Let’s break down the Game of Thrones pilot screenplay. Unlike other more straightforward television pilot scripts, the Game of Thrones script is a bit more complex because it introduces several storylines and characters that at first seem to have nothing to do with each other. Let’s teardown the Game of Thrones original pilot script and discuss some of the main takeaways.
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Game of Thrones Pilot PDF Download
Click to view and download the entire Game of Thrones Pilot script PDF below.
WHO WROTE Game of Thrones Pilot SCRIPT?
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
D.B. Weiss is an American screenwriter and longtime collaborator of David Benioff. Weiss is best known for his work on Game of Thrones and Troy.
STRUCTURE OF THE GAME OF THE THRONES SCRIPT
Here is the story structure for Game of Thrones season 1 episode 1 script, "Winter is Coming":
Dark, terrifying blue-eyed forces haunt members of the Night’s Watch beyond the Wall.
We're introduced to the Stark family, and patriarch Ned Stark gets involved in kingdom politics after King Robert Baratheon chooses him as his Hand. On the other continent of Essos we meet the Targaryen siblings, both refugees of Westeros.
Members of the Night’s Watch discover the zombie army of the White Walkers, and only one survives the confrontation. The survivor deserts the Night's Watch but gets captured by Ned Stark’s men.
Plot Point One
Ned Stark beheads the deserter of the Night’s Watch to fulfill his duty as ruler of the North. In King’s Landing, Jon Arryn, Hand of the King, is dead. Ned Stark finds out the King is coming to Winterfell.
King Robert Baratheon arrives in Winterfell and asks Ned to be Hand of the king.
Ned and Catelyn learn from Catelyn’s sister that Jon Arryn was murdered by the Lannisters.
Plot Point Two
Ned and Catelyn are hesitant on accepting the King’s offer but Ned agrees to in order to find out the truth about Jon Arryn. Daenerys' brother sells her to Khal Drogo as a bride in exchange for an army.
Ned reluctantly accepts the position as Hand of the King. Daenerys is wed to Khal Drogo and is gifted three dragon eggs that have been turned to stone.
Bran is exploring Winterfell and stumbles upon Jaime and Cersei in the middle of a shocking incestuous affair.
Jaime Lannister subsequently shoves Bran out the tower window.
Game of Thrones Pilot Script Takeaway #1
Memorable Game of Thrones characters
Game of Thrones is known for having an enormous roster of prominent characters that we are introduced to early on. The easiest way to wrap your head around the Game of Thrones pilot summary is to understand what’s happening and who’s who in each of the two continents, Westeros (west of the sea) and Essos (east of the sea). The Game of Thrones pilot plot takes place in these key locations across both continents:
- Beyond the Wall
- In King’s Landing
- In Essos (Pentos)
- In the North (Winterfell)
Here are some prominent Game of Thrones characters we are introduced to:
- The Night’s Watch
- White Walkers
- The Starks (Ned, Catelyn, Bran, Rob, Arya, Sansa, Rickon, Benjen)
- Jon Snow
- Theon Greyjoy
- The Lannisters (Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion)
- King Robert Baratheon
- Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen
- Khal Drogo and the Dothraki Army
- Jorah Mormont
Game of Thrones Pilot Script Takeaway #2
Meme-worthy Game of Thrones quotes
In the Game of Thrones pilot screenplay, Ned Stark says the famous, “Winter is coming” line after Catelyn objects to their youngest son Bran witnessing the Night’s Watch deserter’s beheading. This line also is spoken throughout the series as a way of foreshadowing the epic battle between the living and the dead. The “Winter is Coming” quote has also made its way into pop culture, becoming a viral internet meme.
We imported the Game of Thrones script into StudioBinder's screenwriting software so we could take a closer look into the Game of Thrones dialogue. Below is a highlight of the scene-make sure you follow the image link to read the entire scene to get the full effect!
In this scene, Ned uses this phrase to remind Catelyn that Bran must be prepared for the dark days to come. As viewers, we’re not exactly sure what he means by this yet, but we can assume the frozen zombie-like murderous corpses we saw in the prologue might have something to do with the looming “winter” they speak of.
Many of the Game of Thrones quotes are memorable and the show is known for having some of the best screenwriting in the fantasy television genre. Although some critics would argue the quality of the writing decreased towards the later seasons. Check out some other great quotes from this episode.
- “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”
- “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
- “All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.”
- “I don’t fight in tournaments, because when I fight a man for real, I don’t want him to know what I can do.”
- “The things I do for love.”
Game of Thrones Pilot Script Takeaway #3
Prologue in the pilot script
The first scene of a pilot is arguably the most important, and the Game of Thrones pilot doesn’t shy away from terrifying its viewers from the start. The prologue sets the tone for the show and introduces us to some of the story’s overarching themes and challenges.
More specifically, the prologue in "Winter is Coming" introduces us to the supernatural entities that live within this medieval universe.
In this opening scene, we’re immediately introduced to an existential threat and we also immediately witness at least two character deaths. The detail of the blue eyes is important to note since that is an important character feature of the White Walkers, which we learn much more about later in the series.
The prologue scene is tense and frightening, but didn’t draw everyone in right away. Some early critics weren’t entirely sold on the prologue being necessary as they thought viewers new to the story would assume it was a supernatural thriller instead of a drama focused on power struggles between families.
Game of Thrones ended up being both of those things, however.
Game of Thrones Pilot Script Takeaway #4
The Game of Thrones pilot cliffhanger
In the last scene, we’re left gasping at our television screens as Jaime Lannister shoves little Bran Stark out of the tower window. This is the exact kind of response a pilot’s ending should accomplish.
It’s important to remember the quote, “The things I do for love.” This sentence will later come back to haunt Jaime Lannister in the final season, as an older Bran Stark utters those very same words back to him. It’s a very full-circle moment in terms of the screenplay.
Though cliffhangers can sometimes be considered a tacky plot device, the Game of Thrones pilot plot masters the art of suspense and ends on a perfectly shocking cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting more.
Did You Know?
The Game of Thrones pilot screenplay wasn’t always Emmy-winning TV gold. Game of Thrones originally had an infamously bad unaired pilot. 90% of the show was reshot and much of the script was reworked to complete the epic pilot episode we’ve come to know and love.
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