Unaired pilots have long been a matter of public fascination: There are compendiums (Encyclopedia of Television Pilots), podcasts (Dead Pilots Society), TV specials (The Best TV Shows That Never Were), and even TV series (Brilliant But Canceled) devoted to the topic.
Every pilot season, we TV fanatics track the development slates of the broadcast networks with bated breath, crossing our fingers that our favorite premises make it to air. Invariably, many don’t: As the intro to The TV Set attests, only one quarter of produced pilots end up on the primetime lineup.
Here are some of the ones we wish had reached our TV screens.
North Hollywood (ABC, 2001)
Nobody’s Watching (NBC, 2006)
Nobody got to watch this comedy. Cocreated by Scrubs’ Bill Lawrence, it featured Paul Campbell and Taran Killam as two TV addicts who grow frustrated with “the dreadful state of television programming” and sign up for a reality show chronicling their efforts to make a better sitcom.
The Body Politic (The CW, 2009)
Minka Kelly landed the lead role in this pilot about a young woman from Michigan who takes a job with a U.S. senator—her long-lost dad (Tim Matheson)—and becomes friends with “other eager up-and-comers,” played by Gabrielle Union, Brian Austin Green, and Jason Dohring.
Inside the Box (ABC, 2009)
Game of Thrones’ Indira Varma and a gaggle of future Grey’s Anatomy stars—Sarah Drew, Jason George, Martin Henderson, and Kim Raver—starred in this Shondaland drama about the “fast-paced, cutthroat world of network news.”
17th Precinct (NBC, 2011)
Producer Ronald D. Moore enlisted some of his Battlestar Galactica alums—James Callis, Jamie Bamber, and Tricia Helfer—along with Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk for a police drama in a fantastical San Francisco where magic supersedes science.
Hallelujah (ABC, 2011)
In this drama from Marc Cherry of Desperate Housewives fame, the titular small town is the scene of an “epic battle between good and evil” between a miraculous stranger (Jesse L. Martin) and a powerful businessman (Terry O’Quinn). A gospel choir plays the role of a Greek chorus.
Super Clyde (CBS, 2013)
Harry Potter alum Rupert Grint headlined this comedy as the titular character—a “meek, unassuming fast food worker who decides to become a superhero,” according to Clyde‘s logline—and actors Tyler Labine and Stephen Fry were along for the ride.
How I Met Your Dad (CBS, 2014)
Hulu is preparing How I Met Your Father, but this How I Met Your Mother spinoff sitcom—connected to its predecessor through the MacLaren’s Pub setting—would have had filmmaker and actress Greta Gerwig as its star and rom-com queen Meg Ryan as its narrator.
Cruel Intentions (NBC, 2016)
In this sequel to the 1999 film of the same name, Sarah Michelle Gellar would have reprised the part of the conniving Kathryn Merteuil, no longer a teenager but a businesswoman with influence over her late brother’s son.
Jane the Novela (The CW, 2019)
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