13.5k voters

The Best Single Episodes in Television History

Updated May 22, 2021 157.9k votes 13.5k voters 154.6k views302 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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    Liam Mellon addedJune 19, 2016

    SeasonJune 19, 2016

    Episode NumberJune 19, 2016

  • 3

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 4

    Episode Number13

    SeriesBreaking Bad

    A showdown with Gus occurs. Walt finds an unexpected ally through Saul's help....  more
  • 4

    SeasonGame of Thrones Season 3

    Episode Number9

    SeriesGame of Thrones

    "The Rains of Castamere" is the ninth episode of the third season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 29th episode of the series. The episode was written by executive...  more
  • 5
    John Primus addedFeb 01 2009
    "Stress Relief" is a two-part episode of the American comedy television series The Office. They constituted the fourteenth and fifteenth episode of the fifth season, and the 86th and 87th overall...  more
  • 6
    analise.dubner addedSep 22 2004

    SeasonLost - Season 1

    Episode Number1


    Stripped of everything, the 48 survivors scavenge what they can from the plane for their survival. Some panic. Some pin their hopes on rescue. A few find inner strength they never knew they had-like...  more
  • 7
    Aug 12 2012

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 5

    Episode Number5

    SeriesBreaking Bad

    Walt's team gets creative to obtain the methylamine they need to continue their operation....  more
  • 8

    SeasonM*A*S*H - Season 11

    Episode Number16


    Hawkeye is sent to a mental hospital; a freak accident causes Father Mulcahy to lose his hearing; Margaret worries about her post-war plans; Charles run across a band of Chinese musicians; BJ is sent...  more
  • 9

    SeasonThe Walking Dead - Season 1

    Episode Number1

    SeriesThe Walking Dead

    "Days Gone Bye" is the first episode of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead. It originally aired on AMC in the United States on October 31, 2010. The episode was written...  more
  • 10
    Jen Fox-Williams addedNov 17 2002

    SeasonFuturama - Season 5


    "Jurassic Bark" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of the television series Futurama, airing November 17, 2002. It was nominated for an Emmy Award, but lost to The Simpsons episode "Three...  more
  • 11
    danielm0 addedNov 19 1992

    SeasonThe Simpsons season 4

    Episode Number9

    SeriesThe Simpsons

    "Mr. Plow" is the ninth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season, which originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 19, 1992. In the episode, Homer buys a snow plow and starts...  more
  • 12

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 10

    Episode Number8

    SeriesSouth Park

    "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is the eighth episode of the tenth season of the animated television series South Park, and the 147th episode overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States...  more
  • 13

    SeasonGame of Thrones - Season 2

    Episode Number9

    SeriesGame of Thrones

    Tyrion and the Lannisters fight for their lives as Stannis’ fleet assaults King’s Landing....  more
  • 14
    theuniverse addedNov 02 1995

    SeasonSeinfeld - Season 7

    Episode Number6


    "The Soup Nazi" is the 116th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which was the sixth episode of the seventh season. It first aired in the United States on November 2, 1995. The Soup Nazi is also the...  more
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    SeasonBand of Brothers - Season 1

    Episode Number6

    SeriesBand of Brothers

    Easy Company experiences the Battle of the Bulge and have to hold ground near Bastogne while running low on ammunition and other supplies. The episode focuses on medic Eugene "Doc" Roe as he helps...  more
  • 17

    SeasonHouse - Season 4

    Episode Number15


    A bus accident leaves House with serious head trauma and partial amnesia. He comes to believe that a patient on the bus had a life-threatening disease and struggles to recall who it was, and what...  more
  • 18

    SeasonBuffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 6

    Episode Number7

    SeriesBuffy the Vampire Slayer

    A mysterious force causes everyone in Sunnydale to reveal all of their innermost thoughts and feelings in song. Tara sings a love song to Willow professing all her love, but does Willow feel the same...  more
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    SeasonSeinfeld Season 4

    Episode Number11


    "The Contest" is the 51st episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. The 11th episode of the fourth season, it aired on November 18, 1992. In the episode, George Costanza tells Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Benes,...  more
  • 21

    SeasonWKRP in Cincinnati - Season 1

    Episode Number7

    SeriesWKRP in Cincinnati

    Feeling left out because he doesn't have anything to do, Mr. Carlson suddenly decides to take full charge of every aspect of the station. He then proceeds to come up with a special, top-secret...  more
  • 22

    SeasonFirefly Season 1

    Episode Number5


    In a delirious state after Serenity's engine explodes, draining the ship of its oxygen supply, Mal has a series of flashbacks about how he came to own Serenity and form his crew....  more
  • 23

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 5

    Episode Number4

    SeriesSouth Park

    Cartman goes medieval on Scott Tenorman's ass when ginger-haired Scott tricks our supple hero into buying his pubic hair for $16.12. Radiohead guest stars and plays a role in Cartman's elaborate...  more
  • 24
    slaft addedMar 02 1962

    SeasonThe Twilight Zone Season 3

    Episode Number24

    SeriesThe Twilight Zone

    An alien race comes to earth, promising peace and sharing technology. A linguist and his team set out to translate the alien's language, using a book whose title they deduce is 
  • 25
    WildBonsai addedOct 11 1963

    SeasonThe Twilight Zone Season 5

    Episode Number3

    SeriesThe Twilight Zone

    Mr. Wilson believes he sees a gremlin on the wing of his commercial aircraft....  more
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List Rules: No reality, late night, or talk shows. Vote on the merits of just the one episode, not on the entire series.