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The Best Single Episodes in Television History

Updated August 28, 2020 168.3k votes 12.9k voters 149.3k views300 items

List RulesNo reality, late night, or talk shows. Vote on the merits of just the one episode, not on the entire series.

Some episodes of a TV show are so good, they stand alone and may even raise the bar for a genre. Some of the best TV episodes of all time are even better than the series as a whole. Certain episodes may even transcend the life of a television series, shared again and again among fans. 

We’ve taken a cross section of the best stand alone episodes in television history and they are here on this list of the greatest single episodes of any TV show, awaiting your votes! TV has exploded over the years, to become a serious medium of a quality on par with film. That said, old TV shows have some of their top single episodes listed here as well, and many of the best TV comedies have multiple entries. This list features a solid representation of all genres and time periods, so long as the episodes are truly exceptional in their own right, regardless of the quality of the rest of the series.  

Remember Prison Mike from that episode The Office? Or basically any episode of Breaking Bad (though "Ozymandias and "Dead Freight" certainly stand out)? From Arrested Development's edgy comedy to Seinfeld's iconic episodes to All in the Family's landmark moments in television history, this list runs the gamut may even introduce you to some new shows whose best episodes will have you binge watching the entire series (Friday Night Lights and Adventure Time, anyone?).

You may have your own favorite TV episode that you think stands head and shoulders above the rest of the series and are encouraged to add it to this list. Good TV is good TV and everyone should know about it. With so much top TV programming these days, it can be hard to know where to start, but the best single episodes on television listed here are a great place to start. From the best episode of Friends and the best episode of Seinfeld or even Game of Thrones, they're all here, waiting to rise to the top based on your votes.

After you've voted and reranked, let us know in the comments section how many of these famous, groundbreaking, memorable, and iconic TV episodes you've seen!
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  • 1
    "Ozymandias" - Breakin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    4,539
    1,456

    "Ozymandias" - Breaking Bad

  • 0
  • 2
    "Battle of the Bastards" - Gam is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,138
    366

    "Battle of the Bastards" - Game of Thrones

    June 19, 2016

    Season6

    Episode Number9

  • 0
  • 3
    "Face Off" - Breaking  is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    2,606
    1,124

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 4

    Episode Number13

    A showdown with Gus occurs. Walt finds an unexpected ally through Saul's help.
  • 0
  • 4
    "The Rains of Castamere&#3 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    2,958
    1,299

    "The Rains of Castamere" - Game of Thrones

    Jun 02 2013

    SeasonGame of Thrones Season 3

    Episode Number9

    "The Rains of Castamere" is the ninth episode of the third season of HBO's fantasy television... more
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  • 5
    "Stress Relief" - The Office is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,363
    599

    "Stress Relief" - The Office

    Feb 01 2009
    "Stress Relief" is a two-part episode of the American comedy television series The Office.... more
  • 0
  • 6
    Jurassic Bark is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,315
    609

    Jurassic Bark

    Nov 17 2002

    SeasonFuturama - Season 5

    "Jurassic Bark" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of the television series Futurama,... more
  • 0
  • 7
    Mr. Plow is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    987
    458

    Mr. Plow

    Nov 19 1992

    SeasonThe Simpsons season 4

    Episode Number9

    "Mr. Plow" is the ninth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season, which originally aired on the... more
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  • 8
    "Dead Freight" - Break is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 5

    Episode Number5

    Walt's team gets creative to obtain the methylamine they need to continue their operation.
  • 0
  • 9
    "Goodbye, Farewell and Ame is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonM*A*S*H - Season 11

    Episode Number16

    Hawkeye is sent to a mental hospital; a freak accident causes Father Mulcahy to lose his... more
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  • 10
    "Pilot" - Lost is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,927
    968

    "Pilot" - Lost

    Sep 22 2004

    SeasonLost - Season 1

    Episode Number1

    Stripped of everything, the 48 survivors scavenge what they can from the plane for their... more
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  • 11
    "Days Gone Bye" - The  is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonThe Walking Dead - Season 1

    Episode Number1

    "Days Gone Bye" is the first episode of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The... more
  • 0
  • 12
    "Make Love, Not Warcraft&# is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 10

    Episode Number8

    "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is the eighth episode of the tenth season of the animated television... more
  • 0
  • 13
    "Blackwater" - Game of is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    2,063
    1,072

    "Blackwater" - Game of Thrones

    May 27 2012

    SeasonGame of Thrones - Season 2

    Episode Number9

    Tyrion and the Lannisters fight for their lives as Stannis’ fleet assaults King’s Landing.
  • 0
  • 14
    "The Watchers on the Wall& is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,873
    980

    "The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones

  • 0
  • 15
    "Blink" - Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    2,246
    1,186

    "Blink" - Doctor Who

  • 0
  • 16
    "Out of Gas" - Firefly is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,359
    706

    SeasonFirefly Season 1

    Episode Number5

    In a delirious state after Serenity's engine explodes, draining the ship of its oxygen supply,... more
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  • 17
    "Turkeys Away" - WKRP  is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonWKRP in Cincinnati - Season 1

    Episode Number7

    Feeling left out because he doesn't have anything to do, Mr. Carlson suddenly decides to take... more
  • 0
  • 18
    The Soup Nazi is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    2,030
    1,089

    The Soup Nazi

    Nov 02 1995

    SeasonSeinfeld - Season 7

    Episode Number6

    "The Soup Nazi" is the 116th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which was the sixth episode... more
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  • 19
    "Bastogne" - Band of B is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonBand of Brothers - Season 1

    Episode Number6

    Easy Company experiences the Battle of the Bulge and have to hold ground near Bastogne while... more
  • 0
  • 20
    "The Best of Both Worlds&# is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonStar Trek: The Next Generation - Season 3

    Episode Number26

    "The Best of Both Worlds" is a two-part storyline from the syndicated American science fiction... more
  • 0
  • 21
    "Once More, With Feeling&# is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonBuffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 6

    Episode Number7

    A mysterious force causes everyone in Sunnydale to reveal all of their innermost thoughts and... more
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  • 22
    "The Trouble With Tribbles is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonStar Trek: The Original Series Season 2

    Episode Number15

    Kirk must defuse a Klingon scheme to destroy a grain shipment...and cope with a seemingly... more
  • 0
  • 23
    "The Contest" - Seinfe is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    1,577
    882

    SeasonSeinfeld Season 4

    Episode Number11

    "The Contest" is the 51st episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. The 11th episode of the fourth... more
  • 0
  • 24
    "House's Head" - H is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
    760
    399

    "House's Head" - House M.D.

    May 12 2008

    SeasonHouse - Season 4

    Episode Number15

    A bus accident leaves House with serious head trauma and partial amnesia. He comes to believe... more
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  • 25
    "Scott Tenorman Must Die&# is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 5

    Episode Number4

    Cartman goes medieval on Scott Tenorman's ass when ginger-haired Scott tricks our supple hero... more
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