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The Best Single Episodes in Television History

Updated November 14, 2020 165.6k votes 13.2k voters 151.0k 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
    4,478
    1,454

    "Ozymandias" - Breaking Bad

  • "Battle of the Bastards" - Game of Thrones2
    1,162
    422

    "Battle of the Bastards" - Game of Thrones

    June 19, 2016

    Season6

    Episode Number9

  • "Face Off" - Breaking Bad3
    2,572
    1,135

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 4

    Episode Number13

    A showdown with Gus occurs. Walt finds an unexpected ally through Saul's help....  more
  • "The Rains of Castamere" - Game of Thrones4
    2,898
    1,306

    "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
  • "Stress Relief" - The Office5
    1,346
    632

    "Stress Relief" - The Office

    Feb 01 2009
    "Stress Relief" is a two-part episode of the American comedy television series The Office....  more
  • Jurassic Bark6
    1,272
    637

    Jurassic Bark

    Nov 17 2002

    SeasonFuturama - Season 5

    "Jurassic Bark" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of the television series Futurama,...  more
  • "Pilot" - Lost7
    1,892
    979

    "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
  • "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - M*A*S*H8

    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
  • "Dead Freight" - Breaking Bad9

    SeasonBreaking Bad - Season 5

    Episode Number5

    Walt's team gets creative to obtain the methylamine they need to continue their operation....  more
  • Mr. Plow10
    964
    481

    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

    More Mr. Plow 

    #1 of 100 The 100 Best Jobs Homer Simpson Has Worked on The Simpsons#16 of 317 The Best Episodes of The Simpsons

  • "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
  • "Blackwater" - Game of Thrones12
    2,021
    1,077

    "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....  more
  • "Blink" - Doctor Who13
    2,190
    1,173

    "Blink" - Doctor Who

  • "Make Love, Not Warcraft" - South Park14

    SeasonSouth Park - Season 10

    Episode Number8

    "Make Love, Not Warcraft" is the eighth episode of the tenth season of the animated television...  more
  • "The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones15
    1,827
    990

    "The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones

  • "Out of Gas" - Firefly16
    1,326
    713

    SeasonFirefly Season 1

    Episode Number5

    In a delirious state after Serenity's engine explodes, draining the ship of its oxygen supply,...  more
  • The Soup Nazi17
    1,974
    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
  • "House's Head" - House M.D.18
    766
    393

    "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
  • "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...  more
  • "Once More, With Feeling" - Buffy the Vampire Slayer20

    SeasonBuffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 6

    Episode Number7

    A mysterious force causes everyone in Sunnydale to reveal all of their innermost thoughts and...  more
  • "The Best of Both Worlds" - Star Trek: The Next Generation21

    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
  • "The Trouble With Tribbles" - Star Trek22

    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
  • "Bastogne" - Band of Brothers23

    SeasonBand of Brothers - Season 1

    Episode Number6

    Easy Company experiences the Battle of the Bulge and have to hold ground near Bastogne while...  more
  • Nightmare at 20,000 Feet24
    378
    171

    SeasonThe Twilight Zone Season 5

    Episode Number3

    Mr. Wilson believes he sees a gremlin on the wing of his commercial aircraft....  more
  • "The Contest" - Seinfeld25
    1,540
    868

    SeasonSeinfeld Season 4

    Episode Number11

    "The Contest" is the 51st episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. The 11th episode of the fourth...  more