Jon Snow has faced down White Walkers, the entire Bolton army, and death itself, but the one thing that scares him the most is the prospect of the original Game of Thrones pilot being released. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Kit Harington joked that Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff keep him in line by playfully threatening to release the show's unaired pilot episode. According to Harington, they even send him screencaps from time to time as a reminder that it's still in a vault somewhere.
The original Game of Thrones pilot is the stuff of legend at this point. Somehow, HBO has kept it from leaking, but Benioff and Weiss have revealed a few details about their first attempt to introduce the world to the denizens of Westeros. In a 2016 interview with Vanity Fair, the duo said the original Game of Thrones pilot was so convoluted that no one realized that Jaime and Cersei were siblings — which is kind of a big deal, considering how the hour ends.
As for Harington, he played Jon in the original version as well, but he admitted to The Guardian that he hasn't actually seen the episode in its entirety. Of the famed original pilot, the actor said,
"They made a lot of mistakes. It didn’t look right, didn’t feel right, had nothing different about it. They say, if I ever piss them off too much, they’ll release it on YouTube. Every now and then, they send me a screengrab, just as a threat."
No one wants to root for Jon Snow to fail, but quite a few fans would not object to the pilot being leaked online, if only so they could visit the bizarro world of Westeros that never was.
Fans have actually seen parts of the first Game of Thrones pilot, even though they may not realize it. A few scenes made it into the episode that eventually aired, as evidenced by the blond hair Theon and Tyrion sport. Additionally, according to Vanity Fair, Michelle Fairley's performance as Catelyn was simply inserted over the footage of Jennifer Ehle, who played Catelyn the first time around.
Weiss and Benioff told Vanity Fair that the hour included a flashback to the death of Brandon Stark, and an over-the-top death scene for Jon Arryn — both were ultimately cut from the final product. The showrunners also recast a number of important characters, including Daenerys Targaryen. Most notably, Emilia Clarke took over the now iconic role from The Tudors' Tamzin Merchant. These adjustments paid off, as evidenced by the massive success of Game of Thrones. But could the original pilot truly be bad enough to keep Harington living in fear of it ever seeing the light of day?
The world may never know. Weiss and Benioff seem to be committed to keeping the episode buried, and the original director, Oscar-nominee Tom McCarthy, likely agrees with their stance. By all accounts, the first attempt at bringing Game of Thrones to TV sounds like it was tedious, confusing, and — worst of all — boring.
Still, that doesn't take away from the curiosity factor. With filming on Season 8 in progress, there are just six episodes of the series left. And that's a hard truth for devoted fans of the show to accept. Knowing that there's a "lost" episode out there — one that could have potentially launched a very different version of Game of Thrones — is enticing. Even if it's absolutely terrible, there's an excellent chance it would thrill viewers to see it in full.
Is it really too much to ask for Harington to take one for the team? Come on, Jon Snow, make Weiss and Benioff feel just annoyed enough to release the original Game of Thrones pilot on the internet — it's hard to believe it wouldn't live up to its infamous reputation.