Many writers over-analyze their work. They obsess about the little things that could make their script great or small mistakes that might be holding it back. But none of this incessant scrutinizing will make a bit of difference until you’ve personally experienced what it’s like to read a killer script. So pause your internal monologue, get out of your head, and read the top 6 in-demand TV drama pilot scripts below to see why they blazed through Hollywood.
1) Mad Men
“In movies and TV, we tend to fall into tropes about how characters might get out of problems. But when you look at real life, you realize that there is a lot of drama of not being able to get out of the problems.” – Matthew Weiner
See how Don Draper works his magic here.
2) The Wire
“The trick to making a story matter is that every now and then, somebody you care about has to go. If it's somebody that you don't care about… the stakes aren't there. But if you do that every now and then, then the story matters to people. And there are actual stakes involved, emotional stakes.” – David Simon
Download the pilot script for The Wire here.
3) The Sopranos
“I think that the difference between 'The Sopranos' and the shows that came before it was that it was really personal. There had been a lot of dramas, a lot of really good ones, a lot of really bad ones, but they were always franchise shows about cops, or doctors, or lawyers. They weren't about the writer himself.” – David Chase
Read the sought-after script here.
“Good twists are enormously hard to come by, and I think the best ones are earned ones. The idea that a story can take a left turn on you, it's easy to do, but it has to be done very, very carefully, or else you risk losing the audience's trust.” – Damon Lindelof
Get stranded here.
5) Game of Thrones
“If we had known what we would have to know to do this well, I think the intimidation factor may have gotten the best of us. But we were just filled with excitement over the prospect. We knew that done right, George’s books could really be something tremendous and we just were so excited we just kinda barreled into this situation without really knowing what we didn’t know is that there were unknown unknowns.” – D.B. Weiss, Co-Creator
Grab your sword and jump into Westeros here.
6) Breaking Bad
“There's nothing more powerful to a showrunner than a truly invested writer.” – Vince Gilligan
Check out one of the greatest pilots of all time here.
Let me know what your favorite TV drama pilot scripts are. Tweet me @CaroleKirsch!