20 TV Show Pilots That Are Totally Flawless

When it came to starting strong, these shows didn't disappoint.

Alias Jennifer Garner
ABC

Recently, Seinfeld finally made its way onto Netflix, promising to introduce a whole new generation of audiences to the unethical and hilarious world of the New York Four. The only problem? They're going to have to sit through its famously bland pilot.

Featuring little of the sitcom's trademark humour and unrecognisable characters, Seinfeld got off to such a poor start that the first season only aired five episodes, and Larry David was forced to seriously rejig the show's tone and character line-up.

Unfortunately, Seinfeld is only one of many shows that has started out unsure of their identity, and terrible pilots are so common that it's worryingly rare for one to kick things off on the right foot.

Of course, TV shows are bound to change over time, and the pilot by definition is there to help the writers work out how to proceed with their vision, but even so it's quite remarkable how so many pilots drop the ball and leave the rest of their shows with a weak foundation.

With that in mind - since here at WhatCulture we've already taken a dive into great finales - this list will focus on 20 rare TV show pilots that are totally, 100% flawless.

20. Truth Be Told - Alias

Alias Jennifer Garner
ABC

Created by filmmaker J. J. Abrams, Alias was a show that thrived on fast-paced and action-heavy storylines, and loved to end on a maddening cliffhanger. These traits are clear for the get-go, when the show's first episode introduces Jennifer Garner's CIA agent Sydney Bristow and throws her head-first into a deadly conspiracy.

Truth Be Told holds nothing back. It introduces Sydney as a tough spy with a big heart, and then spends the next hour systematically breaking it and turning her life upside down. She loses her boyfriend, is confronted by her estranged father, and learns her employers the SD-6 are actually a terror cell.

Soaring with Garner's star-making performance and Abrams' focussed direction, the episode promises big things to come whilst setting up countless mysteries and relationships. It's gutsy, slick, and utterly original, and serves as a reminder all these years later of just how great Alias was during its run.

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