Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Best Episodes Of The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls was both a product of its time and way ahead of it. The trailblazing show featured characters and actresses whom Hollywood usually deems past their peak, redefining what primetime women and television were all about.

For seven uproarious and poignant seasons, widowers Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), Rose Nylund (Betty White), Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), and divorcee Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) were the Mount Rushmore of roommates, pursuing a golden age of life, liberty, and the pursuit of horniness in sunny Miami, Florida. They all had a role to play: Blanche was a sex machine; Dorothy, a bitter Betty; Rose, the owner of a big heart and a small brain; and Sophia, the wise old sage who cut them all down to size, time and again. Amazingly, these "elderly" women were only in their 50s (with the actresses mostly in their 60s), and it's not uncommon to find people in their 80s who look as young today. 

Their enduring legacy was cemented during its initial run from 1985-1992, but their life lessons and bawdy humor has won legions of new fans through reruns in the decades ever since. They're as relevant now as they were back then. Betty White is the only cast member still with us, but the show's greatness will outlast us all. We thank them for being friends with one another, and for being a friend to us.

Here are 11 of the best episodes of The Golden Girls. 

Ladies of the Evening, Season 2, Episode 2

Blanche scores tickets to a Burt Reynolds movie premiere with an invite to the after-party. The thought of meeting Mr. Reynolds and fawning over him sends the quartet's hormones into overdrive. Sadly, Blanche only has a plus-two, so there will be an odd woman out, which ends up being Sophia. This is the least of their problems, as the ensuing events turn into one of the wildest rides the Golden Girls ever went on. 

Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy decide to make a weekend out of it and stay at a reasonably priced hotel, but it turns out to be the kind of place where Johns meet their temporary mates in the lobby bar and rent rooms by the hour. The hotel watering hole is the trio's pit stop before heading to the movie. A few gents assume they're on-the-clock hookers and drop some not-so-subtle hints, while the oblivious ladies are flattered by the attention. Faster than you can say Cannonball Run, the hotel is raided by the police, who round up all the prostitutes — including the three Golden Girls, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Being jailed is almost easier for the girls to deal with than the fact that they won't be twirling Burt's mustache anytime soon. They call Sophia to bail them out. She's willing to help, but only for the right price: an invite to the movie. They can't figure out whom to un-invite, so Sophia takes the tickets and leaves them behind (and behind bars). The next day, the ladies are released and Sophia regales them with tales about all the stars she schmoozed with. It all sounds like tall tales until THE Burt Reynolds shows up to take her out to lunch. He asks Sophia which of her three roomies is the "slut," and, faster than you can say Cannonball Run II, all three roommates raise their hands. Brilliant. 

One Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest, Parts 1 & 2, Season 7, Episodes 25 & 26

All golden things must come to an end, and after seven gloriously shoulder-padded seasons, the series wrapped with a bittersweet conclusion that left its audiences and fans both completely satisfied and wanting more. This is how you do it, folks: a hall-of-fame finale.

Blanche's beloved and widowed Uncle Lucas (Leslie Nielsen) comes to town, but she's busy, so she sets him up with Dorothy on a blind date, telling both of them how excited they are to meet one another. What starts as the date from hell turns fun when the two wear ridiculously large crab bibs and realize they've been duped into this by Blanche. They hatch a plan to get back at her, pretending to have instantly fallen in love and planning marriage.

The joke turns into no laughing matter when Blanche makes it known that she doesn't approve of the union. It seems like the fab foursome and their sisterly bond will be broken. Lucas and Dorothy think that maybe this has all gone a bit too far (and maybe Sophia went a bit too far in dressing up like Aunt Jemima), but then realize they're actually in love. Their love blossoms so quickly that they even have a name for the great sex they have.

The wedding is on, and Dorothy's limo driver turns out to be her ex, Stan. The two make peace, and Dorothy pulls out the final hair on his head before she heads down the aisle into pure happiness. The minds of all the guests are racing and their inner thoughts are revealed (the lovably bird-brained Rose is singing "The Farmer in the Dell" to herself). Dorothy says "yes," and so does Lucas. Mazel tov.

Before they ride off into the sunset, Dorothy returns to their home and the girls have one last group hug that both warms and breaks your heart. You go, girls. Thanks for the memories, and again, for being a friend.

Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket? Season 4, Episode 8

Lottery dreams, Michael Jackson's sequined glove, a charity auction, and a homeless shelter are all stops along the way of this bumpy-road episode, so buckle up.

The term "a very special episode of" applies to "Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket?" The title is a take on a Depression-era song popularized by Bing Crosby, "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" and you may enter your own depression after watching it.

The episode begins with the ladies holding a winning lotto ticket worth $10,000. They all have designs on what they want to do with the money. Blanche runs out and buys a gaudy aviator jacket. They just so happen to be donating clothes and Sophia happily adds this new wretched jacket to the pile to go, not realizing that the winning ticket was in its pocket. Oh, no! The ladies rush to the donation center, but are too late, as a burly bodyguard has already scooped up the item for... Michael Jackson, who's in town to play a show. Later, the jacket goes up for bidding in a charity auction, but is snatched up by a local politician looking to win the favor of his doubting constituents. The jacket is then donated to a local homeless shelter, where the girls go undercover as (glamorous) homeless people to snatch their prized possession.

Something funny, or not so funny, happens on the way to chasing riches, and they learn a sad and valuable lesson about the lives and struggles of the homeless. After finding the ticket, they find it in their hearts to donate the money to the shelter.

Sophia's Wedding, Parts 1 & 2, Season 4, Episodes 6 & 7

It's hard to picture Sophia truly happy or in love, but if it happened once before, and it can happen again. That old Sicilian heart still has a lot of ticking left to do.

When her husband's former business partner's wife passes on, she returns to Brooklyn to pay her respects, but wants nothing to do with the newly widowed man. Why? Back in the day, Max Weinstock (Jack Gilford, a golden boy himself in Cocoon) gambled away the company's money, and Sophia never forgave him. It turns out Max was actually covering for Sophia's beloved Salvadore Petrillo, the one who really squandered their fortunes. When she finally finds out the truth, she embraces Max with open arms — and legs.

Things move quickly, and Max and Sophia decide to tie the knot, much to Dorothy's dismay. Rose screws up the invitations and ends up not inviting the real guests, but instead inviting all the Elvis impersonators (including Quentin Tarantino) she wanted to audition for her Hunk-a Hunk-a Burnin' Love Fan Club. Anywho, they wed, but never have time to find a new home, and so take up residency with the girls. As you can imagine, this leads to some unpleasant run-ins (Dorothy and Max share an accidental, surprising, and scream-filled shower).

Instead of buying a home, the two hunt for a beachfront property to turn into what they and their deceased beloveds always dreamed of: a pizza and knish stand. Life and love couldn't be better — until the two fall ill, and Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose have to pitch in to mind the store. Dorothy's been on a smoking binge, and assumes a forgotten butt is responsible when the snack shack burns to the ground (it was actually faulty wiring). It turns out to be a mixed blessing; Max and Sophia realize they don't want a pizza and knish store at all, or even to be married to one another. They were just filling the voids left by their lost spouses. They agree to remain friends... with benefits.

Grab That Dough, Season 3, Episode 16

Any episode where the ladies have dollar-sign eyes and big dreams leads to hilarious and highly watchable hijinks. In this one, the money grab is pretty literal. They love the game show "Grab That Dough" and land an invite to appear on the program. Unfortunately, the invite came the day before the taping (Sophia had it sent to her old address in Sicily), but the crew won't let anything stand in their way to glory.

It doesn't go well from there. Does it ever? They fly overnight to get to the show, but lose their luggage, get their purses stolen, and have an issue with their reservation at the hotel that means they must sleep in the lobby. At least this time around they weren't mistaken for prostitutes, so there's that. The show must go on, and despite all the setbacks, they're ready to roll — that is, until Blanche and Dorothy see Rose and Sophia as dead weights to their chances, throw them by the wayside, and enlist two yuppie-looking guys for what seems to be a dream team.

Turns out Sophia and Rose are quite good, even after we learn Rose was once voted "Most Likely to Be Stuck in a Tuba." Dorothy realizes that she possibly chose the wrong teammate after Blanche answers the age-old question "Better late than?" with "Pregnant." Still, they make it to the final round, where Dorothy goes into a sealed booth to grab that dough. They then decide to trade the cash in for what's behind door number three. Tell them what they've won, Guy Corbin (James MacKrell, doing an amazing send-up of TV game show hosts): skillets, with a lifetime supply of soup!

So much trouble, for so much soup.

Questions & Answers, Season 7, Episode 17

Four seasons after the gals hit the game show circuit, they got another spin at the wheel of fortunes in their final season. Instead of a fictional game shows, this go around they went on Jeopardy! with the one and only Alex Trebek.

Before you question the answers on the show, you have to pass their super tough audition. Blanche and Dorothy both think they have the goods, but just because you're smart, doesn't mean you have what it takes. Dorothy's overly invested in making it and the pressure has even leaked into her dreams. In her couch nap fantasy, that turns into a nightmare in which Dorothy battles returning champion Rose and her Empty Nest neighbor Charlie Dietz (David Leisure, whom you may remember as Mr. Joe Isuzu).

The first round's inane categories ("Chicken Babes," "Baby Chickens") put her in an early hole, but she gets more grounded in Double Jeopardy, on her way to a big payday. The final answer is "American Hero Buried in Grant's Tomb." Dorothy, a history major in college, has it made, but Rose's question "Who Is Cary Grant?" turns out to be the "correct" answer. Dorothy loses it, both figuratively and literally, and is ridiculed by not only Alex and announcer Johnny Gilbert, but the show's creator Merv Griffin, who comes out from behind the curtain to laugh in her face. If you've ever wanted to see Jeopardy! go surreally bonkers and off the rails, this episode is a must. 

Turns out, Dorothy's dream is worse than her reality. She aces the audition, but the show's staff find her cockiness and attitude so abhorrent that they tell her that "America wouldn't root" for her. At least Dorothy got a great line in on her dream that still stings today: "Mr. Griffin, please. You are the most beloved man in America. You are bright, you are charming, you are the anti-Trump."

The Way We Met, Season 1, Episode 25

One might assume that the pilot episode of Golden Girls would introduce us to Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia and show us how they first came together as roommates, but that's not the case. The show hit the ground running, with everything already in place, and the ladies gabbing like they'd been doing it forever. Fans had to wait until the season 1 finale to learn how our heroines met, in the aptly titled "The Way We Met."

Everyone loves a good origin story, and how the elderly Fab Four formed is quite the tale. Told in flashback, we learn it all started with a post on a supermarket bulletin board for a newly widowed woman seeking roommates for her empty and lonely home. The home in question was Blanche's, and Rose was the first to respond. Blanche was immediately taken with her humor, but quickly discovered that sometimes Rose, who isn't the sharpest spoon in the drawer, wasn't in on her own jokes. Still, she saw something in her sweetness and kindness and took a chance on her. Luckily, the next prospective tenants were quite the package deal: divorced Dorothy and her widowed mother Sophia, whose retirement home, Shady Pines, had burned down. Pure kismet.

The three youngest ladies took a grocery store trip together, where disagreements over giant salamis and other provisions threatened to bring down this new union. The seething continued at home, and it seemed their budding friendship was in trouble. Thankfully, sharing a laugh over Rose's memories of her Minnesota hometown, St. Olaf, saved the quartet. The most beautiful aspect of it all is that it's so believable. Betty White plays it straight, while Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan appear to have actually lost it on screen, completely out of character. A truly magic moment. Chocolate cheesecake for all!

The Commitments, Season 7, Episode 16

Dorothy's been set up on a blind date with widower Jerry (TV stalwart Ken Howard), but would rather revive her childhood rock 'n' roll lust for the Beatles at a tribute concert in town that night. She gets Blanche to fill in, and she and Jerry are on complete opposite ends of the sex spectrum. Since his wife passed, he's been taking things slow, and Blanche has only one gear: overdrive. A collision of emotions is forthcoming and neither sees it coming.

Meanwhile, Dorothy not only has the time of her life with the Fab Four, but she even plays groupie, enjoying some "Golden Slumbers" with Don, the George Harrison of the tribute band (played by Terry Kiser, who's best known as Weekend at Bernie's Bernie). Tomorrow never knows, so don't believe in yesterday, and embrace the things we said today. She's quite the influencer and convinces Don to go solo, which brings about Rose's excellent zinger that she's his Yoko Zbornak. Alas, Don is more a Ringo than a Paul, and the two may not be as forever as strawberry fields.

Blanche can't believe she hasn't gotten laid, let alone touched, even after five dates. The wait just makes her very self-conscious. She decides to tramp things up by booking a room at a tiki hotel. Jerry realizes he's in over his head when he sees the tricked-out Murphy bed, which includes a ceiling mirror, a trapeze bar, and a disco ball to boot. He storms out, leaving her even more dumbfounded and hurt. Eventually, he lets his guard down and explains he's interested in more than sex. He wants to be romanced, something Blanche doesn't seem to have experienced in a long while. They embrace and for once she feels more like a lady than a girl.

Yes, We Have No Havanas, Season 4, Episode 1

The title of the episode is a play on the song "Yes! We Have No Bananas." The word "Havanas" here refers to a smooth Cuban cigar mogul named Fidel Santiago (Henry Darrow). His tan suits, thin mustache, and deep pockets make him quite the catch to the Miami retiree community. You can add Sophia and Blanche to this lothario's list, as they become two sides to quite a bizarre love triangle. The ladies share a man and trade the sharpest barbs with one another. Sophia doles out the best lines, likening Blanche to a 50-year-old mattress.

The side story involves Dorothy teaching an adult education history course. Rose happens to be one of her pupils, along with a man named Jim Schu ("Gym Shoe"). Rose is a slow study. She doesn't even know who Hitler is because the man who taught history in her high school, Fritz Stickelmeyer, may be der Führer himself (Eva Braun was the PE teacher). Dorothy takes pity on Rose and the St. Olaf educational system and passes her with a D-. At last, Rose finally graduates high school. 

Back to the meatier part of the story: Fidel says adios to living, leaving a trail of mourners in his wake. At his funeral, the pews are a sea of women in black; there's not a man in sight except for the priest. Sophia and Blanche soon realize it wasn't just a triangle of love; it was more like a dodecahedron. Sophia immediately commandeers the pulpit to both castigate and praise him. She and Blanche put away their differences and hug it out.

Foreign Exchange, Season 4, Episode 24

Sometimes guests arrive with unwanted news. Sophia's old Sicilian pals Philomena and Dominic come to town with their daughter Gina and a lot of baggage. Sophia and Philomena met in the hospital when they both gave birth to their daughters, and apparently the two babies might have been switched. 

Gina does seem to be more like Sophia than Dorothy. This unsettling news drives a wedge between them, and they resolve to get a blood test to set matters straight. After a lot of soul-searching, reminiscing, and fear of what comes next, the two receive the test results, but decide to tear them to shreds, accepting themselves as true mother and daughter, no matter what.

To counterbalance the heavy main storyline is a side tale about Blanche and Rose taking dirty dancing classes. Blanche assumes she's a natural, but it's actually Rose who has the softer shoe. A lot of back and forth eventually leads to an incredible dirty dance between the two roommates in the comfort of their own home.

Letter to Gorbachev, Season 3, Episode 6

Dear Mr. Gorbachev. My name is Rose Nylund. I'm writing to you because I'm really worried about nuclear war. I hear there are enough bombs to blow up the world 100 times and it scares me. 

So begins the letter Rose penned to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and a similar one to Ronald Reagan, in hopes of creating a better tomorrow. The Soviets are so taken by this letter, which they assume was written by a little girl, that they invite her and her family to Moscow. This sets off the fantastic visual fantasy of the girls visiting the Red Square, decked out in furs and shapkas. They address people of the USSR, with Blanche doing her best Marilyn Monroe impression and singing happy birthday to Mr. President. The Cold War never felt so warm!

The goodwill falls apart when the Soviets realize Rose isn't a little girl, but just some old American woman. The glasnost turns into glad-nots. A discouraged Rose cheers up after she gets a call from Reagan (Sophia, flexing her impersonation of him). Rose can never catch a break. That Nobel Prize is always just right out of reach.