Action and/or Adventure, Drama, Television

Tom Wopat in: Sons of Anarchy

as: Bobby Elvis

It’s been almost two years since Sons of Anarchy wrapped up its epic seven-season run on FX. The Shakespearian biker-gang drama went out guns a-blazin’ with a final season that shook the show’s Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO) to its foundation. Lots of characters, both beloved and behated, wound up taking dirt naps by the end, and, arguably, none of those final season deaths had more of an effect on SOA’s ultimate resolution than that of Robert “Bobby Elvis” Munson. I know I teared up when Bobby bit the dust.

Perhaps the only way it could’ve had a bigger impact is—you guessed it—if Tom Wopat had played the part.

Wopat of Anarchy

SOA

Bobby Elvis was originally portrayed by Mark Boone Junior, and, other than their physical differences, he and Tom Wopat are essentially analogous. Both are accomplished (if unheralded) singer-songwriters, both are Midwesterners (from Ohio and Wisconsin, respectively), and both are in their early sixties. Both clearly know their way around high-powered vehicles, as Boone and Wopat both did much of their own driving in Sons and Dukes of Hazzard (though Bobby’s motorcycle is a decidedly different beast than the General Lee).

On Sons of Anarchy, Bobby Elvis is, generally, the level-headed voice of reason among the MC’s leaders. Wopat’s laidback, soft-spoken style would perfectly fit this aspect of the character. It’s easy to picture Bobby Wopat talking some sense into (or at least attempting to) Ron Perlman’s Clay Morrow or Charlie Hunnam’s Jax Teller as they sit around the big table at the club’s meetings.

At a good five inches taller than Boone, Wopat would be more on the level, physically, with Perlman’s imposing gang leader. Though Clay and Bobby never came to blows, a taller (though much thinner) Bobby could’ve given the character more weight (ironically) in their interactions.

Early on in the series, we see how Bobby got his nickname: he’s a semi-professional Elvis impersonator. The long-haired, bearded, portly Boone didn’t look much like Elvis, but he sold it with his enthusiasm and far-better-than-expected singing. I think we can all agree that Tom Wopat would make a much more convincing faux-King of Rock & Roll, and we know he’d be more than capable of singing some Elvis tunes. After Bobby’s first appearance in his Elvis getup, we never see him performing again. With Wopat in the role (and doing a much better job of Elvising), it’s possible it would’ve been more of a recurring thing, a bit of comic relief to lighten the often-heavy overall tone of the show.

Photo credit: anieto2k via Source / CC BY-SA

Classics, Comedy, Musicals, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

as: Rufus

1988’s Bill & Ted Excellent Adventure is one hell of a weird movie: two high school metalheads are given a time-traveling phone booth to help them pass a history test—if they fail, the future of civilization will be in serious jeopardy. If that sounds like a pretty dumb premise, that’s because it is. It’s also hilarious and brilliantly executed and acted (with Keanu Reeves basically playing what is now the public’s perception of his IRL persona). It also features an ingenious—and paradox free!—time-travel workaround by the heroes that ultimately saves the day.

The San Francisco Giants know what's up.

The San Francisco Giants know what’s up.

In the film, the late, great George Carlin plays Rufus, a somewhat mysterious mentor from the future who was sent back in time to set Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan off on their excellent adventure. Reportedly, the producers were originally considering “serious” actors for the role, such as Sean Connery, until someone jokingly suggested Carlin. The legendary comedian was offered the part, accepted, and the rest is history.

But what if Carlin had turned them down? What if, instead, they chose Tom Wopat, the greatest actor of this or any time period?

Key Changes

Though Tom Wopat has worked on sitcoms—The Dukes of Hazzard was a pretty funny show sometimes, too—he can’t compete with George Carlin in the humor department. As such, the Rufus character would likely have leaned more toward the serious tone the writers originally intended. Wopat’s got dramatic chops for days. (Though, in a movie where Napoleon Bonaparte goes to a modern SoCal waterslide park, how “serious” could it have been?)

Another potential change could’ve made the film’s emphasis on the importance of music in the future more pronounced. In Excellent Adventure’s denouement, Rufus presents Bill and Ted with shiny new guitars. Before handing them over, though, he shreds a blistering solo on one of the guitars. In the film, the guitar solo-ing hands are not Carlin’s, but rather those of Stevie Salas, an accomplished studio musician and film score composer (who, not coincidentally, wrote the score for this movie). Wopat can sling a mean ax in his own right, and therefore could likely have performed the solo himself in a single shot. The added authenticity would’ve gone a long way, in our opinion, and added to the mystique of the future seen briefly in the film. Why is Rufus, ostensibly just a messenger, so good on guitar? Is everyone in the future an excellent musician? Just how does one “be excellent” to another?

Our third picked nit is strictly aesthetic. In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, George Carlin appears essentially as he always did in the late 1980s (except for the costumes). He wears his same usual beard and keeps his long hair in a ponytail. There’s nothing wrong with this look, of course, and it certainly served Carlin well for a number of years. However, in that briefly-glimpsed future mentioned above, all the other actors are sporting futuristic, yet distinctly ‘80s, hairdos (or are they distinctly ‘80s, yet futuristic, hairdos?) along with their sparkly costumes. Tom Wopat, with his glorious flowing mane, could’ve been given one of the greatest future-’80s/’80s-future hairstyles in motion picture history. And so, great opportunity was lost…

Photo credit: E Steuer via StoolsFair / CC BY

Drama, Musicals

Tom Wopat in: I’m Not There

as: Billy the Kid (a.k.a. “Bob Dylan”)

The 2007 sort of-biopic I’m Not There opens with a caption reading, “Inspired by the music and many lives of Bob Dylan.” To that end, six different actors portray Dylan in different guises that represent the different stages of the musician’s long and storied career. Each of the assorted thespians delivers a fine performance, and the overall result is an intriguing if uneven film that ultimately seems like the closest anyone outside Dylan’s circle will ever get to “knowing” the notoriously elusive singer-songwriter.

Among the half-dozen actors playing “Bob Dylan” are Oscar winners Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Cate Blanchett. (Yes, a woman plays Bob Dylan, and she turns in perhaps the best portrayal of the bunch.) Another is Richard Gere. If any member of the main cast of this flick is replaceable, it’s him.

We’ve already suggested that Tom Wopat take Dylan’s place in another film involving Billy the Kid. It seems pretty logical that Wopat play the “Billy the Kid” version of Dylan here.

The Times They Are A-Changin' 1

Why Not Wopat?

Tom Wopat is two years younger than Richard Gere, so not much would change in that respect: this “Billy the Kid” would still be an older, wiser, wizened version of Dylan, still the aged outlaw. And we already know that Wopat looks dang good in Western-style attire, so not even the costumes would’ve needed changing.

As he’s searching for his dog Henry, and meets up with a friend named Homer, it’s clear that Billy the Kid is meant to represent Basement Tapes-era Dylan. (“Don’t Ya Tell Henry” and “Open the Door, Homer” being two tracks off that landmark album.) Ergo, it’s only fitting that another Basement Tapes song, “Goin’ to Acapulco” is performed during this part of the film. The song’s jangling acoustic guitars and ragged vocals make it a perfect fit for the Old West-esque setting, as well.

However, there is one glaring problem: it’s not Billy the Kid singing the song. There’s probably a good reason Jim James of My Morning Jacket sings “Goin’ to Acapulco” instead of Gere, but it would likely have been a more powerful and memorable moment in the film if the Dylan character sang it himself. As such, Tom Wopat would be ideal.

Wopat has released something like ten albums in his career, in styles ranging from rock ‘n’ roll to country-western to classic pop standards. Dylan himself has famously made a number of stylistic shifts throughout his recording career. The two make a good match by that metric. Plus, Wopat can play guitar, something that it seems like any cinematic portrayal of Bob Dylan should do. Gere doesn’t so much as touch an instrument of any kind in his segment of I’m Not There. (Poser.)

Also: while they don’t exactly look alike, there’s a much closer resemblance between Wopat and Dylan than there is between Dylan and Gere.

Photo credit: irishindeed via Instagram

Classics, Comedy, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Ghostbusters

as: Louis Tully

It was difficult deciding which character in Ghostbusters would benefit the most from Wopatization. Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is one of the most beloved and quotable comedy characters of all time, so we wouldn’t dare mess with that. Dan Aykroyd, the film’s Ray Stantz, can up with the idea and co-wrote the film, so he should definitely stay in the picture. The late, great Harold Ramis portrayed Egon Spengler, and as the movie’s other co-writer, he, too, must remain in the cast. Ernie Hudson is his uniformly excellent self as Winston Zeddemore, so we wouldn’t want leave him out, either.

It's no General Lee, but it'll do in a pinch.

It’s no General Lee, but it’ll do in a pinch.

The only logical choice, then, is to put Tom Wopat in the Louis Tully role. The part was originally intended for John Candy, and the character was first written as an uptight, suit-and-tie wearing business man. Candy ultimately passed on the film, and Rick Moranis stepped in, making the character more of a geeky nerd. (Or was he a nerdy geek?) Moranis does a fine job, but he’s no match for Tom Wopat.

Key Changes

With Tom Wopat as Louis Tully, the character would have to be changed yet again. Wopat’s too laid back to play an uptight suit, and too darned good looking to play a nerdy geek/geeky nerd. Instead, the Wopat Tully character would be more of a hippie Zen-master type. He’d still be an accountant, but instead being of all nebbishy and stereotypically “accountant-y”, he’d a chilled out guy who “finds peace” in calculating numbers.

Because Ghostbusters was released in 1984, when The Dukes of Hazzard was at its peak, the filmmakers would likely want to give Wopat a slightly bigger, more active role. Instead of just being a side character who kinda-sorta tags along on the Ghostbusters’ adventures, he’d use his mathematical skills to help them construct their equipment. We’re not sure how that would work, exactly, but the design stages of most complicated electromechanical equipment require a lot of math, so there you go. Someone else can work out the specifics. (We’re not professional screenwriters over here.)

Also, as Wopat is clearly a more athletic person in general than Moranis, we’d extend the chase scene during which Tully is hunted down by those big demon-dog-monster things. Instead of just a brief sprint through a park before getting run down, Wopat Tully would lead the beasts on a long, comical chase through the neighborhood. A hot dog cart would be exploded; a horse would get startled and bolt off into the night, dragging its hansom cab passengers with it; a busy restaurant kitchen would be barreled through; several windows would get shattered. All in all, it would be much funnier and more exciting.

Wopat would, of course, have reprise the role in Ghostbusters II. He clearly would not have made the cut for the recent remake, however, as he is a dude.

Photo credit: greenboxhouse via Remodel Blog / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Classics, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: The Empire Strikes Back

as: Han Solo

“Hey!” you say, “Didn’t you already do this one?” “No,” I reply, “you’re thinking of Tom Wopat in: Star Wars. Not the same thing at all.”

That being said, we don’t really need to get into the specifics of why Tom Wopat would make a rad Han Solo. Just read the other one if you’re interested in all that jazz. Instead, we’re going to take a closer look at two…

Representative Scenes

Representative Scene 1

First, the sequence where the Millennium Falcon flies into an asteroid field to evade the Empire. Han pilots the Falcon into a cave on “one of the big ones” and parks it there to hide out while he and Chewbacca the Wookiee make a few repairs to the ship. Eventually, he, Chewie, Leia, and C-3PO discover that, instead of a cave, they are in fact inside the gullet of a giant space worm. As they flee, barely escaping between the mighty beast’s rapidly closing jaws, Han Wopat would let out a Luke Duke-esque “Yeehaw!” The film would then freeze-frame, and Waylon Jennings’ narrator would chime in something like, “Them Duke boys better watch out. Sometimes the early worm gets the bird.”

Those’re literally the only changes we’d make there.

Representative Scene 2

Cloud City: The City in the Clouds

Cloud City: The City in the Clouds

Later, at Cloud City on Bespin, Han Wopat and the gang are greeted by Lando Calrissian, who promptly brings them before Darth Vader. Rather than opening fire with his trusty blaster, however, Han Wopat starts up a good old fashioned Dukes of Hazzard-style bar brawl. He grabs a pool cue from… somewhere and starts swinging, taking out Storm Troopers left and right.

Vader tries Force choking Han, but he scoops up a pool ball from… somewhere, again, and chucks it at the Sith Lord. It bonks Vader right in the chest, knocking his mechanical breathing apparatus out of whack and sending him to his knees in an asthmatic fit.

From there, Han and company flee on foot, with Lando and Lobot leading the way. As they go, they pass through one of several control stations for Cloud City’s tibanna gas mining operation. Imperial forces are gaining fast, so Han Wopat fires one of Luke Duke’s signature exploding arrows into a reactor. The explosion takes out the mine’s ESP, allowing the station to fill up with highly reactive, unfiltered gas. The Storm Troopers tailing them get lost in the billowing gas clouds, and our heroes make their escape.

The good guys pile into the Millennium Falcon and take off. Moments later, the runaway tibanna gas reaches critical mass and Cloud City explodes in a massive fireball. As the flaming wreckage tumbles to the surface of Bespin, thousands of miles below, Vader’s personal Tie Fighter is seen flying to safety. (A little too convenient, perhaps, but it’d be hard to have Return of the Jedi without Vader still in the game.)

Photo credit: Tom Simpson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Classics

Tom Wopat in: Raiders of the Lost Ark

as: Indiana Jones

If you’re a regular visitor here, you may recall that we already wrote a piece about replacing Harrison Ford with Tom Wopat in Ford’s other iconic role. Rest assured, we have nothing against Harrison Ford, and we agree with most everyone that he is, in fact, a fine actor. (Or, at least he used to be all the time and now he is when he feels like it, which is, apparently, rarely.)

Anyway, the unifying factor here is not a dislike for Ford, but rather a preference for Tom Wopat at any and all times.

Key Changes

Truthfully, not a whole heck of a lot would’ve needed to change. The two actors are essentially the same height and build, and they have the same hair and eye color—they’re practically interchangeable to begin with. The only significant difference is that Wopat is nine years younger. So, basically, Indy got started on his big, significant adventures (unlike these B-squad escapades) right out of grad school.

But! Do not presume for one instant, dear reader, that because no changes would’ve been necessary in the recasting of Tom Wopat as Indiana Jones that the film would not have been a better one. Because it would have been, and you darned well know it.

Representative Scene: Opening Sequence

As it is one of the greatest in motion picture history, you surely know the setup to this one. So, we’ll skip ahead to the changes. After escaping the Peruvian temple with golden idol, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the giant, rolling boulder, Indiana Wopat is confronted by Belloq, a rival archeologist and all around fartknocker, who has brought with him a troop of native warriors so that he may steal the idol from Indy.

"It belongs in a museum!"

“It belongs in a museum!”

Rather than hand over the hard-fought artifact, Indiana Wopat springs into action. A swift, Luke Duke-ian spin kick knocks four of the natives’ blowdart guns askew, and their misfired darts strike four of their fellow warriors, knocking them unconscious with the darts’ poison. Indy coconuts two of the remaining natives’ heads together, Three Stooges-style, and takes out a third with a well-placed right hook.

The fourth and final warrior and Wopat engage in fisticuffs, and after a real slobberknocker, our hero emerges victorious. Belloq, coward that he is, has long since fled into the jungle. Indy starts walking calmly toward Jacques’ docked seaplane. Soon, Belloq and a larger contingent of native warriors emerge from the trees and give chase.

From there, the scene concludes as normal, with Indiana Wopat barely making it back to the plane, the snake in the seat, etc.

Photo credit: Eva Blue via Foter.com / CC BY

Classics, Drama, Television

Tom Wopat in: The Sopranos

as: Silvio Dante

When The Sopranos first started its run, James Gandolfini and Tom Wopat had roughly the same amount of quote-unquote star power, so it’s not unthinkable to imagine Wopat being cast in the lead role of the series. But, given how flat-out spectacular Gandolfini was as Tony Soprano, it’s clear that no other actor could’ve played the part as well.

Silvio Dante is another story, however. Don’t get me wrong, Steven Van Zandt was a revelation as Tony’s consigliere—who knew Bruce Springsteen’s lead guitarist could act?—but Tom Wopat could have, nay, would have been even better.

Key Changes

While nearly all the actors in major roles (and many minor ones) in The Sopranos really are of Italian heritage, Tom Wopat is not. This generally isn’t a big deal in Hollywood, where people professionally pretend to be people they’re not, but on a show that’s about the Mafia, and that does a very good job playing up the importance of the Mafia’s “rules,” it could’ve been a deal breaker. However, there is precedent for non-Italians holding important positions in the mob in fiction: Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) in The Godfather was the Corleone family consigliere for many years, despite being 100 percent Irish.

He's a pinball stugots, there has to be a twist...

He’s a pinball stugots, there has to be a twist…

Though it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Wopat to portray an Italian—he’s certainly got the hair for it!—it’s possible that the character would’ve been rewritten in more of a Tom Hagen mold. An “outsider,” if you will, that nevertheless is a trusted member of Tony’s crew. Perhaps he grew up in the same neighborhood as Tony and, after an initially contentious relationship that resulted in many a fisticuff, the two gained a grudging respect for one another that evolved into true friendship.

If that were the angle the writers took, the character would, of course, need to have a different, non-Italian name. Our suggestion: Jimmy “The Duke” Lucas. (See what we did there?) A good number of characters on The Sopranos are address by nicknames—Paulie Walnuts, Uncle Junior, Big P***y, Johnny Sack, even Silvio was often referred to as just “Sil”—so Wopat’s character could’ve been called both Jimmy and Duke in equal measure.

Apart from that, the character could’ve remained essentially the same. Tom Wopat could easily have brought the same balance of gravitas and humor to the Silvio (or Jimmy) role that Van Zandt did. He looks great in a suit (as Silvio was almost always dressed to the nines). We’ve seen him beat up goons on The Dukes of Hazzard, so him knocking the stuffing out of a guy with a Dust Buster would’ve been completely believable. And, while we don’t have anything to support this, Wopat probably smokes a mean cigar, too.

Photo credit: E Steuer via Foter.com / CC BY

Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Star Trek (The Original Series)

as: Captain James T. Kirk

In reality, Tom Wopat was just fifteen years young when Star Trek debuted in 1966. But, for the purposes of this blog, we’re going to imagine he was old enough for the part of Captain Kirk, a role that was, of course, originally made famous by William Shatner (who was thirty-five when he first sat in the captain’s chair).

Too many Kirks.

Too many Kirks.

Key Changes

We’ll more or less split the age difference and imagine that Wopat was twenty-eight when he won the role of Kirk (the same age he was when The Dukes of Hazzard began in 1979). With a younger and far more strapping actor as Kirk—no offense to Shatner, but he was more than a little doughy—the writers could’ve upped the ante on the Captain’s physical altercations with alien creatures and other enemies. Gone would be the poorly choreographed, obviously pulled punches of Shatner’s action scenes, replaced with more athletic combat heroics. A Starship captain famous for his jumping spin kicks (or his spinning jump kicks) would’ve struck fear into many a Klingon heart.

Additionally, as it is widely known that Tom Wopat looks quite dashing in blue, Star Trek’s costumes would likely have been altered so that blue was the uniform color for the Command and Flight Crews, with yellow instead being for Science and Medical personnel.

Shatner, of course, played Kirk with more than a smirk of cockiness when appropriate. Chris Pine’s portrayal of the character in the recent “reboot” Star Trek films, turned this up to 11. Both actors gave the character an air of brashness, but with the smarts and skills to back it up. Tom Wopat’s take on Captain Kirk likely would’ve been a bit different—we envision Wopat-Kirk as more of a rugged, roguish, charmer; less smirk, more winning smile. Something along the lines of Indiana Jones (particularly in the opening gambit of Temple of Doom) or (whoda thunk?) Luke Duke.

Photo credit: JD Hancock via Foter.com / CC BY

Comedy, Sports

Tom Wopat in: Kingpin

as: Roy Munson

It’s safe to say that Kingpin, from Nineteen-Hundred and Ninety-Six, is the greatest comedy bowling movie of all time. For this writer’s money, it’s better and funnier than the Farrelly Brothers other, more successful hits There’s Something About Mary and Dumb & Dumber. In fact, I can think of only one way to make the film better: add Tom Wopat.

Because no one could possibly surpass Bill Murray’s performance as Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken, and no one would buy a dashing actor like Wopat as the goofy, wide-eyed Ishmael Boorg, played by Randy Quaid, that leaves Woody Harrelson, the original Roy Munson, as the odd man out.

bowling

Why Not Wopat?

When we first see Roy Munson in Kingpin, he’s winning the 1979 Iowa state amateur bowling championship, and is a strapping young lad at the top of his game. He’s handsome, charismatic, and, of course, a stupendous bowler. Woody Harrelson was enyoungened for these first scenes, sporting a not at all convincing (probably intentionally so) wig and some sharp ‘70s threads.

Right off the bat, casting Tom Wopat as Roy Munson saves money in hair and makeup costs. Unlike Harrelson, Wopat still has a glorious mane of flowing hair, which, as seen in The Dukes of Hazzard, looks like ten million dollars with a ‘70s style job. Dukes showed, too, just how swell Wopat looks in the era’s fashion. He probably has clothes in his closet that are better and nicer than the costume Harrelson sports in this part of the flick. And they’re some really, really good costumes.

Later, after losing his bowling hand in a ball-return chute “accident” orchestrated by Big Ern (they really should put self-closing safety gates on those things), Munson is a bloated, balding shell of his former self. Wopat would’ve had to shave his head, which would have looked weird, but also more realistic than Harrelson’s earlier wig. Harrelson, being bald in real life, looks much more convincing here. I suspect, however, that the cost of shaving Tom Wopat’s head multiple times would’ve been less than that of the wig.

If you’re one of those disgusting ageists, you may argue against Wopat Munson on the grounds that Tom Wopat is a decade older than Woody Harrelson. While that is an accurate statement, I have a counterargument: so is Randy Quaid. In the film, Munson is “mentor” to Quaid’s Ishmael, and is, ostensibly, considerably older. However, Quaid is actually older than Harrelson by nine years, and Wopat by nearly a full year.

Quaid is, in fact, just ten days younger than Bill Murray, who plays his mentor’s mentor in the film and who would be, one would assume, potentially as much as decades older.

Nothing against Harrelson, but Wopat is a far, far more attractive fellow. For better or worse, this would make Munson more likeable, which would, in turn, make the character more sympathetic. Munson’s awful luck and deteriorated physical appearance are part of his sad sack charm—which he needs plenty of, as he’s a huge jerk for much of the film.

Photo credit: josephdevon via Scandinavian / CC BY-NC-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Drama, Television

Tom Wopat in: Game of Thrones

as: Ned Stark

In the blockbuster HBO series Game of Thrones (and the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin on which the show is based), Eddard “Ned” Stark, is the honorable, loyal, and just lord of Winterfell and warden of the North—a vast portion of the story’s fictional kingdom of Westeros. Originally portrayed by Sean Bean, Ned was the show’s moral center and nominally its main character throughout the first season. However (SPOILER ALERT for a 6-year-old TV episode and a nigh 20-plus-year-old book), in the series’ ninth episode, Ned is executed by the newly-appointed king of Westeros, Joffrey Baratheon.

Always the same weather report with this guy.

Always the same weather report with this guy.

Because Sean Bean’s characters always seem to die in every plum role he plays (see: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), we thought we’d give the poor guy a break and put someone else in the role, someone whose characters have never died onscreen. We are, of course, referring to the one and only Tom Wopat.

Representative Scene: Outside the Great Sept of Baelor

Ned Wopat, wrongly accused of treason, is forced to plead his case before Queen Cersei Baratheon (nee Lannister), her son Joffrey—who became king after the death of his father Robert—and the King’s Small Council. A huge throng of citizens from King’s Landing (the capitol of Westeros) has gathered to witness the spectacle.

Ned’s daughter, Sansa, has been captured by the Kingsguard—kind of the Westerosi Secret Service, but with a lot more swords and blatant, brutal murders of the King’s enemies. And, since King Joffrey is an insufferable little turd who orders killings left and right, those murders add up quickly. Learning that Sansa’s life is danger, and having struck something of a plea bargain with Cersei and Joffrey, Ned agrees to confess to his “crimes.”

Despite his confession, King Joffrey the Turd orders his goons to execute Ned Wopat anyway. Just as the executioner prepares to swing his sword and behead Ned, a trumpeter, previously hidden in the crowd, blasts out a rousing twelve-note call to arms. A Northern war wagon, painted bright orange, drawn by four of the mightiest chargers in all of Westeros, and driven by a hooded figure, comes barreling toward the sept. King’s Landingers diving out of its way as it speeds onward.

Ned kicks his would-be executioner’s legs out from under him, jumps to his feet, and dives into the cart as it passes. The hood of the driver’s cloak is blown back by the wind, and we see that it is his brother, Brandon Stark (played by John Schneider, naturally), who was long thought to be dead.

Brandon Schneider-Stark pilots the war wagon up the bed of a conveniently-placed-and-tilted-downward flatbed cart. With an exuberant “Yee-haw!” the Stark Boys, horses, and wagon ramp off the cart and fly through the air, up and over the walls of King’s Landing. They land perfectly on the other side, the horses hit the ground running, and they head due north to freedom.

Also, Sansa escapes somehow and meets up with them later.

Photo credit: Jedimentat44 via Foter.com / CC BY