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.

  • 56 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 674
    - 300

    most listed
    Yvonne Strahovski, Julie Benz, Mos Def

    ) open buy at  
  2. 2
    + 749
    - 335

    Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito

    ) open buy at  
  3. 3
    + 554
    - 305

    Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott

    ) open buy at  
  4. 4
    + 716
    - 438

    Evangeline Lilly, Ian Somerhalder, Michelle Rodriguez

    ) open buy at  
  5. 5
    + 223
    - 239

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

    ) open buy at  
  6. 6
    + 667
    - 305

    Lauren Cohan, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln

    ) open buy at  
  7. 7
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    - 299

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

    ) open buy at  
  8. 8
    + 303
    - 205

    Heather Graham, Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke

    ) open buy at  
  9. 9
    + 58
    - 54

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

    ) open buy at  
  10. 10
    + 159
    - 139

    added by PeteBoyle
    Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon

    ) open buy at  
  11. 11
    + 224
    - 188

    Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Jon Hamm

    ) open buy at  
  12. 12
    + 413
    - 290

    ranked low on reranks
    Charlize Theron, Ron Howard, Portia de Rossi

    ) open buy at  
  13. 13
    + 365
    - 212

    Christina Hendricks, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin

    ) open buy at  
  14. 14
    + 63
    - 60

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

    ) open buy at  
  15. 15
    + 305
    - 228

    Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless

    ) open buy at  
  16. 16
    + 272
    - 250

    Heather Graham, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn

    ) open buy at  
  17. 17
    + 285
    - 212

    Gillian Anderson, Lucy Lawless, David Duchovny

    ) open buy at  
  18. 18
    + 170
    - 165

    often listed
    Kristin Chenoweth, Anna Friel, Lee Pace

    ) open buy at  
  19. 19
    + 353
    - 262

    Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch

    ) open buy at  
  20. 20
    + 370
    - 238

    ranked low on reranks
    Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris

    ) open buy at  
  21. 21
    + 44
    - 28

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

    ) open buy at  
  22. 22
    + 149
    - 138

    Robin Thicke, Fred Savage, Danica McKellar

    ) open buy at  
  23. 23
    + 267
    - 199

    Sofía Vergara, Sarah Hyland, Julie Bowen

    ) open buy at  
  24. 24
    + 158
    - 90

    added by isadora
    Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins

    ) open buy at  
  25. 25
    + 210
    - 199

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Emma Stone, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Banks

    ) open buy at  
  26. 26
    + 185
    - 149

    Mary-Louise Parker, Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen

    ) open buy at  
  27. 27
    + 348
    - 219

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

    ) open buy at  
  28. 28
    + 34
    - 12

    often listed & added by penguinchick
    Teri Polo, Janine Turner, John Corbett

    ) open buy at  
  29. 29
    + 285
    - 218

    Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs

    ) open buy at  
  30. 30
    + 164
    - 97

    Steve Buscemi, Jamie Lynn Sigler, James Gandolfini

    ) open buy at  
  31. 31
    + 204
    - 187

    James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel

    ) open buy at  
  32. 32
    + 167
    - 151

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

    ) open buy at  
  33. 33
    + 37
    - 20

    added by Roseannadanna
    Bill Paterson, Caitriona Balfe, Graham McTavish

    ) open buy at  
  34. 34
    + 26
    - 20

    added by mclewis
    Bruce Lee, Joan Blondell, Bobby Sherman

    ) open buy at  
  35. 35
    + 175
    - 184

    Kristen Bell, Amanda Seyfried, Alyson Hannigan

    ) open buy at  
  36. 36
    + 188
    - 172

    Elisha Cuthbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Lana Parrilla

    ) open buy at  
  37. 37
    + 58
    - 69

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich 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
  38. 38
    + 82
    - 85

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

    ) open buy at  
  39. 39
    + 149
    - 117

    added by NickMaes
    Eric Roberts, Tom Baker, Paul McGann

    ) open buy at  
  40. 40
    + 264
    - 211

    ranked low on reranks
    Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry

    ) open buy at  
  41. 41
    + 85
    - 72

    added by Dismalhead
    Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton

    ) open buy at  
  42. 42
    + 202
    - 133

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

    ) open buy at  
  43. 43
    + 160
    - 140

    Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood, Deborah Ann Woll

    ) open buy at  
  44. 44
    + 186
    - 158

    Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin, Damian Lewis

    ) open buy at  
  45. 45
    + 160
    - 141

    Emma Roberts, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton

    ) open buy at  
  46. 46
    + 154
    - 159

    Idris Elba, Bobby Brown, Method Man

    ) open buy at  
  47. 47
    + 79
    - 95

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth

    ) open buy at  
  48. 48
    + 157
    - 141

    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

    ) open buy at  
  49. 49
    + 125
    - 143

    Jeffrey Jones, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Paulson

    ) open buy at  
  50. 50
    + 182
    - 151

    Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell

    ) open buy at  
135 +

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