Entertainment

The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
229.4k votes 19k voters 204.1k views 154 items

List Rules Pilot episodes only

Ranker Video Ranking The Top 10 Best TV Pilots Ever Made

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 ordered by
back to page 1
26
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
lemonhead added Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern
27
Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards
28
Moonlighting is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
lostshadow added Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley
29
Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
30
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell
31
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney
32
Freaks and Geeks is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco
33
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Teddy Dunn
34
The Simpsons is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner
35
Heroes is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Milo Ventimiglia
36
Scrubs is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke
37
Northern Exposure is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
penguinchick added Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin
38
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior
39
Pushing Daisies is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride
40
South Park is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman
41
24 is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard
42
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Linus added Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod
43
It's Always Sunny in Philadelp... is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney
44
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters
45
Modern Family is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Ed O'Neill, SofĂ­a Vergara, Julie Bowen
46
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff
47
Chuck is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
WarrenMitchell added Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Joshua Gomez
48
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
LanaYoshii added Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks
49
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton
50
Outlander is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Roseannadanna added Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies