Updated: | Originally published:

It’s almost time for Game of Thrones to return for its final season.

After seven seasons of watching Daenerys transform from timid Targaryen pawn to khaleesi to Dragon Queen on Game of Thrones, it’s hard to imagine anyone else but Emilia Clarke pulling off the role. However, the Me Before You star apparently wasn’t even showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ first choice for the part.

In fact, several key Westerosi players — from Jon Snow to Catelyn Stark to Loras Tyrell — were nearly played by different actors, meaning the fabric of the hit HBO drama as fans know it had the potential to be drastically different.

See the full list of stars who were almost cast on Thrones below.


More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com and Elaine Selna at elaine.selna@time.com.

Read More From TIME