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Shows That Released Their Best And Worst Episode In The Same Season

Every television show has its fair share of great and poor episodes. The quality of the series as a whole isn't even that important, as the very best television projects will still have some episodes that are not as good as the majority while other installments stand out for being exceptional. Just look at the most perfect TV shows ever made like "Breaking Bad" as an example of the ups and downs a series can have over the course of its entire run.

What is rare, though, is for a television show to have its best and worst episodes in the same season. Many series have a noticeable dip in quality as they progress, with frustrating finales that leave fans disappointed. That means that it is unlikely that viewers will get a huge variation in quality in a single season. However, in some rare instances, high-profile TV series will produce their greatest and most hated episode quite close to each other, giving audiences a contrasting experience in the same season.


"Friends" ran for ten seasons, debuting in 1994 and concluding in 2004. Now regarded as one of the funniest sitcoms in TV history, it follows a group of young adults living in New York and involved a core cast of David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and Lisa Kudrow. Despite some questionable moments, "Friends" has continued to find new fans and has very few unwatchable episodes.

One of the few that could be described that way is Season 4's "The One with the Invitation." It has the lowest IMDb rating of any episode from the series and has been widely panned due to the fact that it is a clip show rather than a proper story. The clips are all centered around Ross (Schwimmer) and Rachel's (Aniston) relationship as he struggles to decide whether to invite her to his wedding with Emily.

Meanwhile, Season 4 was also home to "The One with the Embryos." Centered around Phoebe (Kudrow), the story follows her attempts to be a surrogate mother for her brother as she undergoes IVF treatment. The rest of the gang takes part in a trivia contest to see whether Chandler (Perry) and Joey (LeBlanc) know more about Rachel and Monica (Cox) than the other way around. It received widespread critical acclaim and is widely regarded as one of the best episodes of "Friends." TV Guide even ranked it number 21 in its list of the top 100 episodes of all time.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

There have been a lot of great and terrible "Star Trek" episodes over the history of the franchise but "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" is perhaps the most varied in terms of its quality. The sci-fi adventure series focuses on a space station known as Deep Space Nine that sits on a wormhole many lightyears away from Earth at the very edge of the Milky Way galaxy. Like other "Star Trek" television series, it had an ensemble cast made up of actors such as Avery Brooks, Nicole de Boer, Michael Dorn, and René Auberjonois.

The lowest-rated episode according to IMDb users is "Let He Who Is Without Sin," a Season 5 entry that sees the crew journey to the vacation planet of Risa. Most of the complaints come from the jarring story in what was supposed to be a jovial and relaxing break along with the way that Worf (Dorn) acts very out of character compared to the rest of the season.

On the other hand, "Trials and Tribble-ations" has established itself as one of the greatest episodes in the history of the entire franchise, never mind just "Deep Space Nine." It sees the crew of the space station travel back in time and interact with the gang of the original series from the episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles." Along with the impressive digital insertion technology used, the episode also stands out for its clever story beats and sublime self-aware comedy.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is a sitcom created by Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton that they also star in alongside  Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito. A pretty awful group of people, they run an Irish bar called Paddy's Pub in Philadelphia, and while it has never been a huge ratings hit, it has received critical acclaim and is often regarded as one of the best sitcoms in TV history.

However, that doesn't mean that every episode is a surefire hit. The Season 7 episode, "Frank's Brother," is often listed among the show's worst episodes, largely because it focuses entirely on Frank (DeVito) and his previously unseen brother, Gino (Jon Polito). Fans dislike the way that it doesn't really feature any other characters and has a story that doesn't go anywhere.

Season 7 is also the year that "CharDee MacDennis: The Game of Games" hit television screens, which is considered one of the show's best episodes. In this series highlight, the group takes part in a hilarious party game that they have made up and involves carrying out strange tasks while obeying a bizarre set of rules. It carries the same chaotic energy that makes "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" so fun and Frank's lack of understanding about what is going on really adds to the humor.

The X-Files

Making its debut in 1993, "The X-Files" is a sci-fi thriller series that stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The pair investigate a series of supernatural and paranormal events as they become involved in a huge conspiracy involving political leaders and powerful figures. Arguably the best and worst episodes of the show were both released in Season 3.

"Teso Dos Bichos" has one of the worst user ratings of any "The X-Files" episode, with most of the negative reception aimed at the way that Mulder and Scully feature very little in the story, which is incoherent and confusing. Worst of all is that a big bad monster is merely a group of feral cats, making the entire plot feel completely silly.

Yet, the third season also contains "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," which involves an insurance salesman known as Clyde Bruckman (Peter Boyle) who witnesses a series of brutal murders. Showcasing "The X-Files" at its best and considered by some as the show's best episode, it features plenty of intelligent humor and a central mystery that is utterly compelling. Throw in Boyle's excellent performance and a thoughtful look at some themes that most television shows shy away from.


Created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof, "Lost" became a television phenomenon, helping to launch the golden age of TV from its debut in 2004. It follows a group of unrelated people who survive a plane crash on a mysterious island and is widely believed to be an important part of television history.

Season 3 showcased "Lost" at its very best and worst. IMDb ratings suggest that "Stranger in a Strange Land" is the least well-received of any episode in the series. The story sees Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Karl (Blake Bashoff), and James (Josh Holloway) try to make it back to the beach as Jack (Matthew Fox) attempts to rescue Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) from being killed with the help of Alex (Tania Raymonde). Critics were unimpressed with the lackluster story and the way it failed to move the plot forward in any way, with showrunner Damon Lindelof later acknowledging the poor quality of the episode.

A later episode in the third season set a new bar for the series in terms of how good it could be with "Through the Looking Glass." A two-part season finale, the episode is an edge-of-your-seat ride that packs an emotional punch and keeps up a constant sense of excitement and suspense. There's even a brilliant twist at the very end that adds new meaning to everything that has happened in "Lost" up to that point.

Batman: The Animated Series

Before the launch of the DCEU or Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy, the best adaptation of the Caped Crusader was undoubtedly "Batman: The Animated Series." Set over three seasons with a little over 100 episodes, it charted the adventures of Batman in Gotham City as he fights against a variety of villains. While the show received critical acclaim and was hugely popular with fans, it did have a handful of episodes that didn't quite reach the heights of the rest of the series.

Season 1's "I've Got Batman in My Basement" is perhaps the most criticized episode, which follows two young amateur detectives who inadvertently end up rescuing Batman through a series of outlandish events. The amateurish way that the Penguin is constantly outsmarted and the general silliness of the plot ensures this episode could never be considered a classic.

Yet, the first season also delivered "Almost Got 'Im." Considered the best episode of the entire series, it sees the Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and the Penguin discuss the times they came closest to finally defeating Batman once and for all, leading to a series of flashbacks. It is an interesting look at these villains, containing lots of witty humor and some great action sequences. The plot twist at the end is also entirely unexpected and brings a satisfying conclusion to what is an almost perfect installment.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

From the creative mind of Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is a sitcom that sees the comedian play a fictional version of himself. Having retired from writing television, David gets into a constant stream of trouble from his lack of understanding of social norms and a disregard for what others think. First broadcast in 2000, Season 11 aired in 2021 while Season 12 was confirmed in late 2022.

There are several episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" that are considered among the worst. These include "The Smoking Jacket," "AAMCO," and "Angel Muffin." However, Season 2's "The Acupuncturist" is a great contender. Suffering from neck pain, Larry makes a bet that he won't be able to ease his suffering and has proved unpopular with fans due to the lack of funny moments or important events that happen in the episode.

In contrast, "The Doll" is easily one of the very best "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episodes. Everything works beautifully in this episode, from the uncomfortable comedy to the clever story that comes to a gratifying conclusion. The brilliant scene where Susie (Susie Essman) berates Larry as he tries to replace a doll's head he cut the hair off is worth tuning into the episode for.

Twin Peaks

Having received critical acclaim when it hit television screens in 1990, "Twin Peaks" has cemented its place as one of the best TV shows of all time. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, it largely follows FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sheriff Harry S. Truman's (Michael Ontkean) investigation into the murder of teenager Laura Palmer in the fictional town of Twin Peaks.

Even the worst episode of "Twin Peaks" according to IMDb still has a rating of 7.2, a respectable rating for any television show. While there are some important plot points in "Slaves and Masters," it is usually disregarded because of the outlandish Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) portion that saw the character have a mental breakdown and descend into re-enacting the Civil War. It is one of the most confusing moments in the entire show and a big drop in quality compared to what preceded the episode and came after it.

"Lonely Souls," (officially titled "Episode 14") is the seventh episode of Season 2. Although some would cite "Beyond Life and Death" as the best episode, this entry certainly makes a good case for itself. Not only does it finally reveal exactly who killed Laura Palmer, bringing some clarity to the case that has been the center of the show since the pilot, but it also includes a satisfying twist and answers other long-standing questions.

The Big Bang Theory

"The Big Bang Theory" is one of the most successful sitcoms of the last few decades. The first season of the Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady show arrived on CBS in 2007 and proved immediately popular with viewers. Charting the lives of four socially awkward and nerdy men as well as the waitress Penny, it ran for a total of 12 seasons until it concluded in 2019. Winning numerous awards, it made stars of its cast, such as Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco, and launched a spin-off prequel series, "Young Sheldon."

The worst episode of the show could well be "The Inspiration Deprivation." Featured in Season 12, it is one of just seven episodes that have an IMDb rating of less than seven out of ten. Like many episodes of the final season, it is a disappointing entry that acts as a filler episode where nothing much happens other than rehashed jokes about Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette's (Melissa Rauch) relationship.

On the other hand, the greatest episode of "The Big Bang Theory" arguably also came in Season 12. "The Stockholm Syndrome" acts as the season finale and ending to the entire show. Packed with emotional moments, such as Sheldon (Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) receiving their Nobel prize or Penny (Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki)  finding out they are pregnant, it provided a satisfying way for the show to end while tying up pretty much every loose end.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon created "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in 1997 which ran on The WB for seven seasons before coming to an end in 2004. Its success launched Sarah Michelle Gellar's career as a leading actor and led to a spin-off in the form of "Angel." The premise of the show sees Buffy Summers (Gellar) hunting down vampires and other evil mythical creatures using her enhanced fighting skills.

There's plenty to dislike in Season 4's "Beer Bad." It introduces viewers to the revolting werewolf Veruca (Paige Moss) and for most of the episode, Buffy sulks about Parker (Adam Kaufman) and his betrayal after he is discovered to be working with the vampires. The biggest let-down, though, is the fact that it appears to be nothing more than an attempt to get out a condescending message that college students drinking beer is not a good thing.

The fourth season more than made up for "Beer Bad" with the tenth episode. "Hush," widely considered as one of the series' best episodes, sees a new group of ghouls that silence the town and kill the residents by cutting out their hearts. This forces Buffy and her allies to communicate without being able to speak, creating a compelling shift in their dynamics as they adjust to the new circumstances they find themselves in.


"Homeland" is a spy thriller series that features Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, David Harewood, and Mandy Patinkin. The story focuses on CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Danes) as she investigates former prisoner of war Nicholas Brody (Lewis) and various other plots against the United States. It ran from 2011 until 2020, with eight seasons airing on Showtime during that time.

"Homeland" had only a few very poor episodes and there is only one example that has an IMDb rating of less than seven. That particular episode is "Long Time Coming," the Season 4 finale that has a shockingly low rating of 5.7, indicating that fans were incredibly disappointed with this installment of the show. Perhaps that's because the episode didn't really have any interesting story twists and lacked the bombastic action of previous season finales. Many fans also complained that the episode seemed more like a filler episode that didn't properly address what had happened across Season 4.

A few episodes before that, "There's Something Else Going On" got every single viewer on the edge of their seat as they nervously watched a prisoner exchange to release Saul (Patinkin) from the terrorists who had captured him. A slow and methodical entry in the series, it is a nerve-racking watch that twists in unexpected ways to keep the drama at a high level throughout. TV Guide named it not just one of the best episodes of "Homeland" but also among the very best episodes of any television show of 2014.