An ancient order who guard the Wall to the North of Westeros – The Knight’s Watch – discover a supernatural creature, previously thought to be mythical, known as a White Walker, in the forest.
Elsewhere, Ned Stark (played by Sean Bean) is the Warden of the North and leaves his home in Winterfell with daughters Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to become Hand of the King for King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) after the sudden death of Jon Arryn, the previous Hand of the King.
The family of Robert’s wife, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), are allegedly responsible for the death of the previous Hand of the King.
In a visit from the Lannister’s to the North, Ned’s son Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is climbing in the grounds and sees Cersei in bed with her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who then throws him from a tower window – leaving Bran paralysed.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) travels with Ned’s b*stard son Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) to discover more about the White Walker incident reported by the Night’s Watch. Jon decides to become a brother of the Night’s Watch and stays on with the order.
Tyrion is arrested at the request of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who believes him responsible for Bran’s fall, triggering a trial by combat to secure his release.
Tyrion is imprisoned in the Vale under the watchful eye of Catelyn’s sister Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) and requests Bronn (Jerome Flynn) fight for him in the trial. Born subsequently defeats Lysa’s chosen champion.
Robert is fatally injured in a suspicious hunting accident prompting Ned to be named Protector of the Realm until Cersei’s vicious son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) comes of age.
Ned, however, decides to give Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), the king’s estranged brother, the position in his stead. Ned is betrayed by Lord Petyr Baelish known as Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) and decapitated on Joffrey’s command.
Sansa Stark is seized by the Lannisters, but Arya manages to escape after witnessing her father’s execution.
In retaliation, Ned’s son Robb (Richard Madden) is named King of Winterfell and gathers the armies of the North against the Lannisters.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo (Jason Mamoa) marries Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
She believes herself the true heir to the Iron Throne and plots an assault on Westeros, but her husband Drogo is killed after being cursed. Daenerys avenges him and hatches three dragon eggs presented to her as a wedding gift.