18 TV Pilots That Were Absolute Perfection

Sometimes when you go back and watch the first few episodes of a television show you’ve grown to love, you realize it didn’t start out so strong. The story might have wandered, the characters might have taken awhile to settle in, and on and on.

Some pilots are so strong that you know you’ve got something special – but you also know you’ve got nowhere to go but down, which can be rough.

Here are 18 pilots that definitely hit it out of the park.

18. It ended in flames.

Image Credit: BBC America

BBC’s Sherlock

It started well, but they tried to get too clever. The last series was unwatchable

17. The show not the explosion.

Image Credit: HBO


It was brilliant but scarred for life after it. Couldn’t do that to myself again.

16. So quotable.

Image Credit: Cartoon Network


15. It went downhill from there.

Image Credit: Fox

Lost. Can’t believe I’m the first one to have written it.

The dude who greenlit the budget for it got fired because it was so ridiculously expensive for the time. Now the budget seems standard after GoT and such, but back then it was the most expensive pilot ever made.

14. Soooo funny.

Image Credit: Netflix

Derry Girls

Most sitcom first episodes (seasons too?) have to do so much table setting that they’re not funny.

This first episode established the settings, characters, and was funny too.

13. A strong introduction.

Image Credit: Amazon Prime

I love introduction people to The Boys, just for their reaction to the first episode.

I didn’t think I would be all that I to the show until I finally sat down and watched the first episode.

It took me like three weeks to be caught up to now.

12. Long enough to make a point.

Image Credit: HBO

The Newsroom.

The rest of the series doesn’t really hold that standard but that first episode is great.

11. It was riveting.

Image Credit: AMC

The Walking Dead.

I think the first 4 episodes are up there for best debut of a new show all time.

10. That’s its whole job.

Image Credit: Netflix

Ozark the first episode gets you hooked.

9. Ok in my book.

Image Credit: Showtime

Dead Like Me.

Any show that has it’s main character killed by a flaming toilet seat falling from space within the first ten minutes is okay in my book.

8. A masterpiece.

Image Credit: NBC

The West Wing.

The entire show was a masterpiece for me, even after Sorkin left. Easily my most rewatched series.

7. Unironically.

Image Credit: Netflix

Attack on Titan unironically.

Immediately sets the tone and gives you the first wave of questions you want answered.

6. The whole first season.

Image Credit: NBC

Hannibal sets up the tone for the whole show quite well.

The first season of Hannibal is one of my favorite tv seasons ever and that first episode is flawless

5. It wobbled a bit after that.

Image Credit: NBC

Heroes started off really strongly.

Save the cheerleader, save the world.

4. Right out of the gate.

Image Credit: NBC

The good place.

This is especially striking because sitcoms are notorious for having ‘meh’ pilots at best, even the ones that become classics.

Sitcoms always seem to take time to get the characters rifing well together and for the writing to align to their characters’ energy.

But The Good Place was straight hysterical right out of the gate!

3. Hooked me hard.

Image Credit: HBO

I watched the first episode of Westworld and then immediately made a group of friends watch it. It hooked me hard.

It is a shame the later seasons couldn’t (to me) hold on to the same magic as that first season.

2. A ton of credit.

Image Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones for sure.

The creators deserve a ton of credit for that pilot. That could have easily been a disaster that was impossible to follow with all the characters introduced. But it worked.

I had not read the books and knew nothing about the show when I first watched it, and while maybe I wasn’t quite getting everything (I kind of remember not understanding who Theon was for awhile), by and large I was able to keep up.

Meanwhile, they didn’t have to significantly dumb it down and enrage those who were fans of the books.

1. We all knew.

Image Credit: AMC

Breaking Bad! has a really strong opening.

When it started with a middle aged man driving an old ass RV through the desert in his underwear I knew it was going to be good

I’m off to watch the ones that I’ve yet to treat myself too, but what shows would you add to this list?

I want to hear about them in the comments!