TV's 25 Best Pilot Episodes: Alias, ER, Lost, The O.C., Twin Peaks and More

Best TV Pilot Episodes

You only get one chance to make a first impression. That goes for TV, too, which is why a show’s pilot episode is so important.

These premiere installments have a heavy task to complete: They must establish the premise, characters, tone, look, sound and so much more. And while the majority of series either get a passing grade or, sadly, #fail, select comedies and dramas have exceeded expectations with truly standout first episodes.

Here, TVLine has gathered our picks for the 25 Best TV Pilot Episodes that have stood the test of time, delivering memorable stories, characters and surprises that left an indelible impression. Self-assured in their visions, these pilots felt like fully formed shows from the start and swiftly immersed viewers in their fictional worlds.

Our selections changed the game with unique formats (24), wowed with their scope (Lost) and unique styles (Pushing Daisies), and, simply put, captivated our attention. Another way to make your pilot stand out? Hook ’em with a well-executed twist, as several of the following shows did! It’s no wonder we immediately wanted to watch their second installments after the premieres.

Review TVLine’s alphabetical list of the 25 Best Pilot Episodes below, then hit the comments with your own favorites!

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