The first episode of a series, often known as a pilot, is very important since it decides whether or not the show will air. Therefore, it is not easy to create a compelling pilot episode for a new television show. But what is even more difficult is maintaining such high standards throughout the show’s episodes while continuing to build on the foundations set in the series’ first episode.
Sometimes the pilot is so amazing that it is aired exactly as it was shot, whereas other times it is shot over and over again. In some cases, the series may take a totally different road than what its producers had in mind when filming the pilot. And the most loyal fans will spot certain inconsistencies later on.
Whether it’s the result of network changes or showrunners changing the cast, here are 12 details from popular tv series’ pilot episodes you missed.
#1 Alyssa Milano wasn´t originally in Charmed
The main characters in Charmed’s never-aired pilot were witches and roommates. But then the creator decided it would be better to produce a series about witch sisters.
Lori Rom was cast in the role of Phoebe, but she shortly dropped out, and Alyssa Milano was chosen.
#2 Daenerys wasn’t played by Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
The pilot for Game of Thrones was shot twice. One of the main reasons is that the cast has changed significantly. Tamzin Merchant played Daenerys Targaryen in the pilot, and she was uncomfortable in the role from the beginning. Finally, Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, got it.
Another actress, Jennifer Ehle, played Catelyn Stark before she left and was replaced by Michelle Fairley.
#3 In Gossip Girl, Blair’s mom was interpreted by a different actress
In the pilot episode, Florencia Lozano plays Blair Waldorf’s mother, Eleanor. Later, from episode 5 onward, the role went to Margaret Colin since the producers felt Florencia didn’t look old enough to be Blair’s mother.
#4 In Grey’s Anatomy, Alex was added later
The Grey’s Anatomy pilot aired as it was being filmed. But we probably missed a lot of details the very first time we watched it. Shonda Rhimes, the writer/producer, stocked the doctors’ lockers with materials relevant to the characters to make the actors feel more prepared to play them.
Furthermore, Alex Karev was added in post-production, both in moments where he appears alone and in scenes where he is added digitally. Meredith’s voice-over was also a last-minute decision that was later utilized for the entire series.
#5 In Sex and the City, Carrie wore her hair differently
The pilot episode of Sex and the City had far too much going on. That’s probably why we didn’t realize Carrie’s hair was different at the time. It’s significantly shorter and darker now, whereas it was longer and blonder during the rest of the series.
Carrie, on the other hand, looks at the camera and speaks directly to the audience in this episode, something would never happen again in the series.
#6 Joey and Chandler, from Friends, were very similar
Joey and Chandler’s personalities are really similar in the series pilot episode. Later, Joey would be stand out for his naiveté and Chandler for his sarcasm. There are also several scenes from the pilot’s opening scene that don’t appear in later episodes.
#7 Julie Bowen, from Modern Family, was pregnant
Julie Bowen was eight and a half months pregnant with twins when she auditioned for the role of Claire! That’s why the character was typically wearing jackets and loose T-shirts in the early episodes in comparison to the rest of the series. She can sometimes be seen carrying baskets or cereal boxes to conceal herself.
#8 Luke wasn’t the main character in Gilmore Girls
Luke shows up in the pilot as the grouchy owner of the diner Lorelai frequents. He wasn’t supposed to be a major character at the time. However, due to the chemistry between Luke and Lorelai, the filmmakers chose to develop the character.
#9 Mary Alice was interpreted by a different actress in Desperate Housewives
The first pilot episode of Desperate Housewives was never aired. Mary Alice was originally played by Sheryl Lee in this version, but the producers chose to replace her with Brenda Strong. Furthermore, Michael Reilly Burke played Rex Van de Kamp before being replaced by Steven Culp.
#10 Mulder and Scully were not meant to fall in love in The X-Files
The producers believed that if the main characters were in love, it would distract the viewers from the plot. Because the Fox network thought there was no chemistry between the main characters, they introduced a lover for Scully in the first version.
#11 Penny, from The Big Bang Theory, was Katie
One of the CBS network’s managers requested that the whole pilot episode be changed. Sheldon and Leonard, she believed, were the only things that truly worked, whereas Howard and Raj did not yet exist.
Katie, played by Amanda Walsh, was one of the two main female characters in this version. Despite trying out for the role of Katie, Kaley Cuoco was turned down for being too young. However, when Katie was replaced by Penny a year later, she was called back.
#12 The only episode of Mad Men shot in New York was the pilot
The pilot episode of Mad Men was the only one shot in New York, where the story occurs. The remaining episodes were filmed in Los Angeles.