was always a loyal servant of the Lannisters, or at least a loyal opportunist counselor for whoever sat on the iron throne.

He didn't bother Cersei before, so why her change of mind now? Also, who will be Grand Maester now in Cersei's cabinet? Qyburn would be a candidate, but I take it he will be Hand now.

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    IRRC he was always trying to undermine Cersei. That also, is a deleted scene.
    – Skooba
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:53
  • @Skooba I know it was a deleted scene, but it seems to be congruent with what showrunners planned with him (see this question: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/56766/…). Could you please state quotes or evidence where he tried to undermine Cersei?
    – Crazy8
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:58
  • basically anything after she hired Qyburn... maybe i am just confusing Cersei's hate for him
    – Skooba
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:59
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    It is obvious that he didn't back her in that time - he was always backing the ones in power. Kevan Lannister as Hand of the King didn't support Cersei at all and Pycelle as always followed. But there would have been no reason to believe that he wouldn't back her again once she had returned to power. No one can be more loyal than someone who's highest interest is to stay in the council. He was influential and had a lot of knowledge. I wonder who will be in there now or if there will still be a council at all. BTW I'm still waiting for quotes.
    – Crazy8
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 20:11
  • Dude, you're talking about Cersei. She's not the type to forgive someone who had been loyal once then chose a different faction. Wasn't he one of the ones shutting her out of small council meetings this series? Don't remember which episode. Also we don't know for sure if Cersei sanctioned this - it's possible she arranged for him to not be at the sept which is why Qyburn had to make his own arrangements. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 18:55

4 Answers 4


"In the end he was always a loyal servant of the Lannisters..."

I disagree. Pycelle never showed absolute loyalty to the Lannisters. This was made abundantly clear all the way back at Joffrey's wedding. Cersei tells Pycelle to give the leftover wedding food which Queen Margery decreed was for the poor, to the dogs. Pycelle promptly tries to refuse since it would undermine the new queen's orders (Cersei then tells him that she is the queen and that she'll feed him to the dogs if he doesn't.)

Margery had literally just become Queen, and Pycelle was already shifting his loyalties. Pycelle is a pragmatist, not a loyalist.

It's worth noting that Pycelle also "faithfully" served the Targaryen dynasty for decades, until they fell out of power, at which point he betrayed them. Tommen was the 6th king Pycelle served under. He never would've survived so many power shifts if his loyalties weren't flexible.

In Cersei's eyes, Pycelle was a weed that needed to be pulled. And despite her frequent lack of foresight, she clearly understands the cardinal rule of the Game of Thrones: dead men can't plot against you.


She doesn't need Pycelle.

Pycelle was the only potential dissenting voice. Naturally he couldn't do anything about Cersei being in power and it's unlikely that he would have gone to much effort to undermine her. But Cersei doesn't need him. And Pycelle doesn't like Qyburn, whom neither she nor Qyburn are fond of.

Most of all, Cersei is now Cersei without her children, so she has absolutely nothing holding back her ruthless cruelty. Since she has Qyburn who is far more loyal and helpful, why not remove Pycelle?

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    Cersei approves of Pycelle's death (and iirc he dies) before the scene where the Sept explodes, and before Tommen's suicide, so "Cercei is now Cercei without her children" has no real bearing on Pycelle's death.
    – DariM
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 22:04
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    @DariM Good point, but I think she already "lost" Tommen before he died. The High Sparrow and Margaery had already corrupted him, even to the point that he prevented Cersei from having a trial by combat. That, combined with Maggy's prophecies, probably caused Cersei to start thinking about herself instead of her son who she had already lost. Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 19:50
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    @erdekhayser Tommen was acting on influence other than hers, but that was the point of preventing him from going to the Sept and blowing up the Sept. It would have taken care of everyone else, and she would be all Tommen had left. At least, that's the clear intent of what her character motivations would be like - the actual writing went kinda weird with the whole "I do things because they feel good", but caring for her children (and the prophecy) and wanting to keep them under her control and protection is basically her main motivation.
    – DariM
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 21:58

It was clear with the various interactions between Cersei and Pycelle that she didn't trust him completely. She obviously wouldn't want anyone to come between her and the Iron Throne and hence she joined hands with Qyburn, whom she trusts, to plan and murder Grand Maester Pycelle.

If we go by the book, Varys is the one who kills Pycelle, but in the TV Series the killers are Cersei and Qyburn (Qyburn's little birds).

Pycelle would have probably known about the reserves of wildfire and Cersei left no stone unturned to murder all those who could threaten her reach to being the Queen of Westeros. This could explain why she did this to Pycelle.


Chiming in with my opinion, after re-watching all seasons recently. The way I see it, Pycelle wasn't a very decent man, but he did have some basic decency and morale. If he would have seen the destruction of the Sept, he would have surely figured instantly that Cersei is behind it, and his morality might have led him to act against her.

Aware of that, she decided to not take any risk and get rid of him before the explosion took place.

This also explain the timing, as she could get rid of him long before.

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