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Joffrey Baratheon is one of the main antagonists of A Song of Ice and Fire and its TV adaptation Game of Thrones. In the novels, he serves as a secondary antagonist in A Game of Thrones, the main antagonist of A Clash of Kings, and a major antagonist in A Storm of Swords. In the TV series, he serves as one of the secondary antagonists of Season 1, the main antagonist in Season 2, a secondary antagonist in Season 3, and a supporting antagonist in Season 4.
Joffrey is the eldest son and heir of King Robert I Baratheon and Queen Cersei Lannister. He's the older brother of Princess Myrcella and Prince Tommen. He's very proud of being Robert's son and always tried to be like him, while also trying to get his attention. However, unknown to him and his siblings, his real father is Ser Jaime Lannister, the queen's brother, thus meaning that Joffrey is not only a bastard, but a product of incest. He is 12 years old at the beginning of the first book, and 15 years old at the beginning of the TV series and later becomes the second House Baratheon king to sit on the Iron Throne. He is a ruthless tyrant who loves to torture and kill innocent people, having been compared to the Mad King Aerys Targaryen on more than one occasion. Although he was the King on the Iron Throne, Joffrey actually ruled in name only, being only a pawn of the small council and the powerful nobles of King's Landing.
Joffrey owned three swords in the course of the story: Lion's Tooth, Hearteater, and Widow's Wail.
Tyrion: You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper. Tywin: You're a fool if you think he's the most powerful man in Westeros.
~ Tyrion and Tywin discussing Joffrey.
Joffrey was strong-willed as a child and had an uncontrollable temper like his mother's and an unchecked sadistic streak. He had little sense of right or wrong, which often leads him to trouble, especially when he loses his temper and when things go wrong, he always blames the problems on others. Despite being willful, he was arrogant, cruel and prone to irrational and bad judgment calls. Joffrey was unbelievably sadistic and had been since he was a child, stating "Everyone is mine to torment". He did not recognize himself and his actions as monstrous or evil and simply believed that he was behaving like a true strong king to excuse his cruelty, considering himself one of the greatest and just kings that ever sat upon the Iron Throne. He saw his victims as bad people who needed to be punished.
Simply because of his sadism and eagerness to deal with his first execution of a very important lord, Eddard Stark, King Joffrey caused a war that made the ascension of two kings, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy. Stark's death made it impossible for the Lannisters to make peace with Winterfell and Riverrun, and deal with Robert's brothers, Stannis and Renly, who were the ones who truly meant to start a war from the beginning.
Joffrey was a believer in the Faith of the Seven and thought the gods were on his side, since he was unaware of the truth of his situation and saw his enemies as usurpers and traitors that were defying Robert's rightful heir. Before the Battle of the Blackwater he insisted, against his mother and court's will, to leave the Red Keep to go to the Great Sept of Baelor, even if the mob was infuriating in the streets, and see the High Septon so he could personally bless him for the battle. He also initally refused to marry Margaery Tyrell, having taken a sacred vow of betrothal to Sansa Stark, until his mother and Grand Maester Pycelle easily tricked him to believe that the High Septon and the gods would absolve him for not honoring his promise because Sansa was the daughter of a traitor.
When he succeeded Robert in ruling the Seven Kingdoms, Joffrey ruled in name only. He would show authority only when it came to punish (often for little to no reason but imagined slights and treason) people, but not when it came to rule or fighting wars, as the ambitious adults around him promptly assumed political control. After Robert's death, the small council took over the realm and during Joffrey's reign, 3 heads of the councils ruled in his stead: his mother Cersei, his uncle Tyrion Lannister, and his grandfather Tywin Lannister. Tywin and the small council also managed the war against the other kings while Joffrey remained unadvised and left to his little games.
In the TV series at some point Joffrey shows frustration to this, stating to Lord Tywin that no one ever helps him how to rule better and get some true credits. He also remained the only one to show concern towards Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons across the Narrow Sea, like the late Robert, while the Lannisters dismissed her as powerless. After the Battle of the Blackwater, his grandfather secured him the entire south: the Westerlands, the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne. The North, the Iron Islands, and the Vale never bent to Joffrey and the Lannisters instead (though the North remained defeated and weakened by the houses Frey, Bolton, Greyjoy, and the Lannister-Tyrell alliance), and the riverlands never fully bent until Tommen's ascension. Joffrey remained a pawn for the nobles' games in King's Landing until one of the players, Olenna Tyrell, poisoned him during his own wedding feast.
He appears to be asexual, never sleeping with his girlfriend or wife but frequently beating her for his own amusement. With all these traits it would be accurate to describe him as a psychopath. He suffers from comorbid Cluster B personalities - he can be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder as a primary diagnosis, while also qualifying for secondary diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
However, for a psychopath, Joffrey was a cowardly weakling, breaking down in tears whenever faced with violence, despite frequently inflicting it on others, which are borderline personality traits. Joffrey strongly valued bravery and opposed opportunistic behavior, even calling out his grandfather Tywin on the latter's cravenly deeds during Robert's Rebellion. However, Joffrey did not consider it a crime, he just despised it as weakness, and was thankful to Lord Walder Frey for killing Robb Stark in the same despised ways. He always genuinely wanted to be a true strong Baratheon and fight to defend his reign from his enemies, but would eventually break down and flee when the time to face opponents would come.
He would always regret his cowardice and sometimes bitterly felt that he was nothing like a true Baratheon. Nevertheless, despite his cowardice, lack of fighting skills or indeed intellect, Joffrey was consumed with megalomaniacal delusions of grandeur, believing that he was a mighty warrior, despite being beaten in a fight by a young girl and tearfully begging for his life, that he is the greatest king Westeros has ever seen, despite having plunged his kingdom into a war after executing a political prisoner on a whim, despite his advisor's warnings and his own mother's protests, and that his people love him when in fact he was universally hated by his people for his appalling treatment of them.
Joffrey had the Lannister look of his parents, with blond curly hair and handsome. In the novels he has an extremely androgynous look, that Jon Snow thought he looked like a princess. He had bright green eyes, pouty lips and an evil sneer. He always wore the finest clothing and accents, as befits the royal heir and king. He was described as tall for his age, with a strong body fit for a fighter, however, Joffrey was untrained with his sword, just like his brother Tommen, because both King Robert and Ser Jaime had neglected him to teach him how to "be a man" by Westerosi standard, which caused him to look at Sandor Clegane, Cersei's bodyguard, as a surrogate father. Eventually Cersei had noticed that Joffrey liked her "dog" Sandor, so she gave him to her son. The almost hilarious irony of Joffrey having no training is that Joffrey, in spite of having won no great personal victories in combat, believed himself to be a great warrior.
King Robert always despised his heir Joffrey and was disappointed that he grew up to be an evil child. He would admit that the only reason he didn't abdicated the Iron Throne and joined with a sellsword company was out of fear of leaving the kingdom to his wife Cersei, whispering her insane ideas to Joffrey. Joffrey instead adored Robert and always tried to make him proud in the wrong ways, such as hiring a Catspaw to kill Bran Stark, after hearing his drunk father saying that it would be kinder to kill the boy instead of leaving him in a coma. Even after Robert's death, Joffrey would not tolerate anyone who badmouthed his legal father, and casually mutilated a singer who scorned Robert's final stand. Joffrey also took Robert as his role model, imitating his mentality and words often incorrectly or in wrong context, much to Tywin's annoyance, who initially had the impression that Joffrey never cared for his father.
Joffrey's younger siblings, Myrcella and Tommen, were not fond of his cruel behavior, while the two had always did everything together. Joffrey would sometimes torment and bully Tommen, that the boy used to hide from him, usually in the Red Keep's sept. Joffrey and Tommen would also argue about trivial things like siblings normally do, and Tommen would win by threatening to tell their mother if Joffrey would go too far in making him unhappy. Joffrey shares his mother's hatred for his uncle Tyrion, and this would only get worse when he became king and Tyrion went showing too much defiance and often humiliated him in front of everyone, until eventually Joffrey lost his patience and started to torment Tyrion as a revenge. The only thing Joffrey and Tyrion shared in common was their fondness for Robert Baratheon.
Joffrey had an unhealthily spiteful relationship with his uncle Lord Renly Baratheon, due to the man being an arrogant, supercilious, and strong-looking smiler who always made japes about everything. Joffrey was also very mean-spirited and inconsiderate, so he never took sarcasm and mockery well from others, and even him found Renly too childish. Renly laughed at his face in front of everyone at Castle Darry, stating that Arya had the size of a rat and yet she managed to disarm Joff and throw away his sword Lion's Tooth in the river. Joffrey's dislike for Renly increased and after Renly didn't even show loyalty to him and fled to take away the Stormlands and the Reach from his kingdom, Joffreys' dislike turned into hatred. Joffrey's eldest Baratheon uncle, Lord Stannis Baratheon, didn't show any interest or affection to the royal children, as he's a cold distant man, though he personally preferred Tommen over Joffrey.
Having the ability to tell the parentage of children by looking at them, Stannis felt that Cersei's children were not Robert's and one day left King's Landing with the royal fleet to sail at Dragonstone and close it, without giving the court any explanation, as well as leaving only a few ships in the capital. When later Joffrey and Cersei summoned Stannis to court to swear fealty to him, Stannis ignored them and their letters and declared himself the rightful king of the Iron Throne instead. Joffrey kept empty spikes for the heads of Stannis, Renly, and Robb and was disappointed that Renly died before he could face him and remained eager to destroy Stannis instead, wanting to kill him personally until he remained intimidated by his uncle's fierceness on the battlefield. He eagerly insisted to protect one of the gates that were attacked by Stannis, until the battle went to the enemy's favor and Cersei called him back to the Red Keep.
Joffrey was not mourned by anyone except his mother. Even his biological father, Jaime Lannister, feels that Joffrey deserved his fate, and that he was never originally a person of importance to him. Tommen and Myrcella felt only a bit sad for their brother. Tyrion Lannister states that Joffrey would have become a worse king than the Mad King. Kevan Lannister had nothing good to say about Joffrey and from what he saw in the boy, he decided that Cersei was a bad mother. When she saw Joffrey clawing his own throat, crying, looking at everyone for help, Sansa Stark was shocked and ran away to the Red Keep's gardens in tears, until she asked herself why she was crying for Joffrey and regained a bit of self-control, reasoning that Joffrey had it coming for all the evil he caused to her, her family, and many other people. Arys Oakheart thinks the only good thing that could be said of Joffrey is that he was tall and strong for his age. Cersei, in total contrast to these people, is convinced that Joffrey was great and strong, and continued to unfavourably compare Tommen with him after the Purple Wedding - she never properly recognizes the monster she raised to be king, which was one of the biggest influences in Joffrey's psychopathic personality.
Filthy little bitch! I'll GUT you, you little c-nt!
~ Joffrey, threatening Arya Stark after she attacked him just as her dire wolf suddenly bites him on the arm.
Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!
~ King Joffrey sentences Ned Stark to death for treason.
My father won the real war! He killed Prince Rhaegar! He took the crown, while you hid under Casterly Rock!
~ King Joffrey openly disrespects and criticizes Lord Tywin Lannister.
A strong king acts boldly, he doesn't just talk.
~ A defiant Joffrey repeating King Robert's words to Tywin.
They know I saved the city. They know I won the war.
~ A delusional Joffrey brags about the victory at the Battle of the Blackwater.
I did not kill Joffrey, but I wish that I had! Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores!
~ Tyrion Lannister, raging at Cersei in response to the false accusations that he poisoned Joffrey, at his trial.
Kneel before your king. Kneel. I said...kneel!''
~ Joffery attempting to make Tyrion kneel to him after purposefully making him retrieve his drink.
Similar to Dolores Umbridge, Joffrey is widely despised not only among the other characters, but also among the audience for his many wicked deeds, even among villain enthusiasts who like villains such as Lord Voldemort or Darth Vader. In fact, the character was so despised George R. R. Martin himself congratulated Jack Gleeson (Joffrey's actor) for "being hated by everyone".
Joffrey was one of the deceased targets on Arya Stark's list.
Jack Gleeson had already known Joffrey was killed in the Purple Wedding via Wikipedia, so he was not so shocked during filming Season 4 when it was Joffrey's turn to die.
Many of the series' cast of actors had commented that Jack Gleeson and Joffrey are nothing alike, being exactly polar opposites on one another. Gleeson himself was known to despise Joffery, and found many scenes that showcased the character's cruelty difficult for him. He also despises profanity, and didn't do so in rehersals, only cussing in actual takes. Gleeson also retired from acting altogether to avoid the pressures of being in similar roles.
Though the cause of his death was initially left ambiguous, a lot of fans rejoiced after seeing Joffrey die in the series, and this hardly happened before any other deceased villains of Game of Thrones.
Fans of the TV adaptation had a lot of theories about the person who caused the Purple Wedding. However, Petyr Baelish was the real murderer, with the help of Dontos Holland and nearly the whole House Tyrell, as it was confirmed in both novels and TV series by Petyr himself.
Joffrey shares many similarities to Prince John and Commodus; in fact, he may be a combination of the two.
Joffrey is also very similar to King Einon, the main antagonist of the movie Dragonheart: both are cruel and mentally disturbed since childhood, both came to power at a very young age, both try sadistic pleasure in torturing and killing their subjects or verbally humiliate their subordinates and both they have a passive mother towards them, who cannot control their actions. However, unlike Joffrey, Einon is far more intelligent and scheming in general.