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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    the people's #1 & most listed Evangeline Lilly, Ian Somerhalder, Michelle Rodriguez

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  2. 2
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    ranked low on reranks Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito

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  3. 3
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    Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott

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  4. 4
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    Yvonne Strahovski, Julie Benz, Mos Def

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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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    Christina Hendricks, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin

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  8. 8
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    Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch

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  9. 9
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    Charlize Theron, Ron Howard, Portia de Rossi

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  10. 10
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    Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris

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  11. 11
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    Katey Sagal, Frank Welker, Billy West

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  12. 12
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    Sofía Vergara, Sarah Hyland, Julie Bowen

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  13. 13
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    Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn

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  14. 14
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    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

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  15. 15
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    ranked high on reranks Kirstie Alley, Woody Harrelson, Kelsey Grammer

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  16. 16
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    Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless

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  17. 17
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    Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs

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  18. 18
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    added by PeteBoyle Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon

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  19. 19
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    James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel

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  20. 20
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    ranked low on reranks Heather Graham, Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke

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  21. 21
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    Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry

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  22. 22
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    added by isadora Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

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  23. 23
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    added by The Enforcer William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei

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  24. 24
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    added by NickMaes Eric Roberts, Tom Baker, Paul McGann

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  25. 25
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    Elisha Cuthbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Lana Parrilla

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  26. 26
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    Mary-Louise Parker, Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen

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  27. 27
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    Idris Elba, Bobby Brown, Method Man

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  28. 28
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    Emma Stone, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Banks

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  29. 29
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    ranked low on reranks Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, Ali Larter

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  30. 30
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    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

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  31. 31
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    ranked low on reranks Steve Buscemi, Jamie Lynn Sigler, James Gandolfini

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  32. 32
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    Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton

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  33. 33
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    added by WarrenMitchell Yvonne Strahovski, Matt Bomer, Linda Hamilton

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  34. 34
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    Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, Charlie Day

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  35. 35
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    Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell

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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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    Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Deborah Ann Woll

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  38. 38
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    Kristen Bell, Amanda Seyfried, Alyson Hannigan

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  39. 39
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    Minka Kelly, Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki

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  40. 40
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    Timothy Olyphant, Alicia Witt, Natalie Zea

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  41. 41
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    ranked low on reranks Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Jon Hamm

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  42. 42
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    added by bellaxox Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Amy Acker

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  43. 43
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    Jeremy Hotz, Peter Keleghan, Karen Hines

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  44. 44
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    Jeffrey Jones, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Paulson

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  45. 45
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    Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Lee Pace

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  46. 46
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    often listed & added by Dismalhead Jason O'Mara, Stephen Lang, Christine Adams

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  47. 47
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    Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman

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  48. 48
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    Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin, Damian Lewis

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  49. 49
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    John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth

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  50. 50
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    Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, Rachel Nichols

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