tv The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots

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List Rules 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.

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Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

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Dexter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

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Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington

4
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The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

5
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Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

6
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Lost is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Lost Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

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Cheers is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Cheers Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

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The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The X-Files David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

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That '70s Show is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
That '70s Show Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Mila Kunis

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Futurama is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Futurama Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal

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Firefly is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Firefly Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

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Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Supernatural Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jim Beave

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The Big Bang Theory is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Big Bang Theory Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco

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Scrubs is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Scrubs Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke

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+ - 893 761
Arrested Development is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Arrested Development Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi

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The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Sopranos James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

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How I Met Your Mother is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
How I Met Your Mother Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders

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Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick

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Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Mad Men Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

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House is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
House Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

21
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Friends is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Friends Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow

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Freaks and Geeks is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Freaks and Geeks Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco

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Moonlighting is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Moonlighting Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley

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The Wonder Years is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Wonder Years Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Daniel Stern

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Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Battlestar Galactica Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

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True Blood is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
True Blood Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

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The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The West Wing Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney

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Pushing Daisies is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Pushing Daisies Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride

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Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Star Trek: The Original Series William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

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Modern Family is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Modern Family Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen

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+ - 241 406
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

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Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Sons of Anarchy Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Mary Tyler Moore Show Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod

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30 Rock is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
30 Rock Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan

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American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
American Horror Story Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett

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Heroes is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Heroes Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Milo Ventimiglia

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Community is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Community Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover

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M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
M*A*S*H Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

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+ - 338 329
Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Seinfeld Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards

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Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Matt Smith

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+ - 306 295
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Star Trek: The Next Generation Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

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+ - 366 496
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Veronica Mars Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring

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Weeds is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Weeds Mary-Louise Parker, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould

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The Americans is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Americans Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Holly Taylor - 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 parents of stereotypical kids; at ...

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24 is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
24 Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

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Northern Exposure is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Northern Exposure Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin

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+ - 386 431
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Homeland Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

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+ - 181 301
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Outlander Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

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Chuck is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Chuck Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Joshua Gomez

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The Simpsons is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Simpsons Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner