The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots TV Programs
0Ultimate List
tags 25,390 votes 2,441 voters 77,704 views 107 items f p @

The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots

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.
  • 48 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
L The List
Z
B Comments
& Embed
G Options
2rerank list
  1. 1
    + 588
    - 244

    most listed Yvonne Strahovski, Julie Benz, Mos Def

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 671
    - 275

    Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 492
    - 254

    Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 633
    - 397

    Evangeline Lilly, Ian Somerhalder, Michelle Rodriguez

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 586
    - 264

    Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 195
    - 199

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

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 568
    - 252

    ranked low on reranks Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 137
    - 107

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

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 43
    - 24

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

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 248
    - 228

    often listed Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 336
    - 189

    Christina Hendricks, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 266
    - 176

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

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 381
    - 274

    Charlize Theron, Ron Howard, Portia de Rossi

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 188
    - 167

    often listed Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Jon Hamm

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 272
    - 213

    Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 321
    - 233

    Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 330
    - 212

    Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 244
    - 199

    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 191
    - 184

    Emma Stone, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Banks

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 40
    - 47

    often listed & added by Linus Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, Ed Asner

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 328
    - 204

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

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 29
    - 11

    often listed & added by lemonhead Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Dylan Bruce

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 125
    - 76

    added by isadora Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 148
    - 149

    Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Lee Pace

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 179
    - 180

    James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 239
    - 187

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

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 25
    - 13

    added by lemonhead Paul Giamatti, Shirley MacLaine, Maggie Smith

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 147
    - 139

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

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 128
    - 130

    Robin Thicke, Fred Savage, Danica McKellar

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 165
    - 161

    Elisha Cuthbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Lana Parrilla

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 265
    - 211

    Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 141
    - 88

    ranked low on reranks Steve Buscemi, Jamie Lynn Sigler, James Gandolfini

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 17
    - 7

    added by mclewis Bruce Lee, Joan Blondell, Bobby Sherman

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 43
    - 59

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Keri Russell, Noah Emmerich, John McIntire 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

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 132
    - 106

    added by NickMaes Eric Roberts, Tom Baker, Paul McGann

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 66
    - 74

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Zooey Deschanel, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Nealon

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 154
    - 142

    Mary-Louise Parker, Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 238
    - 198

    Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 183
    - 123

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

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 147
    - 149

    Idris Elba, Bobby Brown, Method Man

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 141
    - 131

    Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 148
    - 175

    Kristen Bell, Amanda Seyfried, Alyson Hannigan

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 142
    - 127

    Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Deborah Ann Woll

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 162
    - 149

    Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin, Damian Lewis

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 144
    - 134

    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 15
    - 7

    added by Roseannadanna Bill Paterson, Caitriona Balfe, Graham McTavish

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 175
    - 141

    Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 71
    - 63

    added by Dismalhead Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 147
    - 133

    added by WarrenMitchell Yvonne Strahovski, Matt Bomer, Linda Hamilton

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 75
    - 71

    Michael C. Hall, James Cromwell, Lauren Ambrose

    ) open
108 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options 2 Rerank List B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >

viewers of this list also saw...

more popular lists