The Best TV Pilot of the Last 15 Years, the Championship Round: Lost or Breaking Bad?

By Cory Barker

Sep 17, 2013

This is it, everybody. We've reached the final round of our Best TV Pilot of the Last 15 Years competition. It's been quite a ride over the last few weeks—surprising upsets, straight-up routs, and a whole lot of debate in the comments about what should or shouldn't've happened along the way. As these things tend to go, the voting in the semifinals wasn't especially close. We technically had one upset, but at this point there's no reason to pretend that Breaking Bad is anything close to a Cinderella. But this championship? It's a doozy. This could be the closest vote yet, and one that really gets to the core of the competition. Take one final look at the bracket and ask yourself this question: Which show had the better pilot (and pilot alone)—Lost or Breaking Bad?

One final time, I'll provide a few some thoughts about why you might want to pick one pilot over the other. But at this point, you're probably made up your mind. You have one more round and one more week to have an impact. This is for all the marbles... or something. 


Lost (defeated How I Met Your Mother in the Semis) vs. Breaking Bad (toppled Pushing Daisies in the Semis)

WHY LOST SHOULD WIN: In the first three rounds, Lost garnered more than 18,400 votes. The shows it went up against only tallied about 6,500 votes. It won by the largest margin in Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3. It hasn't faced a true competition yet, and there's really no reason for it to start now. If we nixed the "last 15 years" thing and made this about the best TV pilot EVER, Lost would probably still strut right into the finals, and deservedly so. 

Seriously, think about it: What TV pilots can really match Lost in quality, and even in influence? From top to bottom, writing, directing, set design, acting, editing, music, whatever or whomever involved with this pilot that you want to acknowledge, this is simply a masterclass in television pilotdom. You shouldn't be thinking about how the series concluded, or even how it allegedly went off the rails in Season 2. You should be thinking about those opening 80-ish minutes that immediately transported you to a world that was a lot like our own, but very different in important, fascinating ways. Don't be silly, don't think about Sunday's amazing episode of Breaking Bad. We're to name the best pilot of the last 15 years, and Lost's is it.

WHY BREAKING BAD SHOULD WIN: Sure, Lost steamrolled a bunch of other shows on its way to the championship, but look at those shows again. AliasThe Walking DeadHow I Met Your Mother? Please. Breaking Bad slayed the big dragons in this competition, besting The SopranosThe Shield, and Pushing Daisies. It might have won with closer calls (about 17,600 votes for and 11,200 against), but the three shows defeated by BrBa are qualitatively better than the three Lost toppled; taking down Lost is just another, final step in that arc. Beyond that, Breaking Bad's pilot featured tremendous production and acting in its own right. Vince Gilligan's direction used the New Mexico desert as well or better than J.J. Abrams employed the beaches of Hawaii, and Bryan Cranston's performance was substantially better than that of any individual performer on Lost. In the wrong hands, this show could have been another Weeds, but with the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Gilligan's were not the wrong hands, and Breaking Bad is sure as heck not Weeds


How I Met Your Mother (defeated by Lost in the Semis) vs. Pushing Daisies (defeated by Breaking Bad in the Semis)

Hey, you guys requested this. Not everybody here is a winner, but we can at least vote on who deserves to finish in third place. In my mind, it's no competition. Pushing Daisies' opening episode was much better than the debut installment of How I Met Your Mother. But maybe you think a comedy should earn that third slot, or maybe you just really, really hate whimsy. I dunno. But vote on this one as well.

Alright, party people. Take this week and vote your hearts out. Let's crown a champion (and a third place finisher)!

  • Comments (214)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • funkybudha Oct 28, 2013

    Lost vs BrBa? Damn tough one! Not to choose the best "pilot" though, it's definitely LOST for the pilot! Lost for many thingsup until the last two seasons where we all got somehow frustrated with it all.. I'm not gonna get into a detailed description here, Lost was great and awsome. Totally changed my expectations for TV.. but towards the end it was just pushing too far to say the least. BrBa on the other hand is just so so so well written and directed and kept to a fine-line that it can be referred as way more focused and totally moving. Well I'd say BrBa offers even better acting then Lost but yeah Lost had so many hints and references during the show that so many shows lack even today. For instance remember Heisenberg and Jesse sitting down on a sofa to watch some tv right after a cook? Lost had that feeling in almost every episode..
    Well two of my favourite TV shows ever.. Both are amazingly written, directed and acted. Yet I'd say Lost for the Pilot for sure!

  • StuartRadzins Sep 26, 2013

    Any of you Lost haters, Claiming the show "Sucked" because "They were dead all along or "They left too many unanswered questions", Dear god people, How many times do you have to be embarrassed? THEY WERE NOT DEAD THE WHOLE TIME, and THEY ANSWERED EVERY QUESTION THEY ASKED, Its a myth that they didn't, created way before the finale even aired, created by people who couldn't click their brains into gear, and what do people do with things they don't understand? Yes, They hate on them.


  • sgv_6618 Sep 25, 2013

    now lets do that again but with a series finale. Just wait for Breaking Bad to end first though. I think the votes would be Breaking Bad 10938 and Lost the five votes that were accidentaly cast...

    P.S. I like HIMYM but the pilot was definitely not as good as Pushing Daisies!

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 26, 2013

    The Lost series finale was EPIC, Only those that didnt understand it complain, Yes Breaking bad is awesome, But for me and millions of others Lost is untouchable.

  • BenjaminTurne1 Sep 26, 2013

    Well said brother, Its INCREDIBLE how so many people did not GET the Lost finale, How they can say "They were dead all along" or "They didnmt answer questions" is itself a mystery.

  • sgv_6618 Sep 28, 2013

    So what most of you are saying is either a) you get it and you like it or b) you are stupid and you don't. I must say I admire this logic Its INCREDIBLE how so many people become fanatics and are blinded by their passion and cannot comprehend that one might just have an other opinion.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 28, 2013

    Opinions are awesome, Unless they are based on fallacies, Such as "They were dead all along" or "They didn't answer questions".

    You dont have to like Lost or its ending, But before people bash it they should at least have an argument that is based on facts, Don't you think??

  • AdityaIyer Sep 24, 2013

    Breaking Bad is a great show, but most of the people are talking about it today. Lost (the pilot in this context) was far better than BrBa's, in fact the first 2 seasons were just okay, it gradually picked on.

  • HeatherCarmit Sep 22, 2013

    I like HIMYM alright, but it is not that far from run-of-the-mill. Nothing about the pilot screamed, said, or whispered 'best of' anything to me. Pushing Daisies was exactly perpendicular to run of the mill, and that show, while certainly not for those who can't stand twee, definitely screamed 'different' and 'entertaining' to me from the pilot on. It saddens me to see an excellent show get stomped by something much more mainstream that didn't have that memorable of a pilot. Notice they didn't even bother to make the paragraph preceding the vote the least bit unbiased. There was not point because there should be no question.

    The Lost v. Breaking Bad pilot debate matters less to me than the 3rd/4th one, I'm not die-hard for either of the top two. Coming from that perspective, and based on the pilots alone, Lost is a clear winner. It was more intriguing, more inventive, etc. Breaking Bad has always had quality and the acting gods (Cranston, Paul FTW) on its side, and while those can be huge factors in how good of a show it is, that isn't a thing that really makes a pilot. A pilot's job is to pull you in. Lost may have lost me - though I came back eventually - but the pilot definitely grabbed me at the start.

    FWIW these would been my picks:
    Lost - if pilot hadn't been excellent, wouldn't have stuck with it half as long
    Dexter - really good pilot, first season. Sad about recent bits though
    Pushing Daisies - my type of show, my type of pilot
    The Americans - best pilot I've seen in years
    And Sherlock get a special mention, because though I feel it has an unfair advantage with its long running time, it had an excellent first episode.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 21, 2013

    I seriously don't understand how people can say "BB is by far a better show than Lost" absolute dribble, BB is awesome, But Lost transcended what we saw on screen, It wasn't just about the visual, It was about the cerebral, THIS is why many were disappointed in the end, Because it asked us viewers to use our brains, and sadly many people don't have one.

  • nexpose Sep 23, 2013

    It's really really funny how some people say any whole series is a disgrace but they actually watched it all? haha. I'm what I guess would be called a silent majority I feel but maybe silent minority that loved the very finale of LOST. And I truly never had anyone explain to me what they exactly wanted as an ending. To me, it was pretty much figured out but I didn't get the nuclear explosion thing at end of 5 into 6 and how that truly worked.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 24, 2013

    Yeah, people complain saying this and that, but then havent got any idea how THEY would have ended it, The truth is the creators had an idea of how to end it from the start, the ending was foreshadowed n the very first episode, Obviously lots of the journey along the way wasnt all planned, but the destination was.

    The "nuclear explosion thing" was kinda confusing at times, But heres what happened....

    1977 - The incident occurred with Dharma drilling into a pocket of EM energy, Jack and co had a shoot out with DI members, and Jack dropped the bomb, which didn't detonate, Juliet fell in the hole, and hit the bomb, on the 8th hit the bomb seemed to detonate and the season ended. The bomb however didn't actually detonate, All that happened was the 14th and final time-flash, sending Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Miles, Sayid, Juliet etc back to their own time(2007), The evidence which proves the bomb didn't detonate was that the Island still existed in 2007, There was no nuclear damage/radiation etc.

  • renepinguin Sep 20, 2013

    wow this is not a hard choice at all.. But still 2 very awesome shows. But i would choose lost over breaking bad in any scene, episode and character. Best TV show ever.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 21, 2013

    Absolutely agreed. I think Breaking Bad is brilliant, The best show currently on TV, But Lost was a once in a life time TV extravaganza, No TV show before or since has made people think so much about so many things, Lost is by far the best TV series ever created.

  • nexpose Sep 23, 2013

    You're rockin' it for sure. :D Would be in the trenches fighting for the exact same thing. Never saw anything like it.

  • renepinguin Sep 23, 2013

    true that..
    ATM I'm watching Ray Donovan, Breaking Bad, Homeland and Dexter (last episode)
    Ray Donovan is absolutely GREAT and Homeland s1 and s2 were awesome as well! But No, Never is there going to be a series that got me hooked as LOST. I watch it every year when its my b-day :)
    Another great tv show is 9 feet under. I reccomend that to everyone!

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 20, 2013

    I still find it amazing many people were disappointed with the LOST finale, It was EPIC, Everything a TV finale should be, I guess its because most of the disappointed didn't get it, wrongly thinking they were "Dead the whole time", And if they STILL believe the "Unanswered questions" myth? Then theres no hope for those people.

  • zampognaro Sep 21, 2013

    I agree with you - the Lost finale was awesome on so many levels. I put the "haters" in 3 groups. Those that didn't like Lost's finale:
    1) Because they didn't understand it
    2) Because not every single mystery was fully explained to them
    3) Because they didn't like the whole religious angle (which btw was very similar to BSG's finale, yet nobody complained about that too much if I remember correctly)

    I can almost understand the 3rd group (though I don't agree with them) ... but, honestly I don't even take the people in the first 2 groups into consideration anymore (when talking about tv, of course - I'm sure they are all very nice ppl :P)

  • joename69 Sep 21, 2013

    I thought the Lost ending was fucking brilliant. I loved the ending. Yeah not everything is explained, but that's not a bad thing, the show was never about that.
    I actually find it ridiculous that people don't understand the ending. i didnt find it at all confusing.

  • drlowdon Sep 20, 2013

    I wish people would stop saying that anyone that didn't like the Lost finale didn't understand it. I know they were not dead the whole time but there were far to many things not explained or that didn't add up.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 21, 2013

    I'm not saying that EVERYONE that didn't like the finale didn't get it, But its a FACT that most of those that were dissatisfied didn't understand it.

    You say "there were far to many things not explained or that didn't add up", My question to you is like what? I have discussed with people about this virtually everyday for 3 years, and not one single person has been able to come up with a legitimate question (That mattered) that isn't answerable.

  • drlowdon Sep 21, 2013

    Wow, how many times have you watched Lost to work all that out?

    Part of the problem I had was that they kept introducing new elements (Charlie's premonitions, Desmond, Whitmore etc) before even attempting to explain anything we'd already seen and often we just had to accept that it was 'magic', the 'healing pool' in the temple being a perfect example. It often came across as if they were adding things in just to extend the life of the show as they the writers weren't sure of exactly how many seasons they were going to be making.

    That being said your explanations make sense for the most part, although I'm still not sure why the atomic bomb going off would create the 'purgatory' universe. I'll have to message you again when I have a chance to think of other elements I didn't think were explained.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 21, 2013

    I've only really ever watched it through once, But re-watched many episodes multiple times.

    The healing pool was part sci fi and part sci fact, EM energy does have healing properties, and the water in the temple pool comes from the source, and the water contains this energy.

    The bomb never actually detonated, All that happened at that moment was the final time-flash sending Jack, Kate, Hurley etc back to their correct time(2007), The Incident has nothing whatsoever to do with the "purgatory universe", The "purgatory universe" was something they experienced AFTER they had ALL died, Ie Jack dies in the bamboo forest and Bam he's in a limbo/timeless state waiting to reconnect with the people that matter most to him, Many years later(In the real world) Kate dies and Bam, She's in this limbo/timeless state, and so on, The creators showed us the two stories simultaneously to both to trick us the viewers into thinking it was a physical alternate reality, and to emphasise its connection to the Island, Because without the Island no one can "Move on" as the light on the Island is (Among other things) the entrance to the "Purgatory universe" and beyond, Thats why the Island is SO important.

  • drlowdon Sep 21, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • renepinguin Sep 20, 2013

    The whole meaning of the show was to NOT explain everything. So you could dazzle over it yourself. You obviously not a lost fan.

  • drlowdon Sep 21, 2013

    I'm not one of those that completely disliked the ending and generally thought it was OK, although I wasn't a fan of the whole religious angle which wasn't really set up in earlier seasons. What I am saying is that I can understand why someone would dislike it, for reasons other than not understanding it.

    I'd be happy with some things being left unexplained if I felt as though the writers actually knew what was going on. Its been a while since I've watched it but off the top of my head the questions that were never explained included:
    1) Why were the others so determined to get hold of Walt and what was going on with those weird powers he seemed to have?
    2) Why did the numbers cause bad luck to everyone and why could they be used to stop whatever was going to happen in the hatch (for that matter what was the deal with the clock displaying Egyptian hieroglyphics?).
    3) Why did Kate keep seeing that horse?
    4) What the hell was going in with Jacob's cabin?
    (I could find plenty of others to add to this list)

    As the show went on weird things kept being added to fill in episodes and in the end the finale was a casualty of that. It in no way ruined the show but it stops it from being amongst my very favourites.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 21, 2013


    I forgot to mention the hatch.

    The hatch computer was connected to a system that released a small amount of electromagnetic energy every 108 minutes, The numbers were pushed in order for this to happen, The glyphs appeared as a final warning to the hatch inhabitants, The glyphs translated to "Underworld Afterlife", Yet another clue as to what would happen if the Island was destroyed. The thing is the hatch computer was only implemented because of the "Incident" of 1977 where there was a tear created in a pocket of electromagnetic energy, This tear was sealed but small amounts had to be released safely.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 21, 2013

    "I wasn't a fan of the whole religious angle which wasn't really set up in earlier seasons"

    First off, the ending (As with the rest of the show) was spiritual, not religious(Theres a difference), Second, There was lots of religious allegory and allusion from the get go, I suggest you do a re-watch.

    "1) Why were the others so determined to get hold of Walt and what was going on with those weird powers he seemed to have?"

    The others wanted Walt for a number of reasons, First - Because they couldn't have their own kids, So in order to repopulate their group they kidnapped kids and used room 23 to "brainwash" them. Second - Because he had Psionic abilities, which fascinated them, These abilities were connected to the Islands energy source, This is why Dharma studied them too.

    "2) Why did the numbers cause bad luck to everyone and why could they be used to stop whatever was going to happen in the hatch (for that matter what was the deal with the clock displaying Egyptian hieroglyphics?)."

    They weren't really bad luck to everyone, Not really even to Hurley, However the numbers were connected to the Island and its inhabitants by fate/destiny(Much like astrology or numerology), They saw them everywhere because they often caused events to happen that lead people to the Island.

    "3) Why did Kate keep seeing that horse?"

    Kate saw the horse on the Island once, As we saw there were various animals on the Island, Including cows, cats, polar bears, as well as the usual jungle creatures. The horse simply belonged to one of the others, There was a possibility it was the smoke monster, but that was denied by the creators, The horse was similar to a horse Kate saw in her past.

    "4) What the hell was going in with Jacob's cabin?"

    Horace, from the DI built the cabin shortly before the purge, Soon after Richard used it to communicate with Jacob, To prevent the MIB/Smokey being able to enter the cabin the placed the protective ash around it, However someone broke the circle allowing MIB entry. When Ben tried to trick Locke into thinking he saw Jacob, It was infact the MIB who said "Help me" to Locke, He did this in the hope of making Ben jealous...It worked. Later when Hurley saw the Cabin, He saw 2 figures inside, one was Jacob the other was the MIB. The cabin moved locations because both Jacob and the MIB had the ability to distort time and space.

  • digital_dice Sep 20, 2013

    LOST is the clear choice for me. The production values(writing, acting, directing, cinematography, musical score ) on that pilot were outstanding. And when you consider that pilot aired way back in 2004 it's all the more impressive. Regardless of how the show ended up, that was one amazing pilot.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 20, 2013

    "Regardless of how the show ended up" You mean BRILLIANTLY.

  • digital_dice Sep 20, 2013

    Actually, I didn't loathe the finale like most people seem to. I thought the Jacob/Man in Black arc could have been handled a bit better, but for the most part I was satisfied with the outcome for the core group. Everybody complains about the Purgatory thing but I see it just as a footnote to the story. The island was still real.

  • DADDY_DAVE Sep 20, 2013

    You may be surprised that most people were infact satisfied with the way Lost ended, As proven by the polls taken over the years, The disappointed however are more vocal.

  • joename69 Sep 21, 2013

    I loved the enindg, i thought it was amazing.

  • renepinguin Sep 20, 2013

    loved every second of it.

  • valenerramouspe Sep 20, 2013

    I loved the Lost pilot, but I think BB's was more together, more efficient in establishing important elements and laying a path for the future. Lost was great and definitely left me wanting more, but it also seemed a bit too much, a million unanswerable questions and mysteries from the get-go.

  • renepinguin Sep 20, 2013

    thats what you mostly get with SCI-FI

  • See More Comments (72)