tv The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History

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List Rules Television's best "bottle" episodes of all time. Episodes that feature minimal cast and take place primarily in one location.

No, a "bottle" episode isn't every single episode of "I Dream of Jeannie." The term refers to an episode of a TV show that is produced inexpensively and has a smaller scope, with as few non-regular cast members, effects, and sets as possible. Most bottle episodes are shot on existing sets, take place primarily in one location, and consist largely of dialogue. "Bottle" episodes are an opportunity for characters to get up close and personal, and let the writers get down to the nitty-gritty. 

We've compiled a list of the most famous (and often critically acclaimed) "bottle" episodes of all-time, spanning the decades - from "Bewitched," "M*A*S*H," and "All In The Family" to "The X-Files," to "Community," and "Breaking Bad." So get busy voting and tell us: What's the best "bottle" episode you've ever seen? Upvote the best below - and give the duds a thumbs-down. 

And please note: just because you drink an entire bottle of wine while watching "Scandal," that does not make it a "bottle" episode.
The One Where No One's Ready is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
Photo:  uploaded by Allen Clary

In this episode of "Friends," a stressed Ross desperately tries to get the rest of the gang ready for a black tie event at the museum.

"The One Where No One's Ready" is the second episode of the third season of the American television situation comedy Friends, which aired on NBC on September 26, 1996. The plot centers on Ross's anxiety as his friends take too long getting ready for a function that evening. The episode was written ...more

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Original Airing: Sep 26 1996

Season: Friends Season 3

Episode Number: 2

Director: Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Gail Mancuso

Previous Episode: The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy

Next Episode: The One with the Jam

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O.R. is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
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O.R.


In this episode of "M*A*S*H," drama, pathos, and humor combine when heavy casualties result in a long session in the O.R.

The OR is filled with more wounded than the unit can handle. Hawkeye does heart massage on a soldier, which saves his life, but he dies four hours later. Sidney Freedman drops in during the deluge, and is dragged into the fray by Hawkeye. ...more

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Original Airing: Oct 08 1974

Season: M*A*S*H - Season 3

Episode Number: 5

Director: Gene Reynolds

Previous Episode: Iron Guts Kelly

Next Episode: Springtime

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Cooperative Calligraphy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
Photo:  uploaded by Allen Clary

In this episode of "Community," chaos and mistrust tear the study group apart as they try to figure out who stole Annie's pen - causing them to miss the Greendale Puppy Parade.

Annie's favorite pen goes missing, and she suspects that someone in the group took it. Then study room is put on lock down, and Jeff starts conducting the investigation. Troy and Abed are especially anxious to get out of the room in order to make it to the Greendale Puppy Parade in time. ...more

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Original Airing: Nov 11 2010

Season: Community - Season 2

Episode Number: 8

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Previous Episode: Aerodynamics of Gender

Next Episode: Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

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The Chinese Restaurant is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
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In this episode of "Seinfeld," Jerry, George, and Elaine wait for a table at a Chinese restaurant.

Jerry, Elaine and George stop for a quick Chinese dinner before a showing of Plan 9 From Outer Space on the big screen. However, while waiting a really long time to get a table, Jerry sees a woman whose name he can't recall; George needs to use a phone he can't have and Elaine needs food, more than ...more

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Original Airing: May 23 1991

Season: Seinfeld Season 2

Episode Number: 6

Director: Tom Cherones

Previous Episode: The Jacket

Next Episode: The Phone Message

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Remedial Chaos Theory is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
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Remedial Chaos Theory


At Abed and Troy's housewarming party, Jeff decides to let the decision on who gets the pizza rest on the roll of the dice, leaving Abed to contemplate six alternate realities.

New roommates Troy and Abed host an apartment-warming party that takes a strange turn. ...more

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Original Airing: Oct 13 2011

Season: Community - Season 3

Episode Number: 4

Director: Jeff Melman

Previous Episode: Competitive Ecology

Next Episode: Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps

Also Ranked

#46 on The Best Single Episodes in Television History

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Mulcahy's War is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
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Mulcahy's WarNov 16 1976


In this episode of "M*A*S*H" Father Mulcahy, concerned about his lack of experience on the front lines, insists on accompanying Radar on an errand.

After Frank discovers that Danny Fitzsimmons has shot himself to get out of combat, Father Mulcahy is called in. Realizing his lack of understanding of the fighting, Mulcahy accompanies Radar to an aid station, where they encounter the real war at first hand. Mulcahy performs an emergency ...more

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Original Airing: Nov 16 1976

Season: M*A*S*H - Season 5

Episode Number: 8

Director: George Tyne

Previous Episode: Dear Sigmund

Next Episode: The Korean Surgeon

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Fly is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
Photo:  uploaded by Allen Clary
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Fly


In this episode of "Breaking Bad,"  there is a fly loose in the lab. Walt and Jesse must do whatever they can to kill it before it contaminates the meth.

"Fly" is the tenth episode of the third season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, and the 30th overall episode of the series. Written by Sam Catlin and Moira Walley-Beckett and directed by Rian Johnson, it aired on AMC in the United States and Canada on May 23, 2010. ...more

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Original Airing: May 23 2010

Season: Breaking Bad - Season 3

Episode Number: 10

Director: Rian Johnson

Previous Episode: Kafkaesque

Next Episode: Abiquiu

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The Body is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Bottle Episodes in TV History
Photo:  uploaded by Allen Clary
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The Body


In this episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Buffy, Dawn, and their friends deal with the aftermath of Joyce's death.

After finding Joyce unconscious on the couch, a terrified slayer calls 911. Unfortunately, it's too late to do anything. The paramedics tell Buffy that her mom had been dead for a while already. We see Dawn at school for the first time, and she's just getting over the freakout she had after finding ...more

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Original Airing: Feb 27 2001

Season: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5

Episode Number: 16

Director: Joss Whedon

Previous Episode: I Was Made to Love You

Next Episode: Forever

Also Ranked

#27 on The Best Single Episodes in Television History

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