Greatest TV Episodes of All Time

by mehrul-bari | created - 10 Dec 2013 | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public

This is my list of the greatest television episodes ever to air. I had previously published an identical list through my now-defunct account which has been taken down by IMDb for some reason. I was bummed out initially at the thought of doing it from scratch but my love for television and my love for lists drove me to construct the list all over again. So, here is the updated list via my new account. Hope you liked seeing this list half as much as I did making it (twice!)

P.S. Every episode listed as Part 1 or 2 (or higher) represents all parts, as they collectively form one episode. Also, all episodes from a mini-series or television plays are ineligible for inclusion, because of course.

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1. Seinfeld (1989–1998)
Episode: The Contest (1992)

PG | 23 min | Comedy

George's mother throws her back out when she falls down after catching George performing a personal act; the gang partakes in a contest of self-denial.

Director: Tom Cherones | Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander

Votes: 4,308

2. The Sopranos (1999–2007)
Episode: Long Term Parking (2004)

TV-MA | 57 min | Crime, Drama

Tony makes a request to Johnny Sack on behalf of his cousin, and Adriana makes a request to the FBI, followed by one to Chris.

Director: Timothy Van Patten | Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Votes: 3,144

3. The Simpsons (1989– )
Episode: Last Exit to Springfield (1993)

TV-PG | 30 min | Animation, Comedy

Homer becomes union leader and leads a company strike when Mr. Burns takes away the company dental plan.

Director: Mark Kirkland | Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith

Votes: 2,766

4. The X-Files (1993–2018)
Episode: Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose (1995)

TV-PG | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A grumpy old man with psychic powers that show him how someone will die assists the agents with the hunt for a crazed killer who targets psychics. He also cryptically reveals to Mulder and Scully their own ultimate fates.

Director: David Nutter | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Peter Boyle, Stuart Charno

Votes: 4,777

5. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977)
Episode: Chuckles Bites the Dust (1975)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

Mary thinks that the death of Chuckles the Clown is nothing to laugh about--until she attends the funeral.

Director: Joan Darling | Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight

Votes: 279

6. The Wire (2002–2008)
Episode: Final Grades (2006)

TV-MA | 79 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

In the Season Four finale, the bodies from the vacants pile up while Burrell offers his support to Daniels and admonishes Rawls for crossing him. A distraught Bubbles finds himself at his wit's end after his revenge plan backfires.

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson | Stars: Dominic West, John Doman, Frankie Faison, Aidan Gillen

Votes: 3,101

7. The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
Episode: Time Enough at Last (1959)

TV-PG | 25 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A henpecked book lover finds himself blissfully alone with his books after a nuclear war.

Director: John Brahm | Stars: Burgess Meredith, Vaughn Taylor, Jacqueline deWit, Lela Bliss

Votes: 4,649

8. Breaking Bad (2008–2013)
Episode: Ozymandias (2013)

TV-14 | 48 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Walt goes on the run. Jesse is taken hostage. Marie convinces Skyler to tell Walter, Jr. the truth.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris

Votes: 105,918

9. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)
Episode: Episode #2.22 (1991)

TV-14 | 50 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Lucy chooses the father for her baby. Nadine's memory returns. Donna's father attacks Ben. Can Cooper overcome his deepest fears as he enters the surreal Black Lodge to save Annie?

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook

Votes: 3,589

10. The Shield (2002–2008)
Episode: Family Meeting (2008)

TV-MA | 72 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

As Vic hopes his immunity deal will help keep his family together, and Shane takes extreme measures to keep his pregnant wife from being charged with murder, Dutch finds he's a suspect in ... See full summary »

Director: Clark Johnson | Stars: Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Paula Garcés, Walton Goggins

Votes: 1,604

11. The Simpsons (1989– )
Episode: Marge vs. the Monorail (1993)

TV-PG | 30 min | Animation, Comedy

After receiving a considerable donation of money, Springfield builds a monorail system with Homer as the conductor, unaware they've just boarded a one-way train to Hell.

Director: Rich Moore | Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith

Votes: 3,012

12. Lost (2004–2010)
Episode: The Constant (2008)

TV-14 | 43 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

During the helicopter ride to the ship, Desmond's consciousness begins jumping back and forth between present day 2004 and 1996. He is forced to find Daniel Faraday in 1996 in order to get answers and stop the jumps.

Director: Jack Bender | Stars: Naveen Andrews, Henry Ian Cusick, Jeremy Davies, Emilie de Ravin

Votes: 9,335

13. Mad Men (2007–2015)
Episode: The Suitcase (2010)

TV-14 | 48 min | Drama

Don deliberately delays returning an important call from California, because he knows it's bad news about Anna. Instead, he keeps himself occupied by forcing Peggy to miss her birthday dinner to pull an all-nighter with him for a client.

Director: Jennifer Getzinger | Stars: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones

Votes: 3,725

14. Fawlty Towers (1975–1979)
Episode: The Germans (1975)

TV-PG | 31 min | Comedy

A moose head to be hung, a fire drill to be conducted, and German guests are all a bit much for Basil to handle while Sybil's in hospital.

Director: John Howard Davies | Stars: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth

Votes: 1,768

15. Six Feet Under (2001–2005)
Episode: Everyone's Waiting (2005)

TV-MA | 73 min | Comedy, Drama

Nate and Brenda's daughter Willa is born, but 2 months early and at only 2 lb. 4 oz., requiring a prolonged hospital stay. Nate is convinced she won't make it and insists that he can't ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Ball | Stars: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose

Votes: 6,724

16. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003)
Episode: Once More, with Feeling (2001)

TV-PG | 50 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

In this musical extravaganza, Sunnydale residents find themselves bursting into song, and flame, when a demon attempts to make Dawn his bride.

Director: Joss Whedon | Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Emma Caulfield Ford, Michelle Trachtenberg

Votes: 7,762

17. The Sopranos (1999–2007)
Episode: Pine Barrens (2001)

TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama

While Silvio has the flu, Chris and Paulie run his collections for him, which results in the pair getting lost in the woods and nearly freezing to death while Tony's affair with Gloria goes sour as does Meadow's relationship with Jackie Jr.

Director: Steve Buscemi | Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Votes: 5,463

18. Friends (1994–2004)
Episode: The One with the Embryos (1998)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy, Romance

Phoebe's uterus is examined for implantation of the embryos. Meanwhile, a seemingly harmless game between Chandler and Joey against Monica and Rachel escalates into a full blown contest where the stakes are raised higher and higher.

Director: Kevin Bright | Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc

Votes: 5,451

19. Lost (2004–2010)
Episode: Through the Looking Glass (2007)

TV-14 | 84 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Jack and the survivors wait for Charlie to turn off The Others' signal-jamming device, not knowing that he has been captured at the Looking Glass station. In addition, Sayid, Jin and Bernard are captured after The Others invade the camp.

Director: Jack Bender | Stars: Naveen Andrews, Henry Ian Cusick, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Emerson

Votes: 8,999

20. M*A*S*H (1972–1983)
Episode: Abyssinia, Henry (1975)

TV-PG | 25 min | Comedy, Drama, War

Henry finds out he's been discharged from the army, and everyone at the 4077th prepares to say goodbye to him as he heads for home.

Director: Larry Gelbart | Stars: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, Loretta Swit

Votes: 693

21. Doctor Who (2005– )
Episode: Blink (2007)

TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

Sally Sparrow receives a cryptic message from the Doctor about a mysterious new enemy species that is after the TARDIS.

Director: Hettie Macdonald | Stars: David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, Carey Mulligan, Lucy Gaskell

Votes: 16,596

22. I Love Lucy (1951–1957)
Episode: Lucy Does a TV Commercial (1952)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

Lucy has angled her way onto Ricky's special as the show's pitch girl. She advertises a medicine called "Vitameatavegamin." Believing it contains vitamins, minerals, meat, and vegetables, ... See full summary »

Director: Marc Daniels | Stars: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley

Votes: 549

23. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999)
Episode: The Subway (1997)

TV-14 | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A man is pinned by a train in a subway station, producing a mortal wound that is temporarily suppressed by his situation, the Homicide detectives must determine if the incident was an accident or deliberate.

Director: Gary Fleder | Stars: Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Reed Diamond, Peter Gerety

Votes: 327

24. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003)
Episode: The Body (2001)

TV-PG | 60 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

Buffy, Dawn, and their friends deal with the aftermath of Joyce's death.

Director: Joss Whedon | Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Emma Caulfield Ford

Votes: 4,878

25. Chappelle's Show (2003–2006)
Episode: The Love Contract & True Hollywood Stories: Rick James (2004)

TV-MA | 19 min | Comedy, Music

Dave introduces The Love Contract and the first of Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories featuring Rick James. Musical guest Ludacris.

Directors: Neal Brennan, Andre Allen, Scott Vincent | Stars: Dave Chappelle, Rashida Jones, Charlie Murphy, Rick James

Votes: 495

26. Arrested Development (2003– )
Episode: Pier Pressure (2004)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy

When Buster asks George-Michael to buy him marijuana to treat Lucille Austero's vertigo, Michael stages a phony bust to teach George-Michael a lesson.

Director: Joe Russo | Stars: Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera

Votes: 2,344

27. The Office (2001–2003)
Episode: Christmas Special: Part 2 (2003)

TV-14 | 52 min | Comedy, Drama

Tim's world is rocked when Dawn turns up at the office to say hello. Despite a stern warning from Gareth and wise words from Keith in Accounts, Tim can't help but get his hopes up again. ... See full summary »

Directors: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant | Stars: Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, Lucy Davis

Votes: 1,715

(representing both Part 1 and 2)

28. The West Wing (1999–2006)
Episode: Two Cathedrals (2001)

TV-14 | 43 min | Drama

As the Haitian army continues their seizure of the American embassy there, Bartlet and the staff prepare for the announcement that Bartlet has M.S. and the President must decide whether or ... See full summary »

Director: Thomas Schlamme | Stars: Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney

Votes: 2,077

29. South Park (1997– )
Episode: Trapped in the Closet (2005)

TV-MA | 22 min | Animation, Comedy

Several religious leaders recongize Stan as the second coming of Christ, and a whole soap opera unfolds with the help from a famous R&B sensation.

Director: Trey Parker | Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, John 'Nancy' Hansen, Mona Marshall

Votes: 3,421

30. The Sopranos (1999–2007)
Episode: The Blue Comet (2007)

TV-MA | 49 min | Crime, Drama

The Beginning of the End. Phil finally puts the hits on the Soprano clan and Tony puts a hit on Phil which results in mistaken identity making everyone think its safe when its not and it ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Taylor | Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Votes: 3,188

31. Arrested Development (2003– )
Episode: Development Arrested (2006)

TV-14 | 23 min | Comedy

After returning home from Iraq, George Sr. is finally cleared of all charges, and Michael is relieved to be the head of a successful company for a change. The real brains behind the madness... See full summary »

Director: John Fortenberry | Stars: Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera

Votes: 2,021

32. Seinfeld (1989–1998)
Episode: The Parking Garage (1991)

PG | 22 min | Comedy

The four get stuck in a parking garage for hours when they forget where they parked.

Director: Tom Cherones | Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander

Votes: 2,377

33. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999)
Episode: Three Men and Adena (1993)

TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Bayliss has a new clue on his primary case and with Frank they interrogate a suspect who they believe to be the murderer of Adena

Director: Martin Campbell | Stars: Daniel Baldwin, Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Clark Johnson

Votes: 300

34. The Prisoner (1967–1968)
Episode: Fall Out (1968)

TV-PG | 60 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

After witnessing the trials of Number Two and Number Forty-Eight and meeting the President of the Assembly, Number Six escapes during the chaos that follows.

Director: Patrick McGoohan | Stars: Alexis Kanner, Angelo Muscat, Leo McKern, Kenneth Griffith

Votes: 487

35. The Wire (2002–2008)
Episode: Middle Ground (2004)

TV-MA | 59 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

The wire begins to yield information about the Barksdale organization. Stringer and Avon reminisce on how far they have come. McNulty finds the way to a key piece of the puzzle in an ... See full summary »

Director: Joe Chappelle | Stars: Dominic West, John Doman, Idris Elba, Frankie Faison

Votes: 3,341

36. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)
Episode: Episode #2.7 (1990)

TV-14 | 47 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Maddy prepares to leave Twin Peaks, Leo wants shoes, Norma learns of Nadine's regression, Tojamura reveals his identity to Pete, and Cooper arrests Ben Horne for the murder of Laura Palmer only to receive a devastating message.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook

Votes: 3,572

37. The Honeymooners (1955–1956)
Episode: The $99,000 Answer (1956)

30 min | Comedy, Family

Ralph's out to prove himself to Alice, his neighborhood, and the world when he becomes a contestant on a hit television game show.

Director: Frank Satenstein | Stars: Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, Joyce Randolph

Votes: 142

38. The X-Files (1993–2018)
Episode: Bad Blood (1998)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Scully and Mulder each recount their version of events that led Mulder to drive a stake through the heart of a Texas teenager he claims was a vampire.

Director: Cliff Bole | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Luke Wilson

Votes: 4,428

39. Friday Night Lights (2006–2011)
Episode: Always (2011)

TV-14 | 61 min | Drama, Sport

With the decision to close the East Dillon Football program speculation runs wild on two fronts. Will the Lions be able to win State and go out in a blaze of glory; and will Coach Taylor ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Waxman | Stars: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Aimee Teegarden, Michael B. Jordan

Votes: 786

40. Deadwood (2004–2006)
Episode: Sold Under Sin (2004)

TV-MA | 60 min | Crime, Drama, History

General Crook rolls into Deadwood with his troops, known as "Custer's avengers," and the Yankton magistrate, Clagett, prompting a parade and business solicitations from E.B. Farnum and Cy ... See full summary »

Director: Davis Guggenheim | Stars: Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Jim Beaver

Votes: 1,420

41. 24 (2001–2010)
Episode: 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. (2002)

TV-14 | 42 min | Action, Crime, Drama

After being falsely informed his daughter has been killed, the enraged Jack Bauer goes to the dock to kill the Drazens whilst the traitor at CTU tries to make a quick escape.

Director: Stephen Hopkins | Stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Leslie Hope, Sarah Clarke, Elisha Cuthbert

Votes: 1,795

42. Frasier (1993–2004)
Episode: The Ski Lodge (1998)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy

Roz wins a weekend at a ski lodge, and trades it to Frasier. Daphne invites along her friend Annie, a swimsuit model. Frasier is taken with her, but she is interested in Niles. Added to the... See full summary »

Director: David Lee | Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin

Votes: 1,121

43. The Sopranos (1999–2007)
Episode: Whitecaps (2002)

TV-MA | 72 min | Crime, Drama

Junior's trial comes to an end, but Tony's trials are just getting underway. Also, the Sopranos almost purchase a house on the beach.

Director: John Patterson | Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Votes: 2,727

44. The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
Episode: Walking Distance (1959)

TV-PG | 25 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A man travels back in time to his childhood, arriving just a few miles away from his native town.

Director: Robert Stevens | Stars: Rod Serling, Gig Young, Frank Overton, Irene Tedrow

Votes: 3,471

45. Futurama (1999–2013)
Episode: Jurassic Bark (2002)

TV-PG | 23 min | Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Fry discovers the intact fossilized remains of his pet dog from his old life. The Professor reveals he can clone the animal.

Director: Swinton O. Scott III | Stars: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille

Votes: 3,986

46. Seinfeld (1989–1998)
Episode: The Chinese Restaurant (1991)

PG | 23 min | Comedy

Jerry, Elaine and George stop for a quick Chinese dinner before seeing "Plan 9 From Outer Space," but circumstances at the eatery make them miss the movie.

Director: Tom Cherones | Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander

Votes: 2,297

47. The Larry Sanders Show (1992–1998)
Episode: Flip (1998)

TV-MA | 55 min | Comedy