The 25 Best TV Episodes of All Time, According to IMDB Users
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The 25 Best TV Episodes of All Time, According to IMDB Users

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | April 9, 2013 | Comments ()


Most of us are familiar with the IMDB Top 250 movies of all time, a list of the best movies of all time as ranked by the IMDB users. Shawshank Redemption sits atop that list now, along with Godfather and Godfather II. As lists of the best movies of all time go, it's not without complaint, but it's probably the best you're going to find, unless you make your own. Yesterday while doing some Internet sleuthing, I inadvertently backdoored by way into IMDB's Top 100 Television Episodes of All Time, a list that I didn't know existed. It is comprised almost entirely of recent episodes, and there are a couple of head scratchers amongst them, but it's also a solid list (especially if you're a fan of AMC and HBO).

My take-away: I actually completely agree with the top three choices, and there are several others among the entires that I'd certainly put in my top 25. (I'd bump "My Screw-Up" into the top 5. Period). I've also learned that perhaps I should've watched "House, M.D." more often than I did, and what? "Person of Interest" is good?

You can check out the top 100 yourself on IMDB, but here's a list of the top 25 episodes of all time, as ranked by IMDB users. Quibble, quarrel, and bicker away.

1. Breaking Bad, "Face Off" -- Jesse is brought to the FBI for questioning on his knowledge of Ricin. In a last effort to kill Gus, Walt must ask for help from an old enemy.


2. Six Feet Under, "Everyone's Waiting" (The Series Finale) -- Nate and Brenda's daughter Willa is born, but 2 months early and at only 2 lb. 4 oz., requiring a prolonged hospital stay ...

3. Friday Night Lights, "Always" (The Series Finale) -- With the decision to close the East Dillon Football program speculation runs wild on two fronts.


4. Breaking Bad, "Dead Freight" (The Heist Episode) -- A boy on a motorbike finds a large tarantula in the desert. Walter pays a visit to Hank in the new office.

5. Community, "Modern Warfare" (Paintball Episode) -- Greendale Comunity College is transformed into an apocalyptic war zone when the dean promises the winner of a paintball competition priority registration, and it could fan the flames of sexual tension between Jeff and Britta.

6. House, M.D., "House's Head" -- A bus that House was riding crashes. House claims there's a victim on the bus that's dying, but not from the bus accident. He stops at nothing to figure out who the patient is and what is ailing them.


7. Person of Interest, "Firewall" -- Reese and Finch will need all the help they can get with their latest number, a young woman by the name of Caroline Turing.

8. Doctor Who, "Blink" -- "Don't Blink. Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't Blink. Good Luck."


9. The Sopranos, "Pine Barrens" -- 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.

10. The Wire, "Final Grades" (Fourth Season Finale) -- Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers, and law enforcement.

11. Mad Men, "The Suitcase" -- 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.


12. Breaking Bad, "Salud" -- Jesse, Gus, and Mike fly to Mexico where Jesse will cook a batch of crystal meth for Don Eladio's skeptical team.

13. Dexter, "The Getaway" (Fourth Season Finale) -- Dexter is obsessed with getting the Trinity Killer himself, especially after Arthur has tracked him to Metro Homicide and learns his real identity.


14. House, "Broken" -- House fights his doctors, the staff and his fellow patients when he's forced to stay in the psychiatric hospital under threat of permanently losing his medical license.

15. Breaking Bad, "Crawlspace" -- Hank has Walter drive him to the chicken ranch for regular stakeouts then suggests a detour to check out an industrial laundry.

16. Community, "Remedial Chaos Theory" -- At Abed and Troy's housewarming party, Jeff decides to let the decision on who gets the pizza rest on the roll of the dice, leaving Abed to contemplate six alternate realities.


17. House, M.D., "Wilson's Heart" -- The team works to save someone close to a central character's heart. The key is inside House's head, but he is in a bad way himself.

18. Game of Thrones, "Blackwater" -- Stannis has arrived at King's Landing. The battle has come!


19. Lost, "Through the Looking Glass" -- 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.


20. Six Feet Under, "All Alone" -- When David brings Nate's corpse, he realizes that his brother was a donor of organs. David tells Brenda that Nate had told him that he wanted a green funeral, being buried neither with restoration nor coffin. The family and friends grieve the loss and Ruth blames herself for her absence. Brenda has inner conflicts with the whole situation and leaves Maya with Ruth.

21. Scrubs, "My Finale Part 2" -- J.D. continues his last day at Sacred Heart, and tries to hold out hope for a great sendoff.

22. Scrubs, "My Screw-Up" -- It's Jack's first birthday, so Jordan's siblings Dani and Ben are in town.

23. Supernatural, "Swan Song" -- Sam goes with Dean to Lucifer's place and accepts to be his vessel, expecting to lure the cunning being and trap him with the four Horsemen's ring.

24. The Wire, "--30--" (The Series Finale).

25. Breaking Bad, "Full Measure" -- Jesse has disappeared and Walt is in big trouble with Gus. So Gus rehires Gale to learn from Walt's cooking so that they can dispose of Walt once and for all.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • BucTroop

    20% of them are Breaking Bad? 2 episodes of Scrubs? This list is pure, unadulterated shit.

  • Daniel Milne

    BBCs Sherlock Series 2 episode 3 is currently my favourite tv episode ever. Highly recommended.

  • Millard Fillmore

    The best episode of House was "Three Stories." And how could you have failed to note The West Wing's "In Excelsis Deo"?

  • Josh

    Not surprised at Breaking Bad topping the list. Kinda renowned by many critics and viewers alike as the greatest drama TV series ever made. I would give a mention to Walking Dead's S1E01 and S3E12 as well though. Unsurprisingly they both feature an actor that isn't in any other episode. Homeland's season 1 and season 2 finales are also phenomenal.

  • Steve-o Anders

    Star Trek TNG: Best of Both Worlds?! Not here?! Seriously!?

  • Miguel Garzón Martínez

    No "24" on this list? My heart is broken

  • Seriously? Not a single episode of Buffy? Clearly, this list is in serious need of revision

  • Darthballs Prostate Exam

    Lost needs a much bigger presence on this list! Where's the constant?? The Pilot? The Incident? Or literally any of the season finales. Love the Breaking Bad and Community love, but House?? Scrubs??? REALLY?!?!?!

  • Adams

    Where's Sienfeld''s "The Contest"?

  • iatethecrayons

    No Fringe? No BSG? No dice...thought I respect that Supernatural made the list. That episode made me cry.

  • Pizza the Hutt

    Very modern list bad job

  • Ten Beers

    Northern Exposure

  • Chelsea_blue_girl

    The X-Files episode Jose Chung's From Outer Space is still the best episode of that series and the best hour of tv I've ever seen.

  • jkingslp

    Yea, Supernatural made the list! That being said, not sure how House and Breaking Bad warrant so many spots when this is an all-time TV list, right? Not the last 12 years?

  • Jack Deth

    "Of all time" is grossly overused to the point of irrelevancy.


    I'd have to include the episode, 'Decoy' from 'Justified' for its writing alone. Though it does have some superbly executed action and deft, low key humor.

    'The Wire' excelled where other failed in episodic drama. Raising the bar even higher than 'Hill Street Blues' in the 1980s.

    FX set the trend of going all in on one extremely well cast, written and executed series with 'The Shield'. And AMC has carried the ball farther with 'Mad Men', 'Breaking Bad' and 'The Walking Dead'.

  • LuisTJ

    You have to admit, the last 10 years have been great for Television. Definitely the second Golden Age.

  • Jackie Jormpjomp

    Of all time? Are you f****** kidding?

  • Paul Sutherland

    The fact that Seinfeld is not on this list anywhere instantly makes it irrelevant.

  • David

    Stargate - Window of Opportunity.

  • Desslok

    So, nothing before 1999 then? No Babylon 5? No The Prisoner or Monty Python? Cheers?

  • Craig Forshaw

    Yeah... the lack of the final episode of 'Cheers' means that you shouldn't be using a definitive in the title. Also, putting 'Supernatural' on there, and neither 'Hush' or 'Once More With Feeling' from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is pretty dim, too. There is also the fact that you missed out a lot of genius television from prior to the last few years, and that you have chosen exclusively American TV shows: 'The Prisoner', 'Quatermass and the Pit', 'The Year of the Sex Olympics' (a one-off from the 1960s which predicted the rise of reality television and the soulless manipulation of real-life for ratings, and starred a young Brian Cox), 'MASH' (which I never found funny or good, but is so well loved it has to be included if you want your article to be balanced), 'Edge of Darkness', 'Yes, Minister', 'The Bridge' (the best police drama since 'The Wire'), 'The Kingdom' (the original version)...

    Lets just call this what it is: My Stealthy List The Justifies My Love Of 'Breaking Bad'.

  • This list is flawed. Any list that fails to include the Deep Space Nine episode 'The Visitor' can not be taken as a serious one. Whether you are a sci-fi fan or not, if you watch just this one episode of the series it would pull at your heart strings 10 fold. A father that is trapped in time and then momentarily reappears throughout stages of his once young boy's life was a true tearjerker. "But Jake....there is so much I need to know!".....that still brings chills and goosebumps to me even while typing this. Powerful. Just powerful.

  • Craven Moorehed

    I've seen 2 of those top 25. Mostly because I consider several of the shows in your list to be not worth watching.

  • Hulio

    Ok, i`m just shocked there`s no Buffy or Angel episodes, also Charmed or Friends. C`mon those shows made TV.

  • Dave

    Yeah, Person of Interest is awesome. It's like Batman without a costume and gadgets to me. You're missing out if you're not watching it. Bonus if you live in NYC and you recognize all the locations since they shot it local and not in LA.

  • Ron&Joe

    No Simpsons? Cheers!? WTF am I reading here?

  • Times

    "Jurassic Bark". Nuff said

  • yemayah

    Even though the list really seems, in general, to reflect recent memory & history of TV shows, as someone mentioned already, in the top 25 there is no JUSTIFIED. No 7th season series finale ("Family Meeting") of THE SHIELD. WTF! The IMDB 100 list is what it is, but I cannot get over two episodes of SCRUBS topping THE SHIELD's "Family Meeting". I must have overlooked an X-FILES episode in the top 100.

    It would be nice if there could be separate lists for comedy and drama, or separate lists for cable and network TV.

    As for a separate comedy top 100, I would love to see these very funny classic episodes included from I LOVE LUCY: I don't know the titles off the top of my head, but the episodes were about Lucy and Ricky trying to get out of their lease with the Fred & Ethel (the el break-o the leas-o party) and the leaving for California episode. And from the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW the episode in which the Petri's are invited to an NAACP (or similarly named organization for the TV episode) dinner. Laura and Rob had been using black dye and their hands ended up black stained. They were in a panic, trying to figure out how to cover it up before the event.
    Someone already mentioned the COSBY SHOW episode featuring the family entertaining the grandparents with "Nigh & Day". Great episode. But another COSBY episode that came to mind is the one (described by someone elsewhere in the comments section) where Cliff is trying to teach Theo about the value of money and has Theo go to various stations in the house. I seem to recall little Rudi's ?bank character name was pronounced Mrs. Wee-Wiss (I have no ideal of the spelling), which still makes me chuckle.


    BLINK! ahhh that shit was so scary.

  • Pronk

    These are all 2006 and later, I'm pretty sure. Not a horrible list, but definitely mislabled.

  • Margaret

    Can't believe that Jim taking his driver's license test on "Taxi" didn't make the list. Or Lucy on the conveyor belt at the candy factory in "I Love Lucy."

  • Mike

    Not a single Homicide Life on the Street episode? Nothing from Walking Dead? Nothing from NYPD Blue? Nothing from MASH? Nothing from Cheers? Nothing from ER? Nothing from St. Elsewhere? What kind of list is this?

  • Lurkey Turkey

    What about West Wings "Two Cathedrals" or really anything from Deadwood? Justified is woefully under-represented, and I would have expected at least some Walking Dead on here.

  • kazoshay

    It's important to remember that most IMDB users are about 14 and retarded.

  • Monica

    I feel like trusting the average IMDB user's opinion on TV/movies is like trusting a goat that screams like a human drinking beer that was spilled from a Budweiser delivery truck's opinion on the wine selection for your next dinner party.

  • Jason Terry

    None and i mean NONE of these shows are near as good as the final episodes of M.A.S.H should be labeled TOP 25 OF THE 2000'S not ever.

  • KenZoe

    More like 25 best TV episodes of the last six or so years. /sighs

  • logan

    This is the best TV shows list for the hipsters. I mean there isn't a show on here that is more than what 15 years old?

    Dont get me wrong Breaking Bad is GREAT. But c'mon TV didn't start 15 years ago.
    Oh and HTF does anything from "Person of Interest" make it?

  • Devin McMusters

    As a Scrubs-a-phile, those two choices are pure bunk.

  • somedude

    The ratings changed a while ago, the list has to be updated. Six Feet Under isn't in the Top 5 anymore and FNL is isn't even in the top 25 :(

  • Kristopher R

    This list is meaningless. Most people who vote on IMDb don't remember the best television had to offer. These kids today.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Person of Interest is addictingly good. It probably took about five episodes before I was convinced but after that, I gorged the entire season down. The network that airs it (CBS?) doesn't stream the show... that I could find anyway, and I looked... so I have to wait till it's released on DVD. I'm seriously jonesing for season 2 right now.

  • Drizzt do'Awesome

    You dont HAVE to wait. Their on hiatus anyway for the next 3 weeks.


    surely one of the walking dead 3rd season episodes should be on this list or what about Battlestar Gallactica?

  • bfg666

    How come Buffy S05E16 "The Body" isn't on this list? It is unquestionably top feature film quality material and should have the first place. It's the only time besides Twin Peaks when I really thought of a TV show as Art and not just entertainment.

    Wikipedia agrees: "Critics praised the episode, and have continued to count it as one of the finest episodes of television ever broadcast. David Bianculli in the New York Daily News commends the acting abilities of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg, Alyson Hannigan, and Amber Benson. "The Body", according to Bianculli is "Emmy-worthy ... It also will haunt you—but not in the normal way associated with this still-evolving, still-achieving series." Television critic Alesia Redding and editor Joe Vince of the South Bend Tribune write, "I was riveted by this show ... This isn't just one of the best Buffy episodes of all time. It's one of the best episodes of TV of all time." Redding adds, "If you watch this incredible episode and don't recognize it as great TV, you're hopeless ... A 'fantasy' show delivers the most stark and realistic take on death I've ever seen, deftly depicting how a loved one who dies suddenly becomes 'the body'."

  • MGMcD

    I'd add anything from season 2 of Sons of Anarchy. And echo the other calls for Buffy: Hush and Firefly: Objects in Space and West Wing: 20 Hours in America and Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia. And it may not be as moving or powerful as the others on the list, but How I Met Your Mother: Slapsgiving has a permanent home on my DVR and I watch it whenever I'm depressed.

  • Strand

    Supernatural is absurdly over-represented on the internet.

  • Drevnibor

    Unfortunately, this list doesn't really mean anything, especially if it was chosen based on the IMDB votes.
    Don't get me wrong, I use IMDB, and I rate films, but TV series are a special kind, because many people who like some TV show as a whole are going to give it 10/10m while the people who hate it are going to give it 1/10.
    And very few people rates TV shows and games on IMDB, let alone individual episodes.

  • ,

    "House's Head" is the ep that got me to stop mocking "House" -- "Wait! Is this the one where a patient comes in with some bizarre disease ..." -- and take the show seriously. It was fucking surreal, AND it had Lisa Cuddy doing the best pole dance in network television history. I was hooked ever after.

  • Rialto

    Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance."

  • VanosOfManos

    Wow, not often I see a list that's such utter rubbish as this one. It's skewed severely by recent shows, and the fact that many of them get multiple entries on the list shows that they're popular, but some of those episodes are terrible in comparison to shows only a decade or two older. You'd think TV only got invented in the early 2000s judging by this list. Hey, internet, try expanding your horizons a bit and not relying on the most popular recent shows on Netflix for your TV viewing!

  • Agree about missing SEVERAL Simpsons episodes. Breaking bad is great but way too represented. Also missing the season finale of walking dead (season 2) and "hush" from Buffy the vampire slayer.

  • There is a ridiculous lack of Buffy on that list. The Body, come on.

  • jdeeth

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

  • Mrs. Julien


    Also, the one with the nude photos or Jennifer OR "soap you can see through!".

  • logan

    cosign brother.

  • DominaNefret

    Disappointed, but far from shocked, that Blink is the Doctor Who episode that made it on this list. There are so many episodes that are far superior. The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, The Stolen Earth and Journey's End, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang - to name a few.

    Also, needs more West Wing, and I agree that My Screwup should be top 5.

  • merwanor

    There is one major problem with this list. The first 14 best episodes should be the entire Firefly series! :D

    There are some great TV series going now, like Game of Thrones and Spartacus. But what is truly lacking is a great Sci Fi series like Firefly, ST Next Generation or DS9.... I hope Defiance will be good, but SyFy has not made anything good in a long time.

  • Too many episodes from the same series ... for lists like this, a one episode per franchise rule would make for better variety.

  • jiffeylube

    Not a bad list. How bout Louie- Duckling parts 1 and 2? Phenomenal television.

  • jthomas666

    In no particular order

    Newhart finale. I literally fell off the sofa laughing.

    3-4 episodes of MASH, including Letters from Home.

    Angel, Smile Time--just on general principle.

    ER, Love's Labors Lost

    Moonlighting, Atomic Shakespeare

    Almost any episode of The Carol Burnett Show, but particularly the one with Went With the Wind: "Why Scarlett, what a lovely dress." "Thank you; I saw it in the window and just had to try it on". My MOM almost fell off the sofa laughing.

  • Dan

    no firefly? pfffft crappy list

  • Bobbs3k

    The West Wing: Noel.... drops mic

  • Pancakes

    No Arested Development episodes....that's a shame

  • Faithful Dushness


  • Q

    Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Darmok" should have been number one (since Frakes vacated the role).

  • ThisSucks

    Really, no Walking Dead?

  • Morgan_LaFai

    I thought that was a dang good list. I also really liked the nod to Supernatural (one of my guilty pleasures) though I would probably have put one of their larping episodes at the top. What can I say other than that I love meta when done good.

  • There are some 20 years of Law & Order shows on film and not one makes the list. The Claire death episode was gripping

  • Mrs. Julien

    Or the one with the new young attorney who knows where the serial killer's bodies are hidden, but won't reveal it because of attorney/client privilege and goes to jail for the principle. "Shame on them."

  • Tim Terrell

    Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under were all up in this list. I haven't seen much of this list, but I just started watching Breaking Bad and recently saw the #1 on this list. I admit was blown away by that episode and it stood out. But that was due to the BUILD of previous episodes.

  • Whatever4

    I would put "Broken" (House, M.D.) above "House's Head" any time. "Broken" is not only the best episode of the series but, in my opinion, can stack up against any number one in any best-of list.

  • courttcoleman

    Whatever happened to "Arrested Development" though?

  • jon29

    This list needs more Galactica.

  • kirbyjay

    No Seinfeld? The Bris still makes me laugh out loud.

  • Archie Leach

    I'm surprised no one has posted the Happy Days episode "Hollywood: Part 3", where the Fonz jumps the shark.

  • e jerry powell

    Dangit. No Designing Women episodes.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    Futurama - "Jurassic Bark".

  • annoyingmouse

    I can see why some of my friends think Breaking Bad is way overhyped. I absolutely love the show, but 5 episodes in the best 25 of all time? Seems a bit excessive.

  • Bandit

    Apparently I don't watch enough TV, but I have to add to the 'Needs More Buffy' comments.

  • toblerone

    IMDB Users are WRONG. I get and agree with some of the choices (The Suitcase, Community, House - Broken).

    But no Fringe, Southland, Louie, Homeland, Arrested Development, Archer, Battlestar Galactica, Black Mirror or Bob's Burgers?

  • Jerce

    Firefly, "Out of Gas." You don't have to know anything about the show or ever have watched one single second of any other episode. Whether you know the characters or not, your heart and your eyes will fill.

  • The best episode of House is when the patient is sick and everybody thinks it's one thing, but House realizes it's something else entirely and you think the patient is going to die but then House saves him and is a dick to everyone. Oh man I love that one.

  • foolsage

    Oh, yeah. That's the one where House has this wacky theory about what the disease might really be, so he prescribes a treatment, but around halfway through the episode we find out it's NOT what House thought, and the treatment made things worse. Great episode.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Damn, that kind of sounded like Walter Bishop.

  • Lisa Bee

    At first I was surprised that "Swan Song' from Supernatural was on here, but then, looking back, if they had ended the series after this episode (without the blip of soulless Sammy at the end, mind you), it would have been absolutely perfect. (PERFECT, I say! Why didn't you end it here?!)

    I know, I know, laugh if you want, but even my mum who HATES that "paranormal crap" as she calls really enjoyed the 5th season, so to me, that's saying something, and I support Swan Song's inclusion on the list, granted that it's lower than some of those others (especially "Blackwater," hot-damn was that fantastic!)

  • Cas Bloom

    I know Supernatural isn't taken seriously, and a lot of the time it isn't meant to be, but the writing in the fifth season was brilliant. Swan Song was the perfect finale and deserves the praise.

  • Dana5140

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer- The Body. Or, Once More With Feeling. Or, Hush. Or, Becoming. Or or or...

  • Captain D

    Yeah, Buffy doesn't appear until #40 with Once More With Feeling. Personally, I was blown away by Hush when it aired.

  • Samantha Klein

    Um. Where's the Buffy?

  • Joey.blowey

    You just HAD to include "My Screw-Up" didn't you? And with a video no less. Gets me every time

  • TheReinaG

    It was mentioned in the top of the article, I knew what it was, and knew what the result would be, and I still watched it, and it still hit me square in the feels.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    There should be at least one, if not two, episodes of X Files on this list... "Home" of course being one of them.

  • Drake

    and "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" the other.

  • AudioSuede

    Interesting note, however: In the full list, at 94, there's an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, probably the best superhero show ever made, and one that is due for an internet cult revival. So that's something worthy of consideration.

  • AudioSuede

    Proof that the internet generation has yet to catch up on The West Wing.

  • Joey.blowey

    or Twin Peaks for that matter

  • Craig Forshaw

    Or anything by Nigel Kneale.

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    Sherlock's "A Scandal in Belgravia" is better than all of these...except maybe "Face Off"

  • Crystal Holt

    WTF is up with The Wire NON-Recaps. 1 is just a description of the SERIES, the other has NO description at all. Lazy lazy lazy.

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