12 Details We Missed in the Pilot Episodes of Famous TV Series

year ago

The first episode of a series — also known as a pilot — is key, since it can decide whether the show will go on air or not. Occasionally, the pilot is so good that it is aired as it was filmed, whereas other times it is filmed all over again. But it can also happen that the series later takes a very different path from what its creators had originally conceived when shooting the pilot. And the most ardent fans later notice some inconsistencies.

1. Joey and Chandler, from Friends, were very similar

In the pilot episode of the series, the personalities of Joey and Chandler are quite similar. Later, Joey would stand out for his naivety and Chandler for his sarcasm. There are also some scenes from the opening sequence of the pilot which do not appear in other episodes.

2. Alyssa Milano wasn´t originally in Charmed

In the never aired pilot of Charmed, the main characters were witches and roommates. But then, the creator thought it’d be better to make a series about sisters who were also witches.

On the other hand, the role of Phoebe was played by Lori Rom, but she quickly withdrew from the project and Alyssa Milano got the role.

3. Daenerys wasn’t played by Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

The Game of Thrones pilot was filmed twice. One of the main reasons is that there were many changes in the cast. In the pilot, the role of Daenerys Targaryen was played by Tamzin Merchant, who did not feel comfortable in the role from the very first moment. Finally, Emilia Clarke, the Daenerys we all know, got it.

The role of Catelyn Stark was also played by another actress, Jennifer Ehle, who quit soon after and was replaced by Michelle Fairley.

4. Mulder and Scully were not meant to fall in love in The X-Files

The creators thought that if the main characters fell in love, it would divert the viewers’ attention away from the plot. In the first version, the Fox network even included a boyfriend for Scully because they believed there was no chemistry between the main characters.

5. Penny, from The Big Bang Theory, was Katie

One of the managers from the CBS network asked the creators to change the entire pilot episode. She believed that the only thing that really worked was Sheldon and Leonard, while Howard and Raj did not yet exist.

In this version, there were two main female characters, one of which was Katie, played by Amanda Walsh. Kaley Cuoco had auditioned for the role of Katie, but she was rejected for being too young. Nevertheless, she was called back a year later when Katie was replaced by Penny.

6. In Grey’s Anatomy, Alex was added later

The Grey’s Anatomy pilot appeared on air as it was filmed. But we probably missed many details the first time we watched it. Writer/producer Shonda Rhimes filled the doctors’ lockers with elements specific to the characters to help the actors feel more prepared to play them.

In addition, Alex Karev was included in post-production, both in scenes where he appears alone or added digitally. Also, Meredith’s voice-over was a last-minute decision, something that was later adopted for the entire series.

7. In Sex and the City, Carrie wore her hair differently

There’s too much going on in the pilot episode of Sex and the City. That’s probably why we didn’t notice that Carrie’s hair looked different back then. It is much shorter and darker, while in the rest of the series she wore it long and blonder.

On the other hand, in this episode, Carrie looks at the camera and speaks directly to the audience, something that would never happen again in the series.

8. Luke wasn’t a main character in Gilmore Girls

Luke appears in the pilot as the grumpy owner of the diner Lorelai always goes to. At that time, he was not meant to be an important character. However, because of the chemistry between Luke and Lorelai, the creators decided to make the character more important.

9. The only episode of Mad Men shot in New York was the pilot

The Mad Men pilot was the only episode filmed in New York, where the story takes place. The rest of the episodes were shot in Los Angeles.

10. In Gossip Girl, Blair’s mom was interpreted by a different actress

Florencia Lozano plays Eleanor, Blair Waldorf’s mother, in the pilot episode. Later, from episode 5 onward, she was replaced by Margaret Colin because the producers believed that Florencia did not look old enough to be Blair’s mother.

11. Julie Bowen, from Modern Family, was pregnant

When Julie Bowen auditioned for the role of Claire, she was eight and a half months pregnant, and with twins! That’s why the character was always wearing jackets and loose T-shirts in those early episodes compared to the rest of the series. We can also see her carrying baskets or cereal boxes to cover her up.

12. Mary Alice was interpreted by a different actress in Desperate Housewives

The original pilot episode of Desperate Housewives never appeared on air. In this version, Mary Alice was played by Sheryl Lee, but the producers decided to replace her with Brenda Strong. What’s more, Michael Reilly Burke played Rex Van de Kamp, but he was later changed to Steven Culp.

What other details about pilot episodes of famous series do you know? What is your favorite series that you have loved since the first episode?


Get notifications

In Seinfeld, Jerry's father Morty is played by a different actor for some episodes.


Related Reads