Television shows

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

IIt feels like we get new episodes of great TV series every week, but even our favorite shows sometimes get it wrong.

Remember the episode of stranger things when Eleven went away to team up with a gang of runaways? Or the episode of Friends who lazily told the story of Ross and Rachel’s romance entirely through a music video show?

These are the episodes we’ve come to hate, and below we go over the worst (and most polarizing) episodes of your favorite shows, including game of thrones, breaking Bad and even Thread.

Almost no TV show escaped at least a bad episode.

Philadelphia is always sunny“Frank’s Brother” – season seven, episode five

Given that the series is currently in its 15th season, it was always inevitable that a weak episode would appear and fans believe that this season seven offering falls into that category. It documents a visit from Frank’s brother, Gino, which sets off a series of flashback sequences in the 70s. the other episodes had plenty. An experimental episode which, unfortunately, did not work.

X files“Teso Dos Bichos” – season three, episode 18

One of the series’ lowest rated episodes, “Teso Dos Bichos”, sees Mulder and Scully being chased 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, emblazoned with the phrase “Teso Dos Bichos Survivor” as an apology. The episode was also panned by critics, with one reviewer describing it as “a terrible, terrible episode of television”.

black mirror“The 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 fuzzy: Although it fired at various political targets, none landed and few said anything particularly meaningful. Even creator Charlie Brooker himself later admitted that he would come back and do things differently if he got a second chance to write the episode. Fans agreed: it’s regularly at the bottom of black mirror fan rating.

stranger things“The Lost Sister” – season two, episode seven

This was perhaps the strangest episode of stranger thingsand not strange in a good way, but strange as in odd clear. Its placement in the series seems moody: It’s a one-off episode that breaks jarringly from all the action of season two at a crucial plot point. He sees Eleven leaving the house and teaming up with a gang of emo misfits – including Kali, another victim of Dr. Brenner. Kali’s ruthless streak terrifies Eleven (something that seems at odds with the tone of the series) and sends her quickly running to her surrogate father Hopper. Unfortunately, the episode makes no sense in the context of season two.

Eleven in “Stranger Things”


Development stopped“Saving for Impeachment Day” – season five, episode 14

There were many season five episodes that skipped the shark, but this was the worst. Another courtship scene, another hard-to-follow plot, and a serious lack of jokes that made Development stopped one of the funniest shows of all time; it’s about as far from the show’s iconic early episodes as you can imagine. Bring back the Banana Stand.

Friends“The One with the Invitation” – season four, episode 21

Viewers hate clip reel episodes and Friends’ attempt was no different: A series of flashbacks of Ross and Rachel tracing their relationship since this Central Perk embraces Ross’ infamous “we were on a break” zinger. The trigger for the flashback reel is Ross sending Rachel an invite to her upcoming wedding as the two reflect on where it all went wrong. However, fans felt the flashbacks didn’t work and were a lazy way to explore Ross and Rachel’s complex past. They deserved better.

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The simpsons“Lisa 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 that. He sees Lady Gaga going to Springfield to cheer up Lisa, who is in a state of depression after being bullied at school. When you think back to “Malibu Stacey”-era feminist Lisa, this episode seems as far removed from her true character as it gets. It also looks like a huge promotional operation for Lady Gaga. When you compare it to cameos from other musical guests (for example, when The Smashing Pumpkins appeared in the brilliant “Homerpalooza”), it underlines just how The simpsons had fallen from those first glorious seasons. Oh !

The cast of “Arrested Development”


The Walking Dead“Start to Finish” – season six, episode eight

Fans weren’t impressed with this mid-season finale, which is one of the lowest-rated episodes on Rotten Tomatoes (with a low score of just 35%). The episode was monotonous, frustrating, and offered no real resolution to the many questions fans wanted answered at this important mid-season juncture. One reviewer described it as a “boring party” while another said bluntly: “That whole hour felt like a mess.” Ouch.

Seinfeld“The Puerto Rican Day Parade” – season nine, episode 20

One of the greatest shows of all time was due to a bad episode – and it had one in the final season. This particular outing was so racist to Puerto Ricans that NBC broadcasters had to issue an apology after it aired. On top of that, it’s also just a boring, unfunny episode that failed to connect with the show’s longtime fans.

Mad Men“New Amsterdam” – season one, episode four

There are some good moments in this episode, like the thrilling showdown between Don and Pete at the end, but it spends too much time focusing on Betty guarding oddball Glen. His strange fascination with her comes to a head when he asks Betty for a lock of her hair – and she doubly obliges. It’s weird, disturbing but above all a little painful to watch. The duo have been revisited in many other episodes of the series, and their scenes have never become more interesting or relevant. What was the point?

The west wing“Access” – season five, episode 18

A rare miss in a show with so many great episodes. This one was a departure from the form and saw CJ followed by a camera crew for a day. The flying structure on the wall didn’t work, nor did the fact that it intercut CJ with clips of actual press secretaries over the years at the White House. 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 opt for “Stranger in a Strange Land” AKA the one on Jack’s tattoos. However, “Fire + Water” stands there as the show’s weakest hour, focusing on Charlie’s obsession with “saving” Claire’s baby, Aaron. The plot itself makes sense – Charlie’s desperation is fueled by being apart with virtually everyone in camp – but the scene in which the typically measured (at this point, of any way) Locke brutally beats him up is so out of character, it’s hard to imagine what the episode’s writers, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, were thinking.


Dexter, “Remember the monsters?” – Season eight, episode 12

From the beginning, Dexter was a show of extreme ups and downs – and the show’s finale fell firmly into the latter category. The question everyone wanted answered: Will Dexter Morgan be cast as the infamous “Butcher of Bay Harbor” or will he confess? What no one expected at all was that Dexter left for Oregon to become – first and foremost – a lumberjack. Besides being the worst episode of the series, it’s also a strong contender for the worst TV series finale. already.

Thread“Ebb Tide” – season two, episode one

The first episode of season two has divided fans of this much-loved show. Many wanted it to continue right where the first season left off – in the projects with Avon, Stringer and Omar et al: what they got instead was a journey into a whole new world of the port stevedores. Baltimore. The second season abruptly focused on an organized crime racket at the docks, and initially the change proved too big for some. As characters from the first season were gradually reintroduced in the background of season two, fans have 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 terrible Sopranos episodes. This outing, however, is one that viewers still have mixed feelings for. It sees Silvio brawling with a group of Columbus Day protesters and, what was meant to be an exploration of identity politics and race relations, was confusing at best and offensive at worst. It was a lesson that writers shouldn’t reduce complex themes 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 has been 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. The Rian Johnson-directed episode was certainly bold: it centers on the show’s two main characters trying to swat a fly. Crystal blue meth kingpin Walter White and his partner-in-crime Jesse Pinkman spend an all-nighter at Gus Fring’s drug lab when the fly begins to torment the couple with Walt trying (and failing) to catch it . In the process, the two open up about recent tough times in their lives. Walt discusses his cancer diagnosis while Jesse discusses the death of his girlfriend, Jane, which brings a stark sense of dramatic irony: at this point, Jesse has no idea he’s working alongside the man who let Jane die.


game of thrones“Breaker of Chains” – season four, episode three

This looks like the most poorly judged episode of game of thrones’ the story. This is the episode where (trigger warning) Jaime Lannister appears to rape his sister Ceresi in a move that shocked viewers of the show. Not only was it vastly different from the books and completely irrelevant to Jaime, it also exploited sexual assault gratuitously. Critics were damning, calling the scene “unacceptable” and “scandalous” – even worse, the fact that it all happened next to the corpse of their deceased son, Joffrey. What the hell were they thinking?