The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots TV Programs

The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots

34,220 votes 3,445 voters 94,562 views 160 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Pilot episodes only

The greatest TV pilots of all-time are single episodes of television that introduced us to what would soon be iconic characters and casts. A TV pilot is the first episode of a TV sitcom, drama, cartoon, or even reality show that introduces the cast and story to audiences and asks them (in as little as 22 minutes) to stick around and watch the show throughout its run. While many of these shows are now considered to be among the best TV shows of all time, many didn't know they were watching the beginnings of history when they tuned in to these top TV pilot episodes.

Some of the greatest TV pilots featured things you didn't think you'd ever hear on television (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), the introduction of characters that would drive the top cult TV shows of all-time (Twin Peaks, The X-Files), and even moments in TV history that- even a decade before their release- would have been censored and disallowed from ever airing on television (The Following). These greatest TV pilots became some of the best TV shows currently on the air with some of the greatest TV characters ever.

What was the best TV pilot ever? That's what this list is here to help the TV viewing public decide. This list is a round-up of the best sitcom pilots, best sci-fi pilots, and the best drama pilots ever to make it to air on television. If you don't see your favorite TV pilot on the list, make sure to add it so it can compete for the #1 spot on the list of the all-time greatest TV pilots.


List Photo: user uploaded image
  • 64 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 798
    - 389

    most listed
    Yvonne Strahovski, Julie Benz, John Lithgow

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  2. 2
    + 918
    - 411


    Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Bob Odenkirk

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  3. 3
    + 653
    - 377

    often listed
    Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott

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  4. 4
    + 875
    - 501


    Evangeline Lilly, Ian Somerhalder, Michelle Rodriguez

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  5. 5
    + 751
    - 356


    Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer

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  6. 6
    + 814
    - 369

    ranked low on reranks
    Lauren Cohan, Andrew Lincoln, Laurie Holden

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  7. 7
    + 260
    - 299

    the people's #1 & often listed
    Kirstie Alley, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson

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  8. 8
    + 208
    - 182

    often listed & added by PeteBoyle
    Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon

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  9. 9
    + 265
    - 239

    often listed
    Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Jon Hamm

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  10. 10
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    - 335


    Charlize Theron, Ron Howard, Portia de Rossi

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  11. 11
    + 347
    - 251

    ranked low on reranks
    Heather Graham, Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke

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  12. 12
    + 448
    - 266


    Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris

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  13. 13
    + 408
    - 247


    Christina Hendricks, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin

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  14. 14
    + 235
    - 117

    added by isadora
    Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

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  15. 15
    + 319
    - 282

    often listed
    Heather Graham, Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn Boyle

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  16. 16
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    - 295


    Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch

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  17. 17
    + 341
    - 239


    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

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  18. 18
    + 70
    - 90

    often listed & added by lostshadow
    Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd, Curtis Armstrong

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  19. 19
    + 336
    - 262


    Grace Park, Lucy Lawless, Tricia Helfer

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  20. 20
    + 203
    - 118


    Steve Buscemi, Jamie Lynn Sigler, James Gandolfini

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  21. 21
    + 382
    - 237

    ranked low on reranks
    Katey Sagal, Frank Welker, Billy West

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  22. 22
    + 196
    - 194


    Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Lee Pace

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  23. 23
    + 175
    - 159


    Danica McKellar, Robin Thicke, Fred Savage

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  24. 24
    + 77
    - 92

    often listed & added by Linus
    Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman

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  25. 25
    + 63
    - 53

    added by lemonhead
    Paul Giamatti, Maggie Smith, Shirley MacLaine

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  26. 26
    + 213
    - 172


    Rob Lowe, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Sheen

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  27. 27
    + 227
    - 206


    James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel

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  28. 28
    + 304
    - 222

    ranked low on reranks
    Sofía Vergara, Sarah Hyland, Julie Bowen

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  29. 29
    + 230
    - 219

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Emma Stone, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Banks

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  30. 30
    + 312
    - 235


    Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Donald Glover

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  31. 31
    + 322
    - 230

    ranked low on reranks
    Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry

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  32. 32
    + 50
    - 40

    added by Roseannadanna
    Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Graham McTavish

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  33. 33
    + 197
    - 208


    Kristen Bell, Amanda Seyfried, Alyson Hannigan

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  34. 34
    + 44
    - 34

    added by penguinchick
    Teri Polo, Janine Turner, John Corbett

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  35. 35
    + 181
    - 170

    added by The Enforcer
    William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei

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  36. 36
    + 211
    - 193


    Elisha Cuthbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Janeane Garofalo

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  37. 37
    + 74
    - 87

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich A pair of deep-cover Soviet spies masquerades as a typical DC couple whose children, neighbors, coworkers & friends are completely unaware of their activities. At home, they're the stereotypical

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  38. 38
    + 98
    - 98


    Zooey Deschanel, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Nealon

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  39. 39
    + 233
    - 147

    ranked low on reranks
    Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, Ali Larter

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  40. 40
    + 26
    - 38
    Here Come the Brides

    often listed & added by mclewis
    Bruce Lee, Joan Blondell, David Soul

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  41. 41
    + 180
    - 159


    Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Deborah Ann Woll

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  42. 42
    + 102
    - 88

    added by Dismalhead
    Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton

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  43. 43
    + 189
    - 154


    Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton

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  44. 44
    + 73
    - 29

    added by SteveGraham
    Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Morrison, Hugh Laurie

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  45. 45
    + 170
    - 135

    added by NickMaes
    Tom Baker, Eric Roberts, Jon Pertwee

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  46. 46
    + 213
    - 173


    Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin, Damian Lewis

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  47. 47
    + 49
    - 23


    Alan Alda, Jamie Farr, Harry Morgan

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  48. 48
    + 96
    - 87


    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David

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  49. 49
    + 90
    - 108


    John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth

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  50. 50
    + 181
    - 156

    added by WarrenMitchell
    Yvonne Strahovski, Matt Bomer, Linda Hamilton

    ;
161 +

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