The Writer’s Strike continues going strong, and to celebrate, we’re recalling some of the best television episodes ever written. From Breaking Bad to Game of Thrones to The Boondocks, here are 25 of the most stellar episodic pieces in television, according to an internet thread.
Don’t worry: We’ll avoid major spoilers for newer shows.
1. “Ozymandias,” Breaking Bad
The 14th episode of the fifth season leans on the culmination of suspense from the events preceding the episode and puts into perspective everything that could go wrong. Fans of the show say the opening seventeen minutes before the credits roll contribute to the perfection of the show.
The episode features incredible performances from the actors and unbeatable tension.
2. “Who Goes There,” True Detective
“Absolute perfection in television. That tracking scene with McConaghy trying to escape the trailer park is probably the greatest scene in TV history, too,” a fan of the show writes.
3. “The Tales of Ba Sing Se,” Avatar the Last Airbender
The best part of Avatar is the story-telling narrative introduced to kids used to cookie-cutter animated shows. In “The Tales of Ba Sing Se,” we glimpse into several characters’ backstories, the best being Uncle Iroh. We learn more about Iroh’s kind heart, his tragic history, and his passion for tea.
4. “The Bent-Neck Lady,” The Haunting of Hill House
When the iconic horror director dropped his first Netflix show, The Haunting of Hill House, horror hounds praised the creative direction and performances of each cast member, particularly Nell’s character. This episode reveals the haunting truth behind the true identity of a woman haunting a child.
5. “Vincent and The Doctor,” Doctor Who
“I agree this is the single best episode of Who ever. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it. When Bill Nighy is talking about him being the greatest artist who ever lived, it brings me to tears every time. And then realizing it didn’t ultimately change his fate…every time,” a Whovian shares.
6. “San Junipero,” Black Mirror
Black Mirror dropped its newest season recently, but nothing compares to the perfection of “San Junipero.” The sapphic love story introduces viewers to a system where sick individuals can continue a happy life long after their gone. The music, the acting, the pacing, and the writing in this episode won two Emmys.
7. “Band Geeks,” Spongebob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants has a fair share of memorable episodes, but I’d argue the most memorable has to be the marching band story. Thousands of fish in marching uniforms form a band to belt out “Sweet Victory.” The song hits differently, especially if you have experience in marching band.
8. “Episode 3,” The Last of Us
“I played the game and thought I knew what I was getting into when they were going to introduce Bill. And then that happened! I was not expecting it at all and cried so much. It was so good and so beautiful and so sad. I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it,” a gamer expresses.
9. “Janet (s),” The Good Place
The Good Place meditates on the afterlife, philosophy, and the meaning of life through humorous dialogue and smart writing. This episode awarded the show an Emmy nomination and a Hugo award. One viewer believes the actor, D’Arcy Carden stole the show, especially during this episode.
10. “407 Proxy Authentication Required,” Mr. Robot
The drama show Mr. Robot revolves around a cybersecurity engineer who betrays his job to become a hacker under the guidance of Mr. Robot. This episode in the final season features kidnapping, breakthroughs, and realizations amidst amazing dialogue, tension, and wonderful cinematography.
11. “The View From Halfway Down,” Bojack Horseman
The sixth season of Bojack Horseman thrusts viewers into the most uncomfortable stances and forces them to think about their preconceived beliefs and notions about each person they encounter.
During this episode, Bojack attends a somber dinner service with deceased people, and he isn’t aware if he is alive or not. The punchy dialogue, heartwrenching music, and exquisite animation make it one of the best-animated episodes of television ever.
12. “Free Churro,” Bojack Horseman
Another fabulous Bojack episode is “Free Churro.”
Bojack is no stranger to focusing on uncomfortable feelings, and “Free Churro” emphasizes the discomfort. After he finds out his mother passes away, Bojack presents an honest speech at her funeral until he realizes he isn’t at the right funeral.
The realization is so stunning that viewers have no choice but to sit in awe and reflect on every raw emotion he spoke about to complete strangers.
13. “The Original,” Westworld
Westworld watchers say the pilot is a masterclass in television and should serve as a template for television moving forward. From the beginning, newcomers fell in love with the plot following humanoid robots in Western theme parks.
14. “Days Gone By,” The Walking Dead
The pilot of the popular zombie show circulates around a former police officer looking for resources who encounters a zombie child. The Walking Dead adorers claim the opening episode copied the comic book shot by shot.
15. “Finale,” Derry Girls
The Netflix original show about five friends living through the issues affecting Northern Ireland in the 90s utilizes comedic relief throughout most of the plot. However, the finale serves as a sweet, touching conclusion.
“As a person from Northern Ireland, which is being torn apart by Brexit, seeing that finale reminded me how important the GFA was and how it should be protected,” a viewer reports.
16. “Season 2, Episode 1,” Fleabag
Phoebe Waller’s Bridge is a godsend. The visionary starred in and wrote the novel show Fleabag, one of the most unique shows in recent history. Fleabag rarely mentions names, and the main character constantly breaks the fourth wall, which adds to the comedy and the relationship between the audience and Fleabag.
The first episode of the second season is the best in the immaculate series, especially because Fleabag punches her brother-in-law after he offends her.
17. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” The Twilight Zone
Scared of planes? Don’t watch this episode. The sci-fi, horror, and thriller show known for its theme song and iconic intro succeeded in scaring audiences with Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. While cruising through the sky on a plane, a nervous man sees a figure in the plane window.
18. “Jurassic Bark,” Futurama
Futurama has one of the most interesting premises in television. A man accidentally falls into a cryogenic chamber. He wakes up 1000 years later to a new life, and in the episode “Jurassic Bark,” the main character discovers his dog’s frozen remains. The unfolding events will break your heart, especially if you’re a dog person.
19. “Sleepytime,” Bluey
Although Bluey is billed as a children’s show, I know several adults who fill their DVRs with recordings of the optimistic Australian family of dogs. “Sleepytime” focuses on four-year-old Bingo, who falls asleep after her mom reads her some bedtime stories.
The puppy struggles with achieving a peaceful state of sleep but wakes up in her own bed, overcoming the fear of sleeping alone.
20. “The Piggyback,” Stranger Things
The fourth season of Stranger Things is not for the emotionally unstable. The writers decided to pack every emotion into the newest season, introduce a new character, and tear them away from us in the most emotionally charged scene featuring a Metallica song. The finale of season four wraps up loose ends and cements the tone for the final season.
21. “Nature,” Moral Orel
Too many people sleep on claymation, but Moral Orel is the best claymation show in existence. The cartoon began as a religious satire but soon evolved into a deep, depressing reflection on life and love. The best (and most painful) episode of the show comes in the second season.
When good-egg Orel embarks on a hunting trip with his father, Clay, Clay drinks too much and ends up hurting Orel, setting up a plot line that fuels the third season.
22. “Everyone,” Skins (U.K.)
Don’t bother with the U.S. version of Skins. Stick to the phenomenal U.K. vision that paved the way for Euphoria. Each episode centers around one character, but the finale opens up the story to everyone.
The first season of the teen drama concludes with a harrowing performance of a cover of Cat Steven’s “Wild World” and heartbreaking plot lines cementing the character’s subplots in further seasons.
23. “Return of The King,” The Boondocks
Sadly, producers cut the political and social dark comedy The Boondocks after three seasons for censorship and offensive content. Still, before Adult Swim nixed the show, it saw one of the best episodes in adult animation ever. “Return of the King” flipped the script around Martin Luter King, contemplating what would happen if he didn’t pass away.
24. “Showmance,” Glee
Today, Glee would never air, but in 2009, the melodramatic satire entertained millions. The second episode of the Underdog series features hilarious plotlines about giving audiences what they want, the grime behind show business, and an unforgettable cover of Salt N’ Peppa’s “Push It.”
25. “Two Cathedrals,” The West Wing
“Two Cathedrals” follows President Bartlet’s memories of his wife, and the workers deal with questions from democrats regarding his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Fans claim this episode showcases stellar camerawork, a great soundtrack, and unbeatable performances.