Starting a new television show can sometimes be quite a journey. Some shows begin firing on all cylinders right out of the gate and become critically acclaimed like Heroes. Shows can also start brilliantly and quickly burned themselves until they turn into a shadow of their former self also see Heroes. But I find in most cases of television shows (at least the ones I watch) they usually start okay enough, and then there’s a turning point in said show that makes it great see Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Parks and Recreation.
I’ll be talking more about turning points in television shows soon, but first I wanted to go back down memory lane and discover what my favorite pilot episodes of shows that were always consistently great in my opinion. Pilot episodes are hard to do I would imagine they have to set up the premise of the entire series while being a captivating episode to watch in its own right. But I managed to find some pilots that check all the boxes including setting the show’s premise up while also being interesting at the same time.
Absentia – Comeback
Absentia falls under the radar of great streaming shows, but it shouldn’t be. It has one of the best pilot episodes I’ve seen from a streaming show. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, easy to get invested into, and by definition, it fires on all cylinders. And season one and season two is just as good as the pilot episode that began the show. I’m looking forward to watching season three.
Alias – Truth Be Told
Alias’s pilot is everything you wanted from a pilot episode in my opinion. In fact, I believe it’s one of the best pilot episodes I have ever seen. I won’t spoil, but the amount of stuff it manages to fit into an hour-long episode is impressive. But it also never feels overcrowded or overwhelming. Everything that happens in the pilot episode feels like it happens naturally. A great pilot episode that sets the tone for the rest of the season and series.
Chuck – Chuck Versus the Intersect
This is the most recent pilot episode I have seen because I just watched the first season of Chuck for the first time. The premise of Chuck is pretty ridiculous at least that was my mindset when I first heard it, but the pilot episode makes the premise more so charming than it is ridiculous. The episode is fun to watch and has some great humor that makes the episode itself entertaining to watch while doing a great job of setting up the rest of the show.
Friday Night Lights – Pilot
Friday Night Lights’ pilot is the most emotional pilot on this entire list. I won’t explain why because of spoilers, but you know you have a good pilot on your hands when you’re immediately invested in the characters. So invested that the ending may make you cry if you were anywhere as invested as I was. An incredible pilot for an incredible show.
Prison Break – Pilot
The first episode of Prison Break is what you want from a pilot episode. I left watching Prison Break wanting to watch more of it and that’s what makes a great pilot episode. Wanting to come back to a show because it captured your attention enough that you want to invest more time into it. Prison Break’s first episode has plenty of intrigues that sets the tone for what’s to come.
The Boys – The Name of The Game
Within the first 10 minutes of the first episode of The Boys, you know exactly what kinda show it is. It’s full of gore, vulgar, and is unlike any other superhero show you have seen before. I love how the episode subverts any expectations you have for the series and never stops. It’s a fantastic pilot.
The O.C. – Pilot
The O.C. has one of the best pilots for a teen drama. Mainly because it has one of the best premises for a teen soap opera. A troubled teen gets adopted by a wealthy family that ends up disturbing the status quo of the community. It’s still a teen drama so it includes all the cliches you would expect from a teen drama. But the pilot episode injects a welcome dose of humor unlike. Setting it apart from all the other teen dramas.
This Is Us – Pilot
This Is Us is such a warm show. It’s both a heartbreaking and hopeful show and the pilot episode captures every bit of those emotions in the pilot episode. It also ends the episode with the show’s famous twist ending. Something that the show continues to do over the course of the four seasons the show has run. The pilot episode captures exactly what This Is Us the show is all about.
White Collar – Pilot
The pilot episode of White Collar truly surprised me in how much it gets off the show’s premise across and how flawlessly it’s done. You watch the pilot and you know exactly what you’ll be getting from the show itself. And just like with any great pilot the show builds upon it brilliantly and improves the landscape the pilot sets up.
Veronica Mars – Pilot
And last but certainly not least, Veronica Mars carves out a well written and well-crafted pilot episode. It subverts any expectations you may have for a show about a teenage girl as a detective. This isn’t the Nancy Drew show you may have expected. The pilot episode alone discusses class, privilege, sexual assault, and of course murder. A striking pilot episode that quickly undermines any assumptions you may have had about the series.
What are your favorite pilot episodes of all television shows you’ve seen?