Even the best shows ever made are rarely perfect. With nearly every classic TV series, there’s usually one episode that stands out as the worst one, and fans generally agree it was a bit of a misstep.
Here’s a look at those most commonly hated episodes of great TV shows. Because endings are so notoriously divisive, series finales won’t be included. We also won’t be including episodes that are despised just because of one controversial scene, like Game of Thrones‘ “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” To make the list, fans have to dislike the entire thing.
15. “The Puerto Rican Day” — Seinfeld
Here’s one episode that sparked such a backlash that NBC actually apologized for it. In Seinfeld‘s “The Puerto Rican Day,” the gang gets stuck in traffic during a parade.
People typically hate this episode for a number of reasons. For one, there was some controversy due to the fact that Kramer burns a Puerto Rican flag, although it’s an accident. In general, it also depicts Puerto Ricans in a negative light. There’s one scene, for instance, where an angry crowd starts to damage Jerry’s car; Kramer says, “It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico.”
Even putting all that aside, the episode is also just not that funny, and many of the side characters are really over the top. What’s especially disappointing is that not counting a clip show, this is the series’ penultimate episode.
Next: Almost everyone hated this episode of a popular TV show that aired in 2017.
14. “The Lost Sister” — Stranger Things
The second season of Stranger Things featured an episode that fans unanimously identified as the series’ lowest point: “The Lost Sister.” This one features Eleven traveling to Chicago, meeting Kali, and embracing her dark side.
One huge issue is the fact that “The Lost Sister” brings the entire season to a grinding halt. The show had previously played out like a movie, and the prior episode ended on a cliffhanger. But then none of the characters involved in that cliffhanger are in “The Lost Sister”; the episode is pretty much completely self-contained.
It may have gone down easier had it not been entirely focused on Eleven. In addition, Eleven’s arc is just a little goofy, and the characters she meets up with are fairly one-dimensional. On IMDB, “The Lost Sister” has a rating of 6.2, shockingly low for such a popular series. The Duffer Brothers would later acknowledge that the episode “annoyed some people.”
Next: This episode is so polarizing that some feel it’s the show’s worst episode, while some feel it’s one of the best.
13. “Fly” — Breaking Bad
What’s fascinating about Breaking Bad‘s “Fly” is that while it’s definitely the show’s most frequently disliked episode, almost an equal number of fans think it’s actually one of the best of the entire series.
This bottle episode takes place entirely in the lab. In it, Walt becomes obsessed with trying to kill a fly. Of course, that’s not all that happens; there’s a lot of great character development, including a monologue where Walt debates when the perfect moment to die would have been.
But the episode gets flak from a lot of fans, some of whom think it’s far too slow and doesn’t really contribute that much to the season’s narrative. Funnily enough, the director of the episode, Rian Johnson, would go on to direct Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the franchise’s most divisive film.
Next: This episode came at the end of a popular sitcom’s worst season ever.
12. “Advanced Introduction to Finality” — Community
At the end of the third season of Community, NBC fired and replaced showrunner Dan Harmon. The result was that Season 4, at times, didn’t seem to fundamentally understand what audiences liked about the show.
That was most obviously the case in the season finale, “Advanced Introduction to Finality.” This episode brings back the paintball gimmick after two years, having Jeff and the gang fight the darkest timeline versions of themselves. The whole darkest timeline idea was funny as a one-off bit. But as the basis of an entire episode, it gets old.
Community is also always funniest when even the ridiculous genre adventures are somewhat grounded in reality, which this episode certainly isn’t. In fact, the ending reveals that the entire thing was a dream and therefore a complete waste of time. Not only that, but the actual paintball sequences are also visually uninteresting, a far cry from the Justin Lin-shot “Modern Warfare.”
The Season 4 finale is so bad that before it even aired, the writer admitted that she wished she could redo it.
Next: This episode was supposed to launch a spinoff, but the episode was so poorly received that no spinoff happened.
11. “Bloodlines” — Supernatural
During Season 9 of Supernatural, the plan was for there to be a spinoff show called Supernatural: Bloodlines, which would be introduced via a backdoor pilot. But the episode that introduced it was so poorly received that the spinoff never even happened.
In “Bloodlines,” five monster families run the underbelly of Chicago, and a war is on the verge of breaking out. The main complaint among fans was that none of the characters are even remotely believable and the acting feels on par with a soap opera.
Sam and Dean are barely even in the episode, and the fact that it never got the planned spinoff makes the whole thing essentially pointless. Ask any Supernatural fan what the worst episode of the series is, and it’s hard to imagine anyone saying anything ‘other than “Bloodlines.”
Next: When fans rewatch this show, they tend to skip this episode.
10. “The Banker” — The Office
There are arguably worse episodes of The Office than “The Banker,” especially Season 9’s “The Farm.” But “The Farm” came during a season that was already terrible, so it was just another frustrating half-hour. On the other hand, “The Banker” came during an otherwise decent season, and it barely even qualified as an episode at all.
In it, an investment banker comes to meet with Toby to find out about the office. It’s only after a few minutes that we realize that this is actually a clip show. That used to be a pretty common thing back before the days of DVR. But this was 2010, and it had never been easier to catch up on TV. So why was The Office spending an entire episode on this?
It also didn’t help that “The Banker” aired after The Office had been off the air for six weeks. Among Office fans, this is one of the only episodes that everyone tends to skip during rewatches. On IMDB, it’s the lowest rated of the series, far below “The Farm.”
Next: Fans felt that this episode was both boring filler and not in keeping with the rest of the show.
9. “The Great Divide” — Avatar: The Last Airbender
Very little of Avatar: The Last Airbender is disliked by fans, other than the episode “The Great Divide.” From Season 1, this one involves the characters traveling to the world’s largest canyon, where two enemy tribes argue over how to cross.
Fans had three main issues with this episode. One, it’s essentially just filler, and not particularly interesting filler. Two, characters in it don’t really act like themselves. And three, it ends with Aang telling the tribes a story in order to unite them, only to reveal that he completely made this story up. Some fans felt this idea was out of step with the rest of the show’s morals, and it meant that Aang really didn’t learn much. Also, it seemed a little questionable that everyone just believed Aang.
“The Great Divide” is so loathed that the show later referenced this in a meta way. In a Season 3 episode, the characters choose to fly over the Great Divide rather than stopping there, implying doing so would be a waste of time just like the episode was.
Next: This long-running comedy experimented with this episode, and it didn’t really pay off.
8. “Frank’s Brother” — It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
After being on the air for so long, it was inevitable that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia would have a bad episode, and the one that fans tend to really not enjoy is Season 7’s “Frank’s Brother.”
In this episode, Frank’s brother, Gino, comes to visit, and the show then flashes back to the 1960s and 1970s, focusing almost entirely on a story of Frank and Gino. The fact that most of the gang isn’t even in a lot the episode is already an issue. But there’s also the fact that fans just didn’t find it to be particularly funny. Most of the humor seemed to derive from the idea that it was hilarious to see Frank in the 1970s, and that was about it.
“Frank’s Brother” was an example of a sitcom that had been on the air for years experimenting with its format, which is always admirable. But in this case, it didn’t turn out too well.
Next: The creators of this show admit that this episode is terrible.
7. “A Million Little Fibers” — South Park
South Park has produced nearly 300 episodes, and even Trey Parker and Matt Stone admit that many of them are awful. There’s some debate among fans as to what the worst one is, but perhaps the most unpopular is Season 10’s “A Million Little Fibers.”
This is another episode of a comedy that doesn’t actually have the main characters in it. It focuses on Towelie, who writes a memoir and goes on The Oprah Winfrey Show, only for Oprah’s vagina to pull out a gun and start taking hostages.
That might sound kind of funny because of how ridiculous it is. But in practice, there just isn’t enough to sustain a consistently funny half-hour. Parker and Stone have named this as one of their worst episodes; Stone told Entertainment Weekly that he’d “erase that one” if he could.
Next: This episode was built around a gimmick, but fans didn’t feel that it worked.
6. “Bedtime Stories” — How I Met Your Mother
Of course, the most hated episode of How I Met Your Mother is by far the series finale, “Last Forever.” But since we’re just talking about regular episodes here, there’s another one that fans can’t stand: “Bedtime Stories.”
In it, Marshall is trying to get Marvin to fall asleep on the bus, so he tells him three stories. The whole gimmick is that the entire episode takes the form of a bedtime story, complete with the constant rhyming. How I Met Your Mother experimented with a lot of gimmicks throughout its run. But while the idea of a rhyming episode might have seemed interesting, it just ended up getting annoying after about four minutes.
Even putting aside the rhyming, the episode is also complete filler. At this point, we were only about 12 episodes away from the series finale, yet the show was wasting time with a storyline about Robin eating an entire cake.
Next: One critic would later declare that this episode is the shame of its show.
5. “Black Market” — Battlestar Galactica
With Battlestar Galactica we have another case where fans are pretty much all in agreement about what the worst episode is: it’s Season 2’s “Black Market.” In this episode, Apollo investigates a black market within the fleet and begins to sleep with a prostitute. The episode sort of takes on a film noir style, but fans didn’t go for it.
In an article titled “This episode is the shame of Battlestar Galactica,” io9’s Rob Bricken describes the episode’s faults by explaining that “the real trouble is that the normally excellent Battlestar Galactica has stakes that are much, much higher than Apollo’s goofy little Philip Marlowe role-playing, making this whole ‘mystery’ an enormous waste of everybody’s time from the get-go.”
Next: This show had a lot of rough episodes, but fans especially don’t like this one.
4. “Fear Her” — Doctor Who
Doctor Who has plenty of terrible episodes, but in a Doctor Who Magazine poll from 2015, one emerged as the absolute worst: Season 2’s “Fear Her.” This one sees the Doctor and Rose traveling to London, where children are mysteriously disappearing. They soon find out that this is because of a 12-year-old girl named Chloe; when she draws people, they vanish.
One issue with the episode is the fact the actress who plays Chloe is unfortunately not very good. There’s also the fact that the setting is pretty boring; most of the hour just takes place in a random neighborhood that is not very visually interesting. In addition, the plot itself is cliche and boring.
The episode was not so disastrous as to derail the entire season. It’s just a low point for the show and one that fans tend not to have fond memories of.
Next: This episode is disliked in part because of its heavy-handed moral.
3. “Beer Bad” — Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Like with some of the other shows we’ve talked about, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer basically all have the same answer when asked what the worst episode is: “Beer Bad” from Season 4.
That’s the one where Xander starts working as a bartender, but the beer he’s serving starts turning everyone into Neanderthals. As the title suggests, the story is laced with a fairly obvious and rote message about the dangers of drinking; it was reportedly written in part to receive money from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which gave funding to shows with anti-drug messages.
Because the episode is basically completely standalone, it’s one that a lot of Buffy fans recommend skipping.
Next: This is the lowest-rated episode of one of the best shows of all time.
2. “Lisa Goes Gaga” — The Simpsons
“The Principal and the Pauper” is the point at which many Simpsons fans feel the show jumped the shark. But for those who continued watching, there’s a more recent episode that is much worse: Season 23’s “Lisa Goes Gaga.”
By this point in the series’ life, a common criticism was that it relied on celebrity guests far too often. Now, here we had an entire episode built around Lady Gaga. The plot just involves Gaga coming to Springfield on tour and sensing that Lisa needs her help. It ends with Lisa and Gaga performing a duet together and with a generic message about being yourself. The whole thing just seemed like an attempt to capitalize on something popular.
Fans viewed this episode as The Simpsons at its absolute worst, and it’s by far the series’ lowest-rated outing on IMDB, with a shockingly low score of 4.2 out of 10.
Next: This episode was an example of this extremely popular show at its lowest point.
1. “Stranger in a Strange Land” — Lost
Among Lost fans, there’s no better example of a bad episode of a great show than Season 3’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” By the time Lost entered the third season, the series was beginning to feel aimless. It was built around mysteries, but the writers had no clear sense of how long they would be on the air.
As a result, they were stuck not being able to progress the storyline too much. So we started getting some seriously bad filler, the absolute worst of which was “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It’s an entire episode devoted to explaining the origins of Jack’s tattoos, something absolutely zero people were wondering about.
Fans hated this episode not only for being filler, but also for being exemplary of all the show’s problems. Luckily, it was around this time that the creators went to ABC and demanded they set an end date. This allowed for the last stretch of Season 3 to be one of the best in the show’s history. So in some cases, having a really bad episode can actually wind up being a good thing.
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