A ranking of the 10 best pilots from Netflix Originals, including Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Ozark and more.
You know what they say about first impressions? It applies to TV shows more than anything, since the strength of the pilot determines whether or not it becomes a full-fledged series. Some pilots become more famous than the rest of the show (i.e. Lost and Twin Peaks), but nowadays, their main purpose is to offer a small taste of what’s to come.
Original series have become Netflix’s lifeblood, and the reason why people keep coming back to it. Whether it’s a dark, brooding drama like House of Cards or Ozark, a refreshing sitcom like One Day at a Time or Grace and Frankie, or a comic-book adaptation like Daredevil or Jessica Jones, their catalog has something for everyone.
Some people joke that they’ll greenlight anything, but pilots matter as much to Netflix as any other network. However, since they release their entire season for viewers to binge, viewers can sample multiple episodes rather than just the first before they decide to call it quits.
But the mark of a truly great pilot is when it hooks the viewer right away that they have no choice but to keep bingeing. They also set the tone perfectly so you know what type of show you’re watching. That doesn’t mean shows can’t stray from their first episode, but they’d better have a good reason to do so.
When it comes to these 10 shows, their pilot succeeded on all of these fronts. And because of that, it’s no surprise that they’ve gone on to become some of Netflix’s most successful and longest-running original series. When future series go to Netflix to pitch their pilot, this is the bar they have to clear.
A few pilots that are worth mentioning but didn’t quite make the cut include Sense8, Lady Dynamite, Dear White People and Luke Cage.