Best Drama Series with Horrible Pilot Episodes

Creating a brand new drama series, whether it uses other genres or stays purely in the drama category, is never easy. It is necessary to not only determine what the audience and the network want to watch, but also to ensure that the show works as a whole.

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As many shows have proven, even a bad initial impression doesn’t mean the show can’t become a huge hit. Sometimes it just takes a show a little longer to find the right direction, and as a result, the pilot episode feels all the weaker in comparison. Luckily, several shows more than made up for in later episodes and got really great.

seven Doctor Who

christopher eccleston 9th doctor who tardis
Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor with his TARDIS

Every show has to start somewhere, and legendaries like Doctor Who are no exception. While Christopher Eccleston does a great job early on and his doctor has both the charisma and gravitas to be believable and likable, the story itself isn’t the best.

The Doctor and Rose take on the Autons, who seem more funny than terrifying…although the people caught in the crossfire probably thought otherwise. The Ninth Doctor then had some really good episodes, such as The empty child and The doctor dances, so his first adventure pales in comparison.


6 star trek

star trek cage

Many star trek the series has improved over time, especially the original star trek series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. In TOS, the pilot episode runs with another captain and keeps a slow pace, unlike later episodes with William Shatner’s Captain Kirk.

Christopher Pike’s pilot isn’t entirely bad, but the characters aren’t fleshed out yet, and the show won’t really get great until it dives deep into the friendship between Kirk and Spock. However, the first episode is still worth watching, especially if audiences want to compare it with later stories and also want to see the later stoic Vulcan Spock smile.

5 buffy the vampire slayer

buffy the vampire slayer

Thousands of fans love Buffy to this day, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the first episode isn’t nearly as exciting as what followed. Once the characters and the relationships between them were established, it was more fun to watch the show and enjoy its episodes that were often dark and serious, but also sometimes funny and lighthearted.

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Globally, buffy the vampire slayer is a classic for a reason, but the pilot episode doesn’t stand out from the competition, and the somewhat questionable fight scenes don’t help. As the choreography of the fight scenes between Buffy and her enemies improved, so did the show.

4 X files


X files was another classic show that its fans love and also didn’t start out with a bang. Again, it took a while to fully establish who Mulder and Scully were and to create the intriguing dynamic between them.

The first episode has a slower pace, and the mystery at the heart of it just isn’t as interesting as many future cases the duo would face. When Scully and Mulder got to know each other better, that’s when the show became legendary. So much so that Mulder and Scully even returned for two new seasons in 2016 and 2018.

3 Agents of SHIELD

Agents of Shield

The first episode of later success Agents of SHIELD tried to introduce too many characters at once, bringing them all into action at once. This made it hard to even start dealing with any of them, with the sole exception of Phil Coulson, who had a role in the MCU movies before.

Luckily for the show, it then found its footing as it took the time to build the characters and also blend action and drama more cohesively. Some fans think the show only got great in the second season when it delved even deeper into Hydra’s activities.

2 The Walking Dead

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

Despite its early success, The Walking DeadThe first episode was just a promise of better things to come. It took a while to establish what was going on and bring all the necessary characters onto the scene. As a result, the first episode was surprisingly slow and uninspiring compared to later ones.

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The characterization also leaves a lot to be desired, and viewers don’t fear for the characters just yet since they haven’t had time to start dealing with them in the first episode yet.

1 Supernatural

supernatural batman cw sam dean

Supernatural became one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time, but like many great hits, it wasn’t always so strong. The show’s initial concept worked with the Case of the Week scheme, which turned out not to work as well as the later villains’ return scheme.

Also, in the pilot episode, the brotherly bond between Sam and Dean was not yet realistic as it would be in later episodes and seasons. The more details viewers learned about the heroes, the more they grew to love them, and the quality and popularity of the show increased accordingly.

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