4 Shocking Things That Happened in the Unaired Game of Thrones Pilot

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

For nearly as long as fans have been obsessed with HBO’s Game of Thrones, they've heard stories about the series' original—and unaired—pilot. From George R.R. Martin’s cameo to Daenerys and Catelyn being played by different actors, the details of the show's original incarnation are intriguing. Especially because it's widely rumored that the episode is just plain bad. (Kit Harington once shared that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weis have jokingly threatened to use his pilot footage as blackmail if need be.)

Finally, we now have some insight into just how different the unaired pilot was. The Huffington Post recently paid a visit to Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library and got a hold of a box containing a production draft of the original Game of Thrones pilot. Thankfully for us, they’ve detailed some of the strange events that took place within it. Here are some of the most surprising.

1. Catelyn stark wanted Sansa to marry Joffrey baratheon.

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Right from the start of the aired Game of Thrones pilot, Catelyn Stark became an immediately beloved character for her fierce devotion to her family and standing up for what was right—even if it meant saying no to King Robert Baratheon so that her husband, Ned, could remain in the north. However, in the unaired episode, Catelyn actually urged Ned to allow their daughter Sansa to be married to Joffrey Baratheon. The script reads as follows:

Ned: “I’ll refuse him. I’m a northman. I belong here, not down south in that rats’ nest they call a capital.”

Catelyn: “He would make our daughter Queen.”

2. The White Walkers spoke.

Ian Whyte as a White Walker in Game of Thrones
HBO

Probably the most peculiar difference from the aired pilot to the unaired one is that the White Walkers were supposed to speak in a type of “ice language.” The unaired pilot script opened similarly to what aired, with men of the Night’s Watch encountering the humanoid creatures. The script then reads:

"The crackling is coming from multiple sources now. There are not the noises of mindless predators. This is a language, and whatever is speaking it is getting closer ... Will closes his eyes against the icy voices beneath him, muttering silent prayers."

While many fans know that the White Walkers do indeed speak in the books, fans of the TV series might wonder what exactly these creatures would sound like. In a 2017 interview with The Huffington Post, Game of Thrones language creator David J. Peterson explained that he wanted it to be similar to what’s in the books, which sounds like “the cracking of ice on a winter lake.”

3. Daenerys and Khal Drogo's original introduction was much more innocent.

Jason Momoa in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Although fans eventually warmed up to Khal Drogo as Game of Thrones went on, he was initially introduced as brute who forced himself on Daenerys Targaryen. But in the unaired pilot, their romance was actually far more innocent. The script reads

He pulls her down into his lap. Dany is flushed and breathless. He cups her face in his huge hands and she looks into his eyes.

Khal Drogo: “No?”

She takes his hand and moves it between her thighs.

Daenerys: “Yes.”

Though the pilot we did see featured an understandably controversial scene in which Khal Drogo rapes Daenerys, Emilia Clarke sees it as an important part to understanding her character's growth throughout the series. "At the heart of it, we’re telling a story; you need that part of the story to feel empathy for Daenerys," Clarke told Glamour in 2016. "You see her attacked by her brother, raped by her husband, and then going, ‘F*** all of you, I’m gonna rule the world.’ That’s where we are now.”

4. It was unclear that Cersei and Jaime were siblings.

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Arguably the most shocking scene that we did see in the first episode of Game of Thrones is when Bran Stark, while climbing up the tower at Winterfell, accidentally sees siblings Cersei and Jaime Lannister engaging in sexual activity. To calm Cersei's nerves, Jaime—with no hesitation—pushes Bran out the window, causing him to be paralyzed for the rest of the series. However, in the unaired pilot, the brutal nature of this scene was compounded by the fact that Cersei was not a consenting party to it.

In the original episode, viewers did not know Jaime and Cersei were related yet and saw Jaime having his way with her by force. When Bran peeked into the room, the script reads as follows:

The naked man grabs her by the hair and forces her to rise to all fours. She gasps with pain.

Woman: “Stop…”

He does not stop. Keeping one hand on her hair, he pushes himself himself to his knees. He seizes her hip with his free hand and pulls toward him, thrusting deep into her.

Woman (Cont’d): (Moaning) “Stop it… stop it… please…”

Her voice is low and she does not push him away; the harder he pulls her hair, the more she moans.

The original pilot may have a reputation for being unaired due to its poor quality and confusing storylines, but we'd be willing to watch it.

The Very Real Events That Inspired Game of Thrones's Red Wedding

Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham, Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ask any Game of Thrones fan to cite a few of the show's most shocking moments, and the so-called "Red Wedding" from season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" episode will likely be at the top of their list. The events that unfolded during the episode shocked fans because of their brutality, but what might be even more surprising to know is that the episode was based on very real events.

Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the matrimonial bloodbath is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and 1692's Massacre of Glencoe. “No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And he’s absolutely right. See for yourself.

The Massacre of Glencoe

The West Highland Way in 2005, view from the summit of the Devil's Staircase looking south over the east end of Glen Coe, towards Buachaille Etive Mòr with Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh beyond
Colin Souza, Edited by Dave Souza, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

In 1691, all Scottish clans were called upon to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII, and swear allegiance to King William of Orange (of William and Mary fame). The chief of each clan had until January 1, 1692, to provide a signed document swearing an oath to William. The Highland Clan MacDonald had two things working against them here. First of all, the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple, was a Lowlander who loathed Clan MacDonald. Secondly, Clan MacDonald had already sworn an oath to James VII and had to wait on him to send word that they were free to break that oath.

Unfortunately, it was December 28 before a messenger arrived with this all-important letter from the former king. That gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to get the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State.

Maclain was detained for days when he went through Inveraray, the town of the rival Clan Campbell, but still managed to deliver the oath, albeit several days late. The Secretary of State’s legal team wasn't interested in late documents. They rejected the MacDonalds's sworn allegiance to William, and set plans in place to cut the clan down, “root and branch.”

In late January or early February, 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds's in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full. The MacDonalds offered their hospitality, as was custom, and the soldiers stayed there for nearly two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep ... then murdered as many men as they could manage. In all, 38 people—some still in their beds—were killed. At least 40 women and children escaped, but fleeing into a blizzard blowing outside as their houses burned down meant that they all died of exposure.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was “Slaughter Under Trust.” To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door that says "No hawkers or Campbells."

The Black Dinner

In November of 1440, the newly-appointed 6th Earl of Douglas, who was just 16, and his little brother David, were invited to join the 10-year-old King of Scotland, James II, for dinner at Edinburgh Castle. But it wasn’t the young King who had invited the Douglas brothers. The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas (there was another clan called the Red Douglas) were growing too powerful.

As legend has it, the children were all getting along marvelously, enjoying food, entertainment and talking until the end of the dinner, when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table, symbolizing the death of the Black Douglas. The two young Douglases were dragged outside, given a mock trial, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. It’s said that the Earl pleaded for his brother to be killed first so that the younger boy wouldn’t have to witness his older brother’s beheading.

Sir Walter Scott wrote this of the horrific event:

"Edinburgh Castle, toune and towre,
God grant thou sink for sin!
And that e'en for the black dinner
Earl Douglas gat therein."

This article has been updated for 2019.

15 Game of Thrones Products Every Fan Needs

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Though Game of Thrones might be coming to its official end, that doesn’t mean that your fandom can’t—or won’t—carry on. Whether you’re a years-long defender of House Stark or have been rooting for House Targaryen since the beginning, there’s a candle, collectible pin, coffee mug, card game, and pretty much anything else you can imagine with your name (and preferred sigil) on it.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series; $46

Bantam's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series

Bantam, Amazon

If you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the series is based, plenty more Westerosi drama awaits. And just because you’ve seen every episode of the series 10 times doesn’t mean you know which way the books will turn. (The TV show diverged from their narrative a long time ago—and dozens of the characters who have been killed off on your television screen are still alive and well in the books.) Plus, as Martin has yet to complete the series, you may just catch up in time for the newest book.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Map Marker Wine Stopper Set; $50

Nobody solves a problem like Tyrion Lannister … and his thought process usually includes copious amounts of wine (Dornish if you’ve got it). Something tells us you’re going need some vino yourself to get through the giant, hour-long hole left in your Sunday nights once Game of Thrones officially ends. Make sure you don’t let a drop of it go to waste by keeping one of these six wine stoppers—each one carved to represent the sigil of the most noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms—handy.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

3. Winterfell Coffee Mug; $25

If coffee is more your speed—we get it: the night is dark and full of terrors—this simple-yet-elegant Winterfell mug is an easy way to communicate to your co-workers why you’re typically a little bleary-eyed on Monday mornings.

Buy it: HBO Shop

4. Hodor Door Stop; $12

A 3D-printed Hodor door stop, inspired by 'Game of Thrones'

3D Cauldron, Amazon

An important part of being a Game of Thrones fan is accepting that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have no problem killing off your favorite characters, often in brutal ways. One of the series’ most memorable deaths was that of Hodor, Bran Stark’s personal mode of transport, who we loved despite the fact that the only word he ever uttered for six seasons was “Hodor”—and who we loved even more when, in the final moments of his life, we learned why that was the case. Pay tribute to the gentle giant, and his backstory, with this 3D-printed door stop.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Tarot Card Deck; $25

A 'Game of Thrones' tarot card deck, from Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books, Amazon

Channel your inner Maggy the Frog and see what the future holds for you and your loved ones (your enemies, too, if the mood strikes you) with Chronicle Books’s gorgeously packaged tarot card deck. The tarot tradition and Game of Thrones mythology blend seamlessly together in this box of goodies, which includes an instruction book and illustrated cards featuring your favorite characters and most beloved scenes from the show.

Buy it: Amazon or Chronicle Books

6. Fire and Blood Candle; $12

Mad Queen or not, show that you still stand behind the Mother of Dragons by filling your home with this House Targaryen-inspired votive candle. Best of all: Just wait to see the look on the faces of your guests when they ask “Mmmm … what’s that smell?” If you’d prefer not to answer with “fire and blood—doesn’t it smell delicious?,” there are other scents available: one called "Moon of My Life My Sun and Stars," another called "Be a Dragon," and one inspired by the Iron Throne itself (which must smell like victory).

Buy it: HBO Shop

7. Clue: Game of Thrones; $50

Margaery Tyrell with the battle axe in Cersei’s bedchambers. Rewrite the rules—and brutal deaths—of Game of Thrones with this special edition of the classic board game, which tasks you with figuring out who murdered whom, using what weapon, and where the incident took place. A double-sided playing board lets you choose whether you want to set the game in The Red Keep or Meereen.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

8. Game of Thrones Monopoly; $24

'Game of Thrones Monopoly' game board

Hasbro, Amazon

Who wants to be the Lord or Lady of Winterfell when you can become the preeminent real estate mogul of all the Seven Kingdoms? This special-edition Monopoly board puts a distinctly Westerosian twist on the classic game, with silver tokens to represent the sigils of each of the main houses and a card holder that plays the series’ haunting score whenever you press it.

Buy it: Amazon or Best Buy

9. House Stark Hoodie; $60

If you really wanted to dress like a Stark, you’d have a master blacksmith on hand to help customize your armor—or at least turn your IKEA rug into a luxurious cape. If you’re far less crafty, there’s always this full-zip hoodie featuring an embroidered direwolf on the front and an outlined illustration of the same on the back. The minimalist design is a way to show your fandom in a way that, to the untrained eye, might just look like you’re a fan of wolves. But the rest of us will know better. And approve.

Buy it: ThinkGeek

10. Deluxe Iron Throne Funko Pop! Set; $130

Funko's Iron Throne Pop! set of five

Funko, HBO Shop

Though it seems unlikely that a few of these characters will ever sit on the Iron Throne (either because they’re dead or have gone mad), a fan can always hope. And buying them as part of this five-piece set is an easy way to collect them all. If you don’t see your favorite character here, Amazon has got plenty more squat-headed figures to choose from, including Arya, Brienne of Tarth, Rhaegal (poor Rhaegal), and Ghost (poor Ghost). If you ever happen upon a headless Ned Stark Pop!, grab it; this hard-to-find figure can sell for more than $2000 on eBay.

Buy it: HBO Shop

11. Iron Throne Bookend; $60

After devoting more than eight years of your life to seeing Game of Thrones all the way through, maybe it’s you who deserves the Iron Throne. You can’t sit on this 7.5-inch replica, the base of which features sigils from all the noble houses, but you can show off your fancy George R.R. Martin book collection … or all that dragon fan fiction you’ve been working on.

Buy it: Best Buy or the HBO Shop

12. Game of Thrones Music Box; $13

'Game of Thrones' music box

Shenzhen Youtang Trade Co., Amazon

Channel your inner Arya by psyching yourself up with the iconic Game of Thrones theme song whenever you feel the need to hear it with this hand-cranked music box.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Iron Throne Tankard; $70

Show your guests who's boss at your next dinner party—or raucous feast—as you take your place at the head of the table and guzzle your mead (or giant's milk—we don't judge) from this Iron Throne-themed tankard, completed with sword handle.

Buy it: HBO Shop

14. Game of Thrones Socks; $8

It gets cold in the North. Keep your tootsies warm with this six-pack of stylish ankle-cut socks.

Buy it: Target

15. Living Language Dothraki; $16

A copy of the Living Language Dothraki language course

Living Language, Amazon

By now, you've surely learned at least a handful of common Dothraki words and phrases. But if you wan to become fluent in the (fictional) language, this language course is one way to do it. Now: Finne zhavvorsa anni?

Buy it: Amazon

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