The 19 Best TV Episodes Of 2015, From Thrilling New Pilots To Beloved Series' Finales
Of all the holidays, I'm not too big on New Year's, but I do appreciate its existence when it comes to evaluating the best of entertainment over the past year. Before ringing in 2016 by watching a TV marathon on the couch as you nurse your hangover, remember some of these best TV episodes of 2015. While many shows can have monumental moments, it takes a solid episode from start to finish to be considered one of the year's best. (And sorry, The Walking Dead — your Season 6 midseason finale "Start to Finish" did not qualify, despite the title.)
Fans of great TV had to say goodbye to shows like Hannibal, Mad Men, and Parks and Recreation in 2015, so now is the time to look back and reminisce about the best episodes from shows that have ended, as well as those that have just gotten started. Plus, I'm pretty sure that's what Robert Burns was going for when he wrote the New Year's Eve classic "Auld Lang Syne." Whether a TV series is a comedy, a drama, or that crazy realm that Orange Is the New Black exists in, it's time to give a toast in honor of the strongest television episodes of this past year. And though time often seems to be flying by, you'll be surprised by how much good TV was packed into 365 days.
So, say goodbye to 2015 by celebrating these 19 episodes of great television.
1. Better Call Saul, "Pimento"
Mike's backstory episode was a fan favorite (perhaps due to the lingering love for the companion show that preceded the new series), but the best episode of the excellent and thoughtful Season 1 of Better Call Saul belongs to lawyer brothers Jimmy and Chuck's confrontation in "Pimento."
2. Bob's Burgers, "Eat, Spray, Linda"
Linda Belcher is the best mom on TV and Bob and her kids tried to prove it to her on her birthday. Hilarity, bizarre revelations, and sweet moments abound in this Season 5 episode of the Fox animated comedy.
3. Broad City, "Knockoffs"
Abbi and Ilana split up for their own outrageous antics, giving each woman an epic story line — one about underground purse sales and one about pegging — of her own.
4. Empire, "Pilot"
The Empire pilot took the television world by storm in 2015 when it introduced the already-classic characters of Lucious and Cookie to the world and changed the landscape of network television.
5. Game of Thrones, "Mother's Mercy"
While "Hardhome" has been debated as Season 5's greatest episode, I'm a firm believer that the episode that leaves me waking up in the middle of the night, hoping that what just happened was a dream, is the winner. Thanks, "Mother's Mercy," for some sleepless nights in 2015.
6. Girls, "Sit-In"
Girls often hits close to home for this twenty-something girl, but Hannah's sit-in after she returns home from Iowa emotionally wrecked me.
7. Homeland, "Our Man in Damascus"
Season 5 of Homeland appropriately hit the reset button by having Carrie on her A game and introducing a new spy character with everything to lose. And the 11th episode of the 2015 season showed just how great Homeland can be.
8. Inside Amy Schumer, "Twelve Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer"
In a stellar Season 3, the standout episode of Inside Amy Schumer was her parody of the classic film 12 Angry Men.
9. Jessica Jones, "AKA WWJD?"
A few final moments of Jessica Jones episodes had me gasping, including "AKA WWJD?" Along with its shock factor, Jessica and Kilgrave got to explore their disturbing dynamic outside of Hell's Kitchen.
10. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, "What the Hell Did I Do?"
While I think some other episodes of the short documentary series may have been stronger, it's hard to deny the fact that the HBO doc was leading up to the moment where Robert Durst uttered those infamous words as an unknowing confession.
11. The Leftovers, "International Assassin"
Since I can't list every episode from Season 2 of The Leftovers for this best-of roundup, I'll have to settle with just selecting one of the most fascinating episodes of television ever created, where literally anything could have happened to Kevin Garvey.
12. Mad Men, "Lost Horizon"
The Mad Men series finale may have stirred up mixed emotions, but no fan was conflicted when it came to Roger Sterling and Peggy Olson bonding time in the 12th episode of the final season.
13. Master of None, "Ladies and Gentleman"
While Aziz Ansari's Netflix series excellently took on the topics of discrimination against Indians on TV and the relationship first-generation American children have with their immigrant parents, its best episode was definitely this look at sexism.
14. Mr. Robot, "eps1.7wh1ter0se.m4v"
In this game-changing eighth episode of the acclaimed freshman drama from USA, fans realized just how much of an unreliable narrator the hacker Elliot can really be.
15. Orange Is the New Black, "Trust No B*tch"
It's hard to resist putting a season finale on a best-of list, but with its last bonding moments at the lake, "Trust No B*tch" knew how to wrap up Season 3 of the Netflix show.
16. Orphan Black, "Ruthless In Purpose, And Insidious In Method"
After Season 3 started with a new set of clones, episode 8 showed where the heart of Orphan Black really lies — in Tatiana Maslany's clones and their relationship with Felix, portrayed by Jordan Gavaris.
17. Outlander, "Wentworth Prison"
The second-to-last episode of the premiere season of Starz's time-traveling, historical drama was a tense and harrowing lead-in to the abuse that Jamie would suffer in the season finale.
18. Parks and Recreation, "Pie-Mary"
Leslie and Ben proved what makes them the best power couple ever — their unwavering support of one another and living their progressive ideals with humor — in this feminist episode of the final season.
19. Transparent, "Man on the Land"
The Amazon show continued taking on complex family relationships in Season 2 with its best episode of 2015 having Sarah, Ali, and Maura at a women-focused music festival.
Most of these shows will undoubtedly provide more amazing moments for 2016, but never forget what a great year 2015 truly was for all of the TV addicts out there.