The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots TV Programs
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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.
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  1. 1
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    Yvonne Strahovski, Julie Benz, Mos Def

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  2. 2
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    most listed Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott

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  3. 3
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    Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito

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  4. 4
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Evangeline Lilly, Ian Somerhalder, Michelle Rodriguez

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  5. 5
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    Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln

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  6. 6
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    Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer

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  7. 7
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    the people's #1 & often listed Kirstie Alley, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer

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  8. 8
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    Charlize Theron, Ron Howard, Portia de Rossi

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  9. 9
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn

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  10. 10
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    ranked low on reranks Heather Graham, Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke

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  11. 11
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    often listed & added by PeteBoyle Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon

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  12. 12
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    Christina Hendricks, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin

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  13. 13
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    Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch

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  14. 14
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    Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris

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  15. 15
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    often listed & added by lostshadow Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd, Curtis Armstrong

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  16. 16
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    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

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  17. 17
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    Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Jon Hamm

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  18. 18
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    ranked low on reranks Katey Sagal, Frank Welker, Billy West

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  19. 19
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    added by isadora Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

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  20. 20
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    Sofía Vergara, Sarah Hyland, Julie Bowen

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  21. 21
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    Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless

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  22. 22
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    Emma Stone, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Banks

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  23. 23
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    James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel

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  24. 24
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    Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Lee Pace

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  25. 25
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    added by The Enforcer William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei

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  26. 26
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    often listed & added by Linus Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, Ed Asner

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  27. 27
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    ranked low on reranks Steve Buscemi, Jamie Lynn Sigler, James Gandolfini

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  28. 28
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    Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs

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  29. 29
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    added by NickMaes Eric Roberts, Tom Baker, Paul McGann

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  30. 30
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    Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry

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  31. 31
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    Elisha Cuthbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Lana Parrilla

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  32. 32
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    Idris Elba, Bobby Brown, Method Man

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  33. 33
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    ranked low on reranks Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, Ali Larter

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  34. 34
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    Mary-Louise Parker, Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen

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  35. 35
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    Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton

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  36. 36
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    Robin Thicke, Fred Savage, Danica McKellar

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  37. 37
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    Zooey Deschanel, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Nealon

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  38. 38
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    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

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  39. 39
    Up 31
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    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, ...

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  40. 40
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    ranked low on reranks Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell

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  41. 41
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    often listed & added by lemonhead Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Dylan Bruce

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  42. 42
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    Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin, Damian Lewis

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  43. 43
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    often listed & added by lemonhead Paul Giamatti, Shirley MacLaine, Maggie Smith

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  44. 44
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    added by WarrenMitchell Yvonne Strahovski, Matt Bomer, Linda Hamilton

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  45. 45
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    Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Deborah Ann Woll

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  46. 46
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    Timothy Olyphant, Alicia Witt, Natalie Zea

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  47. 47
    Up 68
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    Michael C. Hall, James Cromwell, Lauren Ambrose

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  48. 48
    Up 190
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    Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, Charlie Day

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  49. 49
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    Kristen Bell, Amanda Seyfried, Alyson Hannigan

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  50. 50
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    Jeffrey Jones, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Paulson

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