The 17 worst episodes of your favorite shows, from The Sopranos to Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad

IIt doesn’t feel like we’re treated to new episodes of great TV series every week – but even our favorite shows sometimes get it wrong.

Think of the episode of stranger things when Eleven went AWOL to team up with a gang of runaways? Or the consequence of friends who told the story of Ross and Rachel’s romance entirely through a clip show?

These are the episodes we hate, and below we go over the worst (and most polarizing) episodes of your favorite shows, inclusive game of Thrones, breaking Bad and even The cable.

Hardly any TV show has escaped at least one bad episode.

it’s always sunny in Philadelphia“Frank’s Brother” – Season Seven, Episode Five

Considering the show is currently in its 15th season, it was always inevitable that a weak episode would come out, and fans think this seventh season falls into that category. It documents a visit from Frank’s brother Gino, which triggers a series of flashback sequences to the 1970s. The lack of the show’s main character group felt stark, but beyond that, the sequence simply lacked the gags that other episodes had in abundance. An experimental episode that unfortunately didn’t work.

X-Files“Teso Dos Bichos” – Season Three, Episode 18

In one of the lowest-rated episodes of the series, “Teso Dos Bichos,” Mulder and Scully are being hunted by a pack of feral cats. The episode’s director, Kim Manners, said the last part of the episode was “a disaster” and later admitted to making t-shirts for the cast and crew with the apology “Teso Dos Bichos Survivor “ emblazoned. The episode was also panned by critics, with one reviewer describing it as “a horrible, horrible television episode.”

black mirrorThe Waldo Moment – Season Two, Episode Three

In a show full of wildly inventive and gripping moments, this episode stood out for all the wrong reasons. The episode was frustratingly unfocused: while various political targets were fired upon, none landed and few said anything of particular significance. Even creator Charlie Brooker himself later admitted that if he got a second chance to write the episode, he would go back and do things differently. Fans agreed: it’s routinely over Black Mirrors Fan Ranking.

stranger thingsThe Lost Sister – Season Two, Episode Seven

This was perhaps the strangest episode of stranger thingsand not odd in a good way, but odd as in plain odd. Its placement in the series feels incongruous: It’s a one-off episode that rudely detaches itself from all the second-season action at a crucial plot point. It sees Eleven leaving home and joining forces with a gang of emo misfits – including Kali, another victim of Dr. Burner. Kali’s ruthless streak scares Eleven (something at odds with the show’s tone) and quickly sends her home to surrogate father Hopper. Unfortunately, the episode doesn’t make sense in the context of the second season.

Eleven in “Stranger Things”


arrested developmentSaving for Arraignment Day – Season Five, Episode 14

There were many episodes in season five that jumped the shark, but this was the worst. Another courtroom scene, another hard-to-follow plot, and a serious lack of jokes being made arrested development one of the funniest shows ever; it’s about as far removed from the iconic early episodes of the series as you can imagine. Bring back the banana stand.

friends“The One with the Invitation” – Season 4 Episode 21

Viewers hate clip reel episodes and Friends’ Trial was no different: a series of flashbacks from Ross and Rachel chronicling their relationship the Central Perk kisses Ross’ infamous “We were on a break” zinger. The flashback is triggered when Ross sends Rachel an invitation to his upcoming wedding while they both reflect on what went wrong. However, fans felt the flashbacks didn’t work and were a lazy way to explore Ross and Rachel’s complex past. You deserve better.

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The simpsonsLisa Goes Gaga – Season 23, Episode 22

One of the greatest animated television shows of all time jumped the shark after season 10, and this episode is a very good example of how that’s done. In it, Lady Gaga travels to Springfield to cheer up Lisa, who is depressed after being bullied at school. Thinking back to the feminist Lisa of the “Malibu Stacey” era, this episode feels as far removed from her true character as you can get. It also feels like a huge promotion for Lady Gaga. When you compare it to cameos from other musical guests (like when The Smashing Pumpkins appeared in the brilliant “Homerpalooza”), it underscores just how far it goes The simpsons had fallen from those glorious early seasons. D’oh!

The cast of “Arrested Development”


the Walking Dead“Start to Finish” – Season Six, Episode Eight

Fans were unimpressed by this midseason finale, which is one of the lowest-rated episodes on Rotten Tomatoes (scoring as low as 35 percent). The episode was monotonous, frustrating, and offered no real answer to the many questions fans wanted answered at this important point in the midseason. One reviewer described it as a “boring celebration,” while another bluntly said, “That whole hour felt like a mess.” Ouch.

His field“The Puerto Rican Day Parade” – Season Nine, Episode 20

One of the greatest shows of all time came down to one bad episode — and it had one last season. This particular outing was so racially offensive to Puerto Ricans that NBC had to apologize after it aired. Additionally, it’s also just a boring and unfunny episode that failed to connect with longtime fans of the show.

mad Men“New Amsterdam” – Season One, Episode Four

There are some good moments in this episode, like the exciting confrontation between Don and Pete at the end, but it spends too much time focusing on Betty tending the weird Glen. His strange fascination with her reaches a climax when he asks Betty for a lock of her hair – and she obliges twice. It’s bizarre, unsettling, but mostly a bit awkward to watch. The duo were revisited in many more episodes of the show, and their scenes never got more interesting or relevant. what was the point

The western wing“Access” – Season Five, Episode 18

A rare failure in a show with so many great episodes. This one was a deviation from form and saw CJ being followed by a camera crew for a day. The fly-on-the-wall structure didn’t work, nor did the fact that CJ interspersed it with clips of real press secretaries from the White House years. The mix of fact and fiction was messy and resulted in a confusing watch for viewers.

Lost“Fire + Water” – Season Two, Episode 12

When we talk about the worst episode of Lost, the majority of fans would go for “Stranger in a Strange Land” AKA the one about Jack’s tattoos. However, “Fire + Water” is the show’s weakest hour, focusing on Charlie’s obsession with “saving” Claire’s baby Aaron. The plot itself kind of makes sense – Charlie’s desperation is fueled by the fact that he’s hanging out with just about everyone in the camp – but the scene where the typically measured (at this point in time) Locke brutally beats him up is so out of character, it’s hard imagine what the episode’s writers, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, were thinking.


dexters, “Do you remember the monsters?” – Season eight, episode 12

From the beginning, dexter was a show of extreme ups and downs – and the show’s finale clearly fell into the latter category. The question everyone wanted answered: will Dexter Morgan come out as the infamous “Bay Harbor Butcher” or will he confess? What nobody expected at all was that Dexter went to Oregon to become a lumberjack of all things. Not only is it the show’s worst episode, but it’s also a strong contender for the worst TV series finale ever.

The cable“Ebb Tide” – Season Two, Episode One

The first episode of the second season divided fans of this popular series. Many wanted it to pick up right where season one ended – in the projects with Avon, Stringer and Omar & Co.: Instead they got a trip to a whole new world of stevedores in the port of Baltimore. The second season abruptly shifted its focus to an organized crime thug on the docks, and initially the change proved too much for some. As the characters from season one were gradually reintroduced in the background of season two, fans slowly returned to watch one of the greatest television shows of all time.

The sopranos“Christopher” – Season Four, Episode Three

Let’s face it: there aren’t really any really terrible ones sopranos episodes. However, this outing is one that viewers still have mixed feelings about. It sees Silvio tussling with a group of protesters on Columbus Day and what was intended as an exploration of identity politics and race relations was confused at best and insulting at worst. It was a lesson that writers shouldn’t reduce complex issues to a single episode.

(Barry Wetcher/Hbo/Kobal/REX/Shut)

breaking Bad“Fly” – Season three, episode ten

For the record, “Fly” isn’t a bad TV episode — but it is was one of the most polarizing episodes of breaking Bad. Fans declared it either an artistic triumph or the worst episode in the show’s history. Directed by Rian Johnson, the episode was certainly bold: it revolves around the show’s two main characters trying to slay a fly. Crystal blue meth king Walter White and his crime accomplice Jesse Pinkman spend an all night in Gus Fring’s drug lab when the fly begins to torment the couple while Walt tries (and fails) to catch it. Both talk about the most recent difficult moments in their lives. Walt talks about his cancer diagnosis while Jesse talks about the death of his girlfriend Jane, which involves brutal dramatic irony: At this point, Jesse has no idea he’s working with the man who let Jane die.


game of ThronesBreaker of Chains – Season Four, Episode Three

This feels like the worst rated episode in Game of Thrones’ Story. It’s the episode where (trigger warning) Jaime Lannister appears to rape his sister Ceresi, which shocked viewers of the series. Not only was it very different from the books and totally uncharacteristic of Jaime, it also gratuitously exploited sexual assault. Reviews were scathing, calling the scene “unacceptable” and “outrageous” — worse was the fact that it all happened next to the body of her dead son, Joffrey. What on earth were they thinking? The 17 worst episodes of your favorite shows, from The Sopranos to Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad


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