Watchworthy

The Best Single Episodes in Television History 

Ranker TV
Updated May 7, 2020 135.9k votes 12.5k voters 145.3k views 303 items

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!
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list ordered by
1
"Ozymandias" -... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Ozymandias" - Breaking Bad
2
The Rains of Castamere ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Rains of Castamere" - Game of Thrones Episode: 9, Season: Game of Thrones Season 3

Original Airing: 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
3
Face Off is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 13, Season: Breaking Bad - Season 4

Original Airing: Oct 09 2011

A showdown with Gus occurs. Walt finds an unexpected ally through Saul's help.
4
"Blink" - Doct... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Blink" - Doctor Who
5
Goodbye, Farewell and Am... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 16, Season: M*A*S*H - Season 11

Original Airing: 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
6
Blackwater is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"Blackwater" - Game of Thrones Episode: 9, Season: Game of Thrones - Season 2

Original Airing: May 27 2012

Tyrion and the Lannisters fight for their lives as Stannis’ fleet assaults King’s Landing.
7
Pilot is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
analise.dubner added Episode: 1, Season: Lost - Season 1

Original Airing: 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
8
The Soup Nazi is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
theuniverse added Episode: 6, Season: Seinfeld - Season 7

Original Airing: 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
9
"Battle of the Bast... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Liam Mellon added "Battle of the Bastards" - Game of Thrones

Original Airing: June 19, 2016

10
"The Watchers on th... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
"The Watchers on the Wall" - Game of Thrones
11
Days Gone Bye is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 1, Season: The Walking Dead - Season 1

Original Airing: 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
12
Make Love, Not Warcraft ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 8, Season: South Park - Season 10

Original Airing: 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
13
Stress Relief is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
John Primus added "Stress Relief" - The Office

Original Airing: Feb 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 ...more
14
The Luck of the Fryrish ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History

Original Airing: 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
15
Jurassic Bark is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Jen Fox-Williams added

Original Airing: Nov 17 2002

"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 ...more
16
Scott Tenorman Must Die ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 4, Season: South Park - Season 5

Original Airing: 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
17
To Serve Man is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
slaft added Episode: 24, Season: The Twilight Zone Season 3

Original Airing: 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 
18
Dead Freight is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 5, Season: Breaking Bad - Season 5

Original Airing: Aug 12 2012

Walt's team gets creative to obtain the methylamine they need to continue their operation.
19
Out of Gas is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 5, Season: Firefly Season 1

Original Airing: 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.
20
The Contest is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 11, Season: Seinfeld Season 4

Original Airing: 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
21
The Nightman Cometh is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 13, Season: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 4

Original Airing: Nov 20 2008

In the season finale, Charlie gets the gang to help him put together a rock opera based on his song "Nightman."
22
You Only Move Twice is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 2, Season: The Simpsons season 8

Original Airing: 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

More You Only Move Twice 

#6 of 261 The Greatest Simpsons Episodes Ever #6 of 85 The Best Simpsons Epi-ma-sodes

23
The Convict is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 9, Season: The Office (US TV series) season 3

Original Airing: 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
24
Once More, With Feeling ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 7, Season: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 6

Original Airing: Nov 06 2001

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 ...more
25
The Trouble With Tribble... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Single Episodes in Television History
Episode: 15, Season: Star Trek: The Original Series Season 2

Original Airing: 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.