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The Best Single Episodes in Television History

Updated November 14, 2020 170.0k votes 13.1k voters 150.3k 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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  • "Ozymandias" - Breaking Bad1
    4,607
    1,490

    "Ozymandias" - Breaking Bad

  • "Battle of the Bastards" - Game of Thrones2
    1,178
    405

    "Battle of the Bastards" - Game of Thrones

    June 19, 2016

    Season6

    Episode Number9

  • "Face Off" - Breaking Bad3
    2,640
    1,157

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 4

    Episode Number13

    A showdown with Gus occurs. Walt finds an unexpected ally through Saul's help.
  • "The Rains of Castamere" - Game of Thrones4
    3,003
    1,325

    "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 on Wikipedia
  • "Stress Relief" - The Office5
    1,390
    632

    "Stress Relief" - The Office

    Feb 01 2009
    "Stress Relief" is a two-part episode of the American comedy television series The Office.... more on Wikipedia
  • Jurassic Bark6
    1,322
    639

    Jurassic Bark

    Nov 17 2002

    SeasonFuturama - Season 5

    "Jurassic Bark" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of the television series Futurama,... more on Wikipedia
  • Mr. Plow7
    1,003
    483

    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 on Wikipedia

    More Mr. Plow 

    #20 of 241 The Best Episodes of The Simpsons#1 of 100 The 100 Best Jobs Homer Simpson Has Worked on The Simpsons

  • "Dead Freight" - Breaking Bad8

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 5

    Episode Number5

    Walt's team gets creative to obtain the methylamine they need to continue their operation.
  • "Pilot" - Lost9
    1,947
    992

    "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 on Wikipedia
  • "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - M*A*S*H10

    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 on Wikipedia
  • "Days Gone Bye" - The Walking Dead11

    SeasonThe Walking Dead - Season 1

    Episode Number1

    "Days Gone Bye" is the first episode of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The... more on Wikipedia
  • "Blackwater" - Game of Thrones12
    2,089
    1,092

    "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.
  • "Make Love, Not Warcraft" - South Park13

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 10

    Episode Number8

    "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is the eighth episode of the tenth season of the animated television... more on Wikipedia
  • "Blink" - Doctor Who14
    2,256
    1,206

    "Blink" - Doctor Who

  • "The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones15
    1,887
    1,002

    "The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones

  • The Soup Nazi16
    2,042
    1,107

    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 on Wikipedia
  • "Out of Gas" - Firefly17
    1,367
    727

    SeasonFirefly Season 1

    Episode Number5

    In a delirious state after Serenity's engine explodes, draining the ship of its oxygen supply,... more on Wikipedia
  • "Bastogne" - Band of Brothers18

    SeasonBand of Brothers - Season 1

    Episode Number6

    Easy Company experiences the Battle of the Bulge and have to hold ground near Bastogne while...
  • "Turkeys Away" - WKRP in Cincinnati19

    SeasonWKRP in Cincinnati - Season 1

    Episode Number7

    Feeling left out because he doesn't have anything to do, Mr. Carlson suddenly decides to take...
  • "The Best of Both Worlds" - Star Trek: The Next Generation20

    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 on Wikipedia
  • "Once More, With Feeling" - Buffy the Vampire Slayer21

    SeasonBuffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 6

    Episode Number7

    A mysterious force causes everyone in Sunnydale to reveal all of their innermost thoughts and... more on Wikipedia
  • "House's Head" - House M.D.22
    777
    403

    "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 on Wikipedia
  • "The Trouble With Tribbles" - Star Trek23

    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 on Wikipedia
  • "The Contest" - Seinfeld24
    1,588
    889

    SeasonSeinfeld Season 4

    Episode Number11

    "The Contest" is the 51st episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. The 11th episode of the fourth... more on Wikipedia
  • "Scott Tenorman Must Die" - South Park25

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 5

    Episode Number4

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