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.

8 Facts About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon
Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon

Longtime Harry Potter fans who feel like first-years at heart may find it hard to believe, but the books have been around for decades. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, which follows Harry as he faces Dementors, investigates the mysterious Sirius Black, and gets through his third year at Hogwarts.

From Rowling’s writing process to how it changed The New York Times Best Sellers list, here are some facts you should know about the wildly popular book.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was J.K. Rowling’s "best writing experience."

In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Rowling described the creation of Prisoner of Azkaban as “the best writing experience I ever had.” This had more to do with where Rowling was at in her professional life than the content of the actual story. By book three, she was successful enough where she didn’t have to worry about finances, but not yet so famous that the she felt the stress of being in the public eye.

2. The Dementors represent depression.

Readers who live with depression may see something familiar in Prisoner of Azkaban’s soul-sucking Dementors. According to the book, “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself ... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Rowling has stated that she based the Dementor’s effects on her own experiences with depression. "[Depression] is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again," she told The Times in 2000. "The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It's a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."

3. Rowling regretted giving Harry the Marauder’s Map.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Marauder’s Map is introduced as a way for Harry to track Sirius Black and learn of the survival of Peter Pettigrew. But this plot device proved problematic for Rowling later on this series. In Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, she wrote, “The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information.” She went on to say that she sometimes wished she had made Harry lose the map for good in the later books.

4. Rowling was excited to introduce Remus Lupin.

One of the aspects Rowling most enjoyed about writing Prisoner of Azkaban was introducing Remus Lupin. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and secret werewolf is one of the author's favorite characters in the series, and as she told Barnes & Noble in 1999, “I was looking forward to writing the third book from the start of the first because that's when Professor Lupin appears.”

5. Crookshanks is based on a real cat.

Harry had Hedwig the owl, Ron had his pet rat Scabbers, and in book three, Hermione got a pet of her own: an intelligent half-Kneazle cat named Crookshanks. J.K. Rowling is allergic to cats, and she admits on her website that she prefers dogs, but she does have fond memories of a cat that roamed the London neighborhood where she worked in the 1980s. When writing Crookshanks, she gave him that cat’s haughty attitude and smushed-face appearance.

6. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book Americans had to wait for.

Harry Potter fans based in America will no doubt remember waiting months after a book’s initial release in England to buy it from their local bookstore. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book with a staggered publication date: Beginning with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the rest of the books in the series were published in both markets on the same date.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban broke sales records.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of its release, making it the fastest-selling British book of all time in 1999. The book has since gone on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide and helped make Harry Potter the bestselling book series ever.

8. It changed The New York Times Best Sellers List.

For part of 1999, the first three Harry Potter books—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone pretty much everywhere besides America), Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban—occupied the top three slots on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It didn’t stay that way for long, though: Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that pushed the paper to create a separate list just for children’s literature, leaving more room on the original list for books aimed at adults. That’s why Harry Potter is missing from the famous bestsellers roundup during the 2000s, despite dominating book sales at this time.

Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke Turned Down the Lead in 50 Shades of Grey

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Though Emilia Clarke is undoubtedly best known for her starring role on Game of Thrones, she has landed some other plum parts over the past several years, including Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, the role of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the lead in Phillip Noyce's upcoming Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. But there's one major role Clarke passed on, and has no regrets about it: Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

The movies, based on E. L. James's erotic book series, trace the sadomasochistic/romantic relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire businessman Christian Grey. Both the books and the movies have garnered a lot of criticism for their graphic nudity and sex scenes. While Clarke is no stranger to appearing nude on film for her role as Daenerys Targaryen, she said that 50 Shades of Grey would have taken her too far out of her comfort zone.

“There is a huge amount of nudity in the film,” the British actress told The Sun of her reasons for not wanting to get involved with the film series. “I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”

Even without 50 Shades of Grey on her resume, Clarke says she has dealt with a lot of negative backlash because of the nudity in Game of Thrones. “I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes,” the 32-year-old star said. “Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.”

When we last left Daenerys, she seemed to be getting serious about Jon Snow—who, unbeknownst to the two of them, is her nephew. We'll see how that unpleasant discovery plays out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

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