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Silicon Valley's 15 Best Episodes Ranked

During its six-season run from 2014 to 2019, HBO's sitcom "Silicon Valley" was one of the most popular shows on the network. Season 2 won two Primetime Emmy awards, and the series launched the careers of comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Jimmy O. Yang, who have since gone on to star in major Hollywood movies like "The Big Sick" and "Crazy, Rich, Asians," respectively. Some of the other cast members in "Silicon Valley" include T.J. Miller (for four seasons), Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, and Amanda Crew.

The show revolves around a group of tech engineers and coders living in Palo Alto, California — Silicon Valley. At the start, the main protagonist Richard Hendricks (Middleditch) is an employee at the new tech company Hooli (a loose parody of Google), until he develops an amazing new compression algorithm he terms "middle-out", which revolutionizes the tech world when he unveils it at the end of Season 1. For the rest of the show, Richard and his team, Bertram Gilfoyle (Starr), Dinesh Chugtai (Nanjiani), and Donald "Jared" Dunn (Zach Woods), struggle to navigate the increasingly changing tech world while trying to build their new company, Pied Piper.

The series does an excellent job of balancing nuanced tech jokes with mainstream comedy, making "Silicon Valley" accessible to a very wide audience. We've sifted through the 50+ episodes of the series to determine the 15 best episodes of "Silicon Valley," ranked.

15. Server Error (Season 4, Episode 10)

First on our list is the Season 4 finale, "Server Error." In this episode, Richard and Pied Piper are dealing with the fallout from the previous episode ("Hooli-Con"), where several phones running the Pied Piper app exploded. Jared resigns over Richard's plans to minimize the scandal, and Hooli CEO Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky) travels to China to try and stimulate the increased production of millions of smartphones to replace the destroyed ones, only to be taken hostage by factory workers.

Meanwhile, Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) who is still in Tibet, is joined by Erlich Bachman (Miller) who annoys Belson by watching episodes of "House" instead of giving himself over to the monastery's lifestyle. Back in Palo Alto, Richard and Pied Piper are struggling to find a place to house the data for their client FGI after their internet service gets cut for lack of bill payment. The guys solve the problem by disassembling Gilfoyle's server Anton and bringing it to Nelson "Bighead" Baghetti's (Josh Brener) office in Stanford. Except, everything falls out of the truck on the way when they forget to secure the latch.

Luckily, the Anton servers had backed themselves up on Jian-Yang's (Yang) smart fridge, persevering FGI's data and saving Pied Piper from breaching their contract. The episode is not only hilarious but masterfully blends together all of the converging storylines from Season 4. It is definitely a surefire top 15 episode.

14. Intellectual Property (Season 4, Episode 3)

"Intellectual Property" begins with Richard in a doctor's office trying to deal with his insomnia over his "new internet" project. Meanwhile, Jian-Yang and Erlich are pitching a new software idea, but the executives at Coleman Blair don't seem very interested. That is until Erlich lies about Jian-Yang's idea, telling the execs it's like "Shazam for food," which intrigues them.

Jack Barker ousts Gavin Belson from Hooli, after Gavin's decisions in the episode prior led to more than $21 billion in fines for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Bighead applies to Stanford in order to appease his father but he gets rejected. However, the recruiter realizes his past experience with Pied Piper and Hooli and gives him a job instead as a guest lecturer and not a student — something he doesn't realize until his first day of class. Richard makes significant progress on his new internet idea by the end of the episode until he discovers the one major roadblock stopping him: Gavin already has a patent for it from his early days in tech.

"Intellectual Property" is one of the funniest episodes of Season 4 and not just because of the main cast. Secondary characters like Bighead and Jian-Yang really shine in this episode, making it an easy inclusion for our list.

13. Third Party Insourcing (Season 1, Episode 6)

In "Third Party Insourcing," Richard's limitations in engineering the cloud threaten to derail everyone's work on Pied Piper. So, they decide to recruit Kevin "The Carver" (Austin Abrams), a hacker who had previously cracked Bank of America's security and brought down their entire system. However, when they get there The Carver turns out to be a sarcastic teenager, who promises to finish the entire job over the weekend by taking excessive amounts of Adderall.

Back at Erlich's incubator, Gilfoyle's new girlfriend Tara (Milana Vayntrub) moves in and Dinesh immediately finds himself attracted to her. Gilfoyle tricks him into thinking Tara is into him, which causes Dinesh to embarrassingly present himself to her, much to Gilfoyle's amusement. At the same time, Jared finds himself trapped in a self-driving vehicle, which changes courses while he is a passenger and drives him into a shipping container.

While working on Pied Piper, Richard quickly realizes that The Carver isn't the coder they thought he was and can't function without being under the influence. Richard tries to purchase some more pills for the teenager but ends up getting ripped off and slapped by a 10-year-old. Erlich has to save the day by hitting and threatening the kids into making good on the deal. Erlich's scenes with the minors and Dinesh trying to woo Tara are just a few reasons why "Third Party Insourcing" is one of the best episodes, with laughs coming from beginning to end.

12. RussFest (Season 6, Episode 6)

In the second last episode of the show, Richard is trying to get funding for his new decentralized internet from AT&T, but he ends up losing out to YaoNet. However, Richard refuses to tell his employees that they have no funding because he doesn't want them to give up working on the project. The increased pressure from trying to get everything ready on time for RussFest – a massive desert party hosted by Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos) — is causing his entire team to work overtime, but he has no way to pay them without funding from AT&T.

Just before the event is supposed to start, Pied Piper starts experiencing problems after Gilfoyle allows Son of Anton to use its own AI learning to fix problems in the code, which is the only way to correct everything in such a short window of time. As the festival is kicking off, the Pied Piper team learns the truth of the AT&T investment and quits, leaving Richard, Dinesh, and Gilfoyle to try and fix the problems and run everything by themselves.

The network starts to crumble as the large user base at RussFest slows it down, eventually leading to a full-blown crash. However, within seconds, the network incredibly snaps back to life and begins running at 140% capacity — proving the feasibility of Pied Piper's decentralized internet. "RussFest" is a great episode that delivers excellent comedy while also providing one of the most satisfying moments in the show.

11. Proof of Concept (Season 1, Episode 7)

In "Proof of Concept," the Pied Piper gang attends the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield to compete for $50,000 in funding capital. Richard is physically ill because Pied Piper hasn't been completed yet, leading to constipation and vomiting, and both he and Erlich are dealing with issues from old relationships. Richard runs into his ex-girlfriend at the event, and Erlich tries to avoid Dan Melcher (Jack Broder), one of the competition's judges whose wife he previously had an affair with.

Dinesh starts hitting it off with an attractive coder named Charlotte (AJ Michalka) at the event, only to find that he's only really attracted to her excellent coding skills. Eventually, it's revealed that the code Dinesh was so infatuated with was actually written by Gilfoyle. The episode ends with Pied Piper beginning their Battlefield presentation, during which Melcher tackles Erlich as he is giving his presentation as revenge for sleeping with his wife years earlier. 

Though it is pretty early in the series, "Proof of Concept" holds up as one of the best episodes. The love triangle between Dinesh, Charlotte, and Gilfoyle's code is worthy enough, but the second dysfunctional relationship between Melcher and Erlich, ending with the attack, really seals it.

10. Terms of Service (Season 4, Episode 2)

Dinesh is serving as Pied Piper's CEO now that Richard is concentrating on creating his decentralized internet. Sporting new clothes, a new hairstyle, and newfound confidence, Dinesh becomes a fast-talking spokesman, making appearances on TV shows and it's obvious he's thoroughly enjoying himself. Gilfoyle keeps encouraging Dinesh's excess, hoping it will all eventually explode in his face.

Gilfoyle gets his wish when Richard realizes that the user base for Piper Chat skews suspiciously young. After consulting with disgraced lawyer Pete Monahan (Matt McCoy), Dinesh and Jared realize they could potentially be liable for billions of dollars in fines for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. This causes Gilfoyle immense joy, and he starts celebrating Dinesh's impending demise while teasing him. Yet, just when it seems like the end of Pied Piper, Gavin swoops in at just the right time.

Wanting to purchase Piper Chat for its encryption, Gavin strong-arms Dinesh into selling him the rights for the company — not knowing about the impending fines nor the fact that it has become a haven for pedophiles. "Terms of Service" is the ultimate episode in the Dinesh vs Gilfoyle rivalry, and the brilliant twist with Gavin burning himself on the deal is the icing on the cake.

9. Maleant Data Systems Solution (Season 3, Episode 4)

In Season 3's "Maleant Data Systems Solution," after getting caught working on their own project (the Pied Piper platform) instead of the Pied Piper box, Richard, Dinesh, and Gilfoyle reach an agreement with new CEO Jack Barker to work on their platform and the Pied Piper box at the same time. Intending to build a poor box as quickly as possible so they can devote all of their energy to their platform, the guys can't help themselves but create a quality product, which promises to more than double their competition's speeds.

Meanwhile, Erlich is trying to find a new house for his incubator, and he tricks Bighead into cutting him in on his already functioning setup located in his new mansion. Back at Pied Piper, Richard's friend and board member Monica Hall (Crew) prevents Jack from pulling a fast one on the crew by using her voting rights to stop a bad deal from going through.

In the end, Monica's gamble pays off, and Pied Piper secures Laurie Bream's (Suzanne Cryer) funding for their platform, while Jack is fired from the company, leaving the CEO position open. "Maleant Data Systems Solution" is one of the more uplifting and positive "Silicon Valley" episodes. Its happy ending has the gang vanquishing the villain (Jack) — albeit temporarily — and getting permission to follow their original dream.

8. Meinertzhagen's Haversack (Season 3, Episode 3)

In another Season 3 episode, "Meinertzhagen's Haversack," Gilfoyle temporarily quits the company after they are denied permission to work on the platform over the box. He immediately changes his LinkedIn status to "looking for work," which prompts dozens of companies to reach out to him, offering him lavish gifts as enticements to join their teams. 

Richard tries to go above CEO Jack Barker's head and talks to Laurie about getting the company to switch back to making the platform instead of the box, but when Jack threatens to quit, she relents and allows for the box to take precedence. This leads to Jack informing Richard that he knows about his duplicity. The guys have a meeting where they talk about what their next plan is when a marijuana-soaked speech from Erlich convinces them to try a new tactic. The guys decide to build both the box and the platform at the same time, thinking that the superior technology from the platform will force Laurie into commissioning that instead of the box.

One of the best side plots from "Meinertzhagen's Haversack" is a new chain Dinesh starts wearing, which Gilfoyle instantly begins making fun of. Dinesh first takes the chain off, before being forced to wear it again and deal with Gilfoyle's relentless taunts. The side plot alone makes "Meinertzhagen's Haversack" hysterical viewing, and definitely worthy of being a top 10 episode.

7. Exit Event (Season 6, Episode 7)

The series finale "Exit Event" serves as both a conclusion and epilogue to the series, as it shows both how the Pied Piper story ends and the characters a decade in the future. After the prior episode ("RussFest"), Pied Piper seems like it is on an upward trajectory toward becoming one of the biggest tech companies in history. However, the tweaks the company made to be successful at the festival also lead to its ultimate downfall.

Previously, Richard had allowed Gilfoyle's AI to improve the company's platform by programming it to optimize itself. Unfortunately, it did such a good job making itself more efficient that it learned the ability to break strong encryption schemes. Not only that, but because the network is self-optimizing, the AI continues to keep breaking encryption schemes, making them useless and preventing any form of internet privacy. Realizing the potentially devastating effects of their incredible code on the world, the guys sabotage the Pied Piper launch, hoping everyone will write off the code as useless and not dig into it.

The sabotage works and Pied Piper becomes one of the biggest tech failures in history. Yet, in the end, all of the characters wind up successful and happy in their own ways. The series finale is one of the most dramatic and exciting episodes of the series, making it an easy inclusion on the list.

6. The Uptick (Season 3, Episode 10)

Sitting just outside the top 5 is the Season 3 finale, "The Uptick." After doing some research, Richard realizes the reason Pied Piper's app has been so successful so quickly, and he tells Jared he knows he set up a click farm to draw users. Erlich tries to make Richard sign a deal with investors Coleman Blair based on the false numbers, but Richard can't go through with signing the contract and reveals to them that the numbers are fake. This creates a rift between Richard and Erlich who stood to profit off the investment.

Pied Piper ends up switching to a video app created by Dinesh, which they realize has the potential to become profitable. In the end, it seems like Gavin is going to buy Pied Piper and destroy it, but he ends up shooting himself in the foot when he buys out a magazine running an unfavorable story about him. The buyout from the magazine gives Erlich enough money to buy Pied Piper instead, and he and Richard are able to mend their relationship.

The Season 3 finale is one of the best in the series, largely due to the complete turnaround at the end. Just when it seems like all is lost, Laurie reveals Erlich to be the hero, befuddling and shocking everyone.

5. Binding Arbitration (Season 2, Episode 9)

"Binding Arbitration" begins with Bighead speaking with some of the Hooli engineers creating Nucleus when he discovers that their prototype phone is glitchy and performs incredibly poorly. He gives the phone to Richard, who then tries to leverage it with Gavin to get him to drop his ongoing lawsuit against Pied Piper. The lawsuit alleges that Richard had created part of Pied Piper while working at Hooli and using their equipment, which would give them proprietary rights to Richard's algorithm because of the terms of his former employment contract.

Gavin agrees to drop the lawsuit if Richard doesn't release the prototype to the public, but they instead enter into binding arbitration over Pied Piper. Gavin is defended by Hooli's team of corporate lawyers, while Richard has to use Pete Monahan, a disgraced former attorney who was recently disbarred. During heated testimony, Erlich inadvertently clues in the Hooli legal team to the fact that Richard had used their company's laptop to run a test on his algorithm at one point. Richard is then forced to admit to the arbitrator that he did indeed use Hooli's equipment, conceding it will mean the loss of his company.

The episode ends on a huge cliffhanger as we are left waiting on the final ruling. "Binding Arbitration" is one of the most dramatic in the series, while also staying light and hilarious throughout.

4. Homicide (Season 2, Episode 6)

Season 2's "Homicide" episode was one of three that won a Primetime Emmy for outstanding production design for a narrative program (via IMDb), and it is one of the absolute best in the series. It begins with Hooli launching Nucleus by live streaming a UFC event, but they can't handle the encoding necessary to stream live 4K video and it fails spectacularly. On Monica's suggestion, Pied Piper enters the 4K video streaming industry themselves and they quickly work out a deal with Homicide, an extreme energy drink brand owned by a former friend of Erlich's, Aaron "Double A" Anderson (Michael McMillian).

While meeting the Homicide team, Dinesh develops a crush on Gina (Porter Duong), one of the company's employees. Unfortunately, Gina is already dating Blaine (Dustin Milligan), the attractive Homicide stuntman. Dinesh and Gilfoyle realize that Blaine's calculations for his stunt are off, but he rebuffs them when they try to warn him. Still interested in Gina, they create a massive board determining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of allowing him to continue the stunt and die, which would make Gina available.

While Richard is at Homicide, he discovers that Erlich's friend doesn't plan on including the Pied Piper logo on the live stream, defeating the entire purpose of their deal. Richard dissolves the partnership with Homicide, inadvertently calling Double A an insensitive name he heard from Erlich. The episode ends on another cliffhanger, with the team realizing their middle-out compression algorithm has been reverse-engineered.

3. Fifty-One Percent (Season 5, Episode 8)

Season 5 finale "Fifty-One Percent" is one of the most satisfying in the entire "Silicon Valley" canon, as Richard and Pied Piper notch one of the biggest wins of the series. The episode starts with PiperNet, Pied Piper's newly created decentralized internet, finally starting to gain traction after months of stagnancy. While the team is excited at first, they soon learn that the source of the new users is from YaoNet, a rival decentralized internet using a stolen version of Pied Piper's software.

Realizing that Yao (Tzi Ma) is trying to gain 51% of the network so they can start rewriting the internet's rules and delete Pied Piper's users, Richard tries to get Gavin on his side by offering him the prospect of revenge on Yao for double-crossing him earlier. Instead, Gavin and Yao end up teaming together in a double cross on Richard. While Gavin is celebrating by eating ice cream he hand-churned in front of Richard, Pied Piper secures 80,000 new users from the game "Gates of Galoo," which they use to control the network and lock Gavin and Yao out.

In one of the most satisfying scenes in the series, Richard tells Gavin "thanks for the help," as he tosses a bowl of Gavin's hand-churned ice cream over his back. It smashes on the floor as Richard walks away, leaving an exasperated Gavin seemingly on the verge of tears.

2. Two Days of the Condor (Season 2, Episode 10)

Following up the dramatic end to "Binding Arbitration," "Two Days of the Condor" starts with Erlich, Pete, and Richard awaiting the final ruling on the arbitration case against Hooli, when they notice a spike in viewership on their condor egg stream, now featuring a fallen technician who inadvertently becomes trapped on screen. Legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao tweets a link to the stream which draws a ton of new viewers, causing the guys to scramble to upgrade the servers and scale to handle the new influx of traffic.

Meanwhile, the hearing unexpectedly goes Richard's way when the arbitrator realizes his employment contract at Hooli contained illegal language. At Erlich's house, the streaming is causing Anton to use more and more power and run increasingly hot, starting small fires throughout the house, but the servers are able to last until the stream comes to a natural conclusion. Everything seems like a win for Richard and Pied Piper, until he gets a call from Laurie informing him that he is no longer CEO.

The episode is one of the strongest in the series largely due to the incredible arbitration scene where Richard emerges victorious. The writers do an outstanding job of completely surprising the audience with the verdict. In fact, writer and director Alec Berg received an Emmy nomination for outstanding writing for a comedy series for the episode, while editor Brian Merken won the Emmy for outstanding single-camera picture editing for a comedy series.

1. Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency (Season 1, Episode 8)

If you're a fan of "Silicon Valley" you probably saw this coming a mile away. The top episode of the series has to be Season 1 finale, "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency." Not only is the conclusion probably the best in the series, but the main plot line is incredibly hilarious. Following the end of "Proof of Concept," where TechCrunch judge Dan Melcher tackles Erlich, Pied Piper is given automatic entry to the finals of the Battlefield competition.

However, Richard instantly becomes dismayed when they watch Hooli's presentation, which is basically a better version of Pied Piper. The guys find themselves back in their hotel room scheming ways to win the competition when they start trying to calculate how long it would take for them to pleasure everyone in the audience in exchange for their vote. The guys create an equation outlining the most efficient way to service everyone, which they term the optimal tip-to-tip efficiency.

While the guys are working on this, Richard completely rewrites Pied Piper from the ground up. He bases the new algorithm on "middle-out" compression, which is inspired by their equation. At the competition, Pied Piper crushes the theoretical limit for compression, instantly making them the hottest tech company on the planet. "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency" is easily the top "Silicon Valley" episode as it set the tone for future seasons, showcasing hilarious banter with a heartwarming ending.