The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots TV Programs

The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots

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38,412 views 88 items 14,913 votes 1,412 voters 38 followers 22reranks
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 Criteria: Pilot episodes only

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  Name
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  1. 1
    Up 386
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    the people's #1 &most listed
    Lost

    2004 More
    100
  2. 2
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    2008 More
    94
  3. 3
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    ranked high on reranks
    Dexter

    2006 More
    90
  4. 4
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    ranked low on reranks
    The Walking Dead

    2010 More
    89
  5. 5
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    ranked low on reranks
    Game of Thrones

    2011 More
    89
  6. 6
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    2002 More
    88
  7. 7
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    2010 More
    85
  8. 8
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    2003 More
    81
  9. 9
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    1999 More
    77
  10. 10
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Twin Peaks

    1990 More
    74
  11. 11
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    2004 More
    74
  12. 12
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    ranked low on reranks
    Community

    2009 More
    73
  13. 13
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    1993 More
    72
  14. 14
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    ranked high on reranks
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    1966 More
    70
    added by: The Enforcer
  15. 15
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    ranked high on reranks
    Freaks and Geeks

    1999 More
    70
  16. 16
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    ranked low on reranks
    How I Met Your Mother

    2005 More
    70
  17. 17
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Cheers

    1982 More
    69
  18. 18
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Modern Family

    2009 More
    69
  19. 19
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    often listed
    Friends

    1994 More
    68
  20. 20
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    ranked high on reranks
    The Big Bang Theory

    2007 More
    67
  21. 21
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    ranked low on reranks
    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    2005 More
    66
  22. 22
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    ranked low on reranks
    Scrubs

    2001 More
    65
  23. 23
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    ranked high on reranks
    Doctor Who

    1963 More
    65
    added by: NickMaes
  24. 24
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    2006 More
    64
  25. 25
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    2009 More
    64
  26. 26
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Veronica Mars

    2004 More
    61
  27. 27
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    The Wire

    2002 More
    61
  28. 28
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    controversial &ranked low on reranks
    30 Rock

    2006 More
    60
  29. 29
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    2007 More
    59
  30. 30
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    2007 More
    58
    added by: WarrenMitchell
  31. 31
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    1999 More
    58
  32. 32
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    ranked high on reranks
    Homeland

    2011 More
    57
  33. 33
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    ranked high on reranks
    The Wonder Years

    1988 More
    57
  34. 34
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    ranked low on reranks
    Deadwood

    2004 More
    55
  35. 35
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Fawlty Towers

    1975 More
    55
  36. 36
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    ranked low on reranks
    Pushing Daisies

    2007 More
    54
  37. 37
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    ranked high on reranks &controversial
    24

    2001 More
    53
  38. 38
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Friday Night Lights

    2006 More
    53
  39. 39
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    ranked low on reranks
    Fringe

    2008 More
    53
  40. 40
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    ranked low on reranks
    True Blood

    2008 More
    51
  41. 41
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Terra Nova

    2011 More
    50
    added by: Dismalhead
  42. 42
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    ranked high on reranks
    Angel

    1999 More
    50
    added by: bellaxox
  43. 43
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    often listed
    Dollhouse

    2009 More
    50
  44. 44
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    ranked low on reranks
    That '70s Show

    1998 More
    49
    added by: PeteBoyle
  45. 45
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    ranked low on reranks
    Justified

    2010 More
    49
  46. 46
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    1999 More
    48
  47. 47
    Up 39
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    2000 More
    47
  48. 48
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    ranked high on reranks
    The Americans

    1961 More
    47
    A pair of deep-cover Soviet spies masquerades as a typical DC couple whose children, ...
  49. 49
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    2005 More
    46
  50. 50
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    ranked high on reranks
    Babylon 5

    1994 More
    45
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