When your favorite TV show is said and done, it’s kind of hard to pick which episode is the best of the bunch. But that’s exactly what we’re here to discuss, as according to the voters at IMDb, there’s a definitive answer for the highest rated episodes for 32 of beloved TV series like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Friends. Prepare to be amazed by these potential conversation/argument starters!
“Ozymandias” - Breaking Bad - Season 5
In Breaking Bad’s five seasons of TV, the Rian Johnson directed “Ozymandias” is easily the victor. A perfect 10/10 in its IMDb vote, many have heralded this chapter of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his crime saga as the finest. Which is probably because of all the acclaim spotlighting one word that this installment seems to embody: “payoff.”
“Plan And Execution” - Better Call Saul - Season 6
Much like its predecessor Breaking Bad, it’s the setup to the punchline that made Better Call Saul’s crown jewel a fan favorite. “Plan and Execution” is so close to the finale that you can feel the series’ finality, but at the same time you might be surprised to know that the climactic betrayal and death of Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) was actually the mid-season finale of Bob Odenkirk’s swan song.
“Connor’s Wedding” - Succession - Season 4
How was Succession ever going to send out Logan Roy (Brian Cox) with a bang? Well, in the episode “Connor’s Wedding,” the answer was simple: you kill him by surprise, and early on in the final season. Stuff the episode with the sort of tragically awkward Succession moments that we all know and love, and you’ve got a recipe for a story that brings down the house.
“Finale” - The Office - Season 9
The Office’s series finale, aptly titled “Finale,” tied things up with a beautiful knot, which just happened to include Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Angela (Angela Kinsey) tying the knot. Also, Steve Carell’s big return as Michael Scott still circulates online as a true moment of joy from this landmark chapter.
“Pine Barrens” - The Sopranos - Season 3
Even after The Sopranos pretty much answered the pressing question of whether or not Tony Soprano was wacked, Season 3’s “Pine Barrens” still contains an unsolved mystery. So on top of Steve Buscemi’s directorial chops, and watching Paulie (Tony Sirico) and Chris (Michael Imperioli) spend some time in those Jersey woods, people are probably still watching this episode in hopes of answering, “Is Valery dead, or not?” The world may never know.
“Modern Warfare” - Community - Season 1
What happens when a mile-a-minute pop culture joke machine like Community dedicates an entire episode to some of the best action movies of all time? Well, you’d get the Justin Lin directed “Modern Warfare,” an all-time heater that sees Jeff (Joel McHale) battling it out for priority registration. It’s an episode that blew people away so hard, that much like Die Hard, it got a couple sequels.
“The Constant” - Lost - Season 4
Through Lost's best episodes, it was a series that bent people’s minds in all sorts of directions, and left them wanting more. “The Constant” is a firm example of that, as the time travel-centric episode went down the usual rabbit holes the show was known for. However, throwing in that romantic plot line between Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and Penny (Sonya Walger) probably stuck the landing for this one in the hearts of fans.
“The One Where Everybody Finds Out” - Friends - Season 5
It’s not hard to see why “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” is Friends’ highest-rated episode on IMDb. With Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courteney Cox) finally seeing their clandestine love affair outed to their whole group, it's a watershed moment for the pair. It's also considered one of Matthew Perry's best Friends episodes, so there's something else to consider.
“Everyone’s Waiting” - Six Feet Under
Would anyone be surprised to learn that Six Feet Under’s series finale “Everyone’s Waiting” is the highest rated entry? Alan Ball’s darkly comic dramedy about death went out on a fitting note, showing the entire Fisher family’s final fates. Sia’s “Breathe Me” still brings people to tears when thinking about it.
“How Your Mother Met Me” - How I Met Your Mother - Season 9
Getting the answer to who “The Mother” was in How I Met Your Mother was only the beginning of the road for the series’ endgame. With Season 9 bringing fans closer to Tracy (Cristin Milioti) and her marriage to Ted (Josh Radnor), “How Your Mother Met Me” took the time to fill us in on every hysterical and heartbreaking moment that led these two to each other.
“Once More, With Feeling” - Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 6
There are several reasons “Once More, With Feeling” probably topped the list of Buffy the Vampire Slayer favorites. Known forever as “the musical episode,” the keen gimmick introduced us all to the silky smooth singing of Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) just as he was heading out the door. Also, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Spike (James Marsters) had their first actual, non-magically influenced kiss.
“The Stockholm Syndrome” - The Big Bang Theory - Season 12
Sitcom characters are a good example of systems so delicate that the wrong type of change could sink them rather quickly. The Big Bang Theory managed to seemingly avoid that with its series finale “The Stockholm Syndrome,” which both gave Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) everything he wanted, and the audience an ending they didn’t know they needed. Seeing a very married, and very loving Sheldon is the ingredient that more than likely made this curtain closer one fans still remember.
“The Contest” - Seinfeld - Season 4
When an episode of a sitcom happens to be so good it invents pop culture slang that still lands to this day, as well as finds itself referenced in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you know its done the trick. One of Seinfeld’s best episodes, “The Contest,” fits both of those bills, as the New York gang of idiots challenge each other in a very personal way.
“Connection Lost” - Modern Family - Season 6
Sometimes, you need a good format breaker to keep things fresh. In the sixth season of Modern Family, the powers that be recognized that and gave us “Connection Lost,” a story where Claire (Julie Bowen) plays a literal game of telephone to investigate what may or may not be happening with daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland).
"The Inner Light" - Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 5
"The Inner Light" is an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that's so popular, all you need is music to spark its memory within the fandom. A touching story of bittersweet devastation and empathy, this could be the episode that epitomizes who Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is, and what he's always stood for in this landmark sci-fi franchise.
“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” - The X-Files - Season 3
Story driven series like The X-Files sometimes strike it big with the occasional one-off episode. In the case of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s third season of action, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” was one such episode, following the case of an insurance salesman (Peter Boyle) who knows when people are going to die. Properly spooky, but also slyly witty, it may be Mulder and Scully’s greatest victory against the show’s shadowy conspiracy.
“Middle Ground” - The Wire - Season 3
“Middle Ground” is the type of episode that shows like The Wire live for. Well regarded by fans and critics alike, the Season 3 heater saw Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) ringing on the streets of Baltimore for the last time. With Omar (Michael K. Williams) helping punch his ticket, this endgame between these legendary characters is still the episode to beat.
“The Suitcase” - Mad Men - Season 4
“THAT’S WHAT THE MONEY’S FOR!” You could probably hear a pin drop after Don (Jon Hamm) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) had their infamous argument over who deserved the true credit for the Glo Coat ad. “The Suitcase” saw perhaps the greatest fracture between this mentor/mentee team, and its effects would reverberate through to the series’ finale. Also, that quote did become one hell of a meme; so that helped in the longevity department of this Mad Men champion.
“Eye Of The Beholder” - The Twilight Zone - Season 2
Technically, The Twilight Zone has two episodes tied for the highest rating in its iconic collection of episodes. If you guessed Nightmare at 20,000 Feet as the technical tie, you’re absolutely correct. However it’s Season 2’s “Eye of the Beholder” that still wins out, based on a higher volume of votes. And if you want to guess why that is, it’s probably because this episode has one of the biggest twist endings in Twilight Zone history, complete with truly frightening prosthetics.
“One Last Ride” - Parks and Recreation - Season 7
Sorry Parks and Rec fans, even with Chris Pratt’s legendary improv “Flu Season” isn’t the NBC series’ highest rated episode. Rather, the series finale “One Last Ride” is the best regarded installment of the pop culture hit. Though if you’re a true fan of the Amy Poehler-led ensemble series, you’re probably not sorry, as this is the episode that gave everyone a pretty happy ending.
“Two Cathedrals” - The West Wing - Season 2
“Two Cathedrals” is both one of the darkest hours and finest moments of President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen). The episode where he ponders running for another term, in light of an MS diagnosis and the loss of close friend and colleague Mrs. Landingham (Kathryn Joosten). The reason this episode is the top of the class is, unquestionably, Sheen’s enraged monologue in discussion with God; which became a real bilingual tongue lashing of fury.
“Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse” - The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air - Season 4
If you ever need inspiration to cry in a rush, put on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s Season 4 episode “Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse.” When you get to the end, in which Will (Will Smith) expresses his heartbreak of being abandoned by his father again, you’ll understand why this is the episode that still has fans singing its praises.
“11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.” - 24 - Season 1
24 was a massive cultural hit when it first premiered, and eventually spawned the story of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and the worst days in his life. The best rated episode of his adventures, “11:00 pm - 12:00 am” saw Jack’s deadly battle with the Drazen family come to an explosive conclusion; but at a cost. With the loss of his wife Teri (Leslie Hope) and the escape of traitor Nina Meyers (Sarah Clarke), the path of his life would be set for years to come.
“Crossroads: Part 2” - Battlestar Galactica - Season 3
Talk about a “payoff” episode, as Battlestar Galactica's "Crossroads: Part 2" not only brought Starbuck (Katee Sackoff) back from the dead, it also revealed the Final Five Cylons hiding among the Galactica’s crew. So depending on where your head is at as a fan, you’ve got two different reasons to choose from, and both lead to Earth!
“Happy Ending” - Schitt’s Creek - Season 6
When a comedy can make you laugh as much as Schitt’s Creek has, the ability to make the audience cry in-between laughing fits is seen as a bit of a superpower. “Happy Ending” closed out the ensemble series with tears of joy and sadness, as David (Dan Levy) and Patrick (Noah Reid) finally got married. With the Rose family splitting off for fates unknown, a truly happy ending was had as all of our favorite characters grew into the beautiful beings we saw in this final frame.
“On The Beach” - ER - Season 8
Good luck talking about this episode of ER without breaking into tears. Serving as the tearful goodbye to Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards), watching a dear friend make peace with his mistakes before his death was a heart smasher. To this day, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s cover of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” is an easy emotional trigger.
“Abyssinia, Henry” - M*A*S*H - Season 3
M*A*S*H is a unique animal. “Abyssinia, Henry” proves that point rather well, as the departure of Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) went from bittersweet to downright devastating. With the series regular dying in a finale that even surprised the cast, you could imagine how fans felt when they first saw it.
“Raincoats And Recipes” - Gilmore Girls - Season 4
Gilmore Girls fans, you know exactly why you voted “Raincoats and Recipes” as the top rated episode on IMDb. If you’re a fan of Lorelai (Lauren Graham), you love this episode because it’s her first kiss with Luke (Scott Patterson). If you’re on Team Rory (Alexis Bledel), then the rather complicated moment of her and Dean (Jared Padalecki) trying to “salvage their friendship” is probably the high point.
“An American Girl in Paris: Part Deux” - Sex and the City - Season 6
Before both movies and the formation of the legacy-quel And Just LIke That would change history, Sex and the City landed its grand finale with “An American Girl in Paris: Part Deux” as Carrie's (Sarah Jessica Parker) fairy tale reunion with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) seemed like the happy ending fated from square one.
“Always” - Friday Night Lights - Season 5
The last dance with Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his East Dillon Lions resulted in “Always,” the series finale to the ever popular Friday Night Lights. With a State Championship on the line, as well as Coach’s own future in football, the results weren’t the draw for those who followed the show. It was, as always, about clear eyes and full hearts.
“Lucy Does A TV Commercial” - I Love Lucy - Season 1
Legendary sitcoms like I Love Lucy have those gags that always land on t-shirts, trivia questions, and fan favorite roundups. “Lucy Does A TV Commercial” gave the world one such moment, as Lucy (Lucile Ball) talks her way into a medicine commercial for Vitameatavegamin. Let’s just say the side effects of that elixir are what make this episode very “poopular.”
“One For The Road” - Cheers - Season 11
There is no Cheers without Sam Malone (Ted Danson). Full stop, no exceptions. The series finale “One For The Road” got that right out of the gate, and seeing Sam realize it in the closing moments is probably why fans love it so much. It’s good to know that there’s always somewhere where everybody knows your name.
Fans know what they love from their favorite series, and the episodes that top the charts only prove it. So remember that whenever your favorite show takes its final bow, it'll eventually be contributing to the history of moments and plotlines like the ones shown above.