Skip Nav
Game of Thrones
55 Reactions We Had to Watching This Week's Absolutely Absurd Episode of Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones
Hold the Door — These 21 Game of Thrones Gifts Are So Cool, We Want Them For Ourselves
Entertainment News
TV Scorecard: Which Shows Have Been Renewed or Canceled in 2017?

Best TV Pilots of All Time

Are These the 10 Best TV Pilots of All Time?

About this time last year, I asked you to tell me which TV shows you thought had strong first episodes. This year, TV Guide has named its 10 favorite pilots of all time, and . . . let's just say I respectfully disagree.

Well, I can't quibble much with the magazine's No. 1 choice of Lost, a pilot many of you brought up last year. It's completely true that from the first minutes the show sucked viewers in (as TV Guide puts it) "like that dude who got too close to the engine." After that, though, things get a little wonky. Like, is it fair to put a pilot that never aired on the list, like the editors did with the Football Wives pilot (No. 7)? I know networks make mistakes, but if the show never made it to TV, the pilot couldn't have been that great.

Also sticking out to me: the 30 Rock pilot (decent, but that show didn't get really hilarious till about episode six) and Saturday Night Live (does that even count as a pilot?). I also think I'd put ER up further on the list and consider adding Grey's Anatomy, Twin Peaks, The West Wing, and/or Six Feet Under. What are your quibbles — and where do you agree? To see the whole top 10 list, just


  1. Lost
  2. 24
  3. The Shield
  4. The Sopranos
  5. 30 Rock
  6. Football Wives
  7. Desperate Housewives
  8. Saturday Night Live
  9. ER
  10. Alias
  11. Source

Join The Conversation
Allytta Allytta 8 years
oops, six :D what am i thinking of?
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i love sex feet unde,r but it took me 6 years to get into it. i mean i watched the whole series this summer, but before that i found it appauling. and even this summer the pilot didn't do anything for me, but i decided to stick to it. i agree with lost, that pilot was the start of my addiction, i'm on my 94 tv show during the past 2 years...
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 8 years
I totally agree about the X-Files Pilot lilpeapod! :-D
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
I agree with Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Alias. I also really liked the pilots to Friends, Pushing Daisies, Grey's Anatomy, and Gilmore Girls. No pilots are perfect though, and there were a lot of changes that were made after the pilots came out (Gilmore Girls' Star Hollows scenery was different and Friends had horrible cinematography in the pilot). I have never seen My So-Called Life and it is SO hyped about around here. I'll have to check it out one of these days.
Phil Phil 8 years
Lost, 24 and Alias are right on in their list, but I wonder where's "Life On Mars," "Cupid" (which didn't really get the viewers in its 1998 run but still showed the world the incredible writing talent of Rob Thomas and comedic mastery of Jeremy Piven), and Sports Night (which was just incredible all around!). I agree with a lot of the folks that gave mention to "Pushing Daisies" and "Twin Peaks." Also, why has no one mentioned the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT pilot?! Come on!
kristyrk kristyrk 8 years
I'm just not a Lost fan, so I don't quite get how that is #1, but Six Feet Under is missing?! Come on. And whoever said My So Called Life: High Five. Oh, and correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't The X Files pilot pretty dope? It's all a little hazy that far back :)
suziryder suziryder 8 years
Oo penguins I agree with you about My So-Called Life!! Good call :) Lost and Sopranoes had awesome pilots. I don't think Football Wives or SNL should be on this list. Desperate Housewives also had a great pilot. 30 Rock's pilot wasn't all that great, and shouldn't be that high up on the list... And aaaugh! I can't remember the Alias pilot at all! I was so obsessed with that show for a while...
ladybirda ladybirda 8 years
Definitely the OC and Veronica Mars, and of course My So Called Life as well. Just today I caught myself almost saying "You will have such a time!"
Allyace Allyace 8 years
schnappycat -- I thought the pilot for 30 Rock was horrible too and stopped watching. I think I even changed the channel part way through the episode. I did watch a few of the newer episodes during the writer's strike and it was better, but I still don't get the hype.
Allyace Allyace 8 years
I would put Pushing Daisies VERY high on the list. LOST would still be my #1 though. The first episode of The Wire is amazing too (not that anyone should be surprise with how great the rest of the show is!). The others I would thrown in there are Weeds and My So Called Life. I don't know that I would put Heroes in the top 10 but it would be somewhere near the top.
hayworthgilda hayworthgilda 8 years
Friday Night Lights, Veronica Mars, Twin Peaks, and West Wing are all missing. Happy to see Alias, Lost, and ER on the list. OC should have an honorable mention :)
penguins268 penguins268 8 years
The pilot for 'My So-Called Life' was amazing. Some of the best quotes come from that episode.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 8 years
I'm always partial to SFU, but to be fair, I don't think I haven't seen most of these pilots. I'd also consider putting Reaper on there- the pilot was the most promising thing about that show.
intensebandgeek intensebandgeek 8 years
Definitely agree with LOST, but not much else.
kea718 kea718 8 years
I agree 100% with nancita. The Twin Peaks pilot was WOWWW!!!!
lily8206 lily8206 8 years
The only pilots I've seen from that list are Lost and 24 so I guess I can't really comment on the rest. The only show I can think of where I raved about the pilot was Lost - so that's the show that would get my vote.
nancita nancita 8 years
Twin Peaks!
Jabbadoo Jabbadoo 8 years
Lost really was a great pilot. I've never been so captured in the first 3 minutes of a new show. It also set up the long opening.. usually you could muddle around while the opening credits roll and get all settled in to view and not miss anything by minute five. With Lost, almost every episode has something major happening in the first 60 seconds, and doesn't break until 6-8 minutes into the show. WHERE OH WHERE IS MY BELOVED LOST... COME BACK COME BACK! (Ok yes, I'm one of THOSE Lost people) I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've never seen a single episode of Alias... I'm putting that series on my list for winter viewing.
ldekosky ldekosky 8 years
Veronica Mars and Alias... can't believe some of the others.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Of course Lost is #1 as it should be.
SassAndBide SassAndBide 8 years
Yes, Alias :woohoo:
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
I definitely think Lost is deserving of the #1 spot. I wouldn't watch it for along time because I didn't want to be one of those Lost weirdos, but after that one episode I totally AM one of thos lost weirdos haha
dlm dlm 8 years
Please, Alias should be #1.
White Walker Dragon on Game of Thrones Reactions
Longclaw Sword Detail on Game of Thrones Season 7
American Horror Story: Cult Opening Credits
Jon's History With the Night King on Game of Thrones
From Our Partners
Latest Entertainment
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds