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.

Twin Peaks

When the now classic David Lynch and Mark Frost created series Twin Peaks debuted in the spring of 1990, there was nothing else like it on television. The set-up may seem like a rote, police procedural: an FBI agent travels to a small town to investigate the murder of a beautiful teenage girl.


After pitching the concept for the show to ABC, they asked David Lynch and Mark Frost to create a screenplay. While Frost focused more on creating the verbal characters, Lynch was hard at work developing Agent Dale Cooper, who Lynch notes, “says a lot of the things I say.” They were given a $1.8 million budget to film the pilot, which ended up being two hours long.