Vampire Diaries

It was a great year for TV, which made it very difficult to choose the top 25 episodes of 2010. Recalling and, in some cases, rewatching the stand-out moments was a holiday treat. We got our first glimpse of a bespectacled Clark Kent and saw Snooki pummel Angelina. We wept as Jack Shephard took his final breath and cheered as Leslie took down a mischievous rodent wreaking havoc in Pawnee. Here's the third batch of TVGuide.com's weeklong countdown of the year's best episodes. (Catch up first with Episodes 25-21 and Episodes 20-16.)

15. "The Big Show," Work of Art: The Next Great Artist
On paper, it seemed like a joke. Could artists — painters, photographers and performance artists — compete in a reality TV art-off? Working under the pressure of a ticking clock? In different mediums? Teamed with other temperamental artistes? Somehow it worked: big characters, big talent, and challenges you've never seen. The finale pitted the bold, soulful work of Abdi against the uber-abstract imagery of Miles and Peregrine's whimsical carnival — and left us wondering whether a second season could recreate the magic. 

14. "The Return," The Vampire Diaries
Nothing says season premiere like smothering someone with a pillow! Katherine returned to Mystic Falls with a message: "Game on." Katherine's first move: She transforms Caroline from whiny prom queen into a kick-ass vampire.

13. "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues," True Blood
At its best, True Blood is equal parts dark drama, gory, over-the-top humor and twists galore. This midseason bloodbath delivered on all counts as the King's rampage raged on. Denis O'Hare's vampire overlord went head-to head with Sookie, forced the formidable Queen Sophie Ann into marriage, and ordered Lorena to kill Bill. Throw in Tara escaping the psychotic Franklin by bashing his skull, and Lorena finally sinking her fangs into Sookie, and the whole thing felt like the kind of cliff-hanger usually saved for finales.

12. "Betty White," Saturday Night Live
She sang, she danced, she made penis jokes. Even more impressive than the 88-year-old's comedic performance itself was that she did it alongside some of SNL's most prominent alums, from Tina Fey to Molly Shannon. From resurrected classics like "NPR" to recent hits such as "MacGruber," White really let it all hang out, just like her tangy, dusty muffin.

11. "Halloween," Modern Family
The "baby cheeses/Jesus" mix-up may have been a bit obvious, but Sofia Vergara's hysterical impression of a proper American accent in the Dunphy House of Horrors was really scary. Gloria's right though: "Doggy-dog world" does have a nice ring to it.

Check back all week as we count down to No. 1. What were your favorite episodes of the year?