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Glee's 7 Best And 7 Worst Episodes Ranked

Though "Glee" has been off the air for years, it remains relevant. Music fans, misfits, and curious newbies alike all flock to the series, which follows the triumphs and tragedies of the New Directions, an Ohio high school's ever-unlucky glee club. The show is packed with incredible musical performances of everything from pop hits to Broadway standards, performed by colorful characters like self-centered diva Rachel, combative cheerleader Santana, and dictatorial coach Sue Sylvester. It has also gained fame (some might say infamy) for its boundary-pushing humor, vivid theme episodes, and eccentric flights of fancy.

One question emerges from the many surreal dream sequences, elaborately-costumed auditions, and countless questionable choices of "Glee": Which episodes truly stand out? The "Glee" audience is used to chaos, but for good or for ill, certain installments do manage to set themselves apart. Some are distinguished by sensitive handling of tough topics and excellent performances. Some are so ludicrous, it's hard to believe they were ever aired. Get ready McKinley High fans: With the help of IMDb, we're ranking the seven best and seven worst episodes of "Glee."

14. Worst: The End of Twerk

The best of the worst episodes is Season 5, Episode 5, "The End Of Twerk." The fact that this is the best of the worst is truly saying something — this is a dire episode. A powerful Unique storyline earns it some points, but overall, it's still brutal.

"The End of Twerk" follows the glee club as they integrate twerking into their setlist while battling Sue Sylvester and the twerking nay-sayers. There are performances of songs like "Blurred Lines," "Wrecking Ball," and more. Marley and Jake break up, Rachel practices for "Funny Girl," and Unique struggles with the question of which restroom to use.

As Marc Snetiker put it for Entertainment Weekly, "The 'Blurred Lines' performance that nobody has been waiting for has arrived, and it's just as ridiculous as you think it will be." This is basically the case with the entire episode. From smaller points like Marley and Jake's breakup to larger plots like Mr. Schue's incessant need to see his largely underage students twerk, there is little here that makes you want to rewatch. The only saving grace comes from Unique's struggle, which sheds light on an important issue. Otherwise, this episode is just plain uncomfortable.

13. Best: 100

The worst of the best episodes is a gem from one of the worst seasons: Season 5, Episode 12, "100." Here, the old glee club members come back to do renditions of their favorite songs. There's a classic diva-off, a rekindling of old relationships, and many "Glee" soundtrack favorites. They perform songs like "Raise Your Glass," "Valerie," and "Keep Holding On." There are even some surprise guests when April Rhodes and Holly Holliday show up. Though they try to keep in high spirits, a brutal truth looms over the proceedings: Everyone is gathering because Sue is shutting the glee club down.

Though the nostalgia and music are what really make this episode great, the fact that it's the 100th episode is also deeply gratifying. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt, said, "We were always the little show that could. When the first episode aired, everyone said, 'Oh, it's cute, but it'll never last,' 'cause a musical could never work on television, so it's really validating to be here." Even years after "100" first hit the airwaves, this fact still manages to make it sparkle.

12. Worst: Tested

Season 5, Episode 16, "Tested," sees "Glee" attempt to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases. Its lackluster reception comes from its poor handling of this sensitive issue. The boys all get tested for STDs, and Artie finds out that he does indeed have one. Though he's hesitant to reveal the truth, he does the right thing and alerts the girls he's been with. Sadly, instead of treating him compassionately, most people — including all of his friends — shame him. Elsewhere, similarly intense topics are being handled ineptly. Mercedes tells Sam she wants to remain a virgin until marriage, which causes a rift in their relationship, while Blaine and Kurt struggle with diet culture. 

Though "Tested" attempts to treat its subjects with kindness, it trips over its own feet by directly shaming Artie, Mercedes, and Blaine in a variety of ways. "Glee" just can't resist going for the laziest jokes, even when it undermines the message it's trying to send. What results is extremely awkward, rough to get through, and badly paced.

11. Best: 2009

Few of the best episodes of "Glee" come from the post-Season 4 era. However, nostalgia really works for Season 6, Episode 12, "2009." As you might guess, this episode throws the audience back to McKinley High circa 2009, where Will Schuester decides to take over the glee club. Kurt struggles with his mental health and finding a place to fit in, while Rachel and Mercedes begin their show-long competition for the title of most talented glee club member. Tina and Artie become friends, and finally reveal how they ended up auditioning for glee club in the first place.

This episode gives original "Glee" fans a chance to remember who these characters were before glee club changed them. It's fascinating to see the actors revert to this earlier era, and the costume and makeup departments truly succeed in de-aging them. The best part of the episode, though, is going back to the roots of the characters' conflicts. Watching Kurt and Burt talk in the autobody shop and Rachel admit that she struggles to make friends captures what makes "Glee" truly special: hilarity balanced with real emotion.

10. Worst: The Back-Up Plan

Season 5, Episode 18, "The Back-Up Plan," totally changes Rachel's character and has too much of an industry focus. Rachel has been playing Fanny Brice on Broadway for three weeks. Everything is going well, until she gets bored of the routine. As a result, she auditions for a television pilot in Los Angeles and lies to her boss about needing a rest day. But when her understudy injures herself and her boss asks her to come in, Rachel finds herself in a terrible situation — and Santana finds herself playing the lead.

This episode is one of the worst not only for the endlessly cringe-worthy moments, but for the way it completely rewrites Rachel's core motivation. Rachel has always wanted to be on Broadway — Kurt even says this to her during the episode. But for some reason, now that she has her dream role, she wants to give it all up. There's no way this is the Rachel we've watched for five seasons. However, this episode is a win for Santana, who proves she can do anything Rachel can and saves her from being sued. She can't save "The Back-Up Plan" as a whole, though: Watching Rachel act like even more of a brat than usual is exhausting.

9. Best: Dreams Come True

Season 6, Episode 13, "Dreams Come True," brings a wonderfully heart-wrenching end to "Glee." Will is the new principal of the William McKinley Performing Arts School. He's created several glee clubs, with the New Directions being the crown jewel. The old gang is back to celebrate their newest victory and say some bittersweet goodbyes. Mercedes goes on tour with Beyoncé, and Sam takes over the New Directions. Then we jump ahead five years. Kurt and Blaine are successful performers, and Rachel is the surrogate mother to their child. Tina and Artie are happy together and embarking on a career in film. Rachel, who has ended up with Jesse St. James, wins a Tony Award and thanks Mr. Schue in her speech.

"Dreams Come True" wraps "Glee" up in a neat little bow with its heartfelt performances and farewells. It might also be one of Jane Lynch's best episodes, which is really saying something, as her portrayal of Sue Sylvester is a huge part of what makes the show amazing. Her performance of "The Winner Takes It All" and her reunion with Becky are key highlights.

8. Worst: Sadie Hawkins

Season 4, Episode 11, "Sadie Hawkins," is packed with cringe-inducing humor. The girls are asking the guys to the titular dance, and Finn decides to make it the musical assignment for the week. The ensuing serenades are uncomfortable, particularly when Tina asks Blaine and he says no. Marley struggles to ask Jake, and Brittany helps Marley get her confidence up. The group eventually goes to the dance and has a great time. They also figure out that the Warblers cheated at their last competition, which could change everything. Meanwhile, Kurt and Rachel struggle to navigate college and get what they're looking for.

This episode is just plain tough to watch. As The AV Club's Brandon Nowalk pointed out, "A lingering shot of Blaine bending over in his dark jeans is one thing. Then someone's dad starts singing Jonathan Coulton's arrangement of 'Baby Got Back' while backing that thang up, and it's the fifth least ridiculous element to the scene." This butt-related humor never stops being dumb at best and hideously awkward at worst. Still, performances of "Locked Out Of Heaven" and "No Scrubs" keep the episode from being totally unwatchable.

7. Best: Sectionals

Season 1, Episode 13, "Sectionals," sees the New Directions face their first big competition without Mr. Schue, who is ineligible to help with sectionals in any capacity. While they prepare, Rachel finds out that Puck is the real father of Quinn's baby, and tells Finn. He's so hurt that he decides not to perform at sectionals. The group realizes that the other competitors stole their setlist after Sue leaked it, and must perform on the fly. They end up winning, and Will and Emma finally get together.

"Sectionals" is the blueprint for every other competition-themed episode. The commentary from the judges, improvised performances, and iconic songs all make it truly memorable. Mercedes gets in a tremendous performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," while Rachel performs a show-stopping rendition of "Don't Rain On My Parade." This episode is also a huge turning point for the characters, as Finn finally finds out the truth about the baby, which implodes his friendship with Puck. Though most competition episodes are exciting, there's something about this very first one that stands out from the rest.

6. Worst: A Katy or a Gaga

Season 5, Episode 4, "A Katy or a Gaga," has few redeeming qualities. The glee club is divided in two: Half the students are Katys (as in Katy Perry), which signifies their lack of edge, while the other half are Gagas (as in Lady Gaga), which signifies their risk-taking artistry. For this week's assignment, they must perform as though they were members of the opposite group. But some of them are uncomfortable with this, particularly Marley, who struggles to tap into her wild side. She is ultimately suspended for not adhering to the rules of the assignment.

This episode's performances are really well done, but it has too many issues to ignore. Firstly, the students are not only chastised, but suspended if they don't follow Mr. Schue's rules, which in Marley's case means wearing a bikini she's very uncomfortable with. This is ludicrous. Additionally, there is an absurd argument over whether or not Jake is in the wrong for wanting to have sex with Marley, and if Marley is in the wrong for not wanting to have sex with Jake. Then there's the Nurse Penny side plot, which is useless. Characters played by Demi Lovato and Adam Lambert are the only bright spots here.

5. Best: Journey to Regionals

Season 1, Episode 22, "Journey to Regionals," closes out Glee's inaugural season in high style. The New Directions are heading to regionals, and the stakes are high: If they don't place, the club is kaput. When they discover Sue is one of the judges, they know they're going to lose. Undaunted, they decide to put all their effort into making their performance amazing. They do so well, even Sue votes for the New Directions, despite the other judges' incredible rudeness. Meanwhile, Quinn goes into labor and has a baby girl. Shelby Corcoran takes an immediate interest in adopting her. In the end, Sue saves the glee club by talking to Figgins and getting them another year.

Is there anything that sums up the chaos of "Glee" more than Quinn giving birth to the sounds of Vocal Adrenaline performing "Bohemian Rhapsody"? This episode is so brilliantly crafted, it makes even the most jaded fan remember why "Glee" gained the popularity it did. The New Directions' Journey medley is among the show's best-ever performances; it splendidly sets the tone for later competition-centric episodes. This is "Glee" at its most spectacular.

4. Worst: Lights Out

The power is out in Season 4, Episode 20, "Lights Out," and so is the show's appeal. As McKinley High suffers an electricity outage, the glee club spills secrets and performs unplugged. Ryder reveals he was assaulted by his babysitter, in part because he wants to open up but also because he wants to find out who's catfishing him. He doesn't get any answers and also ends up pushing away Kitty, who is eager to get to know him better.

This episode has three terrible storylines. Firstly, Ryder's catfishing story is off-putting and out-of-character. Secondly, his confession is met with confusion and disdain from the guys. It's a really disgusting way to handle such a sensitive topic. Thirdly, this episode sees Kurt get an internship with Vogue.com. "Glee" really expects the audience to believe that someone with no experience or connections could get such a coveted position, and even gets Sarah Jessica Parker to play his mentor.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

3. Best: Nationals

The competition-centric episodes of "Glee" are some of the best, and Season 3, Episode 21, "Nationals," is the greatest of all. After all their hard work, the New Directions have finally made it to the National Show Choir Championships. Though they're up against tough competition from Vocal Adrenaline, they end up clinching first place. Rachel also gets a second chance at NYADA, and Mr. Schue wins Teacher of the Year. Though the younger glee club members still have time left at McKinley, the rest are graduating and moving on.

This episode is bittersweet, as it marks the end of an era.  After Season 3, "Glee" simply isn't the same. Some later episodes are certainly well done and manage to shine through, but generally, things get scattershot and lose a lot of heart at this point. Though this is sad, it's nice to see the New Directions get rewarded for all their hard work. It's also wonderful to see pretty much everyone triumph, sans drama.

2. Worst: Previously Unaired Christmas

There's no doubt that Season 5, Episode 8, "Previously Unaired Christmas," is the worst episode of "Glee." The holidays are here, and the glee club is working to reduce their carbon footprint by participating in a tree decorating competition with the Earth in mind. All the girls are also vying to play the Virgin Mary in the school's nativity scene. Meanwhile, Santana, Kurt, and Rachel perform as mall elves to get some exposure.

This episode is too meta by half. "Glee" thinks making fun of its terrible writing will somehow redeem it, but in fact, it's just awkward and confusing. Jane Lynch literally begins the episode by laying out the episode's cooked-up backstory: "Previously Unaired Christmas" was, allegedly, originally suppressed by the network. This doesn't make sense, and doesn't matter — the episode is bad either way. It's also a pretty creepy episode, from Mr. Schue cheering as the girls take articles of clothing off to Becky trying to force people to kiss her to the elves' performance at the mall. Everything about "Previously Unaired Christmas" screams, "Skip me!"

1. Best: The Quarterback

Season 5, Episode 3, "The Quarterback," is the best episode of "Glee." This touching tribute to Finn is also a tribute to his actor, Cory Monteith, who passed away in 2013. Members of the old cast and the new come together to remember Finn through the songs he sang and the ones that simply remind them of him. Their grief is raw, and so are the performances they pour it into.

Making it through this episode without crying is almost impossible: Finn was the glue of the group and a stirring example of grace and kindness. The same can also be said of Monteith. It's hard not to wonder if the cast is truly acting, or if we're seeing their genuine reactions to losing one of the show's brightest stars and a true-blue friend. The greatest gut punch comes from Rachel, who performs a crushing rendition of "Make You Feel My Love." This is a beautiful episode that truly captures both Finn and Monteith's impact on the world.