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TV episodes The Best Single Episodes in Television History  

Ranker TV
19.3k votes 1.9k voters 37.3k views Embed

List Rules No 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!
list ordered by

1
454 155
"Ozymandias" - Breakin... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Ozymandias" - Breaking Bad

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2
178 80
The Luck of the Fryrish is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Luck of the Fryrish" - Futurama Mar 11 2001 After a string of bad luck, Fry ventures into the decaying ruins of Old New York to regain his lucky seven-leaf clover from his childhood, only to find that his brother Yancy Fry had stolen not ...more

3
251 127
Face Off is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Face Off" - Breaking Bad Oct 09 2011 A showdown with Gus occurs. Walt finds an unexpected ally through Saul's help.

4
220 111
The Rains of Castamere is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Rains of Castamere" - Game of Thrones Jun 02 2013 "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 ...more

5
188 93
You Only Move Twice is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"You Only Move Twice" - The Simpsons Nov 03 1996 "You Only Move Twice" is the second episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 3, 1996. The episode, based on a story ...more

6
183 91
Marge vs. the Monorail is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Marge vs. the Monorail" - The Simpsons Jan 14 1993 When Springfield gets a sudden windfall, a charismatic traveling salesman convinces the town to build a monorail.

7
163 78
Make Love, Not Warcraft is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Make Love, Not Warcraft" - South Park Oct 04 2006 "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 ...more

8
217 115
Blackwater is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Blackwater" - Game of Thrones May 27 2012 Tyrion and the Lannisters fight for their lives as Stannis’ fleet assaults King’s Landing.

9
207 110
The Soup Nazi is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
theuniverse added The Soup Nazi Nov 02 1995 "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 ...more

10
237 132
Scott Tenorman Must Die is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Scott Tenorman Must Die" - South Park Jul 11 2001 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

11
259 148
The Contest is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Contest" - Seinfeld Nov 18 1992 "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 ...more

12
151 79
Goodbye, Farewell and Amen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - M*A*S*H Feb 28 1983 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 ...more

13
201 117
"The Watchers on the Wall&... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones

14
169 95
"Blink" - Doctor Who is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Blink" - Doctor Who

15
198 117
The Convict is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Convict" - The Office Nov 30 2006 "The Convict" is the ninth episode of the third season of the American comedy television series The Office, and the show's 37th overall. It first aired on November 30, 2006 in the ...more

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16
220 133
Pilot is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
analise.dubner added "Pilot" - Lost Sep 22 2004 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 ...more

17
170 97
Slap Bet is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Slap Bet" - How I Met Your Mother Nov 20 2006 Ted and Barney discusses their viewpoints on knowing things about women. Barney thinks that the more you know the more likely you are to find a deal breaker. Ted wants to know the deal breakers ...more

18
105 51
To Serve Man is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
slaft added To Serve Man - Twilight Zone Mar 02 1962 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  "To Serve Man" is episode 89 of the anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on March 2, 1962 on CBS. The story is based on the 1950 short story "To Serve ...more

19
178 106
The Nightman Cometh is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Nightman Cometh" - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Nov 20 2008 In the season finale, Charlie gets the gang to help him put together a rock opera based on his song "Nightman."

20
187 113
Li'l Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Li'l Sebastian" - Parks and Recreation May 19 2011 Leslie and the parks team put together a memorial service for a dearly departed friend. Meanwhile, Tom makes a big life decision, while Chris reacts badly to a health problem.

21
110 56
Out of Gas is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Out of Gas" - Firefly Oct 25 2002 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.

22
157 92
Band Geeks is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

23
127 72
The Trouble With Tribbles is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Trouble With Tribbles" - Star Trek Dec 29 1967 Kirk must defuse a Klingon scheme to destroy a grain shipment...and cope with a seemingly benign creature known as a tribble, which reproduces at amazing speed.

24
192 124
Basketball is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Basketball" - The Office Apr 19 2005 The office staff play a basketball game against the warehouse workers in which Jim shows off to impress Pam and upstage her fiancee who is on the opposing team.

25
153 95
Days Gone Bye is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Days Gone Bye" - The Walking Dead Oct 31 2010 "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 ...more

26
85 44
Last Exit to Springfield is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
analise.dubner added Last Exit to Springfield - The Simpsons Mar 11 1993 Homer negotiates his union's contract with Mr. Burns, mindful that he needs a dental plan for Lisa's new braces. Burns mistakes Homer's utter ineptitude for strategy and concedes, on the ...more

27
129 80
"Treat Yourself" - Par... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Treat Yourself" - Parks and Recreation

28
160 105
Pizza Delivery is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
ryanjjjj8 added "Pizza Delivery" - SpongeBob SquarePants "Pizza Delivery" is the first segment of the fifth episode of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. The episode was written by Sherm Cohen, Aaron Springer, and ...more

29
106 62
Once More, With Feeling is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Once More, With Feeling" - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Nov 06 2001 A mysterious force causes everyone in Sunnydale to reveal all of their innermost thoughts and feelings in song. Buffy tells the gang the truth about where she was when she was dead and they are ...more

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30
122 76
The Body is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Body" - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Feb 27 2001 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. ...more

31
148 99
Dead Freight is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Dead Freight" - Breaking Bad Aug 12 2012 Walt's team gets creative to obtain the methylamine they need to continue their operation.

32
125 84
Booze Cruise is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Booze Cruise" - The Office Jan 05 2006 Michael takes the entire Dunder-Mifflin staff on a motivational cruise aboard a party boat on Lake Wallenpaupack, but his planned presentation is bogged down by numerous distractions, including ...more

33
69 37
Roswell That Ends Well is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Roswell That Ends Well" - Futurama Dec 09 2001 The combined explosions of a supernova and Fry putting metal in the microwave hurtle the Planet Express crew back in time to 1947. They land at Roswell, New Mexico, where a shattered Bender is ...more

34
85 51
Back to the Pilot is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Back to the Pilot" - Family Guy Nov 13 2011 "Road to the Pilot is the fifth episode of the tenth season of the animated comedy series Family Guy. The episode originally aired on Fox in the United States on November 13, 2011. In ...more

35
122 83
Pine Barrens is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Pine Barrens" - The Sopranos May 06 2001 While on a collection errand, Paulie and Christopher find themselves thrust into a deadly chase with a Russian in the frigid woods of South Jersey. Tony is caught between business, family ...more

36
78 46
House's Head is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"House's Head" - House M.D. May 12 2008 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 ...more

37
86 55
The City on the Edge of Foreve... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The City on the Edge of Forever" - Star Trek Apr 06 1967 Kirk and Spock must travel into the past in order to correct a change that will alter history.

38
108 76
Turkeys Away is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Turkeys Away" - WKRP in Cincinnati Oct 30 1978 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

39
51 26
Ranker Video
daniel-paternina added "The Dance of Dragons" - Game of Thrones june 7-2015

40
113 82
Modern Warfare is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Modern Warfare" - Community May 06 2010 The sexual tension between Jeff and Britta becomes a hot topic among the study group. Meanwhile, what starts out as a simple contest for a chance at early class registration turns the peaceful ...more

41
51 28
The Girl in the Fireplace is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
LachlanBarbeler added The Girl in the Fireplace - Doctor Who May 06 2006 The TARDIS materialises in London in mid-22nd century. Dalek invaders are now ruling the Earth with the aid of humans converted into zombie-like "Robomen", but they are opposed by a ...more

42
84 58
My Lunch is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"My Lunch" - Scrubs Apr 25 2006 J.D. asks Dr. Cox out for lunch, but runs into annoying former patient Jill Tracy, who unexpectedly teaches him something about responsibility. Elliot and Carla discover that Todd has been lying ...more

43
130 101
The Marine Biologist is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Marine Biologist" - Seinfeld Feb 10 1994 Jerry meets an old college classmate who asked about George, whom Jerry says is now a "marine biologist." An infuriated Russian writer tosses an electronic organizer belonging to ...more

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44
106 81
Abyssinia, Henry is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Abyssinia, Henry" - M*A*S*H Mar 18 1975 "Abyssinia, Henry" is the 72nd episode of the M*A*S*H television series, and the final episode of the series' third season. First aired on March 18, 1975, and written by Everett ...more

45
42 22
Penny and Dime - Marvel's Dare... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
LachlanBarbeler added Penny and Dime - Marvel's Daredevil March 18 2016

46
107 84
"The Grove" - The Walk... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Grove" - The Walking Dead

47
88 67
Towelie is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Towelie" - South Park Aug 08 2001 The boys get a new video game system and their plans for the next 38 hours is to play it! Untill they discover Towelie, a government secret, genetically engineered towel that gets his special ...more

48
96 75
Walkabout is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Walkabout" - Lost Oct 13 2004 The survivors are jolted awake in the middle of the night when wild island beasts (which are wild boars) invade the beach encampment. Kate and Michael join the mysterious Locke on a hunt for ...more

49
72 53
The Getaway is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Getaway" - Dexter Dec 13 2009 Dexter and Arthur find themselves on a collision course, as Debra unearths a shocking long-hidden truth, Rita admits her marriage to Dexter is troubled, and Batista and LaGuerta face the ...more

50
73 54
Objects in Space is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Objects in Space" - Firefly Dec 13 2002 A bounty hunter boards the Serenity to capture River for the Alliance.