The year 2011 was a simpler time. Barack Obama was president, Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, and the Game of Thrones pilot premiered on HBO. A lot has changed over the six years since the episode "Winter Is Coming" aired on April 17, 2011 — in both the real world and in the one created by writer George R. R. Martin. While normally a new season of Game of Thrones would be premiering right about now, Season 7 isn't coming back until July 16. With that extra waiting time and the state of world affairs as it is currently, it feels only right to look back on the Game of Thrones pilot and see what has changed since HBO's show first appeared and changed the landscape of TV forever.
Although there was an original pilot of Game of Thrones that has never seen the light of day, I'm focusing on the first aired episode of the beloved series — appropriately titled "Winter Is Coming." Winter is pretty much going to be in Westeros for the Season 7 premiere, but the characters in the first episode were experiencing a nice long summer. That's not to say everything was joyful in the pilot of Game of Thrones since it was full of ominous foreshadowing, but life — at least for the Starks — was a helluva lot simpler.
Whether the current world has got you down or you just need something to occupy your time while you wait for Game of Thrones Season 7, here's how things have changed on the show since the first episode.
1Sean Bean & Mark Addy Were The Top-Billed Characters
The two actors I was most familiar with when Game of Thrones premiered were Lord of the Rings' Sean Bean and A Knight's Tale's Mark Addy. Yet, the two most famous actors, whose relationship was critical to the pilot, didn't even make it out of the first season alive.
2Actually, A Lot Of Characters Alive Then Are Dead Now
People dying on Game of Thrones is nothing new, but many featured characters in the pilot haven't been relevant for awhile. Although I'm incredibly thankful that some characters, like Joffrey and Viserys, have been long dead, seeing how many Starks have died is never easy.
3And So Many Characters Didn't Even Appear
An absurd amount of characters weren't even introduced yet, like Melisandre or Margaery Tyrell, but perhaps the most noticeably missing person is my girl — Brienne of Tarth.
4Winterfell Looked Like A Great Place To Live
The joyous feeling of growing up in Winterfell in the pilot is in stark contrast to how it looked under Ramsay Bolton's leadership. Good thing Jon and Sansa are in control of the North now.
5Bran Could Walk
Along with walking, Bran was also a big fan of climbing. That understandably outraged his mother, especially when you consider how the pilot episode ended with Jaime pushing Bran out the window.
6Theon Was A Jerk
Unfortunately, his character evolved the really hard way.
7The Dire Wolves Were All Alive
And just little pups!
8The Show Would Indicate The Locations
Nowadays you would be aghast at the thought that you wouldn't know when you were watching a scene taking place in King's Landing, but the pilot used helpful wording to make the locations clear. It looks clunky now, but it made sense back then considering how many locations and characters you were being asked to follow.
9A King Sat On The Iron Throne
The show has been focusing on the power of females in more recent seasons, but the pilot had all men in control. While Daenerys, Sansa, and Cersei were in seemingly submissive positions in the first episode of Game of Thrones, these women have come to show their true power over the years.
10Daenerys Was So Passive
Speaking of Daenerys, she was pretty passive in the first episode as she was abused by both her brother and Khal Drogo. Although, her keeping eye contact with Drogo should have been an indication of things to come.
11Tyrion's Hair Was Ridiculous
Good thing that Peter Dinklage's acting abilities more than made up for Tyrion's Justin Bieber-like hair.
12Myrcella & Tommen Were Portrayed By Different Actors
While I realize that both of these characters are dead now, it's still interesting to note that different actors portrayed Myrcella and Tommen throughout the series. Aimee Richardson was Myrcella in Seasons 1 and 2, but was replaced by Nell Tiger Free in Season 5. Callum Wharry was Tommen originally and was later replaced by Dean-Thomas Chapman, who along with being Tommen until his final days also portrayed Martyn Lannister.
13Dany's Dragons Were Just Eggs
Not only were Dany's dragons not in the picture until Illyrio Mopatis gave her dragon eggs as a wedding gift, but people didn't even believe that dragons existed (just like they didn't think White Walkers were around anymore). Way to prove them wrong, Daenerys.
Sure, 2011 may have seemed like a simpler time in both Game of Thrones and real life, but upon reflection would you really want to go back? Uh, never mind, don't answer that.