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7 Best TV Pilots

Get the kids in bed and the dishwasher loaded up, because one by one, our favorite shows are starting to come back to prime-time television. To our dismay, there are always one or two series that haven't been renewed or that are replaced by pilots hoping for a chance to last beyond that first episode. Every so often, though, one of those pilots is so good and so well-executed that the show ends up lasting for years.

Here is a look back at some of the best pilots that ended up turning into spectacular shows. Can you remember catching these first episodes and falling hard for the series?

7. Sherlock

When Sherlock begins to break down the crime scene using his incomparable deduction skills in "A Study in Pink," it is nearly impossible not to get chills from the excitement. This pilot gives viewers everything they could hope for in a televised version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Holmes is as smart, clever, and pretentious as you think he should be, and Benedict Cumberbatch is exquisite in the role. Even though the pilot is an hour and a half long, it seems to fly by and leaves you salivating for more. Now fans of the show eagerly wait years from one season to the next as Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson) shoot their other projects.

6. The Sopranos

The premise was so absurd that it might just work. And did it ever. Here we had a mob boss from New Jersey facing his biggest nemesis of all: anxiety. And the solution that he has to resort to? Going to therapy. What a beautiful start to a series with the potential for countless things to go wrong. We fall for James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and can't get enough of Lorraine Bracco as the no-nonsense therapist, Dr. Melfi.

5. The Walking Dead

In the first episode of this series, all of our worst (mostly unfounded) fears of the zombie apocalypse come to fruition: a guy wakes up from a coma in the hospital, and the world has gone mad (or undead, as the case may be). It is gross. It is creepy. And it is awesome. In the overhead view of Atlanta when we see the countless "walkers" roaming around, we get a sense of the severity and hopelessness of the situation. While the outlook is bleak, the show delivers week after week from that point on.