best TV The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots  

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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

1
5,041 2,756
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

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2
3,304 3,188
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

3
4,918 1,965
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke

4
3,784 2,542
Lost is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Lost Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia

5
4,780 1,977
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies

6
2,676 2,188
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

7
1,325 2,059
Cheers is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Cheers Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

8
2,831 1,689
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Firefly Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

9
2,171 1,589
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The X-Files David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

10
1,594 1,686
That '70s Show is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
PeteBoyle added That '70s Show Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Mila Kunis

11
1,925 1,310
Supernatural is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
isadora added Supernatural Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy

12
1,684 1,464
Arrested Development is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Arrested Development Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi

13
1,437 1,041
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Sopranos James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

14
2,173 1,300
Futurama is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Futurama Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal

15
1,444 1,312
Scrubs is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Scrubs Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke

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16
1,765 1,523
The Big Bang Theory is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Big Bang Theory Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco

17
1,248 1,367
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn

18
958 1,359
Mad Men is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Mad Men Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser

19
1,469 1,173
Friends is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Friends Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow

20
1,604 1,363
How I Met Your Mother is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
How I Met Your Mother Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders

21
1,285 826
House is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
SteveGraham added House Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard

22
1,291 1,167
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Battlestar Galactica Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

23
1,051 1,084
Freaks and Geeks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Freaks and Geeks Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, James Franco

24
1,198 1,242
The West Wing is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The West Wing Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney

25
898 964
The Wonder Years is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Wonder Years Fred Savage, Dan Lauria, Daniel Stern

26
494 980
Moonlighting is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
lostshadow added Moonlighting Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley

27
865 551
M*A*S*H is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
M*A*S*H Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swi

28
986 948
True Blood is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
True Blood Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

29
857 791
Star Trek: The Original Series is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Star Trek: The Original Series William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

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30
530 922
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
lemonhead added Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

31
667 1,098
Pushing Daisies is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Pushing Daisies Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride

32
985 978
Modern Family is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Modern Family Ed O'Neill, Sofía Vergara, Julie Bowen

33
746 684
Star Trek: The Next Generation is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Dismalhead added Star Trek: The Next Generation Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes

34
1,079 804
Heroes is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Heroes Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Milo Ventimiglia

35
1,139 753
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Sons of Anarchy Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior

36
774 733
Seinfeld is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Seinfeld Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards

37
666 950
30 Rock is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
30 Rock Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan

38
856 763
Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
NickMaes added Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith

39
376 833
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Linus added The Mary Tyler Moore Show Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod

40
1,076 739
American Horror Story is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
American Horror Story Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters

41
621 739
Weeds is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Weeds Mary-Louise Parker, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould

42
771 953
Community is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Community Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover

43
715 837
24 is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
24 Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

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44
468 770
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Americans Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Maximiliano Hernández - 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 parents of stereotypical ...

45
570 947
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Veronica Mars Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring

46
734 353
The Simpsons is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
The Simpsons Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner

47
391 705
Northern Exposure is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
penguinchick added Northern Exposure Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin

48
655 784
Chuck is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
WarrenMitchell added Chuck Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Joshua Gomez

49
622 816
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
Homeland Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend

50
722 360
South Park is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The All-Time Greatest TV Pilots
South Park Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman