Top 10: Our Favorite Episodes of the 2010-2011 TV Season

By Staff

Jun 03, 2011

As the last of this season's finales faded to black last week, we all said our teary goodbyes to the 2010-2011 television season. So now, before we muster the strength to move on and fully embrace the wealth of summer programming that lies ahead, let's take a therapeutic look back at the episodes that stood out the most during the 2010-2011 TV season.

We asked a few of the monkeys staff members of to name their favorite episodes and threw them into a list for ya' (because everyone loves lists!). There were just a few rules: To qualify, episodes had to air between late last summer and the end of May 2011— So Mad Men's fourth season is in, but Breaking Bad's third season is not. And for variety's sake, no show could earn more than one entry, much to the chagrin of's in-house Community Fan Club. There were several bitter arguments over which episodes ranked high, which ones got shafted, and which ones weaseled their way in, but in the end we think we came up with a decent list. (And because ten spots just weren't enough, we awarded honorable mentions, too.)

10. Modern Family's "Unplugged"

What made it good: It was fun to watch the tech-obsessed ModFam kids try to survive with out their gadgets, but the real treat was seeing Phil and Claire attempt to navigate their own lives without using their toys after Phil declared a contest to see who could stay unplugged the longest. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitchell were beat at their own game after scheming to out-diversify competitors in enrolling Lily in an exclusive preschool. Season 2 may live in the shadow of Season 1, but "Unplugged" brought back its glory for at least one night.
Other great Modern Family episodes: "See You Next Fall," "Dance, Dance, Revelation"

9. Boardwalk Empire's "Family Limitation"

What made it good: After a slow start to the first season, "Family Limitation" was a sorely needed segment. It really developed Al and Jimmy as friends, accomplices, and frenemies—and Nucky and Margaret as something more than a philanthropist and a needy widow. But the final moments, where Van Alden performed self-flagellation, left scars on us as well.
Other great Boardwalk Empire episodes: "Nights in Ballygran," "The Emerald City"

8. Fringe's "Entrada"

What made it good: "Entrada"—which jumping back and forth between universes and Olivias—served as the final chapter to the first half of the season, exposing Fauxlivia to Peter as a fraud, returning Olivia back to her rightful universe, and setting a whole bunch of craziness in motion that would make Season 3 the best network sci-fi since Lost. Maybe even better.
Other great Fringe episodes: "The Day We Died," "Subject 13," "The Last Sam Weiss"

7. Archer's "Placebo Effect"

What made it good: Cancer is never funny, with one exception: When superspy Sterling Archer was diagnosed with breast cancer. "Placebo Effect" was the strongest episode of the season on account of its non-stop onslaught of jokes that reminded us of the best of Archer's first season. Off-color jokes about marijuana, the Irish, and Zima all made this one a winner.
Other great Archer episodes: "El Secuestro," "Stage Two"

6. The Walking Dead's "Days Gone Bye"

What made it good: Who thought a zombie movie that never ends would become one of the biggest hits of the season? The opening episode of The Walking Dead created an atmosphere that's rarely seen on television: one of paralyzing, terrifying, pee-in-your-pants horror. Seeing the backs of zombies' skulls explode didn't hurt, either.
Other great Walking Dead episodes: "Wildfire," "Tell It To the Frogs"

NEXT: The 5 best episodes of the 2010-2011 season


5. The Good Wife's "Closing Arguments"

What made it good: Sometimes, a season finale just works brilliantly, and that was certainly the case with "Closing Arguments." A great case was closed with a satisfyingly twist-y ending, and for a moment, Alicia and Kalinda set aside the tension between them—but the final scenes with Will and Alicia were absolutely perfect.
Other great Good Wife episodes: "Ham Sandwich," "Foreign Sandwich"

4. Game of Thrones' "The Wolf and the Lion"

What made it good: There may very well may be a better episode of Game of Thrones to come, as the first season is still going. But "The Wolf and the Lion" hit all the necessary marks to make this a watershed episode in the series' young life. This was the moment when any fears that the show would be generic fantasy were relieved, with the visceral violence of the tournament, the final battle between Jaime and Ned, the insanity of Lysa and The Eyrie, and Renly's man-on-man love. The Lord of the Rings this show is not.
Other great Game of Thrones episodes: "Winter is Coming," "A Golden Crown," "You Win Or You Die"

3. Justified's "Brother's Keeper"

What made it good: The breakout episode of Justified's breakout second season pushed the series from "another good FX show" to "the network's best." Everything clicked in this pivotal episode—acting, writing, direction—and something had to give. "Brothers Keeper" didn't just shine because of what happened in the episode, but also because of the consequences Raylan and others would come to face as a result of what happened in the episode.
Other great Justified episodes: "The Spoil," "Reckoning," "Debts and Accounts"

2. Community's "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"

What made it good: Dungeons & Dragons is easy to mock. But if Community had simply made fun of it, "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" wouldn't be on this list. Instead, the gang played an earnest round of imaginary swords and sorcery in the name of saving the life of a suicidal classmate, and sufficiently disarmed a potentially heavy topic with some of the best jokes delivered all season—including Annie's erotic seduction of an elf maiden.
Other great Community episodes: "Paradigms of Human Memory," "Mixology Certification," "Epidemiology"

1. Mad Men's "The Suitcase"

What made it good: Peggie and Don's relationship has always been a curious thing, and "The Suitcase" finally blew it open for all of us to see. But we'll all remember the moment when Don learned of Anna's death, the one person who truly knew the real man behind the name.
Other great Mad Men episodes: "Waldorf Stories," "Public Relations"

Honorable Mentions:
Louie's "The Bully"/"Night Out"
Supernatural's "The Man Who Would Be King"/"The French Mistake"
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's "Who Got Dee Pregnant?"
Terriers' "Change Partners"
Being Human's "I Want You (Back From the Dead)"
The Office's "Goodbye, Michael"
30 Rock's "Live Show"
Sons of Anarchy's "NS"

What episodes are on YOUR list?

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  • csineverends227 Jun 17, 2011

    Castle season finale XD

  • SierraHaynes Jun 11, 2011

    i love the walking dead i wish they hadnt of ended it though was upset about that

  • bookworm1020 Jun 10, 2011

    I agree with lovemybubbaboy. They should have included "Blue Bloods" episode "The Blue Templar". It was excellent. Best new show of the season. I also like "Good Wife" and "The Walking Dead". Can't wait to the next season of the WD. I also agree that they should NEVER of cancelled "Human Target" and have agreed with several people on here. I will NEVER watch another FOX program. I also LOVE "Castle" and loved the finale.

  • samcro99 Jun 09, 2011

    Fringe and Justified are two of the best shows around-( happy they are renewed rightfully so) but.... my list would include NCIS, Sons of Anarchy, Supernatural, Friday Night Lights, Bones & Burn Notice. Game of Thrones is outstanding ranking high in such a short time- thumbs up!

  • grizzo Jun 09, 2011

    I agree with you on Fringe and the Good Wife.... but ick Community? No way.... FX's Sons of Anarachy had SEVERAL great episodes this season, and should not have only been on Honorable Mention. NCIS, why wasn't that mentioned. Best show on TV and not only in my opionion but by EVERYONE else in the USA!! Several great episodes on that show this year should have been mentioned. SGU - best last 10 episodes!! All of them. I can only rate the ground hog day of original SG1 and the finale of SG Atlantis as better. START WATCHING SOME TV OVER THERE AND REALIZE COMMUNITY IS NOT THE IT!!

  • karmen179 Jun 09, 2011

    i sooo agree with you mamamitzvah but since when fringe for examle has depth!? Don't get me wrong i watch the show and i like it but depth?? nooo!I have said it here again that they have a problem against ncis as i have noticed because it suprises me that they don't ever mention the most watched series in U.S.And excuse me this is TV u are talking about not theatre or cinema where exactly r u looking for quality?Anyway i suppose u get your fees for advertising those certain series and probably it has nothing to do with your opinion

  • mamamitzvah Jun 09, 2011

    Don't you get it? If it is popular, on CBS or FOX or a spin off of a popular show, it will not even be noticed by the "intelligence ones". We who like such fare as NCIS, Castle etc are just beneath contempt in the eyes of those who critique. We just keep watching and enjoying the shows we like. How plebeian of us. You know what???? Who cares! I love the shows I love and nothing you write here will change that. I do not watch TV for any other reason than to take me away Culligan Man. If I want depth, I read or go to a concert. Thanks. I feel much better :o)

  • OvidiuDanila Jun 09, 2011

    i agree that 1st and 2nd episodes of "the Killing" were very good. they should be here

  • BrokedownDog Jun 09, 2011

    I agree with "mermayd" ... except, it should have been the 1st AND 2nd episodes of "The Killing"! Tho' it got a little slow in the middle, this is one excellent show!

  • jimstv Jun 09, 2011

    Agree with retiredlady. Don't watch any of these shows and except for Game of Thrones not interested in any of them!

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