The Greatest TV Pilots Of All Time


Some great television shows pick up steam over the course of the first season, but with these shows, it was love at first sight. These television pilots subverted our expectations, made us laugh until we cried, and kept us on the edges of our seats.

On September 22, 2004, the J.J. Abrams television series Lost started off with jolting pilot episode that dominated water cooler talk for weeks. Viewers were given just a few seconds to breathe as the pilot opened with Dr. Jack Shepard lying on a beach before the show introduced the disorienting plane crash that sucked us into the sci-fi series.

The pilot alone was enough to get all the actors on board for the show, despite the fact that they were still unsure if it would succeed as a series. Matthew Fox, who played Jack, told Empire, “I got cast ten days before we started shooting, usually I read things before I go into meetings. But there was no script. When I did finally get to look at something, JJ put me in a room and proceeded to open the door every 20 minutes, saying, ‘What do you think? What do you think?’ I said, ‘You gotta let me finish!’ But I was blown away, from the first page. The image of a guy waking up in a bamboo forest, wearing a suit, was incredibly intriguing.”

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Caren Bowerman

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