‘Game of Thrones’: Unaired Pilot Had an Epic Fail That Required Episode to be Shelved and Reshot

Very few things in pop culture have become as popular and well-known as Game of Thrones, and there are many reasons for its success. One reason why the show is so popular is probably because of how many shocking moments it has.

The most well-known one has to be the Red Wedding, which shocked and scarred fans by killing off some of the most popular characters on the show. That said, this type of brutality isn’t new to the show, and it had its first shocking moment in the very first episode.

However, everyone makes mistakes, and the unaired Game of Thrones pilot managed to screw that moment up.

A history of the shocking moments in ‘Game of Thrones’ 

Cersei Lannister - Game of Thrones
Cersei Lannister | HBO

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The show is based on the currently unfinished ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series of books, and something that George R.R. Martin, who’s the author of those books, loves to do is to kill off his characters. Martin does this for many reasons, sometimes for shock value, but other times for literary and historical reasons. 

The books and the show portray a fantasy world that’s based on medieval times, but with dragons and ice zombies. Just like in real life, it was tough being alive in medieval times, and people did a lot of brutal things in order to become the king or queen. Martin wanted to show just how brutal people can be in pursuit of power, and that’s why there are so many shocking moments in the show and books.

The many issues with the unaired pilot of ‘Game of Thrones’

Mental Floss reports the showrunners, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, made a pilot of the show for HBO, but this pilot was so bad that HBO made them reshoot pretty much the whole thing. That said, since this pilot never aired, few people know exactly how bad it was. However, there are some details available about the differences between the unaired pilot and the actual show. 

Many of those differences made the show worse, but the worst difference made the shocking moment at the end of the first episode less effective. That shocking moment was the scene where Bran Stark climbed up a tower and saw Jaime Lannister have sex with his sister, Cersei Lannister. This incestuous relationship was a secret at the time, so Jaime pushed Bran out the window in order to keep him quiet.

This powerful and shocking moment set the tone for what was to come. However, in the unaired pilot, Mental Floss said that the showrunners somehow didn’t make it clear that Jaime and Cersei were siblings. By not making that part clear, it made that shocking scene more confusing and, at the same time, it also showed how badly the showrunners messed it up with the writing on the unaired pilot. 

A fixed pilot and a better show

Jaime holding Cersei's head in his hand, kneeling in front of her as they look into each other's eyes
Jaime and Cersei Lannister | HBO

Of course, despite screwing up the pilot, HBO enjoyed it enough that it ordered a full season of the show, provided that the showrunners scrap that unaired pilot and reshoot most of it. That’s exactly what happened, and the rest is history. 

After they fixed that scene, Jaime kind of became a villain in the show. Incest is wrong, and so is throwing a kid out of a window, so many fans didn’t like him off the bat. That said, for the next eight seasons, Jaime’s character grows and develops, and his relationship with his sister changes, too.

Their relationship becomes a sort of “will-they-won’t-they,” where, after Jaime leaves his sister, fans wonder if he’ll return to her or if he’s done with her for good. This character growth wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t clear that he was her brother since that’s the big deal about their relationship.